Good Obamorning!

05 November 2008 » In Opinion » 2 Comments

Yes, we can. Yes, we did. And yes, we will.

I spent last night at the Digg/CurrentTV election party, surrounded by friends, having drinks and anxiously awaiting the results of this historic election. The atmosphere was electric – you could practically feel the positive energy flowing through everyone there. A few seconds before the 8 pm poll deadline, the crowd started chanting the countdown, and when it hit and Obama’s electoral vote count jumped to 297… the place went crazy, exploding into shouts, cheers, and whoops of jubilation, and I could feel myself shedding a few tears.

Never before have I been this affected by a political event or issue. I am not yet a citizen, so I cannot vote, but I am proud that people who can finally made the right choice by electing Barack Obama, the first African-American to be the President of the United States. This is a man of extraordinary moral character, intelligence, and judgement, who overcame racial prejudice, claims of inexperience, outlandish rumors and many other obstacles in this long campaign. He is an agent of change, and this is precisely what this country and its people need in these trying times.

The only thing that marred an otherwise joyful evening was the news that California Proposition 8 passed. It’s terrible that such bigotry and prejudice is still out there. The fight against it must continue. Yes, we can.


03 November 2008 » In Games, Reviews » 2 Comments

Recently I signed up for Raptr, partly because my friend Kevin works there and partly because I was getting back into gaming. In a basic sense, Raptr is a social service for people to keep track of what games their friends are playing. Of course, you can do it via Xbox Live already, but you have to be logged in to see who’s online and it covers only one platform. Raptr fixes it by providing a unified view over your multiple gaming identities: Wii, Xbox Live, Steam, PS3, WoW, and others. On PC and Mac, you can install Raptr client, and it will discover what games you have installed and add them to your game library (2000+ games, including Flash ones, are supported now and more are being added all the time). The client also handles patching your games.

A couple of things that I like specifically:

  • News feed – this serves as the frontend to your profile (here’s mine). The status messages are cute: “Nothing like a short game of Rock Band (360) to calm andreiz‘s frayed nerves.“, or “andreiz spent a chunk of time playing Braid (XBLA).
  • Twitter (and other social services) integration – I can have Raptr post to Twitter on my behalf when I start playing a game or unlock an achievement.

I’m far from what you would call a “hardcore” gamer, but I find it useful to see at one glance what games I have played on various platforms, and what my friends have been up to, and which games are popular in my circle or overall.

Give Raptr a try and tell me what you think.

Farewell, Outspark

01 November 2008 » In Me, Work » 2 Comments

All good things come to an end, and thus, November 5 will be my last day at Outspark. It’s been a wild, yet fulfilling ride over the last 17 months. When I was leaving Yahoo, I wanted a challenge and to be closer to the front lines of the business, and my wish definitely came true. Yes, there have been emergencies, frustrations, downtime, and a few crazily surreal moments in the true start-up fashion. But I’m very proud of what I helped build – a virtual playground for online gamers, a destination, a community, and the company that is the leader in its field. I met a lot of great people there and made good friends and I will definitely stay in touch with all of them. Outspark has a bright and interesting future.

As for me personally, it was simply time to move on. I wanted to take some time off to chill, travel, invest some effort into personal development, and reassess my future plans. My last day almost coincides with my birthday, and it feels like a good date to start this new chapter in my life.

P.S. As you noticed, the look and structure of this site has changed. If you can’t find some page you were looking for, please let me know.

OSCON 2008 Slides Available

26 July 2008 » In PHP, Talks » Comments Off on OSCON 2008 Slides Available

Another year, another great OSCON event. The slides for my intl me this, intl me that talk are now available online via Talks page.

GeekSessions Talk and Slides

19 January 2008 » In PHP, Talks » 3 Comments

This past Tuesday I was a co-presenter at GeekSessions, an event that brings together speakers on a particular topic and the audience interested in it, or, as their site says, “a place with smart people and free beer.” This Geeksessions event was, of course, centered on PHP and the other speakers were Cal Henderson of Flickr, Lucas Nealan of Facebook, and Sara Golemon of Yahoo!. We each had 15 minutes, but everyone had excellent talks given the time constraints.

Thanks to Cindy and Shon Burton and Christian Perry for inviting me and for organizing the event, and to Terry Chay, for being the MC.

The slides from my 15 minute talk, all 40+ of them are on the Talks page.

New Year, New Photos

05 January 2008 » In Photography » 3 Comments

I’ve just uploaded some photos taken over the New Year’s eve period. One album is from a pre-party at my friends’ place, and the other from the awesome Sea of Dreams event at the SF Concourse center. I had a lot of fun shooting both events, and a lot of it was due to my new camera acquisition – Nikon D3 – with its absolutely amazing performance in low-light situations.

I’ll have more to say on D3 in another post, but for now, check out the photos. A selection of Sea of Dreams ones can also be seen on Flickr, or even better – on Flickriver.

Plaxo Pulse DOA

05 November 2007 » In Tech » 4 Comments

As if the current proliferation of social networks was not enough, Plaxo has recently launched its own offering called Pulse, in the best tradition of branding-via-metonymy. First of all, “Pulse”? I am generally not in the habit of checking my friends’ vital signs several times a day, so that kind of got lost on me. Maybe they could have done better with Spasm, Borborygm, or ultimately, Omphaloskepsis, since that’s basically what social networks are.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that Plaxo Pulse fails. Out of the gate. Dead on arrival. Why? Well, ever since it launched I’ve been receiving notices that such-and-such has added me as friend or wants to add me as a business contact. These notices provide a link to go to Pulse site and confirm the connection. Not recognizing one of the names, I decided to clicke on the link to check it out, but all I saw was a page that said, “Not a member yet? Sign up!” Are you freaking kidding me? You expect me to sign up just to see who wanted to add me as a contact? No thanks, Pulse. You lost me at “click here”.

php|works Atlanta Slides

15 September 2007 » In PHP, Talks » 1 Comment

I am back from Atlanta. This was a pretty good conference and also my first visit to that area. There were some very interesting talks, and the closing keynote was supremely funny and inventive – great job, Sean (and Marco). A few of us ventured into the city in the evening and had the best LHB event so far.

Slides for my keynote and VIM presentation are available on the Talks page.

php|works Atlanta

11 September 2007 » In PHP, Talks » 4 Comments

Ed Finkler, or funkatron, as he prefers to be known (although I’ll have to investigate this claim of “tron”ing the “funk”), put up a Guide to php|works Atlanta. He has good judgement to highlight both of my talks (your pick of a beer at the conference, Ed). Apparently, Matt Mullenweg won’t like whatever it is I have to say in my keynote, which means I can make whatever extravagant claims I want. And yes, “Vim for (PHP) Programers” should be very nerdy, yet very, very hot. Oh yes. Work it, baby. I’m almost positive someone will go into the Insert mode during the talk.

Off to Atlanta tomorrow. I hear that the ratio of single, attractive, funny and intelligent women to, well, men over there is about 9:1. ‘Nuff said.

Ferry Plaza Food Extravaganza

13 August 2007 » In Bay Area, Food » Comments Off on Ferry Plaza Food Extravaganza

Mushroom Shop

So I was going to write a long post, nay, multiple long posts about my new job, moving to San Francisco, how cool my new place is, how much I love living here, etc, etc, etc. You know, the usual stuff from someone who moves from suburbia of South Bay to the coolest city in the country. But I’ll save you the grief of reading through that and summarize:

  1. My new job (at Outspark) is cool. I get to build platforms to support games that we publish and all these games include some type of social interaction. So, Web 2.0 + games = profit!
  2. Our first game — Fiesta — is blazing through our target demographic like Homer Simpson through week-old donut bucket behind Kwik-E-Mart.
  3. San Francisco rocks. You should try living here at least once.
  4. On second thought, no, don’t try living here, it’s crowded and expensive enough as-is. You can visit, but if you do, please, never, ever call it San Fran. Or SF. Or, heaven forbid, Frisco. The locals call it “the city”, but for you it’s San Francisco. St. Francis of Assisi, mkay? Welcome.
  5. You should vote for my submission to the Passport theme photo contest at JPG Mag. Really. All the cool kids are doing it.
Cowgirl Creamery

Let’s move on to the real topic. Even before I moved to the city, I kept hearing that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is something to be experienced. So this past weekend, I got up early enough (yes, 10 am, I blame my co-workers for the previous night) and went to “experience” it. My place is just over a mile from the Ferry Building and it’s a very nice walk along Embarcadero and all the piers. Just beautiful, especially on a cool, breezy morning.

The market itself is outside, along the front of the building, but most of it is on the rear plaza overlooking the Bay. Walking through it is enough to make you salivate: fresh vegetables piled high on the tables, golden honey glistening under the sun, heirloom tomatoes showing their multi-hued juiciness to the public. I saw a stall that sold not fewer than 6 different types of pluot. I tasted (and bought) Snow Giant white peaches that were so sweet and tender that you don’t even have to chew them. I lost count of the word “organic” written on the product signs. And if you tire or get hungry, like I did, just walk to one of the food stalls on the south side, get yourself a nice California-style omelet, salad, or sandwich, and enjoy it while sitting by the water and thinking how awesome this place is.

Caviar Cafe

Still with me? Good, it’s not over yet. There’s also the Ferry Building itself, which I can unabashedly and without slightest exaggeration call “foodie heaven”. From Cowgirl Creamery, making dozens of varieties of cheeses and creams, to I Preferiti di Boriana, giving you a taste of Tuscany, to Recchiuti Confections, that looks nothing more like Apple Store, but for chocolates. And then there is Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Cafe, which surprised even me with their selection. Plus, there are restaurants, cafes, wine shop, gelateria, and even a bookshop, to complete the picture. Quite awesome, to sum it up, and a great place to spend a few hours. Or a day. And a bunch of your money. The only other place I’ve seen anything like it is Paris.

Granted, Mountain View Farmers Market is quite good and is cheaper. But then, it is in Mountain View.

So if you do visit San Francisco — or if you live here, but haven’t bothered to visit the market — do yourself a favor and get over to Ferry Building on a nice Saturday morning. You won’t regret it.

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