Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Ten Years

Hard to comprehend, but Thursday, January 6th 2005 will be my ten year anniversary at Microsoft...

Well, RenderMorphics actually, but we were acquired a few short weeks later and I get to count that ;-)

Steve Kennedy

Another old friend blogging - Steve Kennedy from the UK. Welcome Steve and keep going with it. Plus, I wouldn't say I moved to the Dark Side ;-)

An Experiment With BitTorrent

I've set up a tracker on this website and am serving up my podcast (A Brit Abroad) as a BitTorrent. The torrent file is here.

It'll be interesting to see if this works out.

Btw, the best torrent client by far is Azureus, the only thing I had to do to get it working was turn of it's UPnP support. Options->Plugins->uPNP and uncheck "Enable UPnP".

The Utah Teapot

If you've ever dabbled in computer graphics, you know about the "Utah Teapot". It's used everywhere.

Utah Teapot (render by Jing Li)

Anyhow, I was working on some subdivision surface stuff today and needed a patch dataset, so I went looking for the teapot and found a great site by Steve Baker that details the history of the Utah Teapot, and includes the original dataset.


The dataset not only includes the teapot (missing the bottom, of course) but the spoon and cup. How nicely, graphically, geeky.

Channel 9 Videos On PC Pilot Magazine Cover Disc

Like the title says. This month the UK publication has included the Channel9 videos of the Flight Simulator team tour on their cover disc. It also has the FS2004 Update.

PCPilot Jan/Feb 2005

In the magazine, they say "... thanks to Steve and Robert Scoble for allowing us to reproduce it here." They didn't ask me ;-) Maybe they asked Robert...

Update: Yup, Robert gave them permission. Cool. It's good to get people with low bandwidth access to this stuff.

A Quiet Merry Christmas

Quiet, just as I like them. It's been a while since we had a quiet Christmas. Last year we jetted off to the UK for the family tour with our newborn son and it was pretty exhausting. Fun, but exhausting nontheless. In prior years we have had people round to the house.

This year we just did it quietly, with a neighbour over for dinner. I cooked leg of lamb that was delicious.

Julian really seemed to enjoy himself, unwrapping presents and playing with all the gifts that friends and family from the UK had sent. After dinner, we watched "The Terminal". Highly recommended and a great Christmas flick.

On another note, I see my podcast, "A Brit Abroad", has made it into the "Technology -> General News" section on iPodder.org. Cool. I'm at the top of the list! I didn't plan it like that. Honest.

Anyhow, a very merry (hick!) Christmas to you and yours. I'm off down the pub soon ;-)

Podcast - A Brit Abroad

Yey! Finally my first podcast. Weighing in at exactly 24 minutes and 11MB, it's "A Brit Abroad".

I talk about (of course) podcasting, but from a production standpoint; the band's new CD and it's mastering - giving some an example of pre- and post-mastering and why it's a good thing; some personal history and the games I'm playing.

Links Talked About

Update 12/30/04: As an experiment, a BitTorrent download is available here.

Bellevue Botanical Gardens

Last night Nabila, Julian and I went to the Bellevue Botanical gardens to see the light show there.

It was pretty incredible.

They had constructed large amounts of flowers, vines, trees and critters entirely out of Christmas tree lights. If you're in the area and haven't seen it yet, you should.

Cellphone pictures (of dubious quality) over on flickr.


We're in the middle of a stabilization phase right now and my evenings are being taken up with Julian and Half Life 2, so updates are a little slooowww at the moment...

btw, congrats to Karen and CJ on the birth of their son, Sebastian.

Greg Bear

The Scobeleizer was at a dinner last night where he met Greg Bear - and he hadn't even heard of him before! Chuckle ;-) It didn't take long for Robert to get to like Greg.

A few years ago I was very fortunate to be working on a new game title and we talked to Greg Bear - he helped us brainstorm some ideas and story lines. He was incredibly helpful. Unfortunately, the title never shipped due to unrelated issues.

Of course, we were all massive Greg Bear fans - it was great just to hear him talk. During our first meeting we all brought books along for him to sign, which he graciously did. A very cool experience for the geeks...

Game Tech

What can I say. So far a great conference exceeding my expectations.

Last night was a cool hotel bar discussion with people from Valve, Sony, Microsoft, etc... Then today the intensity just ramped up with a constant flow of information from 9am until past 9pm.

All the slides are going to be up at the Game Tech site, so I won't reiterate them here. Of course, the quality of the speakers so far (Jay Stelly from Valve on Half Life 2, Chris Butcher from Bungie on Halo 2, Charles Bloom from Oddworld on Stranger's Wrath, Andrew Willmott from Maxis on The Sims 2) has been excellent. The crowd is small (about 60ish attendees) and thereby focused and knowledgeable, no daft questions.

A long intense day, with a few 10 minute breaks, lunch and dinner, sponsored by ATI and Intel respectively, and even those times were intense talks. The architects from Intel were talking about new stuff coming down the pipe, getting opinionated feedback, answering back. Very cool. The information and discussion flow didn't let up all day.

A great experience and it didn't stop there. Intense after-session discussions were flowing in the bar until, well, just now when I decided it was time for me to retire.

These small, focused conferences are great.

The postmortem talks today really reaffirmed my feeling that we're doing everything (well most things ;-) right with our development processes on Flight Simulator, with the one caveat that everyone other than us appears to be doing distributed builds. Our builds take way too long - something we need to look into. Most people seem to be using IncrediBuild.

A cool soundbite from Charles Bloom today that I liked particularly: "It's all about managing complexity."

More Pre-GameTech

Road Warrier

After arriving, checking in and getting my room I finally realised that I had left my laptop power supply at home. Big mistake. Eek. No surfing, blogging, note taking, etc... Of course I could still get email on my phone.

With some time in hand, I decided to fix the problem and dug out the yellow pages and called the not-so-local Best Buy. No they didn't have Dell power supplies, but they did have universal power supplies. So I hop in a cab and after an interesting trip all over the place (and a few near misses) with the driver Paul, I arrive and disappear inside leaving the cab waiting for me. I locate the unit, pay, check that it works (apparently you can't open the box to check it, but you can pay, then check it and if it doesn't work return it on the spot - weird), then hop back in the cab back to the hotel. Problem solved.

I must say, I've never been to South San Francisco before - kinda cool. What was interesting in a weird kinda way was the town that Best Buy was in - Colma. The place was one big cemetery.

A Google Oops

From the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Site:

Bush Arrested?

Google News is a great site, offering an extremely useful search function that finds news stories published on the Internet within the past 30 days. The other delightful thing about it is its automatically generated homepage headlines. If you want to know what the top stories are, you're better off going to a news site that has an actual human editor (at this point we'd be remiss if we didn't plug The Wall Street Journal Online), but some of the stuff that makes its way through Google's algorithms can be a source of high hilarity.

Example: A left-wing site called Axis of Logic published a satirical (though unfunny) article yesterday titled "Canadians Authorities Arrest U.S. President Bush on War Charges," and it ended up as Google's top story. Seriously. If you don't believe us, click here.


I'm sat here in the hotel lobby at the Game Tech Conference waiting for my room to become available, but handily the hotel has great wifi. The flight down was uneventful, except for bumping into a friend of ours, the Anglophile Amy. We haven't seen her for ages and she and her husband Shay are relocating to Chicago next week! Got the standard invite for a visit though!

The flight was made bearable by the dulcet voices of Adam Curry with a couple of saved up Daily Source Codes and half a Dawn and Drew show.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.