Monthly Archives: December 2006

The two best TV shows this week were really games

In the past, I haven’t played video games very much, but I’m thinking more about games as tools for learning and socialization (social computing games?).

Maybe that’s why this week the two most interesting (which means “best” by my own definition) TV shows have been Daybreak and The Lost Room.

In Daybreak, the main character is a police detective, who much like the movie Groundhog Day, is repeating the same day over and over – presumably until he gets it “right”. There are a number of contingencies and clues the detective must solve to make progress. Each week, the plot changes as some issues get “solved” and the detective isn’t plagued by them on the next version of his day. We gradually learn more about the detective’s world, his past and how everything fits into place.

In The Lost Room, the main character is also a police detective and needs to unravel a mystery based around understanding, collecting and using a set of magical objects. He must discover objects, negotiate with their owners and determine the object’s proper uses. In an attempt to go meta about the issues in the plot, several of the characters are written to seem very much like I’d assume people that are deeply involved in a social game (MMORPG or the like) might be as to forming clubs (even cults in show) around studying, finding and advancing skills in the use of the objects and making alliances. It seems like they’re truly playing a game about the objects within the episodes as independent characters, but overlapping with the main detective’s role in the show/game.

Obviously, these concepts: working through a game level, a quest, negotiating with characters and finding objects of power are common to many video games of the last few decades. Adding in the social interaction and high quality rendered environment (studio sets with actual actors) and it’s a bit like watching a someone work their way through a game. Is this a new trend in scriptwriting that will bring in the gamer demographic? (Am I only noticing this because these examples are more obvious than past shows?)

(Note: do people really say “video games” anymore? I’d think the people that design all the audio would start feeling left out.)

(Double extra bonus note: I just bought a Nintendo DS Lite – got any game or gear recommendations?)

Technorati Tags:

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

I’ll see you there.

Technorati Tags: ,



This is really just a test to see if Ecto is uploading photos now into WordPress. As you can see, it is – with sprinkly goodness! Thanks to all who made suggestions. The winning tip was to change the image upload settings in WordPress>Options>Miscellaneous for the Store uploads in this folder setting to leave it as it’s default of wp-content/uploads and to uncheck the Organize my uploads into month- and year-based folders option.

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.

Technorati Tags: ,

Second post with Ecto

This is my second post with Ecto, a very popular blogging tool for both Macintosh and Windows systems. So far I like the tool, but one thing is slowing me down. It either takes a very long time to upload photos, or it is trying to upload photos and there’s something wrong with Ecto, WordPress or my setup of either or both. (I don’t know if it truly takes a long time because I did a force quit to get Ecto to stop trying to upload the photos.)

Anyone know what I’m missing here? (And while I appreciate any answer that includes linking in pictures via Flickr instead, that’s not what I’m asking, but thanks.)

Technorati Tags: , ,

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:


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.