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Archive for April, 2007

Austin BBQ

April 30, 2007 Leave a comment

i just created a custom Google Map that pinpoints nearly all of the BBQ joints in Austin. i’ve made a birthday resolution that over the next year, I will sample all of Austin’s BBQ. that’s a tall order, so i’m going to have to work at it.

today i’m going to start w/ a place right near my house called Six Napkins. i’ve never heard of it, so i hope it’s good. i’m slightly scared of the quality, as anything located on Airport Blvd. is hit or miss. regarding the name of the place, i’m assuming it’s a reference to the six flags that flew over TX: Spain, Mexico, France, Texas, USA, Confederate S.A. (hence the name for Six Flags amusement parks). either that or it’s really messy BBQ. probably both.

here is a link to my Austin BBQ Google Map – if anyone has suggestions for other places I’ve missed, please let me know.

Austin BBQ

Categories: Austin, food

there’s a ghost strap on my wrist

April 28, 2007 2 comments

it turns out that the only place in the entire city of austin that currently has any wii’s in stock is walmart. i broke down and for the first (and hopefully only) time in my life, entered into and made a purchase at a walmart store. i take some solace in knowing that they sold the system for the same price as every other location on the planet, but that didn’t help the fact that it was a walmart. the only justification is that unless i waited months for the demand to die down, there is no way that i could be assured that i could actually purchase a wii. supplies at every store i called sell out in a matter of hours, and none of them know when the new shipments arrive – they just magically appear. there is no waiting or hold list for a wii – you basically have to cold call and hope that the system is still there by the time you arrive at the store.

so anyway, i got the wii and actually managed a small degree of restraint by not setting it up until after dinner. my wife’s second bout of pregnancy exhaustion has begun following a one week period of energy, so she was wiped out by 9:30p and could only play one game of tennis. i stayed up for another 1.5 hrs playing every game on wii sports, which came bundled w/ the system (just like duck hunt came w/ the original nintendo!). tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing – my muscles are actually a bit sore. that says 2 things about both me and wii:

  1. the nintendo wii actually encourages a degree of exercise. cindy played a quick game of boxing this morning w/ me before we both started working, and she acknowledge that it got her heart rate up.
  2. i am extremely out of shape.

over the course of the day, i’ve taken 20 minute breaks from my reading to play more wii, and my forearms actually ache. i have that body tiredness that comes from a full day of activity after a long winter. my birthday present from my in-laws came in the mail today – super paper mario and zelda. my wife asked what i wanted to do tonight to celebrate my birthday (coming up in a few days). i said …wii?! she replied excitedly that she was down w/ that – she had only played one game this morning b/c she had work to do. that right there is the reason why every person on the planet should own a wii – my wife enjoys it. she is not a gamer or techie in any manner of the word, though part of my life’s mission is to change that. i jumped for joy the other day when she mentioned that using a windows pc at work every day is difficult, stupid, and irritating now that she uses a mac at home. so, macs and wiis, my friends. macs and wiis.

check out this absolutely incredible – in every way – zelda video.

Categories: media

must find nintendo wii!

April 27, 2007 5 comments

i promised myself that i’d reward myself w/ a wii when i got a job, and this past week i accepted a position that i’m pretty psyched about. but i won’t talk about work b/c i already posted about it earlier, and the important item in this post is the nintendo wii. i started getting concerned earlier this week about the availability of wii, knowing they’ve been selling like hotcakes. so i started calling around – best buy has a 3 month wait before they’re restocking. that’s what i was told, at least, when i called – i can’t believe that for a second. nonetheless, it showed that wii’s are currently hard to come by. so i called gamestop, usually a sure bet for the pulse of the gaming industry, and sure enough they had wii’s in stock. and so i put off buying one until the weekend. bad move. every single gamestop in austin is sold out of wii’s (except for the last one i called, which is selling refurbished wii’s w/o wii sports – deal breaker right there). now i’m on a calling mission to every store that might have a wii in stock. gamestop. target. fry’s. game crazy. toys ‘r’ us. even walmart. the operators keep telling me to call back in 2-3 weeks, but they obviously have no idea what waiting for a wii does to one’s psyche. only gamestop gets a weekly restock, but they don’t know which day. that makes every day a harrowing crapshoot. a certain target says that their weekly ads are advertising for wii’s this sunday, so that’s the most promising lead i have right now.

in my search for nintendo wii, i used google maps’ click to call feature.  i’ve used it before, think it’s great, can’t wait for it to be integrated w/ gmail, and let me tell you – when you’re calling 35 places w/in 10 min, an auto-pilot calling feature rocks.

Categories: media, tech

blu-ray’s gonna win next-gen dvd war

April 23, 2007 1 comment

let me preface this post by saying that the studios’ pushing of a new dvd standard once regular dvd had finally gotten hold of the market is ridiculous. nobody asked for it, nobody really wanted it, and it is the wrong format entirely (apple tv, anyone?). i’m pretty sure that toshiba and sony got together w/ the tv manufacturers (sony and toshiba) and said – “hey let’s stick a new video format on the world. it doesn’t matter that dvd is still gaining a foothold – let’s push a new round of hardware and make them all repurchase their videos – again!” so that’s how that happened. but then along the way, sony and toshiba decided to create 2 different standards. of course there’s no compromise that would make it easy on the consumer, even tho there was a brief time about a year ago where that almost happened. the last time sony attempted this, they got rocked in the vhs v. beta-max war. the difference in their winning this time around (which they will) is 2 fold.

  1. sony has (or soon will have) a huge base of ps3’s in living rooms across the world. xbox 360 is supporting hd-dvd, but that’s a separate dvd player that you need to purchase and hook up. i believe that ps3 plays blu-ray natively. either way, both ps3 and xbox 360 suck next to nintendo wii, which is whooping both of them (although oddly enough ps2 is still outselling all of the next gen consoles – who knew?)
  2. the name blu-ray is more appealing than hd-dvd. this is why i wrote this post in the first place, and it’s something i’ve mentioned to friends several times over the last 2 years. it’s as simple as the name – blu-ray is a good name, and hd-dvd is not. blu-ray is an object, hd-dvd is a video standard. blu-ray is sexy, hd-dvd is a wart. blu-ray is new, hd-dvd sounds like an update to dvd. blu-ray is exciting, hd-dvd is dull. if you had to give personalities to these ridiculous naming schemes, blu-ray would be apple and hd-dvd would be microsoft. hd-dvd – how much more unimaginative can you get?

blu-ray is outselling hd-dvd w/ 70% high-def video market share.

Categories: media, tech

taken an offer!

April 23, 2007 1 comment

fantastic – i just accepted an offer today with my top choice architecture firm here in austin. they extended the offer last week, and i was seriously contemplating the offer from my 2nd choice, but ultimately the quality of the outfit at firm#1 took the trump card. the design, engineering, and project goals are more in line with what i want to do and how i want to develop as an architect. they’re reorganizing the firm to have a more progressive design focus, and there is a major push on tech research, with relationships formed with MIT Media Lab and other outfits that i don’t yet know about. supposedly a laser cutter is in the pipeline. there is also a major focus on sustainability, which of course is extremely important to me, and my focus on sustainability likely gave me a big up in getting the job. the benefit package is really good, and they’re flexible on me taking time when my child comes into the world this november. 🙂 and not that it made a difference in my decision, but having our offices on the 22nd floor of a 23 floor bldg (one of the tallest in austin) with balconies doesn’t hurt either!

Categories: architecture, Austin, work

METRO coffee has been given a death sentence

April 18, 2007 Leave a comment

i’ve written about Metro coffee before – it was pretty much where i started drinking coffee when i started architecture school. it was conveniently located across the street from school, was open 24hrs, and had free wifi. slowly, as all the independent coffee shops on the Drag begin to wither and die, so too did my love for Metro. their coffee became brown water. they stopped staying open 24 hrs (in their defense, they claim that the smoking ban killed off most of their late night business, which is probably true). they stopped accepting credit cards – this one i can’t understand at all. the amount of money that they save in credit card transactions probably doesn’t compare to the amount of business they lost. but they’ve stayed open on that policy for over year, so i must be wrong. for all of those reasons (mostly the shite coffee and lack of credit cards), i stopped going to Metro.

aside from Metro, the only places to get coffee in walking distance of the architecture school are Starbucks at 24th st. and Java City in the Union. both are corporate coffee chains, but obviously Starbucks is the larger of the two. a few weeks ago i found out (from a Java City worker) that they’d be closing up shop this summer. why would they close up? they’re the only coffee shop in the immediate vicinity. wait for it… wait for it… b/c this summer Starbucks will be opening up in the Union, directly next door to where Java City now stands. fantastic. we will now have 2 Starbucks w/in 2 blocks of each other, and no other coffee shops in walking distance.

i only have 2 things to say to this dastardly turn of events:

  1. thank god i’m graduating next month and moving to a firm downtown where there still exist a few independent coffee shops.
  2. go read my friend’s new novel: National Darkroast Day.
Categories: Austin, food, WTF?

year of MAJOR changes

April 18, 2007 Leave a comment

what a year it’s been, and not even half over yet!  i got married in late december (i’m considering it part of this year for the sake of the major changes), have a selection of job offers from which to choose, my wife is moving to a new firm this summer, we’re looking to move into a new house by early fall, and we’re expecting our first child in november.  i have to be thankful at a time like this b/c things are going so well.  i hope they hold out like this for a long time.

Categories: family, misc., work

2nd job offer!

April 17, 2007 1 comment

i had another interview w/ my #2 choice, and it went pretty well.  they do a lot of commercial work, but it was compelling.  i’d be working on a pretty cool project, and there’s a lot of room for growth and initiative there.  the downside of the commerical work is that turnaround times are faster and there’s less time or room for intense detailing.  also, the commercial world hasn’t jumped full-on into the sustainable mindset, so it’s kind of hit/miss w/ how i might be able to design for a while.  this firm wants my knowledge and push for sustainable design, though, so they’d be utilizing me to the fullest extent possible.  my rapport w/ the principal was pretty good, and i felt very comfortable.  i left feeling good about this place.  the offer was lower than my first, but they offer overtime in addition to salary, which would put me above the $line of my first offer (based on a 40hr work week, i will obviously be working overtime).  they were also very open to me taking time off for my first child’s birth in november (!!!) as well as working from home a few days a week.

i think overall that my #1 choice still holds the trump card.  the work is more progressive and technologically driven.  they’re looking a lot into how people use the building, incorporating cutting edge technology in ambient environments, and pushing sustainability as far as possible.  i think what is holding me up is having a more definite idea of their work product and what my role will be.  i also felt a little tense during our first interview, so i want to be sure that i get along well w/ the team.  i called up and set up another interview for tomorrow.  the principal i spoke to was very nice and accomodating.

i also forgot that i have another 2nd interview next week w/ a 3rd firm.  i’ve already written them off as a #3, but still, the more offers on the table the better.  i rescheduled w/ them for tomorrow as well.  hopefully by the end of this week i’ll have made my decision about where i’ll be working – and then i will hold off until graduation before splurging on my self-congratulatory present: a nintento wii!!

first job offer!

April 16, 2007 2 comments

sweet! the interview that i thought didn’t go so well apparently went well enough that they just extended me an offer! this is one of my top 2 choices, and i would be very excited to work with this firm. the work is super cool, the location is fantastic, the benefits (which i’m waiting on via email) sound great from the first description, they’re very accommodating for family time (important, as i’m going to be a daddy soon!), and the salary is in my ballpark, albeit on the lower end (still higher, though, than the average salary for recent architecture masters grad in austin).  they’ve given me room to negotiate, though, so i should be able to get pretty much what i want.  i contacted my other #1 choice, but they’re apparently unable to make any hiring decisions until august (the austin office is moving to a new location and is also dictated by the whims of the dallas office).  they told me that i was at the top of their list, but that they’re pretty much stuck at the moment.  it was a good open-ended conversation: they told me to keep them in mind if things change, and that they’d be interested if my plans change.

so essentially that leaves me w/ an interview tomorrow w/ my #2 choice (below the other 2 i just mentioned).  i was very excited w/ my initial interview, but my second interview w/ this firm got screwed over twice w/o much contact from their end, so i’ve been a bit leary of whatever may happen w/ them.  still, they seem to do good work and are expanding.  we’ll see how tomorrow goes – but the most important thing is I’M FREAKIN PSYCHED!

Categories: architecture, Austin, work

ipod + nike = pretty sweet

April 16, 2007 Leave a comment

gearpackage20060912.pngi decided recently to start running again, as it will help tone more of my entire body than just riding my bike does. gotta get rid of that flabby belly, you know. being a tech geek, i decided to buy the ipod + nike attachment since it’s only $30. i wasn’t going to buy a pair of $100 sneakers just to make this thing work, so i started checking out some of the many DIY (do-it-yourself) solutions found online. i would have been perfectly happy doing that, had i not come across the nike outlet store at the round rock outlet mall while snapping pics for a theory paper. i needed new sneakers if i was to start running anyway, since my current pair is 3 yrs old and the shocks are likely worn out. i found the cheapest nike ipod compatible sneakers for $50 – one of the lance armstrong 10/2 sneakers.

so yesterday i read the instruction manual, transferred some of LCD Soundsystem, Muse, Lemon Jelly, Shins, and Radiohead to Cindy’s ipod nano (i couldn’t run to country, sorry), slipped the accelerometer component inside the new nike shoe, and attached the wireless component to the ipod nano. everything worked like a charm. scrolled through the menu to nike + ipod, told it to start a basic workout (open ended, instead of a timed or distance based workout) and got running.

this was my first run in years, so despite the fact that i warmed up and stretched, my legs still felt really tight. i ran around the neighborhood and around the UT Intramural Fields. it was so much nicer to run on grass instead of concrete. i started remembering some of my techniques / mindsets from when i ran cross-country back in high school. the only problem was that this time i was listening to music. i honestly am not too sure about listening to music while i run – which is obviously a big component of the this nike + ipod kit. i think part of my enjoyment of running (or how i used to enjoy it) was setting the pace to a song in my head, repeating that beat/refrain, and slowing it down or speeding it up based on my gait. when listening to music, the music sets the pace. that can be good, i suppose, at keeping your speed higher rather than lower, but the music would have to keep the same beat. the nike + ipod can be set to not play music and just track your running, so the whole point could be moot – it will still allow you to play your powersong, though, which is essentially a preset song of your choosing that’s meant to give you that extra mental boost when you’re running your last straightaway (or whatever).

an equally great component of this nike + ipod thing, aside from tracking your pace, distance and calories burned for the entirety of your workout, is the online community. the first time you sync back to itunes after using nike + ipod, it asks you to register w/ the nike + ipod website. once you do that, all of your stats are sent to and maintained at this website. you can draw and track your running routes through the embedded google maps interface. you can browse workout song collections (of course you can buy them on itunes as workout imixes). you can browse all of your runs – and it even gives you a line graph of each runs progress charting speed v. distance. you can browse other people’s stats, and view who has run the most or the fastest or whatever else by week, month, or ever. you can look for a partner to compete w/ anywhere in the world. you can set personal goals – my first goal is to run a 7:35 mile at least 5 times in a month. i’m that out of shape – granted i slowed to a walk for a minute or so mid-run, but my average mile on this 2 mile run was over 11 min.

there are loads of other features, and it’ll probably take me a little bit of time to fully appreciate how this works and to acclimate myself to the workout. the nike + ipod is a great attachment at the very least for tracking your progress – better than a cheap accelerometer and an excel spreadsheet b/c of the tools found w/in the online community.

Categories: health, music, web