Lunch at ILM

Peter Murphy a former colleague both at Pulse and at BIAS is now working at ILM (along with another ex-Pulse colleague Alex Tang).

Again the benefts of working in San Francisco this week meant I could spare the time to have lunch with Peter in the new Letterman Digital Arts Center (aka ILM Buildings) in the Presidio. I’d seen the buildings as they were being built since Michele’s office is also in the Presidio but this was my first visit inside.

In a word – Cool ! It’s a really nicely designed complex ! The buildings are large and spacious and whilst I only got to see a couple of ‘offices’ they were large open spaces with almost no pillars or vertical cable conduits, rather all the cables come up through the floors. I also got to see briefly the inside of the main preview room. Now that’s a place to watch a movie ! Digital and film projection and of course the highest quality THX certified sound system and environment money can buy ! The local AMC Cinema is about as far removed from this cinema as a cheap saloon car is from a Rolls Royce !

Peter’s working in the R & D Dept on ILM’s in house modelling and animation tools and right now is working to make sure that the Technical Directors on Pirates of the Carribean 2 can continue to work and have their bugs fixed etc.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 31, 2006

Ex-Be Lunch

For a few years now there’s been a regular weekly gathering of Ex-Be folk around the bay area at Clarkes in Mountain View. Until now I’ve never really been able to make it since the drive from Petaluma to Mountain View is around 90 minutes each way (at best). This week however I’m working at Digidesign in Daly City and the 30 minute drive was more reasonable.

it was good to catch up with Dianne, George, JBQ, Marco and others (who joined after I left Be in 2000). A few of these people still form part of the software development team at Palm Source, however many of those who moved with the aquisition have also now moved on. There’s quite a gathering of exBe folk at Google right now (about 6-8 I think) including groups who left Be for Danger but are now at Google (Brian & Ficus to name two) and those who went from Palm to Google (Dianne and others).

With a bit of luck I’ll be able to make the lunch the next time I’m back in the Bay Area at the end of April.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 30, 2006

Dinner in Somerville

I managed to catch up with an old colleague from Be last night – Jim Rippie. Jim’s a long time resident of Boston and of Somerville in particular, so he was a good guide to the ‘cool hip spots’ 8-) We had dinner at Gargoyles on Davis Square, a restaurant that would fit right in on Chestnut St or similar in San Francisco. A good contemporary american menu with asian influences. I had a good duck confit on sticky rice, Jim ordered a crusted halibut (roasted I think) with a chili accompaniment. Desert was a great small flour-less chocolate cake.

Tomorrow I head back to California for a week. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time being a father again – especially since Michele will be in Denmark for much of the week. I’ll be working in the Digidesign offices for most of the week, trying to fix bugs and also do some research into some technologies that we might be able to share between Digidesign and the audio team at Avid. I’ll be back in (a probably still chilly) Boston on April 3rd

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 23, 2006

One Week

Well I’ve been here one week – and it’s not snowed ! Or rained ! It has been pretty cold though.

In fact it’s a good thing it wasn’t snowing or raining today since the fire alarm at work went off and we all had to go stand in the parking lot for 15 minutes. No smoke so it was either a false alarm or just a test – I never did find out.

I finally worked out the fix for my bug – but only after attempting what my colleagues and I agreed was at best a ‘workaround’ (at worst a ‘hack’). The attempted workaround made things worse in some cases but also revealed the true cause of the problem I’d been trying to identify and a fix was quickly made. Tomorrow it’s on to the next one (and my queue isn’t getting any shorter 8-)

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 7, 2006

Orientation Day

Today was indoctrination orientation day at Avid. Since I’d already been at work for three days it was a bit of a non-event. There was only two of us there and all I really needed to do was go over all the benefits forms I’d filled out and make sure there weren’t any mistakes.

My bug from last week remains unfixed and is also a mystery to a couple of us know – so we’re expanding our talent pool to other engineers. It’s sort of nice to have other people who know that answers instead of being the one who everyone turns too, of course that just reminds me how little I know and how quickly I need to know a lot !

I watched last nights oscars but don’t really have much to say since I’ve not seen any of the major movies nominated (children !). I have seen Wallace and Grommit and March of the Penguins (children ! 8-) and they both deserved their awards. It was a good night for Avid – one or more of our products was used in everyone of the winning movies in some ways. For the sixth year running every single nominee in the Sound categories had used ProTools from Avid’s Digidesign subsidiary.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 6, 2006

First Day

First Day went well – I have all my requisite hardware and even managed to start the process of syncing the latest codebase to my PC so I can build it. At that point I went home since my new colleagues told me that ClearCase can take a couple of hours to do the initial sync (I’m assured that subsequent syncs are much faster).

Not that it was a short day by any means – I even got a ‘architecture review’ meeeting done and met a ton of people. Not bad – I expect that tomorrow I can try my luck with a build and also setting up the build environment on my Mac.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on March 1, 2006

On the move

We’re moving – or more accurately – in the short term I’m moving and the rest of the family will follow in a few months once school is over for the summer. I’ll be back in California one week a month for the next three months too.

I’ve accepted a job at Avid to join the audio team working on the audio features of Avid Xpress and Media Composer. I start work on Wednesday March 1, I’m flying to Boston tomorrow (Tuesday Feb 28). It’s been a great 4 years at BIAS and they’ve got some cool projects under way for the future, but Michele and I need to be closer to our relatives and the opportunities at Avid were to good to pass up at this time.

I’m going to try and keep the weblog a little more updated now – since there’s probably a few people who want to know how things are going. There’s looking for a new house, and of course adjusting to the weather, which I had thought might be a challenge but it’s been raining for the past 24 hours here in California, so I guess I’ll only have to worry about the cold.

Posted under Personal, Work

This post was written by awk on February 27, 2006

New BIAS’ Offices


Originally uploaded by awkward.

The new offices for BIAS’ are just about complete and we begin moving in this week. It’ll be a ‘staged approach’ with the engineering team leading the way and the rest of the company following shortly after once we’ve worked out any ‘bugs’ 8-)

There are more photos at my flickr page.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on November 26, 2005

Developer Tools

Ben Goodger one of the lead developers at Mozilla Foundation makes some good observations about developer tools.

He’s certainly not alone – in 1998/99 when I was working at Be I would frequently hear screams of anguish from Scott Barta who at that time was working on the BeOS browser (NetPositive). At the time probably one of the largest and most complicated pieces of layered software (applications) running on BeOS.

Good debuggers are really hard to find on the open source or even ‘new’ platforms. Today since there are almost only two compilers in the world – MS and GNU – everyone else is using the GNU tools and by association gdb. When a request is then made for a more friendly debugging environment everyone simply wraps gdb.

Why ?

Mac OS X/XCode does it, Linux does it, BeOS did it and so on. Even Codewarrior on Mac OS X does it – in spite of the fact that Metrowerks wrote one of the better GUI debugging environment in Mac OS 9

I’ll admit I’m not enough of a debugger expert to know why – but is it really so hard ? If you actually talk to engineers at Apple working on the larger projects they’ll admit to actually using the gdb command-line debugger most of the time, and NOT using the GUI.

This could be because they’re more productive that way based on experience, but at the same time I have to think that they (or some of us) could be even more productive if the UI lived up to it’s potential (ie. was as good as MS Visual Studio).

Sometimes I wonder if Apple really cares about this – they’re trying hard to improve it, but how much of the problem is really caused by talking to/through gdb ?

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on January 31, 2005

List Mom

Michael Alderete used to use the title of ‘List Mom’ when he was running the Be mailing lists. Today I’ve certainly felt like that in dealing with the BIAS mailing lists.

BIAS has run two mailing lists for a number of years bias-users (mainly Peak users and the busier list) and deck-users. Over the last year on a number of occasions people have requested that we use a web based forum instead of a mailing list (primarily because people prefer the threading and searching of a forum and don’t like the number of emails they get). Since BIAS’ now has it’s own co-located X-Serve running Apache, PHP, MySQL etc hosting a forum is at least something we can consider, so I set the software up and created a test forum with a poll for people to vote for what they preferred and announced to the list last monday that it was available and that we would close the poll this monday and depending on the results switch to the forum or stay with the mailing list.

On Monday the result was a 2/3 majority in favour of the forum instead of the list so yesterday I announced to the list we would be making the change – and then the complaining started.

Turnout for voting was low by regular list user counts and very low in terms of registered list members, however even accounting for the 3 people who mailed me and said they preferred the list and didn’t want the trouble of voting it was still a majority in favour of the forum. Still people complain that they didn’t see the announcement, that of course the results are skewed etc etc. In the meantime none of the whiners seem to have even bothered to look at how it works they just don’t like the change.

You’d think we we’re taking money away from them, or evicting them from their homes ! The level of vitriol has steadily risen – and in the meantime I’m getting no work done on new software and updates etc since I’m dealing with all the flack !

Bah ! Any of the list subscribers can easily take on the task of running their own list – hell I’ve made it clear anyone can post about a new home for a mailing list and I’ll even post it to the web forum if they don’t want to.

There’s just no pleasing some people !

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on April 16, 2003