Sebastien St-Laurent is a software engineer for the Microsoft Game Studios and author of several technical books. Read about my work and life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

ShaderX4 Progress.

Things are winding down with the edit of ShaderX4. Articles have gone through the technical edit process and have been sent to the publisher. Content for the CD-Rom (source code and demos) have are being finalized and should be off to the Charles River in the next week.

Things have been progressing well and there should be a lot of really exciting content for everybody. If all goes well, the book should be released by its planned date (around November). It is a good time to pre-order to get a copy as soon as it is released.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Based on the feedback from our survey, many users wanted to either earn shopping sprees or have a simple point based catalog site. So we've consolidated both ideas into We don't have the gifts you want, how about some green? With, you simply accumulate points for completing offers and signing up friends. Each point is worth $0.10 and once you have accumulated the minimum (1000 points or $100) you can simply redeem your points for some cold hard cash!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sponsor of the Week 8/25/2005

I first want to thank everybody who has supported me and my wife so far. I know these offers cost money and unless you have an interest, it is of little use. Because of this, I've decided to instate a "Sponsor of the week" program and include a set of google ads to my blog. Essentially, each week, I will post a little article (like the one bellow) and would invite you to read through it and take one minute to click a link in our google ads (if possibly related to the article). It is much easier and although contributes much less to help us is much easier for most our readers to accomplish. Thanks!


The Stigma of Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer in which malignant (cancerous) cells are found in the sac lining the chest or abdomen. Exposure to airborne asbestos particles increases the risk of developing malignant mesothelioma.

The word Mesothelioma (like other cancer names) is derived from mesothelium, a membrane that covers and protects most internal organs of the body. Mesothelium is composed of two layers of cells, one layer surrounds the organ and the second layer forms a sac around it. Lubricating fluid is produced by the Mesothelium and is released between the layers which help moving organs to flow easily against adjacent structures. Organs such as the heart, lungs and stomach that expand and contract rely on this fluid.

Mesothelium is named differently depending on where it is located in the body. The mesothelial tissue covering the lungs and the chest cavity is the pleura. The tissue covering the organs in the abdominal cavity is the peritoneum. The tunica vaginalis testis covers the male internal reproductive organs and the tunica vaginalis testis surrounds the female reproductive organs. Most cases of Mesothelioma begin in the pleura or the peritoneum. When mesothelioma develops in the pleura (known as pleural mesothelioma), the delicate lining thickens and fluid may collect between the two layers of the pleura. The abdomen peritoneal mesothelioma causes thickening of the lining and a collection of fluid in the abdomen, called ascites. Symptoms are associated with the organs that may be affected by mesothelioma.Mesothelioma has a long latency period and it's important to determine who needs to be examined. This long silent period makes diagnosis difficult and symptoms may sometimes be mistaken for something else. Treatment options are often determined by the stage of mesothelioma of the patient.
Mesothelioma is serious and life-threatening. By the time cancer is diagnosed the patients survival time is usually short. Mesothelioma usually spreads throughout the peritonal or pleural cavity before diagnosis, and complete surgical removal is unlikely. Because of this, the average survival time is only 1 year. If the cancer is found early, approximately 50% of the patients survive 2 years and approximately 20% survive 5 years. Additionally, unlike with other tumors, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are not very effective.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My First Review...

The first review for "The COMPLETE Effect and HLSL Guide" showed up on Amazon. Yay!

Of course, still have plenty of copies to sell but it is nice to get a first review, especially when it is a 5 star! Here is the review:
This book starts out by giving you a good history behind the shader language.

- really good for references
- it lists every single variables/functions for the shader along with the description
- excellent information/reference on Intrinsic Functions
- it has a good list of vertex shader 3.0 assembly instructions

- need more samples? :)

Overall, I found this book is good to start learning HLSL. Besure that you've grabbed a concept of direct3d before reading this book. I also find out that after reading this book it's so much easy to read wolf's books.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Book Update.

It has been a while since I posted any updates in regards to my recently published book "The COMPLETE Effect and HLSL Guide". Although it has been close to one month, sales have been doing well. So far around 65 copies sold, which of course could be better but it is a good start.

I am on the verge of starting a second advertising wave and hopefully sales will pick up some. In the next week, I should be releasing a sample chapter spreading the word even more. If you purchased the book, please take a little time and leave a review on Amazon (or other sites). This may seem like little but will greatly help me spread the word.

RewardLadder developments...

This has been a busy week with the launch of the RewardLadder network. Membership has started to slowly build up and hopefully we will start shipping gifts out soon.

Based on our survey, it seems that every one wants a Xbox 360, and thus we are developing an Xbox site. In addition, we have started working on a point based site. The Xbox 360 sit should be out in the next day or so and the Point based site in the next week or so.

We also are planning a drawing to celebrate our launch. So stay tuned for more details.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

RewardLadder Clarifications...

One question that has already been asked several times in regards to RewardLadder.

"Why would a new usr join when there might be older members at the top constantly earning prizes every month?"

Guess the one thing that wasn't made clear on RewardLadder is that a member can only get a single gift per account, meaning that once a member gets his gift he essentially "falls off the ladder", letting lower scoring members move up in their place.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Free Ipods... The lowdown and my idea...

In my previous blog, I've posted extensively about my experience doing some of the free gift sites such as

Although, I have received both an ipod and ipod shuffle for free, I have still to receive my PDA from Now, the news is that the site is closing because they are not profitable. So this prompted me to try and understand why and take a look at their business model.

On all those sites, the idea is to complete a sponsor offer and to refer a certain number of people to the site in order to receive your free gift. So I decided to do some investigation to see why many of the home brew sites are closing down.

Taking a look at the sponsor offers on these sites, it seems that the the website gets an average of 20-30$ per completed offer. In the case of FreeIpods, you need 5 referrals, meaning that they earn about 150$ for each free gift completed. But even with a wholesale discount, they probably still are about 100$ short for each ipod they ship.

So how can they make money? All these sites run on the assumption that a good percentage of members joining will complete a few referrals but will not manage to get the five needed to get their gift. But recently, many people have formed groups, trading referrals and joining conga lines. Meaning that the ratio of users went up, reducing the overall profitability of most sites.

Being somewhat of a business man and liking the fun aspect of such sites, I've decided to create my own but changing the approach slightly so that I'm at least guaranteed to break even and maximize the number of free gifts given. Introducing RewardLadder (

Right now, I'm starting with a free ipod site, but will expand to more free gifts as membership grows.


The concept of the site is similar to other. Sign up, complete offers and refer friends. But the difference lies in the fact that you earn points for every offer you (and your referrals) complete. At the end of each month will take revenue from our advertisers and send free gifts to members with the highest point number first.

This doesn't mean you need to complete multiple offer, simply that you and your down line must be active to get to the top of the pack. In other words, the more you contribute, the quicker you get your gift. In addition, since gifts are allocated based on advertiser revenue, we can maximize the number of gifts while staying profitable.

Welcome to my new blog.

Allright, some of you may know me. Sebastien St-Laurent, a graphics programmer working for the Microsoft Game Studios and author of several books such as "Shaders for Game Programmers and Artists" and "The COMPLETE Effect and HLSL Guide".

I already had a blog on but because my content is not fully technical, i've decided to move my blog to more neutral grounds and detach it mostly from Microsoft.

If you wish to check out my old posts, go to