Posted in Uncategorized

Kylie Minogue Defeated My Social Awkwardness

Taking a break from Anchor WebCamp –Don’t worry, I’ll get back there on Monday.– After it was over, my husband and I headed straight for the Kylie Minogue Concert. It was Fantastic. It was held at the Bill Graham Theater and I hate floor seats. This means something completely different for this theater than the Pavillion which is my venue of choice. It was just the floor. No chairs. I was packed into a crowd. I was freaking out.

Considering the extremely small number of people who will read this, I can say 100% of my audience knows what this will imply. Still, I have some significant social anxieties. And Claustrophobia. And personal space -slash- touching things… And germophobia. And … well, you get the idea.

For people who are scared of heights, they can stand on a ladder or go in a plane to try and deal with their anxieties. This was like that for me. I survived the entire concert surrounded by sweaty people and pot. I had fun! And considering I have been having rolling anxiety attacks all week, this was the first day I didn’t wake up at four in the morning or sleep through the night by punching my husband while I was unconscious. He calls me ThrashyPaws, a play on Mass Effect’s Thrasher Maw.

I can honestly say I would never do that again. I don’t enjoy standing for 3 hours squished into sweaty horny people. But the fact that I did it, suffered some massive sensory overload, and still had fun? I’m making progress!

Baby steps!

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Posted in Android, Apps, Technology

App Spotlight: Google Listen

Google Listen is a Labs App for Android that parses and plays podcasts. If you know the URL, you can add to your subscriptions directly through the app, search in app, or use Google Reader to add it through the web. The Reader hook is actually quite clever since it allows you to search the internet and drop in without even touching your phone. It always shocks me when android apps don’t have an internet interface. We all know it doesn’t grab from the Ether, so why wouldn’t an app have even the most superficial of internet presences?

It only does audio podcasts so anyone who watches DiggTV is left aside. Though, it is called Google Listen, so there really isn’t any fault. Also while in app search is good, it doesn’t always get the results you want. It will only pull individual podcasts as results. So if you search ‘TWiT’, you will get a chunk of hits for each one of their episodes as well as all the episodes in their network. It doesn’t give you one subscribe link so you can grab and go. Similarly, if you search ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ their podcast doesn’t show up at all, even though you can subscribe from their page, however many pages in that might be.

My biggest complaint is that it hadn’t been updated since it went to Market. In a beta setting, you would expect updates on a nearly daily basis. It makes me think this was a one-off, like the long forlorned Google Notebook (which would have been great on the  Android), and it won’t exist in a year. It’s hard to commit.

Things I like: It doesn’t autodownload. It also defaults to a wi-fi connection and requires a click to use your network and your minutes. If you aren’t on a data unlimited plan, this is fantastic. It also means I can get new updates when I’m stuck waiting in a train station. Also it saves to the SD instead of my already strained 8 GB internal memory, so I don’t have to worry about download a new podcast or a new app or actually getting my text messages.

Things I don’t like: It’s buggy, which makes those updates extremely important. If left on for a while, like the podcasts I listen to which are 45 or so minutes long, it will shut off in 20 minutes and not always remember where it left off. And since it downloads as it plays, it’s difficult to get it to where you were.

Things I want: More updates. Fix this stupid turn off thing. Give me a widget that plays from the home screen. Make the Reader Hook more useful. It’s a little weird right now. I can’t put my finger on it but it is.

At least this gives me hope. Maybe Google Notebook will come back. At the very least, I won’t miss the Fernando & Greg show anymore.

Posted in Chicago Bears, NFL, Sports

There is no room for Pity in the NFL.

The guys in my office and I give each other a lot of crap, especially where Football is concerned. I tend to be singled out since most of the guys there are either from the Bay Area and are 49er fans or are from Boston and are Pats fans. I am from Chicago. I am usually on the ass end of these conversations so I try to stay quiet.

Try to.

This conversation started about 10 minutes of straight Niner whining that they may not see the Super Bowl again in light of this year’s NFL Draft.

Engineer #1: It’s getting to the point it’s just hard to be a Niners fan these days.
Me: OH BOO HOO.
Engineer #1: W-what?
Me: (in a mocking whiny voice, with back turned to the rest of the room) Oh Boo Hoo. We can’t make it to the Superbowl even though we went a bajillion times already. What Ever Will We Do?!
Engineer #2: Oh come on, we haven’t even been in playoff contention for over five years!
Me: Up until a few years ago, the Bears haven’t been in playoff contention for over Fifteen. CRY ME A RIVER.
Engineer #3: Ha, yeah we got a little spoiled with the 90’s…
Me: Yeah. “A Little.”
Engineer #4: You know the 49ers never lost a Superbowl that they got to.
Me: … I effing hate you guys so much.

Posted in Work

Pros of a Long Commute

This is what it takes for me to get to work:

House to Train: 15 Minute Drive
San Jose to San Francisco: 60 – 80 minutes by Train
Wait for Bus: 10 – 20 minutes
Bus to Work: 20 minutes

It takes anywhere between 1hr 45min to 2hr 15min to either get to work or home. Usually, it’s the former to get the work, latter to get home. By the time I get home, it’s after 8:30 and I am drained. It’s been offered for me to transfer fully to the office in Sunnyvale which is significantly closer. I always turn it down.

My team is in San Francisco. Sure, we’re part of Yahoo! Sports, but that’s not who hired me. The same people I’ve been working with for three years are all up there. That’s where I’ll get the most help and be the most productive. Also, my development box is there. So obviously, I need to be close to that.

There’s also a hidden quality to that commute. My husband also works in San Francisco. Many in my position don’t see their loved ones until they get home late at night. I see mine until 9 o’clock or so in the morning and as soon as 6:30 in the evening. Then we can rant as we need to about our workday during those two hours of forced quality time and not have to let it explode when we both get home at 8. It’s a nice thing, oddly enough, to have that time where we can spend together. Without it, we would be at each other’s throats.

So San Francisco may suck, but it’s better than being apart.

Posted in Sports

The Olympics, Redux

The Olympics are around the corner again. Well, not for the general public. That would be next year. But if you’re in marketing or any sort of support for Athletics or the event in general, you’ve already been on it for a month.

One of the guys I work with and I get along very well when it comes to all sports all the time. He was talking to one of our product managers about the Olympics then turned to me and asked how I felt about Olympic coverage. He is a purist when it comes to live sports. Namely, it has to be live. So when the news came down that NBC was offsetting the times of the events for the 2012 Olympics, it was frustrating.

I told him that I preferred primetime viewing, to a point. The biggest problem was that I love the Olympics. Well, the winter ones. I’m not really a fan of summer sports. But when it comes to winter sports? I love international competition. Especially hockey! And it almost never gets played in a timezone you can watch. The other problem is that what you might want to watch may be different from what NBC expects you to watch, then you’re out of luck.

We came up with a brilliant system!

NBC should have primetime coverage. Some events will of course have a great deal of interest, like whatever event Michael Phelps is in. DirecTV, because it is the service we have in the office, should have 24/7 broadcasts. This way those who want to see it when it happens can, and they can show all that extra fluff between events down to what is going on in the Olympic Village. I hear Phelps has some awesome downtime activities.

Honestly, I watched the XGames in the summer. I don’t even remember what I watch during the Olympics… I know it wasn’t swimming.

Posted in Games

Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

When I preordered Dragon Age 2 and summarily after my second successful playthrough, EA had a stretch of marketing genius. They offered free downloadable copies of Mass Effect 2 for anyone who bought Dragon Age 2 for a month. I had no interest in the Mass Effect Series. The storyline seemed a little dark and if I’m going to play a shooter, I would rather it be set in the 50’s / 60’s era a la Mafia II, a very romantic time for shooting things.

But this was free. It was a highly acclaimed Bioware product that was free. Count me as a new Mass Effect Player. A following weekend had EA do a Spring Sale where they set all of their products to 40% off that wasn’t a preorder. I’ve never seen such a thing. It’s usually featured products. It was coincidentally the first weekend of the Great PSN Outage of 2011. And, as a later post will explain, I was being infuriated by Mass Effect 2. I thought if I had played the first one, the context of the game would make a little more sense. It’s hard to continue a story halfway through if you have no idea what the first half was about.

So I bought the first Mass Effect, like a sucker.

My husband is a big fan of Mass Effect, the way I am for Dragon Age, so he did what I would do: check in once every few days on how well Mass Effect was going. I hadn’t started to play, to be honest, but I did buy it. It led to this odd conversation.

Me: Here’s a stat I’m curious about. How many people downloaded Mass Effect 2 who got it with their purchase of Dragon Age 2, and of those people, who bought Mass Effect this weekend?
Him: Here’s a better question, how many people bought anything from this sale who have a PSN account because the network’s down?
Me: OHMIGAWD, that is a good question!
Him: And that is why you can’t have nice things.
Me: …. awh. Troll.

He is a troll. But he’s also right, as many trolls can be. The timing of the sale was extremely coincidental. Also, I can’t have nice things because I can’t just play a game. Or buy one. I have to analyze everything to death and get excited about metrics.

I am such a sucker for good merchandising. I wish I wasn’t, but not more than I wish there was another sale.

Posted in Chicago Blackhawks, NHL, Sports

Sports in Review: Chicago Blackhawks, the Playoffs

We were out in one, but it was also the most intense first round contests of any sport I’ve ever witnessed. The first two games we practically threw away. Halfway through the third, a shock came to the entire team as Seabrook was blindsided by a dirty hit by Toress (VAN). It was brutal by Old School Standards. By modern standards, it should have been at least 5 minutes in the box though I was furious with anything less than a full suspension. But no, two minutes.

It didn’t matter. That woke the team up. Sometimes it takes something brutal to unite you as a unit. From then on, it was dominating once again. Granted, they lost Game 3. Games 4 and 5 were played as if they were a different squad all together. They played hard and Crawford instantly from Rookie to Headliner. It went from a 7-2 landslide at home to a 5-0 shutout  in Vancouver. The Hawks were back.

By Game 6, the stunned Canucks regained focus. Game 6 was what everyone expected the entirety of the series to be: a battle of Defenses. Back in Chicago, the Hawks scraped by 3-2 in overtime. When they had to finish in Vancouver, it went down even further losing 1-2 in overtime.

Losses are tragic, but this is one of those that could be a moral victory. I never expect a team that backs into the playoffs to excel, but they did. They turned their Rookie Goalie into a Wall competing against Legendary Luongo on the same ice where Luongo won the Gold for Canada in the Winter Olympics just a year prior. Next year, I will be excited from October to May. You can count on that.