Planet Iron Blogger SF

January 20, 2020

Certainly Strange

Quartermaster Steen Hard at Work

I have so much of this dang fabric now, I could outfit a whole platoon of Romulans. My sister and I have been joking that now I’m a Romulan quartermaster. I’ve just been working on quilting it all. “Welcome recruit! … Continue reading

by Steen at January 20, 2020 05:56 AM

Doctor Popular

KnifeTank: The Shüffling is live now on Kickstarter

I’m so proud to say that my first tabletop game, KnifeTank: The Shüffling, is now live on Kickstarter. The game has already reached its $8,000 goal, but now I have my eyes set on reaching 1,000 backers. I’m at nearly 400 now, so I have quite a ways to go, but I think I can do it.

If you can help support the project at any level or spread the word, I’d really appreciate it!

If you need more convincing, check out this fantastic review on

What I wasn’t expecting was a game I instantly wanted to play over and over again and invite my friends to come and play (which I did). KnifeTank can hold its own against anything coming out of a large commercial game company and I look forward to it enjoying a long and happy life, with many expansions and a worldwide, enthusiastic player community.

Gareth Branwyn for

The post KnifeTank: The Shüffling is live now on Kickstarter appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at January 20, 2020 05:22 AM

January 19, 2020

I Like Turtles



January 19, 2020 05:00 AM

January 15, 2020

a digital life

January 13, 2020

Certainly Strange

Pattern Drafted

I got the pattern drafted and my prototypes seem to be working out pretty well. Huzzah!

by Steen at January 13, 2020 05:42 AM

a digital life

January 12, 2020

Doctor Popular

A Wallpaper Made From An LCD Screen That Was Damaged By A Yo-Yo

Min Park decided to try learning how to fingerspin with his yo-yo, unfortunately he was surrounded by LCD TVs and this happened:

I thought this would make a great addition to my cracked screen wallpapers for mobile phones, so I’m adding it here:

Here is how it looks on the phone:

The post A Wallpaper Made From An LCD Screen That Was Damaged By A Yo-Yo appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at January 12, 2020 07:20 PM

January 11, 2020

I Like Turtles



January 11, 2020 05:00 AM

January 06, 2020

Certainly Strange

New Project

Welp I’ve started a new project which has consumed my life for the time being… it has called for a lot of quilting, which is simple but rather time consuming. But it will allllll pay off I’m sure. I love … Continue reading

by Steen at January 06, 2020 07:25 AM

Doctor Popular

Waiting For An Earthquake (demo track)

I’ve finished recording my next album and we’ll begin mixing and mastering it in February. I can’t wait to share the whole thing with you, but for now I thought I’d share a demo version of the album’s title track:

The post Waiting For An Earthquake (demo track) appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at January 06, 2020 04:45 AM

January 05, 2020

a digital life

January 03, 2020

a digital life

December 31, 2019

Matt Spitz

Lowering the stakes in career development conversations

An important part of a manager’s job is to develop the capabilities of those in her reporting chain to deliver more impact to the business in the long run. This requires understanding the career aspirations of her teammates so she can stretch them in ways that are motivating.

Often, career growth conversations take the form of a Five Year Plan™: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Fun fact: few people know what they want for lunch tomorrow, much less what job they want in five years. This isn’t a bad thing. Tech is a dynamic industry, and the skills, domains, and jobs that exist today will be very different in five years. People change, too.

Unfortunately, framing career growth as a Five Year Plan™, a destination and specific stepping stones to get there, is arresting. By articulating a specific long-term goal, a report may feel locked into a plan that may soon no longer reflect her aspirations. And so, that report may be reluctant to have any career planning discussion, which leaves the manager without information and the report at risk of feeling stagnant at work.

I’ve found lowering the stakes and framing career growth as a series of questions, not milestones, to be more effective. I start with how a report might want to grow in the next few years, which often leads to a healthy discussion about what roles might be available and the skills necessary for those roles. Once we have a shared idea of the possibilities, we collectively identify opportunities that can help the report narrow it down and develop skills along the way.

As an example, a common junction for a mid-level individual contributor (IC) is the decision to move into management or to continue developing as a senior technical leader. These are very different jobs, and many ICs who end up as managers find themselves unhappy and ineffective once they realize the differences. For ICs interested in management, I’ll find opportunities for them to experience the role of a manager without moving formally (e.g. getting more involved with recruiting, driving the execution cadence for a team). These trial experiences enable both the IC and myself to evaluate whether they’d be a good fit for a management role. Since the career conversation is framed as a journey, the stakes are low, and there’s no pressure to move into management or shame in sticking to being an IC.

I’ve personally found success in framing my own career development this way, too. By optimizing for learning and being open to trying new things, I’ve found myself in engaging, exciting roles that I wouldn’t have known existed before.

December 31, 2019 05:00 AM

December 30, 2019

Certainly Strange

Star Trek Universal Translator Headcanon

I think that, for frequently encountered languages, the translation program of the universal translator is heavily curated with a lot of manual entry. Because many languages use a lot of idioms and metaphors which would need a manual translator to … Continue reading

by Steen at December 30, 2019 04:38 AM

Doctor Popular

Fears and feelings about the next big project

I’m more scared about the upcoming release of KnifeTank: The Shüffling than any other project I can recall. I’ve been working on this game, plus a few others, for almost 4 years now and I’m so anxious to finally release my first board game. There always seems to be one more thing to do, like grow my email list or find more reviewers before launch, but after this much time working on building an audience and testing the game, I just need to get it out there and let the cards fall as they may (pun intended).

I don’t think my friends understand, but spending this much time working on boardgames with nothing tangible to show for it has been the main cause of stress in my life. Wether or not this project succeeds, I’ll just feel so good to finally have it ready for the world to see.

This will be my 10th Kickstarter project, but my first time creating a game. I feel like I know the ins and outs of running music or yo-yo campaigns, but none of my previous experience has me feeling prepared to make the jump into games. Since most of my previous projects were for yo-yos or Game Boy cartridges in the $75 range, I only needed about 300 backers to reach my goal, but this game is only $13, which means I’ll need about 900 backers.

No big deal, it’s just 3 times more backers than my most successful project has done.

I am nervous about getting this right, but I know the game is rock solid and the art will really knock it out of the park. Games are a huge audience on KS too, so it’s not unreasonable to triple the audience of my more niche projects. Worst case is that the project might fail and I’ll need to make some tweaks before relaunching it, but I know I’ll feel so much better after the campaign is live.

If you’d like to know more about the project and get notified when the campaign goes live, check it out on

If you live in the Bay Area, I’ll be doing free demos (and giving out a unique KnifeTank card) from 1 till 4 at January 4th and 5that Mission Comics and Art.

The post Fears and feelings about the next big project appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at December 30, 2019 03:34 AM

December 29, 2019

a digital life

December 28, 2019

a digital life

December 27, 2019

I Like Turtles



December 27, 2019 05:00 AM

December 23, 2019

Doctor Popular

My Favorite Games of 2019

Holy cow, 2019 was an incredible year for games. Here are my favorites:


The only board game on this list, but it’s fucking incredible, so I had to list it here. When we heard that DUNE was created by the same designers as Cosmic Encounter, we knew we had to play it. CE is one of our favorite games, but I think Dune is even better. Definitely more strategic, but I think it has a higher replay value as well.

Stone Story

The art on this game is what got me hooked. I liked it so much, in fact, that it inspired me to learn how to create ASCII art. Luckily the game play is just as interesting as the graphics. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the game sort of plays itself. I mean, you make big decisions and you can micro-manage if you want, but really it’s a “lets see what happens if I do this” kind of game.

Bad North

Bad North is a beautiful game in form and function. The art is a unique low-poly style combined with generative islands for you to protect from viking hordes. You can create 3 types of warriors that can be used to defeat your foes. There’s an interesting rock-paper-scissor mechanic here were archers defeat pikemen, pikemen defeat shieldsmen, shieldsman defeat arches, etc. Every time you play this game, you’ll have a different experience in terms of generative landscapes, but what really makes the game pop for me is the tiny actions each and everyone of your warriors takes during gameplay. Sometimes someone chickens out or goes mad with rage. It makes it feel so organic and fun.

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

TABS is the most ridiculous game I’ve ever played. It combines a very real physics simulator with totally absurd character animations and ends up just silly and fun. It’s a strategic game through and through, but with the most ridiculous physics and logic.

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator Fun GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Return of the Obra Dinn

OMG return of the OBRA DINNNNNNN! This is one of those games you buy for the art, but luck out on the game play. This is a who-done-it style game, where you play an insurance adjuster trying to determine how everyone on the Obra Dinn meet their cursed fate. Christine and I loved playing this game together. There were several times when she saw a clue I totally missed and vice versa. I shared a SPOILER FREE write up about the game’s art style here.

Lucas Pope Indie GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sea Salt

You are an elder god that’s pissed off at the mortal “leader” of your church, so you wage war against him. Rather than playing as some giant space monster, you posses smaller things like hordes of cultists or plagues of rats. It’s quite strategic and unlike any other game I’ve played.

A Short Hike

An adorable exploration game with a fun flight mechanic. People say it feels like an improved version of Animal Crossing, but I have no idea what that game is.

Ape Out

Easily the shortest game on the list, Ape Out feels like playing your favorite 1960s jazz album. I mean “playing it”, as in playing it like a video game. Every move, every villain, and every action triggers changes in the music or scenery that make this an experience like non-other.

The post My Favorite Games of 2019 appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at December 23, 2019 05:53 PM

a digital life

December 20, 2019

Matt Spitz

Working with me

Every few years, I update a document that lists my values, my modus operandi, and a few fun facts.

Here’s my latest, written at Dropbox in April of 2019, shortly after moving back to San Francisco.

Q2 2019

What I value

  • Delivering impact: I want my team to take on important work, deliver it, and take pride in the impact we’re having for our users. There are too many important things for Dropbox to do that we can’t waste time on what isn’t. It’s critical that we validate what’s most impactful for Dropbox and prioritize accordingly.
  • Empowering my team: When giving new responsibilities to someone on my team, I prefer to empower them sooner rather than later and support as needed. At Dropbox, I’m often surprised with how quickly people take to new opportunities, and I’d prefer not to leave the training wheels on for too long.
  • Giving and getting feedback: I will give you feedback, and I expect you to give me feedback. It’s the fastest way to build trust and to grow together. Don’t be shy.
  • Growing people: I’m interested in my team’s individual success, both at Dropbox and beyond. If you’re pushing yourself and are ready to expand your scope, I will find ways to empower you and give you feedback. However, I will not be more invested in your career than you are. I will match whatever effort you want to put into your growth, but I won’t drag you along.
  • Diversity and inclusivity: I believe that diverse teams that trust one another build better products, deliver more business impact, and, ultimately, accelerate Dropbox. I will do my best to increase the diversity of our team (particularly of gender, race, and sexual orientation), and I expect managers to do the same. Further, I expect managers to steward an inclusive culture on their teams in which everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas and will strive for the same myself. Please let me know if there’s anything you think can be improved here. I welcome your ideas and suggestions!
  • Bringing our best selves to work: You can’t control everything about your job, much less your life, but you can control who shows up at your desk. Bring a positive attitude, celebrate your teammates’ wins, help your teammates grow, work hard, try your best, and always be learning. In private, please let me know how I can support you in any way, professionally or personally.

How I work

  • I’m comfortable with brainstorming solutions, bouncing ideas quickly with a group in real time. I like to move quickly, though, for particularly important decisions, I prefer to have some time to think before we execute.
  • I prefer to try new things and retrospect instead of finding ideal solutions, particularly for team processes. Our work environment changes frequently, and existing processes grow stale quickly. Let’s try new things and schedule time to reflect rather than seek perfection.
  • I prefer to be overinformed, as long as it doesn’t create extra work for you. I like to be on noisy mailing lists and Slack channels; it’s an opportunity for me to build context. However, please don’t assume that I read everything that’s sent.
  • I try my best to respect the geographic and timezone differences of those in other offices. I’ve spent the majority of my career working for companies in other cities, and I’ve felt the pain very directly myself. If something we’re doing isn’t inclusive for those on VC or in another office, please speak up!
  • If something needs my attention, a direct message (email or Slack) is preferred to a blast email or passing line in a group chat. I’ll usually respond quickly, even when I’m not in the office. Worst case, feel free to text or call.
  • I manage my own interrupts. Please don’t be shy if you need my attention, either in-person or via messaging. If I need to focus, I’ll silence notifications or work away from my desk and get back to you when I can.
  • I hold regular office hours in case you’d like to discuss anything at all. Again, don’t be shy!
  • I have a family with small children, which often limits my time in the office. However, I’m often back online after bedtime. I’ve also significantly increased my daily caffeine intake in the last couple of years. Not a coincidence.

Fun facts

  • 🌉 I grew up in San Francisco, lived in New York for ten years, and moved back in 2019.
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 L and I have two little kids: L and F.
  • 🗽 With a few others, I opened Dropbox NYC in 2014 and was its first site lead for five years.
  • 🚴 I prefer to bicycle to work whenever I can; we’ll see if I’m able to keep it up in SF.
  • 🖖 Until I watched all of DS9, TNG was clearly the best Star Trek. Now I’m not so sure.
  • 🎸 I love playing music and hope to spend at least some time in The Mint!
F = asleep
F = asleep
F = asleep
Cookies from my Dropbox NYC going-away party
I played in a Pearl Jam cover band in New York for many years
SF bike commutes are warmer than some NYC bike commutes

Note: I’m wearing a hat in these photos more than I normally do. Also, I swear that I have other hats.

December 20, 2019 05:00 AM

December 16, 2019

Doctor Popular

KnifeTanking it up

This weekend I finished recording vocals for my next chiptune album and wrapped production on the Kickstarter video for KnifeTank: The Shüffling.

Toss card in action

The video was shot by my friend Shalaco and is being editing now. So many of my favorite people showed up to the shoot. Shoutout to Kearstin, Andrew, Eddie, John, Hank, Stuart, Rob, and Shalaco for sharing their afternoon with me. I can’t wait to show y’all the final video.

In other news, I’ve been reaching out to board game reviewers about KnifeTank and have added the game (and myself) to the Board Game Geek database. That part was not easy. BGG is very confusing, but hey, if you’re on it please feel free to leave a review for KnifeTank: The Shüffling. Thanks!

The post KnifeTanking it up appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at December 16, 2019 05:03 AM

December 14, 2019

a digital life

December 09, 2019

Certainly Strange

The Emperor Blew Up the Shield Wall!

During yesterday’s Dune session, there were several memorable moments, but perhaps most dramatic is when the Emperor suffered a harrowing loss to Atreides, and then decided to blow up the Shield Wall – causing the storm to immediately wipe out … Continue reading

by Steen at December 09, 2019 06:46 AM

Doctor Popular

Dune (the boardgame)

Cosmic Encounter was one of the first commercial board games with a simple set of core rules and a specific set of modifications to those rules for each player. Future Pastimes employed this technique in some of their other designs, notably the Dune board game.


This re-issue of Dune is a fantastic boardgame. Definitely shares many qualities of Cosmic Encounter, but with a richer (and admittedly much longer) game play. When we heard that Dune was created by the same developers as Cosmic Encounter, one of our favorite games, we jumped right in and bought a copy. No regrets. We’ve played 3 long games of Dune now and can’t wait to get another 2 or 3 in before the year ends.

The post Dune (the boardgame) appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at December 09, 2019 06:13 AM

December 06, 2019

a digital life

December 05, 2019

I Like Turtles



December 05, 2019 05:00 AM

December 02, 2019

Certainly Strange

Telvanni Gift Culture

Based on how the Telvanni are presented in Morrowind, these are my speculations on Telvanni gift culture. More than the other Houses and factions, Telvanni famously gives the player the best rewards and the highest pay. On the surface this … Continue reading

by Steen at December 02, 2019 06:36 AM

Doctor Popular

KnifeTank is cöming!

I’ve been working on KnifeTank: The Shüffling for years, but this weekend I sat down and finalized all of the game art so I could order my last batch of prototypes before the game goes on Kickstarter in January.

These changes include easier to read numbers and higher contrast UI, 4 brand new tanks (!), a 4 player mode (!!), and finalized rules.

You can follow the game’s progress on @KnifeTank on Twitter. Here’s a little secret, I’ll be selling a couple of copies of test-versions of the game this week. Follow @knifetank to find out when those are available and thanks for your support!

The post KnifeTank is cöming! appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at December 02, 2019 03:46 AM

November 30, 2019

I Like Turtles

Episode V: We're Never Moving Again


November 30, 2019 05:00 AM

November 28, 2019

a digital life

November 25, 2019

Doctor Popular

Progress on various projects

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’m feeling really productive. I’ve started recording a new album, finishing up my KnifeTank card game, and I’ve been developing a 2 minute long yo-yo freestyle for some possible contest in the future.

Waiting For An Earthquake

The album I’m working on is called “Waiting For An Earthquake”. All of the music for WFAE was produced on a Gameboy using Nanoloop, with my singing on top of it. Most of it was written 4-5 years ago, but some songs are still in the process of being created. I’m not sure when the album will be done, but I’d say we are about halfway done recording. Here is a rough demo of the title track:

KnifeTank: The Shüffling

KnifeTank is a card game for two or four players. I’m crazy proud of it and can’t wait to get my first board game printed. You can follow the progress on Twitter at @knifetank.

Responsive-Freehand Yo-Yoing

My latest yo-yo obsession has been using a responsive yo-yo for freehand play. I recently shared a short video that shows this combo in action:

And I’ve shared a longer video that teaches the basics of responsive-freehand yo-yoing:

The post Progress on various projects appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at November 25, 2019 02:13 AM

Certainly Strange

Gender Politics in Morrowind

This is mostly a compilation of my thoughts and observations on gender and gender politics of Dunmeri society in Morrowind. In Morrowind, and Dunmeri society especially, gender politics are very culturally heterogeneous with a strong geographic component (due to House … Continue reading

by Steen at November 25, 2019 01:34 AM

November 23, 2019

I Like Turtles

Home with Dada


November 23, 2019 05:00 AM

November 20, 2019

a digital life

November 19, 2019

a digital life

November 18, 2019

Certainly Strange

Dune Updates

So we’ve been able to get a few more games of Dune in, and it is still fantastic. I’ve now been able to play as Harkonnen and the Spacing Guild, and the strategy/gameplay felt completely different each time due to … Continue reading

by Steen at November 18, 2019 06:09 AM

November 17, 2019

I Like Turtles

Shields down


November 17, 2019 05:00 AM

November 11, 2019

Doctor Popular

Online Moving Dots

Create stunning gifs with Dominik Seibold’s online moving dots animation-generator. Here are some of mine:

The post Online Moving Dots appeared first on Doc Pop's Weblog.

by doc at November 11, 2019 10:18 PM

Certainly Strange

The Lilting Romulan Accent

I’ve just been getting a whole bunch of Romulan headcanons lately, I don’t know why. Here’s another one: Vulcans probably have hundreds of languages and dialects spoken, since they’re inhabiting the planet where they evolved for bajillions of years. However, … Continue reading

by Steen at November 11, 2019 06:21 AM