Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tissues at the Post Office

So yesterday at lunch during the break between one of the sessions I had to go get some more Yen from the ATM... There is a post office in the office building that Autodesk Japan is based in and they have an ATM so I went there. I walk in and a man hands me a small, soft package with some colorful (think Pokemon crosses Care Bears) characters on it.

I took it, gave a little nod, bow, said arigato (sp?) and promptly headed to the ATM. Later as I was walking back to the office I opened the package to find a bunch of kleenex. I asked our host later what it was (or more why it was) and she said they hand out small items like this with advertisements from time to time ...
Just another of the "strange" things that Tokyo has to offer.

Sushi Zanmai

Last night I had perhaps the best sushi I have ever had, or at least that I can remember having in the recent past.

My coworker and I were on our own for dinner last night and asked the concierge where to go for some affordable (but very good) sushi. She listed some places and we ultimately went with the one she recommended, Sushi Zamai.

Once there we met a Japanese couple? (maybe they were just friends) and quickly learned that the sushi chef was poking some fun at us Americans. Anyhow, after talking a bit more with them we started to let the guy pick some sushi for us to try. Mostly, we had stuff that I've had before, but there were some new items (of which the names I unfortunately all forgot). The amount of sushi we got though was amazing - Toro (fatty tuna) for 4$ ... unheard of over here. We left quite full. Here are some pics of my miso soup which had an unusual addition to it which scared the sh*t out of me when I took the lid off. I literally almost spilled the soup everywhere...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Very cool dinner ...

After our first session - which went very well by the way - our host took us to a very nice restaurant where we were served an amazing 9 course meal. Most of the courses were very small, but it was like the food just kept coming. I took some pictures of everything to share ...



















And here is me taken the crab down:



More Tokyo updates as they come ...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Run in with the law...

Well not really, but it was definitely not a situation I was happy to find myself in. Our first session today starts at 10am (about an hour and half from now) and I decided I would get to the Autodesk Japan office early to print out some things and go over the presentation. Very noble of me right...

I get here and the whole Triton tower is pretty quite compared to how it will be an hour from now. There were not many people milling around. I went to the elevator, hit the 24th floor for Autodesk and arrived to a floor that was very dark and empty.

No problem I thought, I'll just get my card key out and swipe it out the door, turn on some lights, easy ... So my card key doesn't work on the main reception door. I go over to an adjacent door, swipe my key and push the door open. THis turned out to be a bad move as the LCD screen you place the card key up to went from a nice, pleasant green color to a flashing red color, while making beeping (beep, beep, beep) ... Shit. The last thing I wanted to do was set of the alarm to Autodesk Japan's premier building. At least the door was open, but now more than anything I wanted the door closed. It wouldn't close however.

I decided to see if I could get some help. On the other side of the floor are more offices. I reluctantly put my card key up to the reader and was meant by the pleasant side of the door unlocking. I walked in and asked the first person I saw to help me out a little bit. I told him what happened and when we walked over to the red beeping door there was a very stern looking security guard waiting.

I went over and explained what happened to the Autodesk employee and he relayed it to the security guard who was intermittently talking to someone on his radio. We all went inside together "to look to see if someone was inside" and when the area was deemed clear, I was allowed to stay.

Then I wasn't and the security guard motioned to me. Okay, I said I would go back out. We get back out and the security guard talks again on his radio. He looks at me and motions back in. The Autodesk employee says I may go wherever I like.

For a second there I felt like I was the guy in the movie whose in another country and gets setup by some big conspiracy - hey, I have to think of something to pass the early jetlagged hours of the morning...

More pics ...

I have more pics of my trip so far here ... nothing too exciting - just some shots from the hotel room and from within the hotel room... (and some pocari sweat bottles)...

Pics

One of my favorite things about Tokyo

Okay this is going to sound lame, but one of my favorite things about Tokyo is this little drink you see right here:



Pocari Sweat. Why would I want to drink something with the name 'Sweat' in it. I don't know, but the stuff is really good. It's pretty much just like a gatorade type drink, replensishes your electrolytes, ions, yada yada, you get the point. Anyhow - thought I would just share. The second greatest thing besides this particular drink is the fact that every vending machine has hot and cold drinks (almost every) -- it is very cool. You can be walking down the street and get hot tea on a whim. I think I mentioned this last year when I was here.

The machines are everywhere too.

Anyhow, we are off to dinner soon. More strange findings later...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back in Tokyo

I am back in Tokyo on business and am remembering how fun and exciting this city is. The road here was not as exciting. After a 10 hour flight, another 45 minute in customs, and then an hour and fifteen minute bus ride, followed by a 20 minute cab ride - we finally arrived at our hotel. Where are single (twin size) beds were awaiting us.

Being the hotel snobs that we are, we requested upgrades to queen size beds and unfortunately only have those for two nights, after which we have to switch to single rooms (but we are planning on just not leaving our rooms). Like last year, the rooms are very nice and the detail attended to everything is pretty amazing. I have my own little toothbrush, and hair brush, a toilet that has more settings than anyone needs (it can really clean you up afterwards - although I haven't tried). The room even comes with a computer, although the Japanese keyboard layout has me typing li$e thi$ (I am on my laptop now).

All said and done we (my coworker and I) got to our room at around 7:45 which was about 3:45 am San Francisco time. We knew we needed to rally to reset our clocks so we headed down to dinner at the sushi bar in our hotel.

After being seated we browsed the menu. I really didn't feel like spending 8,500 Yen (roughly 70$) for 10 pieces of maguro sashimi, so we got up and left. By leaving we probably broke about 50 different rules of etiquette to the Japanese, but I thought we left fairly politely.

From there we headed outside of the hotel - it is possible to find a well priced meal in Japan - I had done it last time around.

We are staying in the Ginza district which is full of tall buildings with flashing signs and lights. Perhaps something like Times Square (but I wouldn't know because I have never been).

After walking by numerous restaurants and seeing pictures of very exotic looking food we came upon a place that was serving blowfish. Blowfish is the fish where the chef has to learn to cut it properly to remove the poisonous parts - that didn't seem to promising and I didn't want to risk anything on my first night here (maybe tonight though :)). The chances of eating the poisonous part is probably very slim, but still ....

Anyhow, as we are walking by after perusing the menu, a hostess runs out and asks us to come in. We walk back over and start to blankly look at the menu. She says, "English menu, English menu" ... we say yes and she runs in side and bustles back out with two English menus. They didn't read any better:

  • Blowfish soup with egg
  • Raw bits of blowfish on rice
  • Fried blowfish skin
  • etc.

We just wanted some gloriously fresh sushi!!

We kept walking, took in the bright lights of Ginza found no more restaurants and walked back along the same road we were on. This whole time there was a light drizzle, but the air remained warm. I was just in a t-shirt, knowing that the rest of my trip I would probably be in my suit.

We came back to the blowfish restaurant, but decided to just take a chance and blindly walk into the restaurant across the street. We are seated, handed menus and find out that it is the exact same restaurant, just on the other side of the street.

Suffice to say, we did not eat blowfish, but ordered some maguro and tako sashimi, a great eel roll (Unagi Con Bo???), an interesting green salad (all of the ingredients were left un-cut and not mixed together - it was good), and miso soup (which never tastes like it does at home, but is probably much more authentic and true to the taste here).

The sashimi was amazing - I think later this week I will be more adventurous and try the blowfish...

After that we walked back to the hotel and promptly crashed. Now, we are about to head into the office and setup for the Customer Design Validations that are taking place Tuesday to Thursday.

More updates later ...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Spider-man 3 Teaser Trailer is live

Today is a good day. The Spiderman 3 trailer just went live at Apple's quicktime site.

Now is the perfect time for everyone to take a break from their busy day and see some web-slinging action (yeah, I know - I'm a huge dork).

It short, the trailer is the shit - I think I may need some new shorts. We got some sandman, some green goblin (2), but front and center it appears they have decided to go with the venom storyline (or at least setting up for Venom in Spiderman 4). Still curious as to how they are going to do the whole alien symbiote thing seeing as spiderman never left Earth to fight in the Secret Wars, but hopefully they make it somewhat believable ...

Yeah, the fact that I know some of this stuff is scary, I know ...

Monday, June 12, 2006

so this is why my liver is okay ...

Anyone who went to school at UCSB has at least once or twice made a joke about liver damage ... well maybe this post explains why there are numerous coffee shops in Isla Vista ...

Drinking lots of coffee saves liver from alcohol damage, research finds




Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quick Fix Video Games

The below is a quote from this article: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/24946

Most video games are a rip-off.

Nearly every video game since "tank pong" has buried its best content behind layers of work. Unlike any other retail product I can think of, when you buy a video game, the chances that you will actually get what you paid for are infinitesimal. I can't think of a single game I've played where I am confident that I've seen every single level; unveiled every coveted secret; unlocked every whatsit and pretty and soundtrack left like kipple by the designers in the dark corners of the code.

I bought it. I want my game.

I mostly disagree with the article - I think games should provide the user a great amount of value - after all you are spending a good deal of money on it - relative to say a board game, or other "toy", but I do see where the author is coming from.

Recently, my roommate purchased an xbox 360. In short the box is amazing. We have Ghost Recon Advanced War Fighter and Oblivion. I haven't played the latter, but the former got me sucked in pretty fast. I played an hour to two every night for awhile and was completely enthralled with the graphics, game play and overall presentation of the title (there is nary a menu screen to be seen - instead it's like an interactive movie - I digress).

One day, however, my buddy told me to check out Geometry Wars. Geometry Wars is a game from the Xbox Live Arcade - a part of the Xbox Live functionality that allows the purchase of smaller, more retro style games. As an example Street Fighter 2 is going to be coming out soon.

The games are simple, free to demo, and only cost about 5 dollars to buy - which unlocks the whole game. So I went and played the 3 minute demo of Geometry Wars, which can be described as a mash-up between asteroids, Galaga, and adrenaline :) - and then promptly bought it because I was hooked.

The game has three controls - move, fire, and bomb. Your mission is to destroy everything moving on the screen. Is there strategy, yes, but I don't want to get into it. What's the draw you ask - the game is addicting as hell. In fact right now at this time of night if I weren't writing this post I would be playing. It is like my "before I go to sleep brain relaxant". It's a drug - quick games that get you out of the worries of the world. A healthy dose of frustration does come along and if you look at the all-time high score on the leader board (currently 101,000,000) it could make your own high score (mine is 790,000) feel very paltry. Yet I keep coming back - the simplistic, addictive nature is outstanding.

I see the point of the author's post - sometimes a game should just exist for the sole purpose of existing - to be played with all the cards out on the table. But most the time if you really want to escape and play in an interactive world you need to have a game that has some varying levels of exposure in it (what would a role playing game be if you had all the spells right off the bat - or a racing simulation that dropped you in the hands of a Ferrari F-50 where chances are you can barely drive an Audi TT around the track).

In the end - yes we do need quick fix games, but if games stopped being rich, interactive works (of art one could argue) there would be far more people griping ...

Does High-Def make "great" SFX look bad?

I should preface this by saying I love HD TV and HD gaming. It's unbelievable - sports look great, games look great, and most movies looks great. But today I stumbled upon something I noticed once or twice before but kind of turned my head the other way.

I just finished watching Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith on HBO's High Def channel and I have concluded (because I am such an expert) that High Def is not always a good thing. In some cases DVD quality may be a bit better.

"Your nuts" you might be saying. Well here is why I say that. The High Def version of Star Wars 3 is such a clear, exact picture that everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is apparent to the naked eye. Especially the green screening that is being utilized for virtually every shot in the movie. Since George elected to create most of the background scenery digitally and green screen the actors in, every shot suffers from this fake feeling. It would not be so bad if just a few shots here and there had this effect, but its everywhere.

To be fair, I should go watch the DVD version and compare it - the green screening effect may show there as well. As high def becomes more prevalent, it seems that more time should be spent on the lighting in both the digital set and the green screen set to make the two environments as similar as possible, so when they are composited together the effect is realistic. The SFX of today seem to be able to get by when movies are viewed in the theater (the "resolution" is not as high as HD), but when viewed at home at 1920 x 1080 (i) it really shows.

It would be interesting to see if the digital projections of Star Wars 3 showed this same noticeable green screen effect versus the traditional film projectors ....

Monday, June 05, 2006

Funny animation

This is really well done. Reminds me of the stick figure fighters Flash animation that was going around a few years ago:

Animator versus Animation

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Angels and Demons




















This is interesting news:

http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/709/709558p1.html

I don't have a real desire to see Da Vinci Code in the theaters, but would like to see a film adaptation of Angels and Demons. Whereas Da Vinci Code was more about a great, plot driven mystery that turned pages really fast, I feel like Angels and Demons may transfer to film a bit better. The end could be a little crazy, and far fetched, but overall I think it works more on the bigscreen...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Monday, January 02, 2006

Where was the countdown!

So me and about 20 friends were at the crawlSF Crossing Bar New Years Eve party in the city. Overall it was a pretty good party, but there is one thing missing considering this was a New Years Eve party. There was no F*cking countdown.

So we are all dancing and I glanced at my watch and realize it was like 11:55 pm. I look around the dance floor (okay i was wasted at this point, I more or less probably shook my head around the room) and see that everything is the same as it was a few minutes prior - people dancing, people boozing, security walking around - but no one gearing up for the big moment when the clock strikes 12. We kept dancing a little longer.

The people we were dancing with were making there way to the outside bar. I figured they knew something about the countdown so me and my other buddy followed. We get outside and I look at my watch. It is literally 12:02 and nothing has happened: no champagne toast, no countdown, it was like everyone was completely oblivious to the fact that it was now 2006 and no longer 2005. Now you may say, big deal, it was a party, get over it. And for the most part i am, but part of the fun of New Years is getting together with all of your friends, getting blizted, and then at 11:59 PM chanting at the top of your lungs 10, 9, 8 .... down to 1.

Anyhow, our revelation that it was the new year was met with a bunch of us standing in a circle and muttering something like "Well its 2006" - after that we were dancing again, it just felt like normal party - not New Years. I would go to the same party again only because its an easy way (not cheap mind you) of getting 20 of your friends to get into the same place and not worry about planning it on your own - but next year there needs to be a countdown...

SNL Chronicles of Narnia Rap

This is funny ... Chronicles of Narnia Rap.

-stein

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