I don't understand how anyone can say the food is so much better in America. I've been to NY and SF which are both supposed to be amazing for food, and just got back from LA.
Their reasoning is usually along the lines of "oh, if we Uber/subway for half an hour we can find a single restaurant that serves great food". Ok, but then if you try to pick somewhere at random it's very close to 100% chance that it's just awful. If you try to be smart, and only pick from places that have four or more stars online it's still very close to 100% chance that it's just awful.
It's fine if I'm planning a meal out somewhere and we can ask people what is actually good, but if I'm out and hungry and want to find somewhere quickly it's very annoying.
There's an absolutely ridiculous amount of signs in LA. Ads for everything, signs saying you must or must not do something plus some law reference code, all over the place. It's actually quite jarring going from Helsinki, which has less signage and even less that I can actually read, to the crazy visual pollution of LA.
Driving vehicles with unmuffled exhausts should be punishable with huge fines. Let's look at an extreme case: driving an unmuffled car through the middle of LA at night. Everyone within a block or two's radius will get woken up, and if you drive a few miles that's easily several thousand people. Now let's say that costs them $5 in lost productivity the next day. That's easily five digits of damage just because they wanted to be a shithead and do something which doesn't actually bring them any benefit.
The same logic goes for police sirens. If the guy you're chasing did less than $10k of damage, write the victim a cheque and be done with it, it's a net positive.
Don't share hotel rooms at conferences. I had plans to go see friends in SF after Siggraph, so I was very deliberately avoiding meeting people and shaking hands and going to bed on time so I could be healthy and fresh for fun times with my best friends. It very nearly backfired on me because one of the guys in my room got sick on the first day. I was lucky enough to stay good until I was waiting in SFO to go home. (but then the vacation days I booked to recover got wasted because I was sick and wouldn't have gone to work anyway)
America is big enough that NY -> LA takes almost as long as Helsinki -> NY. Fuck that! Helsinki -> SF is direct and I should hang out there both sides next time.
BTW the advances talks about cloud rendering in HZD and ocean rendering were awesome, as was the open problems one about using deep learning to learn TAA. The latter sounds like "oh god please no god", but the presenter was really very good at explaining everything and his videos were cool. Unfortunately I can't find any videos of the talks and only having slides is not so great.
The ocean rendering talk finally made clipmaps click for me. You upload a constant mesh with more triangles in the middle at init, then when rendering you snap it to integer coordinates and sample your heightmap texture in the vertex shader. Very simple! For performance I assume you can sample high mip levels at high lod levels to preserve locality when sampling. And if that's true you probably want to page out lower mip levels when you aren't using them to save memory.