Backlog: Stand Flat Edition

Backlog - Memorial Rain Header It's another rainy Memorial Day here in Portland. We locals are quite accustomed to soggy spring/summer weather, but trust me when I say that summers get hot in Oregon.

This week the dynamic duo returns : Nick saves his back by amalgamating Ikea parts while I dabble in revamping my professional presence online.

Enjoy our wandering musings after the break! -- Aaron Thayer


sd croppedIt’s weird to have gone so long without pitching in on a Backlog entry. Life’s been plenty busy, but I’ve managed to eke out a few hours of gameplay here and there. And since I’m out in the middle of Arizona for the weekend (long story) I’ve got plenty of time to put some words down.

First, this happened: I hacked together an Ikea standing desk for my gaming PC. I’m not a big fan of sitting at desks, and after being lucky enough to acquire a standing desk at work I knew I’d be much happier making the switch at home as well. For $80 I put together a simple, highly adjustable standing desk that’s the perfect height for gaming.

Now that the desk's assembled, what's next on my PC gaming docket? It's hard to say. I've been poking at a few big games from last year that I picked up on sale — Sleeping DogsBinary DomainCall of Duty: Black Ops 2 — but nothing's pulling me in. But I am having a great time so far with Dark Souls, which is a pretty impressive experience once it's up and running with dsfix.

I’m almost to the end of Pokémon Black 2. Yeah, I know, I’m playing a Pokémon game. Guess what? It’s still a lot of fun, and it works really well as a pick-up-and-play experience. I haven’t had a few consecutive hours to sink into a game since I finished off BioShock Infinite, so games that are fun for a few minutes at a time are at the top of my list.

I’m hardly a Pokémon expert. After catching every single one of the monsters in Red/Blue back in middle school, I only dabbled in other Pokémon games — I plunged pretty deep into Gold but never got around to playing any of the Game Boy Advance games. But for some reason, Black 2 managed to really hook me in. It demonstrates that the series has developed along a pretty conservative thread, adding new complementary features to the periphery while keeping the core collect-and-battle design more or less intact.

I also restarted — and completed — Virtue’s Last Reward. Counting the initial fifteen hours on my first playthrough before the corrupted save bug struck, I spent a whopping 45 hours exploring every branch of this ponderous narrative. I can’t say too much about it without spoiling the game or its excellent predecessor, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors — which also happened to be my favorite game I played in 2012. But in short, it takes an unexpected approach to building on the concepts, themes and events of the first game and produces an interactive story that’s even more mind-bending and dense than the original. But the urgency of the first game was lost in the myriad twists and turns of VLR’s labyrinthine narrative structure, and I never felt the same charge in the game’s final hours that I did when I discovered the “true” ending in 999. Still, VLR succeeds at something 999 didn’t even consider: setting the stage for a compelling third chapter in the series. I can’t wait.


Backlog - Aaron Flavor Me

Perhaps there's something to be said about my continuing indulgence in Skyrim and my aching feeling of being in a rut. I've now finished all of its DLC packs, yet I can't stop tweaking the game with new modifications.

I browse the Steam Workshop and Nexus sites like a Forty-Niner frothing for gold in the hills of California. On occasion I unearth a nugget or two -- some fresh mod that tweaks a weapon here or a forest there. But I know, while wasting so much free time in pursuit of a new mod, that this is an exercise in diminishing returns. I know that playing Skyrim like this -- the once deep pool of newness, now dried into a barren, repetitious wasteland -- is a metaphor for something larger in my life.

Last night, for the first time in two-and-a-half years, I applied for a job. It's an editing gig for a PR company, a way to reestablish my professional goals.

I don't intend to bore you with my 20-something employment woes, so let me instead talk about jazzing up my online presence!

LinkedIn is sufficient as a professional-focused social network. However, I've never been happy with how it compiles my information. We'd all look more marketable if we weren't collated into columns of data and boxes of text in cheerless unison.

So I dug through years-old RSS links about freshening your online portfolio and thanked past Aaron for thinking ahead. A Lifehacker article dating back to 2011 inspired me to reinvent how I sell myself to employers.

My goal: formulate a modern digital resume without resorting to the tired format of a Word document. The only problem is my battle with obsessive-repulsiveness. Confused? Here's my definition: I'm obsessive about the aesthetics of modern design, yet I'm usually repulsed by what I create. A perfectionist's attitude, no doubt.

Luckily the article was packed with numerous companies providing a fresh canvas with which to paint yourself. Websites like,, Zerply and many more are mostly free utilities specializing in flat design (that links to an extensive Gizmodo write-up if you're not sure what "flat design" is) for those with little free time or a lack of experience to code their own portals.

After trying several I settled on two: and Kinzaa. Flavors crafted a more static landing page, a semi-formal destination creatives and business professionals can direct interested parties to as an alternative to LinkedIn. Kinzaa is more about infographics and the beauty of selling yourself through the visualization of your work. I've barely begun to format my "working life" on either site, but I'm excited all the same.

Obviously if all job seekers use the same handful of services they will run into the same problem as the old-fashioned resume. Even so, the value in my experiment is finding a way to recharge my image -- a marketable and visual justification for the work I've put into various jobs. My one-sheet resume doesn't cut it anymore so I might as well move on.

If you're in the same place as me then it can't hurt to futz around with one of these services. You don't need to pay anything for the basics, and the overall process is stupidly simple.

Think of this new era of resume services as the resurrection, and hipification, of GeoCities.