Happy New Year!

Another year come and gone. Hopefully everybody is out having a good time or recovering from a good time. I just finished up for the night and am planning to get some reading done before bed, but thought a quick blog post summarizing the year was in order.

  • This year marks my second year living in the Bay Area and working at VMware, and my first year really heading up some larger projects. I began the year by working on what would in time be known as VMware Server, and spent the first half of the year head down at my desk working on each release. Following that, I’ve been working on specifications, feature implementations, and even Tango-style icons for VMware Workstation 6.0, which I will continue with for some time.
  • Jamie and I have now been dating for just over two years.
  • For the first time, I was invited to FooCamp, hosted by Tim O’Reilly. Awesome event that I really hope to be invited back to next year.
  • I learned to boogie board with a couple of friends in Santa Cruz. Later in the summer, Jamie and I took a nice vacation in Santa Cruz and spent most of it at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
  • I had my second trip to Boston this year for the GNOME Summit. I went with Jamie to Salem and explored the touristy little town. Fun place, and I’d definitely like to spend more time there in the next couple of years.
  • I went with some friends to Castro St. in San Francisco for the first time for the big Halloween costume party that they have every year. We found out the following day that there was a shooting not too far from us, which was unnerving.
  • I got a Nintendo DS and a Wii, and have spent far too much money on both. I’m going to just start signing over my paychecks to Nintendo.

I’m sure I’m missing a few things. 🙂

Now, New Years Eve doubles as my mom’s birthday, which I imagine was not fun when growing up. I think the only day worse for a birthday is Christmas. It was certainly fun tonight, though. The night was spent with my mom, stepdad, brothers, sister, and Jamie. We watched Cars and played Scrabble, Bomberman Touch! for the DS (fun game!), and Cranium. We ended up spending most of the evening on Cranium, which has to be my favorite family game. We kept laughing so hard that we got ourselves sick.

Jamie brought over a bottle of champagne for us to drink. It was a late Christmas present, intended for New Years. We’re not heavy drinkers, so we only finished half the bottle, but it was very nummy. Along with that, we had a variety of snacks, including cheeses, beef sausages, vegetables, sodas, and pizza. This was, I think, my first New Years with my sister Jenna, as she had always been visiting cousins on New Years. She was pretty good most of the night, considering she had to stay up until midnight 🙂

January 1, 2007. With any luck, this year will be more exciting and eventful than last year. There are changes I hope to make, projects to abandon, projects to take up, and places to go. I think I’ll get some sleep so that I can get a head start on that.

Happy New Year!

Birthday Bash and Mario Bros

This past week was crunch time at work. People working all hours of the day and night, barely seeing their homes. And I had a lot to do, like everyone else. So what did I do? I went home to visit friends and family.

There’s a good reason, though. It was my girlfriend’s birthday, which I wouldn’t have missed for anything. I organized a little surprise party with our friends at a nice sushi restaurant. I decided to spoil her, and bought her a Black Nintendo DS Lite, Brain Age, Sonic Rush, Super Princess Peach (which she loves), and Mario Kart DS.

I did actually manage to get everything I needed done for work, though. The trick is to learn how not to sleep. I’d get up every morning, work, spend time with friends, family, and Jamie.. Go home, work, go to bed around 4, repeat. It was worth it, though.

I didn’t get to visit with my sister Jenna as much as I would have liked, but we still had fun and did our usual donut and AM/PM run. Jamie and Jenna and I did spend some time feeding the ducks, though, which was a lot of fun. It was one of those days you thoroughly enjoy. All the stress of life went away. It was just us and the ducks. Ah, new memories.

While back home, I purchased a DVD box set of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Clearly the best purchase I’ve ever made. My sister, who is now six years old and a Super Smash Bros. nut, saw the DVD box and begged me to let her watch it. We watched a view episodes, with her glued to the TV, and my mom asked her if she liked it. She said, “No, I don’t like it… I LOVE IT!!”

How’s that for an endorsement? And I got to enjoy old cartoons I watched at her age with her. She’ll be coming to visit in a couple of weeks and we’ll be watching some more. Now I need to introduce her to The Legend of Zelda, Captain N: The Game Master (which really needs to be on DVD), and Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. I can pretend to be a kid again through her eyes 🙂

Vacation to Santa Cruz

My girlfriend Jamie and I took a vacation to Santa Cruz. We both were looking forward to getting away from work and everything else and just relaxing for a few days. And relax we did. The trip was a blast, and like any good vacation, it went by quick.

We started the trip on Tuesday, August 8th, riding the Amtrak to Santa Cruz. We stayed at the Riverside Inn. It was not a great hotel. They forgot to give us a number of things… But, it was clean enough, and the prices were reasonable, especially for the area, and it was close to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and various beaches. All in all, it wasn’t a bad place, as long as you don’t mind bugging the staff every day or so 🙂

We spent most of the first evening just getting settled into our hotel. We took a trip to the Boardwalk, which was only a couple blocks away. I had been there once before for the Workstation 5.0 release party, but a lot of it was closed off, so I didn’t realize just how big it was or how many rides were there. Jamie had never been there before, so this was in many ways a first for both of us.

We bought a 60 ticket sheet, which we later discovered may not have been the best investment. We expected to only be there for one day, and didn’t think the rides were as expensive as they were. Ah well. It turns out that on Mondays and Tuesdays after 5PM, the rides were only 1 ticket, so we did get to go on several before turning in for the night.

On the second day, Wednesday, we went to this little restaurant called the “Beach Street Cafe.” While the food was good, the service left much to be desired. It took forever for them to even acknowledge our existence and seat us. After breakfast, we hung out at the boardwalk and used some more of our tickets. We played miniature golf a couple of times and played a round of laser tag. It was a long, exhausting, but fun day. We found out that on Wednesdays and Thursdays after 5PM, unlimited ticket bracelets dropped from something like $28 to around $8, or something like $13 for one that included two free things like mini-golf and laser tag. We each got the $13 ticket bracelets, which we used for one of the mini-golf rounds and laser tag.

Mini-golf was a blast. The whole thing took place in this pirate caverns place. We haven’t played in years, so we were both pretty bad, but not as bad as we expected. Jamie was doing pretty good for a lot of it, once she warmed up. We kept score the first time, but decided it wasn’t worth it the second time, especially since we were trying to take pictures and didn’t want to hold up the people behind us.

The third day, Thursday, we rented a couple of wet suits and boogie boards and went to Seabright, a nice beach right next to Twin Lakes Beach. We were practically inbetween the two I guess. 20 feet away from Twin Lakes. The walk there was long and painful, as we kind of underestimated the distance and started off taking the long way around to there.

There weren’t that many people on the beach, which was nice because we expected to make fools out of ourselves. This was my second time boogie boarding, and I loved doing it, despite some minor injuries that resulted. Basically, I was hit by a wave and the board stuck in the sand, while my gut smacked into the top, knocking the wind out of me. It hurt for a bit, but there were no major injuries.

Jamie had never gone boogie boarding before, but I talked her into it and except for this one wave that took her by surprise, she enjoyed it too. We spent some time relaxing on the beach and making sand castles/pyramids. We were there probably 4 hours or so. Then we begun the long walk back. We then proceeded to go back to the Boardwalk for some more fun.

On the fourth day, Friday, we decided to buy souvenirs and go on a few more rides. I bought a pirate hour glass, a whole bunch of shot glasses, a towel, some Santa Cruz poker chips, and probably some other stuff. There was a store there getting rid of a bunch of their inventory and they said we could name the price on several things, so we bought up a bunch of half broken and useless junk 🙂 Some of it was nice, though, and very fixable.

That was our last real day, as we had to leave Saturday. We spent the evening on the wharf, going to a nice restaurant for dinner, and just walking around. Our legs were very sore by the end of all this, by the way. 🙂

On Saturday, we went home and attempted to relax, exhausted after our busy but extremely fun trip.

Update: More pics available here.

Ducks, videos and turtle hopping

Ducks

As busy as I’ve been lately, I was able to take the opportunity last Saturday to visit my family and my girlfriend. I took my little 5-year old sister Jenna and my girlfriend Jamie to feed ducks, which was a first for Jenna. She was a bit scared at first when the ducks started to approach her, but she quickly got over it. It wasn’t the warmest of days, and after a while Jamie and I decided it was time to leave. We told Jenna it’s time to stop and that it’s getting too cold, but
Jenna is a stubborn girl who enjoys the cold. “Just cuddle together” was her response, and she continued to feed the ducks. Ah well. Once we assured her we would come back another time, she willingly left.

Videos

I was browsing around del.icio.us today and came across an interesting site, YouTube. It’s a tag-based video posting site where people can upload videos and they’ll be played in a Flash wrapper, like Google Video uses. I’ve found a few neat videos so far, but haven’t explored it as much as I’d like. I’ve never heard of it before tonight, though, so I thought I’d post it for others to play with.

Turtle Hopping

So it turns out that there’s a number of developers writing new versions of Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda games. They’re not bad, either. I haven’t played very far into any of them, but they definitely look promising. The main ones I’ve found are Super Mario: Blue Twilight (a 2D side-scroller similar to SMB3 but with some Mario 64 elements, taking place in a halloween land), Super Mario War (kill all the other Marios before they kill you), Super Maryo World (a Mario game written in JavaScript), and Super Mario Pac (a combination of Super Mario World and Super Mario Sunshine).

On top of that, there’s a set of instructions for accessing developer-only areas of Super Mario Bros 3. A room full of Tanooki suits! Awesome.

As for the Legend of Zelda, check out Zelda Classic. It’s Windows-only for now, but they claim there’s a Linux version coming out. It’s the Zelda engine (plus some additional features) with support for custom games. There are many game sets provided by other users, some mediocre, some excellent and detailed. I recommend playing around with it.

And now, for the old-style unmodified retro games. Sure you could download emulators and do things that way, but why bother when there’s 1980-games.com, Every Video Game Online, Game-Oldies, Play Infocom Adventures Online, and C64s.com? Nice ways to quickly kill a few minutes from anywhere.

For the Tetris-type puzzle fans out there, I present to you Stackopolis!

(Can you tell I’m going through a nostalgia phase?)

The Big 22

Okay, I don’t know how big it is, but I’m 22 today! Now I can, um, get drunk? No, that was last year. Hmm. Okay, so 22 isn’t special. It’s just one day closer to 30. Still, today should be a very fun day. My girlfriend is coming to visit, I have some presents to open, and I bought some good movies to watch.

Yesterday was fun as well. My team at work treated me to sushi at my favorite sushi restaurant (Fuki Sushi). We sat in one of those Tatami rooms (where you take your shoes off and sit on the ground), which I’ve always wanted to try. Later we played Tetrinet for a bit, and then I took off with my dad. We got some dinner, watched Sahara, and then called it a night.

I’ve spent most of today looking online for old Zelda and Mario comics. I’m quite pleased to find a large selection of scans 🙂 If anyone has any resources for Mario comic scans, I’d love to see them.

For all those people who just love me so much and have nothing better to do with their money, I’ve posted a small wishlist up 😉 You know you want to.

And now it’s about time to take off and meet my girlfriend at the train station.

One whole year!

Wow. Today (Sunday, Nov. 27th) is Jamie and my one year anniversary. How time flies. It doesn’t feel like more than a few months ago that we met and nervously started going out. Unfortunately, I spent the day travelling back home (I was visiting for Thanksgiving), but we had a nice lunch and dinner yesterday, and she’ll be coming to spend some time in a couple of weeks. And despite the annoying distance, we’re still doing just fine. Yay, go us!

Mood: Asleep

It’s way too early for me. I got up at 7:00, which is not something I do very often at all. I’m groggy and wearing my Destroy Mornings shirt. Still, it’s for a good cause! I’m seeing my girlfriend in half an hour or so and heading back home to visit family and friends. My little sister Jenna is turning five years old. I could have sworn that she was this little thing that practically fit in my hands only a few days ago, but somehow, she turned five.

I bought her this very cool Vtech Nitro Notebook, which looks and feels like a laptop (albeit a cheap one). She’s been wanting a real computer for a while, and though I won’t buy her a real one just yet, this will feel close enough for her. She knows the difference between real computers and toys, but she’ll still like it.

This thing has 80 built-in activities. English, Spanish, science, social studies, math, etc. It even has a My Tools area where you can populate an addressbook of names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. There’s a lot to this little device. One of the features they advertise that I like, though I have not tested it, is that the difficulty apparently adjusts to the level at which the user is at. So if she’s having trouble in an area, it’s supposed to become easier so she can begin to complete it, and then the difficulty will eventually go back up. We can check how she’s doing with this built-in progress report. On top of all this, it has some games and stories.

Cool toy. I want one for myself 🙂

SVLUG

Last Wednesday at SVLUG, I gave a talk (well, more of an interview in the format of The Actors Studio) on Galago, Project Soylent, the Desktop Notifications spec libsexy, and some other stuff (demos of Beagle and such). We scheduled this something like six months ago, and I was nervous as hell the day of the talk. It actually went really well, though, and people seemed genuinely interested. I had a lot of questions at the end about the various things I’m doing and plan to do. I wish I had it in some re-broadcastable format.

Heading out soon, so I’m wrapping this up for now.