I was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on December 27th, 1974. My mother had to have a cesarian section and so was able to pick the birth date, and she wanted to make sure that it was done before the new year so that I would be able to start school as early as possible. Well, that reason is what she told me, and I think its rather cool.
My first school was Good Shepherd Catholic school and was part of the Roman Catholic school board. My mother was raised in the faith but she always felt strongly that religious choices should be up to the individual. I was required to go through some of the basic parts of the RC faith, including my confirmation but we never went to regular sermons or had extensive religion as part of our daily life. I've always appreciated that and its part of the reason that I probably hold a fairly holistic spiritual view. Anyway, moving on from that first school - I was in Grade 4 and my parents were told that they should consider sending me to remedial school as my teachers felt that I was not adequate for the regular school environment. My parents, frankly thought that the teachers were being ridiculous and that the practice of moving trouble students (me) to the back of the class only made problems worse and not better. Lucky for me, my dad was doing fairly well because of software program he had developed at home (more on that later) and my parents decided to move and put me into a new school, Ashbury College.
I stayed there until I graduated high school (9 years - we had a grade 13 at the time). My first year there, Grade 5, I racked up so many detentions that my mom who would always pick me up after school, decided to only come after regular detention time every day. Yeah, I had a lot of detention. I also had a grade average over 80% in my first year. (I sucked at French, something that would continue to be true for the rest of my life. I also sucked at English, something that would stop be true by Grade 9. I pretty much rocked at everything else <g>). So the move to Ashbury College was definitely a good decision and probably made the greatest impact on my life that can or will ever be made forever.
Going back to the software program thing I mentioned with my dad. He is a MD, PhD in Hematology. Yeah, he liked school and learning at least as much as I do - if my mom had not finally told him to go make some cash he would probably still be in school. Anyway, the whole research thing must have been stalling and he always loved to tinker, so when computers came out he was very interested and learned as much as could about it. On the first IBM PC he wrote, in pure assembler, a word processor as a home project. Not clear why he decided to do that - but he did. A friend of his from the local computer store saw the program once, and suggested that he try to sell it. My parents threw together a package and sold it at the computer store. Well, one thing let to another and in a few years we were making large number of sales and were the predominant word processor used by the Canadian government. At some point Word Perfect and Word decided that they wanted the Canadian market and my parents had to decide whether to scale up to compete or .. well that was the question. Lucky for us, some investors made an offer to purchase the company and my parents jumped at it. Of course, at the same time things had improved dramatically for my dad. He had been invited to be on a Royal Commission looking into HIV, was later hired to be the Head of Blood Services for the Red Cross in Canada (when they controlled the blood supply) and he was rather happy working in the more medical field. Yup, interesting family history there - the parents are definitely something to live up to and I am proud of what they have accomplished.
Back to my story at Ashbury College. There are a few interesting stories to be found at my time there but most of them are the regular growing up and learning about yourself type of thing. I will tell you a few that probably comment on my personality more than most when I was that age (I do hope I have matured in some ways since then and have grown up a bit). I had a friend whose sister at the local public school worked on the school newspaper. He had decided to try and start up a newspaper at our school (it didn't have a paper or a student council at the time). I became involved because of my ability with computers, and ... acquired ... a copy of Venutra (a desktop publishing program) where I created the layout for our first newspapers. I worked primarily as editor and layout (I was fairly proficient in English at the time) and convinced our best English student peer to join the project as well. It was interesting times. The primary thing that made it interesting was the conflict that it put us with the administration of the school. The teachers loved us, but since we were heavy advocates of a student council and were vocal about it (worse since we were completely self funded they had no real power or say to what we wrote) it was putting the administration in a bad spot and light. Once we even posted an article questing the sustainability of the lower school (5-8) which resulted in a private invitation to the principle's office and a polite thread about expulsion if such things were to happen again. Fun times indeed. I of course ignored it all - and continued doing things as I always had done things. What would a school story be without a polite thread of expulsion from the principal?
The second story I have from high school is rather stupid and vain. My best friend from school had decided to get an award (almost an uber scout award thing - you get it for doing a certain number of hours of outdoor work, community service and skill development) that is named after the Duke of Edinburgh. Because of the outdoor component he once told me that I probably would not be able to do the top tier of the award. Well, that just meant that it was on - and of course I had to get the top tier of the award. I had to do 4 day hikes, and canoe trips - my teachers took a little pity on me and helped me out as they could - I had blisters almost the size of my entire damn foot but I just kept going because I absolutely would not fail. This was a matter of will, and not a matter of the body. In the end I did get the award - given to me by Prince Edward. It was a fun ceremony, where incidently I lost a rather nice dress watch. Still, I did learn that most things are a question of will power - and of your dedication to exert it over the universe. More fun stuff.
After graduating high school I moved on to college. I was on the fence about American colleges but I had applied to and was accepted to Cornell. Decided not to go because I had made the assumption that I would do graduate work and my parents could not afford $27,000 a year for both an undergrad and a graduate level education. Oh, that was in USD when the exchange was about sixty cents to the dollar for Canadian funds. It was evil. I ultimately decided to go to the University of Waterloo for their engineering program- and went into Mechanical Engineering. At this point I really wanted to avoid computers, and I had thoughts about doing robotics (possibly with a medical degree and working on limb replacements) or aerospace. As it turns out, as I learned more I found both fields a little boring and because I did not have the needed grade point average I would not have the chance to do any of the real interesting research or design work. My winning streak was over - I simply had not achieved anywhere near my expectations in the program. In the end, discussing it with my parents, I decided to finish the engineering degree as it could be useful for Immigration purposes in the future and after three years - might as well finish it. I also at the same time started going to school full time (i.e. 12 months a year) and started working toward completing a computer science degree. Because of the prerequisite chain for the courses there were a lot of gaps in my schedule and I picked up a fine-arts, film degree at the same time. My first love has always been in the arts - I loved English, history - debate. Loved sociology and psychology. I loved money more though - and in the end felt that the more secure career path would be with computer science.
Graduated from University with the two technical degrees (mechanical engineering and computer science). I am one course away from completing my film degree - I require a second year course of Film and German Culture 2. Yeah, you try to find something like that outside of UoWaterloo. Submitted my resume around to a few places and ended up going to Indianapolis for a job in the game industry. I decided to go there because it was the first reasonable offer I got in three months after graduating. I really had not targeted the game industry, but everything worked out well.
I ended up working at that first job for a little more than a year after which I ended up moving back home, and looking for a job for almost eight months. Lucky for me, I had very understanding parents. One way that helped to pass the time was some rather extensive playing of Everquest at the time. I have to admit that I quite enjoyed this particular interlude in my life. My parents had already arranged to take the winter off somewhere and I had the entire house to myself. My mom being the caring person she was, had stocked the kitchen with enough food that I pretty much never had to even go out to get anything - life was good. I would work on my hobby engine project, look for jobs and play Everquest - watch some TV. In all, it was the good life <sigh>.
Finally, found an awesome job and moved to Dallas to work as a Simulation Engineer for another game company. I loved that job, and still remember the company with a lot of good memories. I will almost always see it as one of the best experience of my life, and best places to work. But in the end, I felt there was not enough room to grow and that I had learned as much as I could within the area of physics. After three years in Dallas, I then moved to Irvine, CA (souther California, just south of LA). There were a lot of ups and downs at that job, some great experiences and some even better people. I came on board to work as a physics programmer for a new engine team - but that was not coming together at the time. I was moved to help the team working on NWN2 to ship it - 8 months of life later, I woke up and found that we had shipped it (yes, that is what finishing extreme crunch is really like - you stop and wonder what happened to those months). I have memories of being woken up by owners of the company to come in on weekends to get release candidates to work. It was "interesting" times. Yeah, that Chinese proverb really can be a curse. Anyway, moved form there to work on the technical development team for the Aliens RPG project. Here we did have the team to make a new engine for the company. There were some issues along the way, people who should have taken a break after the burn out pace on NWN2 that didn't and were not ready for normal development. Eventually, after some really bad crunch on my side and a daily dose of these awesome Vietnamese subs from the lead technical artist on the project, we got the first prototype done for the publisher (SEGA). They loved it. And I had made my first from scratch professional engine. I really should have had a drink that day but there was too much work to do to really bring the engine to a "usable" state". Spent a lot of time working with a few solid people that I am proud to have worked with - and we continued to develop the engine and tools.
After that job I moved to Seattle and worked with Microsoft to push the Kinect Adventures game out the door. And there is where I am now.