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My 20th High School Reunion

Crest of De La Salle College 'Oaklands'.

On Saturday, I attended a reunion for the school where I spent grades 6 through 13 (back then, there were 5 years of high school in Ontario), De La Salle College “Oaklands”, a Catholic school located just north of downtown Accordion City. It sounds strange saying this, but it was my class’ twentieth anniversary of graduation. Twenty years!

It was good seeing some of the old gang — Nick Catre (the Filipino Eric Cartman), Steve Bucic (fun guy and troublemaker extraordinaire), Anthony Famularo (learned, impartial and very relaxed), Borys Gogus (always up for a drink), to name only a few. It was also good to catch up with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Tony Ellis, who brought science to life with his giant slinkies (to demonstrate waves), his dead cat (which he used to charge plastic for electrostatics demos) and pranking us by nitrogen triiodide, a compound so unstable that it often exploded just just a touch. (Mr. Ellis also evangelized Crazy Go Nuts University, which played a role in my going there.) I wish my computer science teachers, Messrs. Joe Clarkson and Tony Etele and my English teacher, John Cheley had been there too.

The campus looks a little bit different now, but I’ve got to admit that it looks shinier — that’s the effect of their switch to becoming a fully private school after my departure. I’m sure that going co-ed (geez, why didn’t we have girls in our day?) helps too — we were always less slovenly when ladies were present.

Glenn Douglas made the best observation of the night: “The changes in us aren’t so dramatic as they were at our ten-year reunion,” and he’s right. It’s a much bigger leap from graduating from high school to having finished university and going to work or grad school.

It was also good to hear that “Del” is still known for academics. In our day, 90% of us who graduated went on to university or college; I’ve seen school where that number is closer to 15. This is still the case, and Del still has to turn away 2 applicants for every student they accept.

I had a great time catching up with everyone, and even the Ginger Ninja enjoyed herself. Thanks, guys!

(Maybe I’ll have to post some high school stories here.)


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It Happened to Me

XBox 360: Day One

Scene from the XBox 360 game 'Dead Rising'.
Mmmm…Zombie-killin’ time!

Last night, before heading home, I went to Blockbuster to rent a couple of games on which to give my new XBox 360 a test run.

“Get something fun for me,” said the Ginger Ninja. This was going to be difficult, as the 360 seems to be the console that pays the least attention to the casual gamer and especially women. If there ain’t killin’, adventurin’ or scorin’ goals on the opposin’ team, the pickings are slim. As a person who thinks of himself as a “fair play” sort of guy but who also likes killin’ and adventurin’ games, I often find myself going back and forth between the attitudes of:

  • It’s a shame that game manufacturers have no idea of how to write games that appeal to women
  • I’m not responsible for your gender’s lame-o Gilmore Girls lifestyle choices, sister!

The nearby blockbuster was out of the disc featuring Bejeweled 2, so I picked the Open Season game for Wendy.

For me, based on what I’d heard and the comments in this entry, I got the stuck-in-a-shopping-mall thriller Dead Rising. I had myself a grand old time killing zombies with two-by-fours, garbage cans, the unexpectedly powerful flat-screen TV, baseball bats and my current favourite: the lawnmower. Nothing kills masses of suburban undead like a bad attitude and a gassed-up John Deere.

Alas, since mine is a Core System rather than the Full System, it doesn’t come with the hard drive (I can’t complain, I got it for free and I can upgrade). Without a hard drive or a memory card, any time I get killed in Dead Rising, I have to start over from the beginning, which makes the box nearly useless. I’d like to know two things:

  • If I get the hard drive, is there any point to getting a memory card?
  • Can I any old USB storage device — say a USB key or iPod — to save games and XBox gamer profiles?

Tris is on a Roll!

I’m not the only one blogging his conference activities. If you go over to the Tucows Blog, you’ll find not only my blog entries on the Ajax Experience, you’ll also find a boatload of entries written by our pal Tris Hussey, who’s at the Blog Business Summit in Seattle. Go check them out!

It Happened to Me

James Duncan Davidson and Me

The gentleman pictured below is James Duncan Davidson. He’s often seen at conferences where the subject matter can be classified as “Web 2.0”, where’s he’s easy to find: just look for the friendly, smiling redheaded dude with the mega-phallic camera lens. Here he is taking pictures of a panel session at the Ajax Experience:

James Duncan Davidson taking photos at one of the Expert panel sessions at the Ajax Experience, October 2006.

In addition to fast becoming the Annie Leibovitz of the Web 2.0 set, James is also a programmer of note. The trivia question that led to my winning the XBox was “The man with the camera in the front row is well-known in the Java community. In the Java world, what’s he known for?”

I raised my hand first, so I got picked. For a moment, I was tempted to say “He’s known in Java world for defecting to Ruby!

Sensing that the answer, accurate as it was, would not be accepted, I gave them the answer “He’s known for making ‘Ant‘. The build tool.”

Ben Galbraith, one of the conference organizers and a judge at the trivia contest, looked a little uneasy. “I was thinking of something else, but I think that’s right…

“Oh yeah,” I said, thinking quickly, “…and Tomcat.” Although I’m not really a Java guy, I’ve used Ant many a time, but never Tomcat, so it’s a little off my radar.

Okay, then. You win the XBox 360!

So I tip my hat to Duncan, for playing a role in my shiny new XBox 360.

I also have to thank him for taking this lovely picture of me playing accordion at the Ajax Experience party on Tuesday night. I love this photo: it says “this guy enjoys life.” Mondo thanks, Duncan!

Joey deVilla plays accordion at The Ajax Experience, October 2006. Photo by James Duncan Davidson.
Click the photo to see it on its Flickr page.