State of the Nation

Unfortunately, due to the economy!!!!1! (scary, isn’t it?), I now have to start hedging my bets.

I really don’t want to, but it has come to this. We have a few irons in the fire right now, but they’re not done deals. So… in the eventuality that they don’t come to pass, I need a backup plan.

It’s time for me to unburrow, get my head back out of the sand, and start looking.

What I’m looking for:

  • A leadership position, preferably director level, on the engineering side of things.
  • A position where I get involved on the business side of things. I’ve been doing a fair bit of project planning, budgeting, networking, setting up pitch meetings, so on and so forth – in short, business development – for the past year or so, and I’d like to see that continue.

Skills:

  • I’m up to speed and up to date on everything games, particularly console development, performance optimization and tool chains. You need your XBOX optimizing or your PS3 performant? I’m your man.
  • I’m a dab hand at architecting new systems.
  • Great communicator.
  • Great manager.
  • C#, C++. Hi! I’m your man. Don’t worry – I got this.

Not So Skills:

  • I’m out of date on my SQL skills. I don’t know PHP, Ruby, etc. I could learn them, but I’d need a couple of months ramp-up.
  • My Win32 skills are rusty, but they’d come back pretty quickly.
  • Java, equally rusty. Last time I seriously hacked around in it was JDK 1.4.

Bonus Features:

  • I used to be a freelance journalist, and can handle talking to editors, PR, press releases, blogging, etc. (In fact some of my blogs posts were picked up by Gamasutra back in the day when I was writing for the Surreal Software Game Design Blog… and I also have over 120 published articles in real, honest-to-goodness news-stand magazines).
  • I’m a dab hand at fleshing out and strengthening story ideas and structure for video game pitches, and writing dialogue. (My short script UNSEALED won the Feb 2008 award for Best Short Screenplay on Francis Ford Coppola’s website).

Ideal Jobs:

  • Director of Engineering of a video game company startup, or a studio within a larger video games publisher.
  • Film producer
  • Film director
  • Member of a writing team on a television production.
  • Involved in some capacity with a medical foundation, working on accelerating medical research via datamining (I figure I can get the usual 15-25 year cycle down to about 5 years, or at least highly focus the research on the best areas for the biggest bang for the buck. My specialist hobby is later-life diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, alzheimer’s, some forms of cancer – and you can find out more from my blog).
  • Consultancy/contract work in the games, embedded or Win32 space.
  • Port work – taking games from platform A, and porting them to platform B. (And I have a team I can spin up at a moment’s notice to do this, if that’s your fancy).
  • Creative work in advertising, film or marketing. (I’ve done a fair bit of editing in my time).

I’m open to discussing all opportunities. I would love to hear from agents, or from recruiters hiring for specific high-level positions. Ideally, I would like to remain in the Seattle area, although I will consider anywhere on the West Coast.

So please, drop me a line if you’re interested. The clock is ticking, as I have potential opportunities on the table.

Thanks,

Simon

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New Achievements I Unlocked (In Real Life – The Xbox 360 Game)

Achievement Unlocked: I-5 Corridor Complete

Achievement Unlocked: Motel Stay

Achievement Unlocked: 2800 Mile Road Trip

Achievement Unlocked: 1000 Miles In A Day

Achievement Unlocked: Drive Through The Night

Fortunately, I didn’t get this one:

Achievement Unlocked: Asleep At The Wheel

… although there were a couple of close calls…

(Oh, and Darci wants me to clarify – I didn’t REALLY drive through the night – Darci did most of the night driving on Saturday night, although we did it in shifts. She handles lack of sleep so much better than I do. Although of course, if she had a blog she could clarify it there :))

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#life
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Naive Questions vs. Stupid Questions

This one’s a quickie.

There are stupid questions – you know, things that with a tiny bit of work, you could get the answer to yourself. (The origin, no doubt, of the site Let Me Google That For You). Or questions such as… if I stick a fork in this light socket, will I get electrocuted? (Answer: yes).

No-one wants to look stupid. In fact, people will take great pains to avoid looking stupid. This is a really bad idea though – because it can get in the way of real progress. There are plenty of questions which could be answered twice as fast if you just let your ego go, and spoke up instead. This is the basis of putting together an egoless team – something practiced at Surreal, and at X-Ray Kid; the idea is to reduce that barrier, by encouraging people to talk and ask questions. If you get stuck? Go talk to someone! People get stuck all the time – there’s no excuse for sitting there and being stuck when you could fix the problem in five minutes instead of three days by going and talking to a peer – no matter how silly or stupid it makes you feel.

In fact, you’ll feel less stupid when you realize that you could have spent hours on it, and instead you found out the answer much quicker.

Now, there’s another kind of question which is very similar to the “stupid” question, but subtly different.

That’s the naive question.

Naive questions are great. You should ask them all the time. A lot of people get stuck thinking about the nitty-gritty details of a problem. While a naive question looks silly at first (and a good percentage of the time they are silly in reality), about 1 in 5 times, that question will make people stop, and suddenly reassess their assumptions.

It’s like a laser-guided can-opener that lets you jump straight into the middle of a problem. Worst case? Your assumptions get overturned. Best case? All of a sudden you’ve laid bare a fundamental issue.

It’s hard to figure out which is which – a stupid question or a naive question – so err on the side of asking anyway. It’s worth it, and allows you to perform miracles.

(In short, naive questions challenge assumptions and allow you to build models of systems. Do it often, do it early).

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The Fastest Repair in the West...

Recently, my fiancee accidentally dropped her phone in the toilet, so it was time to get a new one. I picked up an AT&T Tilt. (Note: I'm not an ass; she preferred it to the iPhone - this was a conscious choice).

Roll forward a month, and we're at the Puyallup Fair, and the screen cracked. Well, it didn't actually crack per se, but the transistors certainly did, causing it to leak a puddle of pixels in the middle of the screen.


It looked like this, only more personally annoying

Argh. Not covered under warranty, and I didn't get phone insurance (which I'm seriously thinking of getting now).

I did a little searching, and I came across Matt. He builds eCommerce sites, and in order to prove to his clients that - no, seriously - he's good at it, he built a site for himself, and started a business on the side repairing AT&T Tilt (and other devices) screens.

He lives local, so instead of shipping the phone to him, I went and met him at the Tully's in Wallingford this morning. Shook hands, gave him the phone, went to get my latte.

My latte took about 5 minutes to arrive. While I waited there patiently, and got the hazelnut syrup added which was conspicuously missing, I heard this pinging sound of a phone booting up.

I walked over to him with my now flavored coffee. He was done.

I'm flabbergasted. He officially has the fastest hands in the West. One phone, fixed, good as new, for $85 - which is much cheaper than sending it in for an official repair, and if you live in Seattle, much much faster than shipping it anywhere. And frankly, the experience of seeing someone do that repair job that fast was worth the price of admission. (Ok, so I'm a big fat geek... you were expecting someone else?)

Contact him here: http://www.jetcitydevices.com

[edit: updated to new URL for Matt’s company]

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Cytomegalovirus and Hypertension – Another Piece of the Herpesviridae Puzzle

Article Navigation: Previous article in this series

So I heard about this on the BBC World Service today:

“Based on a series of studies in mice, they said cytomegalovirus or CMV -- a herpes virus that affects some 60 to 99 percent of adults globally -- appears to increase inflammation in blood vessels, causing high blood pressure.

And when combined with a fatty diet, CMV may also cause hardening of the arteries, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease, they said.” - (Reuters)

Which is AWESOME! And comes 17 years after this study in people:

Herpesvirus antibodies and vascular complications in essential hypertension.

Antibodies against herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) were examined in sera from 132 patients with essential hypertension and 54 normotensive healthy subjects of the same age and sex. Prevalences of HSV and CMV antibodies (titre greater than or equal to 4) were equal in patients and controls. A HSV antibody tire greater than or equal to 64 was found in 39.5% (17/53) of patients with WHO stage III hypertension, in 26.2% (22/85) of patients with stage I-II hypertension, and in only 9.4% (5/54) of normotensive subjects (p less than 0.0005). The HSV antibodies were mainly of type 1. No association between CMV antibodies and vascular complications could be demonstrated.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6297261

Which is great news – now we know that CMV AND HSV cause hypertension. Which should be no surprise – because other studies show connections between HSV and atherosclerosis/arteriosclerosis. And that’s in studies from 1982. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=442386

So let’s look at the mechanism behind this.

We know that herpesviridae require arginine to replicate.

We also know that they scavage lysine (because the replication mechanism mistakes lysine for arginine).

This paper: http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/95/2/311 – shows that arginine is required for NO pathway synthesis. Like most smooth tissue, arteries and veins require NO (nitric oxide) to relax.

Arterial and venous tissue is endothelial tissue, a specialized form of epithelial tissue.

Where does CMV like to hang out, and HSV like to replicate?

Yep, that’s right – epithelial tissue.

HSV, by the way, is known to promote blood clots too – as this paper shows:  http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/95/2/311.

Ultimately, what we seem to be seeing here is that the herpesviridae strip-mine the arterial wall for arginine and lysine. Inflammation is promoted. Coagulation occurs. Adding arginine will help a little; but long term, the arginine is required for the viral replication to occur.

And this, by the way, is a repeating cycle. TNF-alpha is released by the body to signal that it is under attack in that area (by macrophages). The virus sees this as a signal to go from dormancy (latent infection, which in the case of HSV, the primary site is nerve tissue; whereas in CMV, it’s epithelial tissue, and epithelial tissue and endothelial tissue are very closely related), to full on replication. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/u6u8735318u7lw42).

Which scavenges more arginine. And causes more replication.

It’d be pretty simple at this point to come to the conclusion that a large preponderance of heart disease is caused by herpesviridae. Now, there’s other causes too – fungal infection, and bacterial infection – but I’d say that the most common cause are these viruses, which nearly everyone has.

(You’ve heard of the French Paradox, right? That drinking red wine, rich in resveratrol, reduces your risk of heart disease? Resveratrol inhibits herpes virus replication at a very early stage in its reproductive cycle. It also has other benefits – mainly by allowing sirtuins to spend more time switching off erroneously expressed genes, and less time fixing up damage, but that’s secondary to the heart disease issue).

So, going back to part 1 of this series, I stated that herpesviridae can cause the following:

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Type-II Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol, including high HDL and high triglyceride levels
  • Heart disease, including atherosclerosis (aka arteriosclerosis)
  • Cancer of the gallbladder (cholangiocarcinoma)
  • Colon cancer
  • Crohn's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Hodkin's Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Breast Cancer
  • Kaposi's Sarcoma

We can now add Hypertension to this list.

The common factor to all of these? Well, there’s actually two. We’re talking about diseases of epithelial tissue, and nerve tissue.

For example, take osteoporosis. Herpesviridae (specifically in this study, HSV-1), upregulates expression of Interleukin-6. Osteoblast and osteoclast differentiation are regulated by IL-6. Osteoclasts are also very similar in nature to epithelial cells.

A similar line of argument applies to arthritis.

Ultimately, we need more virion assay testing. Take tissue samples. Test for viruses. We have the technology. We should be able to generate lots of evidence FAST for the involvement of herpesviriade in these diseases.

We also need to start taking medical histories that include people who are in close contact with you. I’ll try to write about that next – it’s all about histocompatibility complexes, and how especially one spouse may have one disease, and the other spouse may have another, but it’s all the same root cause.

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#Health, #herpes, #cure, #theory
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