7 Minute Miles

Up Next: Public Broadcasting

Posted Thursday, November 17th, 2022 09:14 am in Business,Friends,Longform,Personal,Technology,Television,Work at 9:14 AM

Now that I’ve been in my new role as systems engineer at TPT for a month, I figured it was a good time to reflect on this change and write about my experience so far. The organization’s post-COVID return to the office has been branded as a “Return to Lowertown” and it literally is for me too. Hard to believe it’s almost a year already since we left Rayette Lofts to head on down the river…

The commute back and forth has been great so far, usually taking under 15 minutes each way. Next spring, I hope to ride my bike a few days each week if I can sort out the storage issues. I splurged on the expensive parking option in the Lowertown Ramp, which is easy-in on Sibley and easy-out on Jackson (plus covered spots with no winter scraping). I’ve never really had any security trouble in Lowertown, but it is convenient to have a parking spot right next to the office entrance.

Some other logistical things: currently working a hybrid schedule of four days in the office and one day from home (Wednesdays), which has been very nice. While every day has been focused on getting up to speed on systems and technology, I’ve been trying to use the work from home day as a deep-dive research day (which is easier alone). TPT has a nice lunchroom, so I’ve mainly been bringing in frozen lunches to eat. The reawakening of the downtown St. Paul lunch dining scene has been slow, but there are pockets here and there. Still exploring the skyway, but always open to suggestions and recommendations.

Totally digging the culture and mission of the organization:

Enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media.

How can you not smile walking into an office with a two-story Big Bird on the wall? I grew up watching Sesame Street, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact, while my kids were raised on Teletubbies, Arthur, Caillou, Zoboomafoo, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Sagwa and Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Our family was addicted to the old Action Auction they produced in the former studios across from the fairgrounds on Como, regularly bidding on 25-pound salted nut rolls (among other things).

Looking at some of the other pictures and signs around the office bring back a flood of other positive memories: Downtown Abbey, Rick Steves’ Europe, Nova, Nature, Austin City Limits, Lowertown Line and Almanac. So much good content has been broadcast from this PBS affiliate and I’m really excited to help such a talented and creative crew. My high school friend Terry Gray has been at TPT for 15 years and was a major influence on me considering this role. Super excited to work with him again (we worked together at HSRA Minnesota and I saw him occasionally on the sidelines at U.S. Bank Stadium).

The Information Technology team at TPT is solid and I really enjoy being part of a larger group again. Former McNally Smith veteran Nick Kaihoi is great to work with and we have so many shared tech experiences and philosophies, it’s scary. The team picked out a new M2 MacBook Air for me to use, which was just perfect. I also appreciate that the HR department has an actual “No Jerk Policy” and find the overall vibe just so refreshing. It reminds me of this Mr. Rodgers quote:

There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.

“Funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and contributions to your PBS station from Viewers Like You”

Originally published by DK on November 17, 2022 at 9:14 am

Culpeper & El Segundo

Posted Thursday, November 10th, 2022 10:50 am in Business,Links,Technology at 10:50 AM

https://www.cloudflare.com/dns/dnssec/root-signing-ceremony/

Originally published by DK on November 10, 2022 at 10:50 am

Twitter Tales

Posted Thursday, November 10th, 2022 01:05 am in Business,Family,Friends,Longform,Technology at 1:05 AM

Twitter is really having a moment, isn’t it? Too bad it feels like the verge of implosion, as it has been my favorite social media platform since I joined back in February 2008. Not sure of all the dates, but I think I joined LinkedIn (the first time) just after Twitter, followed by Facebook in December 2008 and Instagram sometime in 2010. I deleted my Facebook account in June 2020, followed by Instagram a few days later. Dropped off LinkedIn for about five years, as it became a huge source of spam and unsolicited sales pitches. I rejoined last year for career reasons, but it seems rather sad that may be the last one standing if I decide to drop Twitter.

Now, I don’t really want to leave Twitter. I likely use the service differently than 99% of the rest of the world, and it has served me well. I’m rarely on the actual twitter.com website, using the awesome Tweetbot client on both macOS and iOS. For reasons I don’t fully understand, using those tools means I never see ads and my timeline is always in chronological order (with only accounts I want to see).

I currently follow about 400 accounts (many of those, it turns out, have been inactive for some time) and I’ve carefully curated what accounts I follow to get useful and timely info in my personal areas of interest (music, sports, food, travel, running, casinos and technology). There are friends and family on there that I know from real life and a bunch of real people that I only know through Twitter. Some of these people I’m connected with on LinkedIn, but I’d miss out on so much if Twitter was out of the picture. Hoping for personal blogs to make a comeback – RSS is solid tech and NetNewsWire is still a great reader on macOS.

Decided to spend some time this week studying what content has been hitting my timeline since Electric Rocket Boy took over. There are a few friends that I follow that use the service *a lot* and I don’t think I fully realized just how much they shape my Twitter experience (hello @rstanzel, @russohockey, @bynkii and @peril_in_pink). I’m closing in on 23,000 lifetime tweets, but Russo is nearing 200,000. I respect how everyone uses the service – you can always unfollow or mute if you don’t like the frequency (or the content). Of course, the new ownership may have other plans. Seriously wondering just how long third party clients like Tweetbot will be allowed access to the system…

So where do I go from here? Just like I did with the other services, I requested a download of my data (which you can do on this page). The Twitter archive you get is actually pretty nice – it creates a local web page you can open with your browser and view all of your tweets, likes, replies, direct messages and media files. I would like to find a way to take this archive, strip out the private stuff and just have a page with all the tweets (like I did for my old Instagram pics here).

I’ll likely stay on the service as long as Tweetbot works the way I’m used to, my favorite people continue to post and it remains free to use. If any of those things change (or the “Chief Twit” makes me as mad as the “Meta” joker did), I will deactivate & delete the @kingsbury account, pour one out for the bird and get to work on improving this little corner of the internet…

7 Minute Miles Twitter Hall of Fame

@4waytest
@acidprime
@acpage_77
@adenab
@alanbergo
@amanjo
@andrewrcraven
@arekdreyer
@badbanana
@bgervais
@bigdad3233
@bigriverpizza
@billamend
@bloomcounty
@blushnbashfuls
@bradleysklein
@brandon_seekins
@briankrebs
@brianstucki
@bryanhansel
@bryanrossi1
@bynkii
@cedge318
@charley_walters
@chuckgoolsbee
@cmkingsbury
@cookcovisitors
@ct_turf
@dailyangst
@danielle_ottman
@danothebeach
@dasharez0ne
@davidkingsbury
@davidshamaminn
@deardara
@derushaeats
@drunkhunk
@dskoglund_mn
@erheil
@ericsieger
@fairmontsprings
@fallon
@firstavenue
@fortunebay
@grandmasmara
@grayter1
@gregneagle
@gregswan
@grlitman
@gruber
@hammen
@harvdog1
@hazeltine
@hewittstrib
@hsra_mn
@jakeaune
@jefflagrua
@jeffshelman
@jemsekgolf
@jessflem
@joebissen
@johntdrumjr
@jonbream
@kerifromkansas
@kevinleecy
@kilbo
@lamppag
@letsreallylive
@linebackrbarbie
@lovesbassets
@lutsen_tofte
@lutsenmountains
@macshome
@mauioceancenter
@mfpip
@michaelguille
@minikahdaturf
@mlindstrom
@mnstatefair
@mnzoo
@muccisitalian
@munsongs
@myprontopup
@mysticlake
@niess_lisa
@nihilist_arbys
@nkrnz
@nwstwincities
@officialwilbury
@palacestpaul
@pashcam
@patricktalty
@paul_brinkman
@paulkaps
@peril_in_pink
@peterdog5
@pmdigolf
@pooserville
@richwang3
@ricknelsonmn
@riverviewtheatr
@robertcrayband
@rossraihala
@rskohner
@rstanzel
@russohockey
@ryanmathre
@schweitzerid
@saintdinette
@samcrut
@sarahmariette
@schoun
@schutz
@skatergirl916
@stephmarch
@stpaulsaints
@summerofjumbo
@susanruns
@tapinbirdie
@tbridge777
@tbtduluth
@tcmarathon
@tdelibassis
@techgrltweeter
@tenaciousd
@thecedar
@thecharlieparr
@thefitztheater
@themasters
@tjdsbtom
@tldresen
@tniver
@tompetty
@tonyminnieapple
@turfclubmn
@twindependent
@twinsprez
@twodots
@usbankstadium
@wtipradio

Thanks for all the awesome micro-content and socializing 💜

Originally published by DK on November 10, 2022 at 1:05 am

Lookin’ good, Woodbury Zantigo

Posted Friday, November 4th, 2022 11:39 am in Business,Food at 11:39 AM

Lots of capital investment is a good sign

Originally published by DK on November 4, 2022 at 11:39 am

Elmo Knows Where You Live

Posted Thursday, November 3rd, 2022 03:29 pm in Business,Links,Television,Work at 3:29 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/arts/television/pbs-pledge-drive-history.html

Originally published by DK on November 3, 2022 at 3:29 pm

Oh, Microsoft

Posted Friday, October 21st, 2022 12:31 pm in Business,Technology at 12:31 PM

Not sure which is worse: “doing more with less” or “work is no longer just a place—it’s an experience”

Originally published by DK on October 21, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Need a second mortgage

Posted Thursday, October 20th, 2022 02:36 pm in Business,Food at 2:36 PM

I’ll have to save up to return to Five Guys again

Originally published by DK on October 20, 2022 at 2:36 pm

Congrats to the 2022 winners

Posted Friday, September 23rd, 2022 11:23 am in Business,Technology at 11:23 AM

…and to all of the finalists too #MinnesotaCIO #ORBIE

Originally published by DK on September 23, 2022 at 11:23 am

Nicholas Gravante

Posted Friday, September 16th, 2022 08:04 am in Business,Music,Quotes,Shopping at 8:04 AM

Gap left Ye no choice but to terminate their collaboration agreement…

Originally published by DK on September 16, 2022 at 8:04 am

Still cheap gas in Hastings

Posted Thursday, August 25th, 2022 08:23 am in Business,Cars at 8:23 AM

Which begs the question, why is everyone else getting gouged?

Originally published by DK on August 25, 2022 at 8:23 am

Trains are so cool 🚂

Posted Tuesday, August 16th, 2022 04:07 pm in Business at 4:07 PM

This one was *moving* too

Originally published by DK on August 16, 2022 at 4:07 pm

U.S. Department of Energy

Posted Monday, August 1st, 2022 10:41 am in Business,Quotes,Science at 10:41 AM

The amount of sunlight that strikes the earth’s surface in an hour and a half is enough to handle the entire world’s energy consumption for a full year…

Originally published by DK on August 1, 2022 at 10:41 am

Sun Country to Hawaii?

Posted Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 10:42 am in Business,Links at 10:42 AM

https://thriftytraveler.com/news/airlines/sun-country-interview-2022/

Originally published by DK on July 26, 2022 at 10:42 am

The best part of downtown is you

Posted Friday, July 22nd, 2022 03:21 pm in Business,Football at 3:21 PM

Long live the Longhouse – it will never die 🏈

Originally published by DK on July 22, 2022 at 3:21 pm

The many faces of Black Orchid

Posted Tuesday, July 19th, 2022 02:12 pm in Business,Casinos,Games,Longform at 2:12 PM

Slot machines are fascinating to me – there are literally thousands of different games available in casinos around the world (and online). There are games with licensed pop culture content, brands cultivated by companies like Aristocrat and IGT, infinite varieties of video poker and keno – heck, even YouTube slot celebrity Brian Cristopher has his own branded slot machine now. These games form the revenue foundation for most casinos, but they can be complex to analyze when you throw in multiple denominations, bet levels, volatility and progressive jackpots.

One game that touches on all of these variables, Black Orchid from IGT, also happens to be one of my personal favorites. Introduced around 2013, it spawned two alternate themes based on the same math and gameplay model (Silk Seduction and Vintage Love) and can still be found in a few Minnesota casinos (Mystic Lake has two, Grand Casino has a bunch in both of their locations, Black Bear had three and Fortune Bay used to have one before the pandemic, but it has not returned). I last saw Silk Seduction at Bellagio (since removed) and there used to be Vintage Love games at both Hinckley and Treasure Island (also removed).

Black Orchid appeals to me because of the high volatility gameplay, tropical soundtrack, dimensional graphics (glowbugs!) and the affordable bet levels. Of course the biggest reason is probably that the Orchid is the only game that I’ve won hand-pay jackpots: $3,992.54 in October 2016 and $3,247.79 in May 2017. These both happened on 40-cent bets at Mystic Lake, which resulted in returns of 9,981x and 8,119x. Let’s take a deeper dive into the complexities of this classic casino game.

It is rather shocking to me that more information about slot machines is not documented online. These games have a lot of details for players to learn (and for the operators to market). The various online and app-based companies that offer “free” versions of real-life games are one way for players to become familiar with the ins and outs of a game, but unfortunately I have not found Black Orchid on any of these services (it appears there was a PC-based option at one point). The Lightning Link app licensed by Aristocrat supports many of their popular real world games, even giving players stats on their pretend play.

YouTube slot channels are another great way for players to become familiar with new games and how they play before they use real money. There is no doubt that influencers like Brian Christopher have impacted the popularity and business success of various games over the years. Casinos still tend to limit who can film on their floors, so I think older games like Black Orchid won’t get much of a boost from these channels, as influencers tend to focus on new games and marketing partnerships. I’m also seeing a trend towards more and more high-denomination videos, which means my little game with a $4.95 max bet is unlikely to be featured. I am curious to see if casino marketing departments start to shoot their own slot play videos to promote games (both new and old).

Speaking of max bets, let’s look at the options on Black Orchid. In Minnesota, I’ve only seen a penny denomination offered (even in the Hinckley high limit room). There is a video on YouTube with a ten-cent version, but I’ve never seen this in person. At Mystic Lake, the minimum bet is 40 cents. There are also 80-cent and 99-cent options, plus multipliers of 2, 3, 4 and 5. This means you have fifteen different bet options between $0.40 and $4.95 per spin. The machines at Grand Casino also offer 20-cent and 1-cent options, which gives 25 different bet options starting at a penny a spin (and some very interesting low-bet opportunities that I will discuss shortly).

So what’s the difference between the 1, 20, 40, 80 and 99-cent options? One word: pay-lines. The penny option gives you one pay-line (the five squares across in the second row down from the top), plus the four squares in the middle (top to bottom) that award the Orchid progressive when you get four black orchid symbols in those positions. The 20-cent bet gives you 20 pay-lines; 40-cent is 40 pay-lines; 80-cent is 40 pay-lines plus a 40 credit MultiWay bet for an extra 1024 ways, while the 99-cent bet is 60 pay-lines for 57 credits plus a 42 credit MultiWay bet for an extra 1024 ways. Learning what is and is not a pay-line or “way” is complicated:

MultiWayXtra game is played at 1024 Ways, times the bet multiplier. MultiWay wins contain one symbol from each adjacent column, beginning with the leftmost column. The same symbol, or it’s substitute, in a different position in the column pays that MultiWay win again. Only the highest win is paid for each MultiWay symbol combination. MultiWay wins are multiplied by the bet multiplier.


With this being a high volatility game, you can go many, many spins without a winning line hit. The real money for players is in the progressives: there are five smaller progressives and the one large Orchid progressive. To win one of the smaller progressives, you need five of the same symbol on a pay-line (with or without wild symbols, which can appear anywhere except the first column). You can win the same progressive on multiple pay-lines, but the additional lines all pay at the starting amount for that level.

As mentioned above, the Orchid progressive is awarded when four black orchid symbols appear in the middle column (which also awards 20 free spins; wilds do not count). Two black orchids awards ten free spins, while three black orchids awards 15 free spins. You can re-trigger during free spins, up to 130 total free spins (the most I ever had was 110, which paid me $86.35 on a 40 cent bet). You can also win any of the progressives during free spins (starting numbers on a 40 cent 1x bet):

  • Red: “Flutter-bys” – starts at $5
  • Purple: “Forgs” – starts at $12
  • Blue: “Kitties” – starts at $15
  • Green: “Dudes” – starts at $25
  • Yellow: “Ladies” – starts at $100
  • Orchid: “The Big One” – starts at $2500

All of the progressives change based on the main bet and multiplier. The multiplier increases in the smaller progressives are not straight up – each level only increases by the starting amount at each level. The Orchid progressive is much more interesting:


When that progressive gets very large on a machine that allows 1-cent bets, you can in theory win more than $10,000 on a penny spin. If you up your bet to what I call nickel Orchid, you can also win $500+ on a nickel spin. I’ve done that once at Hinckley, hitting a $524.76 Yellow progressive for a return of almost 10,500x. Playing nickel Orchid is fascinating – you can rapid-fire spins for hours and usually not risk more than $100. With only one pay line, winning spins are rare, but have high ratio paybacks when you do hit:

Symbol Three Four Starting Progressive
Jacks & Queens $0.50 (10x) $2.50 (50x) N/A – flat $5
Kings & Aces $0.75 (15x) $3.75 (75x) N/A – flat $5
Red $2.50 (50x) $5.00 (100x) $25 (500x)
Purple $2.50 (50x) $5.00 (100x) $60 (1,200x)
Blue $3.75 (75x) $20.00 (400x) $75 (1,500x)
Green $5.00 (100x) $25.00 (500x) $125 (2,500x)
Yellow $5.00 (100x) $25.00 (500x) $500 (10,000x)

Triggering free games in nickel Orchid often results in the dreaded “FREE GAMES COMPLETE” screen, with no money won. I’m convinced, though, that your odds of winning the Orchid progressive are the same on a nickel spin as they are on a $4.95 spin (I talked to my old IGT friend about Black Orchid odds once, but I still don’t know all of the math behind this game). I do think that winning the smaller progressives is much harder on nickel Orchid, though, as there are 39 (or 59) fewer winning lines in play. It blows my mind that you can potentially get a 200,000x win on a nickel spin. This excitement is what gets people to play – and to return again and again in person.

While first researching Black Orchid, I came across the personal website of someone who listed themselves as a game designer on this title. I emailed him to ask if he could share more about the development of this slot machine, but never received a response (he may be under NDA for all I know). I’d love to know more about the math and why there is a rare alternate graphic for the cat…

Addendum published 8/2/2022

Originally published by DK on July 19, 2022 at 2:12 pm

NO BEARS

Posted Monday, July 18th, 2022 06:14 pm in Business,Food,Travel at 6:14 PM

Northview Drive Inn, Webster, WI

Originally published by DK on July 18, 2022 at 6:14 pm

This is certainly interesting

Posted Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 09:12 pm in Business,Links at 9:12 PM

https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2022/07/06/rbc-gateway-tower-office-listed-for-sale.html

Originally published by DK on July 6, 2022 at 9:12 pm

More old West Saint Paul history

Posted Saturday, July 2nd, 2022 03:40 pm in Business,Charities,History at 3:40 PM

Cina 4/5 is now the Bingo Palace (benefitting the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am)

Originally published by DK on July 2, 2022 at 3:40 pm

Red Rabbit Alfredo

Posted Friday, June 24th, 2022 08:23 pm in Business,Food,Friends at 8:23 PM

Great to catch up with Mr. Mondale today

Originally published by DK on June 24, 2022 at 8:23 pm

The best of local golf

Posted Wednesday, May 11th, 2022 01:29 pm in Business,Friends,Golf,Links,Video at 1:29 PM

Originally published by DK on May 11, 2022 at 1:29 pm

Really wish you wouldn’t, M$

Posted Friday, April 1st, 2022 12:13 pm in Business,Technology at 12:13 PM

People are confused enough by regular malware (wait, is this malware?)

Originally published by DK on April 1, 2022 at 12:13 pm

‘Tigo fries RIP? 🪦

Posted Saturday, December 11th, 2021 10:40 pm in Business,Food at 10:40 PM

It sure feels like they aren’t coming back (chips and cheese are my substitute for now)

Originally published by DK on December 11, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Congrats to Florian: TCB 100

Posted Tuesday, December 7th, 2021 12:28 pm in Business,Friends,Links at 12:28 PM

Florian Riedel

Originally published by DK on December 7, 2021 at 12:28 pm

I should pay closer attention

Posted Sunday, November 28th, 2021 05:31 pm in Business,Cars,Technology at 5:31 PM

Just learned about Rivian today – interesting stuff

Originally published by DK on November 28, 2021 at 5:31 pm

Office tower art

Posted Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021 02:18 pm in Art,Business at 2:18 PM

RBC Plaza, Minneapolis

Originally published by DK on November 23, 2021 at 2:18 pm

The Minneapolis pages are live

Posted Friday, November 19th, 2021 12:21 am in Business,Links,Work at 12:21 AM

https://www.fourseasons.com/minneapolis/

Originally published by DK on November 19, 2021 at 12:21 am

Top 7 Brands

Posted Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 01:31 pm in Business,Fashion,Mini Posts,Personal,Shopping,Technology at 1:31 PM

I’ve turned into a marketing executive’s dream. Here are seven of my current favorite brands:

  • Apple
  • Descente
  • Disney
  • Johnston and Murphy
  • Mizuno
  • Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Sony

Most of those have been on the list for years and years too…

Originally published by DK on November 9, 2021 at 1:31 pm

A return to hospitality

Posted Sunday, November 7th, 2021 11:59 pm in Business,Personal,Work at 11:59 PM

A little late on writing the follow-up story to my post about the end of the stadium chapter, but as many of you already know, I’ve decided to return to the hospitality industry. On October 25th, I joined the opening team at the new Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Minneapolis, which will be located in the RBC Gateway building at the intersection of Nicollet Mall and Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

The project is owned by the Pohlad family, so a tip of the hat to Twins technology guru John Avenson for telling me about this opportunity (and the history behind it). The tower will be mixed use: office space for several Pohlad companies and RBC Wealth Management, a new ground floor restaurant and coffee shop from Gavin Kaysen, event space (two ballrooms and multiple meeting rooms), an outdoor pool deck with restaurant, spa with indoor pool, exercise and yoga rooms, eight hotel floors and 34 private residences.

The Four Seasons brand and corporate culture is outstanding and will be a great addition to the Twin Cities market. I’m so impressed with the local team being assembled here, along with all the people that I’ve met from the home office in Toronto and at other locations around the world. The Director of IT from Houston was in Minneapolis last week and will help with our opening. Later this month, I will travel to Chicago for orientation (and my first stay at one of the properties).

From a technical perspective, this move will take me back to the world of Opera, along with all of the other systems that hotels need to operate: door locks and keys, IPTV, WiFi, telephones, security cameras and digital signage (among others). It’s also really nice to have a strong network of internal support, as well as a world-class corporate IT group that have well-defined standards and procedures. My office will have a window peering into the data center and it’ll be fun to have IDF rooms on multiple floors of a really tall building (along with brand-new equipment throughout).

Similar to my start at the stadium, we are in temporary offices down the street while construction continues (offices should be ready in February, with the hotel set to open in the summer). Great to be back in construction mode again with a hard hat and reflective vest: McGough is the general contractor and I get to work with Gephart again too. Other primary groups include Pohlad-owned United Properties as the site developer and JLL as the leasing agent.

Originally published by DK on November 7, 2021 at 11:59 pm

By Appointment Only

Posted Monday, October 25th, 2021 11:08 pm in Business,Work at 11:08 PM

First day at the new project

Originally published by DK on October 25, 2021 at 11:08 pm

We have reached “Market Price” phase

Posted Sunday, October 24th, 2021 11:23 am in Business,Food at 11:23 AM

This may soon be a 🐔 crisis

Originally published by DK on October 24, 2021 at 11:23 am

Kudos to Paul, Greg and Kevin

Posted Friday, October 22nd, 2021 09:29 am in Business,Friends,Golf,Links at 9:29 AM

https://golf.com/travel/montgomery-national-beatles-themed-golf-course/

Originally published by DK on October 22, 2021 at 9:29 am

The stadium chapter concludes

Posted Thursday, October 21st, 2021 10:50 pm in Business,Family,Football,Friends,Personal,Work at 10:50 PM

Yesterday was my last official day working at U.S. Bank Stadium as the Director of IT. I was about a week shy of six years, but what a wild ride it has been:

  • Five plus seasons of Vikings Football (including the Minneapolis Miracle)
  • Super Bowl LII
  • Men’s Final Four
  • Summer X Games
  • A.C. Milan vs. Chelsea
  • Monster Jam and Super Cross dirt shows
  • MSHSL Championships
  • Metallica, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, U2 with Beck (and many other shows)

It’s been an honor to work in this building from pre-opening through today, partnering with outstanding organizations, working with truly amazing people and learning an awful lot about the sports and entertainment industry.

There are really too many people to thank for helping me succeed in this chapter of my life, but I’d like to call out a few:

  • Armon Farrari, who I stole from Apple (h/t Pash) and who became one of the best technology managers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with in any industry.
  • Curtis Schmillen, Director of Operations, Leo Pidde (now retired) and Ed Kroics (who took Leo’s place): just an amazing group of coworkers inside the building and great people to be with outside of work – be it on a golf course or at a happy hour.
  • Jim Farstad, executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (and former technology consultant during construction): a true renaissance man in every way.
  • Inaugural GM Patrick Talty (and HR manager Shelly Wynia) for picking me to join the opening team back in 2015.
  • Current GM John Drum, who helped during my health emergency outside the stadium in 2018.
  • The CTAC team at CenturyLink (now Lumen) that designed and built the original technology infrastructure: Andy Diment, Mark Olson and Evan Teisberg. Still helping to this day, extraordinary knowledge that always made my job “really pretty simple.”
  • Bill Anderson and Wesley Terry at AmpThink: no one in the world knows more about WiFi than these two individuals.
  • Mentor Doug Podolak: your continued support of my career (and friendship) means the world to me.
  • My wife and daughters: zero percent chance I’d be here today without their love and support. You da best ❤️

Lastly, to everyone at the Vikings (past and present): you’ve been great partners and I can’t wait to see you bring home the Vince Lombardi trophy to the great state of Minnesota. Skol, Vikings!

Originally published by DK on October 21, 2021 at 10:50 pm

Finished another book on Libby

Posted Saturday, October 9th, 2021 10:35 am in Business,Golf,Reading at 10:35 AM

This “friend of Doug” book was very insightful

Originally published by DK on October 9, 2021 at 10:35 am

Now Hiring – Inquire Within

Posted Saturday, October 9th, 2021 10:16 am in Business,Football,Links,Technology,Work at 10:16 AM

https://recruiting.adp.com/srccar/public/RTI.home?c=1152751&d=ExternalCareerSite&r=5000780763706#/

Originally published by DK on October 9, 2021 at 10:16 am

Industry research

Posted Wednesday, August 18th, 2021 02:49 pm in Baseball,Business,Work at 2:49 PM

Reverse ATMs and WiFi6 @ Target Field

Originally published by DK on August 18, 2021 at 2:49 pm

Almost back to normal

Posted Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 06:38 pm in Business,Football,Work at 6:38 PM

Third time’s the charm, right?

Originally published by DK on August 10, 2021 at 6:38 pm

New Music Day

Posted Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 08:07 pm in Business,Music,Shopping,Technology at 8:07 PM

Still trying to figure how best to use Apple Music, but this was nice

Originally published by DK on August 4, 2021 at 8:07 pm

Jay-Z

Posted Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 07:37 pm in Business,Music,Quotes at 7:37 PM

I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man!

Originally published by DK on August 4, 2021 at 7:37 pm

Cat’s out of the bag now

Posted Saturday, July 31st, 2021 03:06 pm in Business,Food,Football,Work at 3:06 PM

Original Hockey Mom Brownies are coming to my office this fall

Originally published by DK on July 31, 2021 at 3:06 pm

Post-pandemic hospitality

Posted Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 03:33 pm in Business,Food,Golf at 3:33 PM

Some interesting stuff today @ TPC Twin Cities in Blaine

Originally published by DK on July 22, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Dan Lundquist

Posted Thursday, July 8th, 2021 02:35 pm in Business,Food at 2:35 PM

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

RIP, Gordy 1928 – 2021 ❤️❤️❤️

Posted Wednesday, July 7th, 2021 02:44 pm in Business,Food,Travel at 2:44 PM

A legend of the Northland

Originally published by DK on July 7, 2021 at 2:44 pm

Curious Minnesota

Posted Monday, July 5th, 2021 08:24 am in Business,Football,News,Work at 8:24 AM

Why is my office always in the Star Tribune?

Originally published by DK on July 5, 2021 at 8:24 am

Welcome to The Hawk

Posted Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 09:19 pm in Business,Friends,Golf,Travel at 9:19 PM

Nice to catch up with JS in Cambridge

Originally published by DK on June 22, 2021 at 9:19 pm

Busy day of networking

Posted Wednesday, June 16th, 2021 10:02 pm in Business,Food,Golf,Work at 10:02 PM

Rush Creek + Willingers

Originally published by DK on June 16, 2021 at 10:02 pm

The MV Prairie Dawn

Posted Tuesday, June 15th, 2021 05:12 pm in Business at 5:12 PM

Port of St. Paul, Minnesota

Originally published by DK on June 15, 2021 at 5:12 pm

The simple joy of being alive

Posted Tuesday, June 8th, 2021 03:25 pm in Business,Food,Links at 3:25 PM

PERMANENTLY CLOSED

Originally published by DK on June 8, 2021 at 3:25 pm

Workhorses by the big river

Posted Sunday, June 6th, 2021 03:33 pm in Biking,Business,Weather at 3:33 PM

Windy, warm bike ride along the Mississippi

Originally published by DK on June 6, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Work on the Farm

Posted Tuesday, May 4th, 2021 09:17 pm in Business,Friends,Golf at 9:17 PM

This place is special

Originally published by DK on May 4, 2021 at 9:17 pm

Rao’s Premium Mediocre

Posted Thursday, April 15th, 2021 07:29 pm in Business,Links,Politics,Shopping at 7:29 PM

The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial

Originally published by DK on April 15, 2021 at 7:29 pm

Brian Christopher Slots

Posted Friday, March 26th, 2021 04:42 pm in Business,Casinos,Games,Longform,Video at 4:42 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

Change in Saint Paul?!?

Posted Thursday, February 25th, 2021 07:03 pm in Business,Food at 7:03 PM

Cossetta makes some additional changes upstairs

Originally published by DK on February 25, 2021 at 7:03 pm

RIP Fry’s Electronics

Posted Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 08:55 am in Business,History,Links,Shopping,Technology at 8:55 AM

Fry’s Electronics is officially going out of business after 36 years

Originally published by DK on February 24, 2021 at 8:55 am

It’s like an apocalypse movie

Posted Friday, January 29th, 2021 04:06 pm in Business,Shopping at 4:06 PM

At least the skyway doors were unlocked

Originally published by DK on January 29, 2021 at 4:06 pm

Steve Hill

Posted Monday, January 11th, 2021 12:42 pm in Business,Quotes at 12:42 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

First week with Apple Music

Posted Friday, January 1st, 2021 11:23 pm in Business,Longform,Music,Shopping,Technology at 11:23 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

Wow – FSN to become Bally’s

Posted Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 11:03 am in Business,Casinos,Sports,Television at 11:03 AM

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

Ready for my Friday call

Posted Wednesday, December 9th, 2020 02:59 pm in Business,Food,Work at 2:59 PM

There will be wine too

Originally published by DK on December 9, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Oh, Clark (County)

Posted Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 04:39 pm in Business,Football,Links at 4:39 PM

Clark County Takes $11.6 Million From Reserves to Meet Raiders Stadium Payment

Originally published by DK on November 25, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Mr. Clean in the hood

Posted Monday, October 19th, 2020 01:02 pm in Business,Pop Culture at 1:02 PM

Is he related to Mr. Sparkle?

Originally published by DK on October 19, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Bucky needs to be smarter

Posted Monday, October 19th, 2020 11:32 am in Business,Links,News,Politics,Technology at 11:32 AM

https://www.theverge.com/21507966/foxconn-empty-factories-wisconsin-jobs-loophole-trump

Originally published by DK on October 19, 2020 at 11:32 am

The barges are active

Posted Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 02:22 pm in Business at 2:22 PM

I love life on the big river

Originally published by DK on October 14, 2020 at 2:22 pm

A Return to Normal?

Posted Monday, August 31st, 2020 07:43 pm in Business,Mini Posts,Politics,Shopping at 7:43 PM

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

Ski Bum

Posted Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 08:01 pm in Business,Quotes,Skiing at 8:01 PM

Pros: Comped soup, and lift tickets. Cons: They got rid of the soup

Originally published by DK on August 19, 2020 at 8:01 pm

Making do with what we have

Posted Wednesday, August 19th, 2020 01:35 pm in Business,Technology,Work at 1:35 PM

The SSD drive upgrades do help

Originally published by DK on August 19, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Don’t Be A-Freight To Change

Posted Saturday, August 15th, 2020 08:47 pm in Business,History,Work at 8:47 PM

I forgot that was one of my first ever projects – NWA Newswire, February 11, 1992

Originally published by DK on August 15, 2020 at 8:47 pm

Forgot about PROFS/OfficeVision

Posted Saturday, August 15th, 2020 08:23 pm in Business,History,Links,Technology at 8:23 PM

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_OfficeVision

Originally published by DK on August 15, 2020 at 8:23 pm

Our future home?

Posted Monday, August 10th, 2020 05:10 pm in Business,Shopping at 5:10 PM

Highland Bridge construction site

Originally published by DK on August 10, 2020 at 5:10 pm

Looking good, Highland Bridge

Posted Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 05:09 pm in Business,Links,Video at 5:09 PM

Originally published by DK on July 14, 2020 at 5:09 pm

RIP Blackbird (1997-2020)

Posted Tuesday, June 30th, 2020 10:07 pm in Business,Food,Links at 10:07 PM

https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-coronavirus-blackbird-restaurant-closing-chicago-20200629-wd6vrgjm4ffejdlahihvauzhji-story.html

Originally published by DK on June 30, 2020 at 10:07 pm