Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoroughbreds of Sin: Villainous Deeds

If you haven't seen this yet, enjoy:
It's probably the most ambitious creative project I've done in a while. In the span of about a week, I figured out the tune, wrote some lyrics, filmed my puzzle troupe acting goofy, and edited the whole thing. It was definitely 2 late nights of editing; making music is way easier than making a music video.

I might make a behind-the-scenes post if I have time. But for now, enjoy the video.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

The big news:

Next Friday will be my last day of work at Amazon. I'm leaving to join Decide, an electronics shopping startup in Downtown Seattle.

I joined on to (what would become) the AWS Elastic Beanstalk project very early on, and I'm proud to have seen it through to completion. There are still tons of useful features that can be built into the system, and I do believe that Elastic Beanstalk will only get more powerful and easier to use as time goes on.

I'm excited to move on to Decide. It's a small, smart team with a great idea. I'll be working with a good number of folks that I met when I worked for (Live Search) Farecast. This will also be my first start-up job, so it doesn't feel like just another job at a giant company; it feels like I'm starting an adventure.

Not to mention the fact that I won't be able to talk about my work publicly again for a while. Finally. Explaining Elastic Beanstalk to your average Joe is tough. "It's a secret" is a much simpler response. :P

Saturday, April 09, 2011


I'm way behind on my writing schedule. This is the last you'll hear me mention it, because I don't want my blog to become countless personal account of how I haven't been writing enough.

Suffice to say, things have been happening. Those things will be written about, but later. And I'll probably abandon the "write blog posts as if they're fictional stories" trend I tried to set myself for this month. Random fiction without a cohesive narrative can't be interesting.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Master Plan

Seeing as there is nothing you can do to stop what I've set in motion, I figured I'd let you in on this little operation I've got going on.

As you no doubt have noticed, things have been quite different recently. A little more characterization here. A little more narration there. You have noticed these things, and you find yourself asking, "Why?"

The answer is as simple as it is diabolical.

Little do you know, that you've become part of my experiment.

For a while, everything was good. You had worked hard to achieve a lofty goal of writing constantly, improving your ability. You knew it would be a challenge, but I kept you from thinking it was impossible. If you had thought that you wouldn't have tried, and I wouldn't have been able to conduct my further research.

Everything was going well up until last week. Something changed, shifted. I had tried to pique your interest like I had done so many times before, but it wasn't working. You just weren't biting at my bait. I kept giving you things to write about, but you just didn't want to write. Not because you had nothing to say, but because you had become disenchanted with the skill, with the process. Ideas just weren't enough. You needed style.

And here we are. Let me peel back that fourth wall. This is an experiment. This is a challenge. A challenge made exclusively for you. What you write about doesn't after anymore. But you can't keep writing it the same way it's always been.

No more rants about shitty things. No more analysis over techy things. No more long winded and detailed autobiographical tales. Just fiction. Pure fiction. For one month.


James: Bargain Hunter

James was thrifty, but he wasn't cheap. He knew the value of spending the extra dollar on quality where it was useful. He also knew the value of patience, and how time managed to make even the most valuable things worthless.

Video games were his only vice. He couldn't control his fascination with them. There was always a new character to become, a new setting to visit, a new weapon to use on a new kind of enemy. And James had to have them all.

Despite this drive, he still maintained his quirks. He was still James, after all.

He'd watch new games come out, and plan accordingly. A month or two after the game's release, there'd be some sucker willing to part with the game for half of what they paid for it. Then James could swoop in, buy it for cheap, and play it. And if it wasn't a keeper, he could still sell it for about as much (or sometimes more) than what he paid for it.

But that was only if a game really got to him. He usually tried to play games a few years later than everyone else. Wait until there's a "Platinum Hits" edition, a marketing gimmick to sell popular games of yesteryear as if they were new again. Or a "Game of the Year" edition, which would include all the extra maps and expansion packs they made to upsell the original game for free. And then wait til that edition dropped to half price.

Still, with all this careful watching and planning, sometimes the excitement of something new got the best of him. A game would look so good that he'd just have to preorder it. He tried his best to reason with his impulse side. Or at least put a number value on his impulse purchases.

It boiled down to this. $30 was an acceptable impulse-buy point for games that had only been out for a few months. You could pick these up used or on featured deals sites. $20 was the limit for any other game, including the GOTY editions. And unless James already knew he liked the game, he never spent less than $10. Those alway s tended to be the crap games that only sold for so cheap because no one would buy them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Late Post

He was late.

That was the only thought that ran through his head as he fled down the narrow corridor. Shit. There was no way he could make up for the lost time.

The worst part about it was that he couldn't remember where the time had gone. The last thing he remembered was sitting in the lobby of a fancy hotel, dressed in a sharp suit and waiting for his friend to come down from the 30th floor. An older man had sat next to him and tried to strike up a casual conversation. But he would have none of it. It was too late for him to care enough to feign interest in an old man's tales.

But it was all he could think about now, as he turned a sharp right corner into an even narrower alley. Those last moments, lingering images of a time when things made sense and he had the privilege to be annoyed by something so trite. The red, velvet couch he sat on. The old man's grisly voice pushing through an overgrown mustache that was peppered with all shades of grey. The radiant light glinting off of the crystal chandeliers that floated above their heads.

Somehow that had turned into a blind dash through the back alleys. A race against time to get to the only man who could explain all of this before it was too late.

Monday, April 04, 2011


I'm one of the staff members for the upcoming DASH3. For those who don't know, it's a puzzling event that takes place simultaneously across a number of cities.

This past weekend, we ran through a test of DASH3 with 4 teams. We essentially ran the full event with a skeleton crew, taking notes of solve times, routing information, and general puzzle feedback. I can't say much in the way of specifics -- I don't want to give anything away for those who will be participating in the main event on April 30th.

What I didn't know was that this was also a test of how I'd hold up in running a DASH. I've helped run other puzzle events before (like the Microsoft Intern Game) but this was a slightly different beast.

In short, here's what I've learned:

  • Bring a hat. It will probably be cold, and you will want a hat.
  • Be ready to get wet. It was dry for most of the day, but it was definitely pretty constantly raining outside.
  • Theo Chocolate is delicious. But I knew that already.
Thankfully, I think I survived the weekend without getting sick. Fingers crossed.