l33tminion: (Skilled)
More travel this weekend. This time, Julie and I are traveling separately: Julie (with Erica) went to visit her parents and attend a memorial service for her grandfather, I went to Portland, Oregon to attend PyCon for work.

This hasn't been the best conference trip for me. A combination of exhaustion, confusion, and generally being under the weather led to me missing almost all of the conference on Friday (though I did get some work done). Saturday I felt great and well-rested, but last night I had a hard time sleeping and an upset stomach, so I'm exhausted again. Jet lag seems to be hitting me a lot harder than usual. Still, it's a great conference and I'm glad I went. The Saturday talks were especially interesting, and I really enjoyed talking to people at Google's booth at the expo and meeting some of my coworkers from further afield.

I'm also glad I caught one of the Portland PyCons. I do like what little of Portland I've seen. The downtown seems so nicely designed, with it's square grid of streets and the streetcar system and just the right amount of height and density. The conference changes location every two years, and I missed last. PyCon 2018 and 2019 will be in Cleveland, which is less exciting than Portland, but convenient for me.
l33tminion: (L33t)
It would be easier to title these posts if it didn't take me several days to get around to it.

Melissa came to visit this weekend (arrived Saturday and left early Tuesday morning). She was visiting Boston University since she's planning to apply for their MFA program. Was a lovely visit, especially since she provided a great deal of help with the kid (seriously, she changed diapers and everything). Saturday evening we went out for dinner with extended family (Amy and Josh and Milly and Marty), Sunday evening we went out to celebrate Melissa's birthday, and Monday I cooked dinner at home. Actually got a fair amount of cooking done: Mushroom and pea shoot omelette on Saturday morning, roast chicken and vegetables, pea shoot salad, and baked sweet potato with dukkah (which Julie made earlier) for Monday night.

Sunday morning, Melissa took the kid and went to visit friends, and (in addition to chores) I managed to watch all of Madoka Magica. If you enjoy anime, I'd recommend it: It's short (12 ~20 min. episodes) and has the sort of quality you'd expect form an Akiyuki Shinbo / Gen Urobuchi collab (i.e. a lot).

(I hear the kid enjoyed her museum visit. A good staircase is still a world of adventure.)

The Super Bowl Sunday seems like it was quite the game. (Sorry, Atalanta fans.)

Work is going all right this week, but it's a bit hectic.

Today, I'm out at Olin helping with campus recruiting and doing an interview-prep workshop. It feels only a short time since I was here with the kid a year ago.

This morning, the ground was covered with a thin layer of ice, which made the walk to daycare a bit too exciting. It was all melted an hour later, though. But tomorrow we're getting a snowstorm.

Julie's postdoc ends on Friday. But her entrepreneurial work continues.

This weekend, we're going to Intercon, which I missed last year and is still probably foolishness to go to this year, what with looking after the kid. I'm only signed up for a few games, though.

Eristic improvements: Still working on standing up unsupported (despite some early successes, she seems to be having difficulty with this still, though maybe she's trying when more tired), using specific sounds to communicate specific things (though I'm not sure I can quite say that she's learned words yet), more complex causal modeling (i.e. she knows the remote control works somehow and is determined to figure it out).


Aug. 4th, 2015 12:02 am
l33tminion: (L33t)
Drove out to Windsor Locks, CT for 9Pi-Con this weekend. Was really excited to be able to attend that again. Last year, they were on hiatus, the year before I had a schedule conflict. As always, it was a really relaxing and fun convention, good panel discussions, readings, parties, and games. Unfortunately, this one is to be the last in the series.

Last week, started a housing search. That continues this week. Hopefully won't be too long, it's really disruptive. We're working with a real estate agent, thinking of buying something of our own this time.

On an unrelated note, caught two movies in the past few weeks: Mr. Holmes was very good, Ian McKellen's performance as an aging Sherlock Holmes is brilliant. And Inside Out was great, well worth seeing in theaters. The advertising for that film looked pretty dumb, so I was surprised when it got such rave reviews, but it turns out that in addition to the visual humor and charming animation, it's a moving story with a huge amount of depth. It's a surprisingly high-theory movie for a family-friendly animated film. (One of the anthropromorphized emotions passes time reading from a shelf of mental how-to manuals, I wouldn't be surprised if that was an inside joke referring to some a shelf full of psychology textbooks sitting somewhere in the animators' office.)
l33tminion: (Train)
So I stayed up all night and moved over five time-zones just so I could get in to the office earlier. I can't sleep on planes, at all. But if I stay up until night again, I'll be fine, probably.

I'm in London! My first time in London (also, my first time in Europe). So far, pretty much all I've seen (airport and train aside) is one of the London Google offices. It's pretty cool!

About last week: PyCon was fun. I particularly enjoyed the talk on memory forensics using Volatility (Where in your RAM is "python san_diego.py"?), Gabriella Coleman's talk on Anonymous, and Guido's talk on Python Type Annotations.

And taking Porter Airlines to Montreal was surprisingly good. They're a little discount carrier that does hub-and-spoke out of a single airport (Toronto City), using fuel-efficient Bombardier Q400 prop planes. From the price, I was expecting a very "no frills" experience, but it was quite the opposite: Reasonably comfortable seats, snacks and drinks including complimentary wine or beer (with drinks served in actual glassware), a nice lounge on the layover (with complimentary snacks, drinks, and wifi). The history of the airline is a rather interesting case study.
l33tminion: (Enlightened)
Pasadena trip last weekend (a side-trip for Julie, on her way to Synberc) was really good. Got to play in one of the Ingress live events (a win for our team in Pasadena, though still an overall loss for this series). Enjoyed spending some time with Sean and Morgan (my sibs-in-law), catching up with some of Julie's old friends, visiting Caltech, drinking strawberry lemonade at the Caltech Athenaeum, and seeing some of the more touristy spots in LA. Was quite a shock to go from 20 degrees to 90 in the span of a week.

Got back to work in time to wrap up some end of quarter things before heading off to PyCon in Montreal next Tuesday. And I've made further conference plans to go to the European Lisp Symposium in London the following week.

Friday, I was struck down by a horrible stomach bug (or flu or something). The worst. At least it wasn't while I was travelling.

Today, I finally got around to seeing The Golden Compass, which I'd had out from Netflix on DVD for the last far-too-many months. I'll warn those who have read the book to not expect much depth in the adaptation and those who have not to not expect a lot of hand-holding on the exposition. Honestly, I think the movie is probably about as good as a movie that adapts that book into an under-two-hours pulp-fantasy PG-13 pic could be. The pacing is very tight, they have a very talented cast, and the visual style is spectacular. I enjoyed it.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Ingress has really taken over our social life this week. On Friday night, a group of players from our team organized to paint the town green, and Julie and I took a five-hour stroll through downtown (from 11 PM until well after 4 in the morning), with a stop for 3AM coffee and cannoli at Bova's Bakery.

This weekend, we're going to Pasadena for more Ingress and to catch up with some of Julie's Caltech friends. Then Julie's going on to Synberc and we're meeting back in Boston just in time to leave for PyCon in Monreal.

I should come up with some London travel plans, too, while Xave is there.

Busy busy.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Thirst Boston was last weekend. I didn't hear about it last year until it was happening, but from all the buzz among involved acquaintances on social media, it seemed like a cool event. This year I couldn't decide whether or not to go, but then Julie got us Saturday tickets last minute. It was a lot of fun, very interesting seminars/tastings, cool souvenirs, and really awesome after-party at Drink and Tavern Row. (I'm sure the rest of the weekend was fun, too, but the one day was a lot. But if I was to do it again I'd consider going for the whole thing and clearing my schedule.)

Got hit by a terrible cold and was down for the count Tuesday, but totally fine again by Thursday. At least it was brief.

On Wednesday, went to see Big Hero 6 at the new Assembly Row theater. Was my first visit to Assembly Row. While it does have that uncanny-valley "mixed-use development" feel, it at least has some good shops and restaurants, a more-luxurious-than-usual cinema, and a shiny new T stop on the Orange Line. (About the movie: It's awesome and you should see it.)

Work is very busy. I'll be in a new office next week (moving up two floors). Lots of people in the Cambridge office are shuffling to keep teams in proximity as the office continues to grow. It's a bit chaotic.

Tomorrow, I have some complimentary tickets (courtesy of Yelp Boston) to the Drink Craft Beer Fall Fall To Winter Fest.

In a week, I'll be going home for Thanksgiving break.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Last weekend: BarCamp Boston (a tech unconference) was fun. Probably the sessions I got the most out of were a discussion of technical interviews, which prompted me to write this essay, and a workshop on public speaking by Eric Wei.

Last week: Work was very busy, but I made good progress on several things. I gave my presentation for QPX Training and got good feedback.

This weekend: Summery weather yesterday (the last for the year?). Had brunch on the patio at Neighborhood Restaurant and went to the Union Square Farmer's Market. There was a Yelp Somerville party at Brooklyn Boulders in the evening. Today, the weather turned cold. Broke my winter jacket out of storage and put some summer clothes away.

This week: Thursday and Friday I'll be attending the Google Cambridge Leadership Summit.

Next weekend: Julie's dad and sister and our niece will be in town!
l33tminion: (L33t)
The Boston Festival of Indie Games was on Saturday, and it was awesome! The video game portion was good, but I spent most of the day in the tabletop expo, playing demos of prototype and pre-release board and card games. Played RE:VERSUS (pre-release version of an "evil rummy" set-making cards-with-numbers game with simple-but-fun mechanics and great card design), Grave Robber's Dilemma (prototype of a simultaneous-reveal strategy game with a bit of dark humor), Skyline (co-op 3D perspective puzzle game), Moonquake Escape (prototype of an elaborate board game, don't know how well-balanced the strategy was, but it certainly had depth and a lot of zany action, would make a good family game-night game), Mutiny! (a prototype of a game based on the pirate game, fun, though it will surely need some adjustments and a new name), Goblin Law (prototype deck-building and card placing game with goblins and explosions, a fun game), and Starborne (pre-release simultaneous-reveal mech combat card game, mechanics and flavor were great, really fun; I wish their website had more pictures and description but I am definitely jumping on their Kickstarter as soon as it's up). And I didn't have time to see the half of it, the expo was a very lively event.

Sherman Cafe in Union Square closed for good this weekend. I'll really miss that place. It was a wonderful venue, with some amazing food and coffee. A very sad occasion for the neighborhood.

I was also surprised to find that Tommy Doyle's in Kendall Square has closed for good, abruptly going out of business Thursday with staff only notified day-of. Their Harvard Square location closed earlier this year, but I'd thought the Kendall location was doing well. Apparently not.
l33tminion: (Skilled)
Last weekend, I was at the International Lisp Conference in Montreal, at the beautiful University of Montreal. (I stayed in their ultra-cheap surplus dorm hotel, which was comfortable enough but not at all luxurious. Couldn't beat the location, though.)

There were some cool demos and academic stuff, but I was most focused on all the excitement on the practical side of Common Lisp:
  • ASDF 3 (a buildsystem and portability layer)
  • Quicklisp (a package management system, just (load "quicklisp.lisp") once to set it up, then (ql:quickload :package) to load a package and all of its dependencies, downloading and installing them automatically if necessary)
  • cl-launch (a program for running Common Lisp files as simple scripts (soon will be as simple as #!/usr/bin/cl plus your code) or creating standalone executables)
I'm not going to jump into thinking that a Common Lisp revolution is right around the corner, but the usability is going up.

I liked Robert Smith's presentation on cl-permutation. And Ken Wakita's presentation on ExJS, a hygenic macro system for JavaScript where the intermediate expression is Scheme code! (Seemed a bit like an inversion of the usual "when you have Lisp, you have any language" aphorism.) The proceedings are published here.
l33tminion: (L33t)
The weekend before last, I was out of town at PyCon. It was fun representing Google at the career fair, and I enjoyed the talks I attended. I was able to work from the Montreal office that Monday before heading home. I see why people are so happy at that office, it's a neat little space with a small engineering team. Plus Montreal seemed like a pretty interesting and friendly city.

Some talks of note:A larger set of talks and tutorials is up here.

This weekend was marathon weekend, yet another weekend when all the things happen at once. Bergamot serves an amazing Easter brunch.

Getting ready for wedding season. DJ and Michelle are getting married in two weeks, my cousin Ben's wedding is two weeks after that.

The situation in Ukraine continues to be messed up.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Intercon (live-action gaming convention) was this past weekend, and it was fun!

Friday evening, played in "Last Fair Deal Gone Down", which had a story about supernatural deals gone wrong, an evocative setting out of American folk music and blues, and the best use of in-story music in a theatrical game that I've seen. Included one character singing O Death as they attempted to ward off a supernatural ferryman, which made for a really great scene.

On Saturday, I was looking forward to playing "Heithur" since Andrew, a friend of mine, was one of the people writing/running it. I certainly liked the characters and setting (supernatural noir in a setting where Norway instead of Britain became the great power of the world). But there were some real glitches in how it was run, so I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I'd hoped.

I really liked Xave's late-night game "Persona: Too Late" (based on the video game series, especially Persona 3 and Persona 4). Really captured the feel of the source material in a remarkable way, and ran pretty smoothly for a first run without much prior play-testing. Plus the midnight time-slot was perfect for a game set in "the Dark Hour" (lots of fantasy stories involve some supernatural place imperceptible to most, in Persona 3 that place is a supernatural 13th hour inhabited by vengeful shadows).

Also played in one of the Iron GM games (a game-writing competition where games are written from some strange set of story elements in 24 hours one weekend and then run the next) and a game based on The Thin Man movies (which wasn't very well tuned but certainly captured the setting well).
l33tminion: (Exile)
I made plans to go to PAX East and then realized I'd have to miss them to go to PyCon (decided to do the latter anyways).

I made plans to go to Pi-Con (was excited that was happening again after hiatus last year) but then had to unmake them because that conflicted with Sandy Island. I neglected to realize that "the last weekend in June" overlaps with "the week of July 4".

l33tminion: (Skilled)
Work is crazy. A lot of work to eke out incremental code quality and performance improvements. Interesting, though.

PyCon was great. It was a huge event this time, sold out at 2500 attendees. Interesting talks, friendly crowd.

Unfortunately, most of the post-con coverage has focused on this one incident, which could have been an opportunity to productively discuss professional conduct at conferences and how that relates to gender issues (I think the PyCon staff acted admirably and did all they could to facilitate things going in that direction), but in fact the outcome was that everyone directly involved lost their job and an army of trolls emerged to set gender relations in the tech industry back infinity years.

This weekend, I'm going to PAX East (just Saturday and Sunday, three-day passes sold out before I could get any this year). I'm looking forward to seeing Supergiant Studios demo their new game. Don't know what else. Maybe want to spend more time on the expo floor this year than last.
l33tminion: (Exile)
Intercon was fun. Hiterby Dragons is one heck of a setting.

Speaking of games and settings, I'm excited to see that Shadowrun Returns has completed their Kickstarter and is well underway with the development of their game. Shadowrun is a great setting, the tabletop game had mechanics that really worked well with that setting, and the developers of this game really seem to get that. Does that mean the game will be good? Don't know, but early footage is promising.

Another thing I want to point out of definite interest to computer RPG fans, this Kickstarter for a Planescape: Torment sequel. Now, I can provide even less confidence that this one will be good; Planescape: Torment continually comes up on lists of the best RPGs, the setting is interesting and fantastic and the writing is superb, it won't be easy to match. I would have been glad to see another game in the Planescape setting, certainly Torment explored only a tiny fraction of that. But the developers of this game are taking a different approach, taking another deep setting (Monte Cook's Numenera, an as of yet unreleased and vastly overfunded tabletop setting from game designer Monte Cook) and creating a game with similar plot and themes to Torment, with a focus on writing that develops the character and setting in interesting ways, focusing on exploration and choice. Worth taking a look at the Kickstarter if you were a fan of the original, they seem to have a good team (including some of the people who worked on Torment at Interplay) and certainly enough funds to make a good attempt. (Plus the intro to their Kickstarter video is pretty funny.)

This trend of Kickstarter as an indie game publishing platform is pretty interesting. The obvious interesting thing is that Kickstarter has been successful at funding projects that major publishers might find too small / risky / unprofitable. What's struck me lately is that there are a lot of different sorts of Kickstarter projects. These two feature old, established game developers returning to beloved projects that they couldn't return to in a big-company context, collaborating with young indie devs. That's pretty different from an established game company choosing crowd-funding over a publisher. Or from two people with a new-IP prototype seeking to complete their game.

On an entirely different topic: I've been thinking about cookbooks. Lately, I've been mostly cooking from recipes found on the internet or just winging it. But in the past, I enjoyed browsing through cookbooks and planning elaborate meals. It's also pleasant to idly thumb through cookbooks, too, they're nice to have around. They can be beautiful and interesting art objects in addition to culinary references and containers of delicious recipes. So I thought I'd ask, oh readers of this journal, what are your favorite cookbooks?
l33tminion: (Exile)
Work has been crazy-but-productive for me the last few weeks. I'm doing a presentation on some of the stuff I've been working on for my coworkers on Monday, hope it won't be too boring.

Pi-Con last weekend was fun, with not nearly as many hurricanes as last year. Skipped most of the panels, spent a lot of time on games: More Innovation, a round of Fiasco (a quick collaborative storytelling game that produces convoluted movie-like plots), Red November (a crazy collaborative players-versus-environment boardgame featuring gnomish submariners), and a one-off tabletop RPG the Fallout universe (played with the Savage Worlds system). Due to organizational difficulties, there was no video-gaming at Pi-Con this year. And the whole con is on hiatus next year, returning in 2014.

Today, I went to see Red Bull's cliff-diving event (in which athletes jumped off of the ICA into Boston Harbor). Was pretty awesome!

Tomorrow, there's an Olin alumni meetup on the Cambridge Common. Should be fun.

Lots of Win

May. 9th, 2012 12:30 am
l33tminion: (Yay!)
Last weekend was ROFLCon (the conference on internet memes), which is always fun and hilarious, and it was particularly great this year:
1. It got a huge amount of attention in the local free press (features in the Metro and the Phoenix and an entire issue of the Weekly Dig).
2. The parties were amazing (with thanks to the generosity of the Cheezburger Network).
3. The keynote was amazing and panels were also amazing.
4. Isaiah Mustafa couldn't attend but still managed to do a Q&A via Skype.

Sunday evening, I went to see the Avengers with Film Club, but the showing was sold out, so saw Cabin in the Woods instead. Highly recommend that one if you like horror movies. It's a movie that's hard to say anything about without spoilers, so I'll just say it adds a little extra something to the usual slasher-movie plot, it's written by Joss Whedon, and it's good both as a serious horror movie and a bit of a send-up of the horror movie genre.

Also, Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown is great after a movie.

On Monday, climbed harder courses than before, but still no harder than v1+.

Today at work, completed the first round shadowing an interview. Can't say anything about the specific interview, obviously, but I do feel I got a good feel for the process, and it's interesting to be involved in that side of recruiting.

PAX Easter

Apr. 10th, 2012 03:18 pm
l33tminion: (Pwnt)
This past weekend was the weekend when everything was scheduled all at once: No fewer than three major events that I would have considered going to, plus Passover and Easter. What I did end up going to was PAX East, with a break on Friday to attend a Passover seder with my extended family.

PAX was fun this year. I spent far less time on the expo floor than I did in past years, since I wanted to take in more of the tabletop games with Julie. I focused a lot on old-favorites, played two M:tG tournaments (both a mini-master format, where players receive far too few cards to build their starting decks, but winners of each round get to move on to the next with additional cards and the chance to rebuild), a few rounds of Dominion, and a not-yet-released lines-and-dots game of castle building.

I didn't miss the expo floor entirely: I played a demo of a stylish heist game, flailed around in front of a screen playing Fruit Ninja Kinect, played far too many rounds of Jetpack Joyride, and puzzled through a few levels of Lawnmower Challenge. I also got to pick up a 3DS for the first time. I'm not sure if the 3D display will really make any game better, but it's a rather magical gimmick.
l33tminion: (Skilled)
Back from PyCon and the Googleplex! On my way back, anyways. There's (surprisingly good) wifi on the plane.

PyCon was great, in particular the tutorials on iPython (the latest versions have an awesome Mathematica-like notebook interface, where you can make rich multimedia documents with runnable code snippets) and the scikit-learn library (a powerful machine-learning toolkit).

Google's HQ is also cool (and huge!). Reminds me of college, really has a "summer camp for engineers"-type vibe. Despite some hassles involved in remoting, I was still able to get a fair amount of work done.

Looking forward to being back in Boston!
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Intercon was fun this year! Played in a few games:

BloodNet - Based on this MicroProse game from '93, about what it said on the tin.

The Madrian Secret - A game with a retro sci-fi atmosphere.

Life at the Securemarket - Based on this, which you should consider reading if you like Snow Crash and the like.

Dreams of Peace, Dreams of War - League of Nations IN SPACE but despite that description played dead straight and serious (despite being mostly people talking around one table, the game managed to be tense, dramatic, and interesting).

Flew the Coop - Silly, chickens were involved.

This week and next I'm heading to PyCon for professional development, and visiting the Google HQ at Mountain View.
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