I know what you’re thinking, and no, I didn’t forget to post a blog last week. I was waiting on a few things to happen (in order to include them in the blog) and they kept being delayed, and so now this is a week late. That does mean, however, that this particular blog is going to be a lot. Like, a whole lot. Brace yourselves.

Okay, so last week on Tuesday we had another lunch talk. We met the VP/GM of the Media group of CBSi, and we got free food. The food was okay, and I’ve started to notice quite a few patterns with the food that CBSi gives us – everything is incredibly healthy, and I’m not used to it. For example, for the lunch we got a pre-packed box lunch from a healthy restaurant that caters with box lunches. They ordered quite a few variations of the same box lunch – one was a salami sub, one was vegetarian, one was turkey, etc. and with one of the lunches, they listed it with a side of potato salad.

Me, being me, I immediately grabbed the one that came with the potato salad because I needed some eggs, salt, onions, and potatoes in my life. I skipped past the sub and opened the little salad box expecting to dive into it like a vulture. As it turns out, in San Francisco, potato salad literally just means it’s a salad… with potatoes in it. I mean, I opened the box and it was just lettuce with chunks of boiled potatoes in it. What’s evening happening to me? Am I imagining this? That’s a sin, right? That’s blasphemy, right? Why did they do that to my potato salad? I couldn’t even eat it, I just picked the potatoes out of it while imagining myself cooking an entire package of box macaroni and cheese and eating all of it directly out of the pot, in my pajamas, in the dark, alone. I need my unhealthy habits back in my life, man.

Now, quite a bit happened after that. The very next day, I participated in a 24 hour hackathon that started at 9am on Wednesday and ended at 9am on Thursday.  If you’re unaware, a hackathon is basically a competition where multiple groups of participants compete against one another in a timed event that generally always revolves around computer programming. In this case, we were given a theme, and we had to design our hack to fit within the scope of that theme, and we only had 24 hours to completely build our hack, from scratch, create a judging video, write a document that describes our hack in further detail, and submit everything by 9am the next morning.

My team and I built a set of Augmented Reality scenes that took elements from some popular CBS shows and brought them into your living room, via AR. I was the only designer on the team, and I paired up with the entire CBS iOS development team. From the start, we were a force to be reckoned with, and if you know me at all, you know how competitive I am. In typical “Amber entered a competition” fashion, I 100% planned on coming home from CBSi in 2 weeks with a prize, and I was willing to go for blood in order to do it.

The entire competition was basically a dead sprint where 26 teams from all around the world worked for 24 consecutive hours to submit a hack for judging. The CEO of CBS would be on the judging panel, but I didn’t really care about the semantics. I just wanted my prize. What prizes were they offering, you ask? Good question!

Some pretty neat stuff, huh? And I was going to win something. Period.

You might also be asking yourself, “Amber, you were on a team with the iOS devs… that’s not GameSpot at all… not even close.” I know! And that’s a funny story. I had actually declined two offers for joining a hackathon team already, and then I was approached by a member of the iOS dev team. They were looking for a UX Designer to help even their team out, and I felt like their idea was something that I could really run with, so I joined their team after they recruited me. Keep in mind, I’m all the way down on the 1st floor. The entire iOS development department is on the 5th floor. We weren’t exactly neighbors, but they’re good guys.

Meet my team!

That’s me, on the monitor. I went home early. It was for the best. 🙂

Okay, so, if you know me at all, you know I fall asleep at like 10:30 pm EST like clockwork. Unfortunately, since I’ve been over here, I never bothered to adjust to PST… I know. But I still wanted a prize!

So, a competition like this this meant that I was ready for bed at 7:30 pm, I was zoning in and out of consciousness at 8:30, I was hallucinating at 9:30, and I went 100% grumpy, sarcastic, punchy Amber at 10:30. My coworkers saw a whole new side of me during this hackathon, and on Thursday at 2:00 am PST, we submitted our hack. I went to bed at 4:30 am, and I woke up at 6am and got ready for work.

I went into work the next day in a dead state, but I had to stay, because I was stupid and scheduled a ton of meetings. It was definitely an experience, and keep in mind, while this ENTIRE THING was going on, I still had to clean my tattoo every 3 hours. Yes, I know. I was basically a walking zombie until I finally got some sleep on Saturday.

So, judging for the hackathon took place that following Monday, which is why I didn’t post a blog last weekend. I was going to post a blog on Monday after the results were in, because it seemed a little disjointed to introduce the hackathon and not immediately have something to show for it (at least, in my head), and because of that, I’m just now posting this blog. Yay! (Also, can you tell how confident I was that I was absolutely going to have something to show for it? I planned all of this ahead and everything) (Note to self: competitive Amber can get pretty cocky)

Unfortunately, after the judging was over, they announced that they wouldn’t have their winners finalized for a few days. “A few days”, to me, meant Wednesday, at the latest, so I was still going to get everything up before this weekend. Nope! They waited until Thursday evening (literally only an hour before I was about to leave work) to announce the winners. And out of 26 CBS teams, all the way from London and Australia, coming over to Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Brentville, Louisville, Burbank, and San Francisco, my team….

Got 3rd.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “She won!” but… I only got 3rd. Sure, 23 other teams didn’t even win anything, but I’m so bitter that I didn’t get my Xbox. I was going for 1st. We were less than .2 100th’s of a point away from 2nd, and we were less than 1 point away from 1st. So… bitter. But, I guess I’ll be bitter in my Airpods.

Now that the hackathon was over, I had to actually return to normal life. Well, I tried to, anyway. That Tuesday, we had another lunch meeting, only this time it was with the CEO of CBS. His name is Jim, and he’s a swell guy. The interns basically just roasted him with questions and he answered to the best of his ability, and then we left.

Wednesday, I had to get back to actual work. And by actual work, I mean to had a 3 hour conversation with Dan. We did have our semi-annual H1 review, and it was neat to see how the Games team had developed throughout the first half of the year, but it simultaneously made me pretty bummed that I won’t be here for the next one.

Thursday, we toured the Museum of Ice Cream. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there was ice cream, but no, I didn’t have any because it was almost all cherry flavored 🙁 The tour itself was nice. I swam in a pool full of sprinkles. Like, an entire pool filled with sprinkles. If you don’t believe me, please refer to this professionally-taken video.

I did quite a few other things during the tour of the MOIC, but the pool of sprinkles was definitely one of the most interesting parts of the entire museum. You’ll see in the photos at the bottom of the page, as always.

Just for the sake of being neat, here’s a video of a jukebox that was in the museum.

Have this 2 second looped video of us being professionals.

And Friday… oh Friday. Yet again, this Friday was Bagel Friday, K9 Friday, and Food Truck Friday. There were so many dogs on me at any given point of the day that my entire scarf smells like dog. It’s great. And as always, I took way too many pictures of all of the dogs. Unfortunately, this was the last K9 Friday before I come back home, but that just means that I get to smell like my own dogs for a change.

To finish out the week, I also had to present some of my designs & research for one of our larger gaming sites to a bunch of people. Apparently, according to Dan, “I’ve become somewhat of a celebrity” because I was the first ever person to actually conduct user studies and let the data influence my designs, out of anyone on any design team, at any CBSi location, ever. So, without my knowledge of this before today, all of the design leads were talking about having me present my test structure/methods/process before I leave, so I leave them with something to move forward with. I presented 8 weeks worth of design research to Dan (the Design Lead), our Senior Project Manager, our VP of Product, our Senior Engineering Manager, the VP of Design, and the other UX Designer that I’ve been working with this summer, all at once, in one tiny little conference room, where it got so hot that I sweated off all of my makeup.

While I was pretty happy to have that done and over with, now, because apparently even more people are interested in my design research, I have to present again this upcoming Tuesday to all of the Design leads throughout the world. Like, I’m going to be presenting to VP’s & Design Leads in London, Australia, Burbank, Louisville, New York, and of course, San Francisco, all at once, in a tiny little conference room, where hopefully I don’t begin to melt due to all of the extra body heat. No, I’m not dreading it, but I also have nothing to lose. I leave in two weeks, so I do feel somewhat obliged to show everyone my process. But still… man.

Why have I become a pseudo-celebrity throughout the design culture of CBS? Will I ever be able to find a makeup brand that lasts the full day? Will my heart stop from the pressure of, ya know, not screwing up in front of dozens of industry-leading designers? Why am I asking you all of these questions? Stay tuned for the next installment of

Amber and the “My Airpods Can’t Hide My Stress” Show