Archive for May, 2008

Grasshopper 10th Anniversary Party

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Grasshopper 10th Anniversary Party

Grasshopper Manufacture recently celebrated their 10th year in business anniversary party. Suda-san really went over the top on the venue – it’s a private club, European style historical landmark type place in the middle of Tokyo.

The photo above is the only one I have currently. It’s from just before the party started.

There were a lot of famous creators from the Japanese industry there which gave the whole thing an atmosphere of mingling bigwigs. I don’t know if any business got done there but one can only hope based on the investment in the party.

Anyways, at one point Suda-san, Mikami Shinji-san (Resident Evil, God Hand, etc.), and Kojima Hideo-san (Metal Gear) joined the stage together to hammer a sake barrel into submission. I don’t know what the Japanese tradition is but it must be some kind of celebratory thing to do.

Some more photos of the event ended up on this Japanese game blog.

Check out the photos and scroll down most of the way. I ended up by accident in the background of the sake smashing event. See if you can spot me! Hint: it’s right above the picture of the half-naked guy with the insane hat.

Myself and two other gaijin coworkers of mine gave the traditional oshibori (wet towel) to the men after the barrel was opened. I gave mine to Mikami-san, who is a complete goofball and really funny in person. Good guy.

C++ "Unity Builds"

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Recently I heard about a method of increasing compile time for C++ projects called a “unity build”. For projects with a lot of source files compilation time can get extremely slow due to disk access. It’s especially bad when you have a maze of header dependencies as well. This website describes the issue and solution in detail: The Magic of Unity Builds.

For the project I have been working on the normal compile time is about 30 minutes for a clean and rebuild for a single platform/target. The unity build solution is to #include many CPP files into a single separate unity CPP file and then only compile the unity file. This improves both compilation and link times. Anecdotally I’ve heard it can cut build times in half or more.

That said, I’m not sure how well it integrates with distributed build systems like Incredibuild. I’m currently only doing local builds so I am unable to research or compare.

I’ve yet to implement this but am going to give it a shot very soon. If you are working on a huge software project and are suffering programmer inefficiencies due to compile times it would be good to look into. I’ve literally had days recently where I compiled for 3-4 hours out of an 8 hour day which was when I went over the edge and started looking for a solution.

Japanese Graphic Design Magazines

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Recently I have been getting into graphic design quite a bit as a hobby and interest area of research. Japan has some amazing magazines in all interest areas. Must like the Japanese otaku are famous for being hardcore into videogames, there are otaku (“maniac”) style magazines for many interest areas outside of videogames.

Anyways, there are two in particular I wanted to point out:

IDEA (アイデア)

This is an internationally well known graphic design magazine that I only recently discovered. At my office there are a lot of back issues for reference and I can see why. There are some amazing designs presented across many forms of media with designers from varied backgrounds. Highly recommended. Almost always has translations of articles in English as well.

When profiling designers who are still alive they are often just given free reign to do whatever they want across their assigned pages. This results in some really cool design work.

+81 (Plus Eighty One)

+81 profiles design trends and designers from across the world. Articles are in both English and Japanese. The layout and design of the magazine itself is quite good and it has introduced me to a lot of skilled designers I would have otherwise would not have learned about.


Sunday, May 11th, 2008


There is a food in Japan known to the Japanese as “hamburg”. It’s important to not confuse it with “hamburger” which is totally different and what you can get at any fast food joint.

Hamburg is what my Dad used to call “salisbury steak”. Which, incidentally, is fully explained on Wikipedia.

Basically it’s ground beef with spices inserted inside, often served with an egg on top and/or other vegetables on the side. There are tons of different hamburg styles; recently I discovered “Texas Bronco” which is a restaurant that primarily serves hamburg. There are spicy hamburgs, spinach hamburgs, humongous one kilogram hamburgs… etc. The Texas theme of that place is hilarious.

It’s similar enough to what American’s are probably familiar with but I have to say it tastes really good and just different enough to make it feel a bit foreign. If you make it to Japan, give it a try. While Japanese food is obviously excellent here the big surprise for me was how good the world’s food is too. You can find excellent quality food much cheaper than I could in San Francisco. The Japanese take food seriously – at least half of TV programs are food topics, seriously – and the hamburg is a hit.

A Slice of Heaven

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

A Slice of Heaven

Belgian beer is delicious. Being able to select from over one hundred different kinds is even better.

I found this place in Nishi-Shinjuku by accident last week with Phillip while tooling around on a Tuesday national holiday (what holiday? who knows!). The name of the bar is “Frigo”. The beer selection is incredible, the prices are quite high unfortunately though. From $9 to $14-ish per beer. Oof!

Yokohama Bar

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Yokohama Bar

I took this photo in September 2007 at a really weird bar in Yokohama. It was like 1950s jazz themed, very relaxing, with all kids of weird bottles of liquor from all around the world. Many of the bottles were very strange, like gnomes and other eclectic characters and art. Unfortunately I don’t have the name on hand but could get it from friends.

Anyways, I just love the way this shot turned out. The empty seats, the angle, and the lighting really give this picture a lonely but welcoming feel.

Here’s a link to the full set of shots for that vacation.


Friday, May 2nd, 2008

In April every year, the cherry blossom trees (sakura in Japanese) bloom and that means lots of drinking outside. I celebrated “Ohanami” for the first time in Japan this year. It reminds me a lot of July 4th in the US. You meet up with friends and eat and drink in warm weather while enjoying being outside.

I went to two ohanami events…

Ohanami Suginami-ku

First was my company’s event that was fun with plenty of drinks and food for everyone. If you click on the above picture you can see a lot of photos of the event and a bunch of pictures of my current coworkers. It was beautiful but in some ways the beauty is kind of ruined by the number of people and the ugly tarps that everyone insists on using. Everyone wants to sit on the ground and with the Japanese obsession with cleanliness this requires big tarps be put down everywhere so no one has to sit on the actual ground. The majority of these are bright blue. It is not beautiful.

Ohanami 2008

A week after that I went with my friend Chie and some of her friends to Yoyogi park in Harajuku. It was near the end of the ohanami season, the petals were falling off at a rapid pace, but still the extensive trees in bloom were beautiful. There were TONS of people in Yoyogi though. Seriously, it was crazy. Click the above picture if you’d like to investigate further.

There was an absurd amount of outdoor live events going on to the point that it was annoying. Like, a rock band concert and three techno events all within audible distance from one another blasting their speakers as loud as possible to attract people. It was carnival like. If you’re in the right mood I think it’s great but if you want to really focus on the natural beauty it is not the best place to go.

All in all it was a good experience but the next time I go I want to find a quiet place where I can completely relax.