Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Stuff to do, random food talk

Wow I've got lots to do. My buddy Matt is coming to visit next week so I need to prepare my apartment for guests. What does that mean? Cleaning, and cleaning like a madman. The bathroom mirror, general tap/faucet cleanness is pretty much just blargh. I need to Windex that place like crazy. Kitchen isn't bad. Oh yeah that reminds me, I gotta email Matt and ask him what food he wants me to get for him so we've got something other than apple sauce, left-over grappa from my housewarming party that I haven't touched, some carrots and grapes and english muffins, and a fridge full of condiments. Like seriously. I have so much mustard, ketchup, jam and peanut butter it's not even funny. But still, not enough "normal" food. What's the deal? I seem to go through Yoghurt about as fast as I can buy it. I also (yes, I have been here 4 months) have actually NOT cooked any meat yet in my house?!?!?! Is that possible? Yes I guess so. I've had leftover curry chicken and stuff, and meat sandwiches, but no steaks on the stove or shake-and-bake chicken and also surprisingly, no salmon?!??! How have I not done this yet? I guess my evening meals are smaller lately, and usually I have some cereal and then a salad with fresh mozzarella, or some english muffins or bread with cheese or peanut butter. Occasionally I make some tortellini with pesto or tomato sauce, and occasionally I eat an entire bag of grapes or container of apple sauce. Man, my food tastes are weird. I went though a frizzante water phase a couple of months ago where I was drinking like 3 bottles a week. Now it's not on sale anymore and kindof heavy so I don't get it very often. Now I am on a "squeezed lime in water" phase, since limes and lemons are cheap and tasty and it makes drinking plain water less boring and more awesome. So I cut up a full lime and squeeze that into the water in my fridge and it makes it a bit more exciting.

Also, what's the deal with my weekends? I keep wanting to stay home and spend some much-needed time on my apartment, but I end up running around like crazy all weekend and then not doing anything at all in my apartment. Crazy. This weekend I gotta take care of a few specific things, and then I want to do some solid cleanup and work in my apartment so I can have the place a little more respectable for my buddy Matt to arrive.

Here's the plan... (yes, this is another one of those "I have to type my to-do list on the blog" kind of days)
  • Go to Men's Warehouse and get a new Tux shirt
  • Go to Men's Warehouse and rent the vest and tye for Frank's wedding
  • Use my $23 credit and 20% off coupon at Macy's towards a new pair of running shoes, a new pair of Sketchers shoes, or a shaker set so I can make fancy drinks for my friends who are visiting soon
  • Hook up my VCR and DVD player to the TV
  • See if Cable is working, if not, see if Bunny Ears are working, if not, decide if I want to spend money on paying for Cable TV now
  • Get a powerbar/surge protector
  • Get a USB 2.0 Hub
  • Organize the cables around my desk so they are more organized
  • Unpack and put together my new bookshelf from Ikea
  • Clean the bathroom, kitchen
  • Do laundry, towels, sheets
  • Get a vacuum
  • Vacuum the rug under my desk
  • Get groceries for when Matt arrives
  • Book flight to Texas for Frank's wedding
  • Haircut
I am sure there is more but that's enough to list for now. Man I've got a lot of stuff to do. I gotta keep it chill this weekend and try to do most of this stuff so I'm not completely disorganized around here when Matt arrives next week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ILM Halloween 2007

On Saturday night we had the ILM/LucasFilm Halloween Party 2007 and it was sooooooooo awesome. I went with Frank and Jess, and Frank's co-worker Roland from LucasFilm Animation. Frank was rockin' the Will Ferrell "More Cowbell" costume from the famous SNL skit, Jess was Tank Girl and I was Turtle from Entourage!!

It was awesome, good food, drinks, and a huge costume contest with lots of really unique and amazing costumes that people obviously put tons of time into. There was a kids costume parade too which was really cute and everyone had a great time.

We saw George there too and got to say Hi to him which was, as you might expect, TOTALLY AMAZING!!! :) We didn't want to bug him for too long, but I tell ya - it sure is tough not to be totally super overexcited to talk to one of the pioneers of what I think is the most exciting industry in the world. :) Anyway, apart from good food and exciting costumes and so on, I also got to hang out with my new co-workers/friends/awesome people and we all had a fantastic time.

After the party we went to Josh's girlfriend's friend's house and hung out there for a while, it was quite busy and awesome, lots of good tunes, and generally we busted a move for a few hours, then off to a bar/club on Van Ness somewhere, but we weren't there long cause everyone was tired and wanted to go home. Awesome night.

Without further ado, here are some photos.

Me as Turtle from Entourage, Roland as an Undercover Cop, Frank as Will Ferrell from SNL

Light show


I think this was a squid costume

The view from upstairs

Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken from the "I need more Cowbell" skit from SNL

Starbucks Logo

Our whole group: Emily Huzl (aka "Huzl"), Frank, Jess, Josh, Jess and Me

Haha fish and sushi chef!

Basketball Net

Netflix Envelopes

Team Fortress 2 characters

Hey, It's Sean Feeley!!

Sock Monkeys

This was AWESOME, Ikea Transformers

More Ikea Transformers

Office Space

More of the finalists

Haha love those monkeys

Haha the Transformers Couch is hilarious

Me with Punn dressed up as Barry Bonds

Frank and I bustin' a move

Me with my new co-workers/homeys, Rachel and her husband, and Julien

This is how close you have to park if you want a parking spot in the city

Jess and Jess at the afterparty


Me with Huzl

Then it got busy (and awesome)

Possibly the best photo of the night

The afterparty party at a bar/club on Van Ness, busy, but we were all tired so we just stayed for a little bit. Good times!

Python API in Maya 2008

This evening I thought I'd give the Maya 2008 Python API code a try, and it was pretty cool. In the past in the Maya API you always have to add code to your plugin, re-compile, perhaps even close Maya and re-start it to get the updated plugin to run... or at least you have to unload it and then reload it. So tonight I thought I'd give the new Maya Python API code a shot and it is soooooooooooooo cool. It took a bit to get the syntax right, since obviously static member functions don't exist in Python with the same Syntax as C++.

I.e. if you want to print something to the script output you can rock the 'ol school MGlobal style...

In C++ it's:
MString information("This is my display string");

In Python it's:
import maya.OpenMaya as OpenMaya
information = "This is my display string"

So the usual new weirdness to get used to. I guess one obvious and awesome change is that there is no MString anymore. This is a good idea of course since Python's string stuff is just so awesome and it was a good choice to stick to that. The lack of types in Python is kinda nuts when you are dealing with random MFn's in Maya API and all that craziness, but I guess if you keep good coding style then it's probably not too insane.

As I was coding I realized that I had completely forgotten how to do a for loop in Python. I was trying some ugly syntax to try to iterate over an MItSelectionList iterator... and it totally didn't work. I ended up doing a

while not iter.isDone(): stuff

And that did the trick. Totally weird when you are so used to one language and another one is as different as this. I don't really think for loops are a good idea for iterators in the Python API, but I guess maybe there is a nicer way to do it. I suppose in the classic Maya C++ API examples of using a for loop for an iterator, you don't even use the initialization condition so I guess a while loop really does the job anyway.

Pretty awesome stuff.

Another thing I found weird (for some reason, although on second glance it seems quite like the expected syntax) is that you need to kindof do this weird method call to get an MObject or MSelectionList or whatever you might want, and you set it to the standard dynamically-specified Python type.

I.e. if you want to get an the current active selection list, you do this...

import maya.OpenMaya as OpenMaya
selList = OpenMaya.MSelectionList()

So this seems kindof verbose, but the Maya API is generally kindof verbose (at least if you're comparing it to just doing the same thing in MEL), and so I guess it's as expected. But there is some weirdness like the lack of :: namespaces, and the fact that MSelectionList selList(); is now selList = OpenMaya.MSelectionList()?!??!! Haha so weird. But it makes sense. Just something new to get used to.

Anyway it's a reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally awesome thing that this is available now, and actually I've always really liked MEL because it's really easy to prototype something or just code something super fast and see if it works before you spend ages on it. So this gives you that speed and interpreted language benefit, but with the very simple ability to copy and paste (pretty much) your code from the Python script window into your C++ file after you get it working on smaller examples inside of Maya. Then you can compile it and try again on larger examples with your plugin. Sweet. This is going to be pretty fantastic, and I am actually quite impressed and excited at the possibility of using the Python API hand-in-hand with the C++ API for quicker development.

Every time I look at the Python changes in Maya 8.5 onwards I am pretty much blown away by how big of a change this is, and what it means for production software development in general. Very, very nice. And I am so psyched that it's really easy to move your knowledge from one to the other. See my thoughts on Python in Maya from a couple of weeks ago. It's nice to now have given myself an introduction to the Python API in Maya and to get an idea of where I can benefit from it. Good stuff.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My day of IKEA

Today was nice but kindof a major schlep again, it's always that way when you rent a ZipCar and run around all day. :) Anyway I found a much smoother way to get onto the Bay Bridge via Polk St rather than Van Ness, there was less traffic which was nice.

Anyway, good times. I got up at like Noon and then called Julien and Rachel, two of the new engineers at work on my team!! They are awweessome and I love working with them and now I am psyched to see them now sometimes outside of work. Good stuff!! Anyway Rachel wasn't home but I got a hold of Julien who just moved to his apartment yesterday so he was keen to go to IKEA and get some stuff including a bed and dishes and pots and pans and stuff. So that was great. I actually had a fair amount of stuff to get as well, a bookshelf, some replacement dishes, a mat for my front door, and other random stuff.

We got the ZipCar near Julien's place and then took off to IKEA. We were there for quite a while and then Julien's bed wasn't there so he bought another one and had to go back upstairs and pick a new one, while I paid and waited for my bookshelf. Then I packed all my stuff in the Toyota Matrix we rented, and went back to help Julien with all his stuff. Then extended the ZipCar 30 min. Then tried to extend it again... and someone else had booked it! So we had to "Zip" back over to the parking garage in time to take out all the stuff, switch it to a NEW ZipCar that we rented for an hour, so we could get it to my apartment! Crazy. So we actually managed to get across the Bay Bridge very quickly, and so I dropped Julien at his apartment and he somehow got all of his stuff into his place on his own. Crazy. While he was doing that I dropped off the car (amidst the insane traffic and the one-way streets and no-left-turns in downtown San Francisco), and finally got to the parking lot and it was all good. Pulled into the spot at... 6:01pm. It was due at 6:00pm, sweet. 3 ladies dropped off a Ford Mustang they had rented and were also swapping ZipCars... to the one I just dropped off! So we chatted for a bit and I loaded my stuff into a Mazda 3 I had just rented for another hour. Deciding that there was a lot of traffic and it was insane, I added 30 min to the rental and so we had about an hour and 20 min to drop the stuff at my place and then head back to drop off the car. I picked up Julien who had just put all of his stuff inside his place, and then we went all the way to my apartment, dumped off my stuff, and then drove all the way back to drop off the car. Crazy!!

After all this running around, we needed to take a break. So Julien and I headed for some good Indian Food by his place and it was a great time. All in all, a glorious day of IKEA shopping, and lots of walking around, but definitely useful for me and also Julien got almost everything he needed for his place, including a bed, frame, pots and pans, dishes, cutlery and so on. I got some great stuff too and I have a new bookshelf now which I am definitely happy about.

Bookshelf and photo frame

New door mat

New vase and Bamboo

New Martini glasses

SVHS player which is pretty sweet

Google Analytics report on my Blog

Wow, this is nuts.

I have Google Analytics attached to my blog, which means that I can see some rough information about how many people visit my site, and where the majority of people are coming from and so on. In the past I've seen stats like 100 or 120 people per week were viewing my blog, which is pretty sweet anyway. This is nuuuuuuuuuts. In the last 30 days, I've had 903 people visit the blog, from 44 different countries. Insane?!!! That's pretty unbelievable, but I guess the stats don't lie!!

Here's a few of the more exciting details...
  • Blog Visitors from USA have now overtaken Blog Visitors from Canada (403 vs. 380)
  • Pretty diverse country group this month: Nigeria, Cayman Islands, Egypt, Romania, New Zealand...
  • France was #3 after USA and Canada
  • Top 5 US states where visitors are from: California, Georgia, Florida, Texas, New York
  • Top 6 Cities in California for visitors: San Francisco, Lafyette (must be old Pixar friends), Alameda (same), San Leandro, Mountain View (that's my Waterloo homeys), Irvine (that's Taylor) :)
  • Largest visitor day: Oct 3rd (55 people), followed by Oct 1st (53 people), what did I post that day?!?!?
  • 497 Absolute Unique Visitors (not sure what that means, but I think that means it ensures that there are no repeat visitors in the total count)
  • Firefox has just edged over Internet Explorer as browser of choice for visitors (401 vs. 400)
  • In terms of the OS that people use, 79.73% are on Windows, 13.84% on Mac, 6.31% on Linux, and 0.11% on Nintendo Wii!! (Haha that was me playing around with the Wii Browser at the Waterloo homeys apartment in Mountain View)
Pretty exciting stuff. It's really awesome to see such a large audience, and it really makes me feel like people care about what I am up to - also since most of the guests are from California and Ontario, it's obvious that most people who visit are friends and family, and I really appreciate that you are all keeping in touch with my life even though maybe we don't see each other in person all that often. Awesome. Thanks all for the reading!!

If you keep reading, I'll keep writing!!!!!!!! And if you stop reading... I'll honestly still continue writing. I'm kindof addicted to this thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Getting the largest and heaviest TV known to mankind

Yesterday I took off to the Ferry Building for the usual coffee. Instead of the standard bread and cheese I hit up the 1/4 chicken and potatoes, which just might become a regular occurrence. Good times!! Then off on the Ferry to Larkspur. That was really fun and a nice way to get up towards San Rafael area!! Definitely plan to do that next time I am visiting Frank.

Then we took off to Petaluma, where Alan lives (the guy who I bought the TV from)... now check this out. Alan is the video engineer at Skywalker Sound, so clearly he is probably one of the best people in the world to get TV advice from... or in my case, to buy his old TV. :) He said he spent months researching TVs, and this one was by far the best. It was manufactured in 1999, so it's about 7 or 8 years old. But it's in pristine condition, and he said he was going to give it to his in-laws but they wanted a flat-screen TV, and he's just upgraded to this amazing Samsung Flat Screen that looked really nice. But he told me to contrast and the blacks on this TV are still better than the TV he just got. Pretty sweet. Anyway, long story short, he paid $1700 for this TV, and the listed price if you look online is more like $2400!! So that's insane. And... he sold it to me for $100!!!!!!! He also had a really sweet SVHS player, which is actually totally awesome and he said he didn't really need it so he'd give it to me for $10, I gave him $20 since he was giving me such a good deal anyway. Crazy. This TV is AMMMMMMMMMMMAZING. Crazier than any TV I've ever seen before. Insane. So it was a great deal. Only problem? It weighs 216 lbs. Yes, Frank said it well... "so it's like we're lifting me into your apartment."

We got the thing back here and parked on the sidewalk. Then Jess opened the door for us (THANK GOODNESS I AM ON THE FIRST FLOOR) ahh!!!!!! We managed to hardly get the thing off the end of Frank's truck. Then slowly up and into the front door of my building. Then we almost passed out. I got gloves to help lift it and they didn't help at all. We ended up getting it up a couple stairs at a time, heaving and being careful to lift with our knees and not our backs, and trying not to drop it on each other's hands. Then Frank caught his thumb and I smashed my palm with the corner of the TV. Awesome. So that hurt but we were both ok and thankfully didn't totally slam the TV on the steps. Then we braced it on the stairs, and took a break... and then discovered we could almost slide it up the stairs slowly on the screen, and with an insane amount of effort. Finally after 30 min, we had got it up literally 12 carpeted steps. Wow. Then to get it into my apartment? We slid it on the carpet and then lifted it onto a towel on the floor. Then dragged the towel across the floor to place the TV, and then lifted it off the towel. Man. Like 45 min later, we'd moved the TV a grand total of maybe 15 metres from outside in Frank's truck, up 12 carpeted steps, and into my apartment. Whew. Then we plugged it in and magically it worked even though there were a couple of rough jolts we gave it along the way. Amazing.

Pretty hilarious review I just saw of this TV...

Pros: BEST audio/video content, flat screen, aesthetics
Cons: Pricey, weighs like a sumo wrestler

Taking a Ferry from the Ferry Building

The Richmond Bridge

Frank and I in costume, Frank is Will Ferrell from SNL's "I need more Cowbell" skit, and I am Turtle from Entourage!

Frank's crazy costume and Jess as Tank Girl

Us after actually getting the insane TV inside the apartment

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Apartment re-arranging

Tonight I was really tired, I ate dinner and watched some Simpsons, and pretty much within 20 min I was falling asleep. So I turned off the lights, jumped into bed, and slept for 3 and a half hours. Haha crazy. So I went to sleep from 8:30 until Midnight, and then got up and decided to move all my furniture around. This was the plan for this evening, but I guess I was too tired to do it before a major power nap. Anyway, all sorted out now!!

It took about an hour and a half only, which isn't bad. I also finally opened the Swiffer I bought like 2 months ago, and did a major sweep of the floor, and I also had a "Swiffer Wet" cloth which actually worked quite nicely on the floors. It is looking pretty sharp in here now, and more excitingly I have finnnnnnnnnaaaaally unrolled my cool blue square carpet, and re-organized my apartment to use the space better. I now have a nice amount of space ready for the TV which I should be getting tomorrow with Frank. This is great and I am finally going to be a little more organized here.

As well as cleaning the floors a lot, I moved some of my stuff off the floor and onto the couch so I have more encouragement to organize it sooner. I also moved a bunch of boxes into my dining room so I don't have to constantly look at them in here, and I can do them at a decent pace without tripping over them all the time. I am already a lot happier with the setup in here, and now that stuff isn't everywhere it's going to be easier to unpack whatever is still in boxes. Nice.

Front entrance, boxes moved

Boxes and guitars moved to my dining room

Oooooooh nice eh?!?! Nice and open now

New carpet finally unrolled, couch in a better spot, desk against the wall near the windows

The TV and entertainment center is going to go here where my desk was earlier

Friday, October 26, 2007

Star Wars Mr. Potato Head characters

How in the world do I not own these yet?


Darth Tater

SpudTrooper (and yes, that's a "Masher Laser")

This is so cool for like 100 reasons. I think I just found some more decorations for my desk at work. :)

ZipCar, Cool talk, Pizza and Games night

Today was a lot of rushin' around, but it was sweet. I headed up to the Ranch again today and it was awesome as usual. As I was driving up the big hill the low-gas light turned on in my ZipCar, and that was a bit concerning cause I wasn't really sure how long that means you have until you run out of gas!! So I fortunately managed to get back down the hill when I was heading back and to the gas station, good stuff. But, I got there and reversed back and forth a bunch trying to get a decent spot, and then pulled into a spot finally and I was on the wrong side of the car and the pump hose wasn't long enough! So then I finally got a spot and tried to pump and it wasn't working. I though it had something to do with the California gas pumps being weird. Finally some guy came out there and told me my credit card didn't work in the machine (I hadn't actually put it in there) and I would have to come in and pay. So then the machine worked and I finally filled the car with gas. Then when I tried to pay and use the ZipCar credit card inside the car, it totally didn't work. The dude tried it like 3 times. So I paid with my own credit card, and I guess ZipCar reimburses you the amount. Crazy. Then back to San Francisco with no worries.

This evening I headed to a really cool Andrew Stanton talk, and saw Jim Morris (the Producer of Wall-E) there and he said Hi and remembered me!! That's really nice cause there are like a bazillion people who he must have worked with over the years and it was nice of him to say Hi. Pretty amazing talk and it's always super awesome to hear the Pixar writers... they are sooooo talented.

After the talk I biked to the Shul for a Pizza and Games Night, I haven't really done too much other than the Young Adult Shabbos thing once since the High Holidays so it was nice to check it out and meet some more people. A few nice people there actually and I had a good time, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it but I went anyway and it was pretty fun. It was a nice smaller crowd compared to the last massive event so you got to talk to people more which was better. I think I'll go to more stuff with them for sure.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Europe photos, More videos from Europe

I've finally fully backed up all my photos from Europe onto my hard drive... the final count is:
  • 3861 Photos (10.66 GB)
  • 50 640x480 uncompressed movie files with sound (2.78 GB)
  • 13.44 GB total space
  • 1 huuuuuuuge awesome time :)
On that note I have a few more videos to post. One more from the Lamborghini Factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese in Italy, a cool Toyota Auris (yes, Auris, not Yaris... though that also exists in France for some reason) in Paris, and a hilarious video of this random dude who stopped us at the end of our Cinque Terre walk in Italy, and out of nowhere opened up a little shop for Grappa and Lemoncello, and it was hilarious.

Front of the Lamborghini Factory in Italy

Toyota Auris in Paris, France

Lemoncello and Grappa Salesman in Cinque Terre, Italy

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yes, I'm still bloggin' like a fiend

Yeah I know, like 5 posts today?!? Haha. I had to catch up. :) Fun weekend, and tonight rather than staying up to some ridiculous hour of the day watching movies, I am sorting out stuff. Made myself a nice dinner, washed all the dishes that were in the sink, took out the garbage and the recycling, doing 2 loads of laundry, picked out my Halloween costume for the party this weekend (I'm going to be Turtle from Entourage)... and now catching up on the bloggin'. After I get the laundry sorted I am going to try to do some work on my room here too... gotta move my desk cause I think I am getting my sweeeeeeeeet TV this weekend. Also Halloween Party. MAN!! Exciting times. Work is also totally sweeeeeeet this week, starting a new project now and going to be working on something with a bunch of people and it's going to be really interesting since I think a lot of people will use it. Rock ON!!

Sofia Coppolla's Marie Antionette

Yeah, it was SO good.

I thought it was brilliant. Kirsten Dunst was an excellent choice, and played the role with passion and just the right amount of immaturity and naivete turned into forced maturity that I think the director was going for. The scenery was beautiful, and I can't believe they actually filmed it at Versailles. Beautiful. It is a strange and utterly unique take on history, and I was totally impressed. If so-called "Period Pieces" were more like this, they'd be more relevant to viewers today.

I totally got what she was trying to do, and I felt that Marie Antionette was in the same realm (or at least genre) as Baz Luhrmann's beautifully crafted 1996 version of Romeo and Juliet. Such an interesting idea, and pulled off very nicely. I agree with some of the other reviews I read, that some of the chatting and that the dialog was occasionally hard to hear. I think that was completely on purpose - Sofia Coppola wanted to show these people as "real people" and not like far-off Historical Figures who are hard to relate to and we think they don't have the same problems as people have today. It was almost like watching a Reality TV show at times... just awesome. Well done.

Hayes Valley, Matt's Apt

Sunday we went to Hayes Valley, really cool area of the city and we got some Blue Bottle Coffee which was super awesome as usual, then some nice tea and then went to Matt's apartment which I hadn't seen until now!! So it rocked and I spent some time setting up Eclipse for him on his new computer. In the evening we chilled with Matt's friends and I busted out some guitar. Good times.

Getting some Blue Bottle Coffee at the Hayes Valley Blue Bottle Coffee Co!!!!!!

Tea time!!

Mmm... granola, fresh fruit, greek yoghurt and honey... awessooome!!

And... welcome to the USA. Hehe. :)