All posts tagged news

Opera in da House

Opera 9.5 - beautifully engineered

Opera 9.5 is out! Get it here!

I've got to say, after spending time with the beta, there were some bugs, but the performance was out of this world, especially comparing Google Maps in Opera and IE, they made huge gains to browsing pleasure.

Finally assembled our pics, after getting submissions from many friends. I tried to make a short photo-essay with my comments on with our wedding photos, split into these albums: REHEARSAL, CEREMONY, and BANQUET.

I had a lot of fun recalling the stories from that day, but their accuracy, filtered thru the heady haze of the day, may leave much to be desired. 😀

Now that this institutional is concluded, life awaits the next milestone. Birth, school, love, job, marriage, children, retirement, and death. These are pillars of the American life, and though you don't need them all for a steady foundation, the more you have the steadier you seem.

When we saw how the wedding had completed, we knew we had grown up. And that, in retrospect, is pluperfection.

Yesterday I went to Steve and Cindy's wedding in the beautiful Wente Vineyards, famous for exceptional whites. Their Chardonnay was tasty, without any of the acrid pepper in other places we've been to. Our table was all red wine drinkers, and we were all impressed (the champagne was good too).

Being a guest at a wedding of our peers was so different than our own wedding, and I enjoyed it enormously. There is an aspect of surprise and drama in someone else's wedding that you don't get when you plan and obssess over yours months on end. Steve and Cindy are an odd couple, their personalities seemingly worlds apart. But Steve, although a focused, deconstructive mind who absorbs technicalities and figures unlike any person I know, has a special ability. He's an incredibly fast learner. And though I remember he was loath to discuss the word "marriage" a few years ago, he mastered this new skill as quickly as he mastered programming and art.

A relationship, which is just a game, is tough to master, even impossible for some. But I think you get better with it with practice. I think, win or lose though, what matters is you play your best, you learn some skills, and if you fail… well round two is just around the corner. Looks, money, fancy cars, education, all that matters, as life is as much an itemized treadmill as WoW. But in the end, it's a numbers game. The more you play, the better your chances, and the more skillfully you play, the more chances you get. If you couldn't jump over the sonic boom, you'd have stopped putting quarters in. Guys know what I mean.

Do you think that would apply to The Act, a interative cartoon game where the gameplay is as simple as applying the right amount of "charm" in the right context with a twist of a knob? It wouldn't surprise me at all. Art, after all, imitates the game of life even when we don't realize life is a game.

There is a tragic flaw in the modern American character. Would it be jingoism, world ignorance, or hypocrisy? No, I find all those to be but charming idiosyncrasy, as innocent as apple pie, and as harmless as a cute .38 snubnose concealed gingerly in an embroidered leather holster. I speak of a greater flaw: the inability to accept due responsibliity, especially when none is due.

My thread from my heart to my tearducts was strained uncomfortably this week, and my agnostic prayers go out to the fine community of Virginia Tech. Who would have known a crazy gunman would wreak havoc on their idyll lives. Actually, I would have guessed… Korean student going for an English Major? I can only imagine how much his asian parents approved of that.

But for all my sympathy, I can not stand the immediate scapegoating that followed. Suddenly, the university was to blame for not alerting 25,000 sleepy college students that they didn’t know a crazed gunman was loose since they only started investigating a domestic-dispute homicide. Maybe they were to blame for not knowing the exact location of the gunman on their 2500-acre campus, and making the silly assumption that he had made a run for it the way 99% of criminals do.

Oh but it got worse.

Infamy whore Jack Thompson, a leech, a pox, played the video game card before he (or the rest of the country) had a damn clue about what had transpired. It should have been blatantly obvious to the press that the uber-violent video games that the unknown gunman was not known to have MUST have caused this killing spree. The Washington Post demonstrated remarkable journalistic integrity by reporting the gunman was a hardcore afficiando of Counterstrike. A day later, that statement was removed from their article, surely with only the best intentions. Didn’t I just write about this?

Do we have to find someone to blame? Parents, games, guns, police, media, or whatever the hell is near any disaster, why is it we pick one and not all (or none) to blame? It’s like a need to put a face or identity to the blame. This kid was just fucked-up, and the gestalt of his recipe for insanity is at once everything and nothing. In fact, because it is everything, it is nothing. We need to focus on healing, acceptance, and have everyone learn pre-emptive empathy. It is nonsense to find sense in senseless violence. Let’s learn more about the victims and what they could have been, and not let the 15 minutes of each new accusation rob them of what is really their time. They have been robbed of enough.

I want to warn people who have otherwise the best of intentions. This week's supreme court ruling, while absolutely the right decision, underscores a disturbing logic deep in the ranks of knee-jerk environmentalists.

Let's throw out all you know and hate about this administration for a second. To place the lion's share of blame for global warming on their ~6 years of reign over the subject, taking into consideration the two centuries of damage from industrial overrevolution, and the relative youth of climate studies (read: last 30 years), it's hardly fair to make it seem like Bush is singlehandedly destroying the environment.

One must not forget that the abundance of modern energy, material, and functional conveniences, allows us the luxurious living standard where we can affluently worry about global warming. One must not believe the US has done nothing, or that our disproportionate contribution of greenhouse gases has nothing to do with our disproportionate contribution to global productivity. One must not naively ignore to what heathen unregulated countries that companies will move their pollution to when we crack down too fast and too hard.

I am not afraid to admit that I protest the Kyoto protocols alongside our behated preside-dent. It asks nothing of economies like China and India, who are on the fast track to out-polluting us. The gullible say that we only need to show leadership and dominoes will fall green. They assume we've shown no leadership, and that countries rising with econo-lust will care.

I recall the fine quotation from the movie Spiderman 2 about choosing between what is right, and what is easy. Polluting used to be easy. Right now, raking in money for a hyped-up cause isn't too hard either. Given the past paranoia over the destruction of the earth by nuclear bombs, overfilling landfills, and other urban myths not remotely true, I think we should hear out Mother Earth on the subject. After all, we are but a minute of her day.

I finally got the call today that I've been waiting my whole post-kindergarten life for.

I remember the early days of that life tediously typing up QBASIC programs from my 3-2-1 Contact! subscription so that my hand formed around the anvil of game creation. I remember ostracization bouncing off my rebellious little hide as I spent my grade-school recesses drawing intricate Megaman levels on paper, and then taking a childhood friend through them with my dirty pencil, asking him what actions he'd want to perform, or killing him and taking his life, or granting him weapons and powers with a quick sketch. Then I'd scribble over enemies as he killed them, or flicked the graphite on paper to simulate random shots in our wild tank battles.

I programmed. I learned level editors. I learned Maya, animation, modeling, and all other forms of CG baggage. I wrote, promiscuously. After college, I was paid way too well to work on reknowned projects. I experienced big productions, met bigger talent, people who go on to win Oscars and start companies and pump out innovations. I was never happy.

Am I spoiled to say those opportunities were, to me, sacrifices? Am I a brat? When I spoke about my involvements, people would say "wow, that's awesome!" I tried very hard to agree. But in my mind, the whole time, my heart was still set on being a game designer. And it wasn't even because of my incredible love for games. Nor my idolization of the industry.

For a time, I wanted to be an inspiring schoolteacher… fancy that! But that wish belies my desire, my insatiable pleasure, in getting people to change their perspectives, and defend the underdogs. To challenge assumptions, smash stereotypes, twist prejudices. In education, you can do that. In game design, you can do that to anyone in the world, and done well, they'll enjoy it. Sometimes I feel typecast myself, and the momentum of being a constant contrarian overwhelms me. But there is no better platform for constructive skepticism than games.

It was genetically imprinted into me to spend my waking moments and sleepless nights deconstructing the games I play, and constructing the games I want to play. It's not ambition anymore, it's an extension. Sometimes I am fearful, especially when I play a game and can't see it anymore. I only see the code, the art being drawn from the reservoirs of memory to be displayed for my manipulation. I see statistics rumbling with calculations to keep me maximally addicted. How games are still fun for me is a question I'm afraid to tackle.

Today I got a call from Page 44 Studios, and will be starting as a junior game designer there after the wedding. I am ecstatic. I feel as if the sacrifices were vindicated, even as I feel ashamed for calling them sacrifices. But sometimes it's just not about money, fame, or success. It is about following your calling, or risking your sanity ignoring it. I can't wait to work harder than I've ever had, because Confucius reminds us that choosing a job you love means not having to work a day in your life.

Stop. Stop everything you are doing. What is the most dangerous substance in your house today? What threatens the very veil of existence behind which your children stay but a step from mortality? From Death's gaze? Why, none other than the sickest invention yet to penetrate our virgin shores: The Nintendo DS. That's right, the ancient myth was true- this electronic pandora's box leaves our children wide-open spread-eagled for child molestors. Its insiduous design abuses our every security, and FOX News is out there bringing its Promethean insight to the crisis.

This is so absurd I feel like I'm on bizarro internet. BTW, FOX you should know that the internet has amazing graphics and a feature that lets anyone chat with your kids from a bit more than 300 feet away… try anywhere in the frickin' globe.

'Course not everyone far from your kids is a child molestor. Some are just kingpins of sin, like this school teacher in a remote Ural village being thrown into the Gulag for software piracy. Gorby, my main man, you do realize Microsoft has little to do with the chap being pressed into slavery at your uranium labor camps, right? Oh wait, they made a complaint. I guess the Russian penal system has no choice then, I mean, there was a complaint.

In other news, but on nearly the same Richter scale of sillytude, Apple is complaining about DRM, as it is the only thing keeping them from making music accessible to all. Unlike .aac and its ban in France. Hey, I know DRM is Big Brother, but I didn't need Stalin to tell me.

I blame it all on global warming, 'cuz a global crack epidemic is the one other logical explanation.

I've gotten my one-sheet resume and demo reel online, and I must say Flash video rocks my socks. The quality could still be improved, especially since Flash 8 doesn't come with two-pass encoding and I'd have to buy a separate program to do it, but it's good enough for now. The hunt begins, and in the meantime I think I'll focus on mel script automation of rigging, as it seems to be the craze these crazy days. It would also make it easier to build rigs without wrestling with Maya's stupid orient handling and transformations. But enough for now, the hunt begins!

Check it out here!

Details for the upcoming Nintendo Wii were finally released, and it's been quite a doozy. Any gamer should be able to use his pants as a substrate for ludological pregnancy about now. Yes, I really do feel as if I've been knocked up in a good way, because it's been so long that the industry has catered its adolescent demographied garbage to the lowest common denominator, the bedazzled consumer whore. Nintendo has put its words down in the edifice of the casual market, and its booming, Lovecraftian voice not only prophesizes a paradigm shift, but delivers, to the doom of this stagnant market.

Let's recap:

– US Release November 19th, $250 w/ Wii Sports included.

– Japan Release December 2nd, $220 w/o Wii Sports.

– 30 Launch titles by year's end.

– New gameplay trailer just astounding! Watch it!

– Built-in Opera browser, image surfing/editing tools, weather/news channel, and more. Link here.

Mii avatar creation system. Awesome. Here and here.

– 24/7 connection for the Wii to stream in game updates and community stuff daily.

– Virtual Console featuring downloadable NES, SNES, Genesis, Megadrive, Toshiba MSX, and Turbo-GFX 16 games, $5-$10, 60 games by year's end, 10 more added each month after.

As tasteless as it is, this is my favorite reaction from the public…