Tag Archives: San Francisco

GDC16 – Day 0

So today was interesting. I’m all set to check my bag and fly out to San Francisco and I find out that my flight is overbooked. …great. The ticket agent asks if I would mind moving to another flight. I’m in the process of rejecting by default as I needed to be here by 1700h PDT. Before I get around to doing that and demanding the seat I purchased, he says, “How about a non-stop that leaves 22 minutes later than your flight, but arrives two hours earlier. …blink… Yup! That will work just fine, thank you. As it happens, it was the flight that the Game Development Program Chair, Prof. Russ Hanna was on as well.

The rest of the trip goes great. Flight in was smooth, BART into town was smooth, got my MUNI pass easy-peasy. The problem started when I got to hotel. Paperwork is such a fun thing. Turns out there was a mishandling of the paperwork between the college and the hotel so the new front desk clerk didn’t think that my room was paid. Great. There are worse places than San Francisco to be homeless for a day. Fortunately, the folk at the Hotel Stratford were amazing and very understanding! They knew that this would work itself out in the morning when the business offices opened, and they did.

RainsoakedUnionSquareWhat to do while in the Powell and Market area and your stressed out? Eat! Senior Scientist at Fundamental Technologies, Jerry Manweiler, introduced me to a great burger joint on Union Square, the Burger Bar. Wet, stressed, and hungry, That’s where Russ and I went. It’s an amazing place with an amazing view, although I will say the view during the Christmas season when I come here for the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting is a bit more colourful.

One thing that did go right was registration at GDC. It used to be such a madhouse. They’ve really streamlined the process and have it working very smoothly. Russ and I were able to walk right up, sign in, and grab our badges. We were in and out in less than five minutes. Brilliant! That left time for some photography work. Before wrapping up the day with more food at an Irish-themed deli. I’m a sucker for corned beef sandwiches!

I’m part of a small group of photogs that post weekly photos on a theme in an effort to push each of us outside of our normal comfort zones and force us out of our photographic ruts. Last week’s theme was “Motion,” and what I wanted was a bus or streetcar moving through the steam rising from the storm grates. I picked the wrong side of the street. Although I didn’t get the steam in the shot like I wanted, I did get some panning practice in before racing season. The lens I used was a 28-mm prime thrift-store special. Auto nothing! It forced me to think about and set every aspect of the exposure and the focus. It’s not tack sharp, but by this time it was starting to pour down rain, and I wasn’t keen on sticking around to grab another.

"Here Comes the Bus"
“Here Comes the Bus”

Device: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina 28mm f/2.8
Focal Length: 28mm
Focus Mode: Manual
AF-Area Mode: Single
Aperture: f/8
Shutter Speed: 1/15s
Exposure Mode: Manual
Exposure Comp.: 0EV
Metering: Matrix
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 100

Tomorrow, the Math for Game Programmers summit begins! All math, all day!

AGU14 – Day 0

So yeah, this old FORTRAN guy is using a zero-index reference like those snooty C guys. The American Geophysical Union 2014 Fall meeting (AGU14) doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, but registration is open today and there are a couple of mission-specific meetings. The one I’m responsible for attending and engaging in meaningful participation is the Voyager SSG. Five hours of exploring the future direction of our greatest and most productive robotic mission ever. BRING IT!

In the meantime, I continue to work on bringing the Advanced Composition Explorer’s (ACE) Electron Proton Alpha Monitor (EPAM) data production fully up to date. The basic Level 2 rate data are ready for consumption, but more refined Level 3 fluxes and energy spectra are still on their way. Thankfully, the hotel wifi doesn’t block VPN connections. At least I got the pretty pictures (aka color spectrogram plots) up for viewing.

ACE/EPAM PHA-derived hourly-integrated species-resolved fluxes for 2014

I’ll update this post throughout the day. …more to come!

Evening Update
What a cool day! Five hours of listening to space science lectures doesn’t get most people excited, but wow, there were some very cool things discussed! How much turbulence is there in the Local Interstellar Medium, or even along the heliopause? Is our heliosphere’s tail bifurcated? There were some neck-level questions being asked about the outer reaches of our solar system, and all this leads into the preparation for the 2015 Senior Review. The Voyagers have plenty of hydrazine to last a long time, provided we can keep it from freezing, but the mission-limiting factor is power and money. The power issue centers on the 18 W needed to power the gyros during a fault protection event. The money issue is up to the Senior Review board, but it looks like the Voyager team has a lot of seriously important work ahead of them exploring a region of space that we’ve never seen before, and likely won’t visit again in our lifetimes.

GDC 2013 – Tuesday is Physics Day ….kinda

Tuesday was Day Two of the Math and Physics for Game Programmers tutorial. Monday was all about the mathematics, and Tuesday was supposed to be all about the physics. There was one great talk from which I was able to extract a better understanding of configuration space objects, but the rest of it was …meh. As with yesterday, those talks which were edited and tweaked from last year showed improvement, those that weren’t still sucked.

The day started out with a demonstration of a simulation of a Go stone. …yeah. A stone. It seemed that the speaker, Glenn Fiedler from Sony Santa Monica, was simply pleased with himself that he’d recreated the wheel. He went through the process of creating his stone model, then he described the basic translation and rotational dynamics he deployed without discussing the specific details. It might have been a more fruitful talk if there were more details in how he was integrating the motion, why the integration works the way it does, and described the fundamental principles involved. Although his simulation worked pretty well, during talk, there were a few conceptual errors, especially about the properties of the moment of inertia tensor. He kinda had the right idea, but not really. Granted it’s a tough thing to pick up on your own, but if you’re giving a talk on the topic, you should have a genuine and thorough understanding of the topic.

1364390049722The second talk of the day was “The Separating Axis Test” by Dirk Gregorius from Valve. Gino van den Bergen of Dtecta gave a talk last year on collision detection using Minkowski differences and configuration space objects, but I must admit that the process was still fuzzy to me. Dirk’s talk on the issue really helped. Don’t get me wrong, Gino is the man and does a great job, and when his talk came up later in the afternoon, I was able to grasp a bit more about how CSOs work. I doubt that they’ll make it into the PHYS191 course in a formal way, but I may put a bonus section on it in the textbook this summer if for no other purpose than to ensure that I understand it correctly myself. No better way to see if you really understand something that to try to teach it to someone else. The rest of the afternoon was rather blah, unfortunately. Dirk’s and Gino’s talks certainly made up for the mediocrity of the others.

Since the Expo Hall isn’t open until Wednesday, during my downtime between when I left the physics tutorial and supper, I worked on taking some photos. I took some of this earlier in the morning on my way to breakfast, but was disappointed with the results. Yes, I was at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, but I didn’t work on many panning shots there so I’m really out of practice. That showed as I tried to get some panning shots of cyclists and streetcars. I gotta get back into proper form before the Kansas City Region SCCA season starts and definitely before the first IndyCar event I’ll work, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Definitely have to have good panning skills there.

Of course, one thing that is ever-present in San Francisco around the touristy areas are the street performers. Most are simply annoying, but there are some, like this duo, that really sounded good!

One of the coolest new things I’ve seen at GDC so far is the Video Game History Museum alcove. They have several coin-ops including one of my favourite games, Asteroids! (where’s my two-liter of Shasta and my Rush mix-tape?) The also had several classic consoles, some well-known, others not as well-remembered. Of course they had the Atari VCS (later known as the 2600), but they also had a Vectrex! That’s a tough find! There weren’t too many of these machines made, and even fewer of them have survived in playable form.

Chinatown_IntricateGraffiti_smThe day ended with a stroll through Chinatown, a requisite visit every year. There wasn’t anything new, really. The same peddlers were peddling the same cheap, cheesy crap. One change that greatly disappointed me was the defacement of one of Banksy’s pieces. I now feel very fortunate to have imaged this a few years ago. It was a really cool work, but now in spite of the plexiglass overlay placed in hopes of preserving the street art, it’s been covered with simple scribbles of white spray. It’s a damn shame.

Next post will be all about swag! The Expo Hall opens on Wednesday, and with a light session load today, I’ll be cruising through as much as I can, collecting as many goodies as I can.

GDC 2012 – Monday

The 2012 Game Developers’ Conference officially got started this morning. For me, it seemed like a late start with the first sessions beginning at 10am. For someone who’s up at 5am on a regular basis, that’s a lot of morning time to kill before getting started! Fortunately, my camera is with me everywhere and I had lots of time to explore before hitting Mel’s Drive-In Diner for breakfast.

The “discovering new experiences” part of the day started VERY early as I experienced my first earthquake. A 4.0 magnitude quake struck the Bay Area at 5:30 this morning. While it wasn’t that strong of a quake, it was still disconcerting while occupying a room on the 8th floor of an old, sketchy hotel! At least now I can scratch “survive an earthquake” off of my bucket list.

Sessions for the day were part of the Math for Game Programmers tutorial. In the past, this has been a weak tutorial, but I was pleasantly surprised by its evolution. While the oratory skills of the organizer had still not improved one bit, nor had his specific talk, the quality of the other presenters and presentations improved quite a bit. First out of the gate was a talk on Bezier curves and splines. Might have to see about working curves and splines into the MATH/PHYS 191 course. It would be a natural succession to introduce them after we discuss parametric equations.

There was also a good talk on collision detection methods which reaffirmed that the work we’re doing in the MATH/PHYS 191 course is in line with what’s being done in the field. All very interesting, and I’ll have links to the slides in time. The last talk of the day was about data as paramount when thinking about how to construct code. The speaker’s motto was “understand the data, and you understand the problem”. As a computational physicist, my reaction was, “Duh!” Preaching to the choir, there.

One of the great things about coming to San Francisco is having the opportunity to meet up with some of my friends and fellow IndyCar fans from Twitter. Tonight, I was introduced to a new place, Pesce, which specialized in tapas-style seafood dishes. It was fabulous! I would include a pic of the lobster ravioli and the pan-seared scallops, but they didn’t stick around long enough. Delicious!

So the first day was successful. At least more than it had been in past years. Tuesday, the second day of the tutorial, is all about Physics for Game Programmers. It will be interesting to see what new things they bring to the sessions this year. Also, the IGDA party is Tuesday night! It’s never been a real blow-out type of party, but at least there’s free food.