Capn Design

My Life

It's Time for Something New

Posted February 7, 2012

I have a (very delayed) announcement to make. After 5 years, depending on how you count, I have left SAY Media (aka Six Apart aka Apperceptive) to join OKCupid. Also, this happened about 3 months ago. What can I say, I’ve been busy.

I am in their office in Times Square, but not working on the product directly. Instead, I’m working with a small team (about 8 people) to build new social products. You could call it a startup incubator or a research and development lab, but it’s just a few smart people building web products. And so far, I’m having a blast.

For a little catharsis, I’ll share a bit about why I’m making this move. During my last year at SAY, I transitioned completely to a product management role. There was a lot to like about it, as I had almost complete control over my product and there were a ton of really smart people (not to mention the company is doing quite well). I also learned that I’m far more excited and effective when I’ve got my hands in the code or design than when I’m just poring over Gantt charts and JIRA tickets. In fact, I think it’s pretty difficult to effectively lead a product without getting your hands dirty. I didn’t do that nearly enough at SAY, but it’s a part of my daily routine now. When I have an idea, I build it, we play with it, and we move forward. It’s been a great way to work and I’m feeling a lot more productive.

I’ve also confirmed a long-held suspicion — I work best in the early stages of a project. Conceiving, prototyping, building, and shipping a new product is what I do best. It’s why I liked working in client services with Appercetive and it’s why I took this new gig. The ridiculously smart people in this office is just icing on the cake.

While we don’t have any projects ready for the public yet, I can guarantee I’ll write about them here. I’ll also work on improving my event to blog post latency. Either that or I’ll start trumpeting the hot new thing, Slow Blogging.

Photos from Japan

Posted August 3, 2010

I’ve got a few blog posts in mind about my trip to Japan, but I figure that you might want to look at my photos while you wait. Below is a slideshow of all of my photos, but I also put together a collection of various sets that break them up by city.

And if you want to go old school, here’s the photoset from my trip in 2005.

Canabalt Scoreboard Upgrades: User Scores, Historical Data

Posted December 4, 2009

Remember the Canabalt Scoreboard I built a while ago? I decided to add a couple things. Semisecret, the game's creator, is going to be adding a global leaderboard in the next update, so I thought I'd some things that will remain useful and parse some of the data.

Historical Data

death-graph.pngSince I started tracking data on October 4th, I've captured 25k scores. As of today, the average score is 3965m. When you break it down by the type of death, it's 3728m (fine mist), 4082m (hit wall) and 3686m (fell). I think it does a decent job of showing what obstacle is hardest to avoid (hitting a building above or below the window).

If you go to the site and click on the stats tab, you can also see a list of the highest score for each day since I've tracked scores and a pretty graph of how people are dying, broken down by day (seen to the right). It's also an interesting look into how often people are posting their scores to Twitter which I imagine correlates closely to total usage.

User Scores

You can also now look at all of the scores you've submitted. For example, here are mine and here's iSpacemanSpiff, who has the highest score right now. If you want to look up the scores of anyone else, just go to the main page and do a search.

More Information

I have other data I'd like to get up there, specifically the average score per day, to see if people are improving overall. And if any of you like the graph, I built it using the Javascript library, Bluff. I like it a lot and have also been interested in using High Charts, but that's fodder for another post.

The more I build this out, the more I think this would be a useful tool for developers. I know many collaborative FPS and MMPORG games use stats to change how the game works and I think iPhone developers with global leaderboards could learn from this data too.

The Bad Tour

Posted June 26, 2009

In April 1988, I went to my first, honest-to-goodness rock show. Yes, I'd seen some other live music, but never anything like this. For my birthday, my Uncle Steve took me to see Michael Jackson perform on his Bad tour at Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena) in Chicago. I remember my dad dropping me off with him during dinner at a restaurant that let you throw peanuts on the floor. I also remember being phenomenally excited.

We were sitting in our seats, waiting patiently for the show to start. The crowd was already chanting and I was getting giddy. If you've been to Rosemont, you know it can get incredibly loud. It wasn't as loud as Chicago Stadium, but it was loud. So when Michael took the stage and every single person screamed at the top of their lungs, it was deafening.

Being just barely 8 years old, unable to hear anything and having a huge LED display flashing 'BAD' at me over and over, I immediately started to cry. My uncle noticed relatively quickly and tried to smooth it over as Michael started to moonwalk. Seeing I was completely freaked, he took me outside and got me a 7-Up. The hallway was completely desolate as the world was inside watching Michael and I managed to calm down. We went back in.

The rest of the show was mostly a blur, but I distinctly remember him being in a human-sized, backlit tent doing 30-second costume changes. I'm also positive that the show was life-altering.

The photo above is from the string of Rosemont shows and the video is from the a stop in Japan

New Year, New MT

Posted January 2, 2009

After an embarrassingly long period of time, I updated Capn Design to MT 4.23 tonight. It was tempting to jump straight to the latest Motion beta, but I decided one major change was enough for now. Of course, I did get Action Streams set up so I can start collecting data. This is step one and two in my plan for world domination.

Writing this notice reminds me that I never told you, dear readers, that I've been an employee of Six Apart since last April. I was with Apperceptive from November 2006 until 6A acquired us a year and a half later and we became Six Apart Services. I could wax poetic about how awesome it's been and how the 2002 version of me would be incredibly giddy, but this is a news post; I wouldn't want to sully it with any kind of emotion.

So what am I going to be up to this year? Last year was predefined by my wedding, but this year's completely open and I'm excited by that. I'm looking forward to tackling lots of small projects, with this site being one of them.

What a Great Day

Posted November 4, 2008

Illustration by Patrick Moberg

Yes, I am in paradise, but I'm also pretty pumped about my man Obama.

What's surprised me is how pumped everyone in Thailand is about this election. Every time I hopped in a cab and they asked in broken English where I'm from, the first response to "New York City" is always "Barack Obama!" Oftentimes, they'd go on and talk to me about who has more foreign policy experience or if America can really elect a Black President. Sure, the US elections affect everyone, but it's amazing how knowledgeable my cab drivers have been.

Anyway, with this election seeming pretty much wrapped up, I'm going to go hang on the beach.

I Done Got Hitched

Posted October 31, 2008

Well, we did it. After five years of dating, Jori and I tied the knot last weekend. Everything was amazing and it's definitely the most fun I've ever had at a wedding. It's crazy to think that after a year of planning we'll finally get to come up for some air.

We couldn't have had more fun, but the weekend was slightly bittersweet. My Uncle Mike and Ted, who I'm very close with and oftentimes consider friends first, almost didn't make it. They weren't sick or out of town on business, but had an existential dilemma. While they fully supported my union with Jori, they didn't have the same support for our marriage. After celebrating thirty-two years together, they still can't be married in our state and in most states in the US. I'm elated they decided to join us, but I would prefer to have gone to their wedding. Hopefully, if enough Californians vote no on Prop 8, we'll be one step closer.

Now we're off to celebrate the next step in our lives with a trip to Thailand. We'll be in Bangkok, Ko Lanta (close-ish to Phuket) and Chiang Mai over the next two weeks. Posting here will be even more non-existant than usual, but I might try to squeeze in a post or two if inspiration strikes.

See ya'll on the other side.

Update: Anil showed me up! His post on marriage is way more thoughtful than mine. I guess that's what three years of marriage gets you. Happy anniversary Anil and Alaina!

Resolution: Less Input, More Output

Posted December 31, 2007

I've spent plenty of time pondering the glut of information available to us, but this post isn't about that. Instead, I'm publicly declaring that I'm going to cut down on magazines, tv shows, movies, etc. and work hard to start making more stuff. As those now painfully annoying IBM commercials say, society is run by doers. While, the earliest years of your life should be about soaking up data and learning to process it, I'm ready to put down my Guitar Hero axe (for a little while) and spend some time making a bigger dent in the world.

Sure, my life is 90% output from 10am to 6pm during the week, but I have a greater sense of ownership of the work I do on this blog or projects like The Movie Binge. I don't pretend that Capn Design could make much of a dent on society, but it makes me feel good knowing I've contributed something. And like all aspsects of the world, those first, small steps could lead you just about anywhere.

Strategies for Making it Happen

I do have a couple bigger ideas to work on, but I'm going to focus more on making every input bear fruit. This means I'll only see National Treasure: Book of Secrets or listen to This American Life if I'm willing to spend time finding something interesting about it. It may suck some of the enjoyment out of my free time, but I need to train my mind to be more critical.

What may be even more important is taking the time to write things down. Some friends were leafing through my 100 page notebook I carry everywhere and we realized I'd been using the same one for over 4 years. While I do jot down ideas on the computer, far too many go the way of the Dodo Bird.

While cutting back on input helps, it won't give me the time I need to get things done. I've already started improving the systems I use to process data, but in the end it comes down to setting aside time to just think. To start, I'd like to have an hour of time to create something every night. It's not much, but I think it will get me going on the right path, which is what these resolutions are all about.

There's No Time Like the Present

Posted November 28, 2007

Jori was just telling me she was hesitant to contact a friend with whom she rarely communicates. "Don't worry," I said, "there's no time like the present." I figure it's time to take her advice and jump back in. Here's the big stuff that's gone down over the last couple months.

1. (with a bullet) I'm getting married.

In just under eleven months, Jori and I will be married here in Brooklyn. We've been together for over four years and said, "We want tax breaks wine glasses and hibachi sets to plan a huge freaking party to confirm our love in a religious and spiritual ceremony." In all seriousness, it's awesome. She's smart, beautiful and tolerates my ability to out-annoy anyone — it was destined to be.

2. In November, I had the Shingles

Updating you on my attempts to contract every old man disease (see: sciatica), some newfound back discomfort turned into a week of debilitating pain and two weeks of itchiness. I wouldn't recommend it. My doctor said it's mostly caused by bad luck, while friends and the internet all told me it was stress related, which is certainly possible. The good news is you can't pass shingles to anybody — it comes from the chicken pox virus, which lives dormant in your nervous system. While saying shingles makes me feel all old timey, I also think herpes zoster sounds kind of awesome.

3. The New Capn Design is Close

I've got some new MT templates all gussied up and my beta setup is on MT4. Considering I'm busy with the holidays and wedding preparations, expect the new hotness by the first day of 2008. While I've said it here before, Khoi reminded me that saying things out loud makes it real.

Smaller News

Thanksgiving was delicious, I'm one year into my time at Apperceptive (A+++), Jori and I had a fantastic time in San Francisco and Yosemite and our two new roommates, Zack and Herman, have been a pleasure.

Phew, glad I got that post out.

Lowering the Bar

Posted August 3, 2007

If you're a regular reader of Capn Design, you've noticed that I infrequently write full-length blog posts. Once upon a time I would post three to four times a day, but my blog was quite different back then. Still, it felt good to be writing consistently.

Thing slowed down when I start to feel internal pressure to only write posts when I felt the topic was "important". As a result, I would stop posting for long stretches and the site would lay dormant. I know lots of people follow this progression but I think I've had enough. As of August, I'm lowering the bar.

From now on, if I find something interesting, I'll get a post started right away and just see what comes out. If everyone has posted about a meme, maybe I'll have something interesting to say. If not, I'm leaving it up to you to tune it out. This is another way of saying that I'm passing more of the editorial reins to the reader. I'll do my best not to bore you, but I make no promises.

To kick things off, I'm going to post once every weekday for the month of August. This has confused and frightened some of my friends this week. "Where the hell did this bit of writing come from, you just posted yesterday!?!" Most of the discussion will lack any really theme, but for one week I will discuss the new components I added to my home theater this winter. I've been using them for a while and have a lot to say.

This is really part one of the redesign of this blog. Yes, I've been working on a new design for what feels like years, but the content is what really needed an overhaul. If this works out, I might actually finish coding the bastard.

Bookmans and the Used Magazine

Posted April 9, 2007

20070409bookmans.gifFor Passover I traveled to Tucson with Jori. Aside from quality family time and delicious food (more on that later), we visited a fantastic bookstore called Bookmans. Bookmans peddles only used media and has a great selection. It's incredibly well organized for a used goods store and has fantastic staff (had answers to all my questions and thensome).

My favorite feature, by far, is their used magazine section. You can bring in your used magazines — everyday magazines, although they have collectibles as well — and they give you hold hard cash. Then they resell most of the magazines for half the original price, older time-sensitive mags for much less (fifty cents) and some for a bit more than half (stuff like Readymade). Since I was eager to see Time's new design but wasn't going to pay five bucks for the privelege, I bought the latest issue for $2.50 and an older one for $.50.

In addition to magazines, we found half a dozen books we'd been meaning to pick up for half-price. If you're a book junkie and in Tucson or Phoenix, it's a worthy stop.

2006: Where I Traveled

Posted January 1, 2007

Another year, another list of cities I visited. I was bit more thorough this year (asterisks stand for multiple visits):

New York, NY*
Riverwoods, IL*
Chicago, IL*
Gunisao Lake, Manitoba, CA
Palm Desert, CA
West Dover, VT
Cherry Hill, NJ*
Philadelphia, PA*
Hoboken, NJ
Los Angeles, CA
Binghampton, NY

You may also be interested in last year's list.

Hello There, Serious Eats

Posted December 4, 2006

20061204SElogo.jpgYou've know for a while that I've been writing for A Hamburger Today and you've known for a week that I've got a new job and know you'll know about the fantastic coincidence that joins these together.

Today marks the official launch of Serious Eats, a site implemented by all of us at Apperceptive. What's nutty about it is that Adam, my burger-lover in arms at AHT, is the managing editor. Yep, we both ended up with new jobs that let us work on food blogs for money (more him than me, though).

Coincidence aside, Serious Eats is looking sharp. It's backed by tons of awesome people (Ed Levine, Meg Hourihan and Alaina Browne to name a few) and has the makings of a great community. I'm always overwhelmed by Chowhound and put off by the pomposity of eGullet's members, so I'm ready for Serious Eats to provide all the answers I need.

Time for a Change

Posted November 22, 2006

While I don't talk about my professional life on Capn Design very much (at least not anymore), I figured this was worth mentioning. I'm currently in the third week of a new job. I've left Jewish National Fund (amicably, of course) and moved on to a small web development shop by the name of Apperceptive. The majority of our business is in the blog world and that makes me very happy.

I've got more to say about the move, but I've decided to relegate my personal blogging to my vox blog. In fact, this will likely be a friends only post. So, if you're dying to read it, you better sign up for vox.

Where I've Been For the Last 30 Days

Posted July 26, 2006

Summer break! Well, I didn't exactly plan to have a summer break, but it appears I had one. To get the ball rolling again, here's some highlights from the last month:

  • Just after I left you, I made my way up north to Lake Gunisao. Man, it was breathtaking up there. If the flies weren't so annoying, I could spend a month there just staring out at the lake. I put together a photoset of the best snaps I got on the trip.
  • Although I've missed a few games, my kickball skills have vastly improved and the Bacon Bits are doing well. I've kicked 2 home runs in the last 3 games.
  • I made my first trip to the new Fairway in Red Hook and it's awesome. If I had a car I'd go every week, but at least the B61 drops you off right in front.
  • I finally bought an Airport Express to fulfill my dream of synchronized music in the apartment and on the roof. It made my recent rooftop BBQ a success for nerds everywhere.
  • Two weekends ago I made my first trip to Montauk. Although people may consider it part of the Hamptons, it is infinitely better. Aside from having nice beaches there are nice people, which is a rarity in the fancy Hamptons. I'm a little upset I missed John's Drive-In though, as they supposedly have the best ice cream in town and a tasty burger on the menu. This was my only grievance though, as the four days I spent there was not nearly enough.
  • Work has been terribly busy due to the war in the Middle East. Politics aside, I'm proud of what we're doing for Israelis. We've already raised $1.5 million with our current campaign that is sending kids affected by the war to summer camp, building security roads in Northern Israel and providing emergency equipment for fire fighters. I'm happy we're able to protect some civilians from this chaos.
  • On Friday, Jori and I went to Applewood to celebrate her birthday. Oh my lord was it delicious. It was one of the top five meals I've had in New York City. I'll have photos and a better run down when my camera decides I can download my photos to my computer.
  • Monday and Tuesday I witnessed the Cubs beat up on the Mets at Shea. If only I had gone today, then maybe they would have pulled out the sweep. Over the two day stint I managed to eat two feet of hot dog.
  • The Movie Binge is humming along nicely as we're nearly halfway through the movies. This week we had two scathing reviews: Lady in the Water and Little Man. You can expect a review of the depressingly crappy film Clerks II sometime tomorrow.

That's a pretty solid recap of my last 30 days. My only complaint is missing Pub Quiz two times in a row (and I have to mix it next time). Boo!

Lake Gunisao

Posted June 26, 2006

I'm on a plane about to leave for Gunisao Lake, which is 275 miles North of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada. While trying to figure out the weather for the trip I looked at Google Earth to figure out what cities were nearby. There aren't any. Below are some shots of the area so you can see exactly how far out it is.

As you might guess, I'll have no access to cell service or the internet there, which should be a nice break. See you in a week.



Food Diary: Days 4-7

Posted June 26, 2006

Okay, so I got lazy. I kept the log, but I didn't bother putting it up until now (day 7 might be a little spotty; I think I missed a few things). So shoot me. Tien, you are far more regimented than I.

Day 4: Friday

8:25am HOME Banana
10:30am WORK Sesame bagel with cream cheese from street vendor
11:37am Start 32oz. of water
2:00pm 1/3 of my leftover Blockheads Burrito, small container of salsa, 1/2 of a small bag of tortilla chips
2:09 Finished water
2:17 Started 20oz water
4:18 12oz. Sprite
5:40 ANGELIKA FILM CENTER Medium bag of popcorn
8:25 BURGERS AND CUPCAKES Cheeseburger, 1/2 a basket of fries, carrot cupcake, glass of water, 2 bites of a vanilla cupcake
10:30 HOME Glass of water

Day 5: Saturday

10:28am HOME 20 dry Trader Joe's Frosted Mini-Wheats
10:44 Bowl of TJ's Raisin Bran with 1% milk
12:56pm AMC EMPIRE 25 Start 24oz. of water
1:28 2/3 of a box of Junior Mints
2:21 Finish water
4:27 Start 24oz. of water
4:37 The rest of the Junior Mints
5:46 Nature Valley Oats & Honey Granola Bar
6:10 Finish water
7:11 McDONALD'S Cheeseburger
8:57 FETCH 1 Glass of water, 1 Diet Coke, Blackened Salmon with Tomato, Avocado, Corn and Zucchini
12:04am HOME Glass of water

Day 6: Sunday

10:28am HOME Bowl of Honey Puffed Kashi with 1% milk
12:58pm Leftover Salmon from yesterday, 1 small strip of grilled chicken, 1 Fresca
2:26pm 30 pistachois, 1 glass of water
3:21 1 hot dog gummy candy
3:57 1/2 of a Spinach Pitza (yes, Pitza) from Bedouin Tent
5:24 McCARREN PARK Started drinking water
9:14 Finished water, drank 84oz. total
10:04 HOME Two Trader Joe's Corn & Bean Enchiladas, glass of water
10:31 1 gummy hot dog candy

Day 7: Monday

8:29am HOME Bowl of Honey Puffed Kashi wih 1% milk
10:06 WORK Begin 32oz. of water
1:12pm Turkey burger with fries from America's Burgers & Wraps, Diet Coke
3:39 Banana
4:14 Finished water
8:42 YEMEN CUISINE (Great place, could only find an out-dated Voice review) Chicken Galaba, Yeminite soup (no clue), Salad with carrot ginger-ish dressing, 2 glasses black tea
9:47 LAST EXIT BAR 1 fountain Coke
11:36 HOME 1/2 glass of water

Food Diary: Day 3

Posted June 16, 2006

The dam is starting to break...

Day 3: Thursday

8:28am HOME 1 bowl of Trader Joe's Rasin Bran with 1% milk
10:34 WORK Begin 30oz. of water
10:37 2 baby carrots
11:21 1 bing cherry
12:33pm 2 bing cherries
1:04 1 Two-thirds of a chicken burrito from Blockheads, 12oz. Diet Coke
3:14 Granny smith apple
4:34 Finished water
8pm TIEN'S HOUSE 1 pint of water
8:13 LOMZYNIANKA Vegetable soup (potato-based?), a bite of cucumber salad, a bite of kielbasa, a bite of stuffed cabbage, a plate of boiled cheese and potato pierogies
10:30 HOME 1 Choco Taco, the best ice cream snack around

Food Diary: Day 2

Posted June 15, 2006

I didn't eat quite as much, but I didn't eat as well. I have a feeling it's just going to get worse through the weekend.

Day 2: Wednesday

8:34am HOME Banana
9:36 WORK Everything bagel with cream cheese from local deli
9:54 Started 10oz. of water
11:54 Finished water, started another 32oz.
12:46pm Slice of cheese pizza from Mariella's, 12oz. can of Fresca, 3 salt and pepper soy crisps
2:11 1 rugalach, 1 small fruity cookie
3:37 A handful of unsalted/roasted cashews
4:18 Finished water
5:56 STREET 1 Butter Rum Lifesaver
6:58 HOME 15 grapes
7:12 Trader Joe's Chinese Chicken Salad
8:05 Banana
9:33 LAUNDROMAT Nature Valley Peanut Butter Granola Bar
10:27 HOME Granny smith apple

Food Diary: Day 1

Posted June 14, 2006

Having recently read and enjoyed New York Magazine's five food diaries and followed along with Tien's, I decided to do my own. I'm always curious about what other people eat, so I thought I'd start the dialogue. Feel free to give it a shot on your site.

Day 1: Tuesday

9:30am OFFICE Begin 30oz. of water
10:52 Sesame bagel and cream cheese from street cart
11:20 Banana
11:29 Finished water
1:55pm GRACE'S MARKET Swiss cheese cube
2:09 OFFICE Begin 20oz. of water
2:11 4 pieces of fresh salmon sushi, 8 maki tuna roll pieces (both with wasabi and soy sauce)
2:33 Golden delicious apple
2:56 Finished 20oz. of water
3:36 4 pretzels
4:19 12oz. can of Diet Coke
7:15 HOME Heaping bowl of rotini with pasta sauce and ground turkey, 1.5 glasses of water
8:36 About 40 grapes
11:05 25 pieces of Trader Joe's Frosted Shredded Wheat Cereal

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