Archive for November, 2007
It has been a busy week. My last post ended with me about to leave to get my new pc. Unfortunately I listened to Arwen without double checking and the store was closed. You would think I’d know Arwen a bit better by now and double check these things. I guess another lesson has been learned So no pc for us on Saturday. We didn’t have the graphics card yet anyways so it wasn’t a disaster but still frustrating to drive so far to the store for nothing.
On Sunday I went over the Arwen’s again to play some board games. We started with Risk (but I was soon defeated because I was attacked by Arwen in a cowardly fashion, you’d think he’d feel sorry for the day before but noooooooo :p ). After that we played a game of CIA, a very simple, yet entertaining board game. I might buy it myself for when we have people over who aren’t big on boardgames and just want to play something without having to memorize 20 pages of rules first.
So on Monday I finally went to pick up my pc. For a while I doubted what to name it, like my previous computers it had to be named after a Star Destroyer. I was doubting between Pulsar and Vanguard, but decided to go with the latter in the end. It just sounds cooler
On Tuesday it was time again for a Queaso Get Together. This time the topic was XNA, basically game programming in .NET. It was interesting, yet I had seen a lot in previous presentations I went to on the topic, but that was to be expected. It was still cool to go though, I saw Thomas there, a colleague from Alphanet from a few years back. Hadn’t seen him in ages.
A while ago I went to look at the house construction and ruined my shoes in the mud, so I needed new ones. So on Wednesday I met up with Arwen at the Makro (giant store here in Belgium) for a bit of a shopping spree. In the end we didn’t find any shoes, but they did have the Stargate 10 Seasons DVD Box ! I really, really wanted to buy it, but with the house and all it’s not really possible at the moment. It’s 220 Euro, which is still only 22 Euro a season so not too bad, but too much to pay right now in 1 go. Who knows, maybe Santa will decide I’ve been extra good this year (HINT, HINT, HINT ). I did buy a backpack for my laptop and a new mouse for my pc.
Yesterday was the big day ! The graphics card finally arrived. Customs took its sweet time. It has been such a hassle to get this card. Let me give you the short version.
Arwen, Jan and I all wanted to get the Geforce 8800GT video card for our new pc. This card is really new and therefore hard to get. We ordered 3 of them from a store here in Belgium. Unfortunately the store kept pushing back the delivery date. Arwen got fed up with this and canceled all our cards on the Belgium store (he couldn’t cancel them separately) and ordered them on Ebay from some guy in the UK (who, to Arwen’s defense, had really good feedback).
The guy shipped the cards and we noticed they came from China and not the UK as stated. We told him that this would result in a lot of import taxes. He claimed that wouldn’t be the case and if it did he would pay for them. To make a long story short, we were right and the cards were stopped by customs and import tax had to be paid. At that point the guy refused to pay all of it. We now have the cards and are happy because they work, but we still need to see what we can do to get at least some money back.
In any case, yesterday I put my computer together since I had all the pieces and have been installing it since. So far everything works nicely, but I’ll need to do some more testing tonight because most of my time so far has been taken up by formatting my new disks.
The weekend should be just as busy. Katrien and I will no doubt visit the house to take some new pictures and on Sunday there is finally a LAN party planned I’m really looking forward to that one !
Here’s a picture of Vanguard:
They have begun construction on the second floor. Awesome news ! We had a short meeting with the construction company and they told us that if all goes well (it won’t but there’s always hope no ? ), the roof will be finished before the end of the year. That means we can soon start putting in the electricity. Pictures of this week can be found here.
Vanessa, a friend of Katrien’s, came over on Wednesday. She is the owner of the stables where Katrien goes horseback riding. I have to make a site for those stables somewhere in the near future so she came by to discuss the details I’ll put up a link when it’s finished.
On Thursday I hosted the monthly poker game, as usual we had quite some laughs. Before dinner we started with some Wii games, it had been a while since I last played on it. Tom4 joined us this time for the first time, but his beginner’s luck didn’t last long. The big winners this time were Kristof and Sven (again). As you can probably guess I wasn’t lucky this time either, losing most of my money in 1 hand. Oh well, maybe I’ll do better next time
In half an hour I’m leaving to pick up my new pc, I’m very curious how it’ll go Unfortunately the graphics card hasn’t arrived yet and is still at customs. I should be getting it next week and then I’ll be good to go. I really hope they arrive soon though after all the hassle I had to go through. Next weekend the guys and I will have a LAN party to celebrate if it arrives on time
Good news on the house front. The ground floor is almost completed. They put up the ceiling on Wednesday. It’s starting to look nice, pictures can be seen here. Earlier this week when I went to check out the progress, I stepped outside and sank into the mud until my knees … needless to say my shoes are ruined. I guess I should have listened to Kristof’s advice about bringing boots
The rest of the week was ok. Last Sunday I went to Arwen’s to play another game of poker. It was fun and didn’t go as badly as the previous one. On the last round everyone went all in and Arwen won, so he found himself 20 Euro richer This week I’m having some other friends over for the monthly game. Katrien might be home though (even though it’s a guy’s evening) because her back still hurts from falling off her horse a while ago and the doctor said she can’t go to work for the next week. Maybe we can convince her to play along (doubtful ).
On Monday I went to the dentist for a yearly checkup. It had been like 4 years ago so I suppose you can’t really call it that. But every time I go I’m told that everything is fine, so I stopped going. Under ‘slight’ pressure from Katrien I went along with her, she had found a dentist in the town we live now. I have to say, I’m pleased with her choice. The dentist is very friendly and talks like she’s known you for ages and that helps people relax. She’s also cute so that doesn’t hurt either On the other hand she is quite … diligent. She gets to work and doesn’t stop for a second until she’s done, pain or no pain. At least it goes faster that way
The new computer is coming closer as well. We have all the parts except the new graphics cards, which is still somewhere in the air. But by next weekend we should be good to go !
Today I went to visit Johan, it had been a while since I last saw him. Turns out he has this awesome massage chair, they put me in it for 15 minutes and man … I have got to get me one of those ! So all you people who are still looking to get me something for Christmas, here’s an idea
I’ve put a link to add comments at the bottom of every post. It should be more obvious now how you can leave a note. It’s always fun for me to read so don’t be shy There’s no need to register (do mention your name though).
This was probably the most normal day of the week. Went to some of the sessions and when there wasn’t anything interesting going on we did a hands-on lab. We had seen some nifty stuff going on with Microsoft Virtual Earth so we wanted to give it a shot. Both Nico and I started the lab about it and started programming. However when we came to the point where we should see Virtual Earth on our screens, they remained black. After asking some of the ‘experts’ there we figured it out ourselves. There was no internet connection and this lab required it (obviously). Real smart of them to put that lab up there then After that fiasco, I decided to do a LINQ lab instead. It was pretty basic but nice. I still don’t know how I feel about LINQ. It could be cool or it could be bad, but most likely I’ll wait to use it until the caching is implemented.
In the evening we went to the harbor to have a drink and met up there with one of Stijn’s friends who was also at the convention. After that we went to the restaurant where we ate on Monday. There was a giant queue again and we didn’t feel like waiting so we explored the city a bit, looking for something else. We found a nice little restaurant in an alley, and the food was quite good. The only bad thing was that Stijn’s food had a lot, and I do mean a lot, of garlic. Poor Nico who had to sleep in the same room as Stijn I left the guys early (at around 11 pm) to get an early night.
The last day, so the first thing I did when I got up was pack (and I forgot my camera charger power cord !). The last couple of sessions weren’t terribly exciting, but there was one about the future of programming and computers in general. I thought that one was kind of neat, knowing how hard drives and processors are going to evolve. There was some weird stuff said too though, like whole data centers in shipping containers. So we should probably take some of it with a grain of salt
After a short bite to eat (Burger King) we hopped onto the bus to the airport. It was really busy there and we got to the gate at about the time we had to board. The flight itself was ok. I arrived home at around 11:30 pm.
As promised I uploaded the pictures of the trip. You can find them here. There’s also been a lot of things happening with Castle Jorn, but that’s for the next post
Today was quite a day. This morning I went to 2 sessions. The first one wasn’t very interesting. The second one however was given by someone who also came to Ghent earlier this year to do a session there. He’s one of my favorite speakers because he plays this song at the end. It always has something to do with the topic of the session he just gave. Today it was about unit testing. The song wasn’t as cool as his Regex song but still quite entertaining
This afternoon we skipped the sessions and instead we went sigh seeing in Barcelona. Stijn had this marvelous (yes that is sarcasm ) idea to do it by bike. So we went to the bike rental shop to get ourselves some wheels. Turns out the shop owner was Dutch, which was clear by the color of the bikes (orange) and the title of the shop ‘Budget Bikes’. They were indeed very budget, lacking proper brakes (you had to brake by paddling backwards, which isn’t very good in a crazy city like Barcelona where traffic is insane and you’ll need to brake very suddenly sometimes). Also lacking were accelerations (not sure of that English term). In other words, very Dutch (to all my friends from the Netherlands, you know I still love you but … it’s true )
So off we went to the city. First main destination was the church from Gaudi. After a bike ride through crazy Spanish traffic (I swear I almost died a couple of times :p) we arrived, and I must say, it was quite impressive.
Then we started bicycling towards Gaudi’s park. I had this feeling we weren’t going in the right direction and I told my colleagues this a couple of times. Of course they didn’t believe me, they had been here plenty of times and I hadn’t. Needless to say I turned out to be right, my infallible sense of direction never lets me down, ha ! By the time they did believe me though we had done the distance we would normally have to do to get there but in the opposite direction. Not that Stijn minded of course, being an almost professional bicycler. We set off in the right direction, which was confirmed quickly by the steep slopes. The persons who decided to a) put that park on the highest hill in Barcelona (I’ll almost say mountain but that’s because my legs hurt :p) or b) wanted to go there by bike or c) didn’t put accelerations on those bikes, should be hunted down After a long climb we finally got there though. I was quite exhausted and truth be told, had to step off my bike several times (just like Nico, but he managed to escape having his picture taken while walking ).
Gaudi’s park was quite interesting though. I’m sure my dad will be glad I went there Took quite a few pictures there. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long because it was getting dark and we wanted to get back before then. So we started on our trip back, which was downhill a lot (wiiiii). Again my sense of direction saved us from going the wrong way, but this time my colleagues were more easily convinced. Right before we arrived back at the bike shop there was a semi-naked Scotsman who tried to crawl onto my bicycle, but I managed to shake him
So as you can tell, it was quite the adventure today. I’m sure my leg muscles will be very sore tomorrow. When I get back I’m open for volunteers to give them a good massage Now we’re off to eat. I’ll try to update this again tomorrow.
I had to get up really, really early. For those of you who know me a bit, know that this is something I’m not good at. Monday morning at 3:30 am was no exception. After getting ready Nico and Stijn came to pick me up. We parked our car near the airport and hopped onto the flight. It was rather good (except it was too early :p), I managed to sleep most of the time (duh).
We arrived at the hotel at around 10:30 am I think. Unfortunately we couldn’t check in yet, so we went to the convention. That one hadn’t started either so we took a walk by the sea and grabbed a bit to eat. Lot’s of food here I don’t like, since I like plain and simple But so far I’ve always been able to find something that’s ok. The weather is also quite nice, during the day it’s hot enough to wear a t-shirt. That first day with my leather jacket I looked quite the fool
Then finally TechEd (name of the convention in case I hadn’t mentioned that yet) started with the opening speech. This year’s was mainly given by someone with a horrible accent and nobody understood a word of what he was saying, thank god he wasn’t alone One of the other guys that spoke talked about how easily it was to get Visual Studio ready for new programming languages and to prove it he demonstrated a World of Warcraft plugin writer. Needless to say I thought it looked awesome ! Good thing he did that though, I was about to fall asleep
In the late afternoon I went to a session about Silverlight (the Microsoft version of Flash). It wasn’t that interesting since I knew most of it already. The guy there did use the words ‘nifty’ and ‘wicked’ a lot just like me, and claimed it was because he came from Boston … something to keep in mind I wish I remembered where I picked that up.
For our evening meal we went to the city center. There is a restaurant there where Nico & Stijn went last year. There was a big queue of maybe 40 people in front of us. Could be more even. So we stood there for an hour or so. The food turned out to be quite good though, some of the best ribs I ever had. It’s also really cheap here. I think it was only 8 Euro for a main course !
The best news of the day is that we found a bus directly to the convention center. Yesterday we had to walk for ages to get to the subway. My feet are very grateful
The morning started out great with a session about XNA, the Microsoft gaming framework that I’m really interested in. It was a very good explanation about a simple 2D game that I’m sure I’ll be trying out myself when I get home. The next session was about LINQ, which I was a bit skeptical about but in the end decided it is a good thing after all. The afternoon sessions were not so good though, with lots of stuff I already knew.
Tonight we went to eat close to the same place we ate yesterday. The food wasn’t so good as then but it was ok. We did a lot of walking and my foot really hurts (only one of them and I have no idea what’s wrong with it, it looks fine). There were a lot of Scotsmen around also, since apparently there is a soccer match between them and Barcelona tomorrow. Needless to say, a lot of them were drunk, so we had some fun stuff to watch
That’s it for now, there’ll be pictures when I get home
One more day before I leave for Barcelona. Most of my stuff I need to take is waiting on the bed to be put into my bag. I hope there’ll be some time to visit a bit of the city but somehow I doubt it. At least I should be able to see the bare minimum when we go to grab a bite to eat in the evenings. Almost took some of my Java t-shirts (being a guy and just taking the top t-shirt from the shelf), which would probably have been a bad idea on a Microsoft Convention
I uploaded some new pictures of the house into the same gallery as last time. Next week Katrien will go there regularly to take new ones. I’m curious to see what the status will be once I’m back.
On Thursday I went to visit Arwen and the rest of the guys. Arwen and I are getting the same computer, so we were looking at that a bit. Hopefully we’ll have it in a few weeks, my current pc is dying (and it shows !) so it’s time for a new one. I couldn’t go all out with the house and all, but it should still be a good upgrade We also played a bit of poker. Unfortunately someone else made the drinks, Cointreau mixed with Schweppes. Let’s just say that therefore the alcohol percentage was quite a bit higher than what I’m used to and leave it at that
The rest of the weekend has been a bit slow. Katrien’s been out most of the time doing things with her friends from the stables. On the first day they fixed up the stables/pasture/etc. The day after they went for a ride with the horses and Katrien fell off, so she’s a bit sore and bruised, but other than that she’s fine. Afterwards they treated themselves to a nice relaxing sauna and massage, so I guess that helped too
Well I’m going to go pack, I’ll try to blog from Barcelona, but no promises