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    Howdy. This is Bob. The Bob of Bob Blog. This blog contains about five minutes of my thoughts each day. A record. A history. And occasionally worth reading.

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    Links
    New York Times
    PVP Online
    EverQuestII
    PlanetSide
    Sony Online Entertainment



    Bob Blog
     
    Saturday, June 28, 2003  

    Cat in the Hat. I created a cat hat for the OB Street Fair. It was fun watching the little kids paint. Some of the band playing near the Fat Hat booth were fun -- one had a cello. I need a nap as the sun drained me.

    4:38 PM  0 comments

    Friday, June 27, 2003  

    Tonight I did two things musical: concert in the park and played Mad Maestro. The first was an Irish band. The second is a cute Japanese PS2 game where you conduct an orchestra.

    SeaWorld fireworks are going off. So that means it is time for bed. Tomorrow is the Ocean Beach Street Fair. We're helping at a booth where kids can create hats out of paper grocery bags and paint (and glitter and other things.) It will be fun but require a lot of energy.

    10:01 PM  0 comments

    Thursday, June 26, 2003  

    I'm thinking about moving the setting from PRIVATE to PUBLIC for the blog. I have content. I have a rhythm. I'm not sure I have anything useful to tell. Would you bother reading this? Would you come back again? Why would I want you to read this? Would I change my tone or content because you were reading it? Or because some subgroup was reading it?

    I'd need a counter. I'd need a way for feedback. I'd need to make sure I wasn't stepping on any toes (corporate permission?) Sheesh. That sounds like the opposite of the cluetrain manifesto. But unfortunately true if I ever mention my employer or my game or...

    The only thing that really would change is that the blog would be listed at blogger. One of many. Obscurity through numbers instead of obscurity through secrecy. But the blog is listed at members.sandiego.cox.net or something like that. So you could have found me already.

    6:11 PM  0 comments

     

    I wish I never created bugs so that I'd have a reason to bitch about today. However, that isn't going to stop me.

    The first bug was a data problem. Poorly formed unicode and no way to code out of the problem. Took 3 hours to find.

    Second was a fix two months ago that someone put in that broke kill echos. Tons of skull and bones. Now to find a fix without breaking the previous fix. The problem is that I'm not really sure what it solved so I can't be sure I won't break the previous problem again. It took me 2 hours to find the code change so I could ask the appropriate person -- since no one remembered making the change when I asked yesterday.

    SWG launched today. Lots of people here were running around making lists. Rich said that over in the other building you couldn't tell today was different than any other day. OK, so he's been over there an entire 1.5 days now so today could have been strange. I just kept my door closed and my head down. I did eat some of their pizza and put the leftovers into the fridge for tomorrow.

    6:10 PM  0 comments

     

    I added a few new links. Why not plug the game! The maps next on the main PlanetSide page is a little Flash project that I got to help Rich work on. Should I not mention names? I think it may just have been the first time he realized he was really programming.

    However, Rich is an artist and yesterday he moved onto a new game and for the first time in four and a half years I won't see him on a daily basis. I'm excited for him. But I'm nervous. I realize this means I'll have to work on the relationship instead of just letting it flow.

    Best of luck Rich!

    8:20 AM  0 comments

     

    My blog got converted to the new blogger version last night. /cheer. I don't think anyone will notice anything different.

    The blog is turning more into a book blog than the game blog. I haven't really sat down to play PlanetSide for a few weeks. Time to fire it up again, especially if the Liberator (the bomber) went live.

    I'm currently reading the cluetrain manifesto. I decided to go to the website this morning -- and you can read the book online there for free. So take advantage. And then a click on the link. 401 error.

    8:13 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, June 25, 2003  

    The radio silence has been painfully long. My excuse was a trip to Denver and a little bit of time off.

    I finished two books recently: Close to the Machine and The Bug both by Ellen Ullman. The first is more of an autobiography and a reflection of the motivations of programmers during the dot.com era. The subtitle is Technophilia and Its Discontents. Clever, fun, insightful. The second is a novel about an early software company, a bug, and the tester and programmer trying to find it. Clever, fun, insightful until about the last fifty pages. Then it breaks down for me as a mystery novel and returns a little too much to autobiographical. Both were good books for me to read -- reflect on my current reality and the life of a programmer.

    Lots of babies. Friends are having them like its the latest rave. Not yet...

    7:30 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, June 18, 2003  

    I couldn't sleep at 6:30AM today. I"m one for getting up at 8am. So I fed the cats and decided to wander down to the beach. 3 blocks so I shouldn't make a big deal of the walk. Except I felt so out of shape. I enjoy watching the waves. But today it was low tide and there was a freeway of bugs along the rocks. Taking a few minutes out in the morning to walk or to read makes me remember the times when I didn't just work all the time. It is good. But forces me to wonder what else I might like to be doing with my free time. Dreaming about travel!

    Blogging shouldn't be a chore, something persisting on my todo list until I feel guilty. But today it is. I've tried several times to write but have found an interruption. The basis for this is twofold. 1) Lots of stuff is happening at work that I can't talk about and don't know enough details to know how I feel or what I need to do. I probably couldn't write about it even if I knew enough details. Confusion isn't a strong motivator to communicate with others. 2) I had one of those days were communicating was all I accomplished. A hallway conversation led to passing along knowledge. A hallway conversation led to feeling connected to someone. A hallway converstaion led to a 20 minute discussion, someone getting unstuck on a task, and making me smile.

    Toss that together and I feel drained, no communication is left in me.

    On another note, it looks like we'll finish the refinance paperwork on Friday and close next week. This was one of those obvious things to do: 7.5% to 5.5%. The end result is that we'll have a little more flexibility with cashflow. And while I'm not fond of an impound account, it will help balance out the payments at tax and insurance times. I feel so fortunate with life.

    6:01 PM  0 comments

    Tuesday, June 17, 2003  

    I think I may have had my first real reader this morning. /wave. It puts writing into perspective. I don't think I've written anything that would embarrass myself or anyone else.

    If you find out I have died tomorrow it will be because I left my egg salad out all day.

    The theoretical advertising in the game discussions have been revealed if you play PlanetSide. We have an nVidia logo in the splash screens. I think it worked out OK, especially after the ESRB did not require a 4 second delay on their logo. So one extra click and the ad is gone. Of course, I normally run it with the splash screens turned off (debug only sorry.)

    3:18 PM  0 comments

     

    The localization aspect may begin soon. Russ asked about it and my bugs are low. So soon. In fact, the plan is to ask about it today.

    Time to escalate trip planning up from important to immediate. That's pretty easy since I have started thinking about it more and more often.

    7:47 AM  0 comments

    Monday, June 16, 2003  

    Yesterday Sophia took me to see the musical Cats. I cried. It was very cute. We had center seats, except they were halfway up the top level. It was OK if you watched through the binoculars. And sometimes the found faded. But overall, I had a great time.

    We have reservations to go camping on my birthday.

    We go to Denver this weekend. Wedding (not ours) and hopefully a couple a stops to see Dottie.

    But now I must run to be at work in time for the 8am Monday meeting.

    7:01 AM  0 comments

    Friday, June 13, 2003  

    Accomodations in Aukland

    4:40 PM  0 comments

    Thursday, June 12, 2003  

    This morning I wired the money to purchase tickets for our trip around the world. Two months won't be long enough to see and do everything but it will be a grand adventure. It definitely is for real now.

    10:10 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, June 11, 2003  

    We still have a bird nesting on our porch. It is in a planter. It hasn't moved for a couple of days now. It may be up to 14 days if she is sitting on an egg.

    Cecil got her stitches out. She didn't complain too much. And she is really beginning to use the knee again -- especially running from us trying to give her the medicine. Thank goodness it should be gone by the end of the week.

    More CATS? Sophia got us tickets to Cats on Sunday.

    8:40 AM  0 comments

    Tuesday, June 10, 2003  

    I finished a couple of books this week:

    My mom gave me The Character of Cats by Stephen Budiansky. It was a fast survey of the "origins, intelligence, behavior, and stratagems" of cats. It was fun to hear about the antics of cats and to understand some of our pets' behaviors.

    And when we were in Berkeley last, I saw this book and decided to order it from Amazon. Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television was written in the 70's by Jerry Mander. I'm not sure I believe all of the physical effects that the light may cause but I think I've always been skeptical of TV (especially the news.) I don't think TV business is trying to make us slaves to capitalism but I think the book strongly argues the point that TV is best at selling objects, not emotions or complex concepts. I definitely am more conscious of the time I watch TV now and how the TV is manipulating me. The book was just reprinted so I hope more people will find it; but I hope the arguments don't get applied to video games -- even though many of the points are just as valid.

    8:53 AM  0 comments

    Monday, June 09, 2003  

    I hunted down and finally killed an elusive bug. It typically is poor debugging skills or a false assumption that clouds one's attack that makes a bug hard. This time it was both. Not sure if I have anything better to try next time.

    Ducks lost in game seven. Three of the four games in New Jersey were 3-0. Life is still the same.

    9:27 PM  0 comments

     

    Here is our current travel itinerary:
    Nov 3 or 4 LAX - Auckland
    Dec 3 or 4 Christchurch to Delhi
    Delhi to Rome (we want to arrive in Rome on Dec 23 or 24)
    Dec 31 or Jan 1 Rome to San Diego


    8:01 AM  0 comments

    Sunday, June 08, 2003  

    At the last minute, Sophia and I got tickets to the Padres game on Friday and the firework show. They lost. But they managed to extend the game by scoring 2 in the ninth and 1 in the tenth. The fireworks were HUGE! The most bizarre was a flame thrower in the middle of the field that must have shot flame at least 200 feet high. We felt the heat way far up in the stands.

    5:08 PM  0 comments

    Thursday, June 05, 2003  

    Someone is a potential juror today. I wonder if I'll get a letter.
    Two years ago -- or is it three now. I had jury duty and wrote Sophia a letter. Later that day, on Broadway Pier, we kissed for the first time.

    OK, enough sappiness.

    3:32 PM  0 comments

     

    I'm amazed at how quickly Cecil is recovering. She's putting pressure on the leg and except for jumping onto stuff is nearly back to normal. OK, the limp is obvious. And she sleeps a lot more than before (like inside the sleeping bag yesterday.) But I think she is making good progress.

    The questions about royalties seem to be coming up on the PlanetSide team. My guess for a 3 year development cycle is $10M and an ongoing development cost of [censored] which doesn't include the operations cost . Not sure I'm even aloud to guess at these numbers. But the obvious answer to the question of how many boxes need to sell and how many subscriptions do we need to get close to making a profit is not yet (and not real soon).

    For me, the questions are: Will the game bring in enough revenue to sustain itself? What size team is necesary to support the type of thing we want and need to do? Will we write a second game based on this engine? I think the real profit comes from the second game using the same technology (at half the cost.) And then, how long until someone else tries to beat us at our own game and what do we have to do in order to be the best?

    10:45 AM  0 comments

    Wednesday, June 04, 2003  

    Just a quick note: I'm about to refinance our primary residence going from a 7.5% loan to one at 5.5%. Incredible.

    9:51 PM  0 comments

    Tuesday, June 03, 2003  

    Another one of the people that used to report to me has resigned. The promise of Platform at Verant/SOE may not have been delivered. False expectations, false hopes,. or false promises?

    Sophia got her two months off. So that means we are set to travel around the world in November and December. Expect to start hearing a lot more about the trip as the planning gets more detailed. I have the map of New Zealand and the train lines and tramping book. Trying to figure out the best way to spend four weeks hiking without Sophia feeling like all I did was have her drive me around. Time lounging will be fun too.

    I like the idea of Baseball Online. Not sure how big it will be (subscribers) but if it gets even a portion of the fantasy baseball crowd it will be great. And 15 or so characters on the screen at once for baseball is easy for the current technology. No reason for it not to work.

    6:15 PM  0 comments

     

    I'm having another rough day. My server won't run... First it was no Oracle client library. Now I'm checking the code to see if there is a newer version of something. I can't begin to test what I need to test until this works.

    But I got a character to Battle Rank 3. /cheer.

    1:03 PM  0 comments

    Monday, June 02, 2003  

    Harsh weekend for the game. Lots of server crashes. And we have found some limitations of UDP: it doesn't respond well on the server under extreme load. Lots of progress is required this week if we expect a weekend. I not only expect a weekend but will take one.

    My machine was down Wed afternoon, all Thursday, and I was travelling Friday and Saturday. The producer wondered why my items weren't done. Huh? Was I not clear enough in my Wed/Thur email? Or has the panic just set in that launching the game isn't enough.

    I'd rather be at home right now.

    12:52 PM  0 comments

    Sunday, June 01, 2003  

    My mom was in town and came over for lunch and brownies before flying back to Oregon. I'm glad she made it. And I appreciate my family so much more than when I was college. Both come back in July. Not to far away.

    My dad took the signed PlanetSide poster I sent and has it hanging in his classroom. The student that was part of Beta is going to get it at the end of the year. It was something easy for me to do that obviously is going to make one kid very happy. Hope he likes the game...

    5:02 PM  0 comments

     

    No entries the last couple of days because I've been even busier than usual.

    I went to St Louis for the PlanetSide launch party. It was very good to talk to the programmers in person again. And to meet some of the artists and to spend time with the team. Fast trip however. On the plane again the next morning. I saw the arch but didn't have a chance to go up it. So that is at least better than the last trip in August.

    The cat is recovering very well. She can go up and down the stairs and into the litter box. She doesn't like to wear the Elizabethian collar. She's really good at getting it off. So we'll probably have to use another technique to keep her from licking the stitches. One week of telling her that she's cute in the plastic cone.

    The tramautic bit for me is trying to give her the oral medication -- pain killer which I think may not be needed anymore (no yowling since I came back) and pink antibiotics. She isn't fond of this at all and hides under the bed and tries to squirm away. The pink milkshake probably has until next Monday. Three times a day.

    She's adorable and her personality is definitely back. Not so talkative but purrs a lot.

    My mom is in town for a conference. So this afternoon we'll get to hang out for a little bit. These three days have been very restful -- even with the anxiety of surgery.

    9:59 AM  0 comments