Here are some of the posts I want to write: experiential sampling tools, the butter eating competition story, experiments with Chinese reading rates, cognitive testing to measure aging, infant taste hacking, hiring a fashion consultant, algorithmically ranking baby names, that time my goblin killed an elder blue dragon, writing audience stats, and why pigs with dogs for feet are the greatest animals.
But instead of writing those, I'm just working really hard (alongside Scott, George, Matt, Michael, our artists and designers, and our open source contributors) on CodeCombat, which is getting really good as we get close to December's Hour of Code and the completion of our new beginner learn-to-code offering and iPad app. This is fun, but it doesn't leave much time for cool, effortful blog posts. So here's a quick one saying what's up, since a friend mentioned that it is hard to tell what I'm doing when I don't say what I'm doing.
Besides hacking, Chloe and I (and CodeCombat) moved into a sweet new apartment/office which is actually big enough for both purposes instead of too small for either. It's still in San Francisco, in SoMa, right next to the ball park. It was surreal and amusing to watch the riots going on outside our window when the local baseball team won the global baseball tournament.
Skritter is continuing to do well in the hands of its team, whereas George, Scott, and I are happily obsolete. The guys released an Android app last month.
I'm eating a lot of MealSquares, and they are still great, saving me a ton of time. Try a box.
Next week, Code.org is putting on the Hour of Code for Computer Science Education Week, and it's going to be epic. Last year they tried to introduce ten million students to coding in one week, but actually they got fifteen million. This year they're going extra global and shooting for a hundred million students, and CodeCombat is happy to help out as one of the tutorial partners that students can choose.
We've been gearing up for this for four months to make an awesome beginner programming experience–the one we all wish we had had when we were younger to show us how much fun coding can be, or even that we could do it at all (no one ever told us). Here's a tiny list of the new stuff we've come up with:
... and all that's just in the last four months! Check out where we were before last year's Hour of Code:
It's that time again where I become a better person. Help me out, would ya? Follow this link to give me anonymous admonishments:
Tell me what I suck at, or if I treated you poorly, or if noticed me not being awesome when I could have been. But don't include personally identifying details, so I don't know it's you! (Well, you can if you really want–I promise I will appreciate instead of resenting anything you tell me.)
Even if you don't have any admonishments because of my stunning perfection, you can still troll me; that'd be fun, right?
When I was a kid, I didn't work. I got a tiny allowance ($5 per week, or maybe per month), and every now and then I'd age or undergo a holiday, so friendly relatives would send me money. But the only things I wanted to buy were desktop computer parts and video games, and I easily saved enough money for those. Parents took care of everything else–thanks parents!
Later, I was a college student. Sometimes I wanted to buy Chinese food, but that's about it; I still had roughly no spending. (Apart from how expensive school was, but again, I mooched from parents and scholarships–thanks parents!). Still, I felt like I should earn money, so first I worked as a dishwasher for around $8 an hour, and then as an inept ResEd student web developer for maybe $9.50 an hour. Suddenly the savings I had slowly built from that $5 per week allowance seemed meaningless.
Still feeling like I should be doing something career-related, I nepotised into a co-op preprofessional software engineer summer job at IBM. (Thanks Dad!) That was $20 an hour, full-time, with overtime even! After a few months of that, I came back to that student web developer job and realized I didn't care about it at all–I'd written more than my share of abominable Perl forms, and with $13,000 in my bank account, why would I want to get paid $9.50 an hour to write more of them when I had better things to do? I helped them hire a younger minion and lounged around on my coins. The money I had made from the web developer job also never mattered.
After college, George, Scott, and I started Skritter, and apart from rent ($300/mo) and food ($6/day), I had a few other small expenses (lasers, bowie knives, whips, etc.), but really, life was cheap. Skritter survived at first off of the entrepreneurship grant our school gave us (more mooching). I was finally glad I had made some money at IBM, because those savings kept me out of debt until Skritter could slowly become profitable. I could also calculate utility and buy a few things, like a sick office chair and some large computer monitors–they were like like three cents per hour of use!
Across several years of working on Skritter and moves to Costa Rica, Pittsburgh, and Sunnyvale, revenues grew, but my spending habits didn't change–I was still living like a kid who occasionally needed to eat something or upgrade his computer. If I had to buy something, I'd buy the cheap thing—I mean, you gotta save money, right?
Today begins a ten-day coding tournament for our newest multiplayer arena level, Zero Sum. It’s a mirror match between red and blue, with both heroes as Sorcerers sporting the same powerful weapons and armor. Collect gold, summon armies, command minions, cast spells, and fight dirty!
On Monday, April 6th at 5PM PDT, we’ll snapshot the leaderboards and do some additional ranking to crown the two champion angels of eternal glory, but you can keep playing after it ends. If you enjoyed our past two tournaments, you'll love this one. You don’t need to have played CodeCombat before to play, although complete newbie programmers may want to play the campaign first.
New stuff: controllable artillery and griffin riders plus access to Pender Spellbane and the goldstorm, raise-dead, fear, and drain-life spells. Plus mana-blast and reset-cooldown. And a yeti in a cage. I even put some birds in there.
It began in Singapore, where the top young coders sent thousands of soldiers to destroy one another. It then spread worldwide, turning innocent game developers into sorcerous warlords. The sky darkened with arrows, spears, artillery shells, and clouds made of solid gold. Freed from eternal imprisonment by countless reckless targeting algorithms, the mountain yetis charged into the fray, causing a worldwide bone shortage. The Zero Sum programming tournament was upon us.
The #1 ogre king is the returning champion Wizard Dude (Michael Heasell) with 162 wins and 1 loss across all human opponents. In second is xxx9877654321, with nemoyatpeace in third.
The #1 human king is the unstoppable NoJuice4u (Wayne Chen) with 105 wins and 3 losses, trailed by Qenf in second, with Stofflon and Driphter tied for third.
I always love it when people share revenue data for their apps / games / books / works, and it's been two years since The Motivation Hacker came out, so here's another updated graph of ebook sales by platform including the second year. (See also First Year Book Sales and Aftermath: The Motivation Hacker)
Sales again have fallen off more slowly than I expected, although it's finally getting quiet now, down to about two sales a day in March. In total, it's up to 4102 copies, or around 60x how many I was expecting. Cool!
Total reviews climbed from 124 to 275, and sentiment ebbed from 4.5 stars on Amazon to 4.4, and from 3.90 to 3.85 on Goodreads.
At $2.99, I've kept the book as cheap as possible while still in Amazon's 70% royalty split bucket, and I did similarly with the new CreateSpace paperback ($7.99). The total royalties are around $9065.42, bringing my effective hourly rate up to $43.31.
We have reproduced! Max is one month old now. Here's his birth announcement photo, where he looks adorable:
Apart from when he's asleep, this is what he looks like most of the time, though:
I am proud to have spawned a baby infant:
When Chloe and I were trying to come up with baby names, every conversation would go something like this:
Chloe: "New baby name idea: Katana."
Nick: "How do you spell that?"
Chloe: "Like a katana, duh!"
Nick: "People don't know how to spell that."
Baby Max is four months old today. I posted when he was one month, talking about what a difficult little demon he was, but after eight weeks he magically changed overnight into the sweetest baby ever! We were so surprised the first time he slept 7.5 hours straight instead of waking up every 3 hours, we kept waking up anyway just to go stare at him. "Maybe there's something wrong with him!" But he kept doing it, and now he sleeps from around 8pm to 4:30am every night, wakes up to feed, then goes back to sleep until around 7:30am. It is amazing. And where before he cried a lot, always seemed unhappy, and didn't even know how to smile, now he generally loves everything and will smile his head off if you just look at him.
Here are some more surprises from the first four months of Max.
1. He loves "reading" books.
I had thought that before he could read or understand words, or even be able to visually recognize cartoons of things, he would get bored when I read to him. But even from the beginning, books held his attention and excited him. Thanks for all the books, everyone (but especially Mom)!