crschmidt: (photogeek)
On Thursday, I spent most of my therapy session talking about what I get out of broadcasting a gaming livestream on YouTube gaming.

I mentioned this to someone and they were like "Wait, are you making a joke?" and I was like no, seriously! I did! What is it about running a livestream with a half dozen or a dozen people watching that I find more entertaining? Why is this something that matters to me? What am I getting out of this that I am not getting out of other aspects of my life?

The answer is probably complicated, as with all questions that are brought up in therapy, but one of the things that came to the top of my mind: I get to tell stories to a non-captive audience who hasn't heard all of my stories.

I love telling stories. (Well, really, I mostly probably love to hear myself talk, but they're largely overlapping.) I have a fair number of stories. In fact, I have enough stories that I often forget which story I'm telling halfway through a story and start telling another story. I have enough stories that in order to remember the stories, I am now creating an anecdote tracking spreadsheet to remind myself of the stories. (While writing this paragraph, I remembered two more of my stories: the Botswanan prostitute in South Africa, and the German one in Berlin. These are brief enough that they are often told together, though sometimes I go from the Botswanan prostitute to the South African casino to the cheetah in Kruger National Park.)

But in most environments, telling stories has a social cost: I have to determine whether people are interested in my story, and I have a hard time figuring out when to shut up and listen, or how to notice that people aren't interested. For example: I can literally talk about copyright and Content ID for hours; I did it for 1.5 hours with a small engaged audience just a few days ago, and I think the people involved learned something. But having the same conversation in a different audience would have worked poorly; most people don't give two craps about copyright. (Writing that sentence, I thought of another anecdote to add to the anecdote tracker.) And figuring out how to shut up before people get cranky is hard for me, and always has been; at my previous job, it was actually a significant problem for me in the work environment.

So, what's a guy to do in the case where he can't accurately figure out how to tell stories to a captive audience without boring them to tears? The answer is simple: Make the cost of leaving the conversation socially trivial: In streaming video game playing -- especially on YouTube -- *there is no obligation to stay*. No one has to watch me; if they want to, they can, but otherwise, they can close their browser, and I will never know.

Yet even when I'm playing ancient games that most of my audience has never heard of -- whether it's wandering through the Great Underground Empire in Zork, collecting the Oracles in Commander Keen, or destroying Robotnik in Sonic -- I still maintain an audience, who talks with me and enjoys my stories.

This is not actually a lot different from what creates the "vlogging" movement: these are people who have stories to tell, and didn't have another audience, and chose to tell these stories to the internet -- where sometimes, people really enjoy their stories! This is not much different than LiveJournal was for many of us for many years. (It is a difference from IRC channels: because most people didn't have personal IRC channels for themselves, you had a somewhat captive audience; monopolizing them is generally inappropriate.)

With broadcasting game play, I have:

- A source of interesting content built in no matter what.
- A somewhat engaged, non-captive audience
- The ability to tell my stories to people who haven't heard them before.

And that's cool.

reading LJ

Nov. 12th, 2015 08:13 am
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I just realized that I haven't read LJ since the 5th.

Crap. This means that I've been spending too much time on other things, and forgetting to check LJ.

Need to fix this. In the meantime, have a meaningless update to indicate I realize I haven't been managing my time correctly!
crschmidt: (photogeek)
It's Fall weather out right now (53 degrees) but the high for today is 73.

Jess seems to find this some variety of confusing; I simply find it "weather".

Yesterday, I fixed something that was breaking live-streaming for many users in Russia, I think. I like it when a reddit complaint leads to a straightforward bugfix I can actually implement; it makes me feel less like a "hero" (which is good short term and bad long term) and more like I'm just doing my job.

Unfortunately, live-streaming isn't really my job.

I wonder if there's any companies that just have software development strike teams that just go around fixing high-touch user complaints. I guess there's only a handful of companies big enough to make that worthwhile, but it might be cool to have a general purpose strike team of a half dozen people to do things like that. I guess the biggest problem is the learning curve for any particular problem: it's taken more more than 12 months of listening to complaints every day to get to the point where a non-trivial chunk of them are actionable.

I still like the idea, even if it's impractical.

extra life

Nov. 3rd, 2015 10:01 pm
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I will be participating in the Extra Life charity gaming event this Saturday, November 8th.

This event was originally a 24 hour marathon, and I'm interested in the spirit of that, but I am concerned about:

- My longevity for such an event
- The impact on my family if I am to do such a thing.

So while I would like to stream gaming for 24 hours, I am not 100% convinced I will.

However, in honor of that effort, I have started off my campaign with a $24 donation -- one for every hour I'd like to stream -- on my profile at Extra Life.

If you would like to support Boston Children's Hospital, and awesome video game playing, please feel free to support me; and check me out on Saturday at Chris Plays Games on YouTube Gaming.

i beat it.

Nov. 2nd, 2015 11:57 pm
crschmidt: (photogeek)
After something like 3.5 hours of playtime on the Pyramid of Shadows in Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracles, I finally defeated the level tonight.

You can watch the final, successful attempt, here:


Oct. 30th, 2015 09:07 pm
crschmidt: (photogeek)
When I was 18 or 19, in one of my last dental appointments while still living at home, I got an x-ray done, and the dentist told me that all four of my wisdom teeth were impacted, and would eventually have to come out. At the time I had just finished up with a ton of orthodontia a year or so before, and it didn't seem like a huge priority at the time. I was just about to go back for my second year of college, if I remember correctly, having spent the summer traveling, and figured I'd do it later.

For the past 12 or so years, I have ended up avoiding routine and necessary dental care.

There are a lot of reasons for this, of course. 10 years ago, I didn't have dental insurance (I was self employed); since then, I have had a variety of insurance plans, but -- like most dental insurance plans -- they do not have an upper limit, and never covered everything I needed to get done.

I did actually go to the dentist a few times in there -- usually when something was wrong, though once when Jess set up the appointment and had me go.

During all this time, I have had intermittent mouth pain -- sometimes where my wisdom teeth are, sometimes not; sometimes for longer periods of time, sometimes just for a day or two, followed by it going away. I've always known my teeth are in bad shape, but I've just never done anything about it.

I did actually get bad enough that I did do something at one point: I had enough pain from it that I wasn't able to sleep at night for a couple weeks, and I finally made an appointment and went in to a dentist.

They were able to quickly identify the primary problem area -- an upper wisdom tooth that was heavily inflamed/infected -- and pull it out the same day. I made a follow up appointment and came back the next week, and they took out the other one. The first one was done without me even knowing that was what was going on, and the second one, I at least knew, but there was very little communication.

At the end of the second visit, they printed out a list of everything they wanted to do from that point forward: cavities, root canals, crowns that I needed -- one that needed fixing, and one tooth that needed a new root canal -- and a bunch of deep scaling cleanings in my mouth to fight back on a ton of long-running buildup. The total at the end of the proposal: $7000. (Note that at this point, I had already burned through my dental insurance for the year.) When I asked "Okay, I see what you have here, but I don't really have this kind of money right now: what do we need to do *right now* vs. at some point later?" The answer was "We need to do all of it right now."

So I just didn't go back.

About 3 months later, the crown that I did have on a rear molar cracked; I could feel it at the time, but still wasn't willing to go back; I just couldn't afford it at the time (or at least, didn't feel I could). Ever since then, I have been unable to chew on the left side of my mouth without getting food stuck in there, so I've been basically using only one side for eating for the past 3 years.

So, earlier this year, I finally am in a position where it was time to fix this. I need the dental care, and I can afford it. The dental insurance I have is decent, and I can pay the rest out of pocket; I need to get my mouth fixed.

So I've been doing that. Slowly but surely, I've been doing that. I got two deep cavities filled; one that the dentist hoped was going to just be a cavity ended up being a root canal. (Of course, I told him before he went in it was going to be a root canal, but he told me he thought it would be fine. I was right. He was wrong.)

So, the root canal got *mostly* done... except that because it's way in the back of my mouth (and apparently I have a small mouth? Who knew!) and they didn't have any of the right size files, they couldn't actually finish it up. So I had to schedule to come back in two weeks.

During those two weeks, something happened to my lower right wisdom tooth -- I don't know if it was related to the root canal, or just happened at the same time -- but by the time I got back in on my followup, I had to say "I'm having a ton of pain over there, I assume this is just because of what's left of the root?"

Nope. Turns out, it was just my wisdom tooth, acting up. And after looking at the x-ray, they said "There's no way that the dentist is going to be able to put a crown on this with the wisdom tooth pushing into it: you need to get that done first."

So, I called the oral surgeon that my dentist recommended. "Hi, I need a wisdom tooth consult." "Great, we'll see you at 9:30 tomorrow." Well, that's handy; especially since I really am suffering at this point (I was unable to sleep that night from pain).

Got in, and talked over the wisdom teeth with the oral surgeon. She was straightforward and informative: showed me the x-ray of my mouth (pano x-ray! whee! everyone else was using cheap single shot x-rays), and where the problems were; gave me the standard "things can go wrong" pitch, and talked to me about the various bits that we could take care of. In the end, we decided to take out the two wisdom teeth and the upper molar which had lost its crown 3 years before; the dentist was planning to take that latter one out the next time I saw him, but she figured she could just do it while she was in there, which is nice: it saves me another dentist trip, and it seems like it's also going to get covered under medical, rather than dental, insurance.

"So, when can you do it?" "Well, I'm leaving for a conference tomorrow." "Okay, is there some way that someone else can do it?" "Actually, I had a cancellation for tomorrow morning, so we can just do it then, if you want?"


So, 48 hours after walking out of my root canal finishing up, I had both of my wisdom teeth out. While I'm still in pain at the moment -- mostly in my jaw, rather than in the area the wisdom teeth actually were -- I am no longer to the point of random pains in the middle of the night waking me up; while there's still a bunch more to do -- 2 or 3 major cavities, plus I need to finish up the crown on the recent root canal, and need to get some routine work done as well -- I may actually be in a better position for eating by next week than I have been in years.

Some of this is, of course, my fault: the root canals I've had might have been something I could prevent with better brushing, or more routine maintenance. But the wisdom teeth are something that is just a fact of genetics and or bad luck; there's nothing I could have done to prevent them from being impacted, and I don't think that they would have been any easier to take out at any other time.

I am privileged that I'm able to just go do things like this, and I'm sorry to the many who can't. I'm sorry to those less fortunate, who just suffer like this forever; who lose teeth not because of laziness or fear, but lose teeth because they can't afford any better.

But I'm thankful to my lovely wife for helping me finally get this taken care of; to Dr. Joe Deprimio, who has been a jovial and positive influence on me actually continuing to go back to the appointments, to Commonwealth Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Associates and Jingye He for accomodating my wisdom teeth removal almost instantly.

Because I think it might actually be on the way to getting better. And that's a pretty cool thing for someone who has lived with intermittent annoyances and pain in his mouth for the past 10 years out of fear and mistrust of dentists.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I worked out why this feature of our API doesn't work at all the way the documentation says it does.

On the minus side, making it actually do what it says on the tin may ... actually be impossible with the data we currently have? Specifically, the data structure for "subscriptions of mine, sorted by date" is a datasource we have, but it's not clear that "people who subscribed to me, sorted by date" is.

But at least now I know that I'm not holding it wrong: it is just broken.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I beat the original Mega Man today! I did it by super-cheating, but it's a common form of cheating; I also used a walkthrough because trying to determine which enemies weapons work against each other isn't really practical.

I think I actually had up to 5 people watching me at one point.

In total, it took me about 4 hours to beat.

Part 1:
Part 2:

(Yeah, I've been live-streaming gaming stuff on YouTube off and on for a couple weeks. Tonight, I picked up an audience from a streamer I've been watching for the past 5 weeks or so: she was ending for the night, so I set up while I sat next to Julie while she worked on her homework.)

I'm happy I beat it. Now I need to play some game that's a little bit less desperately evil. :p
crschmidt: (photogeek)
This weekend, Jess and I went to the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort. Specifically, we stayed in the Bretton Arms. It was a nice chance for me to get away from work, something I desperately needed to do after a long couple weeks of stress.

- The area of the White Mountains Resort is still gorgeous. The view off the back veranda of the main hotel is something I could just sit and enjoy every afternoon for a week, and still be happy.
- Despite this, I am glad that I live in the city. When I first moved to NH, I found the remoteness of the White Mountains to be relaxing. These days, I do not feel the same way; it feels strange to me to be so far out of the way of things.
- A decade ago, I wanted to climb all the trails, drive the winding mountain roads, etc. Now, I just want to sit, have a beer, and enjoy the view.
- For a resort in the White Mountains, they have way too few White beer options.

It was so nice to get away. Of course, this week is already shaping up to be hell on wheels to make up for it, but so it goes.


Sep. 7th, 2015 10:36 am
crschmidt: (photogeek)
Since the launch of YouTube's Gaming property -- essentially a competitor to Twitch -- I've been partaking more of our live streams there, and have even done some myself. (on a new channel I set up, Chris Plays Games.)

Some things I've learned:

  • These people work marathon hours. It seems not-atypical for people to stream for 8-10 hours a day, for 5+ days a week.

  • Anyone playing anything N64 or older is a million times better at video games than I will ever be.

  • Live chat, even for smaller streams, attracts a lot of bullshit. I don't really get why this is.

  • Twitch is a lot bigger than YouTube Gaming.

None of this is particularly shocking, but just some random things I've learned.

Also, I'm not really good at Excitebike.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
Things that are -- or have been -- on my mind:

  • Attempting to make myself seem sufficiently palatable as a higher-level employee on paper that I can get promoted.

  • Deciding who is the next winner of the Awesome Cup, and writing a reasonable valedictory speech to pass it on to the next winner. (Made more difficult by my distance from many of the awesome things that happen in YouTube.)

  • YouTube Gaming launch was last Wednesday. I've done a lot of participation in reddit threads since then. In particular, one of my recent threads made best of reddit, where it got 400+ upvotes; my comment got 190+ upvotes; and my internal re-post to G+ got 120 +1s. Overall, it's probably one of my more popular/widely read pieces of writing since I started at Google, if I were to guess. (The post is at available here.)

  • Sleep schedule being all screwed up.

  • Forgetting to post this entry for like 24 hours.

crschmidt: (photogeek)
What are the reasons that I should get a different iPhone than an iPhone 5C?
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I woke up at 3am today from a dream/nightmare that I was having. In this dream, my YouTube account was suspended, because my videos were loading data across a link which was severely impacted by a fiber cut.

You know it's been a long week when your dreams start to combine the two (terrible) aspects of your work week.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
So, Kristan is dating a guy-long distance. She just visited him and came back, and said "Wow, this really sucks and it's only been two weeks. How am I supposed to make it the next two months until I see him again?"

So, I thought to myself: Let's go look what I did!

Luckily for me, my whole mental history of that time of my life is online, so I can easily read it!

Holy crap, I was ... well. I was a kid.

Some things that stand out:

  • Huh. This is an entry almost entirely about riding roller coasters. Okay, I could see myself writing that. And no one would care today any more than they did then. Also, this entry contains the words "Killed me, quite literally." THAT ISN'T WHAT LITERALLY MEANS, OLD SELF.

  • I did a bunch of LiveJournal development related stuff. If other people acted on my open source projects the way that I acted on LJ, there is no question I would have considered them an annoying little shit, and ignored them. (This is, in fact, mostly what happened; in hindsight, I completely deserved it. READ A BOOK, OLD SELF.)

  • Jess and I still argue over the level of depth required in a one-page paper.

  • A lot of the reference material -- websites, journals, other people, etc. -- from that time is now gone. It's kind of sad to look back 12 years and realize that a lot of the references just... aren't things anymore.

  • Was entirely too full of myself on minor technology choices.

  • ... huh. I didn't remember that.

  • ... I made a list of places that I made out with my girlfriend on the weekend of prom.

You know, I'm a little bit less annoying, and there are a lot of things about me that have changed, but even 12 years later, there's a lot of me that's stayed the same.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
Is it a place where I just post random videos as I create them?

Is it a place where I actually want to have a theme; a progression; a series of well-organized diversions designed to enlighten and delight my viewers?

Is it something else: a platform for personal self-expression that I should take advantage of?

In every other aspect of my creative life, I've typically had a vision for what a particular platform is, and isn't.

Flickr is a photo and memory archival tool for someone with terrible memory of faces and places. It's not artistic; the albums aren't well-curated masterpieces: It's a collection of views into my life which are designed primarily to be meaningful to me, and not to be artistic perfection. There may be some art; some effort; but mostly it's designed to be something akin to total recall.

LiveJournal is the thoughts inside my head; my personal therapist back when I couldn't afford one (less effective, now that it's essentially abandoned in many ways, but still); a window into the social lives of those around me.

My blog is more technical; details of my hacks and technical creations; opinions on social and political matters related to all things technical; my history of Open Source, and my history of interaction in the public sphere.

Facebook is more brief. It's for connecting to others, not for my own personal enjoyment (as such). On Facebook, I'm a consumer, not a creator.

But my YouTube account... well, I don't know what the hell it is.

Among things my YouTube channel includes:

Other things that I have uploaded include 3d printing construction time lapses, demos of scala "AI" robots that I did as a demo project, a demo of HaitiCrisisMap, and a random video of our front yard on Allston St. showing how overgrown it is.

... maybe I've answered my own question. Attempting to turn my current channel into something that is anything other than "Whatever video I feel like putting up at the moment" would be dishonest to myself and everyone who has watched videos on my channel. I've been uploading whatever random crap I feel like for the past 8 years. I should keep doing that. And if I come to the conclusion (someday) that I'm seriously committed to building a YouTube channel, I should come up with a plan for doing so that includes the ability to continue to upload whatever the heck I want, whenever the heck I want.

Thanks, free therapy box! You've solved my problem!
crschmidt: (photogeek)
After several months of building-and-not-flying, or being busy, or not having space on my hard drive to do editing, or not taking the time to do editing... I finally have another drone video up. It's nothing special, but it does have a nice overview of Cambridgeport from about 300 feet.

Beyond that, I'm pretty mentally exhausted at this point. Jess's physical ailments can be exhausting for both of us.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
If you ever see a video, and you're like "Why is this watch next recommendation from YouTube so crappy?!", then you should fill out .

If you ever see a video, and you're like "Holy crap, it's like I'm watching a dithered display from 2002 in here; these blocky artifacts are terrible!", then you should fill out .

Pass it on.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I've got so much media all over the place that I've taken -- photos, video, etc. Managing all of it is hard.

I even tried to build a video tagging UI at one point. Then the hard drive on which the data was died.

Computers suck sometimes.

(This post brought to you by the fact that maybe I'm going to edit some videos and put them on YouTube. If I don't spend 75% of my time dicking around with trying to get the files in the same place.)
crschmidt: (photogeek)
I routinely use my hawk vs. drone video as a demo URL for various features. In pretty much all my browsers, I get to it by typing "you" then right arrow to auto-complete YouTube, than "w" and auto completing the rest of the URL ( I recognize the first 4 letters of the video ID every time I see it (though I can't actually type it form memory because I never type it).

I've seen it probably dozens or even 100 times, and every time it's still cool.

It was such a lucky shot, I still can't believe I actually got it.
crschmidt: (photogeek)
some combination of:

- Windows 10
- Chrome
- YouTube's transcoding pipeline
- The entire internet

is making the general number of "people having weird problems I can't debug with YouTube" number go up drastically at the moment.

This is frustrating, because usually I can figure out what's going on, but all this new shit is so badly broken it's hard to even know where to begin.

August 2017



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