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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Leaving Montreal

My final few days in Montreal for this trip have passed very quickly:

  • On Friday morning I had a brief demo of Toxik, the product that has finally resulted (first release was last year, IIRC) from the work that was in progress when I worked for Discreet in Montreal. It was interesting to see that some of the UI work from those days survived long enough to make it into the product and that collaboration is still central to the product's mindset. There is still a very long way to go with integration with other Autodesk M&E products, not to mention competitors' products. In the afternoon I turned up for the beer-at-4pm-Friday tradition at Autodesk M&E and met several people whom I've not seen in years; I miss Friday afternoons at Discreet.

    In the evening I talk a walk around Parc Jean-Drapeau (formerly Parc des Isles; the two islands Sainte-Helene and Notre-Dame). Not a lot has changed, although Place des Nations appears to be getting periodic use as a storeroom for Piknik Electronik. At around midnight I returned once more to the Jam Session at the Hyatt which was, once again, superb.
  • On Saturday I took a walk up Mont-Royal. Inconveniently the Chateau had been booked for a wedding and had therefore closed to the public at 4pm, which was a little irritating as I arrived at 4:15 with a particular thirst for a coffee. No matter, I completed my walk to the top then made my way down to Beaver Lake and the pavilion there to find only vending machines. As I'd missed my bus, had 20 minutes to pass and had a pile of nickels and dimes (5/10 cent pieces) to get rid of, I decided to risk the vending machine coffee. For added spice, there was chewing gum blocking part of the coin slot, so each coin had to be pushed in with the aid of a house key. After several minutes of this amusing distraction, I had fed the machine the $1.25 that it wanted for a cappuchino. I duly pressed the buttons and waited as it produced a cup, put liquids of about the right colour in it, then opened the door for me to take the result. I'm pretty certain that I pressed the right button, and it definitely produced a cappichino (i.e. "with a cap"), but the liquid underneath was not coffee, it was chocolate. In retrospect perhaps the machine was choosing what I would have chosen anyway if I'd thought more carefully about vending machine coffee beforehand, or perhaps I pressed the wrong buttons, but I enjoyed the chocolate.

    In the evening I went to listen to JTADI who, like Gadji-Gadjo, include violin and piano-accordian with more traditional jazz-like instruments, however I did not find their sound quite so enjoyable. I had my "Last Supper" with friends at Pizzedelic; discussion ranged all over the place (including a reference to some recent work on the potentially harmful effects of praying for the recovery of an ill loved-one {{ UPDATE 16-Jul-2006: someone wrote to New Scientist with a rebuttal, sort of... }}) and then headed down to Savoy du Metropolis for the Phantom Power Deluxe Combo which includes a superb trumpeter who uses a most interesting wow (as in "wow-and-flutter") effect. As this was their final night they also had as special guests Motus3f which consists of two guys and a Korg Kaosspad. For the most part they are doing the ntz ntz ntz song into microphones held right against their mouths, but with several additional sounds and, I suspect, did not use any (or many) pre-recorded samples. They did get the audience involved and then used the audience sample several times later. At one point, one of them used one half of a pair of headphones in place of his microphone and, later, a telephone handset/receiver! Their sound was decidedly techno and a little harsh (no jazz here...), but it was fascinating. I later asked and, apparently, they've been playing for about two years and doing shows for about a year.

  • Sunday was spent sleeping, packing and departing.

Needless to say, there were multiple meals and coffees with friends interspersed amongst the above. Thanks to everyone who responded to my various invitations to catch up, go out and eat, and a special thanks to Bill and Natalie and J and Joan for their kind hospitality.

I hope to return in less than three years next time around...