Archive for December, 2008

2008 Reflections

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

This is the traditional time to look back on the previous 365 days or so and reflect on everything. Lots of stuff happened, but I think the biggest things for me were writing “Mach Dice” and starting up this blog. I’ve had lots of hobbies in the past, but this one is notable for a couple reasons. For one, it’s the first one that’s actually turned a slight profit! But more importantly, it’s one that’s given me a chance to interact with thousands of people all around the world. Well, maybe not so much “interact with” as “receive 70 cents from”. But I do get the occasional nice review, positive email, and kind comment on my blog. And that means a lot to me.

It’s funny, my full-time job is to work on a very tiny portion of movies that hopefully millions of people around the world will enjoy. But my hobby is to completely develop iPhone apps that hopefully hundreds (or if I’m lucky, thousands) of people will enjoy. Both of them are very rewarding. But I’ll tell you, getting a positive review for my iPhone app feels a lot more personally significant than getting a positive review on a movie I worked on. =)

In any case, this whole experience is something I totally would not have predicted at the beginning of the year. So, it makes me wonder what surprises the next year will bring. Only time will tell…

Baby Viruses

Monday, December 29th, 2008

See the cute little girl to the right? That’s my niece. Sure is a cutie, right? Looks completely harmless, right? But, no, that kid is a walking bio-hazard. One little “ech, ech” from her and Uncle and Auntie are knocked out with a cold for days. Then again, it might just be a big coincidence. Adorable little toddler or mobile super virus factory? I’ll let you decide. But if we ever get invaded by War of the Worlds type aliens, I think she could totally take them all out. Just sayin’…


Friday, December 26th, 2008

We. are. staying. with. my. mom. over. the. holidays. stop.

My. mom. only. has. dialup. connection. to. the. inter. net. stop.

My. 21st. century. brain. can. not. handle. the. slowness. and. I. must. make. it. stop.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Well, okay, it’s not Christmas yet. But tomorrow, Tracy and I will be driving to L.A. for a week to visit family and friends so I’m posting this a day early. From all of us at MachWerx (err… I guess that would just be me): Having a wonderful holiday season!

Technical Difficulties

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

So, I’m working on iPhone App #2 and I’m having this problem were I push a new UIViewController onto my UINavigationController. It normally works just fine: I push and there’s a nice smooth animation that slides my new view onto the screen. But for some reason, the newest one just snaps onto the screen without any delay and then causes all the others to snap on instantly, too.

So after wrestling with this for a while, I gave up and decided to play the piano. Of course, it’d been a while since I’ve practiced and things were sounding kind of messy. Exasperated, I said, “Man, I wish things weren’t so difficult!”. At which point, Tracy said, “Maybe you need to pick easier hobbies.”

True, so very true. But then, I get so much satisfaction from successfully doing these things because they are so challenging. Still, I wish things were just a bit easier sometimes…

Noon Snow Globe

Friday, December 19th, 2008

One of my friends recently made a snow globe app for the iPhone, Noon Snow Globe. Unlike most of the other snow globes out there, this one features actual 3D geometry and animation. If you’re looking for a cute app to show off this holiday season, check it out!

The Spiel

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Ever heard about The Spiel? It’s a neat podcast about boardgames. They did an episode called “Episode 68: That’s A Wrap – 2008 Holiday Gift Guide” with over 50 suggestions for boardgames in a bunch of different categories. They also mentioned a few other items of general interest for boardgamers, including the little iPhone app written by yours truly, Mach Dice. So, check them out if you’re into boardgames or take them up on their suggestion and purchase Mach Dice for a friend today! Heh, heh…

Band Werx

Monday, December 15th, 2008

At work, I’m what is known as a TD (technical director). What is a technical director? Well, imagine a great artist drawing something with a mechanical pencil. And in this mechanical pencil, there’s a complicated mechanism involving buttons, levers, and rubber stoppers that the artist uses to advance the lead. But once the lead has been advanced, a spring pushes it all back into place so that the artist can continue drawing. Technical directors are like the spring.

Anyways, a number of the technical directors at work are musically inclined and I kept on hearing things like, “We should form a band!” or “A TD band would be awesome!” or “Mach, why isn’t there a TD band?” (I’m not sure why I’m addressed in comments like these, but it happens.) So I decided to form a band. The only catch? I don’t actually play anything. I mean, I once sang in the California All State Honor Choir and I’m a classically trained pianist (believe you me, I can rock the heck out of the first page and a half of the third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata). But nothing really “Rock” applicable.

Still, what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm. And somehow, I managed to get a number of very talented TDs to come together to rock out. (Actually, I didn’t do much, I just got the ball rolling.) This past Friday was the band’s debut performance. Enjoy!

Voice Werx

Friday, December 12th, 2008
I'm the voice of the car on the right, Kabuto.

That's me on the right as Drift Boss King, Kabuto.

Go see Bolt, now with the new short from Pixar, Tokyo Mater!

A while ago, some of my friends at work started working on a short film based on Cars that was to be set in Tokyo. They asked me if I could help out because I speak Japanese and I said, “Sure!”. Originally, I was just going to be the temporary scratch voice for one character that would be replaced later by a real actor. But they liked what I did well enough that they kept it in the final short.

I based the voice I used on jidaigeki shows I used to watch on TV as a kid (like Kage no Gundan and Abarenbo Shogun, which had the same exact plot for every episode). So if you want to hear what I sound like doing a melodramatic Japanese tough guy voice, Tokyo Mater is now in theaters playing in front of Bolt. So go see Bolt! It’s a very cute film that’ll leave you smiling, especially if you’ve got a soft spot for cats or dogs.

(The image up top is actually from a TV commercial for Tokyo Mater. I didn’t even know my character was in the commercial so it was quite a surprise to hear myself coming from the TV that I had on in the background.)


Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

My second iPhone app is sort of like a drawing program, which can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. There are layers involved, multiple drawing tools, etc. The problem it all needs to fit on a small 320 x 480 pixel screen. Now, I could just make the icons smaller or add a bunch of pop-up screens for different sets of options. But the more icons there are, the more things that need to be explained. If there are, like, 4 icons on the screen, the user has a pretty good chance to guess what they do. But what if there are 20?

The other option is to simplify things. But then the problem is that the app loses some functionality. So then, how do you decide what stays and what goes? I use a 90% rule. If I think that more than 90% of users would use the feature, it stays in. Less, then I think about removing it. The fewer I think would use it, the more that feature has to justify itself.

In a way life is like that too. Life’s just too short to do everything. You have just have to figure out what’s most important.