Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Assignments for DAYS

So the game design program at VFS has a bucket of assignments to go along with its 8 classes a term. Some are easier than others, but for the most part they all require quite a bit of work. Just thought I'd give you guys an idea of what kinda stuff I'm doing here! The following is the first assignment for each class.

Pre-Production: I had to do something called an "elevator pitch". The idea is that you step onto the elevator in your office, and there in front of you is OMG THE CEO. And for no apparent reason he/she says to you "Hey, you seem like a guy that has it all together. What kinda game would you make?" OK BE COOL, WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO. What you do is give them the extremely condensed version of the game idea you've had in your head for so long you can practically recite it in zeros and ones. You have one minute to explain what the game is, and hit only the most important points. You then hand them the one page document you conveniently carry around with you detailing some game specifics, and then go on your way to get your shirt dry cleaned as it is now drenched in sweat. Ideally, your one minute talk and the contents of your document are so impressive your game gets made and makes your company millions, and you get a huge promotion. Everyone wins! Even the dry cleaner!

Level Design: Level design kinda threw us in the deep end. Our first assignment gave us a week to create a level for a 3d single player game, and then present the level for the class. It didn't have to be incredibly specific, but the general idea needed to be there, and you had to be able to walk listeners through your high-level vision. The biggest problem here was that we had to choose from a list of existing games to design for, and those games were also on the list our instructor gave us of best level designs of all time. "Oh, so you wanna learn how to throw a football? Cool, let's start you out running some drills as an NFL quarterback." That's kinda how it felt. So I made a level for Super Mario Galaxy all about magic mirrors, and the instructor seemed to like it. Touchdown?

Cinematics: I had to break down a dramatic scene from any medium. This was pretty much a basic exercise in identifying the different kinds of camera angles and movements and such. I ended up picking a scene from Breaking Bad, because the last few episodes were pretty recent on my mind, and it had a lot of great examples of the techniques we had studied. Here's the link, but seriously don't click on it if you don't want any Breaking Bad spoilers. This is from the second to last episode: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Game Theory: Our final in this class is actually making a board game of our own, so a lot of our assignments have been leading up to that. To start we had to write down 20 board game ideas. 10 had to be a theme for a game, 10 had to be specific mechanics. Themes are particularly easy, as I could literally just look around the room and say "Lamp. You're a lamp, do lamp things better than other lamps." Boom, one idea. And that's no joke, replace the word lamp with cupcake and that was word for word one of my submitted ideas. The instructor enjoyed it quite a bit. 10/10

Game Art: Let's just say that out there somewhere is a picture of Chris Pratt with Steve Buscemi's eyes and a Rocket Raccoon tattoo. That's kinda cheating though since I mentioned that assignment in an earlier post so BONUS ROUND our second assignment was to take the texture of an old building and make it "grungy" in Photoshop. This involved a lot of searching for things like "big dirt picture" in google and then overlaying some of the results on the building. The result was a slightly dirtier old building with some graffiti added. I don't wanna jump the gun at all, but between the two assignments I now know how to do absolutely everything in Photoshop. Or at least I assume so, because we have since moved on from the program.

Programming: So after studying computer science for four years, programming is pretty natural. We had to make a text-based dice betting game. I finished it up during the first class and basically became a TA after that. I sincerely hope that doesn't come off as arrogant, I genuinely enjoy being able to teach others. The instructor is brand new to teaching so a lot of people are struggling, and I'm just glad to help.

Storytelling: We spent the first class learning all about the 3 act structure, so for our first assignment we applied the knowledge. I took Borderlands 2 and identified the different elements that made it a 3 act story. It was nice because Borderlands fits the structure in a really obvious way, with major events marking each new act. But it isn't as obvious as saaaaaaaaay Diablo, which LITERALLY tells you which act you're in. I only mention that because a bunch of people chose that game for this assignment, which kinda feels like cheating a little. So I got to appear pretty smart without much extra effort aka the AMERICAN DREAM. AMERICA!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 10: All Fridays aren't Beer Fridays?

Sad news at work today. Not all Fridays are Beer Fridays.

I'd gotten in a little later than all the other days of the week, stopping by Starbucks first to welcome in the rainy season. It was still about 9:30 when I sat down and fired up the MacBook. 

When Tracy got in we ran my database updates that I'd written and tested yesterday. Then we found another ticket for me to work on.

The issue was occurring in the admin view of a management tool. They are presented with a list of courses, and should be able to click on any name and have that space become editable, so they could change the name of a course right there. The problem was that the editable option went away if they deleted the name and saved it. However, this was an issue the team thought they'd fixed a while back. 

I pulled that ticket and looked at the revision to the code, so I'd have a starting place. After some experimenting, I realized that the problem was caused not by deleting the existing name, but by replacing it with any number of spaces. (A lot of folks highlight a field of text then hit the space bar to "delete" it. This doesn't delete it, it just replaces it with a white space character, therefore creating a non-empty string.) 

Regular expressions it was.

It was a simple and straightforward fix once I understood the problem. Very cool.

After lunch I picked up another ticket. This one has me a little stumped. Sorting in PHP is not the easiest thing in the world. Especially when you have French-speaking clients and have to be able to include all sorts of alphabet characters in your sorting abilities. Then there's numbers. You'd be amazed how many sorting algorithms sort 1, 10, 11, 12, 2, 20, 21, 3,... instead of 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21. 

That's the problem here. The numbers aren't lining up right. Only, I'm not sure where the data is being sorted, or if it is being sorted at all and not just dumped nilly-willy from a database. This one will take a little more digging once we get back after the weekend.

Around 3 pm I realized I hadn't heard anything about Beer Friday yet. I was mostly just looking to leaving a little early and heading home. As the minutes turned into half hours, I figured out that we would indeed be in the office, working, until 5 pm. Alas. Life is a struggle.

Sweet presents from our photographer!!!

We got an amazing package in the mail yesterday!!

Christy Archibald, our amazing and talented wedding photographer, mailed us a beautifully packaged gift!

We got our proof of production (a letter saying we have the rights to have the pictures printed for our own private use), a nifty wooden USB with all of our pictures on it.

Plus a large print!! It's perfect for a frame I've had for at least a year and a half without something to put it in!

Now we just have to decide where to put it...

Wedding emergency bag

This is a very important thing to prepare for your wedding.

As a Girl Scout for life, I am always way more prepared than I need to be for any event/excursion/trip/life. Therefore, the first time I saw anything about a bride's "Wedding Day Emergency Bag," I knew I had to have one.

I began scouring websites and Pinterest boards looking for anything and everything that folks recommended to include in your bag. I have compiled that list here for you, so it's all in one nice place.

1. Deodorant! You never know who's going to forget to bring some, or need to reapply. I got a couple of options for the girls and an option for the guys. None of my groomsmen would have touched Dove deodorant.

2. Straws. This is a must for the bride! Once you get start getting dressed and done up, no more bottles, cups, or cans for you. Drink from the straw to avoid spills or ruining your makeup. I also insisted all my bridesmaids use them.

3. Static guard. My bridesmaids were in floor length chiffon dresses in August in Texas. There was going to be static cling.

4. Snacks of some sort. We provided lunch for everyone, but the day is long and folks will get snacky before the next meal. I did Clif bars because they are nutritious and filling. Two kinds because I am the model citizen of picky.

5. Sand paper. If anyone is wearing new heels, they should scuff up the bottoms so they don't slip on the walk down the aisle or out getting their groove on. This was a cool spongy sand paper with two roughness textures.

6. Febreeze. Whether or not it's the limo or the chairs or couch at the hotel, something might be a little stinky that day.

7. Handheld mirror. There usually aren't enough mirrors to go around when you get a group of girls together, or you'll want to do a check at some point during the day after you leave the prep room.

8. Hair spray - the strong kind. If you're having anyone with an up-do, or even with curls, you will need your own hairspray for touch ups during the day. We had miracle stylists from Hair and Makeup in Motion and no one needed hair or makeup touch ups the whole night! But, I can guarantee that we would have needed hairspray if I didn't have any with me. This is the way the world works. 

9. Black socks. Odds are one of the groomsmen or someone in the family will have forgotten/will bring a ratty pair of black socks. For us, it actually was one of my uncles!

10. Umbrellas. Especially if your wedding is in a rainy season, umbrellas are a must. I had two, one to get to the groomsmen and one for the girls if the rain had started. It rained every day for a week leading up to our wedding, then not a single drop on the actual day! 

11. Pads and tampons. If you get enough girls together in a room, one of them will be on their period.

12. Baby powder. Chaffing's worst nightmare.

13. Razors and shaving cream. For this, like for the deodorant, I provided guy and girl options. Max's family are all a little hairy, so I wanted to be ready in case someone needed a quick clean up.

14. Tapes! I had duct tape and painter's tape. We wound up using the painters tape for something on Friday. You never know when a sign is going to fall apart, then the best man will forget tape to decorate the car, or when someone's shoes are going to fall apart. Thankfully, none of those things happened to us!

15. Rubber bands! Really, anything could happen at a wedding.

16. Lint roller. All of our groomsmen and a lot of our family members own pets.

16. Benadryl for allergies. On the flip side of several wedding party members owning pets, we had a groomsmen and a bridesmaid who were severely allergic to pets. These were definitely used, both the anti-itch spray (Texas + August = mosquitoes) and the allergy liquid gels.

17. Bug repellent, sunscreen, aloe vera. Along the same lines of Texas in August, plus a few outdoor shots that I wanted, I wanted to make sure my guys and gals were protected (especially my two red-headed bridesmaids!).

18. Flashlight. This is just a little leftover from my days of camping and other Girl Scout adventures. You really never know.

19. Makeup things. For touch ups and cleaning up injuries.

20. Eye care things. Contacts freak out and eyes act up. If you have wedding party members with contacts, be prepared.

21. Oral care. I had toothbrushes, toothpaste, breath refreshing strips, mouth wash, floss, the whole line up.

22. Regular old Scotch tape and some Krazy Glue. Because, you know.

23. Nail maintenance set and nail polish remover. The bridesmaids and I all got our nails done Friday night, but just in case you don't go that route and someone shows up with neon colors on their hands.

24. Charging cables. This was for the getting ready portion of the morning. I had cables for the old iPhones, the new iPhones, all other phones, and an AUX cable for our morning tunes. I also had an plug for an outlet that provided a couple of USB inputs. I also had a power strip in case we needed more outlets. These were used.

25. AAA and AA batteries. For all sorts of reasons.

26. Tide sink pods and Kleenex. These are a nifty little thing I found. Tide has these little pods of their soap that are the perfect size to wash one garment in the sink. How cool is that?!

27. Double sided tape. Ladies, this is to help keep your dress where it should be. Also your bridesmaid dresses.

28. Blister aid and prevention things. For girls and shoes.

29. Mini emergency crash course sewing kit/things. This was to be in case something went wrong with anyone's clothes.

30. Pens, pencils, highlighters, sharpies, whiteout (liquid and strips).

31. A couple of dryer sheets. They have the same effect as the cling spray.

32. Ear plugs.

33. Matches. Seriously. Girl Scouting. Well, plus we had a few candles in the plans for the day.

34. Extra backs to earrings. 

35. A mini-spiral notebook. Just in case someone needed to write something down.

Ok, so up to this point, all of these things had been sorted and filed into a large duffel bag with pockets. Now come the things I considered top priority. They went into this small red zippered bag that was more easily "to go." There were also pens and pencils in this bag, along with some of the breath strips.

36. Antacid, Advil, Tylenol, Band-Aids, Vaseline. All for various, obvious reasons.

38. Hair bands, bobby pins, clear hair elastics.

39. Make-up removal wipes, chapstick, mascara, concealer in two tones. The make-up removal wipes were actually in case any of it got on clothing or any other object.

40. Q-tips, toothpicks, Tide to-go pen, mini exacto knives. You never know.

41. Hairbrush and combs.

42. Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, scissors.

43. Clear nail polish. There are chiggers in Texas.

44. White chalk, moisturizer, oil blotting sheets. The white chalk is for your dress. If you spill anything on it and the Tide to-go pen doesn't do the trick, try the chalk.

That's what I had with me on my wedding day! I'm honestly not sure who moved it around all day. I told the girls about it, but I'm decently sure it got shuffled over to a wedding-coordinator responsibility (Tamorah, with SimplyMox. Simply amazing.). It was actually nice to have a bag. I also kept my phone, license, and a little spare cash in it. Then, the sunglasses we'd used for a few photos wound up in there, along with my first pair of shoes.

Let me know if there's anything else you had in your emergency bag, or that you've heard of brides keeping with them!

Day 9: Why won't this load?

Most of today was spent on my report project.

I'm so close to having it functional!! Tracy told me that on top of just creating the report, there now need to be two different versions that the user can select to pull.

A user can pull just on the courses or choose to include the sessions.

This changes the way I make the report and means I need to add another selection option to the menu. Fabulous.

I get that theoretically working, but now it seems there's something wrong with the objective section when you choose to include sessions. 

I'm a little bit done with this part.

So I pulled a ticket!!! Yay! My first task ticket!

One of our existing clients needed a change made to a few of their databases. I pulled a back-up copy of their database to run my tests on, then wrote out the queries to make it happen. 

It was so rewarding to finally do something that directly affected a client! Very very cool! Made for a really great end to the day. Tomorrow morning we'll run the queries on the live database to make the changes for the client!

Day 8: Canada has a rain forest?

Each week everyone on the dev team gets some one-on-one time with Tracy. For most, this is some uninterrupted time with the boss to bring up questions, concerns, days off, things they need. For me, this is "How does Canada work" time.

We've covered things like "Stat" holidays, co-ops, and hockey.

This time she was mentioning a couple of our off-site co-workers. She mentioned places they lived that had way more consonants than any place ought to. We discussed "the island." Which led us to the Canadian Rain Forests.

Um, what?

It's not the rain forests of the Amazon, but large forests where it rains all the time.

Ok, I'll give you this one, Canada.

Here's a very large (12,000 sq. mi.) "forest where it rains" between Vancouver and Alaska. It's called the Great Bear Rainforest


Day 7: You leave when?

I was so proud of myself. I made it to the office at 8:50 am!! 

The gate downstairs was locked. What. I looked a fool trying to get it open. On day one I got a key, a fob, and a 4-digit code. Now before me was a door with a key hole, a number pad, and an electronic entry pad. Have mercy.

The key is clearly not for the gate. It fits but won't turn.

The number pad looks more like a buzzer system and less like an alarm system, which is what I was told my code was for. 

Alright, fob it is.

Thankfully, that worked.

Evidently, the doors and gate are locked before 9 am and after 5 pm. You learn something new every day.

Dave was the only one already in the office. I asked him what time he'd shown up, surprised by the answer of 8:45! This guy leaves at 4 pm every day! I'm going to have to rethink my evening departure time...

I'd brought a breakfast shake in with me because that's easier than real food and still delicious. In the next five minutes I managed to spill it all over myself and my desk! Brilliant start to the morning.

Alas. The day can only go up.

The rest of the day was once again spent in meetings. Things made more sense this time! I understood system architectural components and the tickets discussed. It made the day go by much quicker. 

I still stuck around until 5 pm. I'm trying to wrap up an Excel report generating component. Hopefully tomorrow!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Day 6: How old is this code?

Mondays. *Le sigh*

Today Mike and I took our queries from Friday and refactored them to work on a more holistic basis with the existing code.

Essentially, the system has preexisting classes that can gather all of our query data without our code having to directly query the database. 

Once again, this meant I was dealing with about six different classes, while Mike had one. He'd also written his code in more of an iterative manner in the first place, while I'd written one block of query. He didn't finish too far ahead of me! 

We had a meeting with Dave to talk about his multi-hat role for the company. He governs the security of the product, testing, and quality assurance. It's a lot of jobs, and the company is optioning ways to mitigate his work load.

Once we'd finished our model-built exports, we get to try to work them into the current working code. There's a place for users to go pull various queries and reports, so our task was to make ours available there. There are four examples in the code where this has been done before. The only problem, all four of them were done differently, across the last 5 to 7 years. Yipes.

So I'm currently going through all the code, trying to figure out who might have done it best or which relates most closely to the work I've done.

I'm bummed I won't get to work on it much tomorrow because of sprint wrap/review/planning.

That's alright. Anything is better than tutorials.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Oh my goodness.

So I read all three Maze Runner books and the fourth to be released but first in the story prequel while I was on my way to/in/on my home from Colorado. They are amazing. Well, by the prequel I was skipping through a lot of the fighting sequences to get to the actual content that moved the plot forward. But the concept is amazing, the twists are really clever and I like it as an addition to the teen post-apocalyptic craze that is current literature. 

The movie came out last night.

So of course we went to see it this afternoon!!!

They had to change a few things to make it work for a movie audience, time frame and overall story telling purposes. Overall, I thought the changes were fine. There was nothing that made me question their ability to continue to tell the story as it was in the books moving forward. 

It was absolutely amazing. I will see it again. I will be anxiously awaiting the next movie.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 5: What did you call that table?

There was programming!!!

Tracy pulled Mike and I before SCRUM and told us she had a project that would be great for us. 

There's a possible client coming up who's using curriculum pretty close to that of an existing client. In order to pitch them a dummy site, we need to pull a copy of the curriculum, compile it into an Excel file, then import it into the new site. Tracy wanted us to write the queries and scripts to make this happen.

Awesome! Something tangible to accomplish!

Tracy gave us an outline of the database set up to let us know which columns we would need to query. There are two separate imports, so we each had one. My project only needed four columns in the end, compared to Mike's ten or so. Yet I needed to query four tables while Mike only needed one. 

We dispersed so we going get to going on our new project. 

I started laying out the tables I had and the connections they had, writing my query and sub-queries, getting it to print to a dummy site off of a test database. I'd gone into Sequel Pro to verify a couple of column names. 

I was testing parts of my queries when I realized something was not lining up correctly. 

I looked at the content of a couple of databases, when it became clear that the connections Tracy had lined out for me weren't correct. Theoretically connecting columns didn't have any similar content. 

Once I figured out where my necessary columns were located, it was pretty straightforward query. 

The next step was getting it all into a CSV. The problem here was that I'm new to PHP. It builds it's multi-dimensional arrays differently than I'm used to, so iterating through it was a little different.

I was working away when it occurred to me that no one else was still working. 

I could hear people in the main entry space on the couches. Evidently, Fridays are Beer Fridays. Anyone in the office on a Friday afternoon around 3:30 pm just stops working and starts drinking. Thankfully, it's not a pressure drinking situation. There was someone who just had coffee, some who had nothing at all to drink, some who just took the chance to go home early, and some that went a little crazy. It helps contribute to their laid back and community atmosphere.

We'll see how that pans out.

Day 4: Ok, but what is that?

I made it on time to work like nobody's business. 

SCRUM was just as exciting as it always is. Tutorials are my top priority, which blew everyone's minds. They really just couldn't believe it. I know, Mike and I are living the dream.

I had a 1:1 with Tracy immediately after that. It was pretty great. They'll usually be shorter, but she wanted to go over some company basics. She pulled up a spreadsheet they'd gone over during Tuesday meetings. That was incredibly helpful! I knew that I wasn't going to understand everything on Tuesday, but I also didn't want to just slow things down by pummeling the rest of the team with questions about what was going on. 

I had been assuming we'd get Canadian Thanksgiving off, but no one had mentioned it yet, so I just wanted to check. We're planning on going down to Seattle to visit the one, the only, Michael Paraskevas. I wanted to verify I had the day off before we booked a hotel! Tracy assured me that we have all "Stats" off.

Great. What are "Stats?" 

This confounded her. They are Statutory holidays that all of Canada takes off. She assumed we called them that in the States, too. It makes perfect sense, unlike some of the other phrases and things Canadians do. I just needed it explained that extra step.

So, yes, I have Thanksgiving off and we will be in Seattle.

We left for dev team lunch after that. Cory had made reservations for us at a pretty great restaurant in the Waterfront Station (it's really cool; all the major lines for the train leave from there, as well as the seabus). The office isn't too far from there, so it was a nice walk. There were 6 of us total in the office that day. 

Evidently it was pink shirt day for the waiters, and Adam was wearing the exact same shirt as one of them. We managed to upset our waiter, so then spent the rest of the meal trying to convince Adam to just go find our food or bring us our check. It was enjoyable.

The afternoon was a little long. We spent another couple of hours with our tutorial gold mine. At SCRUM Tracy told the team that she had marked some tickets with the tag "pairing," indicating that whoever pulled it should grab Mike or I so we could partner with them on it. 

Adam pulled a ticket related to a new feature they're getting ready to release, and called us over. I thought we'd get to be a little hands-on with it, but it was just watching him. Still way better than tutorials, but I really just want to write something.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring some coding!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 3: You put your code where?

More on time than any other day so far! In the office at 9:30 am, but having showered and eaten breakfast! Major strides forward!!!

Fewer meetings today. Tracy was in management meetings all day, so we didn't even have our 10 am. Scrum still happened and Mike and I both answered "Tutorials" to all three questions: good things, hold ups, priorities. Such is our life.

PHP tutorials were tackled yesterday afternoon, so today was all about Symfony (the PHP framework they use).

Apparently Mike is also an Apple Macbook newbie!!! Yay! He snaked a nice PC keyboard from somewhere. I'm sticking with my Apple keyboard for now, as I'm going to try to learn all the shortcuts and handy things. The company uses Slack internally for chatting. Mike and I went back and forth both being helplessly confused in the massive structure of the product code as to where we were to put our dummy test files for our tutorials. 

We nagged Adam after scrum to point out a few locations, then flailed around until lunch. Afterwards we got Scott to show us the full source address to test the code we'd barfed out. Mine was very close to working! They apparently restructured some things for their product, so the way the tutorial showed it wasn't accurate. But it only took one additional line and removing a different one for my controller and route to work in Symfony. 

Then we moved on to templates. It's relatively familiar to me from the senior project I did at Tulsa. There we used Django, though it's for a different web language and more rigidly uses the MVC (model, view, controller) structure. Symfony (as far as I can tell) doesn't HAVE to use all of it (but I'm not sure how that would work yet). 

As frustrating as senior software could be, I'll be the first to admit it did reasonably prepare me to go out into the industry and integrate into their set up. 

We had a Google Hangout with Sarah to go over the company policies on commits for code, the branch structure, and the mess that is merging your code. 

There was a whole lot of information today. I was bookmarking pages and taking notes (which got me laughed at) and trying all sorts of different combinations from different tutorials. 

I burnt out around 4:30. I just couldn't build pointless code anymore. So I set up my desktops so that I could leave certain windows open (Chrome, Komodo) and tab through them easily. That is admittedly a nifty feature that I wish Windows would move toward (I think they are with Windows 8.1 and 9, but it's not quite the same).

Day 2: EVERY Tuesday?

I woke up (earlier but) late. I'd been told that as long as I was in the office for the 11:05 am scrum, it was fine. Yet, I'm not looking to be in the office until 8 pm every night, so 8:30 is my target arrival time so I can be out at 5 every afternoon.

This week Mike and I will meet at 10 am with Tracy every day to see what we'll be up to that day. This was the beginning of an entire day away from the computer.

Apparently every Tuesday is meetings day. The dev team has meetings with the whole company, among themselves, with customer service, with the CEO, with the product manager. All day long. 

The company operates on an agile framework, with sprints every week. They have quarterly goals for new product development, but tackle tickets and minor patches on a weekly schedule. It seems highly effective and decently oiled. 

At Tuesday meetings, they update the rest of the company on the status of that sprint, the quarterly goals, and general affair of things. They evaluate their work from the previous week and scope out what lies ahead of them for the coming week. They pick one ticket and dive into how it could have been avoided. 

It makes a whole lot of sense.

Unless you're the new kid.

Then it's a whole day of no input. I'm not going to lie, it was a rough day. There wasn't a whole lot of moving around. I tried to stay engaged, but hadn't really even seen the product at that point and there were parts way over my head. Hopefully Tuesdays will get better.

Day 1: Will there be laptops?

I got a job!! The first day was Monday, September 15th, 2014.

Tracy (the lead developer and manager over the whole dev team) emailed us mid-week to let us know that, though she had ordered our laptops, they were scheduled for delivery on Wednesday. She hoped they would arrive earlier than that, but who knew.

Apparently the laptops showed up at 9:45 am Monday morning. 

I woke up late. 

There was another junior developer starting that day (Mike) and we were told to be at the office at 10 am to start on our paperwork.

I set alarms. I had Max poke at me before he left for school.

I woke up at 9:38 am. 

Holy moly.

Ok. Pants, shirt, brush your teeth, grab the documents you need, GO!

Thankfully the office is a 10-ish minute walk from the apartment, so I walked in the door at the office at 9:59 am.

We went straight into paperwork for the Canadian health care system, payroll, and additional company health insurance (yay!). Cory (office manager) then took us on a tour of the offices.

The office is one floor in an 8-story building downtown. We share the building with a coffee company named Taxi with more employees than I can reasonably explain dressed more like the lawyers who occupy the top floor. There is also a game development company somewhere in the building.

When you walk in the main doors, there are a couple of couches in the main area. Offices are on the left, where customer support, higher up managers, and finances live. To the right you see a series of large desks (cubicles without walls) where the development team sits. That side also houses the large boardroom, the washrooms, and the kitchenette. There are more employees who work remotely from other places in BC. It's a small operation, but it's been growing this year. 

The development team has daily scrum (stand up meeting) at 11:05 am, so we sat in on that and had nothing to contribute.

We pretty much went straight to lunch with Tracy after that, and I had to once again explain to a group of co-workers that I eat like a 4-year-old.

It was set up time back at the office. We got our laptops plugged into our second monitors, then started going through the steps to set up our development environments. There was a seemingly endless list of programs to download (they use Komodo and Versions). I was having more difficulties than I should have as I am still trying to break down my aversion to Apple products. Thankfully I had a real mouse to use, so I wasn't totally helpless. Whatever I was doing still beat out poor Mike. His full name is Michael, so half of his company accounts and user names had Mike and half had Michael and no one was really sure which was used where. This caused glitches in his VM (virtual machine) install. Poor Mike.

At 3 we went out for coffee with Jason, the product manager. It was neat to hear his perspective on where the product is going, why it's heading in that direction, and products still in conception.

It was almost 4 by the time we got back, and we went into the company "mothership" (Tulsa kids -> a nicely executed version of Serebro) where they had documents for new hires. A briefing with the company codes, mission, purpose, org structure, etc. 

5 pm rolled around before I knew what hit me and I scurried home to where it was safe and there were no Apple computers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Parents + Technology

Last Friday was Matthew's 24th birthday.

I went to the Springs on the 10th and flew back on the 14th. My parents drove up on the 11th and we spent tons of time together until Sunday when we all left.

Really the point of this post is this: My parents can not and never will be able to function proficiently with technology. As an example, here is this:


We have taken Fatburger off of our favorite new restaurants list. Every time we go, we wind up disappointed with the quality of the burger! It would just leave us sad and wishing we'd walked all the way to the Five Guy's. 

I know this leaves us with a very unimpressive list of favorite places to eat. Here's the thing, we're stinking homebody's! We don't like going out for food, or if we do it's inevitably for a burger and we go to Five Guy's. Our grocery store adventures were stressful enough, but now provide us with a solid recipe list each week.

Alas, maybe we will start to go outside again one day soon.

Food is sustenance

We live on the edge of China Town and downtown. This means the most reasonable way to go to the grocery store is walking, but most of the surrounding grocery stores special in Asian cuisine. 

Not particularly our cup of tea. I am one of the pickiest eaters around (I do not consume fruits or vegetables, it's a texture thing I don't want to get into right now), so I to say I was overwhelmed by the Asian supermarket is an understatement. We ventured out to the T&T Supermarket one of our first weekends here, and were scared into Target for the next month.

Target is 14 km (8.5 miles) and at least 30 minutes from our apartment.

That is ridiculous.

We reconsidered and did some googling, to find Nester's Market. It's much more Americanized. Of course, when I looked it up, I found the one that was twice as far away. We walked there. We walked all the way there. A 20 minute walk largely uphill. All the way to the grocery store because I was emblazoned with a passion to find a local grocery store.

Jake was still living with us then, and was very confused when we returned. The Nester's Market he goes to is a 5 minute walk, tops. 

I don't understand how this keeps happening.

Target was back in the rotation.

Eventually the gas was too expensive and the drive was too long so I was determined to try the Nester's Market again. 

Nester's is now our regular grocery store. We plan out our meals on Sunday and make one trip for the week. I'm still anxious every time we go there, but I'm starting to learn the layout.

Rules of (Our) Cats

  1. Though shalt not let humans poop alone. Remember, all doors open when you pull them toward yourself. So get that door open and make sure they know you're there for them. If you are Amelia, they are cornered and stationary => approach for love.
  2. Check in with the humans at 3 am every day to make sure they are still alive and will feed you in the morning. This is a requirement. Every. Single. Morning. Use whatever force necessary.
  3. Human-given "rules" are really just suggestion. If they're not looking, it's not even a suggestion. Do as you please.
  4. The only blinds in the house that matter are the ones still covering windows. Disregard all other windows, you need access to that one, immediately, every time. Get yourself on the other side of those blinds. 
  5. It is a 100% guarantee that both food bowls are different and you are being treated unequally from the other feline in the house. You had better check out both food bowls in a continuous, alternating fashion in order to ensure your complete satisfaction with meals.
  6. Don't be afraid to let the humans know where you are. This could mean several things, from an obnoxiously loud meow or series of meows to engaging your claws with their skin. Your choice, really.
  7. If the humans give any indication that they may need something soon, sit on it immediately and remain there until further notice. Laptops and tablets are especially high  priority, but this rule can apply to literally anything.
  8. The front door is the ultimate challenge. It is to be feared or taunted, however you see fit. If you make it into the hallway, the first corner is not to be turned. Proceed to give your human a work out up and down the first hallway segment. Particularly if they are on their way somewhere, make it last, make it count.
  9. The human's sleep times are merely suggestions. That doesn't mean you have to keep it down or stay in one place. Carry on with your regularly scheduled activities.
  10. Engage with other cats in whatever manner you see fit. The humans know you love each other, but a test of their will is always welcomed. Hiss and scream and whap at one another. Then snuggle in the recliner for an afternoon nap.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

First Week of Class

Classes started! Here's a rundown:

Monday: Canada doesn't do Mondays. Definitely a big perk

Tuesday: We all sat in a circle and talked about how great video games are. We went home after 30 minutes for a nap. It was exhausting.

Wednesday: Canada doesn't really do Wednesdays either.

Thursday: Formal debate about whether or not video games are the most awesome, or the most awesome. Hot topic for sure.

Friday: Ice cream party! Fridays are just Saturdays that haven't started yet.

Or at least that's what I feel like some people think I'm doing when I tell them I'm going to school for video game design. The reality is a little less silly and a lot more awesome:

Monday: Ok, but actually there were no classes on Monday. It was Labor Day.

Tuesday: Actual orientation. All the things I expected to get on orientation day we got today. All of our school supplies (including text books, art supplies, a backpack, a water bottle, an umbrella, and a really nice pair of headphones), our IDs, schedule etc etc. We got the rundown in the morning of how classes work, as well as an introduction from a few of the instructors.

I'm enrolled in 8 courses this term (terms lasting 8 weeks). Each course meets once a week for THREE HOURS. I remember labs at TU that lasted 3 hours, and that seemed like the largest measurable stretch of time humanly possible. Like, anything longer than 3 hours just becomes multiples of 3 hours (like 2 3-hours is six hours, 3 3-hours is 9 etc) because 3 hours is a long-ass time to be in class. So I learned that in the morning and promptly began sweating at the idea of remaining focused that long.

In the afternoon we had IT orientation, so we got email accounts, student portal info, and got info about the "video game labs" VFS has (cue music), which are basically just rooms with a huge collection of games to play. There's a PC lab with a VFS steam account that has all the games, and I was playing League of Legends on one of them in my off time by day 2.

In the evening from 6:30-9:30 I had my first class, Storytelling 1. We learned about the 3 act structure using mostly Mass Effect, but a few other games were mentioned as well. All around a good time.

Wednesday: We only had one class from 9-12, Pre-Production Techniques. The title's pretty self-explanatory, but basically we talk about everything that has to happen before you can begin producing a video game. Spoilers, it's a lot of paperwork, but it's kinda fun paperwork. I've been working on my first assignment for that class since we got it, and I've never been so invested in crating a single page document before. Seriously, it's not due until next Thursday, yet I've been working on it steadily every day. I fear this place may be affecting my mental health for the better.  What is this?

Thursday: We had Game Production in the morning, which covers everything that happens from the inception to the launch of a video game, and Game Theory (Analog) in the evening. The latter is all about board games, which turns a lot of heads. Cathy will be the first to tell you that I'm not the biggest board game fan around, but I try to dip my toe into the "analog" world occasionally, and the reasoning behind studying them is pretty convincing. This video will explain it for those curious better than I ever could (and is a part of an amazing series on game design that I highly recommend). There's a "practical" element of this class that starts next week, which to my understanding is 3 hours of free-time to play board games.

Friday aka my descent into productivity madness: Only one morning class on Game Art. I photoshopped Steve Buscemi's eyes onto Chris Pratt. That's pretty self-explanatory I feel. Then I went home and began a weekend of hard work. That's absolutely insane to me. I can't remember the last time I did homework on a Saturday, but I worked from noon until 8ish I think? And on things that aren't due for weeks. And I have calendars on my whiteboard with all of my assignment due dates for the entire term WHO AM I?

I haven't mentioned any of the instructors in all of this, because I feel like I'd end up saying the same things 8 times, so I'll just mention it all here. The instructors are (redacted)ing phenomenal. Not only are they all extremely passionate about the things they teach, but they all worked in the industry at one time or another, and some of them still do. The reason we have night classes at all is so instructors can get off work, grab some dinner, and then come teach a bunch of kids how to do what they do. It takes a special kind of dedication to do that sort of thing, and its that sort of dedication that's teaching me. That last sentence felt appropriately cheesy enough to whip this bad boy out.

What a fantastic place I'm in.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wedding pictures!!!

I got oodles and oodles of wedding pictures from the amazing and incredible Christy Archibald (Facebook here) over the weekend. In fact, we were watching the second Cloud 9 vs. Curse game at PAX when I got the email with the link!!! Max was very tolerant of my non-participation while I poured over our pictures!

She set them up in four albums, and I loved it so much I kept them when I made my own hard copy books! That is what I'll be sharing here! When you click on the link, you'll be taken to Picaboo's website to view a preview of the book I made. I've set them to open a new window this time since it's sort of an exhibition. Tab through the pages for the full experience :) I know I put some in here, but for the full experience, check out the books!!!!

The first is Getting Ready. I've added a couple of my favorites from there.

Then we had the Ceremony! There's also some of that below.

Portraits were taken before and after the ceremony, but they fit well all in their own book. I even added some of these.

Our Reception was the best party we could have ever imagined! TONS of reception photos (we got almost 1000 from Christy in that album!). Ok, for these you HAVE to go look at the book! I'm sorry! I just can't pick out any to share over all the others!!!