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Archive for November, 2010

Running on the Mirror’s Edge

(Video Games)

Image courtesy of Kotaku

I recently received Mirror’s Edge in the mail from GameAccess.ca, which is where I’d borrowed Final Fantasy XIII from — it would be the very definition of “unwise” to buy a game I’d heard so many bad things about. So, in my grand tradition of reviewing games based on only a couple of hours of gameplay, today’s post will be about Mirror’s Edge. Mirror’s Edge is, by and large, a running and jumping game in the first person. If you like parkour, the game is pretty much like extreme parkour where every so often people with guns are trying to kill you as you run along the rooftops. Read the rest of this entry »

Vanquish: Be the Ultimate Weapon

(Video Games)

If you follow my status updates on Facebook, you’ll notice that I’ve been very positive about Vanquish. I really liked the demos and I ultimately ended up buying the game. You may even have seen the pile of bronze trophies I’ve started earning for it. So I’d like to explain why I like Vanquish and why I recommend that you try it, while taking a bit of a critical eye to some of its elements. Read the rest of this entry »

How PostRank Analytics Brought Me To Ruby Kaigi

(Programming)

One of the coolest things about working for PostRank is that I am part of creating a product that I can be very passionate about because I am one of the sorts of people it’s made for. In short, I eat our dog food. So I wanted to dedicate today’s post to sharing a small anecdote about one of the killer features of PostRank Analytics, the Activity Stream. Read the rest of this entry »

Generations of Anime

(Japan)

I’ve been going to Anime North every year for the past 10 or so years. In that time, I’ve seen anime fandom in Canada shift a considerable amount and I’ve observed three distinct “generations” of anime fan. These generations are delineated by major paradigm shifts in the fandom.

For today’s post, I’m going to describe these three generations that I’ve observed and explain their characteristics and the gaps that exist between them. This is not to say that these are clear-cut categories and there may be some people who fall between them. They are also based on nothing more reliable than my own observations as a fan of anime for over a decade. Read the rest of this entry »

Valkyria Chronicles: From PS3 to PSP

(Video Games)

Bozz, a good friend of mine from university days, is a huge fan of Valkyria Chronicles. So am I, but in discussing the series with him and other hardcore fans, I’ve realized that I approach the games from a very different direction.

I didn’t own a PS3, so my first exposure to the Valkyria Chronicles games was the demo of the sequel for PSP. I bought Valkyria Chronicles 2 soon after playing the demo. When I purchased my PS3, I bought the first game and finally had an opportunity to play it. Fans were largely disappointed at seeing the sequel on the portable system because they felt that in many ways the game had been scaled back. The maps were smaller, deployments were smaller, the story was phoned in and the visuals weren’t quite as stunning. I still very much enjoyed playing Valkyria Chronicles 2 and I wondered if everybody was finding fault with it just because it wasn’t what they were expecting it to be. Read the rest of this entry »

RSpec Matchers: More Than Just Assertions

(Programming)

I recently read a post from Carbon Five about RSpec best practices. The most delightful thing about it was reading it after I’d been writing a spec at work and noticing that how I was doing it was close to what was being described. It was a little bit of validation, a pat on the back for all of the reading, practicing, and thinking about BDD that I’d done to that point. But then Carbon Five asks “so what else?” Read the rest of this entry »

Living in Kitchener

(Miscellaneous)

At this point, I’ve been living in Kitchener and working for PostRank for close to half a year.

I’ve got my own apartment just a short walk away from the office, which makes me happy because I get to experience living by myself for a while and because I don’t have 3+ hours of my weekdays being eaten up by transit. A great deal of my time has been reclaimed and I think I’ve been putting at least some of it to good use. This apartment also came with a cat. The previous tenant didn’t want her to have to move. I find his logic highly suspect now but I’ve always wanted to own a cat anyway and now I do. She’s adorable and unlike her previous owner, I fully intend to take her with me wherever I should end up next.

The job is awesome. I don’t think I can say it often enough. These last six months have been filled with new things to learn and new challenges to tackle, all in a field that I find infinitely more interesting than anything I’ve done before. I sometimes forget that I get paid to do this. I feel like I’ve truly progressed as a developer and I still see a long road ahead.

But that’s not to say it has been all sunshine and rainbows, either. I thought I’d have an easy time making friends in the new city, with University of Waterloo’s world-renowned Computer Science programme drawing geeks like flies to honey. What I failed to realize is that means nothing if I never have opportunities to interact with those people at all. Kitchener-Waterloo has a student bubble and I’m very clearly outside of it.

Being a smaller city, there also aren’t as many established meetup groups for my various geeky interests in town. Some of my hobbies that were previously social outlets have become not so because I can’t find groups that engage in them and don’t have the connections to effectively bootstrap my own. For example, as far as I can tell there is no Japanese culture or language exchange group in KW. Absolutely none. My main source of Japanese speaking practice and one of my social outlets is simply gone. I’d create my own group if I knew some native Japanese speakers in KW but I don’t — if I did I’d have no need for such a group in the first place!

I haven’t yet established a circle of friends here like I had in Toronto and I miss so many people that I used to hang out with there. My once-a-month trip back to TO for Last Friday Karaoke and to visit my family is not nearly enough but without a car or license to drive one, being in Toronto more often than that simply isn’t practical. But I need to give it time. Almost my entire life has been spent in Toronto or the GTA; I can’t reasonably expect to rebuild everything in six months.

Overall this move has been worth it. This is an important step in my career and personal development. The trials I face now will teach me valuable lessons and the rest of my life will be so much richer for it.

Japan Stories: Bullet Train Break Down

(Japan)

It has been well over a year since my first trip to Japan and I realize that I haven’t written down any of my stories about it. There are many highlights in my memories of the trip and this is one that really sticks out for me. The “bullet train” (新幹線, romanized shinkansen) may have a reputation for being super reliable, but the first day that I needed to use it to get from Tokyo to Fukushima prefecture, there was a bit of an incident.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fall 2010 Anime Picks: There’s No Way My Little Sister Is This Cute!

(Japan)

There are a couple of different ways to translate the title of this cute up-and-comer from the Fall 2010 anime season. Since the title is super long, I’m going to abbreviate it similarly to how I did KamiNozo and call it OreImo. However you find it and whatever it has been translated to, it is one of my top recommendations for this season. Read the rest of this entry »

Power Grid: Supply Electricity, Make Money

(Miscellaneous)

Last night I was at a games night with CTRL-A, University of Waterloo’s anime club. This is a nice alternative to the board game nights I used to attend with TAG on Wednesday nights. To that end, I’ve been getting more chances to play some of the other board games in my collection. My family loves Ticket to Ride, but I do like to switch it up every so often. One of my more recent acquisitions is Power Grid, published by Rio Grande Games. Read the rest of this entry »