Gaming: Playing both sides

Being an OG – Original Gamer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gamed (specifically the video kind).  Before I got married, I spent almost every birthday I can remember at Chuck E. Cheese’s (even my 21st!)  To me, birthday equated to gaming.  In addition to those special days, I have a lot of memories in life associated with gaming:

  • When I was 6 or 7,  I remember me and my dad going to our frequent hangout, an arcade down the street.  It was actually a miniature golf course, but we never did anything but game.  We’d play Vanguard together.  As you can see by this image, it had this unique setup.  It was one of the first games I can remember that had multiple buttons.  My dad would drive (use the control stick) while I sat shotgun (took control of the 4 direction shoot buttons).  Oddly, I think this contributed to my sense of it being okay to take the back seat for the greater good.  As long as the team wins, it doesn’t matter which position you play.
  • Continue reading “Gaming: Playing both sides”

Special CS4 meeting at Adobe’s HQ in San Jose

I just wanted to do a quick post to mention that I’m hosting a very special CS4 meeting on Wednesday, September 24th.  The meeting will be at Adobe’s Headquarters in San Jose.

We’ll be talking about the new Creative Suite 4 that was just announced.  We’ll have representation from the Illustrator team there to talk about what’s new in CS4.  If we’re lucky, we may also get a rep to show us some of the crazy new features of the CS4 Production Suite.

More details can be found at the Silvafug site.  See you tomorrow!

Birthday Thoughts: Resource Utilization

The phrase “Resource Utilization” has so many meanings in my life currently, that I have no idea where to start.

At Workday, I (relatively) recently got a new manager, Charlie Boyle.  One of his strengths is definitely resource utlization.  Every manager has their own style and no style is right or wrong.  However, Charlie has brought some great plans to the team.  He’s brought on some processes and tools that make our lives as developers more productive. I don’t think we as a team work any less harder, but we’re definitely working a lot smarter due to the resource management.

My Silicon Valley Flex User Group (silvafug) is sorting being revamped as I write this.  At our most recent meeting, several of us got together to discuss how to better the user group in a variety of ways.  After Wednesday’s meeting, we’ll likely be officially announcing the launch of Silvafug South (and by default, Silvafug North).  There are a lot of great people in the user group with great ideas on how to make it better for everyone.  I look forward to working with them. Continue reading “Birthday Thoughts: Resource Utilization”

Help me teach you Flex!

John posed a question to me the other day: What’s important to you?  I’ll leave out the obvious answers: wife, two kids, and church.  He was asking more in relation to business and in particular, our business: 360|Conferences.  So I was noodling on an answer for him.

Saturday morning, I finally caught up on a thread on an internal Flex list.  The list was about a fairly common problem we have in the Flex world.  There seems to be a nefarious void that people learning Flex tend to fall into.  One where they’re beyond “This is a file.  This a tag, made up of brackets and text in between them.” and below “I just rewrote the AdvancedDataGrid component to run 50% faster.”  I have feelings in regards to how to help folks cross that void, so I started noodling a response to the thread.

Then it dawned on me, my two noodles were of the same type: helping folks grow and learn. Continue reading “Help me teach you Flex!”

What kinda person is Tom Ortega?

I was chatting with Brendan the other day. He asked what kind of person am I to attempt to carry a full time job, put on conferences on the side, manage a successful user group, write articles for the Edge and Adobe Development Center, be a good husband, be a good father of two, and be a good cub scout den leader.

This got me to thinking. Most people only know the Northern California Tom Ortega. Prior to my move to the Silicon Valley, my list of activities were quite different. In Southern California, my plate consisted of holding a full time job, being a good hubbie, being a dad of one and a whole lot of commuting. I didn’t blog, didn’t really participate in any tech community and flitted from one business idea to the next with none taking shape or form. Continue reading “What kinda person is Tom Ortega?”

Dad, what’s a url?

I can’t help but think how archaic the internet still is. Case in point, URLs. Is this the bane of internetters or what?

Let’s start with the prefix:


Seriously, do we really need to have that crap anymore? How many folks are trying to FTP, Telnet or friggin Gopher these days from their browser?

I can already hear the conversation that I’ll have with my kids someday. “Hey, Dad. What was the letters and slash stuff?” “H-T-T-P-colon-slash-slash.” “See, told you. Crazy stuff back in the day.” Continue reading “Dad, what’s a url?”

Not to be a Sony Fanboy, but…

We recently got an HDTV for my PlayStation3. You fair readers may recall that I waited in line all day to get my PS3 on launch day. I wanted to support the Cell architecture and Sony for investing in such cutting edge technology. 1080p TVs were way to costly back then though, so I waited on that. Recently, my wife saved up and bought me the Sony KDL40V3000.

The TV is amazing. Up until I brought this bad boy home and hooked it up to my PS3, I was getting tired of watching movies. After I watched my first Blu-Ray Disc movie though, I’ve been hooked again.

Not to mention playing games. Before my TV, I played a few here and there but it just wasn’t very exciting. Now, with so many great looking games for the PS3 (Ratchet and Clank is my current favorite, followed up quickly with the HD PSN version of Lemmings), gaming is once again very engaging. And these games are only at 720p, mind you!

The reason for my post though has nothing to do with the visuals of the TV or the game/movie feature of the PS3. Instead, I’ve just recently given EyeConnect a spin on my iMac. I have over 40 gigs of music on my machine which sits roughly 15 ft from my PS3 in the living room. Now, I could copy all my music to my PS3 or copy it to an external drive and hook that up, but why? It’s just right there. The iMac has wifi and the PS3 has wifi. They should be able to share, right?

With the magic of DLNA (Digital Living Network Association), I load EyeConnect on the Mac, turn it on, enable sharing via iTunes and iPhoto, and magic! My PS3 now has all my music and my photos. It’s pretty amazing on how simple it is to get it working.

I’ve been working hard since early New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day to meet a deadline at work. I have no computer speakers (they don’t tend to last long when your kids use them as hiding places for things), so I was worried that I’d have no way to hear my music. Hardcore coding without music just isn’t an option and my iMac has horrible quality speakers. (Yes, I could have used headphones, but I hate using headphones at home when I’m alone.) DLNA pulled through for me though.

The biggest surprise though is just how good my music sounds coming through the TV. My previous TV was bought in 2000 granted, so I should have expected some increase in speaker quality. However, the music sounds amazing considering they’re stock TV speakers, the music is MP3 and is being broadcast over wifi. Sometimes, technology just blows me away. Great job Sony on the DLNA support in the PS3 and the excellent speaker technology on the TV.

Now, if I can just find a free moment to learn how to program my multi-core Cell chip via Yellow Dog Linux, I’d be a happy man. 🙂

For you MacHead/PS3 fans, here are the total steps I used (courtesy of _Liquidus_ , thanks!):

1. Download Eyeconnect and install it.

2. Go into your SYSTEM PREFERENCES and click on the SHARING folder.

3. Click on the SERVICES tab and select PERSONAL FILE SHARING as on.

4. Click on the FIREWALL tab and select iTUNES MUSIC SHARING on,

5. While still in the FIREWALL tab click NEW on the right side and
choose PORT NAME: Other and enter 2170 in the TCP PORT NUMBER and type
in EyeConnect in Description, click OK, select the newly added item as

6. Go into iTUNES and go into the PREFERENCES, click the SHARING tab
and check the box beside “Share My Library on my local network”.

7. Turn on your PS3 and run the Media Server search and your Mac
should show up (mine did)

Digital Primates (Even More Monkeys in the House)

In case you haven’t heard the news yet, Digital Primates and Nimer-Tapper have merged!  It makes sense that these small, but highly qualified dev houses merged into one.  They’ve written a book together, so they know how each other works under time constrants.  I’m sure they worked on projects together as well.  By combining, they’ll now have the bandwidth to take on lager projects (since they have more man power combined then each did separately).  Plus, their community efforts will likely grow (if that’s possible since they’re everywhere) because more troops can share the workload while others are participating out in the community.

Any business transaction that allows for more (or continued) community involvement is a good transaction in my eyes!  Congrats guys! And keep up the good work.

Viewing the web through a Prism

I love my web apps. I use GMail religiously (on a computer and on the mobile). John and I use a suite of web apps to run and manage 360Conferences. We use 37 signals apps (Basecamp, Highrise), Buzzword (for docs), Google Docs (for spreadsheets) and Google Calendar (for scheduling). While AIR is an exciting technology, it is primarily a developer technology. By that, I mean the average web user will gain no benefit from AIR unless the web app developers choose to take advantage of AIR. It is for that reason that I find Prism so exciting.

Prism seems to be aimed specifically at end users, not just developers. For example, take Workday. Prism provides us immediate benefit. It allows us to break free from the browser. Workday is a web app and not a web site. We have no use for a back button, bookmarks, etc. Our application provides all those navigation methods much more efficiently (and dare I say, elegantly) internally. Prism allows us to break free from the broswer mold and put some shortcuts onto the desktop, quick launch bar and start menu. The best part is we (the workday developers) did not have to do anything to get this functionality. Prism allows our users to do create that functionality quickly and painlessly.

Another thing that’s great about Prism is that if a web app uses a plug-in and you have it installed for FireFox, then it’ll work. With AIR, we’re locked down to Flash Player and PDF only. While that is great for building new apps that integrate elements of those 2 technologies with the desktop, it’s a bummer for apps out there that utilize other plug-ins, like QuickTime.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited about AIR too. It’s just that, like I said earlier, Prism provides immediate benefits with no developer tweaking. Adobe should emulate that capability. It shouldn’t be hard.

Future of ActionScript (via ECMAScript) and language talk

Josh wrote up a nice post on the proposed ECMAScript 4 language. He basically took the 40-page spec and ripped out the juicy parts for all to see.

It’s funny to me the path of languages. Every language evolves over time. This evolution includes supporting functions/classes that are found in older languages. These languages become all the rage, then become old and lose out to newer language upstarts. Those upstarts in turn then take the time to evolve and garner all the functionality of the older languages.

Granted, I’m simplifying things greatly. Sure each language brings something new to the table, lest why would we abandon the old ones to begin with? Things become faster and older concepts can be implemented in cooler, more efficient ways.

The things that I’ve been hearing lately is that horizontal scaling is becoming more important than vertical scaling. Meaning, instead of writing code that uses a processor at 100% for 1 second. You need to learn to write your code so that it can parse that work to 100 processors that take 10 milliseconds each to compute it’s part. That’s why I bought my PS3 last year. If life ever settles down long enough, I hope to be able to learn to how create apps that utilize all the cores in the Cell processor like the Interactive Ray Tracing (IRT) app. This youtube vid shows the IRT in action and visually shows each processor in use. Friggin’ sweet.

Yeah, Flash player is single threaded, but Flash/Flex ain’t everything, right? Plus, Adobe has smart folks. They’ll figure out something to utilize those multi-core processors out there, besides video encoding. 🙂