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Random Links for May 21
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Random Links for May 17
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Random Links for January 10
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Advice for making it as a musician
Here's a provocative video interview from surf-rocker Dick Dale, where he shares his advice for up-and-coming musicians.

Posted by dustin on April 9, 2007. Tagged with
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Hot Grog: fast news
Hot Grog is a new website I setup to quickly read the internets. It uses RSS to grab news headlines from various sources and dumps them out in a simple list.

There's a few different pages covering various topics. Web Buzz is a great page to see all the fun stuff as it happens across the internet.

Please let me know what you think.
Posted by dustin on November 24, 2006. Tagged with
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ReviewMe - a blog review marketplace
ReviewMe is a new site that is trying to setup a marketplace where bloggers can offer to write honest reviews in exchange for money. The money comes from companies or individuals who want to get reviews. I think it's an interesting idea. Getting reviews can be tough sometimes, so having a straight up chance to buy an honest one can be a good deal. I'm testing out the system with Lux Delux, having just put in a review request for a blog that looked interesting.

ReviewMe is also spicing things up with an initial pool of $25,000 that they are paying out to bloggers to review the service itself. That's what this post is: a sponsored post from ReviewMe. I will apparently get payed $30 in exchange for this review of their system. The pay-out is dependent on each individual blog's traffic standings (as best as ReviewMe can estimate them at least). The only imposition on the review is that it must be at least 200 words long, and it has to state that it is sponsored.

I had a bit of trouble signing up initially, but once inside their system is pretty good. They got some good early buzz, and there's a variety of interesting blogs that have signed up in their system. I'm awaiting the results of buying my review before making further judgement.
Posted by dustin on November 17, 2006. Tagged with
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Question Answerer 2
Have a question? Put it in the email body and send it to q@askforcents.com (leaving the subject line blank) and you'll get an answer. Actually, you'll get at least 2 answers. And you'll usually get them in mere seconds. This forms the alpha testing of a service Ask For Cents, clearly meant to have a cost associated with it eventually.

I had a lot of fun asking random questions. About how the service works, tech questions, what the future holds, social policies, love tips, and more. The answers I got back ranged from funny to informative to literal to snooty to wrong. It's like a magic 8 ball, except you get a real human answer. Try it out now while it's free.

The service is run by Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk service. It allows computers to send work packets to humans to be filled in exchange for money. Pretty awesome idea IMHO. Answerers are currently making 3 cents per question, but inform me they are hoping for more valuable ones in the future.
Posted by dustin on February 13, 2006. Tagged with
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Personal branding
Back at last year's IndieGamesCon I attended a good session on marketing from Kelly Heckman. In it she talked about building up a brand for your company, for your products, and for yourself as a person. The last item is what concerns me at the moment.

Having a weblog is an excellent way to build up your 'personal brand'. Unfortunately, I think that sillytech was hampering this somewhat. It's a group blog, and even though I have a page there to myself, it's not really mine. So I decided to start a personal blog that's all my own. Actually, I decided to take the sillytech code and create a personal skin that uses the same content database, but only shows my stuff. So nothing will change at sillytech, however I now also have a blog that's just for me. From now on I'm going to be spending my efforts building up Dustin Sacks' blog instead of sillytech.

The design is still a first version. I know I need a better picture of myself, and I want to put my blogroll up also. Any other comments you have on the design or layout or colors are appreciated.
Posted by dustin on July 30, 2005. Tagged with
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Hiring is obsolete
Programmer and author Paul Graham just wrote an interesting article entitled Hiring is Obsolete. It's geared towards young programmers, but there's some nice stuff in there for everyone.
The main cost of starting a Web-based startup is food and rent. Which means it doesn't cost much more to start a company than to be a total slacker.
...
Actually college is where the line ends. Superficially, going to work for a company may feel like just the next in a series of institutions, but underneath, everything is different. The end of school is the fulcrum of your life, the point where you go from net consumer to net producer.

The other big change is that now, you're steering. You can go anywhere you want. So it may be worth standing back and understanding what's going on, instead of just doing the default thing.
Posted by dustin on May 17, 2005. Tagged with
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Blasted resume
So it seems to me that posting a resume that includes some quality buzzwords onto the net is a good way of getting recruited. I checked my logs and saw a hit from a search for "resume or cv and j2me or j2me developer or mobile game", which would explain this email I just got:
Hi Dustin, 

I wanted to take the time to reach out to you after having had the
opportunity of coming across your resume online.  I am an account
manager with [company name removed] which is the leading recruiting
agency for the video game industry.  I have several clients in the
wireless games space that are looking for experienced software
engineers for full-time employment, specifically J2ME & BREW Engineers. 
Currently I am trying fill positions for these clients in the S.F. Bay
Area, New York, Montreal and London.  Based on your background, I
believe that they would be very interested in speaking with you in
more detail as would I.
Posted by dustin on December 3, 2004. Tagged with
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EA Interview Preparation Info
Ever since I wrote about my EA interview saga I have been getting periodic emails from people. They all basically say "I have an interview with EA on {day of week}. Can you give me some advice on what to do?"

I have answered a few, but I think it would be best to just put my advice here so that people stop emailing me about it =). Here goes:

I wrote most of what they asked my in the above referenced blog entry. I was surprised when they started asking stuff about vectors and matrixes and geometry. Things like finding the normal of 3 points on a plane, doing some trigonometry, matrix multiplication. Nothing too in depth, but it might be worthwhile to do a basic review of such things.

They will also ask you C++ stuff. If your C++ isn't too hot then it is worth reviewing it. Perhaps write a little program to get into the swing of it. I was asked a question to which the correct solution used recursion.

In general I think it is good to talk out your answers, so they know what you are thinking. Even if you get something wrong they can see what you were trying to do. I know that I didn't get all the answers right. Also I think it is very important to interact well with the interviewers. Be the nice and friendly person you know you are ;). The interviewers will be looking for people that they would like to work with. Try and have a nice chat with them.

Also while I am writing this I would just like to point out that EA has been criticized for their labor practices. The 'inside scoop' says that they like to hire bright young students out of university and work them to death. Such a job would still be an excellent learning experience, but you should know what you are getting in to.

Best of luck on your interview.
Posted by dustin on November 27, 2004. Tagged with
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No government = good phone service
Telecoms thriving in lawless Somalia
A host of mobile phone masts testifies to the telecommunications revolution which has taken place despite the absence of any functioning national government since 1991.

It takes just three days for a landline to be installed - compared with waiting-lists of many years in neighbouring Kenya, where there is a stable, democratic government.
Posted by dustin on November 23, 2004. Tagged with
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IndieGamesCon 2004 continued...
Here's some more info about what's going on at the IndieGamesCon. It has been really good so far. Yesterday was registration along with an intro, gaming time and some meet and greet stuff. Today the actual sessions started.

The first talk was by Garr Godfrey, one of the founders of GameHouse. He told the story of the company from start to when they got bought by Real Networks for $35 million in January of this year. It was a good talk, and put a little weight behind how this is a real business going on here. They tried some different business models before focusing on downloadable games as "the future".

The second talk was by Michael Robertson. He was the founder of MP3.com (which he sold a few years ago), and currently runs Linspire, which is trying to be a user-friendly Linux distribution. From the start he said that he didn't know much about gaming (especially compared to the crowd), but that he was there to give a talk about business. He was a good speaker and his talk wa excellent. The focus was on startups, how to get rich, and his love of disruptive technologies. Three key points:
  • Right size your business
  • No MBAs
  • Marketing is most important

    The day continued with some smaller sessions and game playing (there's a nice lan setup here with a bunch of games). I have met a variety of interesting people from different areas: developers, gaming website operators, media folk, students, etc. I would write about it in more detail, but I need to get some sleep for tomorrow.
  • Posted by dustin on October 10, 2004. Tagged with
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    The conclusion of the EA recruitment effort
    A little while ago I was contacted and then interviewed by Electronic Arts for a programming job. After that they requested some references which I provided.

    On monday they called me up again with a job offer. It was quite a nice offer to boot, with a solid base salary, moving expenses (the job is in Vancouver), a yearly bonus, some stock options as well as a stock buy-in discount program and the normal health benefits and such. By far the best offer I have ever seen. Of course it's not all candy and roses. Taking a job with EA would mean giving up (or sharply cutting back) my work on Lux, as well as future projects (which I have many ideas for). It would also mean moving to Vancouver, a city in which I know nobody, but which has a nicer winter climate.

    It was a really tough decision for me to make. Many thanks go to my roommate Nikki for helping talk it over and bring out the core issues (the pros and cons are still written on our fridge).

    In the end I decided to not take the EA job. It would have given me more money in the short term, but I am not exactly hurting for money at the moment. The fact that it would have sapped away my free time and the flexible situation I currently enjoy was the killing factor.

    I am happy with my decision. Sillysoft lives on to fight another day!

    Update: please read this info before emailing me
    Posted by dustin on September 2, 2004. Tagged with
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    The Loser's Paradox
    Economists who study government (public choice theorists) have since the 1970s been interested in the "Loser's Paradox." Can it help explain the content of our copyright and telecommunications laws?

    Economists have noted that a surprising amount of government support goes to ailing sectors instead of expanding sectors. Classically, agriculture, textiles, clothing, footwear, steel and shipbuilding are the examples of industries on perpetual life support. Each has been in decline for decades, yet get more help from Government than any other. Conversely, expanding industries, like the high-tech industry, rarely if ever receive government assistance. In short, economists conclude, Government picks losers.
    Read the rest here.
    Posted by dustin on August 18, 2004. Tagged with
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