Thursday, 14 March 2013

CeBIT and IEM 2013

So, last week I went to CeBIT, which is, according to Wikipedia at least, "the world's largest and most international computer expo". It's held in Hannover, so conveniently I could stay with md, skipping the faff and expense of trying to find a hotel to stay in.

Travel was reasonably straightforward, though neither Ryanair nor EasyJet seem to fly from anywhere convenient to Hannover direct, so I had to fly to Bremen and then get the train across. Everything went moderately OK, aside from trying to pay for a tram ticket from the airport to Bremen Hbf, as the ticket machine didn't accept anything bigger than a €10 note and as a fresh-faced tourist I only had twenties. As it happened there was a fairly friendly German guy who swapped me some change and also chatted to me on the tram ride.

CeBIT itself was huge. That said, there was a huge amount of serious business IT stuff that I really didn't care for (CRM software, anything SAP, etc). A lot of it is business-orientated, whilst for the most part we were interested in consumer electronics type stuff, so several of the halls we just breezed through pretty quickly.

There were some interesting items, like a company specialising in bamboo computer peripherals (and bamboo as in the wood, not Wacom tablets)

Lian-Li (PC case manufacture) had some fairly novel stuff too

As well as an absolute behemoth of a PC case

The thing was huge. There was a whole section of it where we had no idea what would actually go in there. Or why you'd ever reasonably need a PC case that big.

Loads of Chinese companies were floating around, selling iPhone cases and really tacky gaming mice/keyboards and the like. Also some more interesting Asian things, like Korean robots:

They danced Gangnam Style, obviously. They also have a super Engrishy website. The expert kits cost $1500 though, which seemed a bit pricey for a Christmas present.

There were plenty of 3D printers on display too. A year ago I'd have probably drooled over them, but most of them were pretty ghetto and cheap replicator-type kits for home use, meaning anything they produced was pretty naff compared to the stuff we get off the Objet at work (I'm a 3D printer elitist now, apparently)

Also touch display everything. EVERYTHING. Even touch display air:

As part of CeBIT there's also the gaming hall, home to stuff like previews of the new Tomb Raider release, eye-tracking gaming control software demos, and also the Intel Extreme Masters World Championships, which is where we spent most of our time once we'd seen everything else.

We almost exclusively paid attention to the StarCraft II section, rather than the League of Legends one (because LoL is for nubs and douchebags, obviously).

With $100k prize money IEM is pretty big as tournaments go, and this was also the first proper tournament to have the Heart of the Swarm expansion (released this week) included. Plus it was the first time I've ever seen major eSports stuff live, rather than on internet streams (or GSL in the tiny studio it's filmed in), so that aspect was cool. My inner nerd was happy.

There's the weird aspect too of the players mingling in the crowd between games. I randomly bumped into Stephano (the best EU player, by earnings if not also general opinion) whilst buying a hot-dog, and the segregation between the crowd and the stage/players areas was pleasantly minimal.

As expected the Koreans dominated, and all of the top four were from the Korean, LG-sponsored Incredible Miracle team. A lot of the games were pretty intense though, and it was cool to see how strategies and gameplay developing through the tournament at a pro level with the new expansion units and abilities.

Outside CeBIT the evenings were mostly spent chilling and watching movies (including Fargo, both Total Recall films, the ridiculous Shaolin Soccer, The Shawshank Redemption - probably my favourite film of all time after Pulp Fiction). And md had a cold and muf had a cold, so naturally by the end of the week I left sniffling and sneezing too.

And there was snow. In fricking March.

But yeah, all in all was a good week. Had fun, and it was also nice to get some time off work and blast through some stuff on my Kindle during travelling too (now just over halfway through the 3rd A Song of Ice and Fire book).

Sunday, 3 March 2013


The last nine months or so have not been the first time that I've not made posts to this thing in a while, but they are almost certainly the longest drought. And after every drought, I'll make a post coyly suggesting that I might make more posts on here, but not promising anything. Well not this time. This time I'm promising stuff. Maybe I'll have to handcuff myself to the desk until I write something (like that would help - I'd still be able to Facebook and play DotA perfectly fine), but more posts will get written.

It's kind of neat that since I stopped posting people have actually picked up on it - it kind of showed to me that people did actually read it. Or maybe they had just noted that it was no longer getting spammed on their Facebook pages and were actually commenting in a "Oh, you've finally decided to give up that rubbish thing?". I don't know.

I mostly stopped writing regularly because Uni life started getting way too hectic. And then a whole bunch of things happened that I wanted to write about (the UK Tetris Open and my trip to Korea, amongst others), but I had too much on at the time to do it, and then three or four weeks later it seemed like the time had gone.

The main problem I have at the moment, or have had for the last few months, is that I feel that the only interesting things going on in my life revolve around relationship stuff and personal feelings (which I won't talk about publicly on here because I don't want to), or my job.

I love my job, and it is something I genuinely find interesting and would love to bore people at length with. I attempt to do science, and that itself is typically interesting* and has a lot of cool aspects to it.

Add an oversized lab coat and this is basically my weekday life

The main issue with my job is that it's all commercially sensitive and covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements and such, and therefore I'm not allowed to talk about it. Or not to any level of detail that would actually be interesting. It also means that my nan thinks that I work developing weaponry (I don't) and that's why I can't talk about it, because she apparently doesn't understand any other reason why I'd have to be so secretive.

So yeah, maybe in two or three years when things I've worked on start getting released to market (or the projects are so dead nobody cares any more), I'll have a ton of interesting shit* that I can talk about, but that's a while off yet. But until then the fact is that I spend 45 hours a week doing something that produces next to zero potential content for this blog.

The reason I'm restarting this right now is that I go to CeBIT next week, which should have a ton of interesting things*, as well as the Intel Extreme Masters World Champs. And then a couple of weeks later I go to Barcelona with my parents (yay for holidays where I don't have to pay for everything!). Both I expect should give me some cool photos and stuff to write about, and hopefully spurn a bit of activity here.

As for beyond that, I don't know. I've recently bought a Kindle and actually started reading again, so there are things I'd potentially like to comment on there. If nothing else, I might use this to start doing things that I'd quite like to do but never actually bother with - like proper cooking/baking, maybe getting out a bit more, and all that sort of thing.

So this time, I'm committing to writing more stuff for this again. I'm not committing to what I write actually being any good, or worth reading, but eh, that's not my problem anyway.

As an aside, I'd also like to work on a new theme, because the banner is old and I'm feeling sensible enough to switch from the dodgy white-on-black theme I used to have. I'll probably slowly get around to it, but if anyone wants to help me on that and/or create graphics, I'd appreciate the support.

*May not actually be interesting to anyone who isn't me