Three big learnings for 2015

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Another year has past; Mia became one year old, we moved to a different place and my third year at Sanoma (Finnish company) was a turbulent one. Turbulent because top management changed, collegues leaving/let go on all sides as the SAA1V:FH stock is declining for five years now. Even-tough the worries, I was privileged to do (and finish!) three exciting new titles; of which a 3D game (PC), build and launched a fashion site, and build the new donaldduck.nl (To be released in Q1 2016). So yeah, I am playing games and reading comics at work, that still doesn’t get old!

Before packing up to celebrate the release and the start of a new year with family, I wanted to wish you all the best for the new year! Three large learning I gained in the past year:

1/3: Scrum isn’t everything – Which is cursing, because I am a ‘certified scrum master’; At the start of the year I took scrum literally as you can see at this (overly?) enthusiastic post. Introduced Scrum at the company but over time learned (forced, really as our PO left the building) to be flexible and focus on the end-result instead. I also feel scrum is turning to project manager jargon, as developers are sometimes forgotten to be included in the decisions. 2016 will be all about ‘lean’ development for our department, hope to get some new views on the matter.

2/3: Ditch the car – For sure the best idea I had this year was trading my lease-car for a bicycle as I started feeling silly sitting in trafficjams. Cycling 4k a year now and as a added plus enjoying daily outdoor time (lucky with the weather also). I also cycled up Mont Ventoux in France. The reasoning, no car is more money and less time in car = more spent with family. I get to have daily playtime with my daughter Mia and enjoying lovely prepared (Paleo/Korean) meals together with my wife.

3/3: Take a digital diet I left Facebook for a week in 2013 and I liked it. In 2015 I took privacy and software liberty a step further. Learn more about crypto, (like putting this blog to HTTPS, serious password management) moved the household to open-source. (Debian over Mac OSX, in general: free over proprietary) Digital diet as social experiment, no more Skype, Facebook or Whatsapp; Upside: more time ‘in the now’ and with family; downside: Slowly losing contact with those friends at the other side of the globe. Do keep in touch,  for now contact me at joop@joop.in and XMPP, considering the downside, liberty excites me.

Summer 2015

Read further: My previous New Year posts of 2014, 2013 and 2012. (yeah, it’s a thing now; couldn’t resist this year)

So that’s it; No resolutions or whats so ever, just excited for the next year! Wish you best of health and luck in the new year and do keep in touch over mail!

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Riding our bikes to the beach

Today we had one of those late warm summer days here in The Netherlands. Too good to stay inside! One of the great things of living in Haarlemmermeer is that the beach is reachable by bike. I cycled there before but Suna didn’t find the time yet. This morning we packed our lunch-bags and rode off together!

The road was easy and enjoyable passing the typical Dutch flower fields and then past the Kennemerland national park. This is one of the few national parks in the country and I am looking forward to visiting it again in the fall. We followed a road though dense trees ending in the sandy dunes. Halfway we spotted a deer walking by and there were some gliders landing in the open fields. Once arrived we parked the bikes and walked out to the sandy beach.

Mia yelled of excitement once we saw the sea. We picked a nice spot and we played for hours in the sand and with the water. She is also keen for dogs and saw a lot of them. She was so excited that she slept all the way back to our house.

I’m always excited for the beach. Going to the beach means excitement, good moods and good times. When I was young we would go to the beach about once a year during the hottest (and busiest) days of the year. Now we can just ride down, I’m hoping to spoil Mia with a lot of spontaneous visits like these in the future. It’s amazing to go out riding with the family, also to see Suna excel on her bike. Hoping for more of these tours in the near future!

miaatthebeach

At work: Launched Duckworld

duckworld

Really proud! After an adventurous development phase in cooperation with The Walt Disney Company, the Kids & Teens editorial team & marketing team has launched DuckWorld;

It was really fun (and special) to be able to cooperate directly with the editors of the Dutch Donald duck magazine on these titles. Even more fun to see the game featured on TV, the magazine etc and watching the traffic grow at the moment.

TV advertisement

Development:

Unity editor, from image mapping to object in a 3d world

Unity editor, from image mapping to object in a 3d world

 

Whilst I did see casual game development up close at Spilgames and 3D modelling at unitedstyles, I never experienced the creation of an actual 3d World up close. Wat I learned is that it takes a lot of expertise from a broad range of (hard working) experts to create such a game.

There is a game director who is in charge of the story, artwork creators and animators. Finally there are developers who create the game logic and movements and arrange the network and database stuff.

Scrum

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Product demo (scrum) with the dev team

We ran the process using Scrum, iterating the world until it was complete enough for release. We then started performance testing and optimizing the systems.  I’m happy that we worked scrum as the basic idea behind Duckworld evolved as well.

We developed the game in Unity3D; We used unity because of portability to other devices and operating systems. Right now we are available in desktop only.

Live!

Marketing has started, coverage in news, tv spots etc

Live!

Now we have launched, the game is appearing everywhere. On It’s great to see it on tv, read about it in newspapers and see activity on twitter. Looking forward to expanding the world soon; Readers of this blog get a 10% coupon for the month of September using the following code: joopin during checkout on www.duckworld.com

Youtube review by ‘Lord Hudson’:

Buying gochu (hot pepper) at a biologic farm

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Typhoon Goni reached Japan, and I spent the rainy day outdoors!

Meet Mr. Shin, a biologic farmer based a short drive outside Daejeon city. A brief shopping visit turned into an marvelous tour and delicious lunch.

Driving through past the lakes, vast mountains and up the hairpin corners was quite a scenery change to the past few days. The last parts were too steep for our small Hyundai as we came to a stop and slide up the slippery road, so Mr. Shin came down with a four wheel quad to carry us further. He was excited to show us around;

Beside a vast amount of hot peppers, there were peaches, apples, acorn, sweet potatoes, cows, dogs and goats. The quick ‘shopping’ trip turned into an authentic lunch as his wife invited us for a warm meal. Mr. Shin is 50 and he bought the five acre land for about 400k euro in 2013 and has been land scraping, building ever since. Recently he actually started farming outside his office job and he hopes to retire and enjoy this hobby full time within in five years.

The happy couple are building something nice here, not a bad way to retire! We all enjoyed the food and left with a car full of peppers. Going to enjoy a (biologic) spicy year!

Korean Baseball is awesome (+ tv appearance)

watching the game

Baseball is insanely popular in Korea. We were fortunate enough to score some tickets for a particular exciting game in the season (the local Hanwha Eagles #6 vs. the Samsung Lions #1). For a Dutchy this was all new for me and I have to say that I really liked the game vibe, atmosphere and food*.

Suddenly we were approached for an interview right at the break of the fifth inning. I got a bit nervous when she mentioned it would be a live (but scripted) interview during break time.

So there we were, taken backstage and up to the reporter areas. The 30 second interview was about our family and asked why we came to Korea (obviously for this particular game), and what dutch people think about Korean baseball. Ofcourse we also did a little cheer for the local team. So I’m a proud father of a eight month old daughter who made an appearance on Korean tv!

After a bad start of the match Hanwa (#6 in competition) actually beat the #1 in the competition; The stadium exploded with cheer. We got a signed baseball too!

All and all: We had a great day!

cmb2 hanwha daejeon suna dorresteijn
*Koreans shout ‘FIGHTING!’ to cheer someone or a team on. In terms of food, Chimek is great at sports events; CHIcken and MEKchu (beer); Basically KFC style crispy chicken with hot sauce and a cold beverage, what a combo!

No more traffic jams

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When we moved to the Netherlands, I lived in my hometown (center of the country) close to my family and work.

However, my job happened to move to the headquarters in the ‘big’ city. Fine, I thought, I’ll drive. However, I then spent the better part of my week (12%) driving to my office and back. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks did cure the pain a bit, but it was a time waster.

I’m happy that my wife agreed to move closer to our office and last weekend we made the move! Now I’m enjoying short travel times and no more stress about traffic jams, life is good!

Creating psychedelic art with deep dream

A few days ago, Google released a Python Notebook to let you play with their very recent work on visualization with neural networks, turning buildings into acid trips and landscapes into Magic Eye pictures. They published their code publicly for everyone to play with.

After I found a docker image I was able to play with the notebook. Holy cow! I put a picture of me with my daughter that transformed us to someones nightmare in a few minutes; eyes popped up everywhere and I started seeing people behind us. So I moved on to objects and buildings; here is a picture of my office. (clickable)

inception

 

On the left you see the regular picture, next to that you can see the image which had a 7 time inception with the neural network which creates a lot of artifacts, just look what is haning on the roof; On the right an artists approach can be seen where a zoom is applied on the regular image.

After that I played with pictures of clouds and natural items; I found that the engine really goes wild with trees. Checkout this picture I took in Korea:

korea_deepdream_bl

Ok that’s enough trippy pictures for one evening; If you are interested how it works, read at this google blogpost.

 

 

 

Quad racing and Hummer driving with Sanoma

quadhummer

Whilst planning the Sanoma tech* outing, I pitched canoeing as a nice outdoor activity. My idea was refuted as soon as we found actionplanet; Offering quad racing and landrover and hummer driving, followed with a nice barbeque! Needless to say, it was an amazing event and I think the entire crew had fun. Hope we can make this an annual event!

* all the developers of websites like nu.nl, startpagina.nl, kieskeurig.nl, autotrader and yours truly with the Disney and tina titles!

In the DonaldDuck

joop

Working at the Kids and Teens department is always interesting; The editors and the drawers of DonaldDuck get their jokes and inspiration from all sorts of places, even around the office. They ‘used’ me to make a character in an actual duck story; I’m a geeky guy who drives around a celebrity – how cool is that! If you want to read it, get a copy of the latest TrosKompas!

Mont Ventoux, je ne suis pas fou

mont_ventoux_johan_joop

If you wanted to watch the Tour de France in the 70s, you had it rough, it was a daily 20 min B&W summary filmed from a single angle. However, my dad did become an avid fan and took up cycling himself. Together with his friends they climbed the famous mountains like Alpe d’Huez, Col de la Madeleine and the steep Mont Ventoux themselves. Their sport bonded the group and they are cycling together to this day.

Moving on to may 2015, my dad was picking a cottage for our yearly family get-together, unsurprisingly he picked one at the foot of that very Mont Ventoux. Our whole family took the opportunity and enjoyed surprisingly good weather, French baguettes and French wine. Then my dad asked me if I wanted to join him up the mountain; I had to consider, I cycled up Col de Madelaine in 2004 but I am totally untrained at the moment. I agreed to a small ascend to halfway point as a first training.

We started off and I felt pretty great, the mood was good, lot’s of “bonjours”, waves and there was an American girl cheering us on and offering cold beverages, that was fantastic! With the 7~10% climb I was cranking energy fast but all was good… until a man dressed like Lance Armstrong rode by and called me to my place “hey, c’est la folie, you are crazy” and carried on*.  I yelled something back – too little too late – but actually found a renewed strength; “I’ll show him!” After a good hour we left the forest and we could see the moon-like summit. Breathtaking.

At halfway point I told my dad I wanted to keep on going, as the weather was exceptionally cold that day. But actually, being there with my dad really kept my nose to the grindstone and I didn’t want to let him down. Then I hit my limit. Closer to the top, I got into trouble but I made it! Thanks to my dad staying by my side and motivating me. A lovely Dutch woman with a SLR camera snapped my last meters, seen in the shot above.

At the top, we cheered, took some photos and had a cold drink. Then we turned around and breezing off the mountain, I was carrying such a big smile that I felt embarrassed for the people still climbing but I couldn’t stop. It was an absolutely perfect day.

*note: I did carry a helmet but only wore it during the descent; it was a remark regarding my endurance or my bike. Also; Generally French people are nice!