Archives by Month - April 2009

GDC

8:04 PM April 30, 2009
Next month I'm heading to Vancouver for the Canadian Game Developers Conference (GDC). This will be the first conference I've gone to on my own, paid for by myself and I'm really excited about it. I've been to a few programming and industry related conferences for my work in the past, but this will be the first time I'm going to one on my own accord. I've really enjoyed the experience of past conferences so it will be great to learn more about one of my passions. I've always been enthusiastic about games and have been tinkering with them for years. I'm sure my mom can recount many nights back when I was a teenager working late into the night hacking away at modding some computer game and waking her up with the sound of our 14.4 baud modem connecting to the internet. I haven't had the spare time to continue developing games lately, but it's about time I re-ignite that passion. So GDC here I come!

The conference is happening mid week right before my birthday on the 12th and 13th. So I'll be in Vancouver for two days and then back home for my birthday which I've booked off work. It's looking like a great week considering I have the GDC, my birthday and 3 days off work. There will be plenty of time and opportunities to snap some photos with my new camera too.

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Tags: Gaming, GDC

Sun Days

3:09 PM April 26, 2009
I'm stuck at home today, on this beautifully sunny day, doing some contract work. So I decided to make the most of it by working wirelessly from my laptop on the balcony. We have a pretty decent view from our condo, and we can even see the ocean and all the way to Port Angeles in the states on a clear day. It's great working outdoors on such a sunny day while my cat chases bugs around the balcony, but the sun glare on my monitor is terrible. It seems to glare no matter what I do (even if I cover the sides and top of the monitor). Any tips on how to improve that when you are out in the sun?

Asuka has been sick with a virus for the last few days so she's been stuck at home too. I went to pick up some stuff for her at the store today, so while I was out I also decided to pick up a MatchaChillo from Blenz for myself. I've probably mentioned how much I love these drinks in my blog before because I love anything flavoured with matcha. The relaxed energy the tea gives you is really nice too. So mixing matcha with ice cream on a hot day like today is bliss!

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Tags: Matcha, Random Musings

Layers

12:30 PM April 20, 2009
This weekend I went out on a few photography trips to try out some of the features of my new camera. On Friday Asuka and I went to the Lieutenant Governor's House here in Victoria and walked around the garden area. These grounds are often open to the public during daylight hours and occasionally there are tours of the interior as well. It was a nice afternoon and I got a few decent shots of flowers, pathways and other garden related subjects.

Then on Saturday I went with Steve and Dee to the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. The last time I visited this place I was probably 12 years old and on a school field trip. There is a nature house next to the lake with plenty of educational displays about nature and the native animals and plants of the area, which is great for class field trips. What I had forgotten about was all the nice trails and hiking paths in the area. It only takes about 40 minutes to walk around the small lake, although it took us a bit longer because we were stopping to take photos every so often. The trails include wooden walkways into the swampier areas and they even connect up with the Galloping Goose Trail if you want a lengthier hike. It's a beautiful place to see ducks and other birds (when they are around), but almost every direction of landscape looks like dry grassy fields or swampy brown marshes - not the greatest subjects for colourful photos.

Despite the rusty brown, gray and green template of the area I still managed to find an interesting photography theme of layers for many of my photos. Every time I looked through my camera viewfinder I could see horizontal layers. Whether it was green grass followed by brown grass followed by gray trees, or the dark lake water followed by green bushes and then the sky, there were always lines of colours. While the colours aren't the most exciting, the contrast between the layers still made for some interesting photo compositions. At the very least it gave me a theme and a good practice idea for lining up many of my shots.

The following pages contain a mix of my choice photos from both these trips. You'll notice that many of the Swan Lake shots contain layers of colour and texture either horizontally or vertically. But of course there are also other styles of photos, including some of people, inanimate objects, and a close up shot of a small turtle that was about the size of a quarter. I also ran into a group of people taking photos of an eagle's nest at Swan Lake. They had some serious camera lenses going on, so I had to take a picture of that. Apparently they could zoom in and focus solely on the eagle's eye from about 75 feet away! Anyways, enjoy the photos:

Layers - Photos:

Layers - Part 1 of 2

12:30 PM April 20, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Layers - Photos:

Layers - Part 2 of 2

12:30 PM April 20, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Layers - Photos:

Some Photos

11:15 PM April 14, 2009
Mary seems to be one of my favourite photographic models these days. She's always around and always photogenic. Today I was taking some photos and Mary just seemed to be right there and ready as usual. So I made sure she got some photo treatment.
I also took some zoomed-in night time shots from my balcony towards the downtown core. The sky was actually much darker than this shot looks, but I like the way it turned out. Wait. Back up. Zooming? Photos? Camera...? But what am I taking these photos with, you ask? Ah, well that would be my new camera and lens: a Canon 50D complete with a 17-85mm EF-S lens with image stabilization. *trumpet sounds* Yes, any somewhat regular reader of this blog will know that I've been wanting (and annoying you with blog posts about getting) a new camera for about 2 years now (has it really been THAT long?). Well I can now shut up about wanting a new camera, and get on with taking lots of awesome photos to display on the site! *everyone rejoices*
Since getting my new camera, I've read the manual (twice), watched many online tutorial videos about specific Canon 50D features and how to use them, bought a thick book about getting the most out of this camera (haven't read it all yet), and of course I've been taking tons of photos. Mary has been just one of my poor practice targets. This evening I decided to take a stroll at one of the locations where I first took my last camera 5 or 6 years ago: Ross Bay Cemetery. This area is always so peaceful and serene, and my recent photo shoot there didn't disappoint.
It was a bit chilly out, but the sun was setting and creating a nice ambiance for some photos. Now, I'm still getting use to this beast of a camera not to mention the lens, so bare with me if some of my photos seem like practice shots. I've been fiddling with lots of options and settings and trying new techniques like mad, but hopefully that just means I will be producing better photos over time. I've mostly just posted some of my fav (better) shots from this excursion anyways.
 
 
 
So I've got a lot of reading and learning to do, but I'm very excited. I'm also looking forward to the photography class I want to take in September to learn even more. Until then, I'm sure I can pump out a few thousand photos no problem. I may even pick up some new accessories for my setup before then too. Another lens (one that's good for low light situations like the Canon f1.4 lens) will likely be my next purchase. In the meantime, I hope to grace this blog with many new photos to keep you (and me) interested. So stay tuned!

Home with House ep17 - Mr. FunkHouser

12:06 AM April 11, 2009
Last month's Home with House episode had a mellow late night groove, but this month's mix is much more energetic. Similar to episode 10, this mix is all about the funk. Jackin, pumping and upbeat funky house. Episode 17 has a fun and playful vibe and so it also has an appropriately fun name: Mr. FunkHouser. There isn't much more to say about it than that. So give'er a listen and I hope you enjoy!

Mr. FunkHouser tracklisting:

1. Fabio Tosti feat. Spencer Banks - The Level of Love (Live Funky Mix)
2. Shrewd - Need Ure Love (Original Mix)
3. Joey Youngman - Moonshine (Fabio Bacchini Mix)
4. Biboulakis - Reason or Passion (Original Mix)
5. Natural Rhythm - Saturdays (RTHM Remix)
6. Srubfish & Laurence - Creepin Hoodlums (Original Mix)
7. Biboulakis - You Look Great (Original Mix)
8. Sonny Fodera - Local Town Jackers (Original Mix)
9. Troydon - I'm With Ya (Joshua's Play That Bass Mix)
10. Inland Knights - Don't Forget (Original Mix)
11. Gawron Paris - Don't Stop Dis (Bryan Jones Remix)
12. Simon Grey feat. Kylie Auldist - One (Simon Grey 2007 Version)


Download Episode 17:
Title: Home with House ep17 - Mr. FunkHouser
Vibe: Funky House, Groove House, Jackin House, Pumping House
Date Recorded: April 2009
Length: 57:46 min
Quality: 192 kbps - 81 Mb

Download:  (Right-click and Save As)
  •  CD Cover
  •  Tracklist
  

Subscribe: subscribe to this podcast

Becoming Generic

6:13 PM April 7, 2009
With the awesomely hot weather we've been having lately, I figured it was about time I dusted off my Rollerblades. There's nothing like having some fun with an active outdoor activity when the weather is so nice. As I was looking for my blades, I remembered that they aren't actually Rollerblade brand skates, but some other brand of inline skates. Rollerblade is one of those brand names that has become synonymous with the product it represents. I don't know anyone in my group of friends that refers to inline skates as anything but Rollerblades. And it's not that we don't know the difference. Rollerblade has just become a generic noun for inline skates.

It looks like there is even a term to describe this phenomenon: genericized trademark. After thinking about this a bit, I don't think this circumstance has been particularly beneficial for Rollerblade. You'd think that the popularity required to make a brand name a genericized trademark would mean that the brand has a lasting dominance in that market. But even though Rollerblades were pioneers of the inline skate sport, I don't know that they are a leader in the market today. The last few times I've looked at inline skates in stores there weren't many, if any, Rollerblade brand skates for sale. It could just be that the brand isn't as common around this part of the world these days (I believe the Rollerblade company is based in Italy) or maybe the market is just flooded with many more options compared to the original days. Either way, it doesn't seem like the market dominance you would expect from a genericized trademark is there for Rollerblade today.

While contemplating this topic a bit, I tried to list all the other genericized terms I could think of. Here is the list I came up with:
  • Rollerblade
  • Kleenex
  • Saran Wrap
  • Wite-Out
  • Jacuzzi
  • Band-Aid
  • Chapstick
  • Tupperware
  • Frisbee
  • Thermos
  • Scotch Tape
Then there are also the (probably) dozens of tools that are named after the companies that pioneered them, like Crescent wrenches and Philips head screws. There is also the phenomenon of brand names becoming verbs, like Xeroxing or Googling. Do you think these occurrences are beneficial for the companies owning those trademarks? In one sense you would think such broad use of your trademark would mean constant publicity for your brand. But the Wikipedia page mentions that "unless a company works sufficiently to prevent such broad use of its trademark, its intellectual property rights in the trademark may be lost". I take this to mean that anyone could then use the now generic brand name for their product labelling. So maybe having a brand name that becomes too synonymous with your product isn't always a good thing.

This phenomenon also appears to be localized based on where a brand is offered. I was discussing this with someone I know online from Australia, and he mentioned that Saran Wrap is not a brand out there, but Glad Wrap was and they had essentially genericized that brand name the same way. And this makes perfect sense. I wonder how widely used a generic brand name has to be before it becomes officially recognized in a dictionary as part of the language? What is your take on this whole thing, and can you think of any more good examples of genericized trademarks?

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Tags: Branding, Rollerblading

Walking Speed

12:09 AM April 1, 2009
Things have been flying by lately. It's already April (and no, this post has nothing to do with April Fool's Day despite the date) and winter usually drags really slowly. But the last 4 months have come and gone and I barely remember living them. Being busy with multiple projects at work and lots of side contract work has certainly contributed to that sensation. I've had so much work related stuff on my mind for the past while that I haven't had time to stop and take stock of things. But I am now, if only for a brief moment.

Things at work seem to be slowing down finally. After looking over 4 projects in tandem since the end of last year, I now find myself wrapping up the last one and wondering what is next. It feels like I've been sprinting for months and now I'm finally slowing down to a light jog and eventually to walking speed. Heck, I might even stop and sit on my ass for a short while. It feels nice in one sense, but on the other hand having lots of stuff to do at work always makes the days go by faster. So things slowing down at work also means the work days seem to take longer.

I've been talking about saving and eventually getting a new camera for ages. The camera I want(ed) was the Canon 50D, but I'm starting to realize how long it's going to take me to save and afford it. Recently the new Canon Rebel T1i (500D) was announced. It's one level below the 50D, but more affordable. Plus it has many of the same features, including the same image sensor and "live view". It also has HD video capabilities, which is nice although not something that makes a big selling point for me (I just want a good quality entry level DSLR for now so I can continue my love of photography). This camera goes on sale at the beginning of May (just in time for my 30th birthday, hint hint). I'm now focusing on saving enough to purchase it for myself by then. It should be a great starting DSLR camera for me. Down the line, in 5 years or so, I can look into upgrading to something like the 50D (or its equivalent at that time). By then I will have more SLR experience and know what features and capabilities I'm interested in. Plus, if I stick with Canon, any awesome lens that I buy for the Rebel now will also work with my upgraded camera in the future. So investing in lenses won't be a waste.

I'm also looking at some photography classes offered at Camosun College for this summer. They have some introductory and advanced courses offered in the evenings and weekends (perfect for working adults like myself). My friend Davey recently took such a course and really got a lot out of it. It sounds perfect for my growing interest in photography and intermediate level of experience with SLR camera features. Plus it's always nice to continue learning things.

Anyways, that's about all the musings I have to offer today. As I've mentioned before, when I eventually get a new camera I will have many more photos to post and inspire me to write about on this here blog. So it's a win win for everyone right? Happy April 1st.

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Tags: Cameras, Random Musings