Activate3D is live

•October 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The startup that I’m working at, Activate3D, is going to be on CNN’s the Big I today at 1:40pm. Our website is also live at We are really excited!

Really cool paper from MS Research

•August 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A few years ago at TED, MS showed off something called Photosynth. It was an application that discovered correspondences between images submitted by end users and build them into a sort of 3 dimensional point cloud that allowed you to see how the pictures related to each other in 3D space. It was obvious where they were eventually going, which was to create 3D scans of environments from crowdsourced data. This paper has an update on how their research is going.

One Month In and Still Loving It

•August 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Just wanted to shoot out a quick update. I’ve been at Activate3D for a month now and am enjoying it greatly. The team is firing on all cylinders and we’ve already made some great progress on problems that I thought would be stumpers from the outset. I can’t wait until we can show more people what we’ve been working on.

Now on Facebook

•July 16, 2010 • 1 Comment

I finally gave in and created a Facebook profile. I know, I’m one of the last people on the internet to do so.

Southern Fried Agile Conference

•July 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Just saw this on the feed for the Agile Alliance LinkedIn group:

This month is going to be crazy for me, but I thought some readers might be interested in attending and networking.

Speakers and Talks:

Mike Cottmeyer – Getting Started with Agile
Bill Gainennie – All That You Need to Know is that It’s Possible
Joe Little – What’s Lean Got to do with it?
Dennis Stevens – Using Agile and Lean to Lean Business Transformation

Paul and Ian Culling – Intro to Collaborative Chartering and Story Mapping
Bill Krebs – 10 Years of Scrum Meetings
Jared Richardson – Agile Testing Strategies
Mike Cottmeyer – How to Own a Really Big Complex Product

My new love affair with Atlassian

•July 7, 2010 • 2 Comments

One of my first tasks at Activate3d was to get us set up with the software stack that lets us get head’s down into engineering. At Emergent we cobbled together a system from DevTrack, Excel, CCTray, and TWIKI. None of them were designed to interoperate well. CCTray was the best of the lot, largely in part to Dave Boss constantly keeping it in line. DevTrack in particular was the bane of our existence. It was chosen because it was “the standard in the games industry” and we should try and stick to what our customers used. We ultimately shoehorned it into being a planning tool thanks to Katie McGovern’s Excel spreadsheet hackery, but it’s UI was riddled with oddities and annoyances that just made it a bear to work with. The TWIKI system was internal and fell into the problem that most internal wiki’s face, they need constant gardening to keep from going off into the weeds.

I’d heard tell of a tool suite that was designed to work well together and was the backbone of another successful middleware team’s workflow. I was concerned that its licensing cost would be prohibitively expensive for a scrappy startup like Activate3d. That product suite is from Atlassian. It turns out that they are incredibly startup friendly, offering 10-user licenses to each of their major products for $10. What a smart way to get new companies to take a look at your software and get vendor lock-in! When we get to the point that we have 10 active users, we’ll easily be able to afford the $5k in licensing costs that we’ll incur. They also have a reasonably priced all-in cloud hosted deal that we might have investigated if our requirements didn’t ultimately need us to consider keeping the data and code local.

Each product works like a dream when installed using their standalone client. Getting them all to work together is a bit of a thornier topic. To this end, they’ve turned it into a mini-adventure game called “Here Be Dragons”. Completing it entitles you a t-shirt. I’ve completed the Jira, Greenhopper, and Confluence parts of the tutorial and it is quite a doozy. I made several typos and minor errors that took a bit to find and fix. However, I am bound and determined to earn my t-shirt by the end of this week.

Jira with Greenhopper looks to be a real time-saver and the rest of the team has already started to smile as many of us recall the frustration that we’ve endured in the past with DevTrack. Confluence will hopefully be valuable, but its long-term value will be based on how well we maintain it. I’m hoping that Bamboo turns out to be as good as CCTray was, but we can easily revert to CCTray if we need to. I’m still in the honeymoon phase of this relationship, but I have to say that this is feeling comfortable already.

Farewell Emergent, Hello Activate3D

•June 26, 2010 • 1 Comment

This past Thursday was my last day at Emergent Game Technologies. After nearly 10 years and 16 releases, it was definitely a tough decision to leave. I’ve always referred to the team at Emergent as my second family. I’ve been blessed with incredible mentors, peers that challenged me to grow, and younger engineers that taught me way more than I ever taught them. Everyone should be as lucky as I have been.

Over the past few months, I’ve definitely felt a need to try something new and a little more entrepreneurial. On Monday I start my new job at Activate3D. It is still too soon to talk about what we will be doing. I’ll be getting back into writing code, which will be exciting. I’ll also get to work with one of my best friends, Dan Amerson, so our dynamic duo will stay together. A friend recently said, “I think Activate3D is now over the legal limit for engineering talent”. I hope that we can live up to that hype! In any event, these next few months are going to be a blast!

Relay for Life

•June 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Tonight is the first annual Relay for Life in Brier Creek at Leesville Rd High School. My wife is the co-chair, so the past few months have been a big build-up to tonight’s main event.

I’m usually not a big fundraiser, but my wife is and this event is really important to the both of us. When Renee and I first met, she was fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She beat it and our relationship grew from that early support. About two years later she had a recurrence. This time it was more severe and she had to have a bone marrow transplant. At the time the doctors told her that she couldn’t have children.

It’s now 6 or so years later and we’re married and those rough days of chemotherapy and fear are a bad memory. We also have a little girl, whose middle name “Hope” is inspired by the luminary ceremony that offers people a chance to reflect in silence for those lost at Relay.

Renee does Relay as a chance to give back for all the kindness and generosity that people showed her while she was sick. This year, she is very close to being #1, just behind one of our good friends. If you have a couple of bucks to spare, I ask that you consider giving. The tally will be done early tomorrow morning.

Renee’s donation page

Thank you!

Epic Mickey E3 Announcement

•June 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s always great when you get to see former co-workers shine. In this case, it’s Adam Creighton onstage with Warren Spector as they announce their new game, Epic Mickey.

Amazing TED Talk – Minority Report Made Real

•June 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I’ve recently become quite interested in gestural interface technology. We really do seem to be poised to take a leap and be capable of a new paradigm of HCI (human-computer interaction). This video, from a TED talk by John Underkoffler, is probably the best real-world example that I’ve seen thus far. In particular, I’d love to get my hands on the paper that he mentioned that outlined several gestures and their meaning. This vocabulary seems to be something that everyone is reinventing on the fly and could prove to be a huge barrier to entry.

The following links are ones that I’ve gathered over the past few months. There’s some really cool stuff in here, so please do some link diving. If there’s something that you know about that I haven’t found yet, I’m really interested in hearing from you.