Category Archives: austin

Anything to do with Austin, Texas.

pre-pre-SXSWi Meetup (Thursday, March 8, 2007)

Coming to Austin for South by SouthWest? Already in Austin and looking for something to do this evening?

Well, it’s that time of year again, the annual Austin area Information Architects and UT ASIS&T chapter pre-pre-SXSWi Meetup and Happy Hour(s) tonight, Thursday March 8th. If you’re a Web geek, blogger, designer or just about anything else you’re welcome to join us.

We’ll be there tonight from 5-7 at the Cedar Door, which is at 201 Brazos Street. (Map to the Cedar Door ) Lots of Austinites will be there to happily advise out-of-towners on all things SXSWi, Austin, BBQ and so on. (Lots of Austinites will be arguing amongst themselves about SXSWi, Austin and BBQ too.)

Come on by!

http://upcoming.org/event/157945/

Video Games at the University of Texas

Last night I got invited to an event sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin, Center for American History to explore ideas related to the academic study of video game history, development and design. The event was full of video game luminaries including Richard Garriott, Warren Spector, George Sanger and Steve Jackson among many distinguished others.

As you might imagine, getting about 50 freewheeling game designers together can be pretty entertaining but Bill Bottorff (from Austin Business Computers, Inc.) and Don Carleton (from the Center for American History) kept the event going.

One issue discussed was the preservation of video game ephemera and digital assets related to the history of the game industry. Richard Garriott (pictured below) talked about his history in video games and even brought a few items for show and tell.

Richard Garriott, and Steve Jackson in the foreground (with the Illuminati logo)

Among some of the items for show and tell are one of Garriott’s original Apple computers that he used to develop many games (he has a running one in his office to this day) and the roll of paper tape on top of the Apple is a working copy of his first game Dungeons and Dragons I.

ORIGIN Game history from Richard Garriott

George Sanger also spoke, played some recorded music and was very entertaining, if not a bit surreal.

George Sanger, dressed in some kind of General Custer outfit

George passed around some his personal keepsakes, including this test cartridge from the Son of M.U.L.E. game. (I fondly remember M.U.L.E. myself, it’s probably one of the best games I ever played.)

Son of M.U.L.E. test cartridge

It’s hoped that this is the first of many initiatives between UT Austin and the the video game community, look for more information in the future.

You don't need to look outside to know Austin is getting some Winter today

Austin is getting lots of ice and even some snow today, but even if you haven’t read, seen or heard about it you could tell one other way:

Almost everyone I know in Austin is logged on to AOL Instant Messenger, GoogleTalk and Microsoft Messenger.

Ah, internet people, weather does affect us.

(I predict a winter-related rise in Austin blogging today.)

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Amazon's secret price guarantee

Timothy Noah for Slate Magazine has a great post-holiday spending article about Amazon’s secret price guarantee.

If you have purchased anything from Amazon.com in the last 30 days (Amazon themselves, not an affiliated merchant) and the price is now lower, they’ll refund that amount to you. Call Amazon at 1-800-201-7575 and dial 7 right away to get to an operator. Ask her about Amazon’s 30-day price guarantee. Have your Amazon order number handy too. If you get an uncooperative (or hard to understand) operator, just hang up and call right back.

Austin Creative Technologists Mixer this Thursday at 6:30

This Thursday I’ll be at the Creative Technologists Mixer, the very special Holiday Version.

We’ll be at Opal Divine’s on 6th Street from 6:30-8 PM this Thursday, Dec 14th 2006.

From the invitation:

We had such a great time at the last one, we thought we’d do it again.

Come join us for an informal creative technologist mixer. This time we
can look forward to a presentation from a fellow creative technologist
right here in Austin.

We are looking for energetic, passionate people from any discipline
who want to talk about making stuff with the Internet and other
networked technologies.

We welcome designers and developers, students and entrepreneurs,
futurists, pixelists, and pointillists, user researchers, product
designers, Web publishers, podcasters, video bloggers, graphic
designers, people interested in UX, IA, HCI, PHP, and MySQL, and any
other acronyms out there.

Come on out to talk shop or just meet people with similar interests.
Please pass this invitation to others who might be interested.

Direct any questions to creativetechnologists@gmail.com

I’ll see you there.

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Salvation Pizza in Austin

Last night to cap off my weekend pizza frenzy, I made it over to Salvation Pizza. (They don’t seem to have their own Website.) They’re on 624 W 34th St. (half a block West on 34th from Guadalupe).

Salvation Pizza is located in a refurbished house, so it’s mostly on-street parking (unless the parking area next door is in fair play). On Sunday evening it was easy to park right out in front. They have a nice deck, which in warmer months must be great as you don’t hear traffic from Guadalupe.

Inside, the atmosphere is Austin-retrofit-house-hipster, which is OK by me. There are three dining areas, presumably a legacy from the former house layout. The room on the right had two families (i.e. children) and I don’t know if that was a conscious effort to make that a family area or not but I appreciated it (and avoided it). I sat in the main room, near the ordering counter where throughout the evening, several people came in to pick up to go orders. The third room is past the stairway in the back of the house/restaurant.

I ordered the house salad and a #1 pie – a white pizza with tomatoes, basil and garlic. The salad was fine, nothing special, with a standard sun-dried tomato dressing, but I would have enjoyed the whole salad a bit more if was in a bowl or they included a roll to work with. It took about 20 minutes for the pizza to arrive. It was truly a thin crust, that was both light and crisp. It was just slightly chewy but still rigid enough not to sag much when picked up. (I think folding pizza for eating is a sin.) The toppings were fine, very generous on the (pre-processed from a jar?) garlic with large, thin tomato slices. One issue was the basil (mostly full leaves) was a bit singed which isn’t the best way to get the full flavor out. I’d recommend chopping the basil to release more flavor and scent as well as taking the extra step of adding it to the pie in the last 90 seconds of baking. (Or something like that.)

The staff was very friendly and relaxed, they were busy keeping tables organized, answering the phone and filling to go orders. Along with some live Johnny Cash playing, it was a pleasant place to be. (I forgot to ask or check if they had wifi access.)

Would I go back to Salvation Pizza? Yes, and I’d try another of their ten or so different featured pies, or perhaps devise my own from a large list of ingredients.

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Home Slice-o-Rama Pizza Carnival

Saturday, I went with friends to the Home Slice Pizza Slice-o-Rama Pizza Carnival

I had not been to Home Slice before, and this was a great excuse to get there and try out some pie. For some reason, in the last year or so Austin seems to be getting serious about pizza. This is good news for all of us.

The Carnival was a charity event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, with tickets for the booths that included a few games of skill, a dunking booth, cotton candy, beer (but not beer-flavored cotton candy), and a fortune teller called the Great Calzoni. In the back of Home Slice there is a patio, which was a surprise and they were featuring a team of dough-tossing acrobats called the World Pizza Champions.

What would a carnival be without feats of skill? Well, they had them here too. The most interesting activities were the largest pizza dough contest where local pizzerias could send their greatest dough tossers and shapers to see who could make the largest (in diameter) pizzas.

Largest Pizza Contest

Measuring the giant pizza doughs

Next, was the contest for making five pizzas (dough only) the fastest. It was amazing to see them at work.

Speed pizza making

Speed Pizza Making

Oh, we ate some pizza too. Our pizza karma was waxing and we got a booth inside (from the outside you’d never know it’s so roomy) and proceeded to order. I started with the greek salad, which was served on a room-temp tin pie plate. It has small, diced bits of cheese in it, with the usual leafy add-ons such as peppers and just a few very tasty Kalamata olives. A few garlic knots were included with the salad, just the thing to help with eating the salad and to sate my wait for the pizza. I went with my benchmark pizza, the margherita. Here’s what this beauty looked like:

Margherita

The pizza was wonderful. The dough was hot, fresh and crisp but also chewy with some singed spots and just the right amount of bubbling in the dough. The tomatoes were very fresh and diced with generous amounts of garlic and basil.
Also at the table was the traditional pepperoni pie:

Pepperoni Pie

While I didn’t try the pepperoni, it was going fast and the look of meat-eating bliss was apparent. There was more cheese on this pie, which looked just gooey enough to be sinfully good. (I also put my life in danger as it took me a few shots to get this picture just right and at least someone at the table wanted pizza NOW and didn’t want to wait on my untouched pizza pic.)

Would I go back to Home Slice? You bet – let’s go right now.

Underfunded

After living in Toronto, a trailer for a new show called Underfunded on the USA Network looks quite funny:

Canadian Secret Service agent (yes, they have one too) on a mission: he’s out to get some respect. Caught between working with top US Intelligence officials and his budget-conscious boss back in Canada, Darryl finds himself solving world-threatening conspiracies on a small-time budget.

The trailer has gags on the agent having to ride the bus and still using dialup to access the internet. The show is related to some of the writers and producers for Monk, a show I quite like (and also set in another city I used to live – San Francisco).