Daily Archives: August 8, 2008

Front-row seat to John Edwards sex scandal

Rielle Hunter sitting next to him)

I had no idea that when former Senator John Edwards invited me to come along on his plane back in December of 2006 that I would have had a front-row seat to a sex scandal. John Edwards today admitted he had an affair with Rielle Hunter back in 2006.

I, along with a few other journalists I had a front-row seat and have some of the only photos of Hunter.

See, stuff like this always seems to happen to “other people.” People you don’t know. Never have met. Don’t care about.

In this case, though, my wife, Maryam, interviewed Elizabeth Edwards. I interviewed John and sat next to Hunter. All while not having any clue about the secret they were all keeping.

It reminds me that as a blogger/journalist I have to always capture images, not knowing what the real story actually will turn out being. And always keep looking beyond what I was being presented.

The photo above is Hunter sitting next to Edwards. I never saw them behave inappropriately in front of me and Edwards let me hang out with him nearly around the clock.

There are lots of stories on Google News. Personally, my thoughts go out to everyone involved.

Here’s all my photos of the trip with John Edwards where he announced he was running for President of the United States. Unfortunately the videos I shot are gone, PodTech pulled them down and I don’t have the copyright on those, so can’t repost them.

Here’s my photo of Hunter:

Edwards' videoblogger - Reille Hunter

Analytics expert on WorkFast.tv today

Avinash Kaushik is one of the world’s top authorities on Web Analytics (his new book, Web Analytics: An Hour a Day is already getting critical acclaim and when I first met Avinash he had quite a crowd around him at the eMetrics conference. Now he’s working on Google’s Analytics team and this morning he’ll be on WorkFast.TV at 10 a.m. Pacific Time today. Join us live to watch the show (the recording will be up next Monday if you miss it). After the show we’ll have an interactive “after show party” on my Kyte channel at 10:35 a.m. Join us there if you want to ask Avinash a question, or leave a question here and I’ll ask the best ones on air.

Even if you miss all that you should read his blog, really is a great place to learn more about analytics.

“The bloodiest, sickest game from EA”

On Wednesday we hung out at Electronic Arts all day long getting to know the team of Dead Space, a new horror survival shooter-style game that has already won a bunch of awards at industry conferences (it won best new action/adventure game at the recent E3 conference).

I recorded a couple of videos with my cell phone, but the really good stuff will come in about two weeks (we’ll be headed out to New York next week to meet with FastCompany team members). Unfortunately getting a cell phone video out of EA was very hard, I hear Qik.com has a new version coming soon that’ll fix the problems when you are in a low-bit-rate situation like I was on Wednesday.

Here’s a talk with team members while they watch the first group test the game (there were a bunch of game industry journalists and bloggers there to play the game for the first time). Love it when they say “this is the bloodiest, sickest game from EA.”

When one of the key technologies is a “dismemberment algorithm” you know this is a scary game.

This tester, a gaming journalist for GamingBits.com, said that the audio is “just scary.” You get to see him play a little bit of the game in this video, where he died for the seventh time in a row in the same spot.

Some things I learned.

1. Artist Ben Wanat is one demented dude. I wonder what his nightmares are like. Cause the drawings he was showing us were pretty damn scary! (He did a lot of the original art that turned into what you see on screen). In this video Ben comes on and gives you some of his thinking behind the art. Sorry it’s so poor quality video, but I only had my cell phone ready for this and only had an 80 kbps connection to get video out.

2. They have a new lighting engine that lets them have many more light sources than any other game they’ve done. The technology behind that is pretty interesting. One thing I learned: the average movie has six hours PER FRAME of computer time to render a movie, but in a video game they have about 30 milliseconds to render a frame.

3. The process of making a game, getting it sold to executives, and built out is an interesting one. First a small team of artists and creative people get together and build the concept of the game. Draw out a ton of art to show what the feel and look of the game will be. Then they build a prototype for a small slice of the game to give executives a sense of what the game will do and the market it’ll go after. Only then do they get a green light to build the game out totally and take it to market.

4. This is a big game with about 100 people working on it. They wouldn’t give me investment figures, but when I worked at Microsoft I heard that a game of this calibre could cost about $10 million or more to produce.

5. This is the first game that I’ve seen where humans are starting to look good in the game. They said they spent a lot of time in image capture (where an actor wears a suit that digitizes movement) to get that part right.

6. Dead Space is aimed at an older crowd, not a game for young kids. It is very scary and lots of Alien-style creatures.

7. They say that a game of this calibre can only be done in a few places in the world because they need a combination of both entertainment expertise as well as geeks who can build the technology underneath the game.

8. I asked several EA employees about working conditions (and even got rid of the PR people to have some good conversations) and they say that the attitude of management toward work hours has dramatically improved but still could be improved more. For those who don’t know, an anonymous blogger called EA Spouse, wrote that she never saw her husband because he was asked to work so many hours. That led to a lawsuit and changes inside the company. I even heard that the test team has a bet with the dev team that they won’t be forced to pull an all-nighter to get the game out. Nice to see that a little attention out here on the blogs led to what seems to be major changes internally. I also really appreciate being able to hang out for more than a day with all sorts of employees without having PR accompanying us everywhere, that’s a testament to how things are going too.

Anyway, looking forward to showing you more when we get our editing done.

Save journalism?

What a busy week. Where did it all go? I know I’ve been very active on FriendFeed lately. You can see all the things I liked there (I like things to tell you I think they are interesting for you to read) or see all the things I’ve commented on. I’m about to pass 5,000 things since February that I’ve liked, lots of fun stuff there.

One thing that I’ve been thinking about all week is this discussion of how to save journalism. Any discussion on that topic that has Jay Rosen show up has got to be good (he’s a journalism professor at New York University, among other things). It’s a demonstration of what I love about FriendFeed. The marketers, the idiots, the trolls, the jerks haven’t moved in in a big way yet. Yeah, they are there, but the moderation of FriendFeed is distributed to the edges (moderation of comments is left to the person who starts a topic and everyone can block jerks and spammers from their view) so things are still pretty interesting conversation wise.

Anyway, join in and let us know if you see any other way to save journalism.