Progress on Allacrost has been a bit bumpy. My motivation went sky high after the release of our last demo because I could finally get around to fixing some things that I wasn't allowed to touch before (because it would delay the demo). I have re-written a significant portion of our engine since then. I made heavy changes to our scripting engine API and added some new features there, greatly expanded upon a very nifty SystemTimer class that makes it much easier for us to synchronize certain events, got our new audio engine up to acceptable status when it was added into our repository, greatly improved the back end for a lot of the battle code, added some small but very cool new features to map mode, and for the past month I've been re-designing a large part of the video engine. The video engine is especially frustrating to me, because the person who did most of the work on it in the past ignored my pleas to make its foundation solid and well featured, and instead moved right onto doing things like a particle engine and distortion meshes. The code he wrote was also not consistent with our code standard, not commented well, and generally had some major design faults. Anyway, I and some others have been working our tails off to finally fix all those things, and we're getting close. But because of all this engine work that we have done, we've greatly delayed our next release. So that sucks, but this had to be done sooner or later so at least its over with. We've also had to address shortages in our programming team as some of our core people haven't been available for several weeks (some even months), and that also really hurt our progress.
Now back to real life. Unfortunately sometime in late July I think, I stopped going to the gym and working out. I didn't intend for it to happen, but I just started getting bored working out alone all the time. I really need to find a group of people that I can train and possibly compete with regularly for me to commit myself to being active again. It also didn't help that I had a major eczema breakout on my hands and feet for about a month or more. First I got it on my hands, then it subsided and went to my feet (where I lost so much skin that sometimes I couldn't walk without limping), then it resurfaced on my hands again, and now finally its mostly gone on my hands, but I think my feet are breaking out once more. Seriously, it blows. I've been applying prescription cream I got from the dermatologist a few years ago and also a therapeutic lotion, but they haven't helped much. And what makes my condition even worse is physical contact with cardboard, which dries out my skin even further.
But contact with cardboard couldn't be avoided, because in mid September my roommate and I moved to a new house that he bought, along with one of my roommate's friends who moved in as well. The day where we did most of the heavy moving was the worst; by night my hands were so red that they looked like big stoplights (remarked a girl who helped us move). And getting cleaning agents on my hands by accident when cleaning the old house really didn't help the situation either. But anyway, the new house is awesome and I love it. My major complaint with the old house was the upstairs was always 15 degrees hotter than the downstairs, no matter what the thermostat was set to. My computer room was upstairs, thus I was hot and bothered most of the time at the old house. I also now have one big room instead of two small rooms, and the rent is 66% of what it used to be, so I'm happy about the move in every aspect.
I continued to be lazy and uninspired about finding a job for the first couple of months since my last post. Mostly because I couldn't find any jobs that I read the description and said "I want to do that!". I used the sites dice.com and eventually also monster.com to try and find my ideal job, but didn't have much luck there. I really wanted to work at nVidia because I'm interested in graphics and GPUs (mostly because I know hardly anything about them), so I put most of my effort to applying there. It took them like a month to finally contact me after I had applied online, called the local Austin office several times (and got a voice recording), and had a couple people that work there that I vaguely know submit my resume. My first phone interview with them was just basically a "placement" interview for them to figure out what I was interested in doing. To pass that step, I had to complete a coding homework assignment that they gave me that involved generating and freeing aligned memory addresses in C. Next I had a nother phone interview that went pretty well I thought. They granted me a third on-site interview (which was still not the final interview!), but I blew it on that one. The guy went straight to the white board with me and asked technical questions (I don't think he even read my resume). I was asked to reverse the order of words in a C string without using any temporary storage, and I totally screwed that one up; partially because I'm not used to low-level C stuff like that, and partially because I prepared to be interviewed by the CUDA group which I was told I would be, but instead was interviewed by the OS X OpenGL driver group (I don't know OS X, OpenGL, nor driver programming BTW, so I was basically screwed before I got there). So that was somewhat depressing, but I got over it.
Next I interviewed at National Instruments, where my roommate works. My first on-site interview there went well, and they invited me back for a second interview to last (nearly) the full day. At the same time I also had a phone interview with PayPal that went well, but I really didn't want to work for them because I feel that they are an unethical company and that's a big red X in my book (poor ethics is the same reason I didn't want to work for Intel). My full day interview at NI was excellent, and I was elated to be asked C++ questions instead of low-level C or general programming questions (C++ is my biggest strength by far, thanks to Allacrost and my thesis). They gave me an offer which I accepted, and my first day of work is tomorrow. I actually managed to remain unemployed for about 11 months (and I'm just about out of money now.....I payed rent with an IOU note), but I'm glad to be going back to work. Hopefully something there will inspire me and get my excited about what I'm doing with my life again. I'll be working in the Instrument Control group doing low level device driver development it seems, so I'm happy to be doing a different type of programming than what I already do every day (high-level application development).
And so that is pretty much my life for the past four months. Hopefully my next post here will come before 2008 ;)