Original Hockey Mom Brownies are coming to my office this fallOriginally published by DK on July 31, 2021 at 3:06 pm
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He was a good, honest man with a good heart. You’re just selling hamburgers on the side of the road, but he touched a lot of lives…Originally published by DK on July 8, 2021 at 2:35 pm
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Why is my office always in the Star Tribune?Originally published by DK on July 5, 2021 at 8:24 am
Nice to catch up with JS in CambridgeOriginally published by DK on June 22, 2021 at 9:19 pm
Rush Creek + WillingersOriginally published by DK on June 16, 2021 at 10:02 pm
Port of St. Paul, MinnesotaOriginally published by DK on June 15, 2021 at 5:12 pm
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Windy, warm bike ride along the MississippiOriginally published by DK on June 6, 2021 at 3:33 pm
This place is specialOriginally published by DK on May 4, 2021 at 9:17 pm
Originally published by DK on April 15, 2021 at 7:29 pm
It seems hard to believe, but I’ve now been out of the casino industry almost six years. Being an old person, I still visit casinos on a regular basis (more on that age demographic thing later). I keep in touch with a number of my former colleagues and suppliers and get an occasional industry newsletter in my inbox from time to time. A recent one had a link to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that I thought was super interesting: The Plaza downtown was opening an area of their slot floor dedicated to a YouTuber named Brian Christopher.
As a nerd, I’m normally pretty open to new gaming trends, but I never fully understood the desire to watch other people play video games on Twitch (and other services). To see that a major casino in Vegas was partnering with someone who records himself playing slot machines was surprising to me, given what I know about casino marketing and security. I started following the BC Slots channel on YouTube about a month ago and I have to admit I now understand the appeal.
So what’s this all about?
While there are probably hundreds of slot machine YouTubers out there now, what Brian Christopher has accomplished so far is impressive. The 40-year-old is originally from Toronto, moved to Los Angeles and now lives in Palm Springs (more on his backstory here). His branding appears to have changed over time – he owns BrianGambles.com and casinoswag.com, for example – and joined YouTube way back in 2006 (he went full-time with BC Slots in 2016).
As of March 2021, his videos have more than 222 million views, with 358,000 subscribers to his channel. His fans are called “Rudies” and he gets financial support from them via Patreon, where people can pay anywhere from $5 to $1200 a month, and from contributions during live chats. Other financial aspects of his business, including sponsorships and appearance fees, are not disclosed. His YouTube account was suspended briefly in 2018 (along with many other gaming channels), as documented in this story from The Atlantic.
Christopher has an appealing video presence (he was an actor before YouTube), with many catchphrases popular among the Rudies. Many of these end up on merchandise that he sells online. In addition to the partnership with The Plaza, he has hosted promotions with many regional casinos and at least one slot manufacturer (Aristocrat). He’s mentioned on recent videos that he attended the G2E conference, an industry trade show not open to the general public.
BC Slots has a small staff in Palm Springs and outsources aspects of the operation (video editing and social media management were specifically mentioned in an interview). Videos are posted daily to the YouTube channel, he does periodic live streams on YouTube and Facebook and has regular content on Instagram and Twitter as well. Assistant Britt appears in most videos, while his husband Marco makes less frequent appearances. Other routines include handing out free “lucky wristbands” to fans and hosting group pulls, where participants normally pay $200-$500 for a set amount of spins (usually on a high-limit machine).
So what is my take on all of this from the perspective of a former casino operator? My initial reaction was “there is no way security would allow this to happen” in Minnesota. Casino security guards are notorious for yelling at people who take pictures on their slot floors (let alone video). On one of his old blog posts, Christopher lists casinos he has visited (including several in Las Vegas that he said were rude and that he would never return to <cough>Caesar’s Palace<cough>). My guess is that those visits involved security getting involved before marketing knew what was going on.
Getting back to the age demographic thing, the entire time I worked in the casino industry, leaders and pundits were afraid of the aging demographic. All the best players were getting older and dying off and there was this constant fear of trying to appeal to younger generations. I always felt this was a little misplaced, because 1) your older players still have a lot of money and 2) younger people will get older and want to eventually do some of these same things. The success of BC Slots (and other gaming YouTubers) show that younger players can get interested in these “traditional” games just like their parents (and grandparents). What will be interesting to see is if the casinos decide to start producing this content themselves. The videos are a great way to train players on new games and generate excitement that can drive future visits.
I love the production value of the videos that Christopher produces. He doesn’t edit out the losses and only show bonuses and jackpots (although I think he does project a luckier-than-average overall image). I also applaud him using his platform to promote causes like Smoke Free Casinos, an effort I’ve long supported (and which may finally get some traction post-pandemic). The partnership with The Plaza is very clever – the section has his favorite games, you can watch videos of him winning jackpots on those games and you can earn your own lucky wristband with 100 points of play in that area. Another recent promotion gave $100 in free play to the first 300 people that mentioned his name in Palm Springs (all were gone the first day). It’s also great that he has a link to NCPG in every video.
So what’s not to like? Security directors will surely see many more copycats try to film without permission. In general, I’d like to see those policies change anyways – from a marketing standpoint, it’s important that guests can share images and videos of them having fun. It’s good for the guest and good for the casinos. I think we are mostly beyond the days of people not wanting to be pictured at a casino (which is not to say guest privacy isn’t important). There are also copyright issues with filming in a casino for profit – some of his videos have to be edited to conceal logos from clothes or mute a song playing in the background. Seems like most of the slot manufacturers are good with their intellectual property being shared and promoted (although I wonder if that will change if some games start to get bad publicity).
The other issue I have with BC Slots is bet size and disclosure. Personally, I’ve always been a minimum bet slot player who likes to maximize time on machine (it is, after all, entertainment). It rubs me the wrong way that BC highlights max betting in all his videos and tends to make light of those that don’t follow suit. While casinos love max bet players, the majority of people can’t afford it and shouldn’t gamble that way. Granted, videos with $25 spins are much more exciting to watch than those with 40-cent spins, but I think it’s unfair if there is no disclosure that some (or all) of that play is coming from the house. From his FAQ page:
How much money do you gamble with & where do you get it from?
Well money is a delicate subject as it’s very personal. I will say however that I am very smart with money. I strictly use an entertainment budget to play with and understand how slot machines work (more on that below). Also a lot of my money gets recycled from previous trips and the key is knowing when to CASH OUT. And just like I don’t ask or know how much my sister and brother make at their jobs, I’m not going to get into finances with complete strangers either 😉
It’s a whole lot easier to do ten pulls on a $100 slot machine if that $1000 was given to you by the casino, no?
That said, I do enjoy watching these videos and will likely continue to do so. Time will tell if it changes the way I play in real life or not. I did try a few new games on my last casino trip based on things I had seen in the videos (although definitely not at those same denomination and bet levels). I think it would also be really interesting if someone compiled statistics/analytics on his videos (index of games played, amounts won/lost, bonuses hit).
In my opinion, there is an amazing lack of information on slot machines online that makes it hard for people to learn about what games they would like (volatility, best odds, payouts, rules). That is probably the biggest benefit to casinos from YouTubers like this – people can see how the games are played before they risk their own money. Hmm…maybe there is a new side hustle in my future…Originally published by DK on March 26, 2021 at 4:42 pm
Cossetta makes some additional changes upstairsOriginally published by DK on February 25, 2021 at 7:03 pm
Originally published by DK on February 24, 2021 at 8:55 am
At least the skyway doors were unlockedOriginally published by DK on January 29, 2021 at 4:06 pm
I’m optimistic, and I’m really looking forward to World of Concrete in June…Originally published by DK on January 11, 2021 at 12:42 pm
For most of my life, I’ve been a music hoarder. Visiting record stores all over the world, I’ve collected rare (and not so rare) records, tapes and CDs from a core group of artists that I like. I did vinyl the first time around, made mix tapes on cassette, fell in love with the “pure” sound of CDs and have spent countless hours ripping CDs to MP3/AAC files to be synched with laptops, iMacs, iPods and iPhones. Things I’ve never done: Napster, the resurgence of vinyl and streaming services. A week ago, I decided to do something about that last one.
My daughters are probably thinking “about damn time, old guy.” They are both big fans of Spotify and each gave me a few tutorials on how they use that service and what they like about it. It seems to me that the real competition in this space right now is between Spotify and Apple Music, so I decided to look at that option too. They both have family plans available for about $15 per month, so I signed up to try Apple Music first. They are different in some ways, but similar in most of the important areas. Apple Music probably gets the initial nod from me, just because I am so invested in the Apple ecosystem.
What do I like so far? I finally understand how the integration works with my current library, so it’s cool to have my existing files available in the cloud to be played across all devices automatically. I like the curated artist stations and themed playlists (even if they seem to be somewhat repetitive) and it’s nice to have real radio station feeds integrated again (hello, KROQ). I love that you can download up to 100,000 files locally, as I don’t always have a reliable network connection. It’s great to be able to just listen to things by anybody instantly, without having to risk money buying something you end up not liking (or only need to listen to once).
What are the bad things? The $180 I’ll pay annually to Apple is money I probably would’ve spent at places like the Electric Fetus. According to Jimmy Page, questions abound regarding the fairness of streaming royalty payments to artists and writers. I don’t like the general concept that I’m renting access to these songs and don’t really own them. I don’t have to worry about Apple going out of business any time soon (cough, cough, Zune), but once you start down this road, you are locked in to pay or your stuff goes away. And you can also have the Netflix issue of artists deciding to pull their stuff at any time.
Right now, though, Apple Music seems to be a nice middle road for me. I get the benefits of streaming services, but can still buy things the old way whenever I want. The price isn’t unreasonable and there is still a lot of functionality for me to learn (profiles, interacting with friends and family, music discovery, MusicKit, Apple Music APIs). Strangely, scrobbling via Last.fm only seems to work with the old files in my library, so it would nice to figure out how to integrate between this site and my Apple Music profile.Originally published by DK on January 1, 2021 at 11:23 pm
https://www.startribune.com/from-play-ball-to-play-bally-s-sinclair-betting-on-legal-gambling-to-boost-viewership/573452881/Originally published by DK on December 22, 2020 at 11:03 am
There will be wine tooOriginally published by DK on December 9, 2020 at 2:59 pm
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Is he related to Mr. Sparkle?Originally published by DK on October 19, 2020 at 1:02 pm
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It’s exhausting reading about the issues of 2020, but there is one topic I can’t stop thinking about. What will be the long-term impact on the economy if people change their thinking (and spending) on what’s really important to them? On one hand, I feel like there will be a lot of pent-up demand for things like travel. On the other hand, how many industries will find demand drop-off for good? My own personal spending priorities have shifted quite a bit during the pandemic (out of necessity), but I can easily picture some of these changes being permanent…Originally published by DK on August 31, 2020 at 7:43 pm
Pros: Comped soup, and lift tickets. Cons: They got rid of the soupOriginally published by DK on August 19, 2020 at 8:01 pm
The SSD drive upgrades do helpOriginally published by DK on August 19, 2020 at 1:35 pm
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https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-coronavirus-blackbird-restaurant-closing-chicago-20200629-wd6vrgjm4ffejdlahihvauzhji-story.htmlOriginally published by DK on June 30, 2020 at 10:07 pm
When I first heard that the company behind Basecamp was going to release a new email product, I was skeptical. Many others have tried to improve on the pitfalls of email, but nothing has really stood out. I’ve gone through several phases of email management, both personally and professionally. Running your own email server is not for the faint of heart, but I very briefly tried to do that with a mix of Exim, Postfix and a few other tools that tried to deal with the huge amount of junk mail on the internet.
For my personal email, I got in early enough with Google that I get to use their current G Suite service for free. On the work side, one of the first decisions I made in my current job was to move to Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) instead of having an on-site Exchange server. So right now I use the Apple Mail clients for my 7minutemiles.com account and the Mac Outlook clients for work (I like to keep them separate and use both iOS and macOS apps). Spam prevention could be better (especially on the Microsoft side), but I’m mostly OK with my current setup and routine.
I’ve been a fan of Basecamp CTO (and Ruby on Rails creator) David Heinemeier Hansson for quite a while. I agree with a lot of his business philosophies (“It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work”) and he is usually a good follow on Twitter (just avoid the weeks when he is feuding with Apple). When DHH announced that they were doing a new email thing called Hey, I sent in a request to be one of the early adopters. When my invite code came last week, I grabbed email@example.com and started to kick the tires.
Things were kinda hard to test out until I auto-forwarded my 7minutemiles.com traffic to this new account (custom domains are not yet supported). The video I watched from Basecamp CEO Jason Fried got me pretty excited about the features, so I was starting to think this might be worth $99 a year. They give you a free 14 day trial to test things out and here I sit with seven days left, an “Imbox” full of sample messages and a growing sense that this is not really for me. So, what are my main issues with Hey?
- Just can’t seem to get into the right flow of managing messages in any of the client instances (web, iOS or macOS).
- Privacy and “spy” trackers: Hey makes a big deal out of this, but you know what? Most of the emails flagged with this are from senders that I already opted in, so I don’t consider this an invasion of my privacy. From what I can tell, there is no way to tell Hey that I consider these OK. It’s a cool feature for junk mail, but I don’t want to see those messages at all.
- Can’t even imagine what sort of infrastructure is required to store all of this data (email, file attachments, added metadata). Curious to see how this scales and how their privacy and security policies will work in practice.
- The logo and overall design esthetic seems a bit…off to me. “Imbox” also rubs me the wrong way – looks like a mistake.
This would really only be worth $99 to me if I could move over my domain name, which they say is coming soon. Do I roll the dice and subscribe next week (both in anticipation of that feature and to keep the vanity address)? Most signs point to no – Google doesn’t charge me anything now and I’m mostly happy with how I manage email overall. I will keep messing with Hey until the trial expires, though. Who knows, maybe things will click in another day or two?Originally published by DK on June 22, 2020 at 10:12 pm
Welcome back Steve (and crew)Originally published by DK on June 18, 2020 at 8:04 pm
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Virtual Cisco Live! 2020Originally published by DK on June 16, 2020 at 11:09 am
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Support your local restaurantsOriginally published by DK on June 3, 2020 at 7:43 pm
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Long lines today at the grocery store (but thankful they were open)Originally published by DK on May 31, 2020 at 12:30 am
Canadian Pacific train crossing the Mississippi in Saint PaulOriginally published by DK on May 23, 2020 at 7:15 pm
I’ve waited almost a week to write this post, as my initial shock turned to anger, and it’s never a good idea to write when you are angry. On April 30, 2020, co-owner Eric Dayton tweeted that our favorite Minneapolis restaurant and bar would not reopen.
How could this be? If anyone should have the resources to weather this storm, you’d think it would the Dayton family. They owned the building. Their mother is a Rockefeller, for crying out loud. They are fighters for the North, do-gooders trying to feed the hungry and solid fundraisers and organizers. How could they throw in the towel so early?
I’ve never met Eric Dayton, but by all accounts, he’s a good guy and outsiders never know the private facts and details behind public decisions. I’ll even cut him some slack for hating skyways. To be honest, though, I was mad at him for this decision, mad for taking away the place my wife and I visited more than a dozen times, mad for taking away our Cocktail Club destination, mad for quitting while others battle on.
Of course, life changes even in “normal” times. When my favorite bartender of all time, Pip Hanson, left in 2015 for London, we were sad. When Chef Paul Berglund left in August of 2017 (a year after winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest), we were sad. When Erin Rolek left in August of 2019 for the beautiful shores of Santa Monica, we were sad. Happy for all of them, but sad they were no longer in that special building in the North Loop.
Now we are sad for the current groups of stars who carried on the tradition. Jonathan Gans started in November of 2018 and re-earned the four star review from Rick Nelson. The Forager Chef Alan Bergo had joined the kitchen. Monday pork chop night was as good as ever.
Now we mourn the loss of the toast racks, the Swedish meatballs, the popovers, the wine board, the red books, the individually-wrapped cookies, the purple door, the “secret” staircase. Gavin Kaysen had some wonderful comments on his Instagram, Erin had an inspiring series of pictures on her Instagram story (that are now sadly gone) and Chef Jonathan is asking for financial support of his team via GoFundMe (done, Chef).
I’m sure this won’t be last of these stories before all this is over, but very few will hit us as hard as this one did. Maybe a road trip to Rochester will help a little…
❤️TBFOriginally published by DK on May 5, 2020 at 11:00 pm
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No hockey, no fancy French food, no live musicOriginally published by DK on April 6, 2020 at 7:29 pm
Always hustlin’Originally published by DK on April 5, 2020 at 11:56 am
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Live at five with Nive…Originally published by DK on March 15, 2020 at 1:50 pm
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Marketing geniuses, I tells yaOriginally published by DK on November 21, 2019 at 11:07 am
Mood.Originally published by DK on November 19, 2019 at 2:23 pm
Computers are so last yearOriginally published by DK on October 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm
Thank you Target Center (and Shelly)Originally published by DK on October 4, 2019 at 4:37 pm
Why isn’t this just permanent?Originally published by DK on August 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm
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