Here are a few things I saw wandering around PAX.
Many people like and comment on my This is Portal shirt.
I am the only person at PAX without a Nintendo DS.
I have not seen a single Sony PSP since I arrived.
Zalman FPSGun - Basically a new form factor mouse specifically designed for playing first person shooter games. The mouse buttons are moved vertical in orientation, like a gun trigger. It feels strange at first when using it, but quickly felt natural. I think it would be hard to use this as your regular mouse, since it's so focused on just FPS games.
Gunnar Optiks - Special glasses for gaming. At first I thought this was stupid, and then I put them on. Just like traditional firearms shooting glasses, the Gunnar lenses are yellow and cut down the blue/white light reducing the total amount of light hitting your eye. As someone with eyes sensitive to light, I find hits very interesting. My eyes did feel more relaxed while wearing these. Worth a look if you spend a lot of time at the computer.
TN Games FPS Vest - This is a vest you wear while playing shooters. In the vest are air actuators that reflect the damage in game with a physical sensation. I tried it and at first it felt like someone was poking me. After about 60 seconds, I could tell when I was taking damage from behind because I could feel it and my mind was translating the feeling into action in the game as I would turn based on non-audio/visual info. I can see this kind of thing catching on with the console community. With Wii & the guitar games breaking the controller-only paradigm, anything goes in the future.
Plantronics Gaming Headsets - For years I've used Logitech headsets. They are good with minimal issues. I've gone through several due to children slobbering on mics and dogs chewing through cords. The Plantronics people are going for the gaming business with a gusto. I tried out their new headsets and they are really good. ore comfortable than the current Logitech I use now. Worth $100? Not sure, but I'll have to think carefully when my current set breaks. I was looking at the 777 model which works both with analog audio connections or as a USB input device.
I stopped by the Eve Online booth, and one of the Dev Tema showed me a Titan-class ships firing the Doomsday Device.
Yesterday, I flew up to Seattle and went to PAX. I went last year and had a great time.
Here are a few highlights:
Ken Levine gave a great keynote that spoke directly to 40+ year old geeks. I'm not sure the younger audience got all the references, but I sure did.
Tycho and Gabe held a good Q&A session. The worst moment however is when they had the entire audience crack there knuckles simultaneously. It was a horrific sound.
For dinner, I splurged and had a cajun rib-eye and Guiness at Morton's. Yum.
In the evening, I went to the screening of The Guild. I had never seen it before and was blown away. A hilarious take on a guild of real people that play World of Warcraft and what happens. The audience was roaring all the way through. The show was created by Felicia Day. Watch it now.
And because you people seem to like these, here is My Hotel Room in Seattle
A few weeks ago, I saw a piece on TCHO Chocolate that the Boing Boing peeps did. I learned that TCHO chocolate is supposed to be next-gen chocolate. Obviously, I had to give it a try. I bought a sampler pack of 'chocolatey' and 'fruity'. See I don't do all my shopping at 7-Eleven.
The chocolate shipped overnight in a silvery thermal bag with cold packs inside to keep things cold.
Inside, the chocolate was in small paper satchels, each with 50g of chocolate inside. It's the first candy I've eaten that came with instructions. The package design was neat looking with the strange motto 'NO SLAVERY' on the back.
The ingredients are cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla beans. For those that don't know, soy lecithin is what keeps the cacao butter from separating out from the chocolate.
The 'chocolatey' is Ghanaian chocolate. My father has traveled to Ghana several times and brings back the local chocolate. It's great tasting stuff.
The 'fruity' is Peruvian chocolate. I can't recall that I've specifically eaten chocolate from Peru before, but I was going to try it now.
I put the chocolate into bowls for sampling. TCHO recommends that you try the 'chocolatey' before the 'fruity'.
Besides myself, also sampling were my wife, Michel, my daughters, Zoe & Mira, and their friend Teddy. I enjoy dark chocolate. Michele prefers milk chocolate. And the girls will eat anythign we tell them is candy.
First we tried the 'chocolatey'. The chocolate immediately filled my mouth with flavor and richness with almost a bitter taste. It wasn't sweet at all. Michele said "It tastes like dark chocolate." The girls said "It's supposed to be sweet!"
Next, we tried the 'fruity'. The reactions here were even more varied. To me, this chocolate wasn't as strong as the first. I could pick up something different, but I couldn't place the flavor. Again, there is very little sweetness to the chocolate. Michele was more blunt. She thought it was "terrible" and "sour". The girls didn't like it either.
They walked away and left me with the chocolate. I wanted to reset my taste buds a bit, so I looked for somethign salty. I sucked on a few sunflower seeds and tried again.
After my taste of salt, I tried again. No huge change, but I did let the chocolate melt on my tongue and started to taste the subtlety, but it's not anything obvious.
For my taste, I want a sweeter chocolate. I can see what people are saying about the richness of flavors, but without the sweetness, it's just not chocolate to me, it's like tasting a bit of cocoa powder. Obviously the girls want nothing to do with it.
The TCHO chocolate will likely be big success with chocolate connoisseurs, but I think the average person won't like it too much.
My two suggestions for TCHO are:
1) Mark the chocolate bars so you can tell them apart. Once out the bag, they look exactly the same and it's easy to get mixed up.
2) Make a version called the 'sweet' for us hoi polloi that aren't enamored with the austere bitter/dark version
First, please vote for my proposed panel at SxSW next year. I'm hoping to speak about how social communities could work WITHIN corporations. It's titled "Social Networks Inside Companies: Brilliant Idea or FAIL?" This will be my seventh year attending SxSW and I'd love to give a good panel instead of sitting in the audience. Please vote for me, kthx.
Second, go sign up for Fuelly. Fuelly is a site to track your gas mileage and compare it with others. You can even track your friends and see what they are driving and what kind of mileage they get. I'm Cruftbox there if you want to add me. The site was built by Matt & PB. There's even a nice page for your iPhone to enter your mileage while standing at the pump. For years I used to write all this info down in a notebook in my car. I only stopped once I got the Prius, since it autocalculates it. I think it's very cool.
Most people have played with Magic Rocks, the toy which allows you to grow 'crystals' from 'rocks'.
Yesterday, my daughter Mira and I made a timelapse video of her Magic Rocks growing. Enjoy.
On a routine trip to 7-Eleven, I stumbled onto a large display of Sumseeds which are caffeinated sunflower seeds.
Smiling ex-Padre Tony Gwynn smiled up at me from the display of seeds, urging me to try these. I had never considered flavored sunflower seeds, let alone caffeinated seeds, yet here they were. The flavors were 'original' (which I assume means salted), salt and pepper, honey BBQ, and dill pickle (!?!?).
I picked up the original, checked out, and headed home to investigate.
Not resting on the marketing force of Tony Gywnn alone, look at the rationale against energy drinks!
According to the Sumseeds web site, in a single package of sunflower seeds there is:
140mg - caffeine
96mg - taurine
53mg - lysine
40mg - ginseng
That's almost double the caffeine found in a can of Red Bull.
How do they taste? Well, they taste exactly like regular sunflower seeds. Once I started in on the package, I ate about half in a half hour. I didn't notice any kind of buzz or other stimulating effect. All I notice was the typical salt action on my tongue and cheeks due to holding seeds in my mouth.
Sumseeds tasted fine and if you are a caffeine hound, you'll probably enjoy them. I enjoyed them and started buying regular sunflower seeds to eat.
Back in June, I bought a set of Reservoir Dogs Shots Glasses from Woot.com. This is the kind of behavior that my wife can never understand.
Originally, the shot glasses came part of a package with the DVD of the movie, this set showed up in that package, with the DVD absent.
I waited until a poker night at Ken's Pokerdome to christen the shot glasses.
Normally I don't drink this much in one week, let alone one sitting, but I felt this at this moment it was appropriate. Amazingly, at the end of the night, I was still up in chips. Soon after the last bit, I stumbled home, thinking along the way how narrow the sidewalks are because I could seem to stay on them...
For the summer, I've been on a diet. It's the Brad Williams's patented, 'eat less, exercise more' diet.
For a few weeks, Michele and the girls are out of town in Cincinnati. In the past this has meant a plethora of fast food meals and nary a fresh fruit or vegetable.
Now I find myself trying to balance eating better with having a little fast food. Ideally, I want to eat less than 1,500 calories a day.
I started looking at the things I like to eat best at various fast food places and how many calories are in each item. The list grew rapidly. All of this info is easy to find on the internets...
Baja Fresh Bean & Cheese w/ carnitas - 1010 calories
BK Original Chicken Sandwich w/o mayo - 450 calories
Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Cheeseburger - 710 calories
El Pollo Loco Chicken Wing - 91 calories
El Pollo Loco Crunchy Taco - 191 calories
El Pollo Loco BRC Burrito - 387 calories
In-n-Out Burger Double Double - 590 calories
Jack in the Box taco - 160 calories
KFC Crispy Strips (3) - 350 calories
McDonalds Chicken Strips (5) - 660 calories
Panda Express Black Pepper & Kung Pao & rice - 920 calories
Papa Johns Cheese Thin Crust slice - 240 calories
Papa Johns BBQ Chicken & Bacon slice - 340 calories
Subway 6" BMT sandwich - 450 calories
Taco Bell Taco - 170 calories
Taco Bell Soft Taco - 200 calories
Taco Bell Steak Taquitos - 310 calories
Taco Bell Chicken Taquitos - 310 calories
Wienerschnitzel Chili Dog - 290 calories
Yoshinoya Large Beef Bowl - 1160 calories
I was bit surprised that my favorite fast food, Yoshinoya beef bowl tops out the list...
Today, I've already eaten 6 of Michele's homemade potstickers for breakfast. I have no idea how many calories in those, but they are tasty.
If I can avoid the sides like french fries and chips, it looks like I can squeeze in a little bit of fast food and still stay on my diet.
Ideas? Suggestions for this omnivore?
This is why my brother Matt rocks. It's great having a designer in the family.
Based on a early morning phone call from me, he made this up a few minutes.
If you don't know why this is important, watch the video below.
And if you want the t-shirt...