A Belated Happy Birthday to the bava

Here’s to 15 years on the bava, and all the irreparable damage it has caused me. Well, actually, I am a couple of weeks late. My blog anniversary is December 13th, but this December has flown by and I have not found the time to blog. So no better way to celebrate 15 years of blogging than to write a post about not blogging. In fact, I didn’t miss blogging as much as blogging about not blogging, if that makes any sense.

I have not had any real blog momentum since I came back from the US in mid-November, but I kind of expected as much.  After dialing in Reclaim Arcade for two weeks in the US, I came home to prepare for moving house here in bella Italia. Moving is painful, and the older I get the more that truth is compounded.  And despite my best intentions I still ended up doing most of the move myself given how much weird, useless shit I have that I am afraid will be broken or lost. In fact, this move should have been easier given most of the furniture was not ours and we’ve only had 5 years to accumulate, but kipple is real and my hoarding instinct does not help. Anyway, my office was disassembled the first week in December, and I have been living like a digital hobo going from couch to couch.

The upside of all this is we are moving from the decaying bava villa in the countryside to the mint bava mansion in the city. The bava is moving on up and lovin’ it! There is a Hollywood-esque stairway in the foyer filled with my The Girl Who Knew Too Much poster and an entire level dedicated to the home office that is coming along (although I am still tethering off cell data, but this post might best avoid me talking about our struggles with Italian Telecom).

But for now I have been hanging in the living room with Daphne catching as many bars and as much winter sun as possible.

I am definitely digging the new pad, and it was my intention to empty the rest of the previous house immediately after Christmas, but that was rendered impossible by the 2 feet of snow dropped on Trento right after Christmas. That said, it was gorgeous.

Last night we could finally dig out enough snow and lock-in an available vehicle to get almost everything out of the old house, I think one more trip in the New Year will put this nearly month-long move to rest. I think my New Year’s resolution will be to never move myself alone again…ever! Dragging the process out over a month was particularly painful given I am a creature of habit and all routines are disrupted and I tailspin into neglecting my blog, missing my anniversary, and failing to keep the bava faithful up-to-date with all the b-news fit to print. So, below will be my attempt to play crowd-pleaser and provide a relatively brief update on everything from Reclaim Hosting to my arcade cabinet addiction as well as some fun announcements regarding both Reclaim Arcade and the OER21xDomains conference in the New Year. So, strap in because I ‘m about to blow your mother trucking mind!

Reclaim Hosting: The juggernaut continues to roll! I don’t even know what to say about the awesome sauce that is Reclaim Hosting. Like everyone else this year we had some moments, but the story of 2020 for us has been focusing on continued top-flight support of the community thanks to the remarkable talent that is the Reclaim Hosting  team. Growth is scary for me because I do not want to be removed from Reclaim’s core mission, but with awesome folks like Lauren, Meredith, Chris, Gordon, Katie, and now Isabelle—and soon to be a ninth employee—I have to say that my fear has been misguided. Everyone at Reclaim understands that the core mission remains empowering and supporting our community of students and educators, and quite frankly they’re killing it on a daily basis. What’s more, with almost 200 servers and 800-1000 support tickets a month growth is happening whether I like it or not.

A big highlight of 2020 for me was Reclaim Cloud, which is our bet on the future. Having an alternative infrastructure to cPanel that can manage pay-per-use, seamless scaling, and a wide range of environments beyond LAMP is super exciting. In fact, it has seem a modest but steady uptake thus far, which is expected. But the cool thing is we have found Reclaim Cloud to be an unparalleled environment when it comes to performance for our WordPress Multisite managed hosting clients, an area of the business that has almost doubled in 2020. And while we are huge fans of Digital Ocean, reclaiming some of our infrastructure from an overhead perspective has been a gigantic win. We have two data centers in the US (East and West), one in Canada and another in the UK. I expect exploring and showing off Reclaim Cloud will be a big part of 2021 for me, and I am looking forward to that.

Another highlight for me has been watching Lauren Hanks take over the account management/sales portion of Reclaim Hosting. She has been doing a brilliant job, and has had a huge year in terms of professional growth as she took on new challenges such as onboarding and managing new employees, tightening the cross-departmental communication, while continuing to always bring new ideas to the table. She remains absolutely central to helping us streamline our work while dialing-in in a healthy culture. Not to mention she is an organizational genius and Reclaim is really lucky to have her! What’s more, her great work has made my life easier as I have been able to dig in on the Cloud as well explore video streaming, as well as that little side project known as Reclaim Arcade, but more on that shortly.

Another thing I appreciated during 2020 is that Reclaim Hosting was something of a harbor during turbulent times. By remaining stable and avoiding a bullet with Reclaim Arcade construction we were able to ensure everyone that they had no concerns on the employment front as the shit started to hit the fan. In fact, we were even able to hire more folks to ensure the workload did not become an issue during April and May when we were all raw and wondering WTF was happening. So, for a less than balanced person like myself, to be able to lean on the Reclaim Hosting team (and vice versa) was a real special element of this insane year, which I thought was nicely capped with the holiday movie watch-along last week.

What’s more, our years of figuring out a distributed company since 2015 put us in a really good place to immediately adjust to the challenges of working during a pandemic, but that did not stop us from having an actual office in a strip mall with a full blown sign!

Reclaim Hosting is 1980s Strip Mall Famous

Which I think is a good transition to Reclaim Arcade, something that has been very much on my mind these days as we prepare to make a big announcement about its future tomorrow. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out, but god is in the details so I’ll save those for tomorrow. But the long and short of it is we are opening at the end of January, and it is going to be epic. I think the story of 2020 for Tim and I is very much wrapped up in Reclaim Arcade. We were all set to open in Spring of 2020 when COVID-19 hit and our best laid plans were out the window. It’s crazy to think about it, but I was two months out from moving back to Freddy full time to take over some of the day-to-day of the arcade as it was planned to open—it seems like a lifetime ago. We got lucky in that we avoided doing major construction work to build out a full kitchen and bar, which allowed us to  shut down planning for 4-5 months. But come August we got to dreaming again, and I think we came up with something that will work even as we still battle through the virus and wait for the COVID clouds to lift.

Reclaim Arcade is Art!

The re-adjustment gave us the opportunity to return to our DIY roots, and I think the space is about as magical as it could have been with or without a contractor and design team. We put everything we have into that space, and I believe it shows. I wrote about the details extensively last month, so I will spare you any re-hashing, but it is worth noting that in less than two weeks in mid-December Tim took it upon himself to build a fullblown video wall, and it is amazing. Tim’s blog post linked above takes you through all the details, but let me just share a quick video of how the video projection wraps around a corner above the pinball room, it is mindblowing:

I remain in awe of Timmmmyboy, he was and is the heart and soul of the space and the engine that is making it all happen. I parachuted in for my parts (and I love them), but he took the arcade to the next level with his endless work on repairing the video games, brilliant light artistry, and now the creation of a ridiculously amazing video wall. It’s really the greatest space on earth, at least according to the bava.blog—and Timmy’s fingerprints are all over every last bit of it! I have the best partner in crime in the whole damn world.

The one thing I have been doing from afar is buying games and picking up spare parts for when they go down—and they will go down! Watching the various sites and forums has become a bit of an obsession for me. I honestly think that behavior accounts for at least some of my not blogging this month, but it has been pretty fruitful. I secured 7 new games over the last 3 weeks, including Double Dragon, Congo Bongo, Frogger, Atari Football, Vanguard, Mousetrap and Pleiades.

What’s more, I just sent payment for Moon Patrol (a grail game) and have my eye on a Pengo and Wizard of Wor, but Tim thinks I might have a game buying problem at this point—but I think everything is just fine. Both games are so beautiful, we really do need them, so please write to Tim and tell him as much, thank you. For those keeping count at home, that makes 53 old school arcade games and 7 pinball, which means we have 60 games! Ridiculous, and with Pengo and Wizard of Wor it would be over 60 🙂

Reclaim Arcade was always destined to be amazing, but I am not exaggerating when I say things like…

I could write another 10,000 words about all the arcade emotions, but I’ll save it for tomorrow.

ds106radio/ds106.tv

Another highlight of 2020 was it injected new life into your old radio friend ds106rad.io. Some of the usual suspects came back and a whole bunch of new folks joined in, making it a real joy. My personal highlights were talking lockdown with Antonella during the almost 3 month lockdown we lived through from March through May here in Italy. It was almost 30 episodes by the end, and I will post those up at some point because they capture a point in time that might be worth reflecting on once we have some distance.

And ds106.tv is really just getting started. I have much more to do on both accounts, but I have to say the will for folks to have some fun and share some magic despite the circumstances we find ourselves in is the ultimate source of hope and love for me. I love the friends I’ve made online through this little old blog the last 15 years: they’re cool, they make me laugh, and it reminds me of why I like doing what I do.

OER21xDomains

I am rushing the last points here because this post will be destined for 2021 if I don’t, but it is worth noting that Reclaim Hosting has the distinct privilege and honor of collaborating with the good folks of ALT and the conference co-chairs to host a hybrid OER21xDomains conference that will be fully online. I’ve been saving a wee bit of energy for a longer post on some of the ideas we have when it comes to the many possibilities, but needless to say we are absolutely thrilled at the opportunity to explore running an online conference with my favorite conference community ever: the UK OER hippies! If you’re in the game for a cool conference, then you might want to check out the CFP which is currently available.

So, for all the madness that was 2020, I never felt luckier for the folks I work with, the friends I have made online, and the broader community of internauts who are trying to find a sense of joy and hope in the work we do despite the myriad challenges it everywhere presented in 2020. 2021 will be a new year no matter what, and with the orange sociopath soon to be muzzled and (hopefully) manacled, it’s already looking like a new day rising. Avanti ragazzi!

Damn that was a long, round about way to wish my blog happy birthday, but that’s what happens when you don’t blog for a month!

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