Reclaim Arcade …. It’s Happening!

Tim has done all the heavy lifting on the announcement front via Facebook—and the response has been truly heartening. But I figured started to formally record the process on this little old bava blog was in order. Tim and I will be officially opening an old school 80s arcade in Fredericksburg, VA in Spring of 2020 which will be known as Reclaim Arcade. We even have a bitching icon/logo now:

It’s kind of wild to think a random trip to get a Centipede cabinet for CoWork a year and a half ago so quickly escalated to a full blown arcade. But I am so glad it has! I just got down locking in a mint Donkey Kong Jr cabinet, and my brother picked up a cocktail Rally-X last week on Long Island, so the machine is in full swing with nearly 40 vintage games thus far, and more on the way (Venture could be a reality on my return from LA). I think the idea with Reclaim Arcade is to many of the factors we have been exploring for a while: Reclaim Video will be my new office on the ground and the entry point for Reclaim Arcade; we will re-create a 80s console Living room a la the UMW Console in the space, and then explore a new aesthetic for the maker space/garage idea we have built into the plans. It is going to be sick, and after extended time abroad, it is high time to return full-time to the US to live out competing fantasies of running a video store and an arcade. It’s crazy, but I love it.

As far as the details, there are many, many to discuss over the coming months as we gear up for a late Spring launch: the redesign of the space; the exploration of the self-pouring taps for the bar; and creating a designated office for Reclaim Hosting in the wake of CoWork to name a few. But I might be most excited about teaming up with Will’s Place to bring you some groovy 80s flavors for the palate. Partnering with Will and Maria on this venture is super special given how indelibly Will is linked (at least in my mind) to the work we did at UMW. I remember first meeting him when he was part of Martha Burtis‘s Digital Identity course, and both being from NY we hit it off immediately, and have remained in touch via social media since. Will and Maria have been a huge force for good in Fredericksburg over the years, and the idea of partnering around food for Reclaim Arcade speaks volumes for the community we are trying to create and checks off another box of a long list of dreams coming true in this venture—it just all feels to be coming together so perfectly. So, I will return to my LA, but not before recognizing “It’s Happening!”

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CoWork Closing

I got the news today, oh boy! On December 20th our co-working space in Fredericksburg, CoWork, will be closing down. I’m posting the full announcement below for posterity, but this does mark a moment for Reclaim Hosting. We started CoWork when there were 3 of us two and a half years ago, but with our latest hire last week we are now 9 and we find we need more dedicated space for our growing team. On top of that, the overhead of running a growing CoWork required additional responsibilities from our staff. It was never meant to be a money maker, and while it offset some of our office costs it also has meant giving up access to parts of our office more and more. That said, we didn’t take on another 2500 square feet in the strip mall to start downsizing, rather we will be we’re re-imagining this space for a brave new purpose with the idea of bringing something a little more exciting to the Burg 🙂 In fact, our renovation of CoWork in early 2017 laid the foundation for the new project we’ll be announcing shortly, and reinforces the fact Tim and I are not afraid to experiment with new ideas, even if they are old ones …

Greetings,

You are receiving this email because at some point past or present you have been a customer of CoWork Fredericksburg. We are reaching out to everyone today to regretfully inform you that CoWork will be closing operations at the end of the year. Our last day of operation is December 20th, 2019.

When we began CoWork in the Spring of 2017, our primary company, Reclaim Hosting, was a very small business with just two employees needing office space. CoWork was a way for us to realize the dream of building a space where people could work in common spaces together. Two and a half years later we have seen so many people come through the space and made quite a few friends along the way. But as CoWork has grown over the years so has Reclaim Hosting and the need for private office space for our company along with further development of new business plans has led us to this very difficult decision.

So, as we write this email to you, we do have some things we’d like everyone to be aware of as we prepare for closing: 

  • Starting today no new memberships will be available for signup.

  • Existing members will not be charged for the month of December

  • All memberships will automatically be canceled on December 20th which will be the last day of access for all members.

  • All Conference Room, Private Office, and Event rental bookings will be available until December 13th.

  • If you have a mailbox membership:

    • Please be sure to pick up any existing mail at CoWork.

    • Set up a forwarding address by December 20th. All mail received after that date will be returned to sender.

    • For our mailbox memberships through Opus Virtual Offices you will receive further communication from them on alternative options for having your business address changed to a different location or cancellation instructions.

  • All personal items stored at CoWork need to be removed by Dec 1. After that date personal belongings not claimed will be donated to Goodwill.

Decisions like these are never easy. It’s been a privilege and joy to operate CoWork for two and a half years and we appreciate the support of the community. We look forward to continuing to build and be a part of the Fredericksburg community for many years to come as we close this chapter and start the next.

All the best,

Reclaim Hosting and CoWork Staff

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ELI’s 7 Things about Domain of One’s Own

Well, Domain of One’s Own has finally hit the big time 🙂 Earlier this week the 7 Things to Know about Domain of One’s Own case study was published by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. You can download it from their site, but I’m keeping a version here for posterity as well. I was lucky enough to work on the paper with Martha Burtis, Sundi Richard, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, and Keegan Long-Wheeler to brainstorm with ELI’s Malcolm Brown, Greg Dobbin, and Stephen G Pelletier to try and frame this in a way so that folks will get a sense of what it actually is. I really like the first paragraph of the “What it is?” because it captures nicely how Domains is a powerful combination of philosophy, practice, and tech:

A way of thinking as well as an application of technology, Domain of One’s Own refers to the practice of giving students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to obtain a domain with hosted web space of their own …. By enabling users to build environments for learning and sharing, such domains make possible a liberating array of practices that encourage users to explore how they interact with and present themselves in the online world. While giving users more control over their scholarship, data, and digital identity, these domains encourage an ethos of openness, freedom, and exploration and nurture a practice for shaping and thinking about one’s presence on the web. DoOO also draws users into a community of practice focused on collaboration and sharing.

These concepts were at the heart of the experiment when it started at UMW, and more and more schools are picking up on the simultaneously practical and idealistic vision of making the open web a viable platform for teaching and learning. That’s an awesome thing and can and should be celebrated. It’s taken many, many folks to make it work, and there is no way a two-page report will capture all the nuance and history, but it does an excellent job of providing a snapshot for folks who are dreaming about re-centering ed tech around student, staff, and faculty-driven web for teaching and learning. Avanti!

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To Build and Blog an Arcade

I can’t seem to write quickly enough about all that’s happening with Reclaim Arcade. Not only have we been securing more games since my last post (we got Missile Command last week, yesterday Berserk and Jungle Hunt, and a cocktail version of RallyX —with Donkey Kong Jr is in the wings), but we’ve also been pretty deep into planning what is needed to actually run an arcade.

That means floor plans, space designs, food, drinks, budgets, loans, logos, comps, employees, etc. It’s beginning to pick up momentum quickly, and while there is nothing official just yet—it’s starting to feel that way. What’s more, if you know anything about Tim and I, you’ll understand why this has the potential to move fast, to be supported robustly, and maybe even actually succeed. One of the things that has been pretty illuminating, and quite helpful and enjoyable, is to read about other people’s experience starting an arcade on the Arcade Museum forums (the go-to resource for buying, selling, and learning about games and arcades). Tim pointed me to a couple of threads on KLOV by folks who recently started arcades. One is in Wichita, Kansas (The Arcade Wichita), and they have a pretty bitchin arcade. Two partners went in on it, and they don’t do food or alcohol, just OG arcade, and their game selection is legend. You can see the full walk-through video below and read the thread on KLOV here:

It was encouraging to learn they’re doing well financially, and that folks are flocking in. That’s the dream.

Another recent story of an OG arcade start-up that was shared on KLOV is about Marcade in Dover, New Jersey. This was super useful thread given we got details like electric bill costs monthly, sales figures over first two months, and much more. It was kind of an AMA for folks hoping to start arcades. Like us, the Marcade is in a strip mall, but unlike us they have over 100 arcade games. Wow! And the selection of games is impeccable— here is the list. It’s really cool to learn that the OG arcades can stand alone in this day and age without a bar or some other adjunct business (like a VHS store 🙂 ). You can read the whole forum thread here, and I just want to say how awesome and useful it is when folks share their experience like this. It not only buoys our hopes, but also we learn a ton. 

Marcade in Dover, NJ – Image credit Marc of Marcade

I just love nuggets like the one shared by the NJ arcade. Turns out there were still local ordinances on the books to prevent arcades from opening that were created during the 80s when these spaces were branded as dens of teenage iniquity. Now all those teenagers are on town boards now, and they think the idea is groovy 🙂 But that meant unexpected legal costs on his part, and it was a good reminder there may be a few gotchas to look out for along the way.

So, inspired by these folks, I hope to share what Tim and I learn while going through this odyssey on the bava. Things are still a bit touch and go with official announcements given we need to get the blessing of our landlord, but once the horse is out of the gate the bavarcade blogstorm is on like …. Donkey Kong 🙂

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LA Reclaim Roadshow

In a couple of weeks Lauren and I will be heading West to put on the second Reclaim Roadshow at Emerson College’s Sunset Blvd campus. We will be in the belly of the Hollywood beast with some state-of-the-art media digs. We have a full house again, and will be following a similar approach as we did at Skidmore College last year. We are thrilled to have 15 folks from 10 different colleges and universities that cover a diverse range of approaches to Domains. Day 1 will focus on an in-depth training around the infrastructure, diving into WHMCS and WHM, and will also feature some SPLOT love.

Image of Emerson LA on Sunset Blvd

Emerson LA on Sunset Blvd is a futuristic take on the Jawa Sandcrawler, and I love it!

Day 2 will act more as a user group where folks like Peter Sentz will share how BYU Domains has scaled to more than 10,000 users, as well as exploring how they have tried to measure its impact. And we will have a special remote panel featuring Marie Selvanadin (Georgetown), Adam Croom (University of Oklahoma), and Sundi Richard (Davidson) that will share what’s been made possible through the implementation of Domains on their campus. What’s more, we are planning on swapping tales between existing schools as well as new schools that could use some tips and tricks as they get their project of the ground. Looks like the 7 Things You Should Know about Domain of One’s Own from ELI could not come out soon enough, but more on that in another post.

Tech Noir bar from Terminator, dig the neon!

I’m really excited about meeting up with folks in LA, and not just because I love that city, but also because it is the home of Tech Noir! 

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Reclaim Hosting Interview with Website Planet

I was interviewed earlier this month about Reclaim Hosting for Website Planet by Gail Lobel Rand. Website Planet is site that provides information for folks who want to create a website, and they highlight and rate the various website builder services, web hosting services, logo design services, etc. with the idea of providing a it of a recommendation engine. Reclaim Hosting does no advertising and there was no pay-to-play going on here, so I figured why not do an interview and share the good word about the best little hosting company that could 🙂

Gail was great, and she was must interested in breaking down what hosting plans we offered for their readership. In the end, it turns out, most hosting company’s provide the same thing: either shared hosting and VPS hosting (both managed and unmanaged). We see no reason to do unmanaged VPS hosting given providers like Digital Ocean more than have that covered, so with us the options are pretty simple. The outlier offering is Domain of One’s Own, and that is a reality so specific to higher ed that I would be surprised if it resonates much beyond the educational world, but you never know.

I think Reclaim Hosting has survived (dare I say thrived :)) because we focus on a niche community whose specific needs are often not served by larger web hosting companies. What’s more, we understood higher ed and recognize pricing for students and faculty needs to be both transparent and affordable. I think I touch on all of this to some degree in the interview, but the thing that came out while talking with Gail was that Reclaim Hosting puts off a completely different vibe them most hosting companies. We have VHS tapes on our website rather than stock photos of server rooms, and we don’t play the death by 1,000 cuts up-sell game that so many hosting companies do. I also tried to throw some love to Alan Levine’s SPLOT work, CUNY’s Commons-in-a-Box, as well as some Omeka and Scalar plugs. In case it’s not clear from the article, we did not develop any of those apps, just helped with the Installatron installers.

Lastly, after getting asked to do something like this out of the blue, I begin to wonder if Reclaim Hosting is beginning to show up on folks’ radar outside the education sphere. Not sure about that, but if so it would be interesting to know why.

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Reclaim Remix ‘n’ Match: a Visual Thinkery Production

I do love myself some Visual Thinkery creativeness, and I’m not gonna lie, when it invokes Reclaim Hosting I am a complete sucker 🙂 Bryan Mather’s latest twist metaphor for the Remix Machine is the Flip Book, and it is oh so good! Reclaim Your Domain indeed! And Reclaim the awesome sense of artistry, inspiration and just plain fun! So, I couldn’t resist a quick riff on my last post!

The Remix Machine runs on support from folks like you reading this, so if you have the means and are so inclined, support some local web art!

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A Banner Week for Reclaim Arcade

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10-30-19

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Things are starting to get real around the push for Reclaim Arcade, I mean Timmmmyboy is producing marketing material, we’re both deep in the budget spreadsheets, and the OG arcade cabinets are flowing like wine in Trentino on a crisp Autumn afternoon. Life is damn good! “But talk is cheap, Jimmy, show me the money!!!” you say. Well, I hear you, baby, and I am on it.

In the last week we have secured five arcade cabinets that will give any 80s brat just a small taste of how sick a nostalgia rush Reclaim Arcade will be. Running up to my birthday Tim pointed me at a sale that included Elevator Action (in a Jungle King cabinet) and Dig Dug. I loved playing Elevator Action at Top Roller back in the day, and while it was not on the top 20 list, and while Dig Dug would not make the list, I recognize it’s a staple and this one just looked so damn good that we just couldn’t resist!

So those two are on their way to us (along with a few we ordered a few weeks back like Mario Bros., Karate Champ, and BurgerTime) but we have also hooked up with an amazing local connection and in just the last seven days we have gotten Crystal Castles, Robotron 2084, and just last night Donkey Kong delivered to Reclaim Headquarters. 


 

And that’s five, which means we’re only 5 or 6 cabinets short of 40 classic OG arcade games. Damn, the 10 year ds106 anniversary party is going to be off the hook!

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48 Divided by 12 is a Quarter

I’m in a kind of reflective mood these days, I turn 48 tomorrow, and for me that is a kinda a strange numerological milestone. I often think of my life in batches of seven years, it seems to be a rough segment of time I have traditionally made major changes, such as staying in LA for seven years during and after undergrad, seven years in NYC for grad school, a bit more in Fredericksburg (almost 10 years) but close enough for my edtech career, etc. But on a recent walk I realized that as I get older I have to widen the seven year itch net. Turns out cutting my life into 12 year chunks (that can pretty neatly be sub-divided into 6 year bits) might make more sense now. Here’s roughly how it breaks down:

  • 1-12 years old: No real memories of the first half of this period (1-6) just some shadowy impressions, but for brevity’s sake I’ll assume I was relatively cool with things. Also, no real documentation of me as a baby, so I’m also going to assert I was a cute baby. From 6-12 I was forming the interests I seem to be returning to now: video games, movies, and family (I also played football, but that interest hasn’t aged well with me).
  • 13-24 years old: I would say this was the great formative period. Identity totally in flux, but video games and movies remained consistent, music got thrown in the mix, and school/college became a kind of self-help obsession of sorts. The first part of this was marked by my parents divorcing, but had a big enough family with 7 brothers and sisters that I didn’t feel it too bad. And the later part of this period was when my own manic depression started to really have noticeable impacts on my relationships, etc. This is the period I finished high school in Long Island, then went to Virginia (George Mason University) for a quick year before heading out to California. The LA years were formative for my sense of self, went to UCLA, got a decent job in Audio Visual Services there (the beginning of my long career with public universities), also pretended to be literary, etc.
  • 25-36 years old: Held on in LA for a couple of more years before traveling in Eastern Europe and then heading back to NYC for graduate school. Grad school and NYC were  eye-opening, pretty much always broke for this entire period of my life, and realized the road to a professorship was strewn with the bodies of countless adjuncts. That said, I loved CUNY for all the amazing people I met and remained friends with, and was very useful to finally come to terms with the fact that I was a shit researcher and writer, but a fairly decent teacher. That was a crucial lesson, and one that helped me later on. This was also the luckiest period in my life, I met Antonella through the CUNY mafia, soon after we got married and had kids, you know the drill. The second half of this story, beyond a brief stint as a high school English teacher in Brooklyn, saw us being pushed out of NYC with the birth of Miles. The many years of making no money in the big apple finally took its toll, but I got lucky enough that CUNY provided me with an Instructional Technology Fellowship that was not only my introduction to WordPress (which was effectively the start of my career as an edtech) but soon after proved to be my ticket out of the big city. We moved to UMW where I took the job of instructional technologist with an extraordinary group of people, a fortuitous event in my life. The last part of this period saw me re-living some of my manic energy from my 20s—a period that can be pretty cleanly bookended with the birth of our second child, Tess, the loss of my mom, and a full edtech career immersion with UMW Blogs and EDUPUNK. 
  • 37-48 years old: These are a continuation of the great “productive years.” A lot of fun work with UMW, but also getting deeply tired of straddling the poverty line for almost 15 years. The start of this period saw the birth of Tommy, home ownership in the wake of the recession, and the start of my ds106 years (2010-2012)—which were by far the most productive I’ve had in terms of sheer communal insanity. The work around ds106 seamlessly lead into UMW Domains and then Domain of One’s Own, and when that resonated beyond UMW the groundwork for Reclaim Hosting became possible. Which, in turn, made leaving UMW and a much needed change of cultural scenery shift from dream to reality (the partnership with Tim being absolutely key here, this was the period I learned the crucial life-lesson that nothing great is accomplished alone). That said, the ds106 years had their cost, that period was also the time I let my manic depression, and by extension my drinking, spin out of control, and the highlight of this period for me was getting straight and preventing everything from falling apart. That happened about mid-way through, and made all the other good things like Reclaim Hosting, Reclaim Video, and the soon to be realized Reclaim Arcade an ongoing reality. 

I look back on these chunks of time and realize how mixed they are with good and bad, hard and easy, fun and painful. I have been lucky enough to skirt any major health issues to date, but given the the sheer math of time, age, and life, I may not be so lucky going forward. And when I think of the next 12 years I think of the final part of anything resembling a “career.” I will always consider myself an edtech, but I do think the next 12 years will be as much about running an arcade and VHS store, as it is about dreaming and exploring with marginal edtech possibilities with Tim. It will also be about getting to the 30 years married milestone, which will be the greatest accomplishment of all, and will also mean us seeing our kids through high school and even college, if they choose that route. It’s crazy to think all that is just 12 years away. I hope to be slowing down a bit by the end of the next 12, but I do feel like I still have a bit more energy to help create an arcade/bar, shore up the video store, and if things truly align start a movie theater along the lines of he New Beverly Cinema (always room for pipe dreams, right?). I’m not sure I’ll ever retire at this point given I already have felt retired for the last 4/5 years now. It’s not that I’m not working (I’m arguably working now as much as ever) but I am doing exactly the work I want to do all the time, and I am no longer always broke.

I think the last thing worth noting here is that I have been blogging for 14 years this December, which means this space has been a regular part of my routine for more than a quarter of my life, crazy. And I have a sneaking suspicion so many of the good things that have happened over that time period are at least partially a result of my sharing here, which is strangely ironic given I blogged because I was not a good writer and wanted an alternative to just share without the fear and loathing that came with “academic publishing.”  So, all this to say divide your life by 12, and if and when life gives you quarters all you can do is play old gold video arcade games from the 80s, am I right?

Posted in bavatuesdays, blogging, family, fun, learning | 10 Comments

No Fame Like Famous Monsters

Paul Bond just alerted me that he saw the animated cover of a Famous Monsters of Filmland issue featuring some Ray Harryhausen magic on the sidebar of the Destination Nightmare blog. I am honored!

That little animation is hold up the Monster Channel link, and I could not be prouder! here is the animated GIF in all its glory.  Far from perfect, but definitely one I enjoyed making.

Now this is usually where some folks (ahem Cogdog) start getting upset about attribution, but frankly I really don’t care. I take freely from around the web and I sometimes don’t give credit where credit is due, and part of the reason is because the web feels a bit less serious when it is treated as a media free-for-all—which was how it was in the early to mid 90s when I cut my teeth on it. It’s hard for me to shake the sense that discussions around permissions and attribution is driven by the logic of media ownership, but I own very little of what I share on this blog. In fact, it’s the ownership idea of the new web that got my YouTube account deleted with countless takedown notices, and it’s why I have avoided licensing my work on this blog at all. I really don’t care who uses what I’ve written or created here, cause I never felt like it was mine as much as it was a reaction I was having or thing I was engaged in.  I understand the web is more serious now, and the stakes are higher, but then why not abandon the blog and use that fact as the perfect excuse to write a newsletter, or even a book? 🙂  If someone wants to freely take a mashup I did of media I remixed and re-used without permission, than who am I to take issue? I never did the ds106 assignments for credit beyond a comment or two saying “That’s awesome!” That was always enough.  In fact, I am more thrilled to have discovered this is still be found and used in 2019 than anything else, just another thing to make me long for the good old productive years.

Posted in digital storytelling | 5 Comments