Lone Star's Rockin' Ribeye

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Yesterday we had a dinner party with the lab at Lone Star in Riccarton. The restaurant is Western styled and the atmosphere was very cozy. They also have a bar area where they serve apparently very good cocktails (I haven't tried them yet).

I had the Rockin' Ribeye with Jack Daniels & cracked pepper sauce and a pint of Guinness :3 There was a bit of confusion because everyone ordered before the dinner party and we were with 24 people. Instead of noting who sat where they just shouted out a dish and people had to raise there hands. Should work fine in theory, but people forgot whether they had medium rare/medium/etc. and also which sauce picked out for the steak.

Anyway back to the food, I ordered and got a medium-rare but the meat itself was a bit plain in flavor. Luckily the sauce was very yummy! Who can say no to Mr. Jack Daniels? :) Also, the buffalo chips were baked perfectly. All in all I would give it a 4 out of 5, because of the plain flavor of the meat.

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A 250gram prime Lone Star Black Angus Ribeye marinated with black pepper. Topped with Jack Daniels & cracked pepper sauce. Served with buffalo chips and Lone Star coleslaw.

There were also desserts at the end. A Banoffie Pie, homemade pastry pie filled with bananas & caramel,topped with sweet coffee cream & chocolate flakes,
and a Longhorn Cheesecake, Kahlua & Moro Bar. Served with berry coulis & whipped cream.
Honestly, I didn't like either of those desserts haha


Bratwurst Grill's Nürnberger Stadtwurst

I was wondering why all those tents and stands were outside on the campus area today. Apparently it's Clubs Day where they will display over 90 Clubs at Canterbury University and they will be out and about recruiting for new members. Events like these also mean another thing... FOOD!!!

It was lunch time for me, so I found the German Bratwurst Grill stand and got myself a nice big Nürnberger Stadtwurst! It's made from Pork, Beef, Water, Salt, Spices, garlic, Mayoran and Chilli. The juicy grilled bratwurst is served in a bun, not too soft and not too hard, together with German sauerkraut and mustard. All that for about $7 NZD (around €4,- or $8 USD).

New Zealand sausages are bad.... very bad (especially lamb & mint sausages)!! It doesn't taste like sausage at all, so having to eat authentic German sausage tasted like heaven to my taste buds. The flavors and fat dripped down my throat as I was biting into succulent meat with a zing of sauerkraut and mustard. I was too busy eating the Nürnberger Stadtwurst and trying not to spill sauce and sauerkraut over myself that I actually forgot to take a picture of it :( But I'm definitely going to get more and take a picture of it if they are near the campus again!

5 stars for authentic German wurst!


Choco choco!!

Last Saturday, July 9 2011, I went to the neighborhood Cashmere in Christchurch and the Chocolaterie in Governors Bay just south of Christchurch.


View Larger Map

Cashmere is located uphill on a mountain and you can actually overlook Christchurch at some points. It's not really that impressive though because Christchurch city is as flat as a pancake :P Check out my previous post with the panorama picture that I took from Cashmere.

After that, it was time to head out to Governors Bay and have some chocolate at the Chocolaterie called She Chocolate (Spiritual Human Evolution Chocolate). Note that the favicon of the website looks a bit like a turd XD
Anyway, the place felt very spiritual and zen and the interior of the Chocolaterie was nice as well. They have a large selection of chocolate drinks and truffles, and I couldn't resist but to order the dark chocolate mochachino. Look at all that chocolate dripping along the glass ??
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F-1 VISA and the US Consulate HerpDerp

Most of you might know that I'll be going to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh for master's degree at the Entertainment Technology Center. The course won't start until August 29th, but I need to be there on the 16th already for the mandatory International Orientation week. I initially thought that I would have 1 month of holiday after going back from New Zealand to the Netherlands, but this has now been cut down to a mere 2 weeks.

My time in New Zealand is almost up. 24 days until I leave sheep & mint sausage country and go back to the Netherlands and have some decent cheese and ham :lol:  I'll be leaving Christchurch on August 1st and arrive on the 2nd in Amsterdam after a long and exhausting 33 hour trip with stopovers in Auckland, Los Angeles and London. Hopefully the flight will be smooth as the previous one!

Anyhow, I finally processed all the necessary documents and made an appointment at the US Consulate in Amsterdam for my F-1 VISA interview.
In order to get this far, I had to:

  • Pay $200,- for the SEVIS. The SEVIS is a web-accessible database used by the Department of Homeland Security to collect, track and monitor information regarding exchange visitors, international students and scholars who enter the United States.
  • Pay the $140,- VISA application fee and complete an online DS-160 form on the US Consulate website. This online application is used to collect the necessary application information from a person seeking a nonimmigrant visa for temporary travel to the United States. Consular Officers use the information entered on the DS-160 to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.
  • Make a €15,- appointment for an interview by phone. Furthermore, I still need to get an ID photo in US format (2x2inch) and an envelope with €7 postage on it.
It was such a hassle and the phone call to the consulate was by far the worst. I called and the first thing the pre-recorded voice will say is "for English press 1, for Nederlands press 2" with a very non-Dutch/American accent. The voice actually sounded like a mixture between a Hispanic and Middle Eastern person haha! Anyway, I called several times but the operators were busy every single time. I was put on hold and the electronic voice will keep babbling about the instructions of applying for a VISA. The weird thing was that my call would always be cut off after 7:30 minutes. I'm not sure if it's because I was calling with Skype (I'm in New Zealand remember :-| ) or that they just cut me off.....

Finally, today, I got through and the first thing the operator would say is "Hello... What is your credit card number?". After providing the details and telling him about my application for a F-1 VISA, the guy said with a very monotonous voice...

"Did you receive the VISA documents from the school?" - Yes
"Did you complete and paid for the SEVIS?" - Yes
"Did you complete the DS-160 form?" - Yes
"Did you pay for the VISA application?" - Yes

And suddenly after answering Yes to all the questions, his voice changed to a more cheerful and lively voice!! I managed to make an appointment and give him all the necessary information. Providing the information didn't go smooth at all! He said my connection was bad, so he needed me to spell out all the letters of my documents. I forgot a lot of  those reference words like A for Apple in Dutch... So I was like R for.... uhm.... R for.... until he filled in the gaps for me haha. It didn't happen once, but it happened around 4-5 times! herpty derp!! ┐('~`;)┌

In the end, everything went ok and I'm going to finish my work here at the HIT Lab in the upcoming weeks. Meanwhile.... FOOOOOODDDDD!!


New HIT Lab NZ Website

Finally! The new HIT Lab NZ website that I've been working on is finally online! I had been secretly developing it, underground and locked away from society, at the lab. The main reason to create a new website was to have a better structure and linkage between publications, projects and people, and of course to give it a fresh new look :)

Check out the publications and people's page and you'll see what I've been doing all this time. Also, I had to put all the publications in an EndNote database and manually fill in all the fields (authors, title, year, DOI, url, etc.).

The website is still in its beta phase, so don't be too harsh *3*
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Flash Flash Flash!!

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Some of you might have noticed that I stopped playing around with Blender3D. The thing that I was supposed to know the project didn't involve any fancy 3D modeling, so I'll let it be for now. Instead I've been playing and learning a lot about Away3D in Flash by developing it in FlashDevelop.

For one of the projects that I'm working on, the current goal is to create an interactive panorama viewer with dynamic objects. What we are doing now is compare 2 approaches of displaying the objects inside the panorama:
1) Using 3D meshes created in Blender.
2) Using transparent png images.
Both methods will be assessed according to the workload to create all the objects, memory usage, fps/speed and the ease of implementation.

In the current state of my code, it takes about 5 minutes for me to create images of the object, but there are over 100 objects... so I'll have to plan accordingly when we're going to process all the images if we go for my approach. The memory usage isn't bad. It uses about 120mb of memory with a 6000x4000 pixel panorama picture and about 130-135mb when objects are activated. The speed is alright as well. It gets a little bit laggy when you put it on full screen, but that's a common thing. The major difference between the mesh and image is the fact that the mesh object is very small in file size compared to the image and that the mesh can change color easily. Luckily, yesterday night at 4AM, I figured that I could just apply a colorTransform on the image the change the color XD... So now the comparison would be based on the implementation and memory usage I guess.

Here's the code for the colorTransform on 3D objects in Away3D if anyone is interested.

var bitmap:Bitmap = new objectImg() as Bitmap;
			imgTexture = bitmap.bitmapData;

			imgTexture.colorTransform(new Rectangle(0, 0, imgTexture.width, imgTexture.height), new ColorTransform(0,0,0, 1, 255, 0, 0));

			my_material = new BitmapMaterial(Cast.bitmap(imgTexture));
			my_material.smooth = true;
			object.material = my_material;

adobeflex

Now I'm trying to convert the Flash code from FlashDevelop to Flash Builder 4.5 (Flex). I've never used Flash Builder before and the workflow is somewhat different. It also includes some wonderful built-in libraries f.e. dropmenus and grids that are easy to connect with XML. I'm still trying to figure out the workflow and the different syntaxes are giving me a harder time, but I managed to get the code to work inside Builder :D I need to add some more features and we'll be comparing the 2 methods this Friday.

Aside from that I'm doing some other personal Flash developments; afancy image gallery and a panorama game, making a promo video for the Lego Minifigure book, ELKINI, Gato and some more :3 Stay tuned!!
cosmocat

Gato Cosmonaut says hello!