Tina and I Were Among The First Americans To Dive There

Tina and I dove this area of Irian Jaya years ago. It was beautiful and very wild. We didn’t see any fin-walking horn sharks, though. (We did see a species of stonefish that is classified as deadly and the locals were like: “Oh, if you get stung, you chew that leaf over there, spit it into the wound, and you’re fine.”)

Oh, and I had to pin a cassowary that had escaped to the bottom of our boat for 2 hours.  They named him “Larry the Cassowary” in honor of the occasion. He was a lot of fun (I mean, after the boat ride was over and he was released on the island and calmed down). He would chase after you and then you could spin around and chase him. It was sort of like having a small T. Rex as a pet.

Game Developer’s Conference Is Now Huge

This is fascinating: in a time where the common wisdom is that “big” industry conferences have met their doom, the Game Developer’s Conference has just announced that they are doubling the size of their floor space (i.e.: making money from people spending tens of thousands of dollars in setting up booths and glad-handing strangers walking by) and is projecting 12,500 attendees will walk through Moscone Center in San Francisco.

I think the Software Development Conference peaked at around 16,000 attendees circa 1999 and is now far smaller. That the GDC, which used to be a wonderfully intimate event, has surpassed CMP’s flagship development event is really striking.

Jamil Moledina and crew have done a wonderful job of growing the GDC and making it a real exception to CMP’s overall clumsiness in transitioning to the Internet era.

Test Drive Unlimited With A Steering Wheel

The slow boat from Amazon finally brought my copy of Test Drive Unlimited, a “massive multiuser online racing game” set on the island of Oahu. At first, I was slightly disappointed, since while the layout of the streets is based on reality, the scenery isn’t. So it’s not like you’re bombing down the street at 180 and see the old water department and thereby know that you’re coming up to Punchbowl Street (although I did shout to Tina “Don’t go around the block! Just take Prince Kuhio the wrong way for three blocks!”).

The individuality of the cars doesn’t seem quite at the same level as Project Gotham Racing, especially the drift mechanics (in PGR3, you go around one corner and you can tell where the engine weight in the car is). The engine sounds of PGR3 are also more distinctive.

So, while I was very happy with the TDU as a different kind of racing game, I wasn’t entirely jazzed. And then, after tooling around for a couple hours using either the gamepad or my MadCatz steering wheel, I discovered the somewhat obscure “Options|Controllers|Steering Wheel|Enable” setting. Oh baby… The problem with steering wheels has always been that games optimized for thumb-stick steering aren’t responsive to the slight corrections of “real” steering. So although you have a steering wheel (which is nice), you have to throw it side to side. Not with TDU: once you tell it you have a steering wheel, the responsiveness improves tremendously and, instead of feeling like a video game, you feel like you’re driving and can do things like stay in your lane, track through corners, weave through traffic… It’s incredible. I lost like 3 hours yesterday to it. (For me, spending 3 hours of daylight in front of a TV is inconceivable.)

Awesome game.

Pete Wright Ends Relationship With MS to Embrace Ruby on Rails

Pete Wright, whose TabletPC Sudoku program was “shot in the head” by Microsoft’s surprise release of their own version (join the group, Pete!), has ended his long relationship with MS consulting in order to fully embrace a job working with Ruby on Rails. His post is obviously cathartic, but he echoes the not-uncommon sentiment that within the Ruby community one is more likely to encounter passionate, involved people.

This is only true because Ruby is still at the “enthusiasts” place in the adoption curve. Once upon a time, the passionate people were embracing Java and VB: the languages that Pete now associates with drones. If Ruby crosses the chasm, it, too, will eventually become the domain of boring people.