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Musings of a GameDev.net founder, book author, and game programmer.
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A year ago today, I weighed 265 pounds. I was wearing size 40 pants. My ankles were starting to give me problems from the strain of the extra weight. This is what I looked like at the time:
Then I made a Decision. The capitalization is significant. I've heard many successful people talk about how it all started with a Decision. I'd made the decision to lose weight many, many times before, but I ultimately ended up falling off the wagon after a few months (at best). But on this day last year, I knew that I was starting something that I would see through to the end. I felt a very palpable shift in my attitude and outlook on life that hadn't been there when I'd made the decision previously. I knew that this was a real Decision.
So, on the one year anniversary of that Decision, I thought I should share my results. I know that many others have struggled with reaching their ideal body composition, so I hope that by sharing I can offer encouragement to others.
As of today, I weigh 205 pounds. My pants are size 31. This is me today:
The most common question I get when people notice how much I've changed is "How'd you do it?" I did it through a number of different things (which I believe is necessary for any major body composition change) which I'll lump into diet and exercise.
I'd been eating a lot of crap, as typical for an American: lots of high fat, high sugar, highly processed foods. I knew I had to change that.
A year previously, I'd tried the South Beach Diet, which worked pretty well for about a month, until I quit due to "getting to busy to cook the meals". Although I now think that most low-carb diets are too extreme, I did learn some useful things from South Beach that I applied. I also started to educate myself online, both on diet and exercise. (As an aside, I think this was key in not only helping me lose the fat, but in developing lifestyle changes that will help me keep it off forever. I've probably spent several hundred hours in the past year reading up.)
My diet immediately started looking better, and I've continued to refine it. Rather than go through the evolution, I'll just describe what my meals look like now.a
I eat 6-7 meals per day. That's not 3 normal meals and a 3-4 snacks, that's 6-7 regular meals.
Every meal includes a source of protein as its main component. This is usually chicken, lean beef, turkey, fish, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, or cheese. I also usually have a couple of protein shakes a day, and will add protein powder to some of my other food (like oatmeal).
Each meal also includes several servings of fruits and/or vegetables.
I don't really eat much bread anymore. I'll have maybe a couple slices of whole grain bread once or twice a week. I use low calorie tortillas a bit more often than that. I usually have one diet soda a day, though I'm trying to phase that out. Other than the occasional glass of milk, I don't drink any calorie containing beverages. I drink a lot of ice cold water instead.
I take fish oil and flax seed every day to ensure that I'm getting enough healthy fat.
Initially, I focused on cardio, with some weight training mixed in. My cardio sessions were 45-60 minutes long, and consisted of treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, and rowing.
I gradually moved more toward weight training, and I try to stick to short, high intensity cardio activities on my off days. Right now, I'm weight training four times per week, training my full body each day. On my off days, I'll spend 15-20 minutes doing hill sprints, uphill treadmill walking, HIIT, Tabata protocol (either running or front squats), jumping rope, etc. The only high-duration cardio type activity I do now is cycling (on a real bike).
Besides scheduled exercise, I've formed habits to make myself more active in general. I always take the stairs, I avoid parking in the stalls closest to the building, I stand instead of sit whenever it's practical to do so, etc. I even bought an old-style push reel lawnmower so that I'd have to work harder when mowing the lawn.
I'm very happy with what I've accomplished in the past year, but I'm still not where I want to be yet. I still have a layer of fat around my waist that I'd like to get rid of. The problem is that after a year of being mostly hypocaloric, my metabolism is in the tank. I can eat as little as 1500 calories a day (way below what someone my size needs) and not lose weight.
So I think that until at least the end of the year, I'm going to forget about losing fat for a while, and instead focus on building muscle and getting my metabolism back up. I'll slowly start increasing my caloric intake each week, and monitor my body composition to make sure I'm not gaining the fat back. Hopefully, I can gain 10-20 pounds of muscle and get my metabolism back high enough to lose the rest of the fat at the beginning of next year.
Someone just sent this to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I just had to share:
We get these kinds of things all the time. Maybe I should start posting them here so everyone can share in the funnies.
Part of me is very much freaking out right now, and since it's midnight here, there's no one else to talk to about it (other than my wife, who is also freaking out), so I thought I might as well post it here.
First, a little background. Next month will mark two years since I moved to San Diego. I was alone here for 4 months while the kids finished the school year, and then my family joined me and we moved to the Rancho Penasquitos area (which is in the northeastern portion of San Diego County). Moving from Utah, we faced a serious problem - finding affordable housing. We owned a 5 bedroom home in Salt Lake that we sold for around $150K, but a similar home in this area would have been 3-4 times that here, so even though I got a nice bump in my pay, we still had no choice but to rent here.
So fast forward to today. We're paying about $2100/mo in rent and we're in a decent home, but we feel like we're throwing away money. Not just because of the rent, but because of the fact that homes have gone up in value so much over the past couple of years that if we *could* have bought, we'd have several hundred grand in equity now.
Over the holidays, we spent some time looking for houses around here, but in order to fit our family, we're looking at $700-800K. I should mention that we're somewhat constrained in that we have 5 kids, so we require a decent sized-house. Also, all of our children are exceptionally bright, so we need to live in an area with good schools. Between my job, books, and GameDev.net, I earn a healthy income, but we just can't swing a $700K+ house.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that things will get better. San Diego County is pretty much done building new single family houses, but the population is continuing to rise, so housing costs are going to continue to rise faster than my income. Since we can't buy now, we'll *never* be able to buy here, which from a long-term financial perspective is stupid.
This week, various factors led us to look very hard at our options, and we kept looking north. A bit up the I-15 from where we are now is the city of Temecula. Temecula is a very new city, having been incorporated in 1989, and it's pretty upscale, having been very carefully planned. Houses there are also considerably cheaper than San Diego, though they are going up in price. We looked up quite a few houses and quickly realized that all things being equal, a house in Temecula costs about half what it would here. Plus, the schools there are very good and in general it's a very family-oriented community.
On Thursday, we drove up there to just drive through some neighborhoods and drive by some houses that were on sale, and we liked it, so today, we went back with a realtor to walk through 7 houses.
That leads me to what I'm freaking out over. About six hours ago, we offered just under a half-million dollars for a house. It's a great house - built in 2002, 3100 sq ft, 5 bedrooms with big closets, several bonus rooms, great kitchen, community pool, etc. The thing that panics me is that a week ago we weren't even thinking about buying a house here, much less in a location that's going to cause me to spend at least an additional hour in the car every day.
But, logically, it seems like the right thing to do. A lot of people from San Diego are moving north for the exact reasons we are, and that trend will continue, so we'll build equity fast. And this house is a great fit for us. When we bought our house in Salt Lake, we looked at 40 houses before settling on the one we bought, and I was never completely happy with it. We both loved this one immediately - and if we don't get it, there were 2 others that we liked almost as much.
Anyway, that's it. Now we just wait and see if they accept the offer.
My books have received a number of reviews, mostly good, some bad. I don't really have a problem with most of the bad ones, as long as the person has actually read the book and has legitimate criticism. But occasionally people will write reviews that are basically just "this book sucks", which aren't really useful to anyone*. This happened with a string of reviews on Amazon for OpenGL Game Programming, and now it's happened with the latest Amazon review of Beginning OpenGL Game Programming. The review, which is accompanied by the lowest rating, states: The main thing that bothers me about this review is that Amazon greenlighted it. The reviewer states that he didn't actually read the book, and provides no explaination of why he considers it a waste of money. Why does Amazon allow reviews like this to waste space and waste the time of potential buyers?
As a technical author, I'd like to make a request of anyone reading this. If you read a book you like and that you think others would benefit from, take a moment to review it *somewhere*. Say what specifically you liked about it, and if there are things that could have been better, mention them as well. If you didn't like the book and you want to review it, be fair. Realize that you may not have been in the target audience for the book.
Oh, and if you have an Amazon account and agree with me about the uselessness of this review, you may want to use the "report this" link under the review to see if we can get them to remove it.
* - btw, the "this book rocks" type of reviews aren't really any better. As an author, I'd like to know what people liked about it, and I'm sure potential buyers would like to know as well.
Weekly weigh-in: 227.0
We getting some shirts made to give away at the GDC. The one I'm wearing here is the demo shirt they sent us before printing the whole batch. We'll probably run out, so stop by our booth early and pick one up.
I spent nearly all of E3 in meetings with developers, so I didn't have any material to do a full write up, but I did manage to take some booth babe photos with the new digital camera, so I may as well share them here:
It's been a while since I updated this, and this isn't exactly new news, but I thought I should post to let anyone who is interested know that I'm no longer working for Qualcomm. As of March 1st, I'm an ISV engineer in the handheld group at ATI. For the most part, my job is the same as what I was doing at Qualcomm: demos, training, developer support, porting, etc. The biggest change has been getting used to working from home, since I'm staying in San Diego and working remotely. That's taking some adjustment, but overall, I really like the change - especially the fact that I'm not spending 2.5 hours per day on the road, which buys me a lot of time back.
Old and busted:
Oh, and Weekly Weigh-in: 226.0
I was browsing our news the other day, and again encountered something I've seen fairly often. When we have news posts about mobile gaming, particularly ones mentioning speculation about the growth of mobile gaming, there's invariably a few people who come along, pooh-poohing this entire segment of the game industry. Mostly, their arguments against the potential of mobile gaming are based on anecdotal evidence, e.g. they played a few games on a single handset, and those games sucked, so why would anyone pay for cell phone games?
I can understand skepticism regarding some of the numbers being thrown around about the potential size of the mobile gaming market (e.g. $7 billion by 2008), since these numbers are guesses at best, and are far too reminiscent of the types of things people used to say about the market for PDA games several years ago, which of course never really materialized. But...
1) Even if the numbers being thrown around are overly-optimistic, the fact remains that there is significant growth in this area. Hundreds of millions are being made on mobile games now, and with better gaming handsets coming out and new markets opening, that number is increasing rapidly. So even if mobile gaming is unappealing to some people, it's clearly true from the numbers that there are lots of people who enjoy it.
2) The cell phone market is very different from the PDA market. Besides being several orders of magnitude larger, people are upgrading their cellphones every 2 years on average, and because the technology is advancing so rapidly, every time they upgrade, they are getting a device that is better suited for games. Also, the distribution models on phones are much better than they are on PDAs.
Granted, the mobile game industry isn't without its challenges. Variance among handsets means a huge porting effort if you want to make your game widely available, and some handsets simply aren't well-suited to gaming. But standards are emerging (i.e. OpenGL ES) and developers have become very efficient at porting to multiple handsets.
As for handset design... I have sitting on my desk a prototype phone that we (QUALCOMM) made. Here's a photo of it:
This isn't intended as a commercial handset. Rather, we use it as a development platform, as well as something to show to handset manufacturers to give them an idea of what a gaming phone should be (and hopefully, they'll improve on the idea).
As you can see, the thing has a joystick, d-pad, shoulder buttons, and can "transform" into gaming mode. The screen is about the same size as that of a GBA, but higher resolution (320x240), supporting 16-bit color. It also has hardware accelerated 3D (exposed through OpenGL ES) on par with the Playstation. We've been working with developers like EA, Ubisoft/Gameloft, etc., with developing early 3D games for it, and I honestly enjoy playing games on it.
I think it's unfortunate that many small development studios and individual developers have missed out on opportunities offered by mobile gaming. At least until recently, the bar for entry was fairly low, both financially and coming up to speed technically, so this has been an area where someone who wanted to start their own dev studio or even just break into the industry could have done so fairly easily, at least in comparison to other platforms. That's unfortunately changing now, but if you currently have experience as a mobile game developer, you're in a good position. Pretty much every major game publisher is trying to establish a presense in mobile. To do this, many of them are buying up as many mobile development shops as they can. If you have experience in mobile AND 3D, you're golden.
In reality, the window of opportunity for breaking into the industry relatively easily through this route probably isn't closed yet, so if that's something you're looking to do, I'd suggest not being too quick to dismiss mobile gaming.
I spent a couple of hours today going through resumes for a student intern position we're hiring for at Qualcomm. The position's actually pretty cool - whoever gets it will receive some valuable job experience working with games and graphics, and they'll be able to make quite a few industry contacts.
I was dismayed at how bad most of these resumes were. I'm not talking about poor grammer, or formatting, or anything else that they teach you in the typical resume writing class. And I'm not talking about lack of skills/experience, since these students were all from a prestigous engineering school. I'm mainly talking about irrelevance.
2/3 of the resumes failed to meet the minimum major requirements listed for the position. I don't mean that they were just missing some of them, they were missing ALL of them. No graphics, no gaming, no OpenGL, no exposure to embedded system. None of them even listed gaming as an area of interest. Seriously, I don't care how badly you want a job, if you're not even close to what a company says they're looking for, you're wasting everyone's time (including yours) by sending in a resume.
Some of these people even included generic-sounding cover letters stating that they are a perfect match for the job. [grin]
Many of them also listed their jobs at McDonalds or Walmart or whatever. I'm sure that some people out there care about the fact that you've at least held *a* job, but if you're applying for an engineering job, they probably don't. In general, don't bother listing information on your resume unless it helps establish you as being qualified for the job for which you're applying. You can get away with a bit - and listing things like hobbies and interests is fine - but keep it brief.
Finally, if there are multiple area in which you have skills/experiences and are willing to take a job in any of those areas, consider maintaing separate resumes, each focusing on a particular area.
Anyway, I hope that somebody finds this brief set of tips useful.
Yesterday, I had a meeting with my manager to go over my review feedback for the past six month period. I'm happy to say that I was promoted from Senior to Staff Engineer, with a healthy raise and bonus to go along with it. Yay me.
Anyway, as a few of you might know, Saturday I got back from a week-long bike trip across California. I'll be posting a summary of it soon. It was an amazing experience.
Weekly weigh-in: 233.0
I resumed lifting this week. I'm on a 4-day split now:
Wed: Cardio only
The weights I can use on my bi and tri exercises dropped by about 20-30%, but that's to be expected with doing back/chest exercises before them.
The game design is fleshed out now, so I'm starting to make coding assignments. The working title for the game is Slaughterhouse, though I'm sure that'll change.
Other than that, things have been crazy, mostly with GDNet related responsibilities. Besides getting articles back on track, we have to start actively preparing for the GDC now - it's a surprising amount of work.
I've also been having a hell of a time keeping up with email and private messages. I have over 200 email messages (all of which require non-trivial responses) and about 50 PMs to take care of. But I've been focusing on taking care of them, and the numbers are dropping quickly. Sadly, though, I have messages that are as much as six months old, so if you've emailed me but haven't heard back, I promise I'll get to you soon.
As a result of all of this, I've barely had time to work on the last book, which we're now calling More OpenGL Game Programming (rather than Advanced). We're under contract to have it done by June, so I'm going to HAVE to make the time. Hopefully I'll get a lot done over the holidays.
Weigh-in: 206.0 lbs
Yeah. August was a good month for weight loss.
I'm in the home stretch for More OpenGL Game Programming. It was due on Monday, but since I'm working with 20+ authors on this, a few of them are late getting their stuff in. But, 95% of the book has been edited, and 75% has been turned in. I'm really quite happy with the way the book has turned out. I think that it's going to be an excellent intermediate-level resource for a lot of people.
Damn I'm frustrated right now.
Two months ago, I hurt my shoulder while bench-pressing. It didn't seem too major, so I took some time off of weightlifting to let it heal, which has worked for similar injuries in the past. After a month, I tried benching again, and it immediately started hurting again. So I went to see my doctor, who ordered an MRI so that she could determine whether she needed to send me to an orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist. I had the MRI the next week, and was told, both by my doctor and the MRI tech, that my results should be available in 2 days. So I call my doctor's office 3 days later (this was around the 4th, so I gave them a little extra time for the holiday) and I was told that MRI results typically take 3-5 days, and that they'd call me when they were in. A couple of days later, no one has called me, so I call back, and *this* time I'm told that it normally takes 5-7 days. I tell them that the number has gone up every time I call, and they just shrug it off. I also find out at this point that my doctor has gone on emergency medical leave (she's six months pregnant with twins) and they aren't sure when she'll be back, but the nurse will call me.
I wait a few more days, and still no call, so I call them again, and they tell me that the results aren't in yet. They also tell me that my doctor is now on indefinite leave. But they again reassure me that the nurse will call as soon as they have the results, which should be a day or two tops. Several days pass, and they of course haven't called me back, so I call them (this is last Friday), and they tell me that I've been handed off to another doctor since mine won't be coming back for months. They transfer me to his office, and they tell me that they don't have my MRI results yet, but that my doctor had called them specifically about me to tell them that it's urgent that they get a hold of me as soon as the results are in. They said that they had followed up with radiology and that they should get the results no later than Monday, and that they'd call me then.
As of this morning, they still hadn't called me, so I call them. They told me that they'd left a message for the radiology supervisor on Monday, and that she hadn't called them yet. I explained how frustrated I was that 3 weeks after my MRI, I still didn't know what was wrong with my shoulder or what my treatment plan would be, that every day I'm dealing with pain and restricted functionality (it hurts to pick up my kids), and that every time I've called, I'd been led to believe that I'd have some answers in a day or two, but that the only follow-up that had happened was because of me calling and nagging them. She basically brushed it off and said she'd call radiology again, and that was it.
I'm so pissed off about this. If I don't hear from them before I leave work today, I think I'm going to go by the clinic and stay there bugging them until they can read my freaking results to me.
So I was browsing through the books database today, and I noticed something. We have around 400 books listed here, and about half of them don't have any reviews at all. We'd really like the books section to be a comprehensive resource where our visitors can look to see what their peers think of the books they're considering for purchase.
The thing is, I know that in most cases, hundreds if not thousands of our visitors have read these books. So take a minute to look around our books section and see if you can add a review or two, especially for the sad, lonely, reviewless books.
To change gears completely, last night, my wife and I were watching Big Fish (finally), when we heard our cat (Anya) banging around her food dish in the garage - except that she's never that noisy, so my wife went to check on her. She flips on the light, and sees something duck behind our cabinets by the door to the backyard. She looks behind them and sees a black tail sticking out. Assuming it's the black neighbor cat that's been poking around our house lately (Anya's in heat), she rattles around an old ironing board that we have tucked behind there to scare the cat away. Except that the ironing board falls and lands on what turns out to be an extremely pissed off skunk. We know this not because we saw it, but because of the stench that suddenly filled our garage.
If your only experience with smelling skunks is from driving past where one has been killed on the highway, let me just say that you have NO clue how bad it really is.
So now the skunk is hiding underneath our freezer, not moving, and our eyes are watering from the smell. Finally, we were able to get it to leave by opening all the doors and jabbing a stick under the freezer. But then we've got the problem of the smell to deal with. We lit every candle we own, boiled cinnamon, and finally just burned cardboard to try to get rid of the smell. The result? Our entire house now smells like burned skunk. Hopefully after leaving the doors and windows open all day today, the smell will be somewhat bearable.
[whatever] Weigh-in: 229.0
The holidays were rough for weightloss. After New Year's I was back up to 239 after being as low as 231 before Christmas. But I've been back on track for a month, now. It's a little frustrating, but I'm now at a 8-year low, so I'm happy about that.
January was supposed to be almost entirely dedicated to working on the game, but (as I mostly expected) other things kept cropping up that took precedence. But, I've been making a lot of progress this week, and it's looking like we'll at least have something to show by GDC - pending being able to get through all the red tape of contracting some artists.
I'm also actively working on More OpenGL Game Programming right now. I've got about 70 pages written (though they're in a pretty rough state), and 3 demos done, but there's still a hell of a lot to do before the April 30th deadline.
Something else interesting happened this week. For years (since high school, really), I've suffered from daytime drowsiness - if I'm not actively involved in something and sitting still, I have a tendancy to nod off (doesn't ever really happening when driving, fortunately). The amount of sleep I get has some impact on this, but even sleeping for 8+ hours for a week or more only softens the effect. I also snore, and my wife says it sounds like I stop breathing for short periods when I'm asleep. So I've suspected for some time that I have sleep apnea. Back in November, I finally got around to seeing a sleep specialist and doing a sleep study. I wasn't able to meet with my doctor to discuss the results until this past Monday.
Turns out, I'm officially a *really* drowsy person. On a scale from 0 to 20, with 20 being not drowsy at all, and 0 being "falls asleeep immediately", I'm a 2.8. My doctor says that I definitely have sleep apnea, but he thinks that it's only a minor component of my sleep problem. He thinks that the main problem - and it pains me to say this - is a chemical imbalance in my brain that prevents me from getting high-quality sleep at night. The good news isn't just that it's treatable, but that treatment will improve my overall energy and alertness. I'm already a pretty active and productive guy, so maybe this means that I'll be able to finish the book on time without neglecting the site, my job, or my family.
I just got this from a Russian email address. The subject was just "Article correction":
It's been a while since I've updated this, so I think that a non-development post will do well to get me back in the habit.
I've been struggling with my weight for years. When I a kid, I was always heavy for my age. This got better around 5th grade, when I shot up to 6 ft (where I stopped), and started exercising regularly. Initially, exercising consisted of pushups, situps, pullups, and some running. I soon started lifting weights regularly and did a minimal amount of cardio. I was in good shape throughout high school, where I wrestled and played football. When I graduated from high school, I weighed about 195 lbs - mostly muscle. I continued for a year after that, and got up to a 350 lbs bench press.
Then I went to Korea for 2 years as a missionary for my church. While there, I was able to keep in fairly good shape, but couldn't lift weights, so I lost a lot of strength and size. I mostly jumped rope and did some bodyweight workouts, but not consistently. When I got back I was around 185 lbs. After that, I went back to school, got married a year later, and then became busy trying to support my family, so I didn't workout consistently. My eating habits changed, and I started gaining weight. Within a couple of years, I was up to 240 lbs. In the fall of '96, I decided it was time to lose weight. I started the New Hilton Head Metabolism Diet, ran every day, and did a regular regimen of bodyweight workouts (I didn't have access to a gym). Within 5 months, I'd lost almost 40 pounds. Unfortunately, at that time, I changed jobs to something more demanding, and also decided to go back to school (I'd been off for 3 years just surviving). With the change, my regimen fell apart, and I started to gain the weight back. 2 years later, after another job change, I got a gym membership and tried again to get back in shape, but I lacked the discipline to diet. My next attempt to get back on the wagon came a year ago, when I tried the South Beach diet. It went really well - I lost 10 pounds in a little over a month - but I wasn't exercising, and I craved my favorite carbs ALL the time, so it wasn't sustained, and I gained all the weight back and then some.
This year, I peaked at 263 lbs, and finally, early last month, I committed to a sustained effort to get back in shape again. I read an article that said the middle of the afternoon was the best time to work out, and I realized that I could eat lunch at my desk and go to the company gym in the afternoon (making it harder to skip the workout). I looked at the diets I'd been on and came up with guidelines for eating (with a high protein/moderate good carbs & fats focus) that I thought would both allow me to lose weight while not leaving me craving all the time.
I've been following this for about 6 weeks now, eating pretty healthily and working out six days a week for an hour. I've lost 15 pounds and I feel great.
My goals are weight loss and building muscle. I know that those two things are conflicting in many ways, especially in the diet. So for now, I'm doing cardio and weightlifting every day, but I'm not expecting major gains from the weightlifting. Once I get to my target weight, I'll cut back the cardio to three days a week.
Right now, cardio is riding an exercise bike for 20 minutes. About every other week I'm doing a 10+ mile mountain bike trip as well - this in preparation for a 250 mile trek I'm making in the spring.
My current lifting split looks something like this:
Seated leg curls
Seated leg extensions
Side leg raises (bodyweight)
Standing calf raises (bodyweight)
Incline or decline bench press
Overhead tricep extensions
I'm doing most exercises for 3 sets of 6-8 reps, with
Anyway, the reason I'm posting this here is mainly as another incentive to stay on the wagon, but I'd also welcome feedback on my workout if people think it could be more effective.
One of my coworkers just directed me to this article on IGN. The Slingshot is the device that most of my efforts for the past two-plus years have been centered around. I was involved with designing and testing the 3D hardware in it, as well as contributing to the design of the prototype itself. Most of my time, however, has been focused on developing content for it, both working with 3rd party game developers like EA and Gameloft, and developing content internally.
The following are shots from a game called Portal, which we developed internally, and for which I was the team lead. It's been under active development for about four months. The game is fully 3D, includes a lightweight physics and collision detection system, camera animation, triggers and other basic scripting, network-based resource streaming, and basic AI. We're looking at adding a multiplayer component to it for high speed networks. The game was shown for the first time at CTIA Wireless a couple of weeks ago. We'll be showing it again at ATI's 3D Developer Days, and at the Austin Game Conference.
Anyway, I thought that some of you might be interested to know what I'm working on.
In other news, More OpenGL Game Programming is done, and it will be released on the 18th. I'm very happy with it.
I started using Netscape back at version 2 or so, and I've followed it through its various evolutions through Mozilla. I've always used the integrated mail component, so I resisted switching to Firefox until Thuderbird went commercial (and because plain old Mozilla is still pretty damn good).
I finally made the switch last night. The only problem that I encountered is that Thunderbird didn't import my Mozilla email correctly, probably due to the fact that I haven't done a clean install in years, so there are settings in my prefs files from a very long time ago. I was able to work around that, and everything seems to be working well now.
I keep my broswer/email synchronized between my laptop and desktop. The browser portion of it is easier because of the bookmark extensions for Firefox - which is really the only thing I need to synch. I still have to manually copy files for email, but at least the number of files I have to copy is smaller now.
Anyway, both are nice improvements, and I'm glad I finally made the switch. The only thing I miss is the ease with which you can launch mail from Mozilla, and vice-versa.
During GDC Mobile yesterday, Qualcomm's Mike Yuen and Zeebo's John Rizzo officially announced the launch of the Zeebo console. Given that I work at Qualcomm, with Mike and Dave Durnil, two of the people that initially came up with the idea, I've known about this for a while and was glad to see it finally go officially public.
Rather than attempting to compete with the Big 3 on technical level, Zeebo is targeting a niche, albeit a rather large one: middle class families in emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and China. The console was designed with the following factors in mind:
The target audience has never owned a game console before, so cutting edge technology isn't needed
The target audience can't afford one of the existing consoles, so the much lower price (around 1/5 the cost of a Wii) will make Zeebo much more appealing
Piracy is rampant in the target markets, creating little incentive for publishers to develop for those markets. Zeebo addresses this by distributing games (at prices slightly higher than pirated prices) exclusively via their 3G network, using BREW
Zeebo features an 528MHz ARM 11 processor, Qualcomm Adreno 130 graphics core (OpenGL ES 1.0+), 1GB of NAND Flash, and 128 MB DDR SDRAM + 32MB stacked DDR
SDRAM. Being based on cellphone technology, Zeebo also draws very little power, further reducing the cost to own.
Publisher support of the console is already strong. The console will ship with 4 titles embedded, and another free to download. More than 40 titles will be available either at launch or within 90 days of launch. The console will launch initially in Brazil, with other markets to follow.
It's of course difficult for me to evaluate Zeebo without some kind of bias. I was skeptical of the idea at first, but it does seem like it has the potential to open a whole new segment of the market that currently isn't being reached at all. As one developer pointed out, it seems like the tendency is going to be for publishers to just port their back catalogs, rather than create new titles. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing: it's cheaper for them, and the games will be new to Zeebo owners anyway. I do think it'll create opportunities for smaller, local developers to create games tailored to the culture.
Regardless, I'll be watching with interest to see how well Zeebo is received.
Because of my role here at GameDev.net, over the years I've interacted with a huge number of people, so it's no surprise that despite my best efforts, I've made an enemy or two. I've also seen many strange emails. But I've never seen anything like this:
Besides the obvious concern about his unusual interest in my ass, there's the fact that I'm really too busy to entertain a guest tonight.
Weekly weigh-in: 246
Down 2 pounds from last week. I figure that tracking my weight here will help keep me motivated to stay on the wagon.
Anyway, this is my car:
It's a '93 Mazda Protege, which I bought in 1996, and have since put over 100K miles on (it's at 160K now). The car has served me well, but it's starting to have a wide range of problems that I really don't want to spend money to fix.
This past summer, I started looking for a replacement. I've wanted a roadster since I was a teenager, so I was looking at the BMW Z3 (which I like better than the newer Z4), Audi TT Roadster, and Chrysler Crossfire. But after a few test drives, my wife pointed out to me that I really needed to get something with more than 2 seats, since we have 5 kids, and I regularly have to pick more than one of them up while she has our minivan.
Fine, I started the search for an alternative. I really want something that I'm going to enjoy driving, so I came up with several criteria:
It has to be sporty. I don't need a rocket, but I want something that can move when I feel like it.
It has to be somewhat unique. I don't want something that looks like every other car on the road.
It has to be convertible.
It has to have a back seat.
It has to cost So I spent months looking for a car that fit these criteria, with little luck. Everything I looked at failed one or more criteria. I was beginning to feel that I was going to have to settle for something less than ideal, until I went to London.
There, I saw a car that I'd looked at before, and really liked, but passed over because it wasn't convertible. Except that the the one I saw was convertible. Turns out they had just come out with them, and they hadn't yet appeared in the states.
I went back home, did some research, read some reviews, and came to the conclusion that this car was exactly what I wanted. Last week, I paid my deposit and ordered a MINI Cooper S Convertible.
Buying a MINI ended up being more complicated than expected. There's only one MINI dealer in San Diego, and they charge $4-5,000 over MSRP (which is already $1-2K over invoice). There are a few dealers in LA that charge MSRP, but they have really long waiting lists (up to 12 months). Checking out some MINI driver forums, I found out that the prevailing recommendation among SoCal MINI owners was to buy your MINI out of state, and then either ship it or fly out and drive it back.
I did some more research and found out that the MINI dealer where I used to live (Salt Lake City) has a really good reputation and charges MSRP, so I ordered it from there. I'm still going to have to wait until late Jan/early Feb to pick it up, but that's much better than if I had ordered in LA. And the drive back should be fun.
In the meantime, here's hoping that my Mazda holds up for another 3 months.
Weekly weigh-in: 235.0
After a couple of relatively slow weeks, I'm mostly back on my weight-loss pace. I'm taking this week off from weightlifting. I've been lifting consistently for 3 months, now, so my body is overdue for some time off. I'm still doing cardio this week, though.
Now that things have slowed down a bit at work I finally have time to work on an internal game. I'll be leading a team of a couple of programmers and two contract artists. We've been hashing out the design, and should start coding soon. If all goes well, we'll have a demo to show at GDC in March.
(Whatever) weigh-in: 215.0 lbs
I'm supposed to see a sports medicine specialist in a couple of weeks, but because I'm that way, I spent a great deal of time over the past week doing some reading (much of it at Testosterone Nation) to figure out what lead to the tendonitis in my shoulder, and to determine what I can do to prevent it from being a major problem in the future. The fact that it's currently preventing me from training my chest and shoulders is killing me.
Everything I read pointed to the tendonitis being caused by an imbalance between my chest and back strength (with my chest being stronger). At first, I dismissed this possibility, since I've been training both of them, and in fact, I train my back MORE than my chest (9-11 sets vs. 4-6 sets). But when I was talking to Kevin about it last night, I realized that most of my back work has been the vertical plane (pull-ups, pulldowns, etc.) and only minimally in the horizontal plane (2 sets of rows). That's been up against 2 sets of bench, 2 sets of incline dumbbell presses, plus dips or pec dec. Plus, I can lift a lot more with my chest than my back (e.g. benching 215 lbs for 2 sets of 6-8 reps vs. rowing 135 lbs for the same sets and reps).
I also did some posture analysis yesterday and found that I have internally rotated humeri and mild kyphosis, which confirms the imbalance.
So for now, I'm going to train my back hard to try to reduce the imbalance. I won't be working my chest, since it still hurts to do so anyway. I'll also be doing some additional exercises to strengthen my rotator cuff.
While doing my research, I also came to the realization that my current workout philosophy is no longer working very well for me. I've been using high intensity training (HIT), mainly because it takes less time. For those unfamiliar, it basically boils down to doing a low number of sets with heavy weight and training to failure on every lift. I got good results from this initially, but over the past 4-5 months, my gains have been pretty minimal. Since I believe that I'm getting adequate nutrition, I suspect that my training is inadequate.
So previously, I've been working one body part per day, several exercises per body part, with 1 to 2 sets of 6-8 reps, adjusting the weight so that I train to failure on the last set.
But after the reading I did over the weekend, I'm changing to a more high volume approach. I'll focus on doing compound lifts (which I was doing previously, but I'm going to drop a few isolation exercises that probably aren't that effective) with setXreps in the 10x3, 8x4, 5x5 ranges with 80%+ of my max, alternated with 3x10, 4x8, etc., with slightly lower weights. I started doing this on Monday, and I already feel that I'm getting more out of my workouts, but I'll see what kind of results I get after a few months.