Sunday, January 15, 2012

CodeMash Logo

I failed to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I guess I’d decided that things were going “OK” and I really didn’t need to make any changes. However, after spending the last several days at CodeMash engaging with old friends and making new ones, I feel seriously challenged to step up my game. Below is my list of resolutions for the coming year.

  • Get Back to Blogging
    Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t blogged in awhile. In fact, I missed 2011 entirely. Embarrassed smile
    At CodeMash, I met several very cool people for the first time who said that they knew me from my blog. It simply amazed (and flattered) me that, with no new content, this little programming blog was still making an impact. It’s time to dust things off around here.
  • Start a New F# Pet Project
    I have neglected my love of F# for a long time, but conversations at CodeMash convinced me that I need to rekindle my romance.
  • Return to Twitter
    My activity has really slowed to a crawl over the past few years, and I intend to correct that. I’m tired of feeling out of the loop.
  • Be at CodeMash Next Year
    How did I allow myself to miss CodeMash for the last two years? I resolve to never let that to happen again.
posted on Sunday, January 15, 2012 4:25:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [6]

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 Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jason Follas has done it again! He has trumped all of our feeble geeky efforts to firmly establish himself as the reigning "King Nerd." Over the years, Jason repeatedly has proven his worthiness. Here are a few highlights.

  • Built his own Donkey Kong machine. Not a MAME cabinet. A real, full-blown Donkey Kong machine. Sold at auction.
  • Played the 1984 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game on SQL Server 2005 via SQLCLR.
  • Presented a public demo of the SQL Server 2005 XML Data Type by importing World of Warcraft guild data via web services.

Today, I began a modest blog post series of F# solutions to the Project Euler problems. Not to be outdone, Jason has started a similar series. However, Jason has far loftier, or rather, nerdier goals for his series. You see, Jason is solving the problems with LUA, the scripting language beneath World of Warcraft. In fact, he's using WoW as his test-bed.

Don't believe me? Check out the screenshot below.

WoWEuler

The man must be stopped before he goes too far.

posted on Thursday, April 24, 2008 7:17:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [1]

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 Thursday, March 20, 2008

A few days ago, my friend Michael Letterle (the artist formerly known as Michael.NET) twat the following tweet:

MichalL-20YearsToLate

The story Michael referred to is Landon Dyer's "Donkey Kong and Me" blog post, which chronicles his conversion of the Donkey Kong arcade game to the 8-bit Atari 400/800 systems. (Screenshots and a review of the port can be found here.) A fascinating yarn, Dyer's post evokes a feeling of nostalgia for the swashbuckling coder days of more than two decades ago. His recent post about the development of the Atari ST is equally enjoyable.

I've often shared Michael's sentiment. Sometimes, I feel like I was born a bit too late. At the advanced age of 0x20, I am fascinated by stories of the Herculean coding efforts of those who came before me—the original early adopters. (Although, there's a strong argument that the present day is just as, if not more, exciting.) Perhaps the most interesting aspect of tech history is how our forefathers were forced to invent creative solutions for just about everything. For me personally, that's what makes "Donkey Kong and Me" so much fun. The same appeal can be found in the early-Macintosh hardware-tweaking stories at Andy Hertzfeld's Folklore.org.

To fuel my interest in computer tech history, I've recently begun re-reading its bible: Programmers At Work.

ProgrammersAtWork2

Published in 1986, this book features interviews with an amazing array of programmers, including figures like Gary Kildall, Charles Simonyi, Jaron Lanier and even Bill Gates. It's out-of-print but can still be purchased used. (I "borrowed" my water-damaged copy from my father's bookshelf). Thankfully, Susan Lammers, the author, has recently started a "Programmers At Work" blog where she's posting the original interviews. So, if you can't find the book, these classic interviews should all be available soon.

What interesting tech history articles or books have you read recently?

posted on Thursday, March 20, 2008 9:39:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yesterday, I attended the Microsoft Detroit Launch Event and the Geek Dinner that immediately followed. (Important thanks go to Microsoft for graciously picking up our food tab at the Geek Dinner.)

What a blast! It was exciting to visit with old friends and meet new people. Here are a few shout-outs:

  • James Bender: Night elves are totally lame. You need to re-roll on WoW dude. Really, I'm kidding. Let's get together on Dalaran sometime.
  • Amanda DaPanda: I feel so bad that I wasn't following you on Twitter. The issue has been corrected. Let's talk some more about F#. Do you have a blog?
  • Michael Eaton: Someday you'll make it to a Metallica show.
  • Keith Elder: Awesome Geek Dinner! Thanks for setting this up. Also, thank you for suggesting that I use Windows Live Writer. I am a changed man.
  • Jason Follas: Thanks for driving, hanging out and being such an all-around amazing guy.
  • Steven Harman: Your T-shirt was fantastic, and our discussion about Ruby was illuminating.
  • Nate Hoellein: It was good talking F# with you again.
  • Jim Holmes: Still nursing the wounds of your defeat at DevConnections, eh? :-) As always, it was a joy to see you.
  • Josh Holmes: Your advice was a blessing. It was wonderful to slow down and spend a little time together.
  • Ryan and Joel Lanciaux: It was cool finally meeting you guys in person. It's amazing that our lives have so many connections.
  • Michael Letterle (the artist formerly known as Michael.NET): I really do like your new handle and blog theme.
  • Jeff McWherter: Sorry for my huge faux paux! I'll make it up to you.
  • David Redding: It was a horrible feeling to realize that you are actually five years younger than me.
  • Chris Woodruff: Where the heck were you? You were missed.
  • Jay Wren: I keep forgetting that you're easily the funniest person I know.
posted on Wednesday, March 19, 2008 1:43:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Friday, March 07, 2008
Google has released Google Calendar Sync, which will automatically sync your Google Calendar to and from Microsoft Outlook. As an avid user of both calendars, I rushed to download and install the tool. It installed quickly, accepted my Google Apps email, and was ready to go. However, after the first sync, I was puzzled as to why the items from Google Calendar hadn't shown up in Outlook yet. I tried a few manual syncs, but still nothing happened.

I have to admit that I rarely read instructions before installing software, so I had missed the following important information on the Google Calendar Sync: Getting Started page, which reads:

"Keep in mind that it's not possible to sync events on secondary calendars at this time. Google Calendar Sync will only sync events from your primary Google Calendar and your default Microsoft Outlook calendar."

Ugh. I didn't notice my events coming into Outlook because I don't have much in my primary Google Calendar. I was expecting to see everything come into Outlook, but the tool doesn't actually support that.

Are they serious about this? So, I can't use multiple color-coded calendars in Google Calendar? That's right. Any events not on the primary calendar will simply not be synced. And of course, the problem exists on both sides. If you happen to use multiple calendars in Outlook, you're out of luck.

calendar

To make matters worse, the tool doesn't handle event collisions very well. So, if the same event exists in each calendar before the first sync, you'll wind up with two items in both calendars. Yup. If you have "St. Patrick's Day" in your Google Calendar and Outlook, you'll find two "St. Patrick's Day" events in each after syncing for the first time.

C'mon Google, you can do better than this! Supporting only the most basic use case isn't enough. I need a tool that does it all with the ease-of-use that I've come to expect from Google's tools. I don't need a tool that 1) requires babysitting, or 2) limits the number of features that I can use.

Somebody please let know when this really works. Until then, it's uninstalled.

posted on Friday, March 07, 2008 10:36:40 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [4]

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 Monday, February 25, 2008
I had resisted advertisements on this blog for a long, long while. It's not that I have anything in particular against ads. I think it's reasonable for a blogger to add advertising to offset the cost (mostly time) of maintaining a solid blog. I just hate it when nice, clean-looking blogs start to look like this:

Nascar Ads

I suppose that I share a lot of the same sentiments on the subject as Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror.

About a month ago, I added Google AdSense (at the suggestion of my good friend Keith Elder). I've tried to keep the ads relatively low key in order to keep the clutter down. That doesn't result in as many clicks as it might if I threw them in your faces, but I'm OK with that. I like to keep my layout clean for those who do come in via the web (and not just the feed).

The truth is, I don't trust Google AdSense all that much. Context-sensitive ads are great, but they aren't always accurate. For example, I've mentioned the word "Haskell" several times in reference to the pure functional programming language, Haskell. However, the very use of this relatively uncommon word has triggered Google Ads for the Haskell Indian Nations University. Sigh. It's really hard to get behind advertised products when you're not 100% certain that they'll be relevant to your content.

Recently though, I found a product that I can whole-heartedly recommend. It's a product that falls directly into my demographic of humor-loving, technology-lusting geeks: RiffTrax.

What's RiffTrax you ask? Well, do you remember the TV show Mystery Science Theater 30001? That's right. The one with the guy and the robots and the making fun of old B-movies. Well, RiffTrax is that without robots and with blockbusters instead of B-movies. It still has the guy though. In fact, it's the same guy from MST3K.

In essence, RiffTrax are feature-length commentaries in MP3 format that you can purchase, download and sync to your DVDs. Some RiffTrax feature stars and writers from MST3K, and some even have celebrities joining in on the fun. For example, my current favorite is a riff on Jurassic Park that features none other than Weird Al Yankovic.

Pants-wettingly hilarious. Seriously.

Below is a small sampling of the films that have received the RiffTrax treatment. There are lots of others. Some have Jar Jar Binks. Some have Keanu Reeves. All will make you howl with laughter.

Honestly, I don't think of this as advertising. This is a public service announcement. You need this. I promise.

1Some may have missed out on the delights of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). You can catch up here.

posted on Monday, February 25, 2008 6:44:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [1]

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 Friday, January 18, 2008
A few months ago, I wrote about how there had been a big price break in the Ultimate Developer Rig presented by Jeff Atwood and Scott Hanselman. About a month later, I went ahead and built my own version of this glorious box.

Since the price had fallen so low ($1,503.88), I decided to increase the amount of ram from 4GB to 8GB. This was due in part to a conversation that I had with my good friend and DevExpress colleague, Oliver Sturm. We were discussing the well-known limits of ram in 32-bit Windows. Oliver made the point, "I'd rather have 4GB on 32-bit Windows than 4GB on 64-bit Windows." The thinking is that, while 32-bit Windows may not be able to fully access 4GB of ram, 4GB on a 64-bit machine might seem cramped since applications use more memory due to wider pointers. Besides, ram is cheap! There's no reason not to purchase a little more elbow room—especially since the price of the machine had already dropped by $400.

The final build that I settled on is below:

Component Price Paid Current
Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $149.99 $139.99
MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $139.99 $139.99
MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E-OC GeForce 8600GTS 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail (2) $299.98 $279.98
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM $179.99 $169.99
Western Digital Caviar RE WD3200YS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $89.99 $89.99
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor Model HH80562PH0568M - OEM $260.00 $260.00
ZALMAN CNPS9500 AT 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink - Retail $47.99 $44.99
CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 520W Power Supply - Retail $124.99 $124.99
OCZ Gold 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2G8004GK - Retail (2) $319.98 $207.98
LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM write and LightScribe Technology Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model LH-20A1H-185 - OEM $28.99 $30.99
  $1,641.89 $1,488.89

As you can see, the price has dropped even further, and the cost of 8GB of ram is now around $200!

Full Disclosure: I had a negative experience with the MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard. It was dead on arrival. After installing the CPU, RAM and a video card, the motherboard refused to POST. Newegg's RMA service did a fantastic job of replacing the board. However, there's nothing worse than removing a CPU, cleaning off the thermal paste and hoping that it works the next time it's installed. Fortunately, the second motherboard worked fine and has been running well for nearly two months.

The time I've spent developing with this machine have been nothing short of pure joy. Builds are faster, multiple VMs don't drag me down, virus scans occur without my knowledge... it's complete bliss. I can even watch every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 1 simultaneously without a hiccup.

Quad core in action

Quad core in action

I should also mention that my trophy wife, while OK with the initial purchase, is grumbling a bit after seeing the current component prices. ;-)

posted on Friday, January 18, 2008 12:42:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [3]

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 Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Today, while making some changes to my Plaxo Pulse profile, I was presented with the following error message:

Plaxo Error

Coffee immediately shot out of my nose.

Once I regained control of myself (and after taking the screenshot above), I clicked the X, and the message went away. I never did find out what that error actually was.

posted on Wednesday, January 02, 2008 1:13:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coffee and Mug

Today, I saw the following tweet on Twitter:

dredding: @jfollas taking coffee away from a developer is like taking away a dominatrix's whip. You just don't do it.

This made me smile—not because of how creepy my friend Dave Redding is (very creepy), but because of how true the sentiment is. At least, it's true for me. Coffee is an addiction that I've fully embraced. It's difficult for me to start a day without that bold flavor. Some developers might choose to get their buzz in another way (and a smaller percentage choose to have none at all), but I've picked coffee as my caffeine-delivery system of choice.

I've really become quite the coffee snob. For me, only the very best coffee will do. I buy my coffee whole bean from Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green, OH. Of all the roasts they produce, Kenya "Gazelle" AA and Papua New Guinea "Mile High" Estate AA+ are definitely my favorites. The Kenya has a nice bite that wakes me up while the New Guinea is smooth all the way down.

But what is it about caffeine that causes many developers crave it so? I mean, aside from the fact that it helps wake us up in the mornings. It certainly doesn't make me a nicer person to be around. In fact, too much makes me downright grouchy. However, the right amount seems to put my brain in a zone that sees problems more clearly. It's almost as if the caffeine gives my think meat the extra zip that it needs to solve problems. Perhaps caffeine unlocks areas of our minds that allow us to be better developers, if only for a moment.

Then again, maybe that's just the coffee talkin'.

posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007 4:48:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [4]

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 Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Alan Stevens: "So far, Twitter is like hanging out in the speakers' lounge. Meaningless chatter from smart people."

My Wife: "It's like passing notes in high school. ('Social studies is SOOO boring!')"

posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 6:58:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Thursday, October 25, 2007
Back in June, Scott Hanselman and Jeff Atwood embarked on a journey to create the "Ultimate Developer Rig." I followed this with interest because I currently use a laptop for development. The laptop is convenient because I do a reasonable amount of traveling. However, recently I've found myself craving something with more horsepower and am giving serious consideration to moving my main development to a desktop and syncing the laptop for travel.

Without consulting my trophy wife, I decided to check out NewEgg to see what the components of the Ultimate Developer Rig are down to, price-wise. Here's what I found:

Component Old Price New Price
Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $154.99 $139.99
MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $144.99 $139.99
MSI NX8600GTS-T2D256E-OC GeForce 8600GTS 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail $337.98 $299.98
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM $199.99 $179.99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3500630AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $119.99 $119.99
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80562Q6600 - Retail $531.90 $279.99
Scythe SCMN-1100 100mm Sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail $32.99 $32.99
CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 520W Power Supply - Retail $129.99 $119.99
Kingston ValueRAM 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model KVR800D2N5K2/2G - Retail $216.98 $157.98
LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM write and LightScribe Technology Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model LH-20A1H-185 - OEM $33.99 $32.99
  $1,903.79 $1,503.88

I'm absolutely blown away. I mean, we're talking about a price difference of nearly $400. That leaves room for a few choice upgrades like moving to 8GB of ram. All that I have to do now is get my trophy wife to sign off on it.

posted on Thursday, October 25, 2007 9:52:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [5]

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 Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Today, I got an email from Keith Elder calling me out for not being on Twitter:
FYI, you are no longer cool :)

Email from Elder

Normally, I would swim through boiling lava to remain among "the cool" (even if only in my own mind), but it didn't come to that. Signing up was mind-numbingly easy. Follow me: dcampbell.

Thanks to The Elder and The Follas for keeping me cool.

posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 11:33:43 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The biggest danger of working with my boss is, quite frankly, jealousy. Don't misunderstand me. It's not jealousy of his considerable programming chops or his modest good looks. It's his wide range of stalkers that evokes my pangs of envy. Nothing defines fame quite as definitively as the number and variety of one's stalkers.

Over the past years, I've declared a few people to be "my stalker."

First, there was Jason Follas because of his stalker-ish way of chasing me down to speak at the Northwest Ohio .NET User Group. Here are some choice quotes:

"First off, I'm still floored by the fact that a CodeRush/Refactor developer lives this close to me..."

"Even though you probably haven't read the first email yet, I was wondering if you might be available and willing to speak at the user group meeting next Tuesday..."

Jason showed a lot of promise, but his heart really isn't in it. This quote from his very first email to me clarifies his level of commitment as a stalker:

"Anyways, your name doesn't sound familiar to me, so I hope that we haven't met before."

Oh yeah! Can you feel the love?

Then of course, there was Jeff McWherter. Jeff approached me this year at Tech Ed to discuss a talk that I had given a month earlier over a 1,000 miles away. Truthfully, Jeff was just being conversational, but I jumped all over his pleasantries with cries of, "Ha! You're my stalker now buddy!" Lately, I've been questioning how seriously Jeff has been taking his roll as a stalker. Recent encounters have involved him darting around corners while I shout, "HEY! Aren't you going to stalk me!? Why aren't you going through my trash or taking distant, blurry photos of me?"

I guess that I've just been trying too hard.

Until today.

Finally, I have real stalker of my very own: Dan Hounshell. That's right Dan. I read your blog, and I saw your post.

Dan Hounshell

After seeing this photo, I'll be sleeping with one eye open.

A stalker of my very own.

I've finally arrived.

posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 11:31:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [3]

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 Thursday, October 11, 2007
Last night, I happened upon an episode of the Sci-Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters" and was struck by the uncanny resemblance between lead investigator Jason Hawes and my good friend Josh Holmes.

Jason HawesJosh Holmes

Clearly, Josh is getting a bit more sun than Jason, but the likeness is striking. At least, as striking as the resemblance between two goatee-wearing, head-shaving men can be. Were they separated at birth? Hmmm...

posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 7:19:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [1]

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 Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Warning: GEEK ALERT! The following content may contain language that will fill the reader with an involuntary desire to purchase and read comic books, move into their parents' basement, and wear black T-shirts containing copyright-infringing images or stereotype-perpetrating text, possibly indicating that "Han Shot First." Other side effects may include near-sightedness, uncontrollable acne, and an inability to communicate with the opposite sex. Some readers have also indicated an inexplicable desire to be referred to as "the Dungeon Master." You've been warned...

I recently returned home from Wizard World Chicago. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, Wizard World is an annual pop culture convention that tours several major cities in the US. The conference entails all manner of geek fetishes such as collectable toys, table-top gaming and anime, but the biggest emphasis is on comic books. Attendance at the conference is usually very high. I'm not certain what the final number of attendees was this year, but last year it was around 58,000. If you compare that with this year's Microsoft Tech Ed attendance of 13,000, you'll quickly realize that Wizard World is truly wall-to-wall geek.

Because there are so many people at Wizard World, my trophy wife and I spent $300 to get two VIP passes. This might seem excessive, but the benefits are pretty sweet:

  • Extra swag. At registration, we received several cool items including 9.8 CGC graded copies of Captain America #25 (the issue where Captain America dies).
  • Early entrance. On Friday and Saturday, VIPs were admitted to the conference floor at 9 a.m., before any other attendees. This allows VIPs to be the first to get conference exclusives and to be at the front of the line to get autographs or sketches from comic creators. Early admittance had another huge benefit that I'll talk about shortly.
  • Exclusive signings. For every scheduled signing by a comic creator there was an additional signing only for VIPs.

Purchasing the VIP passes turned out to be a great investment because they helped us to attend a very important event. On Friday, DC announced that they would be giving out wrist bands early Saturday morning which would provide access to a special panel on Saturday evening presented by DC and Warner Bros. There was a limited number of seats available, and they would be given out on a first-come-first-served basis. As VIPs, this wasn't a problem for us. In fact, our early entrance onto the floor on Saturday ensured that we were among the first to get wrist bands and T-shirts printed with the logo for the next Batman movie, "The Dark Knight." We weren't certain what would happen at this special panel. Currently, "The Dark Knight" is filming in Chicago, so we guessed that there might be a bit of early footage shown. However, when we took our seats later that night with a thousand other geeks, it wasn't clear who might be filling the empty seats at the head table.

Paul Levitz, president of DC, opened the panel with a few words about what was going to happen that evening. After mentioning that there were some surprises for us, he moved quickly to introducing the special guests. Here they are in the order that they were introduced:

  1. David Goyer, screenwriter and comic creator. I'm a big fan of Goyer's work so this was a big "fanboy moment" for me. For the "The Dark Knight," Goyer collaborated with...
  2. Jonah Nolan, screenwriter. Nolan is best-known for his short story "Memento Mori," which is the source material for the excellent film "Memento." After Jonah, Paul introduced...
  3. Gary Oldman, actor. That's right, Gary Frickin' Oldman. At this point, I wet my pants. Next to Oldman sat...
  4. Aaron Eckhart, actor. Eckhart is playing the character of Harvey Dent in the new movie. Next, Batman himself was introduced...
  5. Christian Bale, actor. At this point, my trophy wife wet her pants. Bale got the largest reception of any of the special guests (Oldman was next). He appeared to be quite taken aback by the whole thing. And finally...
  6. Chris Nolan, director. Chris is well-known for such films as "Memento", "The Prestige" and "Batman Begins."

After our initial shock, the panel continued with a Q&A session of which I have no memory. Seriously. It was a completely blur. Fortunately, you can read a transcript here if you're interested.

Next up was the movie footage. They showed us a few minutes of quick scene flashes which were a bit rough since the movie is still filming. There were some exciting shots of Heath Ledger as the Joker getting his butt royally kicked. The footage ended with a big surprise which revealed that Two-Face would make an appearance in the film.

I'm still a bit dazed from the panel (Gary Frickin' Oldman!) but a lot of other great stuff went on at Wizard World. If anyone is interested, I'll post some more stories. However, for the moment, I return you to your regularly scheduled technical blog.

posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 6:51:57 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [0]

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 Sunday, April 15, 2007
Those of you that know me will remember that I carry a full-sized keyboard in my laptop bag. I find it much easier to code and demo if I use the same keyboard all the time. So, I carry it with me. My keyboard is like a constant companion that goes wherever I go, and my recent trip to DevConnections in Orlando was no different. The birds were singing. The sun was shining. My keyboard was firmly secured under the flap of my bag... or so I thought. As I approached the Orlando hotel, I had no idea that my close friend's lifetime was near its end. There was nothing that would have alerted me to this fact. Suddenly, my trusted comrade slipped from the bag and shattered on the hard cement. And when I say "shattered", I don't mean that a few keys popped off. I mean that keyboard blood and guts were strewn everywhere. As I surveyed the gory scene, I realized that repairing my keyboard was out of the question. The ground was littered with twisted plastic shrapnel and warped springs. It had become my own proverbial "Humpty Dumpty". There was no way this egg was going back together again.

Believe it or not, this tragedy absolutely paralyzed me. Because I spend all of my time with the same keyboard, I am a complete novice (i.e. a "newbie") at using my laptop's built-in keyboard. With only the keyboard on my laptop, I was reluctant to do demos during the conference. I would sit in front of my laptop blushing and stammering into the keyboard like a seventh grade boy asking his first girl to a dance. I had to face the facts: I couldn't avoid replacing my dear friend. Only one questioned remained. Should I purchase the same model or go for an upgrade?

I spent some time looking online and finally settled on the Logitech G15 Gaming Keyboard. It's newer, sleeker and sexier than my old buddy, but it also has a very attractive feature: holes that I can use to tie it to my laptop bag. There are lots of other great features like the LCD screen and the extra 18 user-programmable buttons, but the holes were the selling point for me. No longer will I put my closest friends at risk.


Helpful holes allow me to use straps. YAARRR!!! (pirate-speak)


Securely attached to my Tom Bihn Super Ego.


This thing's not going anywhere!

This experience has served to cement a universal truth in my mind. It is the sort of axiom that I wouldn't mind having engraved on my tombstone at the end of my days. The idea is basically this: no matter how sophisticated humanity's achievements in technology, no matter how rich our medical advancements, gravity wins. Gravity always wins.

Words to live by.

posted on Sunday, April 15, 2007 12:39:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #    Comments [5]

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