w r i t i n g

Monsters and Critics

I worked briefly as PC gaming editor for Monsters and Critics. The work was simple enough: play games and write about them. I also had an excellent staff of writers to help me out with reviews and news. Together the four of us churned out some pretty excellent prose. But alas, the gaming section folded because of a classic case of dot-com ad dearth; the site just wasn't driving enough traffic to keep itself afloat, and the gaming journalism business didn't take too kindly to newcomers. Disappointing, yes, but educational about both the game industry and the state of ad-supported news sites.

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Seven in '07: The PC Games We Want - One of the first articles I wrote for Monsters and Critics looked at seven upcoming games for 2007 that looked to be something special. The gaming industry is notorious for churning out the same tired content year in and year out, and so I wanted to recognize the upcoming games that were itching to break the cycle of sameness and really innovate.

Casual Friday: Bookworm Adventures Deluxe - I'll let you in on a secret: I really like casual games. You know the ones: simple games like Bejeweled that suck you in at work until you look at the time and realize that it's time to head home. It also happens to be the largest gaming market, having the most diverse demographic. With that in mind, I had the idea for Casual Friday, a column which would spotlight a different casual game each Friday. Sort of our way of drawing attention to some of the games that may not normally get a lot of press, while simultaneously enabling the gratuitous wasting of time by cubicle-warriors everywhere.

PC Review: Sam & Max: Season One (Episodes 1-3) - One of the reviews that I did for the site, and the one that I feel best exemplifies my style and voice. A lot of gaming journalism is dull and uninteresting at best, and downright obnoxious at worse. The shortcomings of gaming journalism have been well-documented, so I won't get into them here, but with my articles for Monsters and Critics I tried my best to avoid these pitfalls and inject some style and wit into something that oscillated from the insipid to the idiotic.

Tom's Hardware

My work for the Tom's Hardware family of online periodicals started out innocently enough. I covered LAN parties around the Pacific Northwest and reviewed the occasional networking product, but it's gradually grown into a full part-time job. I like it because it allows me to keep my writing sharp while also letting me play around with neat little gadgets. Since the articles are also syndicated via RSS, writing for Tom's Hardware also makes the results for my name in Google skyrocket, as various aggregators pick up my articles.

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LANPartyNW Ushers Washington into the LAN Age - My first assignment for Tom's Hardware was to cover LAN Party Northwest's 400 Man LAN event. It was an excellent event, and my first crack at journalism in anything more than a student newspaper context, so it was an interesting experience balancing enjoying and participating in the event with actually writing about it. Fun stuff.

PDXLAN: Spring Break Fun - Gamer Style - My second assignment involved a road trip down to Portland with my cousin, a trip to a pretty excellent barbecue joint, having fun, fragging hard, and writing like a madman. All in all a good time was had by all, and I even walked away with a free video card from my victory at the talent show!

PGP Universal Review (Part 1 | Part 2) - This was the first actual product review that I got to do for Tom's Networking. It was part of an internship I did over the summer which took me to LA in order to pop in and out of the Tom's Guides offices and write different articles. It made me realize the real difference between LA and Seattle: in Seattle, 45 minutes away is gorgeous wilderness. In LA, 45 minutes away is lunch.

Top 10 PSP Hacks - I compiled this list as a sort of add-on to my internship after my friend conned me into buying a PSP. It was partly for my own benefit, since I had no real desire to play any of the games available for the platform and was far more interested in how it could be changed around and the kinds of clever things that could be done with it. This article was also translated into German, and it's reassuring to know that 'hack' is the same no matter what language you translate it into.

QuakeCon 2005 (Part 1 | Part 2) - Another two-part article, I got to head down to Dallas to cover all four days of QuakeCon 2005. It was an interesting experience, between collaborating with another writer for the first time, braving the searing heat of a Dallas summer, losing my camera on the Dallas bus system, and rubbing shoulders with the royalty of the gaming industry courtesy of my press pass.

Seeing the Lost Coast - Unlike the previous articles that I wrote, this article only required me to travel across Lake Washington to Bellevue in order to cover the event. I visited Valve, got to see the giant valve in the middle of their lobby that - rumor has it - controls the Steam servers, and got fragged by the Valve staff in a spirited game of Day of Defeat: Source. Time well spent, if you ask me.

How To: Sniffing the Air - My recently- purchased WRT54g router enabled me to test out Snort Wireless, an open-source intrusion detection system tailored towards wireless devices. I got to set up Snort rules, run all sorts of tests, and take all sorts of screenshots. My article was even referenced by a graduate-level network security class at George Mason University.

Crowning the King of Free Talk: Skype vs. Gizmo - This article introduced me to the varied and interesting world of VoIP. I generally talk to my friends either over instant messenger or the phone, so it was a change of pace to bridge the two and use an internet-based telephone. The craziest part was setting myself to 'Skype Me!' while in Skype (a mode that allows anyone to call you) and receiving random phone calls from people in Lithuania who wanted to Skype with me.

The Smart Traveler's Guide to Data Theft Protection - I really like traveling, as the pictures to the right will tell you. Unfortunately, it's also extremely easy to have your identity stolen while on the road, and dangers ranging from unprotected internet cafe computers to laptop thieves wait in the shadows ready to bite the unsavvy traveler. I wrote this article to alert people to some of the unseen pitfalls of taking their work on the road, in the hopes that it would help travelers avoid being easy pickings for would-be international identity thieves.

Digital Landing

This was a little bit of side work that I picked up after returning from a sojourn to South America. The site covered all things digital lifestyle-related, and gave me a chance to expound on a few things that I had previously thought self-evident. Being a member of the internet generation and having grown up with technology, there were a lot of things that I took for granted about the user-friendliness of tools and technologies - and so it was a good exercise for me to write articles for Digital Landing aimed towards a non-nerdy audience who may not have quite the intuitive grasp of technology for which I was accustomed to writing.

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