Year in Review
Tue, 11 Jan '11 05:32

We're well into a new year, so, like many of my friends, I've decided to review my experiences in 2010.

Dublin!

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I took my first trip to Ireland last January. Although it was for work, we still had a lot of fun. It turns out that our Dublin office is right across the street from the Guinness Brewery (nice choice, lads!).

They say the Guinness tastes different over there, and it's true. It's smoother; boy did it go down easily!

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I also visited the birthplace of Havok Physics, Trinity College Dublin:

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Trinity College

All in all a good, if quick, trip. We even managed to take in a little culture:

Conferences, and more conferences

I certainly had my share of industry conferences this year. Luckily, since I'm in the video games industry, those conferences are actually fun.

Microsoft Gamefest

In February, I went to the Microsoft Gamefest in Seattle, where they showed the Kinect (known as "Project Natal" at the time) and tried to get game developers excited about designing game mechanics around it. If you ask me, the technology is really cool but still in its infancy. In other words, it'd be awesome...if it worked.

GDC 2010

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In March, I did my part for GDC (Game Developers Conference) right here in San Francisco. This is by far the biggest conference of the year, and it takes place only four blocks from our office! It's a chance to meet with dozens of existing and potential clients.

Sales Engineers, of which I am one, must be marathon presenters, running one hour meetings back to back for eight hours straight. I'm usually lucky to sneak in a quick Cliff Bar before jumping back into demos and Q&A behind our top secret closed doors.

Unfortunately there's usually little time for me to actually attend any of the talks, but I can sometimes sneak off to see some of the booths and indie games. The indie games are probably the most interesting if you've only got a few minutes, though I'm not sure why every game has to be a metaphor for a life lesson. Sometimes you just wanna blow shit up. But oh well.

E3

In June I attended E3 for the first time. E3 is like GDC in scale but more aimed at consumers rather than game developers. Nintendo showed off the much-anticipated 3DS, Sony was happy about their Move controller and 3D TVs, while Microsoft unveiled their (now named) Kinect.

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Me pretending to fight zombies

Sony DevCon

July saw the annual Sony Developer's Conference in Santa Clara. This smaller conference is really all about the talks, which is great if you're a developer, but not so great if you're a sales engineer who has to man a booth no one's interested in all day.

At least we had free internet.

Montreal International Game Summit

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In November I went to Montreal, mostly to visit clients. The timing was designed to coincide with MIGS, at which I spoke in 2009. It seems to scale down each year, and this year I managed to avoid it entirely.

Montreal is a very cool city, and sometimes I wish I could spend more time there exploring. Various tax incentives by the Canadian government have made Montreal a very popular place amongst game dev studios.

Australia

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I returned to Australia twice in 2010, once in May and once in December, bringing the grand total to three.

If I ever hadget to live in Australia, I would definitely choose either Melbourne or Sydney. Melbourne has classic architecture that reminds me of Montreal, and Sydney seems a bit more modern with better beaches. I don't know though, I'm not really a beach town kinda guy.

Grand Canyon

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In May I hiked the Grand Canyon with my Dad. We were short on time, so we hiked the 11 miles down in one day, spent the night, then hiked back out the next day. I'd really like to do it "properly" in the future, and spend some time hiking through the canyon rather than just in and out.

We met another group at our campsite that had been hiking for over a week. And they were all over 60.

We didn't quite make it to the Colorado River, our eyes perhaps bigger than our, um leg muscles. But we did make it to water, the most important checkpoint.

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Estes Park, Colorado

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Bear Lake in the Rockies

In June, I met my family for a mini family reunion. Both my sisters are married and one has two children, so it was more than just the five of us. Emily, my younger sister, announced she was pregnant! It took us all by surprise, but is very exciting. She's due in two days!

My parents love the Western United States (though they've lived in Tennessee for the past 30 years), and we always took vacations to places like this when I was a kid. We did loads of hiking, though this time I actually looked forward to it rather than complain all the time.

We also visited the famous Stanley Hotel, known best for its appearance in The Shining:

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The Stanley Hotel

Turkey

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Hagia Sophia

Every Thanksgiving I meet up with my friend Scott and we take a big trip somewhere. In 2009 we hiked the Inca Trail and saw Machu Picchu. This year we had Turkey on our radar. We did a Gap Multi-Sport Adventure tour so everything was planned out for us.

I few years ago I did quite a bit of the fly-by-your-seat backpacking travel, where I didn't know where I'd be the following week. That works well for some types of adventure, but when you've only got one or two weeks, you can't mess around. This is so much easier, and I think we did and saw way more than we would have otherwise.

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The trip was amazing, one of the best vacations I've ever had. I think this was mostly due to a bit of luck with the other tourists; it was really a great group and we had a lot of fun together.

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Blue Mosque

We started off in Istanbul, of course, and saw all the usual sights, including the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern. Then it was off to southern Turkey, where we spent most of our time near Fethiye and Dalyan. Though it was winter in Turkey, it was a pleasant 75 during the day and about 65 at night.

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We took hikes, did some mountain biking, sea kayaking, and paragliding.

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At night, we played games and drank wine or beer, slept off the booze, got up and did something athletic. A great way to go.

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We tried lots of good food, including the best baklava I've ever had, and gözleme, a savory Turkish crepe filled with spinach and cheese.

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You can see the whole story in photos here.

Relationships (and OkCupid)

Alright, so I don't normally blog about my relationships; I think they're generally off limits and bound to only get me in trouble. But since this is a review of last year, I suppose I ought to mention the highlights.

Some big relationship changes happened in 2010, which saw a 14 month relationship come to an end.

Shortly afterwards, I tried something new: online dating. okcupid.com is really something. I can't compare it to other dating sites, since I've never tried them, but the folks at okcupid really seem to know what they're doing, plus the site is 100% free.

Also, if you haven't yet discovered oktrends then you've really been missing out. The folks that run okcupid are huge math geeks and love to datamine their user database looking for trends. Some really interesting results pop up. Check it out.

Even though I speak of okcupid with such high praise, I still kept my eyes open in the conventional sense. I went on a couple dates with friends-of-friends and had the good fortune to run into Cat. We've been dating since late July.

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Speaking of trends, I suppose it's safe to say I have a thing for Asians.

Ten Year High School Reunion

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Mashed Potatoes in a Martini Class

Well, it's tough to face the fact, but I'm that old. Ten years. Ouch. But at least I won a gift card worth $20 at Ruby Tuesday for coming the farthest. It's not that my fellow classmates didn't move out of Tennessee (several live in the Bay Area), just that none of them thought the reunion was worth their time. I sure showed them.

It was good to see everyone. About half the women were pregnant, and the other half already had kids. That's what happens in ten years time I guess.

Movember

The subject of my last post, Movember turned out to be a huge success! Thanks to everyone who donated; I was touched and impressed by the unexpected generosity.

At the end of Movember, there are parties all over the world, and of course, San Francisco is no exception. My friend (and coworker) Jason won "Man of Movember" for his amazing Robert Goulet impersonation.

Congrats to Jason, who not only won Man of Movember, but managed to raise more money than anyone in the "Bearded Physicists" team (Havok is best known for physics simulation).

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Robert Goulet at Ruby Skye, San Francisco

Christmas

I finished out the year with a long stay at my parents' house in Tennessee. I usually only make it home once a year, so I was glad to spend 11 days at home for Christmas this year.

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Beija

Not only did I get to see my family, but my beloved dog Beija, who I decided would be happier romping in my parents' ten acres than stuffed into a tiny apartment in San Francisco.

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Burgundy

My parents recently "rescued" a young golden retriever named Burgundy. Well, they named her Burgundy. Anyway, she's sweet with a lot of puppy left in her. Above she has fallen asleep upside down while playing with a stuffed squirrel. Adorable.

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White Christmas!

We were fortunate this year to get a white Christmas. It snowed early Christmas morning, then melted off that afternoon. We used to get lots of snow in Tennessee, but it has diminished greatly in the last decade. Damn you, global warming!

Well, at least we didn't get snowed in.

Looking ahead

This year is shaping up to be a good one. Lots of travel planned for work, including a return to Ireland in a couple weeks. I'm going to take the opportunity to pop over to London and visit an old friend.

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A goofy old friend

I'm trying to decide where to go this year for my annual Thanksgiving trip. Scott and I are thinking we need to up the ante and have a goal-oriented physical activity, like climb a mountain or bike across a country.

What do you think?