Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why work in games?

Another of my articles has been released:

It is amazing how much has changed over the past 15 years in both the game and CG animated movie industries. Today's video game version of Toy Story 3 likely uses more advanced models and has more polygons than the original movie did in 1995 (and that took 13 hours to render each frame, unlike games which render 60 frames a second). Read on!

This is also a continuation of my first article based on my time at GDC. I had a final game article to finish the trilogy as well, but its going on the backburner as we ramp up for Siggraph!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers update

I bought the Vibram Five Fingers shoes in April and mentioned I would update this blog with my thoughts. Well, after nearly 3 months of use I can say these shoes are one of the best health purchases I've ever made! In those 3 months my runs have improved tremendously thanks to the way the shoes force me to change my stride. Prior to buying the shoes my best sprint mile time was 7:49, today I ran the same trail in 6:51!

Granted, running a few times a week would improve my speed regardless of what shoe I wore, but the day I bought the shoes my best mile went from 7:49 to 7:30 and the 7:30 mile wasn't even a sprint. Suddenly I realize how bad my form was when I wore tennis shoes and how much energy I wasted with that form. By landing on my toes first (as shown in the videos in my previous post) not only do my knees feel better but I am able to move my feet faster and cover more distance with less effort. And I love the way the shoes feel. Now I find myself running off the paths as much as possible just to feel each new texture. I've thought about actually running barefoot (no shoe at all) but after finding thorns and glass over 1/4 inch long stuck on the bottom of the Vibrams I've come to appreciate at how much they protect my foot and how running barefoot in my neighborhood could end in disaster.

For those of you who also recently bought the Vibrams, I highly recommend reading Born to Run. The book is absolutely fascinating and talksabout the Five Fingers along with a super race against the world's fastest long distance runners and also how the human body evolved to run differently than every other animal (and why the Neanderthals died out due to their lack of running ability).

Other milestones that have occured during the last 3 months since buying the shoes:

I ran my first 12k (7 miles) in 1 hr 16 minutes.
My long distance pace went from 9:30 to 8:30 per mile
My 5k went from 29:40 to 26:45
My regular mile pace (ie, I don't feel like I am dying after running 1 mile) went from 8:30 to 7:30
And my sprint mile went from 7:49 to 6:51
And 1/2 mile sprint is now 3:10

My only complaint is that the shoe is so thin and skin tight that there is no place to put my Nike+ pedometer so that it accurately measures my speed. I have to recalibrate it each mile because the force of each foot impact changes the pressure on the pedometer and it can't get an accurate read (previously the tennis shoe absorbed the impact so the pressure was constant).

I'm running a 1/2 Marathon at Disneyland this fall, hopefully by then my speeds will be even better. And all of this thanks to a piece of rubber loosely attached to my foot.

Building a single-person boat out of cardboard...

Every year our company completes a team building event which varies from being practical (cook-offs in the kitchen featured in Top Chef), to techy (geocaching event in Tilden park), to the downright geeky (scavenger hunt in downtown Berkeley where, among other thing, we found actors in various stores dressed as comic book heroes). This year's event takes the cake for being the most creative: we designed, built, and launched single-person boats made out of cardboard.

Each team of four had to design a boat that would ferry a single person across a lake and we could only use the materials provided at a store for a small price (or so we thought, the rules were left intentionally vague). We then built the boats, decorated them, pitched them to the "client" (who was determining which one to mass produce), and finally tested each one in a lake.

Some teams spent time planning their boats before buying the supplies. Unfortunately for them, other conniving teams (*innocent eye roll*) bought all the supplies first and held monopolies over valuable resources such as tape. Those teams also began scavenging the park for extra flotation assistance, with recycled plastic bottles conveniently left over from our picnic working quite well in assisting the pontoons. Once the boats were built, flags designed, and hulls decorated each team made a hilarious sales pitch and showed off their designs (a few teams scrambled to find more resources to finish their boats while others pitched).

Finally we trekked to the lake and selected one lucky, volunteer from each team to sit in the boats and row across the lake. Some boats actually floated quite well (especially the winning pontoon with sealed plastic bottles inside).

Others... did not.

Overall we had blast, and we were surprised at how some of the "sure-thing" boats quickly sank while other "doomed" boats made the entire voyage unscathed (except for the nerves of the expecting-to-be-drenched passenger). I don't know how we are going to top this next year, but word is that it may involve building hang gliders...

Click the link below to see all photos from the event (including the delightful picnic prior to the boat building)

April with Daddy pt 4

My visit in April coincided with Easter which is always fun to experience with toddlers. The girls dressed up, searched for eggs, then had photo time with daddy!

Also, carrying an flowery Easter basket really accentuates my outfits. Will have to remember that for future dates (or not)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Catch up!

I have a month's worth of posts sitting in my pending section. In the past I would back date them to post on the day they were created, but with so many now it is probably better to just post them as today's date. Over the next 2 weeks there will be posts covering May and the beginning of June. It has been a crazy 6 weeks!