Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Birthday for Takaki-san

I had lunch with Kevin and Behzad today, celebrating Kevin's birthday. It seems that we tend to get together as a group of three these days, which is somehow appropriate. You see, I have worked with Kevin and Behzad, but at different times and for different companies. Further, Kevin has also worked with Behzad independent of me. It's an interesting intersection of circles that makes for fun conversations where sometimes only two of the three participants really knows what is going on.

Okay, I'll be honest - I'm the one usually in the dark.

It's ok though. We are three guys who really have very little in common other than a shared work experience and possibly a common interest in video games. Yet I count both of them as more than just casual friends. Maybe it's because while we were working together we ended up chatting about whatever was going on in our lives so we just got to know each other well. Who knows? However it happened, I'm happy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

End Credits

The other day I completed Far Cry 2. At the end of the game, the credits roll. While this used to be just an afterthought, if at all, I've noticed that it is becoming a much bigger deal for a lot of games. Last year I played Portal, a much shorter game and got a huge payoff with the ending credits. They had put together one of the most memorable endings to date, complete with a catchy tune and retro ascii art. While the end credit sequence for Far Cry 2 wasn't as original as Portal's, it was still polished and did include a separate musical score. I did find it was a bit long though.

The other thing about ending credits is that often, they aren't interruptable. You have to let it play through. This is in contrast to say, a movie, where you usually stop watching. I think it is why some films started putting in out takes and using better music - most people just aren't there to read the fine print.

Another game that handles end credits well is Left 4 Dead but in that case the credits are just a fun way of displaying player stats for the round. But then, you can complete one of the campaigns in that game in a little more than an hour, far shorter than a typical computer game.

Of all the games I have played, I probably only finished about half at best. In all cases, they are my favorite games. I guess this makes sense as I wouldn't continue playing a game I didn't really enjoy.

As usual, I've put up photos taken from around Vancouver. Also as usual, they have nothing to do with what I'm talking about. But I figure every story ought to have some pictures.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Not Selected

Jury Selection. I was actually excited about participating in this process until I learned that it also meant going a month without pay. When faced with that reality it became clear that I needed to prepare my reasons to beg off, at least for this trial.

Still, on the morning of, I arrived at the courthouse with the excitement of a kid on a factory tour. Okay, a factory that produces something the kid is at least somewhat interested in. It was a new experience.

Just because it was a new experience did not mean I was to arrive unprepared. As luck would have it I recently purchased a paperback novel and was careful to make sure my ipod had the most recent podcasts and a fresh charge. This was court afterall and if one trial was estimated to take four weeks, then the selection process was likely to go all day.

I could not have been more right.

It took hours just to get inside a courtroom, where the selection process still would not happen. This was just a holding tank. I made myself comfortable and settled in to read my book as this wasn't going to be quick. Coffee was provided to keep the mob from getting unruly.

Eventually some lawyers showed up and so did a few more baliffs (ie. cops). They brought in the accused and a hush filled the room. A hush that lasted about three minutes before people resumed chatting among themselves. I continued reading until eventually a judge arrived. Charges were read, the plaintiff plead not guilty, a list of witnesses was read and then they ushered out the man who now faced a murder charge. The judge stayed a little longer to explain the rest of the process to us potential jurors.

The basic idea was that they would randomly select about twenty people at a time to take into another courtroom to undergo the selection process. This was where the lawyers could challenge or accept a juror as well as the one time we would have the chance to plead hardship, play the senior card or give whatever other excuse for why we could not be a juror. In other words, so long as I stayed in this room, things would work out okay for me and they would end up selecting twenty OTHER people to serve on the jury. Given that there were over two hundred of us, my odds of being selected were a mere one in ten. I could live with those odds.

So the process took all day but I was one of the 'lucky ones' who was not called. I didn't even have to plead my case, which is kind of too bad because I had this fantastic story about the judge who stole Christmas all worked up and ready but whatever. The verdict is in, and I get a paycheque this December.