Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let's get this fire started!

Nice..... it is cold and snowing outside, so the perfect moment to try out the fireplace that came with the apartment. Don't worry: it is pretty safe, as we have both a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. Amy and I are settling into our new routines with Annelies. It's harder on Amy than for me, but fortunately Annelies can sleep longer stretches during the night. Last night, five hours or so. Annelies behaves well when we go out. Last night we took her to a poker party at a friend's house, and she slept through pretty much all of it. Bram ranked 3 out of 11 players, not bad.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Births

I have two important birth announcements to make. First there is the birth of a lovely girl named Annelies. And then there is the birth of my private enterprise called stolk.org which offers iOS development services. Exciting times ahead for me, I am sure.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Strolling

This is for strolling with the baby. I thought I would go for the walker, but I compromised, and we got the red one instead. Seven more weeks to go. If it does end up a 10-10-10 baby, then not only would the baby have a binary date of birth, it would have the binary date of birth (101010 in binary is 42 in decimal). Also, the pictures are from my new iPhone4 in HDR mode. For a phone camera, they are pretty good, even in low light conditions.




Monday, September 6, 2010

Jump Daisy Jump is nearing completion.

Almost done with Jump Daisy Jump. Here is a video of the gameplay.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

And it has a name: Jump Daisy Jump.

So... the project is coming together slowly. It's time to reveal some more details of my new project. The name is Jump Daisy Jump. Star of it all is an hapless dairy cow Daisy. And yes... she is on springs. Like the little tank that could this game is heavily based on Physics Simulation. In the case of Jump Daisy Jump that would be spring physics. The game is as much fun as it looks. This time I think I will try the ad-supported revenue model, so the basic game will be free. It will be available for iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sneak Preview

A sneak peek at my new project, which I started today. Are you getting curious? Then keep an eye out on this blog, and see what this iPhone/iPad/iPod app will be all about. The still secret title will be revealed soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Performance Tracking

To track the performance of The little tank that could attends Panzer Class in different markets, see below. According to igamestats, it was even the nr 1 free iPad game in Russia for two days... hoorah!

topappcharts.

igamestats

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crib

As of today, we have a crib in our nursery. Amy and I are getting ready for the big event. We've been attending Pregnancy Classes to prepare for it. I'm still scared, but less so. We've also managed to find a nice stroller. And what do you know... it's Dutch Design optima forma. Many thanks to the grandparents who helped us to buy this fancy smancy stuff. Nothing is too good for this future Dutch Canadian Girl. I guess we'll put the remainder of the baby money into a savings account to pay MIT tuition in 2028. Or will University in Holland still be government paid at that time? Amy insists that I speak Dutch with the baby, and that the baby gets two passports.

So about the baby: a girl, due October 29. But as they told us in Pregnancy Class: there is no due-date, more of a due-month. So secretly I hope on a 10-10-10 baby with a binary birth date. The baby moves around a lot inside Amy, and health checks have been good so far.

- Bramy

Friday, July 16, 2010

Set of wheels

I saw this awesome set of wheels in Vancouver. The police force was doing a charity event, so I made a deal with an officer: I donate to the charity, and they let me get behind the wheel of this Ford Mercury. It has a manual gearbox but the shifting is done at the steering wheel, not on the floor.


Vancouver in Oranje

In Vancouver heerste er ook een flinke WorldCup fever. Door de vele nationaliteiten die hier aanwezig zijn zitten de bars vol tijdens de wedstrijden. Het feestje voor expats in Vancouver tijdens de finale was zo populair, dat het niet mogelijk was om binnen te komen. Het zag Oranje van de Nederlanders. Vlak voor de finale kwam ik Miguel tegen, mijn Spaanse ex-collega, dus dat was een mooie photo-op zoals ze dat hier noemen. Tevens op de photo: Bram pruilend na verlies, en Bram en Slavica voor het feestje van het consulaat.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Star Wars in Concert

Niets is zo overweldigend voor een 12 jarig jongetje als de Star Wars saga. In 1982 zag ik samen met mijn broer Robbert een dubbele vertoning van van Star Wars a new hope en the Empire strikes back in het Corso Theater in Castricum. Ik wist niet wat me overkwam. Sindsdien heeft de magie van de cinema me ooit nog zo kunnen overrompelen als toen. Een belangrijke bijdrage in de onderdompeling van het Star Wars universum was in de vorm van de muziek. De genialiteit van John Williams is niet veel minder dan die van George Lucas. Wat betreft George Lucas: ik heb altijd een hekel gehad aan die hetze die het publiek ging ontwikkelen omdat Phantom Menace niet Star Wars waardig zou zijn. Dit vind ik onzin. Phantom Menace is een goede film, en natuurlijk is de indruk van de film op een volwassene niet te evenaren als de indruk van het orgineel op het kind. Als de films in omgekeerde volgorde waren uitgebracht, dan had een flink aantal waarschijnlijk a New Hope verguisd.

Ik heb vanavond Star Wars in Concert bijgewoond in het Hockey Stadion hier in Vancouver. Gepresenteerd door Anthony Daniels, met een volledig symphonie orkest en koor. Wat een genot om die muziek live aan te horen, vergezeld met beelden uit Star Wars. Mocht de toer ook Europa aandoen, dan is mijn advies om dit zeker te gaan bekijken.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Burgerplicht

Wel, ik heb zojuist aan mijn burgerplicht voldaan. Daar ik nog niet bevoegd ben om mijn stem uit te brengen voor de Canadese verkiezingen, heb ik gestemd voor de tweede kamer verkiezingen in Nederland. Per post gaat mijn stem naar Den Haag. Zoals immer, stem ik puur op het programma, met de hulp van de stemwijzer. Blijkbaar is mijn gedachtengoed niet optimaal vertegenwoordigd in de politiek, want de partij waarvan het program het meest met mijn idee├źn strookt, heeft slechts 20 matches op 30 stellingen. Ik ben het verst verwijderd van Groenlinks en de piratenpartij met 7 matches uit 30.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fit

Is it me, or are the people in Vancouver just more fit than the average person? 50000 people are doing the Sun Run, including Amy's sister, Amy's best friend and a bunch of my Slant Six colleagues. I tried to spot Ben, who got seeded, from my balcony, but failed to catch him. However, here are some nice pictures I took. I really like the one of the shadows. It's a somewhat reversed from what you expect: the shadows are in normal perspective, and the people themselves are from a strange angle.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Liberated

It was 65 years ago that thousands of Canadians gave their lives so that my parents, both born under nazi occupation during WWII, would be able to grow up in a free and safe Netherlands. The Netherlands is deeply indebted to all the allied forces, but it was the Canadians that were given the task of liberating Holland. One such soldier who embarked on a long voyage from Canada to Europe to fight in Arnhem is depicted in this picture. I admire their braveness, their tenaciousness and their achievements. I hope I would have at least half their courage if I were ever to be in their shoes. For now, all I can do is gladly pay my taxes for an ever improving Canada, which has provided me with a wonderful new home. The True North strong and free.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another beautiful evening in English Bay

What a beautiful spring evening in Vancouver today. English Bay is looking its finest. People are flocking to the seawall. Amy and I will probably move out of the neighbourhood soon, to get something bigger and more affordable. The west end, and English Bay in particular is my favorite part of Vancouver, but I'm sure we'll find something nice south of False Creek. We will definitely be renting again, as the housing market has not crashed here yet. I've heard that the disparity between house prices and incomes is nowhere so large as here. A hard hitting housing crash is exactly what is needed here. Last weekend I visited a condo tower near UBC called the Wesbrook that was selling two bedroom apartments for 1.4M dollar. Maybe a Hong Kong businessman can afford this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Touch Flags


Just submitted to the app store and available soon: my latest iPad game Touch Flags. It is a flag pop quiz, with amazingly realistic multi touch interaction. You can drag, pinch, stretch, flip, fold and swirl the flags. It's so realistic, you can almost feel the cloth.

A nice thing about this puzzle game is that it is highly educational. Playing a few games will quickly give you expert knowledge on the flags of the world.

I am really proud of this game, I think it's a killer application of the 10 finger multitouch functionality of the iPad.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Superhero

I never got into superheroes all that much. So personally, I would not pick 'kick ass' as a movie to see. But Amy's colleagues were going there, and I was invited. Man... that movie is awesome. And as a bonus, I had a nice 'fiction meets reality' moment. In the movie, the bad guy goes to the cinema. Guess what cinema he goes to... the VERY SAME cinema I am at that very moment sitting in, watching that movie. How freaking weird is that? I can recommend the movie... funny as hell, a lot of suspense, and just very well made.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pixels

Wow.... this video is an amazing piece of work. Everyone growing up in the digital age will be able to relate to it.

In the other news: last weekend I went to Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood Washington to pick up an Apple iPad. Amy and I took the Amtrak train from Vancouver, heading to Seattle. The Amtrak station in Edmonds has some historic items on display. Railroads have such a rich history in the United States, opening up the continent to the pioneers and new settlers. It's a shame that the US railroads have been ignored by the car owning masses and the governments alike. It's a shadow of what it once was. It deserves a better fate, because it can be very comfortable. I remember an Amtrak ride from New Orleans to Memphis, when we had a nice juicy steak dinner, white tablecloths and silverware included, on board of the train. And because the ticket was bought months in advance, it was unbelievably cheap.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My bid to AMD's 48 cores

This is my entry to AMD's challenge to use a 48-core computer.

OpenGL shading, DirectX rendering, Toy Story, Jurassic Park, Call of Duty graphics, ray tracing... it is all child's play, stuff from the minor-league when it comes to high quality rendering. These render methods are all very crude approximations of what light actually does. To do a faithful simulation of light, you need to solve what CG scientists call 'the Rendering Equation'.

The best known method for solving this is Henrik Wann Jensen's Photon Mapping algorithm. The concept is downright simple. Unlike ray tracing, where rays are fired from the eye into the scene, Photon Mapping shoots photons from the light sources into the scene. In a post process step, the scene is sampled for photon distribution. So how many photons are we talking here? Well, typically between 100M and a billion to get a noise-free high quality image. And after doing all that work, what does it yield? Well, you get things like Caustics, Diffuse Inter-reflections and Soft Shadows not obtainable by conventional render methods. The images below will illustrate my point (taken from Henrik's web site.)

In the field of parallel computing, a class of problems is designated as 'embarrassingly parallel'. Those problems are easy to divide up in chunks that can de computed independently from each other. Ray tracing is an example of a problem in this class. However, Photon Mapping is just as embarrassingly parallel, maybe even more so. When shooting let's say 480M photons into a 3D scene, it will be as simple as giving each core 10M photons each. After generating those 48 maps with photons, each can be sampled (with final gathering) independently, as there is no need to merge the maps. The combining of results can be performed in screen space (pixel basis).

Generating these physically correct images can typically take many hours per single image. A parallel algorithm will exhibit near linear speed ups. This means that 48 cores will render the same image almost 48 times faster than a single core would. In my previous job, I worked at the SARA super computing centre. While working there, I had access to 128 core Itanium and 512 core MIPS super computers. These were not clusters, but real shared memory supers, with all those processors running under a single OS image. During an occasional idle time, after work hours, I would test my photon mapping implementation, and I can confirm that Photon Mapping indeed scales linearly, even with a lot of cores thrown at it.

To summarize... if I had access to a 48 core machine, I would use it to investigate how feasibly it is to do Photon Mapping at more interactive rates at low photon count, and low screen resolutions.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vancouver exploded in celebrations

Vancouver and Canada love the Olympic Games. But there is one thing they love above all: the game they call their own: Hockey, or as it is known in the Netherlands: ijs hockey. The town exploded when Canada clinched the gold in overtime. We took a short bath in the crowd on Granville street. Vancouver is in ecstasy over this win. It reminded me of the 25th of june 1988 in the Netherlands. The game against the USA was a lot of fun to watch. Judging from the Canadian player names, there could be quite a few with Dutch and German ancestry playing for Canada today.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Meeting the Prime Minister

The Ambassador invited me for drinks and meet the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. That was such a big honour, I even got to shake his hand. I tried to shoot a picture of myself and the Prime Minister. It's my face in the foreground of the picture. There was also a professional photographer, so maybe I can get hold of a better picture. The PM made a nice speech, with some good jokes. He even made a really nice adlib joke to a heckler on Carnaval being a Catholic contribution to Dutch culture, not suited for a Protestant.

A big surprise moment was when the Prime Minister introduced the two times winner of the Elf Stedentocht Evert van Benthem, who is now a cattle farmer in Canada. On the picture, you can see him wearing his cowboy hat. He got a big round of applause of course, from the expats. I am now watching the opening ceremony, and am getting in the Olympic mood. On Sunday I will visit the Holland Heineken house, and the week after that I will be there watching the 1500m speed skating on the big screen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Olympic Flame has arrived

This evening, while watching the US version of the Office on TV, I was suddenly surprised by cheering people outside, and a motorcade with police escort. So we decided to take a look on the balcony. And what do you know... the Olympic Flame was being brought in over the Burrard bridge. That bright spot on the bridge you see in the picture is the flame. At the down town side, the flame was exchanged with the next relay runner. So it's really starting now. Tomorrow is the opening ceremony. I wonder whether they managed to get Grouse Mountain ready with some snow. I heard there was talk of flying in snow with helicopters. Well, that heli I saw at boundary bay would sure be big enough for the job.

Tevens wil ik van de gelegenheid gebruik maken om Niels, Jelmer, Linette, Marco, Henny, Gerard, Jeanne, Jan, Ard, Anna, Stan en Truus te bedanken voor hun verjaardagskaartje!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Innercity beauty

This video reminds me on how beautiful downtown Vancouver can be at night. Even after living here for only three years, I already take much of its appeal for granted. Now if we only could get some snow, we can give the world a proper welcome for the 2010 Olympics. Enjoy the video, it is available in HD, although my Mac Mini was too slow to play the full 1080 resolution. In case your computer struggles too, try the 720p version.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Permanent Resident

As of this Saturday, Bram is a Permanent Resident of Canada. This means that I no longer need a work permit to live and work here. It's nice that I do not have to worry about visa's or permits now. Permanent Residency is a portal to full Citizenship. However, getting a Canadian passport would mean losing my Dutch passport, so it may make sense to stay a resident instead of upgrading to citizen. Even if it means not voting here in Canada.

In the other news: there is now a FREE version of the little tank that could, aptly named the lite tank that could. Three brand new levels with fun challenges. You can get it at the appstore. I'm curious to see what it will do to the sales of the full version. Hopefully the LITE version is enticing enough to get people hooked on this new concept of Panzer Puzzles. I tried some promotion at the slide to play forums and the forums of touch arcade.