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brutal legend

I haven't awaited a game this eagerly since GoW2. I preordered Brutal Legend immediately after playing through the downloadable demo, feverishly entering my details like a madman in the throws of a withdrawal I did not know lurked deep in my being. Now awakened it cannot rest and the online package tracking status of 'OUT FOR DELIVERY' has me jumping to the window each time a delivery truck rolls up our street.

All morning I have been attempting to divert my attention by writing code in the new LotusScript editor which shipped with the new designer 8.5.1 client yesterday (yes, it's a real IDE and it's Awesome - because I knew you were all interested). Even still, this has not been enough and... wait *runs to the window* DAMN YOU SUPERMARKET TRUCK!... my mind circles back continually to Brutal Legend like a gammy wheeled shopping trolley. A shopping trolley crafted from the raging molten forge of ROCK, possibly powered by a gigantic muscle car V8 and shaped like giant warlock electric guitar. Writing this entry has done nothing to diminish the demented craving, wrapped anaconda-like around my mind which seems to slow time further within it's tightening grip.

WAIT... the UPS van is here!!! WOOHOO!!! out
Well, going back to Oz is getting really close and now thoughts of seeing everyone again are permanently swimming around my head, crowding out work ideas and making me slip into happy daydreams. I was just staring happily at our office wall, the shadows from the tree outside cast on its wall enough abstract visual stimulus for me to unfocus my eyes and imagine a party scene. I eased back to reality with a dopey grin on my face.

So, stuff has been happening. I got stranded in NYC a couple of weeks back due to a hurricane and was forced to stay another night. With the next available flight the following evening I was forced to wander the town all day until it was time to head off to the airport again. Oh noes! I headed up the empire state building and then took a sight-seeing river cruise around manhattan. photos to come.

I started back at the gym which has been nasty. I have just got through the first week so I'm not constantly aching and carrying on anymore which is good :D

We saw District 9 last friday and it was totally awesome. You should go and see it. Immediately. I'm soooo glad that this wasn't a stupid halo movie as it was originally intended to be. Also I thought it was great that Hollywood turned it down (probably because it wasn't a safe enough bet i.e. a remake of something else, or a story with a pre-packaged audience) and so they made the film anyway on a low (well relatively low) budget of $30M only to have it kick ass at the box office. It has gone to number 1 over the weekend and paid for itself with considerable interest. I really hope the movie studio clowns responsible for deciding which movies get the go ahead are paying attention to this. Or better yet, this encourages people to take a shot at making films without the involvement of the big studios.

mandellebrotte and I took an architecture boat cruise through the rivers of chicago on the weekend and learnt a lot. there was also an airshow on so the whole day jets screamed low over the city causing people to stop randomly in the street and gape upwards resulting in not a few accidents. The silly things is that by the time you heard the jets they had already disappeared over the buildings again so everyone was just staring at the sky and making 'whua' sounds. I wish I had taken a photo of their faces.

another reason why living in chicago is great:

went to the world's biggest block party on the weekend which was pretty ace and saw ben folds play the piano with crushed aluminium cans on the strings which was rad. also, met some guy who needs a photographer for his local rag and wants me to be that guy. the last photographer died which makes me want to ask what kind of assignments they want me to shoot. i've decided I'm going to do it for shits and giggles. they want to pay me $15 for each shot they use which basically wont cover the cab fare to the event but i do get bragging rights. err, even if noone will ever actually see my photos :D
I've just finished watching Spain vs the USA in the confederates cup. it's so weird to watch football with US commentators whose commentary is peppered with phrases from NFL and NBA on top of the standard sprinkling of time filling inanities. Some examples include:

"Spain, really mounting a full field press here in the first"
"...as they drive a blitz on the left flank!"
"pulling a deception fake with the ball"

Sadly for me Spain is my second favourite national team (after Australia of course) - in part because of the high number of liverpool players in their ranks, but mostly for their exciting style of play - so to see them only in the chase for 3rd or 4th is disappointing. It would have been much more exciting to see a final between brazil and spain but on a more positive note this could be good for football in the US so it's not all bad. Also, Sergio Ramos should not be allowed to play a defensive role as he is a liability. Watching him play for Real Madrid I'm actually surprised he is still playing for Spain at all.

Beastie Boys

This year we are really starting to get the hype about Chicago. I guess you need some time to explore a city but the lack of time and money (stupid intercontinental moving!) meant that last year it sort of just didn't happen for us. But this year has been different. Last weekend was the Chicago Blues Festival where events are held all over the city. There was a 2 day street festival closing off the main road about 50m from our house which was cool and mandellebrotte and I spend parts of both days roaming about eating horrible (horribly good) festival food and listening to bands.

Also this year we are going to Lollapalooza to see the Beastie Boys which will just about make my year.

I spent a couple of days this week in South Carolina courtesy of IBM which was both stressful and pretty cool. They were putting on a series of lectures and labs over two days around the new technology in Domino 8.5 and needed someone to talk about developing XPages, Composite Apps and working with an Eclipse based client. I got a call from one of our guys and told to book flights, etc. last week and spent a couple of late nights tearing through the presentation material to make sure this wasn't going to end with me looking like a clown. It all went really well and I ended up talking about a lot of admin stuff as well. The IBM guys were great and wanted to find out if I could be available to do more workshops and presentations so maybe I'll get more free trips out of this gig. Woohoo!

happiness at work and play

For a while now I have advocated some open source software over it's proprietary equivalents - for some clients a simple change away from MS Office can be a saving of over a million dollars per year (every year!) in licensing costs. I tell people that if they are that keen to get rid of their money, switch to Open Office and donate the money to a charity or use it to make their business greener. And while adoption was slow initially, the economic downturn has placed saving money high on the to do list for many CIOs and the uptake of cheaper open source products has come into vogue.

Why are you telling me all this? I hear you ask. well I still (and probably always will) need a windows environment for my work. after struggling with the capricious and bedevilling nature of VMWare's supposed support for Linux such that I could have this environment in a hermetically sealed virtual world, I eventually threw up my hands. Threw up! and tried out VirtualBox instead. And I have discovered a virtual nirvana where things work the way I had dreamed they should without hacking around at code and watching your servers ability to run virtual machines break each time you upgrade the OS. This issue is not trivial, it's like upgrading your kitchen to make cooking food easier and faster only to find out that all of your appliances now have the wrong power plugs.

domino designer 8.5 on ubuntu

domino designer 8.5 on ubuntu

The upshoot, I have now finally transitioned completely to Ubuntu 9.04 and can perform testing and run the few remaining windows development programs (which result in my bills getting paid) seamlessly in a virtual windows environment.

Words cannot describe adequately the dewy eyed, lip trembling happiness that I feel when I'm working with this OS all the time. It's super quick, shinier, stable and can be set up to do just about anything I can think of for free. Also it's sooooo nice to only have to go into windows land when absolutely necessary and when I do it's in the full knowledge that I will soon escape. It's like going back to that shitty sharehouse you used to live in when you first moved out of home where the cupboards never quite shut, when the fridge kicked in all the lights in the house dimmed and occasionally the fuse box tripped for no reason you could determine and you were left sitting in the dark wondering where the torch is.

Now when I'm discussing open source with customers they can see that I'm not just talking it up, I actually operate this way out of preference. I can avoid the "so how come you use windows?" question, which while I had valid reasons for it, weakened my argument considerably and left me to reply through grinding teeth: "yeah, please don't remind me".

In other news, the weather made a big jump towards summer and to celebrate I bought a barbeque. Of course my presumptuous actions has angered the mercurial gods and precipitated such conditions as to make it almost impossible to actually use the bbq. Nevertheless I am undeterred and so far I have barbequed in gale force winds (twice) and the driving rain. Imagine if you will a solitary figure before a glowing alter of cookery, rain slewing from a heavy raincoat, teeth locked before the wind in a mad grin, holding defiantly aloft a set of metal tongs toward the angry flashing skies while the air fills will peals of victorious laughter. This could be me. Aahh, the bbq hood - enabling deranged men the world over. Good times.

enjoy

6 months + 1900 frames + an idea = 1 very cool chalk board animation:

Firekites - AUTUMN STORY - chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.

stuff that happens

If the hours of my day are left with an impression of the events held therein then slicing through them you would see strange colours in a repeating pattern of late. Underscoring all of this for the past 24 hours would be a definitely brightening as mandellebrotte has arrived back in Chicago. But let me focus for the moment on the concentric rings of weirdness.

One of our neighbours is having a no holds barred screaming match with some guy, the reasons for which I have yet to determine not fully understanding the african american dialect which this dialogue is being conducted in. I am however learning how to most effectively talk over someone while disparaging their appearance/demeanour/sanitary habits/parentage and implying that there is something seriously compromised in their ability to string coherent thoughts together as would be fitting of even the most basic primates. This epic battle - which is into it's fourth day of hostilities - is conducted between the hours of 1 and 4pm, on the sidewalk which it seems is the appointed place for such showdowns.

Scattered throughout the day is the frenetic yipping of the 3 small lapdogs downstairs whose cursory level of training has not made them grasp the concept that people walking past the front door is not reason to bark their tiny lungs out. Exacerbating this is that their minute brains soon forget what they were barking at but by now they have warmed to the task and continue yipping for a good 10 minutes until I want to go downstairs and post them to a small deserted island. The problem with this plan is that they are the landlord's dogs (I wince at using this term for them as it cheapens doggydom) and he doesn't treat them as they need to be treated i.e. as dogs, so there is little chance they will grow out of this. I mean, honestly, who names their dog 'Precious'. uuegh.

Every sunday morning a bunch of us have been searching out new places in chicago to have brunch as we recover from saturday night and/or avoid commencing the days work (the crew is pretty much PhDers and their respective others and is also great because they are all both funny and clever, a combination of traits i have a soft spot for). I am continually surprised at how awesome the food is in chicago. Each week we pile into some other place and invariably are treated to brilliant eats. I have been afraid to lend breath to my amazement in case I break the magic which guides our movement and we discover that chicago is not completely full of diners and whatnot that know how to make awesome breakfasts. In short I am becoming tubby and can be found of a sunday afternoon lying in the sun streaming through our bay windows rubbing my distended stomach and smiling like an idiot.

coming home

so as system admins and security experts lie awake tonight wondering what lies in wait for them as conficker hits the states sometime in the next few hours I thought that i should mention that I too will be spreading myself virus-like across the globe. taking advantage of what I can only describe as a coding mistake on their website providing stupidly low airfares to Oz I will be coming home with Ness later this year. Get ready people!

puerto rico

just sat through an ad the jingle for which sings to you "nothings better than the bahamas" to which I say "nothing, perhaps except for puerto rico." 6 days people, expect photos!

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