November 26th, 2007
The Thanksgiving holiday, Americaâ€™s national nosh-up, went off for us this year with the usual combination of over-inflated bellies and familial folderol. This year, though, the entertainments were extended outside those found in the playbook of traditional family must-dos (at least for our family).
Halfway through the appetizers, but before the slicing of the turkey, my sister and her partner had to excuse themselves for a few late arrivals. Theyâ€™re dog breeders, you see, and had shown up trailing Zoe, an exceptionally pregnant Labradoodle. Zoe seemed to feel that it was high time she got a little more attention, so she let loose with a fury, delivering nine cute-as-a-button Labradoodle puppies in my motherâ€™s bathroom. Fortunately, my mother is forgiving and my step-father keeps a lot of tarps and old towels lying around.
November 15th, 2007
The new version of Swift 3D will provide for export to the Papervision3D format, which opens up lots of possibilities for 3D in Flash.
November 14th, 2007
Well, it’s finally happened. After all those meetings and interviews, I’ve accepted an offer from mobile phone software developer Picsel Technologies. They’re based in Glasgow, but have kindly offered me a position at their Edinburgh office (which, incidentally, is just a few miles from what is reputedly the world’s largest rock climbing arena…not that that has anything to do with anything!).
We’ll be relocating at the end of this year: Dublin for New Year’s Eve and Edinburgh a few days later.
Big thanks to superstar recruiter Uzma Ali for sorting out all the little details!
November 11th, 2007
Just kidding. No intent to publish a daily blow-by-blow, but we are back in San Francisco. Too tired for any prolonged explication of the trip that was, but it all looks very fine and there should be useful news in a few days. For now, just a bit of shopping, collection of a kitty, then a simple dinner and a long night’s sleep.
November 10th, 2007
Our final day in Scotland turned out to be one of my busiest. We started the morning early with a return to the Leith Shore to view a flat. This turned out to be a spacious (by Edinburgh standards) two bedroom, but the ceilings were low and the kitchen was an absolute box. It looked out over the Water of Leith, a small river which empties out into the Firth a few hundred feet on. No certain decision on this flat: we need to consider the pros and cons. We also need to look at where we ultimately end up working, as Leith is at one extreme end of the city. (more…)
November 10th, 2007
Not a lot to report today. Just one meeting. My wife went to make a meeting of her own, and I found myself at a loose end for the first time since arriving. This gave me an opportunity to do a tiny bit of actual touristing. I walked up the Royal Mile, an array of shops, restaurants, bars an cafes which lead from Old Town up to Edinburgh Castle, perched high over the rest of the city. Itâ€™s a beautiful piece of tourist trap heaven, made so by georgous ancient buildings and lively entertainments. I wandered through parts of Old Town and by Edinburgh University, stopping for a few minutes to savor the view of Arthurâ€™s Seat, a jutting promontory off one extreme of the city, which has â€“ by fit or fortune â€“ been left completely undeveloped and retained its natural beauty.
Later in the morning we went off to Leith Shore, an interesting little enclave of high-end cafes and businesses tucked into the hitherto run-down port area of the city. Had a chat with a game developer in the afternoon and later on met up for drinks and dinner with a couple blokes from Scottish Developers, all of whom shared a lot of info about being in Scotland and doing the developer thing.
November 6th, 2007
Sixth day already! Two more interviews today, both very interesting. What was most enjoyable about the second one, however, was that it took me north of the city and over the Firth of Forth, which is Edinburghâ€™s answer to San Francisco Bay: a large inlet opening east into the North Sea spanned by two impressive bridges (that I know of). My return from Dunfermline (pronounced done-FIRM-lin) was blessed by a spectacular sunset, though with the oddness of old habit, it felt quite odd to be looking at the sun setting at the â€œwrongâ€ end of the bay. The fellows I met in Dunfermline seemed surprised that we had found the folks of Edinburgh so friendly. Hmmm. There might be a rude awakening after the visitorâ€™s honeymoon has expired.
An amusing little tidbit today: a young lady on the bus from Leith chatted amiably with her friends about a casual game called Diner Dash. Yesterday at the games lab I had been talking with one of the researchers about what makes a game work for girls and Diner Dash had been mentioned. Emboldened by the serendipity of the remark, I went over and asked her what she thought made games work for women (explaining something of the context of the question as I went). She thought women mostly preferred games that connect to real life, then she noted that she likes Grand Theft Auto. She also thought the eMotion games lab â€“ with all its special instrumentation to gauge emotional reactions to games â€“ sounded seriously weird.
November 5th, 2007
Had a fascinating visit today at the eMotion game lab at Glasgow Caledonian University. The lab is kitted out with a very cool array of diagnostic tools for measuring the userâ€™s emotional responses to game stimuli. Theyâ€™ve also built customized versions of several commercially available game console systems and peripherals (e.g.,Wii and EyeToy) for the purpose of creating educational and rehabilitative games. Glasgow Caledonian has a large department (about 900 people I’m told) devoted entirely to games development. I spent a very pleasant afternoon talking shop with Jon Sykes and his team.
Come evening, we went for a lovely dinner at the Mussel Inn for (guess what?) mussels. Yum! Followed that up with drinks with Jon and his wife at 80 Queen Street, quite a posh bar with a very fine whisky selection.
November 5th, 2007
Sunday was restful (thank God). We looked at one flat on Thistle Street (right in the center of town) which strongly reminded me of Old Court at Queensâ€™ College in Cambridge: stone steps, creaky, uneven floors and really, really cool in a funky, firetrap kind of way. We also walked through what (I think) they call New Town and stumbled upon Scotland Street, the main setting for a novel that a friend had recommended to me shortly before we left (fyi Walter, thereâ€™s no No. 44). (more…)
November 5th, 2007
Day 3 is Saturday. Lots of today spent apartment hunting. We telephoned several places and even stepped into a couple of them. One of these was a mews, a strange British concept that seems to refer to places once fit only for stables, but now serving as homes for humans. In Edinburgh, there are also a great many apartments referred to as tenements, since thatâ€™s what they originally were. Both these horse-houses and slums (to use the American vernacular) have latterly been converted into small, but very desirable residences that fetch high values in the current rental market. Alistair, the current resident of the mews we looked into, very kindly showed me around his place: one bedroom hardly larger than the bed, a tiny kitchen/dining room and a small bath for about Â£550 (US$1100). â€œCozyâ€ he called it. The San Francisco rental market might be tougher than this, but not perhaps as much tougher as we first thought. (more…)