Iceland 2009 – Entry #6

12:30 AM GRAND HOTEL LOBBY

So I was just about to logoff, after having a wonderful conversation with my gorgeous wife, when I noticed OmberZombie on Gmail chat.

We struck up a brief conversation, and I quickly found out he was not only in Iceland, but at the very pool hall I had been invited to earlier.

So I sucked it up and went, and had a great time.

I ran into many of the CCPers I had been talking to previously, was introduced to some new ones, and ran into Shae and the gang.

We grabbed a pool table, and played some doubles, Shae and I versus all comers. I don’t recall exactly (I’ve had a few), but I’m fairly certain we went undefeated.

Either way it was an enjoyable time, and it’s nice to see CCP engage so directly with their playerbase. There is honestly no elitism on their end; they’re regular people happy to be a part of something as fantastic as EVE Online.

OmberZombie got his autographed Roc picture, promising to frame it (lol), and I even had one of the CCPers demand one to hang on the wall of the content office. Hell, no problem. I’ll make sure I bring some tomorrow.

Omber is as fantastic in person as he is an online persona, though regrettably he was fatigued and had to cut out early. We’ll hook up again for sure Omber!

Anyway, I’m tired as well, so will be going to bed now. For real this time.

For those of you unable to attend Fanfest, let’s do ourselves all a favour, start saving for next year now! I have attended many conferences in my professional career, and I have never experienced this high level of fun and interaction before, and the conference isn’t even started!

Fly safe,

Roc out. Seriously.

Iceland 2009 – Entry #5

6 PM CABIN HOTEL

So I went down to the Cabin Hotel, trying to meet up with some fellow Ushra’Khan alliance members.

Then I saw this red haired devil, with silver gothic rings on every finger of both hands, and a Hellcats TShirt.

You just know I had to say hello.

Shae Tiann gave me a warm and friendly hug. It reminded me quickly of what fanfest is really all about, meeting fellow players whom you respect and admire.

For those of you who do NOT know who Shae is, shame on you. Seriously. She is one of the most brilliant fiction writers I have ever read, and now met, and is a serious gamer, and I must say from the limited time we spent together, a wonderful person.

Stop reading my blog right now (but come back after), and go read some of her wonderful stories over at SWEET LIL BAD GIRL.

I met her boyfriend as well, and a few other players, and we all went out to partake in one of the most delicious hamburgers I have ever had. The pints weren’t bad either.

Chris and his wife joined us, and I think it’s safe to say a fun time was had by all.

9:30 PM RED CHILI RESTAURANT

After dinner, a bunch of them headed off to play pool, and while I am a big fan of the game, Chris and I had some things to take care of, so headed back to the Grand Hotel lobby.

Finished up what we had to do, said goodbye, and now I’m just sitting here, talking to my precious wife on IM, blogging away.

I’ll probably login to my Trader alt shortly, see how she’s doing, then head up to bed.

Fanfest starts tomorrow, so I may not get to blog as much, but will do my best to keep you all up to date.

Fly safe.

Roc out.

Iceland 2009 – Entry #4

6AM ROOM 749

Sometimes my discpline works against me. My body doesn’t sleep in. It gets the amount of sleep it needs, then wakes up. And once I’m up, I’m up.

The hangover wanted to tell me differently. I unsteadily stood from my bed, putting my hand against the wall for balance. The room throbbed. No wait, that was my head.

I stumbled into the bathroom and drank about 2 litres of water, then fell back into bed. It was a little trick I had learned in college for wiping out most hangovers. As I fell back to sleep (so much for all that physical discipline), I hoped this was one of those times it worked.

8AM ROOM 749

I hesitantly opened one eye. The world wasn’t spinning. I cautiously sat upright on the bed. Nothing was spinning. I stood up and stretched, feeling very good. another hangover avoided!

I threw my workout clothes on (yes, the same ones from yesterday, eeewwww!), tied up my running shoes, headed down to the lobby, and out the front door of the Grand Hotel.

I jogged along the sealine boardwalk for an hour, enjoying the clear, crisp air. I could see snow along the mountaintops, which were completely visible today.

Upon returning to the Grand, I went to my room, limbered and loose, and worked out for another hour.

I’m sure by now, you’re curious what type of exercises I am doing, so let me at least tell you the Chest workout part:

  • Do Explosive push-ups, that is where when you push up from the ground you allow your feet and your hands to come off of the ground together. It works your abs, many minor muscles, and your chest. Do these to fail, that is, as many as possible before lactic buildup pain prevents you from doing any more.
  • As soon as you cannot do anymore of those, do clapping pushups. This is where when you push up from the ground, you clap your hands beneath you before coming back down. Do these to fail.
  • Immediately to regular regular pushups to fail. Trust me, by now, it’s still going to hurt like a bitch.
  • Right after that, do “girl” pushups, with your knees on the ground, until you can’t do anymore. You’ll be crying (I know I did the first time I did these), but it’s worth it.
  • Rest two minutes, allowing your muscles to recover slightly, and to get some good deep breaths of oxygen back into your body.
  • Repeat these exercises for a second set.

I had another great, long, hot shower after my workout, having already decided today to see a different area of Rekjavik… the shopping mall!

I walked around the same areas I had the previous day, asking for directions from various people (I just like talking to people), and was growing confused as more than one person mentioned I would need to go to Greenland, but that if I really wanted to, I could walk there, though it would be easier to take the bus.

I could take a bus or walk to Greenland?!? How cool is that?

I began in the general direction I was told, but felt as though I was getting lost after a while, or that maybe these Icelandic people had a communal joke they played on tourists.

I saw a blonde woman with her back partially turned to me, and asked her for some directions.

“Excuse me. Do you speak English?” I said to her.

She turned around, her eyes red with freely flowing tears down her cheeks, but still managed to say “Yes, I do speak English.”

“Are you ok?” I asked without hesitation.

“No.” she replied, much to my surprise. “It’s my boyfriend.”

“Do you want help?” I continued on, not even thinking about the words coming from my mouth.

She didn’t have the chance to answer, as the “boyfriend” showed up at that moment, screaming, threatening, aggressive in his body language, walking angrily towards her.

She started screaming, more tears coming from her face, and he was waving one hand up and down towards me while interrogating her. I didn’t have to understand the language to know an abusive asshole when I saw one. Still, not my country, not my argument. I mean, I didn’t even know the laws in Iceland. What was I supposed to do?

Then my internal alarms went off, you know, that sinking gut feeling we all get if we’re silent and listen to it that something bad is about to happen.

He lifted his hand to hit her.

 I don’t know what it is about me. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe I’m pyschotic and in need of serious mental help, thinking myself a real superhero.

Whatever it is, I was already committed. In retrospect, I realize I get into these situations because I believe I can handle them. And sometimes that is what is needed, someone to handle things others will not, or can not. My wife thinks I’m just a “busy body” to which I counter I just like to be aware at all times, but in the end I like to think she’s proud of me for being the man I am.

I grabbed his arm far more strongly than I thought I could, and with my other, straight armed him backwards. I left that arm up in a defensive position, uttering the word “no” in a threatening voice, shaking my head back and forth.

My heart was pounding, my adrenaline surging. I’ve been in my share of fights. It’s not that I’m tough, it’s that I’m dirty. You may beat me down, I am not that egotistical to think these things don’t happen; I’ve seen it far too many times. But I will tear your ear, or thumb your eye, or kick your balls, or bite your lip, or pull your hair. I will do whatever it takes to make sure that if you really are certain you want to fuck with me, you will remember it for the rest of your life.

This guy didn’t want to. I let his arm go, and the two of them yelled at each other before he spat at her, then stormed off. Takes a real big men to spit.

She started crying some more, and I spent the next half hour sitting with her, arm around her shoulder, while she got it out of her system.

Oi.

Finally, I asked her for directions to Greenland. She laughed at me, which is always funny when someone has been crying.

She corrected me. Apparently people had been telling me to go to “Kringla”, the big shopping mall, and in my ignorance I had heard Greenland, and just simply thought them all daft.

She asked me why I wanted to go there, and I told her I needed an eye pencil. What I couldn’t tell her was that I was going to be drawing a Minmatar tribal tattoo on my face for a game convention in town this week, and that is why I needed it. She never asked anyway.

Instead, she told me the Kringla was overpriced, and that if I wanted, she would show me all the good places to go in Rekjavik, not the tourist places.

I accepted the offer, and spent the next few hours marking up my tourist map with key locations she showed me.

I think her name was Svelta, or Stella, or something like that. Apparently my command of Islenska wasn’t that great.

When we had appropriated a satisfactory eye pencil, I thanked her, and was to be on my way.

She got weird suddenly… wanting to come to my hotel with me, not wanting to be by herself.

My first thought was that “boyfriend” meant “client”, and that somehow I had saved a hooker from her pimp, and that there would be some type of expected repayment for this. I really wasn’t interested in that.

My second thought was more accurate, and far more respectful. She probably just didn’t want to go back to her boyfriend. I realized that my actions had probably made things worse for her in the long run. I mean, ideally we like to think people will simply not go back to situations that hurt them, but we’re not that smart as a species.

She would go back. He would probably beat the shit out of her. And she would probably stay, trying to save the relationship, because she loved him.

But to me, many things are very black and white. I’m happily married. One of my own rules is to never spend time alone with a woman who is not my wife, regardless of intentions.

I told her no, that I had things to do, but was very happy to have met her, which I was.

She reluctantly got the hint, and I made my back to the Grand hotel solo.

Now I’m back at the hotel, sitting here blogging, hoping my wife gets my email message during her lunch break that I’m on IM and would love to talk to her.

In the meantime, I’ve picked out my schedule for Fanfest. Here it is for those interested:

THURSDAY

  • 2 PM – Fiction Writers – figured since I like to fashion myself a semi-decent fiction writer, I should attend this and get some tips from professionals.
  • 3 PM – Content Meet & Greet – I’ve already the pleasure of meeting a few of the Content writers from the Atlanta office, so would like to follow up on that and perhaps get to learn some interesting things to further help with my fiction writing.
  • 4PM – Design Democracy – Players get to direct a ship design… hell yeah!
  • 5PM – Web Development – as a web developer, well former web guy now Production Management guy, this one fascinates me.
  • 7 – 10 PM – Charity Poker Tournament

FRIDAY

  • 10:30 – Opening Ceremony
  • 11 AM – COSMOS
  • 12 PM – 0.0 Space – a subject I know nothing about, and it’s the most interesting of the offerings to me.
  • 1 PM – PvP – Nothing else available, lol. Guess I’ll go to that!
  • 2 PM – The Economy – as a Market PvPer, I am totally going to this.
  • 3 PM – COSMOS & API – Duh.
  • 4 PM – Virtual Organization – Hmm, a Roc corporation, go on…
  • 5 PM – Changing the Landscape – No description of this. That makes me want to go all the more!
  • 6 PM – DOMINION !!!
  • 7 PM – Quiz Show – funny fun
  • 8 – 10 PM – Battle of the Bands. Prepare for the debut of Salmon Rock bitches!
  • 10 PM + drink, drink, drink, ok, drink.

SATURDAY

  • 10 AM – Movie Matinee – I am so bringing popcorn.
  • 11 AM – Artificial Intelligence – as an AI hobbyist myself, I want to go see how the professionals do it.
  • 12 PM – PvP Finals – I won’t be in it, but I’ll be watching it.
  • 1 PM – Storyline Processes – yup, more help for my writing endeavours.
  • 2 PM – Human Resources – let’s not say anything more about that one.
  • 3 – 5PM – CCP PRESENTS!
  • 5 PM – CCP PANEL – I have some good questions for them too.
  • 6 – 8  PM – Grab some dinner with the new friends I am hoping to make OR eat alone, crying in a corner
  • 8 PM + party, party, party!

5:30 PM GRAND HOTEL LOBBY

Just sitting here blogging away, when lo and behold, Olivier Dacla sits down beside me, from Mondes Persistants, an excellent French MMO media site, and an official EVE Online fansite.

He was also lucky enough to be the first player to get an autographed Roc Wieler picture, but I have plenty. If you want one at Fanfest, hit me up; I’d be happy to sign one for you.

Hmm, just was discussing the voice of Aura, and remembered that before Mynxee was willing to do the voice, we actually hit up the actress who did the voice of Aura for EVE Online, one Caroline Dalton. Wouldn’t she make a fantastic guest at Fanfest? (Are you reading this CCP?)

Well, that’s all from me for now. We’re up to date on my blogging and wife is now on IM. I’ll keep you all posted as my adventures continue.

Iceland 2009 – Entry #3

11 AM GRAND HOTEL

I awoke, feeling tight in my body, achy in places I didn’t know could ache. It had been a trying two days, and my muscles were screaming at me for a workout.

I went down to reception and asked about their gym facilities. 3,200 ISK per day…

I promptly went back up to my room and did a military workout for the next hour. Sadly, that’s not anywhere as dirty as it sounds.

When I had finished my workout, my body quivering from exertion (I had recently learned some devastating new exercises from my personal trainer the previous week), I relaxed under a steaming hot shower for a good thirty minutes. Now, if you knew me, you’d know that is rare. I am a “quick shower” kind of person. To me, there are far better ways to spend my time than standing half an hour in the shower. I was wrong. My wife is rejoicing right now at this (ha ha).

Seriously, the half hour I spent in that shower made me feel like a million bucks, which was probably the cost in ISK for the amount of hot water I used. The taps in Iceland were interesting to me in my limited European travel experience. They would turn to 38 degrees celsius, then lock. However, if you pushed the safety button, the tap would turn further to a scalding 42 degrees celsius. I don’t think I can ever go back to regular hot showers after that!

I got dressed, grabbed my gaudy tourist map, then headed out the lobby doors. Where would I go?

I know! CCP! (I can hear Kirith weeping as he reads this).

Since I wasn’t in a hurry, I decided to walk… in the piercing, cold, upblowing rain. It was a 40 minute walk, and I was thoroughly drenched to my bones, but the moment I walked into CCP Reception, none of it mattered.

3PM CCP HQ

I spent the next hour getting a thorough tour of the facility (which is completely gorgeous and that’s not including the exquisite saltwater fishtank), and many introductions were made to key people Chris and I would be interacting with during our stay in Iceland.

I want to interject here as to how truly humbling this entire experience has been thus far. To be here, talking to CCP about Capsuleer, and to get to enjoy Fanfest AND to see CCP HQ… seriously, wow. Thank you with all my heart to everyone: the 25,000+ users of Capsuleer that have given our app a solid base to build on, to CCP for noticing our little app and appreciating the detail and hard work put into it, and to all the websites, magazines, and blogs out there that have given us glowing reviews and appreciation. It just goes to show that you never know where your passions might lead, so whatever your passion may be, never give up on it!

After finishing up at CCP, I headed into downtown Rekjavik.

Again, phenomenal architecture. Everything was under construction, new buildings being built, old buildings being renovated; the city could rival Dubai for its apparent growth and cutting edge appeal.

But so far the single greatest aspect of Rekjavik as a city is the traffic system. There are very few intersections with traffic lights; rather everything is “roundabouts”. I don’t know if that’s the correct word, but literally, that is what they are.

Little circular islands in the middle of the road, and all traffic simply travels counterclockwise around them. I seem to recall from movies that this is quite common in Europe, but to see how efficient they are in person is something else! North Americans could definitely learn a thing or two from this.

I spent the remainder of my afternoon on foot, getting the lay of the land. I always liked knowing where I was when in a new place; it made it feel less foreign and more comfortable to me. Iceland provided many great landmarks to get my bearings from.

6PM CABIN HOTEL

I dropped by the Cabin Hotel where Chris was staying, but he wasn’t in. I left a message for him at the front desk, then walked across the street to a Subway restaurant and had a 1,000 ISK sub. Geez. For the paltry amount of toppings they gave, one would hope they wouldn’t be so expensive.

I finished my sub and began walking back to the Grand Hotel, again marvelling at the roundabouts. I had just walked by one when I heard the telltale crash of a car accident.

Not more than ten feet behind me, two women had crashed into each other in the roundabout.

I quickly ran to them, making sure they were both uninjured, helped them move their cars off of the road, and helplessly hoped they could call 911. I had no idea what the number for emergency services was in Iceland.

They were both uninjured, and really quite pleasant to each other about the entire thing, and thanked me for my help.

I went on my way, and shortly arrived back at the Grand Hotel.

I grabbed my laptop, headed for the lobby, and checked my emails. There was some email from CCP, a message from Chris, but most importantly, my wife had emailed me!!!

My heart ached for her. I missed her so much. I immediately emailed her back, and arranged a time for us to IM. I wanted to consume her completely, but IM would have to do for now.

I then headed back to the Cabin Hotel, hooked up with Chris and his wife, and the three went over our business plan and positioning statement for CCP.

Even though it was still early evening, the three of us were quite tired, so I took my leave and headed back to the Grand.

9:30 PM GRAND HOTEL LOBBY

I logged onto my IM program, and my wife surprised me by being online early! She missed me as much as I missed her.

I blogged while we chatted, the excitement level intense between us, not just for each other, but about the cool and exciting things happening in Iceland. The potential here for Chris and I could be enormous!

I was feeling a bit tired myself, so wrapped things up with my wife, and went back to my room.

10:15 PM ROOM 749

My iPhone had a text message on it from Lars. The Film Festival after-party was starting soon at the Foss Hotel, and he wanted to know if I could come.

Hell yes!

The Foss Hotel was about a 15 minute walk, and let me tell you, once the sun sets in Iceland, you can say goodbye to your testicles. I mean, I’m from Canada, but holy damn was it ever cold!

I found Lars pretty easily (turns out he’s a bit famous in his circle), and we spent the night chatting, drinking, eating wings (thank God for more food), and really just had a fantastic time, even though the bar ran out of beer. These Europeans certainly know how to drink.

2 AM ?

Lars paid for a cab to get me back to my room, as I wasn’t really in a position to walk (sorry honey!) and I quickly staggered to my bed and passed out, dizzy but content.

Iceland 2009 – Entry #2

12:48 PM HYATT HOTEL

I had a fitful sleep, concerned with my lack of luggage.

I made my way down to the hotel’s restaurant to enjoy a hearty breakfast. My stomach was already fantasizing about the meal it would receive. Back home, $8 could buy a good sized, filling breakfast. It might not be healthy, but right now I could only think about energy for the day.

I sat down and received a menu; my stomach cried. I politely made my order, limited to $8 as I still didn’t have any additional funds at this time, and waited for my English Muffin to arrive. That’s right, you heard me; I had an $8 US English Muffin. I suppose next time something like this happens I will ask Air Canada for the cheapest hotel to go with the food voucher, not the 5 star hotel where it costs $15 for two eggs…

I asked the waitress if the little jam carousel on the table cost extra. She looked at me with disdain, shaking her head no. I quickly piled six small jars of jam onto my muffin. I really didn’t care what I looked like then; I was too damn hungry to care about anyone’s opinion other than my stomach’s.

A few seconds later, the muffin was gone, and my stomach voiced its complaint. Nothing I could do about it.

I gathered up my backpack, and checked out, thanking them once again for their kind consideration.

1:05 PM BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Well, only 9.5 hours until my flight… fun fun.

I headed back to Air Canada to find out about my luggage. They had no idea where it was. They were reasonably sure it was with Icelandair by now, and I would have to ask them at their ticket counter. Of course, with only one flight per day out of Boston, their staff didn’t show up until 4 – 4:30 PM. Perfect, now I could spend the entire day worrying about whether my belongings were still in Toronto, had made it to Boston, or were in Iceland.

I went upstairs to the ticket counters, sat down, and waited. I read a bit more of the book I had with me but I was finding it a challenge to get into. The concept was interesting enough, but the story was slow to find its feet.

I opened my laptop, hoping to tap into some free internet. I mean, I could easily eat up 9 hours playing Eve… sounded like a good plan to me.

$9.99 US per day for the airport wifi. Dammit.

Right about then Lars walked by. Lars Loge (I don’t have the right o character on my keyboard. I could save this draft, walk over to the free hotel internet computers, and use their European keyboard, but I am too lazy). Where was I? Oh yes. Lars Loge was a Norweigan Documentary film maker whom had also missed his flight, heading to Iceland for a two day film festival they were having there.

We sat and chatted for a bit, finally coming to the topic of MMOs and EVE Online. From there, we spoke for a good hour before he couldn’t take anymore, salivating at the bit, wanting to get in touch with CCP to do a documentary about the entire system CCP has built, why they won’t commercialize it and sell out like other MMOs, how they manage to maintain such a complex market system, etc, etc. So, CCP, if you’re reading this and are interested, let me know; I have his contact information.

I texted Chris Whiteford about my boredom, and about how Boston sucks. Now to be fair, it was my mood that sucked, not Boston, and Chris politely reminded me of that, suggesting I go find the “Cheers” pub from the famous TV show.

So we did.

Lars and I spent the better part of the next few hours walking around Boston, looking at many of the historical settings Boston has to offer. It really is quite the beautiful city to experience.

I had fully planned on posting pictures, but the one thing it turns out that I forgot to pack was the adapter for getting my camera connected to my laptop. Ugh.

We headed back to the airport for around 4:30 PM, giving the Icelandair people the benefit of the doubt.

Nobody was there yet.

I asked around again, only to find out they weren’t to open their ticket counter until 6PM.

You know, I have to rant here.

Every other transportation medium has advanced significantly in technology. Train stations have no problem communicating with each other, finding out exactly where things are located at any time.

Even FedEx has a system for tracking between planes, trucks, etc. You know exactly where your parcel is, what it’s doing, when it was there, and when it will be where it’s scheduled next.

Apparently our parcels mean more to us than ourselves.

There is ZERO inter-airline communication. Air Canada has no way of talking to Icelandair. They have entirely different systems, and can’t even pick up a phone on their customer’s behalf to make an inquiry for peace of mind.

You would think this would reinforce my hatred of Air Canada, but it’s the same for all the airlines. Even the information desks really were lacking any information about the airlines. Hell, I had to ask four different TSA security officers where to even find the information desk before one of them knew.

End rant.

Lars and I sat around until 6:30 PM, when the Icelandair people finally decided to show up.

Our luggage was waiting for the plane. It was amazing to physically feel the stress roll off of my shoulders. I felt lighter, happier; I couldn’t remember the last time I experienced such a thing.

We entered the gate for our plane, found a decent restaurant, then Lars treated me to a few beers and a decent meal. He felt bad for me being broke and hungry, and who was I to turn him down?

We were sitting at a table for six, the only one in the restaurant, when the waitress informed us we would have to go on a waiting list for a table for two. My story is out of order here, as this occured before the good meal I mentioned above. My brain works that way sometimes, sorry.

We stayed sitting, both a little tired and cranky from our day, when an older gentleman sat down with a pint at our table. We invited him and his wife to join us, thus securing the table with enough bodies to tell the waitress to go to hell.

We introduced ourselves and quickly found that traveller’s kinship I’d heard so much about.

The couple were from England, though mum was Irish. I say “mum”, because we introduced them as our parents to the waitress, just to have some fun with her.

We spent the next hour finding out about “dad”, his military service, many anecdotes from English life, and that they were both fascinating people. Lars had also served in the military, as drafting is still mandatory in Norway, and shared a few of his tales of youth.

Not to feel left out, I told a few of my own memories from my days in the Tribal Liberation Force, my stationing in Dal, and my rank of Colonel… go ahead, laugh out loud at me; I wanted to have a story too!

Dad then told us about their current travels, and how they were lucky they could do it, given how much they had spent on our education. We nearly had bankrupted them, and should be grateful sons, which we were.

We had a few more rounds of beer, Samuel Adams. Now previously in my life I had always found American beer to taste like cold piss, but this Samuel Adams was actually pretty damned good.

9:05 PM BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Finally, the call was made over the intercom for our flight. We boarded quickly, found our seats, and the smiles of relief we felt were all that needed to be said.

Lars and I switched seats, him getting the window, as he was only going to get the five hours sleep the flight offered before he had to make up a day of work he had lost at the film festival. He would be going all day whereas I was hoping to check in to my hotel and go to sleep.

As Lars slept, I enjoyed Zac Effron in 17 Again. It even brought a tear to my eye. Yes, it was cheesy. Yes, it was overdone. Yet still, it was a touching moral story none of us should forget. Maybe I was just really missing my wife, and the basic story was about a guy who married his high school sweetheart, regretted it and blamed her for all his failings, then got the chance to go back and do it all again.

Honey, if you’re reading this, I love you. You are the most supportive, most loving woman I have ever known, and if not for your constant patience, encouragement, edification and support, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Thank you for all you are and all that you help me to be.

6 AM KEFLAVIK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Honestly, this was one of the most modern, gorgeous airports I had ever seen. It was less than five years old, and totally of unique architecture. If the rest of Iceland was anything like this, I was going to have an incredible time.

I quickly made it through customs, found my luggage waiting (phew! again) and made my way up to the waiting car CCP had provided.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one CCP was waiting for.

I spent the next half hour ignoring the barren, rocky, treeless landscape of Iceland, instead chatting up a few CCP employees on the ride. CCP BigDumbObject was there, one of the mission tech support guys, one of the Minmatar Wildfire Epic Arch content writers, and one of the Sleeper AI programmers and his wife.

Eat jealousy, bitches!

I handed each of them autographed Roc Wieler pictures (of COURSE I brought autographed Roc Wieler pictures, duh!), and we all had a really fun time, arriving at our final destination, the Grand Hotel in Rekjavik.

The hotel was gorgeous, and even though the sun was now rising over the barren, rocky, treeless, sulfur smelling Iceland horizon, I couldn’t wait to crawl into bed.

“We just require a credit card deposit for any additional costs you may incur.” she said at the counter.

*sigh

Within seconds I discovered the difference between the people of Iceland and the people of North America. The people in Iceland were genuinely nice. There, I said it.

I explained to her that I didn’t have a credit card on this trip, and hadn’t made it to a bank to exchange some Canadian for some ISK (snicker, ban his account!)

She said, and I quote, “No problem, sir. Get some sleep and when you feel refreshed we can take care of it with a cash deposit.”

I momentarily fell head over heels for this woman that was giving me sleep… sorry honey.

I went upstairs to room 749 of the Grand Hotel, threw my bags down on the extra bed, took a quick look around, then felt my stomach grumble. I swear it never shut up.

I went back downstairs to ask about the breakfast menu. I figured I might as well get to the bank, get some money, have some breakfast, then maybe rest.

“The breakfast bar is open now, sir, just through those doors.” the lady at the main counter said.

“And how expensive are the items?” I asked, remembering my nightmare in Boston the previous morning.

She looked at me, confused. “Sir, the breakfast is included with your room.”

My eyes opened in excitement (thanks stomach for that).

“Which items are free?” I asked, cautious of anything free.

“All of it, sir.” She said with a smile.

I thanked her, then practically ran for the breakfast buffet.

The CCPers were there enjoying their meal, and I quietly joined them, having even more interesting conversations.

Over the 90 minute breakfast I learned a few things about CCP, just from talking with these people.

  1. They take their responsibilities VERY seriously. Not a one of them would let anything slip. They know the rules. They respect the rules. I respect that.
  2. They are a lot funnier than I would’ve thought. Most geek type programmers are hardcore and serious. Not these guys. While I’m confident they are among the best programmers I had ever met, they managed to keep a light hearted sense of humour about not only themselves, but about the game. I like that.
  3. They can eat more than a starving Brutor. Seriously, I was shocked.

After I finished my gluttonous meal, calling for a wheelchair to get rolled to my room… ok, that part didn’t happen, I just wish it had.

After I finished my gluttonous meal, I slowly walked back to my room, wiped away the meat sweats and brushed my teeth. I collapsed under an incredibly warm duvet and was dead to the world… for a few hours.

Blog Banter #12 – EVE Mobile

Welcome to the twelfth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s banter comes to us from CrazyKinux himself, who asks the following: First there was the MMO on the PC, and now with the recent announcement of DUST 514, EVE will soon be moving onto consoles. But what about mobile? Allow your imagination to run wild for a second and describe how you would see EVE being ported to mobile devices, whether the iPhone/iPod touch, Blackberrys or Android-based devices. Dream the impossible for us!

Too soon. Those were the first words that came to mind when I saw this month’s topic.

It’s interesting in a way though, as this very topic is virtually all I’ve been able to think about during my flights to Iceland.

As I sit here now, in the lobby of the Grand Hotel, I wonder anew what will COSMOS be like? Where does Capsuleer fit into the grand scheme of things? What other surprises is CCP not telling any of us?

  1. EVE Mobile – I don’t see it happening, plain and simple. Not yet, maybe not ever. It reminds of the CCP client for Linux. It was made because some people use it, but eventually dropped because the market just isn’t there. For me, mobile is the same. You’ve got a few different platforms out there, but in the end you can narrow it down to iPhone, Blackberry (Storm and Bold only), and Windows Mobile. I just don’t think the others are even a viable solution: graphics capabilities, hardware capabilities, market viability, etc, etc. And even if we look at the three I did mention, there are still too many limitations: hardware again, developing across multiple platforms, etc, etc, it can eat up a lot of resources financially as well as development wise.
  2. COSMOS – So we know COSMOS is going to bring some cool things: Evemail, market, interesting ways of keeping us connected to our ingame counterparts from anywhere we are. Isn’t that the point in the end? CCP makes their money from us renewing our subscriptions. Look how many times they’ve reworked the New Player Experience. Eve is a harsh game; so harsh that I’m sure at least 60% of the players out there that try it quit before peeling away the layers of complexity and seeing the beauty underneath that is Eve Online. COSMOS, while able to provide a general means to keep track of things currently done in other fantastic apps like Capsuleer, is going to have limitations as well. Primarily, it’s a web app. As such, it will have to work across multiple platforms, meaning it can’t be optimized for any specific one. This is good in that provides a way for everyone to access the ever important character data, but at the same time it can’t leverage any specific advantages other platforms can utilize.
  3. Capsuleer – Over 24,000 users and one of the most beautifully designed, well coded apps out there for iPhone. It makes use of the EVE API in a fantastic way, and continues to grow and grow in both features and hype. Will COSMOS be API based? If so, then all third party apps like EveMon and Capsuleer will benefit, as they are written for specific platforms, and can be tailored to maximize the end user experience. But if COSMOS isn’t, then is it a Capsuleer killer? I certainly hope not, as Capsuleer still fills a need COSMOS may not. Even though it will work through Mobile Safari, it’s still just a web page at the end of the day. It won’t be customized like Capsuleer. It won’t have the same slick interface of Capsuleer. It won’t make you want to keep pulling out your phone to see what’s going on with your characters or the Blog Pack. So will it be a dead tool? I don’t think so. I think there is room in the universe for Capsuleer and COSMOS to both do well.

So yeah, too soon. We’re just not there yet.

My hopes is that COSMOS opens up all kinds of new API data; that would excite me. I hope it provides a mechanism for players to keep in touch with other outside of game. I hope it attracts new players to simply sign up so they can become part of a community greater than just a MMO.

But EVE Mobile? No. Never going to happen.

CrazyKinux’s Musing – Tying the dots and locking me in!
A Merry Life and a Short One – I Don’t Own a Working Phone
Yarrbear Tales – EVE on Mobile Devices? Eh.
Hands Off, My Loots! – EVE Mobile…Possibility?
Achernar – Trapped on Planet Horror
Rettic’s Log – The Cronofile – Blog Banter: EVE Mobile
A Mule in EVE – EVE Mobility
Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah – EVE Mobile
My Life in EVE – 12th Blog Banter
My God, it’s Full of Stars! – 12th EVE Blog Banter
The Wandering Druid of Tranquility – WOW, look at that ‘micro-Dust’
Adventures in Mission Running – 12th EVE Blog Banter
Ecliptic Rift – EVE Everywhere
Roc’s Ramblings – EVE Mobile
EVE Monkey – EVE on a Mobile Device?
Nashh Kadavr’s EVE Blog - I-pod Capsuleer
Escoce – EVE Trade – Dynamic System Security
Break Vol – EVE Blog Banter 12
Mikeazariah – EVE Mobility
Pods and Pills – The 12th EVE Blog Banter: EVE on the MOVE!
Eve Monkey – Eve on a mobile Device?
Many more to come…

Iceland 2009 – Entry 1

Where to start? I was thinking of posting as Roc, but honestly thus far I’ve had more of an adventure as good ol’ Marcus J. Dickinson than even the Colonel could imagine…

3:30 PM SUNDAY, TORONTO PEARSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Finally got things sorted with my booking. Helluva way to begin my adventure.

I sat and enjoyed a pleasant meal with my lovely wife at Wolfgang Puck’s. $15 CAD for a burger, but you know what? It was a fantastic burger.

It was going to be a “chance in a lifetime” trip; CCP had invited me to Iceland for Fanfest, and to discuss business opportunities for Capsuleer, along with my partner Chris Whiteford.

Originally, my wife and I had planned on attending Fanfest this year since around March, but with the expense of the wedding, and other unforseen costs, we sadly gave up on it, which was ok.

She has always been incredibly supportive of my endeavours, and knew in my heart of hearts, I wanted to go to Iceland more than anything.

She prayed it would happen.

I had honestly resigned myself to the fact I wasn’t going, and with work as busy as it has been steadily, it wasn’t viable. However, I had previously booked the time off, and due to business, laziness, whatever you want to call it, I never “unbooked” the time allotment.

Then we started corresponding via email with CCP. We were asked if we would be attending. Chris was coming of course, but regrettably, I could not attend.

I made the joke that I’d be happy to come if they would be willing to pay my way.

Two days later, we get the email. We were going to Iceland.

My heart nearly dropped. I was close to having tears in my eyes. My wife was ecstatic and so proud of me.

Chris called, and my shaking hands could barely push the correct button on my iPhone. We were both freaking out.

We finished our meal in the airport, and checked in, walking that long hallway to our final goodbye.

It was bittersweet.

The line moved far more quickly than either of us wished, and instead of the romantic Hollywood passionate kiss with dip I was planning, I was shoved along in the line, and ended up barely able to give her a peck on the lips, then I was gone.

Sadness.

Alright, time to go through customs. No biggie. I took my shoes off, my jacket, emptied my pockets, ooh, my iPhone. I turned it to vibrate. Put it all in a grey plastic tub, then put my backpack on top.

It was just as the Customs lady was handling my backpack that my iPhone decided to vibrate. Without even having to look, I knew it was my business partner, Chris, and I wagered he was trying to prank me. He couldn’t have picked a single better moment.

“Step away from the bag, sir.” The Customs lady said sternly.

“It’s just my phone, I can show you, it’s ….” I replied.

“Step AWAY from the bag, sir.” She repeated, more firmly.

I was surprised how quickly the two burly male customs officials had seized me by the arms, and pulled me out of line.

Sunuvabitch, I thought. I’m gonna kill Chris.

After a chemical swab of all my belongings, and a near naked pat down of myself, I was allowed through customs.

This trip was just getting better and better.

I checked my phone, and sure enough, Chris had called. I called him back, relaying the tale, and he laughed hysterically. I’m sure even now as he reads this blog post, he has tears in his eyes recalling the incident.

I will get you back, bitch. Don’t ever doubt it.

I tried to stay optimistic. It was 6:30 PM. My flight was 7:20PM to Boston, with 90 minutes or so to catch my connecting flight to Iceland. Piece of cake.

I took a seat, and did some reading.

“Attention passengers, flight AC 366 to Boston has been delayed due to poor weather conditions in Boston.”

*grumble.

I hated Air Canada. Every time I had flown with them in my life, something always managed to go wrong, but who was I to complain? I wasn’t the one paying for this trip.

Alright, so the new time of arrival was 8:50 PM. My connecting flight was 9:30 PM. That left 40 minutes to do a transfer in Boston. Doable.

We finally got on the plane, only to experience another 20 minute delay on the Toronto side before lifting from the runway.

The flight was uneventful, though they did give us free drinks to compensate for the delay and potential missed connections.

9:15 BOSTON LOGAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The doors to the plane opened far too slowly. I raced out of the terminal, screaming for directions as I went, and found out I had to get to Terminal E. I was in Terminal B.

I ran out the outer doors of the terminal, and saw the terminal shuttle bus there, pulling away. I had been told they only come once every ten minutes.

I had to catch it.

I sprinted about 300m after it, 13 pound backpack bouncing away on my back. Thankfully, airport traffic is nuts, and the bus wasn’t moving when I caught up to it, slammed my palm against the door, and begged him to let me on.

He did, and I made it to Terminal E by 9:22PM.

I flew up four flights of stairs, and sprinted another 400m through the terminal. It was 9:26PM.

I had made it, with four minutes to spare.

I presented my boarding pass.

“We’re sorry, sir.” she began in broken English. “The plane has already departed.”

I waited to catch my breath, which to my surprise, took less than a minute (my personal trainer would be proud), then blasted her with full verbal fury.

It only made things worse.

Half an hour later, I was talking to the Air Canada representative. To his gay credit, he gave me a complimentary suite at a five star hotel across from the airport, an $8 voucher for breakfast, and a $12 voucher for lunch.

Score.

I then asked about my baggage, as I really didn’t want to be without it, you know, clean underwear and all.

I went back to the ticket counter for Icelandair. Nobody was there. Lovely.

I returned to the Air Canada desk for further assistance. Nobody was there. Lovely.

I finally found a general baggage claims area, and after dancing around the issue for about 45 minutes, I finally convinced someone to go into Icelandair’s baggage room and find my bag for me.

There were no bags there.

So, either my bag hadn’t left Toronto, was somewhere in Boston Logan airport, or had already made it to Rekjavik in Iceland to enjoy Fanfest before me.

Lucky baggage.

Finally, I called the shuttle service for the hotel. All I needed to do was checkin, go upstairs, and go to sleep.

“And we just need your credit card for a security deposit. Money will only be withdrawn for additional charges.”

Man…

My Mastercard had been used fraudently the previous week, dropping me to -$31 dollars, and I had been fighting all week with them to dispute it. Don’t get me wrong, the people at Mastercard have been very friendly; they just haven’t gotten any results for me.

Frankly, you can be the biggest prick you want to me, provided you get the results I want.

“I don’t have my credit card this trip, I’m afraid.” I replied, trying to be as charming as possible. My wife would’ve cringed at my transparent attempt, but hell, it worked on her didn’t it? (Sorry honey if you’re reading this).

“Well, we could take a cash deposit.” she said a little flirtatiously.

“That could work, IF I had any American currency. I wasn’t planning on being here in all truth. You take Canadian?”

Back in my youth, I travelled the States a lot. I had noticed that the further south you went, the less likely they were to take Canadian currency. But I was in Boston, in my mind, no problem at all.

“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t.” she replied, a little less than polite now.

“Look, I’m stranded. Icelandair only flies out of Boston once per day, so I have to wait until 9:30PM tomorrow night. I just want to go upstairs, collapse, wake up sometime around noon, then be on my way. I’ll be having a shower, might steal your toothpaste, as I have no baggage either, but that’s about it. Can you please cut me some slack?”

Her fingers glided over the keyboard effortlessly, and a few moments later, she was ready to talk to me again. I waited patiently, silently.

“You look honest, and I feel bad for ya. I’ll waive the deposit. Hope your trip gets better from here.”

I took the room key, flashed her my most charismatic smile, winked her way, then went upstairs to my king size bed.

1:15 AM Hyatt Hotel

I wrapped the warm duvet around me, lost myself in the 8 pillows on the bed, and collapsed into a deep, rewarding sleep.