Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vistas from the sky

Skydiving, originally uploaded by Rooosh.

The Awesomeness of Flight

Skydiving, originally uploaded by Rooosh.

Jumping out of airplanes

Chris and I jumped out of an airplane. It was his birthday present from Tanya and I was along for the ride (and doing my duties as comrade-in-arms-for-insane-stuff).

I thought I would be really scared when I'm sitting on the edge of the airplane looking down about to fall off. I was wrong. There is no time for that. Its two seconds between sitting on the edge and falling off. Before you know it, you're plumeting towards the earth at 100+mph. Whoa!

The instructions-to-peril ratio in tandem skydiving is near 0. Instructions include "hold on to straps" and "put head on my (instructor's) shoulder". Yippee.

The dive was from 13k feet, so not much freefall - about 1 minute or so.

You can't scream while freefalling. Too much wind, nothing comes out. And even if did, there's no one to hear anything.

The earth looks very pretty. Like an extremely high res, large field-of-view Google Earth. Really.

The jerk when your parachute opens up isn't that bad. I felt it for sure, but it wasn't the hard crazy jerk that I'd imagined it would be.

My tandem instructor guy let me play around with the controls a bit. Pull left hand to rotate left, pull right to rotate right, pull both to slow down. It seemed to work quite well.

Its quite common to get nauseated or even throw up after the jump. I was in the former category.

I was really worried about breaking my ankles when I landed. Turns out you can just pull in your legs towards the chest and stick them out (sort of like keeping-ski-tips-up) and land on your butt. I totally made use of this alternate landing technique and was quite happy with the results.

This checks off one of the boxes of "stuff-to-do-before-death", so YAY!!!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I finally gave in and bought a copy of Spore yesterday. I spent half the night playing it, even though I was dead tired after getting up at 4am for my flight home. Oops.

My reaction to Spore is definitely mixed, bordering on disappointment. I guess I should have figured this, given the online reviews and the Gamespot reviews (all of which I had read before), but still.

Overall impressions:
1. The game is beautiful. Even with all the graphics turned down (so my Mac Pro doesn't choke), its still pretty.
2. The game is *too* easy. I played it on normal. I was in the space stage in about 4 hours. I must have died a total of 5 times, 4 in the protein-soup kind of phase.
3. There is very little depth to the game. If you're into designing your own creatures, great - more about this later - but if you're into *playing* a game, its got very little depth.
4. The way your creature looks does not affect the way it behaves. *How* disappointing is that! There are things you can get on your creature that affect its attributes for sure, but the correlation with how your creature looks is minimal.

My creature around the beginning of Phase 3 (land animal)

At the end of Phase - 4 (small village / tribe)

My tank, to takeover cities and wage general mayhem:

At this point, I got tired of expressing my creativity and just gave up and started using standard Spore constructs to obliterate the rest of the planet (using ICBMs, no less) and take them over.

There is a lot of fun to be had designing your own cute or ugly creatures. There are definitely different strategies that I want to try out (herbivore vs omnivore etc). So there is going to be some replayability here. Also, I have to note that I haven't quite "finished" the game per se. Just getting started with the space phase, so lets see how that works out.

Finally, Spore thinks I'm waaaay too aggressive - the word it used was "Vicious". Apparently, blowing up the entire planet using nukes isn't cool. So yeah, first game was all carnivore, completely mayhem / war on every other tribe and eventual victory. In 4 hours.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Self Perpetuating Web 2.0 Hype

I've been reading a bunch of things in my Google Reader "Computing Scan" folder. This is my high noise, quick read folder where I expect to find one interesting thing every 20 entries or so. This includes blogs such as Hacker News, TechCrunch, CrunchGear and GigaOm. That's quite enough for 500+ entries / day.

I read a bunch of entries like this one from HN that talks about sharing screenshots on the web and a startup to do the same. So lets talk about this:
The problem: How do I share a screenshot.
Solution: Use

Like. Seriously?

Sharing screenshots was such a big market opportunity that you created a startup around it? Oh and btw, it shares music too or videos or whatever files you want.

Again. Seriously?

Like there aren't half a dozen companies that have tried doing this over as many years and have had moderate to no success.

I'm all for startups, all for ideas. I'm not an entrepreneur but hope to be one someday. I do believe in ideas that are worth something. That have some hope of solving *a real problem*. Some hope of making money. This seems rather ridiculous.

Finally, on to the subject of the post itself.

I feel that a bunch of startups today - *especially* the YCombinator kind, solve problems that are largely "Web 2.0" problems. By this I mean, problems that 90% of the web doesn't have because they don't use the tools that have these problems.

I don't mean to trash YC. Clearly, their strategy works. As proven by Xobni and Omnisio and a bunch of others, they have companies that create value. Their approach to finding these companies seems to be to micro fund anyone that is willing to put in the work and create a small feature-like company. But a lot of these companies are solving micro problems that are created because other companies with web-2.0 type sites haven't caught up to them.

Please give me a YC company that is solving a *real* *hard* *problem*.