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Entries From January 2007

January 28, 2007

I See a Futon in My Future

Filed under Events

I flew to San Francisco this weekend to find a place to live. I took a bunch of pictures, which you can see here. For more background on my trip, keep reading.

The HR department at ILM gave me a few websites to help me find a place.

This one was good place to start. It describes the different neighborhoods. I narrowed my search down to Cow Hollow, Marina, Pacific Heights, Laurel Heights, and Inner Richmond.

Next, HR recommended Craig's List to find a place to live. They said I could use an apartment locator service, but I would have to pay the $800 fee they charged. They said most people do not use a locator service.

I know San Francisco is going to be more expensive than Dallas, so I wanted to try to minimize how much I spent on an apartment. I also did not want to have a long commute. The only way to satisfy those requirements is with a *really* small apartment.

The first apartment I looked at was in Pacific Heights. I couldn't take any pictures inside because a tenant still lived there. It is about a mile from ILM. It was about 350 square feet and rent was $935 a month. There was no stove, no dishwasher, and no washer/dryer connections. There were washers and dryers in the building that could be used for a fee. The room did have heat, but no A/C. It was basically a small room with a sink, mini fridge, hot plate, and a bathroom. It was going to be tough to fit in here, but I was willing to try.

I decided to see what the walk to ILM would be like. The apartment is on the side of a *steep* hill. I walked 3 blocks to the top of the hill and it almost killed me. I was totally out of breath. Walking down the hill was nearly as bad because you could easily slip on the sidewalk and would tumble for quite a while.

The hills were a deal-breaker for me. Trying to drive a car with a manual transmission up these hills would be brutal when you come to a stop sign. I can't imagine trying to ride a bike up the hill. The neighborhood was nice, but mostly residential with very little retail or restaurants.

The next place I went to was in Inner Richmond. The apartment seemed huge in comparison to the Pacific Heights location, even though it was only 560 square feet. It cost $1250. It had no A/C (which isn't needed) or heat, so I'd have to buy a heater. There was no parking provided, but there was plenty of parking on the streets.

For about $50/year, the city will give you a sticker with a letter on it. The letter represents the neighborhood you are from. If you don't have one of these stickers, you can only park for 2-3 hours. With a neighborhood sticker, you can leave your car overnight, as long as you move it on street cleaning days.

The Inner Richmond apartment had two rooms and a storage area that was only about 4 feet high, but as large as one of the other rooms. There was no W/D, so you had to take you clothes to a laundromat. I liked this place better than the first. The neighborhood had more restaurants and shops than Pacific Heights, but I felt out of place because it was most much older people and families.

After walking around all day Friday, I decided that the Marina/Cow Hollow area was the place I wanted to live. It was almost completely flat. It is at most a mile from ILM. It is packed with cool restaurants, bars, and shops. And it is mostly single people around my age....actually it is mostly single *females* around my age. Not sure why, but there seems to be 10 girls for every guy I saw....I'm not complaining.

Friday night I used Craig's List to find about 10 different apartments in Marina/Cow Hollow. Several of the places I called were already sold.

The first place I went to Saturday morning had a great location. It is one block from the main drag in the Marina, Chestnut street. It is also about 8 blocks from my job, and about 4 blocks from the ocean. But the kicker is that it has a parking space...and parking is very difficult in the Marina/Cow Hollow area. It has no dishwasher. It does have heat (no A/C), and coin-operated W/D available in the garage. It is about 550 square feet and cost $1500/month with the included parking space.

When I arrived, there were 3 girls that were also checking the place out. Everybody was interested. After I was done looking, I told the owner that I was interested and he said for me to look at another place and call him at noon if I was still interested.

I walked away to check out another apartment. It didn't have a parking spot and I decided that sealed it...I wanted a parking spot so I could come and go as I please. I headed back to the apartment and there were about 4 more girls checking out the place. The owner said he would be with me after he was done showing the girls.

The last girl was newly hired by Google and said she was *very* interested in the place. She was going to check some other places and then come back.

I told the owner I wanted the place. He is a really nice older guy that has lived in San Francisco his entire life. I told him I was returning to Texas the next morning, so I wanted to get as much done now as I could. He said we could go to his office to get a credit report done on me now.

His office is at the Olympic Club, where he is also a member. The blue jeans and t-shirt I had on did not meet the requirements to enter the Olympic Club, so my landlord let me wear his sweat pants and a sweater that allowed me to enter.

He let me do my own credit report on his computer via Free Credit Report. I had never used a credit service before. This one does give you a free report, but if you don't cancel, you automatically pay $12/month for credit monitoring to let you know when you report changes dramatically. The only way to cancel is to call their customer service...you can't do it via the web or email (even though you use the web to set it up). When you try to cancel, the rep will give you lots of reason why you shouldn't cancel and offer you cheaper versions. I said, "I want the one that requires no money from me."...and that finally did it. So beware...I can see how they make it super easy to get a report and super difficult to cancel.

My landlord took me to lunch at the Olympic Club restaurant and he got the bill...very nice. I can't remember ever having a landlord that payed for my lunch and let me wear his clothes. And no, he wasn't gay...he has a wife and is a genuinely nice guy.

I asked my landlord about the odd guy/girl ratio in the Marina. He said I was the only guy to look at the apartment that day. He said his apartment is almost all independent women that work downtown in the financial district. He said that when he goes out to eat in restaurants in the area, there are 40+ girls and usually less than 5 guys. I don't know how I'm going to manage in this place.

So I got a place! It is close to work, has parking, and easy access to a very hip part of town. I can't wait to move in! Now that I know what I can't bring with me, I have to sell a bunch of stuff on eBay (couch, night stand, TV, washer/dryer, etc.) really quick!

January 25, 2007

ILM Interview

Filed under Events

ILM has a unique interviewing process. I had a couple of phone interviews before they flew me to San Francisco for a 2 hour on-site interview.

I was told during my first phone interview that if I made it to an on-site interview, I was expected to make a 30 minute presentation about research I've done on my own.

An interview is stressful enough, but a *presentation* as well? I wasn't looking forward to that!

To pick a topic, I looked back at posting in my blog. I wanted to do something related to computer graphics and something that might be interesting to ILM.

I decided to go with Ambient Occlusion. Here is my blog post about it.

I was very nervous at first, but give ILM credit for making a very comfortable environment.

The presentation was in a conference room with a projector. I brought my laptop with my slides and hooked it up to their projector. About 9 ILM R&D engineers were on hand. We all sat around a table with me at the head with my laptop. I think sitting, as opposed to standing, made it feel more like a discussion instead of a presentation, which I appreciated. The engineers asked me questions about almost every slide. The questions were guinine and *not* designed to frustrate. They made it very easy.

Here are the slides I used for the presentation.

After the presentation, a few people left and a few people joined the conference room. We spent the next hour talking about my resume with time at the end for me to ask them questions.

I told the HR representative that I was initially concerned about their interview process, but now feel it is one of the best I have been through.

A day after I returned to Dallas, I had a final hour long technical phone interview about work I've done.

I was notified that ILM was interested an hour after this call.

January 23, 2007

Got a New Job!

Filed under Animation, Events

It's official!

I received my offer letter today from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in San Francisco. ILM is located in the Presidio, next to the Golden Gate Bridge.

ILM is one of the top special effects companies. They have an impressive resume of films including: the Star Wars films, Jurassic Park, Twister, Terminator 2, the Harry Potter films, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Here is a complete list of their films. Here is a list of movies that ILM is currently working on.

I've been doing flight simulator work for the past 10 years, now I will be in the movie business. I'm excited about the change, both the job and the location. This is a dream job and and I couldn't be happier!

Now I need to quickly find a place to live! So much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it.

Blog Technical Difficulties

Filed under Blogging

Over the past few months I started getting some error messages when I would build my blog. Here is the exact error message:

Error title:
Error 400! - Windows Internet Explorer

Error message:
An internal server error has occurred!
Please try again later.

Most of the pages would build, but some did not. Several category pages and monthly archive pages would not build.

I searched around the internet for help to no avail. I talked with the people hosting my web site (1&1) and they could not help me.

So I tried upgrading my blog software from Movable Type 3.2 to 3.34. The upgrade went smoothly, but the problem persisted.

This morning I decided to create a new MySQL database (which stores all the content of this blog) and then import my old blog entries from the old database.

That worked!

I lost a lot of customization, but gained some new features from the upgrade to 3.34. Over the next few days I'll reapply my customizations so I should be back where I was with a fully functional blog.

January 11, 2007


Filed under Movies, Reviews

I just finished watching Idiocracy. This is a *great* movie by the guy that did Office Space, Mike Judge.

Idiocracy was never promoted in theaters and only played in 7 cities. In Dallas, it was gone in less than 2 weeks, so I missed it. But it came out on DVD this week, and I grabbed it as quick as I could.

After seeing the film, I can understand why 20th Century Fox tried to bury this movie. It makes a lot of jokes at the expense of corporations (Fuddruckers, Starbucks, Carl's Jr. to name a few)...and those corporations buy a lot of advertising.

It is original, funny, and smart, in a dumb kind of way. It is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Two thumbs way up!

January 10, 2007

Selling on eBay

Filed under Reviews, Web

I bought things on eBay, but I never *sold* anything until now. Since I stopped using DirecTV, I have a bunch of electronics that I no longer need. I decided to try to sell two things to see how eBay works.

About a year ago, I bought a couple of "destackers" so I could use my regular DirecTV tuners with the "stacked" signal my apartment uses. One of the destackers, a Sonora D575, converts one signal. It cost around $60.

The other destacker, a Sonora D575D, converts one signal into two un-stacked signals for a dual tuner TiVo. It cost about $160.

I listed my destackers for half the price I bought them for. I put them up for auction for a 7 day period. Nobody bid on the destackers until the final day. Then a bidding "war" started! It is fun to watch the price go up!

After the auctions closed, I sold the D575 for $32 + shipping cost ($2 more than I was asking). I sold the D575D for $100 + shipping cost, which is $25 more than I was asking!

Now I'm addicted! That was *way* too easy! I just got paid $132 to get rid of my junk! I cleaned out my apartment and found 10 more items I will soon list on eBay.

When I was a kid, we had a garage sale to get rid of our stuff. It was a big deal and required a lot of work. eBay is like a garage sale, but you have an audience of millions of people and you can sell *anything* whenever you want, with very little preparation.

As an adult, I have not had my own garage sale. Instead, I dump my old electronics on unsuspecting family members and friends...but no more! Everything is going out via eBay now!

What a great way to get rid of your junk and get paid to do it! Highly recommended!

January 4, 2007

My Xbox 360 Started Its Own Blog!

Filed under Blogging, Xbox 360

My Xbox 360 has started writing its own blog. It only has one post as of this writing, but more will follow. My 360 refers to me by my Xbox Live gamertag, "RGBA."

Read my Xbox 360's blog here.

The 360 keeps track of a lot of information. As long as you don't keep it private, this data is used to generate all sorts of crazy things...my gamercard on the top right of this page, gaming statistics, rankings, and, apparently, a blog! This blog is computer-generated using actual information about how I've used my Xbox 360.

To have your Xbox 360 start its own blog, register here. It takes about two days for the first post to show up.


About January 2007

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in January 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2006 is the previous archive.

February 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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