The Great Adventure, Part 2

My first week at Microsoft has come to a close, and it’s been a busy last week.  I started off last weekend, where after moving into my temporary housing on Friday, I went out house hunting on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  On both Saturday and Sunday, I found a home that we wanted to make an offer on (both new construction) and worked on putting in an offer, only to find out we were beaten out by 8 hours in one case, and what we assume is about 10 minutes in another case (did I mention the housing market up here is crazy?).

Monday at Microsoft was new employee orientation, meeting the team I’m on, and getting my office set up.  In my previous jobs, the company was definitely small in comparison.  It’s been interesting slowly having my access percolate around to the various systems throughout the week (I think I finally have access to almost everything as of today).  Despite doing a lot of training this week, it’s definitely been a good week, and I’m definitely looking forward to diving in and dig into some real development work.  My wife asked me earlier this week if it’s weird having an Xbox One on my desk at work, to which my answer is: “No, it’s kind of awesome!”

As I drove home from work today, I realized this week has been a different week for me for another reason, too.  As my previous coworkers can attest, I am a creature of habit, specifically when it comes to lunch.  At my last job, Monday and Thursday were Chipotle days (yes, I had Chipotle twice a week, every week, for probably a good 9+ months, what can I say, it’s delicious), and the rest of the week was just the on site cafe.  That’s a stark contrast to this week at Microsoft, where I haven’t had Chipotle at all, and instead, this week I’ve had:

  • A philly cheese steak sandwich
  • Fresh fried chicken strips from a food truck
  • BBQ pulled pork sandwich
  • Pad Thai
  • Chicken Tikki Rice Bowl, with curry, pickled onions, fried egg, etc

It might help by saying I’ve only had Indian 3 or 4 times previous to this week in my life, but it smelled good today, so I said “Why not?”.  I’m not going to start doing Indian food every week like I did Chipotle, but I may have to start doing it a bit more often, it was pretty good (in fact, all of it was pretty good).

From a gaming perspective, I’ve hit my next milestone, with today being day 575 of my achievement streak.  I think it will continue for at least another week, but I definitely find myself feeling more and more ok with letting my streak lapse, and playing for fun.  I’ve been playing a decent amount of the original Borderlands on Xbox 360, almost complete with the first main area.  I’ve been enjoying it and will continue to make progress over the next week or so, hopefully getting through at least a good portion of the 2nd area.

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By Cecil

The Great Adventure, Part 1

Let me start off by saying, I have no idea how many parts this blog title will have.  I just know this isn’t the only one.  I am currently writing this from a hotel room, waiting for 3PM to roll around, so I can go get the keys to my new corporate apartment.  The last couple of months have been crazy, especially the last month or so.

It all started at the beginning of February, when on a Sunday afternoon, I was idling surfing online out of boredom.  I didn’t know what to play, didn’t have anything I wanted to watch, so I was just surfing.  I pulled up the latest updates from Twitter, and say Major Nelson had tweeted a link to Microsoft job postings for the Hololens project.  Out of pure curiosity for what kind of positions they were hiring for it, I perused the listings.  I wasn’t looking for a new job, just mildly curious.  After a few pages, I thought to myself, “Hey, I wonder what kinds of postings they have for Xbox stuff…” and changed the search criteria.  A few pages in, I found it… a job posting for my dream job.

I read the posting several times over, thought about it, and then went upstairs to tell my wife.  It went something like this: “So… I was just surfing online, and found what I think is my dream job.  Do you mind if I apply, just to see what happens?  And if something comes of it, would you be ok with moving?”  “Sure, whatever!” she replied.  So I went back downstairs, pulled up my resume, making sure it was up to date, and submitted it.  “Well, we’ll see if anything comes of this,” I thought to myself, fully expecting to not hear anything for at least 2 weeks.

The next day, I had an email back from a recruiter, wanting to schedule a phone screening.  That’s the fastest I’ve ever heard back from an online, unsolicited application, period.  We scheduled a time, had the phone call, and scheduled the follow up with the hiring manager.  I’ve done technical phone screens before (from both the interviewer and the interviewee point of view), so I wasn’t terribly nervous.  We ended up going past the scheduled hour time slot and ended up talking for 90 minutes.  When we got off the phone, I couldn’t help but feel it had gone extremely well, feeling like I connected with the manager immediately, like we had been working together for years.  I wondered how he had felt it had gone, and resigned myself to needing to wait a few days to find out, so I fired up a game.  After playing for a few hours, I checked my email to see if I had any other emails, and saw one from the recruiter, 40 minutes after my phone call had ended, saying they wanted to fly me in for on site interviews.  “Wow, I have *never* seen a response that fast, even when I was a hiring manager and liked someone.” I thought.

Fast forward a few weeks, and after on site interviews and receiving an offer, I accepted the position.  We met with 2 realtors to find someone to help sell our home and settled on one we liked on a Saturday.  We had planned to list 11 days later, on a Wednesday, giving us enough time of working all weekend long and every evening to get things into a show ready condition.  3 days into it, my wife gets a call from our realtor.  A colleague of hers had someone in town looking for a house, who still hadn’t found anything and was leaving in a few days.  She had driven past our house and liked it, asking if she could see it before leaving.  We agreed, so long as she understood we still had boxes out from packing stuff up, which she agreed and understood.  Over the next 2 days, the buyer came through twice, and ended up making an offer on the home.  We were amazed, 1 week prior to listing, and we had not just any offer, a great offer.  By Friday, we were under contract.

My last 3 weeks at my old job flew by, and before I knew it, it was time for me to pack up my car and head out to Seattle.  I loaded everything up for the 30 hour trip on Monday, and started driving Tuesday.  I was getting over a cold for the last week, so I was expecting it to take through today to get here.  However, I started feeling a lot better on Tuesday, and ended up making it to Rapid City, SD, that evening, my stretch goal.  The drive on Tuesday was fairly uneventful, and flew by, in thanks to the audio book “The Martian” by Andy Weir (I’ll do a separate post about this).

Wednesday’s drive was also fairly uneventful, although slightly more boring.  I left Rapid City and my stretch goal for the day was Missoula, MT.  I made it (a bit later than I wanted to), but still, an uneventful drive.  The sheer number of bugs that decided to lunge into my windshield in Wyoming and Montana, however, was astounding.  Every couple hundred of miles or so, I was stopping to wash them off so I could see.  My car will need a car wash soon… desperately.  I finished the audio book “The Martian” on Wednesday, and started up “Redshirts” by John Scalzi.

Thursday’s drive was more of the same, albeit shorter.  I ended up making it to the Seattle area by 1:30PM local time, checked into my hotel, and just relaxed.  I did get texts from our realtor while still on the road that the appraisal on our home came back at full asking, with no repairs required, so now all we have to do on our current home is close!  This is awesome, and I’m very excited.

I think that will wrap up this blog post for now.  I’ve written a lot, still have more to write, but it can wait for later.

Cecil

By Cecil

Extra Life Marathon #3 Recap

Sorry for the delay in posting this recap, things have been rather busy lately, which I’ll get into in a bit. 🙂  The 3rd marathon for Extra Life went off without a hitch, and I had no problems streaming for the full 16 hours (unlike the 2nd marathon where I had a poor internet connection that kept dropping frames).

For this marathon, I had people pick what I was playing, and I think I did a fairly good job of keeping to the schedule.  For the most part, I was ending games on time or within a couple of minutes of when I was scheduled to switch to the next game.  The best game by far was Senchou’s pick of Frog Fractions, and you can watch the recap of that hour here on Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/cecilkilmer/c/2659022.  It is a hilarious flash based game that had me laughing the entire time.  Overall I think the structure of having people pick for donations worked fairly well, and I’m excited to see what people come up with for next time.

I will admit I am a little concerned about my final marathon as it is going to be tough to make it all 26.2 hours, those morning hours are going to be rough for sure.  I definitely need to find some fast, fun, upbeat games to play during that time to keep me awake and going.  I am looking forward to the final marathon though and think it will be a good time, I just hope I can make it that long. 🙂

As for why I’ve been delayed in getting this posted, I participated in Season 2 of TerraFirmaCrack, a PVP Minecraft event using the TerraFirmaCraft mod, done in cooperation with the MindCrack group.  It was a 2 week long event that concluded this past Saturday, August 3rd.  Most everyone involved recorded the event throughout the 2 weeks and has been posting video to YouTube.  My videos can be found on my channel (and I’ve made a playlist for them as well: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLg9liYaHCwi2X1g7DoAPMRASvWW60L3Ei).

Games are rolling in!

And not just because it’s the Steam summer sale. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bought a decent amount this summer sale (I’m up to 24 new games I’ve bought), but I’ve also started getting games to play for the upcoming charity marathons.

Kcowolf has the pleasure (probably a twisted one) of being the first person to decide what games I’m playing during my marathons. He has chosen the his 2 hour period for the upcoming marathon on July 27th, and here is what he gave me to play:
BK Games

 

That’s right, playing Sneak King for 13 hours during my first marathon back in April wasn’t enough, now I’ll be playing the other 2 “classic” titles from Burger King, Pocketbike Racer, and Big Bumpin’ (with a copy of Sneak King thrown in to keep, since I borrowed the last one).  He’s graciously picked the 2 hours immediately following lunch, so I don’t get a craving for Burger King just before lunch.

I’ve also received 2 games gifted on Steam for me to play which have been added to my inventory because they’ve been on sale, and I expect the charity donation and requests for when to play them will follow shortly. 🙂  Those games are Surgeon Simulator 2013, and Secret of the Magic Crystal, a game about magical ponies.

Just over 1 week left until my 16 hour marathon, and all donations before then get to pick a game for both marathons!

Bean Dive 2013

Bean Dive is an event hosted by TrueAchievements, with the goal of “diving” into your backlog of games and unlocking a single achievement in each, to add them to your gamercard. This obviously completely wrecks your completion percentage, and so the goal is to try and recover your completion percentage by the following year’s Bean Dive. I decided to join in again this year, and here are my before and after stats for the dive:

Before:

  • Starting Gamerscore: 55,400
  • Starting TrueAchievement score: 87,214
  • Starting Completion %: 80.78%

After:

  • Ending Gamerscore: 55,555
  • Ending TrueAchievement score: 87,425
  • Ending Completion %: 72.27%
  • Games Dived: 13

Additional details of the dive can be found on my Bean Dive 2013 page over on TrueAchievements.  It looks like I will have to unlock 320 achievements (without adding any new games or DLC) in order to recover my completion percentage, which is a very daunting task.  Hopefully it will be an excuse for me to play more on the Xbox from time to time and not worry so much about completion percentage though.

Who knows, maybe I’ll focus more on Xbox for this next marathon in 3 weeks to recover some of my completion percentage?

Donate to Charity – Pick What I Play!

extralife small logo As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve decided on how to structure the games for my final marathon on November 2nd.  As with the previous ones, I’ll be streaming the entire time on Twitch (http://www.twitch.tv/cecilkilmer) so you can pop in and watch at any time during the marathon.  However, this time, instead of me picking the games, I want you to pick the games.

I’ve created a rough schedule here (https://cecilkilmer.wordpress.com/gaming-schedule/) which details out the 25 hours of the marathon, giving myself 2 hours spaced out for meals and bathroom breaks.  You can help pick what I play based on donations made to the charity through my link here (http://www.extra-life.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=46188).  All funds still go directly to the charity, but along with that donation, you can tell me what to play based on the following rules I’ve created:

  • $10 donation – Pick a game off my list* (https://cecilkilmer.wordpress.com/games-list/) and I will play it for an hour of my choosing
  • $25 donation – Pick a game off my list* and tell me what time slot of the marathon you want me to play it
  • $50+ donation – Every $25 increment gets you an additional hour you dictate what I play (IE: $75 gives you 3 – 1 hour slots)

Games that are not on my list (IE: I don’t own them) are still valid if you donate or lend the game to me.  That means you can buy a cheap, awful game and make me play it!  Some ideas that I have heard tossed around already are:

The one exception for picking games is that I won’t play Kinect based games due to a medical condition I have which would make it dangerous for me to play them and could cause me to injure myself.  Other than that, you can tell me what to play!

I’ve also decided that for any donations received before my 3rd marathon on July 27th (from 7AM to 11PM Central time), you get to pick a time slot in both marathons for the same donation (IE: $25 donation gives you a time slot in both the July 27th and November 2nd marathons)!

So make a donation, help children in need, and get a good laugh at making me play a game of your choice!

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment here or on Twitter (@Cecilkilmer)!

Thanks!

Extra-Life Marathon #2 – Recap

My 2nd video gaming marathon for Extra-Life this year, while successful, unfortunately had a few hiccups along the way.  The marathon was on Saturday, June 8th, and lasted 18 hours (from 11AM until 5AM Sunday morning).

My original goal for the marathon was to play Rock Band the entire time.  I borrowed a guitar and the game from a friend at work and practiced a bit the week leading up to the marathon to get used to playing the guitar again.  I played Rock Band 2 the entire time, and managed to play for 8 hours and 20 minutes before I finally had to call it quits.  Friends at work thought I would have a problem with my left hand (the ones on the keys) getting “claw hand”, but they were wrong!  My left hand was fine, it was my right wrist that was killing me from strumming, and I just couldn’t go on any longer.  During my dinner break a little before, I couldn’t even cut my food because my wrist hurt so bad trying to cut up dinner.

After my last Rock Band set, I moved over to the PC and finished out the remainder of the 18 hours on PC, playing a variety of games including: The Walking Dead; Payday; Serious Sam; Poker Night at the Inventory; and others.  The last hour was definitely difficult and I found myself wanting to doze off quite frequently during that time, but I pushed through.

I did have a few new people join my stream and hang out with me, and even received an anonymous $25 donation, so I was happy I raised a little more for Children’s Miracle Network with this marathon, it definitely felt good, especially given the technical problems I was having.  Several hours into the marathon, I started having internet problems and had issues of dropping frames, both from Xbox and from PC.  I played offline for a bit (no streaming) in hopes of my internet improving, but it didn’t get any better unfortunately.  It took some fiddling with the bitrate, resolution, and the Twitch server I was hitting, but I made things work good enough to at least finish out the evening.  Thankfully, I’ve since then had Comcast come out and fix things up, so my streaming has improved and shouldn’t be a problem anymore!

I’ve also been thinking about what I want to do for the final two marathons this year, and I have an idea for the final one (the 25 hours marathon on November 2nd) which I will post in more detail this weekend, but it’s covered on the Gaming Schedule page and I’ll post about it in a little more detail soon.

Thanks again everyone for the support that has been given so far, and I’m sure we can do more this year yet too!