Travel Report YCS Rimini 2015 & more

I found myself wondering what to do while riding the train from Ancona to Rimini and ended up deciding that it would be cool to write a tournament report of sorts. After all, it’s been ages since I last did something like that. Before I delve right into it, I would like to take a moment and thank the sponsors of this article, namely NoWiFionTrains Ltd. and LifeIsBetterWithoutInternet.com.

Preparation is Key

My preparation for the event started a lot earlier than usual; while I was in the process of rearranging my closet yesterday (on Thursday), I figured there would be no harm in preparing my bag for the journey already. The fact that this would lead to a few more precious minutes of sleep in the morning further encouraged me to throw a bunch of shirts in a bag and so I ended up feeling ready at around 8 pm on Thursday.

Journey to Rimini

I got up at 6:30 am, with my alarm clock ruthlessly dragging me out of the dream and into the real world. While the details escaped me quickly, I held on to the thought that it had been a “good dream” and left it at that.
After spending way more time shaving compared to what could be considered reasonable for the “beard” I’m sporting, I fired up Google maps, printed out a map of Rimini and took a couple notes how to get from Ancona airport to Rimini. I certainly don’t encourage this behavior; there is preparing things last minute and then there’s preparing things when it’s too late. This felt a lot like “too late”, but after years of traveling, you eventually develop a deep trust in the belief that there’s no problem that can’t be solved if you only throw enough money at it.

Anyway, I left the house at around the time I wanted to leave (07:20), stopped at the newspaper shop next door to pick up a parcel, hoping it would be 2 new 8 GB RAM blocks that I ordered because “they were cheap” and there’s a 5% chance that they would further speed up my system (this MacBook is quite fast since I swapped the original hard disk drive for a SSD), but I instead found a parcel from my tax accountant. I let out a silent curse, headed back home to throw it into a corner and left for the airport.

I checked in my bags and the person at the counter mumbled something that I interpreted as “we’ll route your luggage to Ancona” (I would stop in Munich). I didn’t feel like asking her again, just to make sure, and I would regret this decision for the next 3 hours…
The flight was on time, just what I came to expect from Lufthansa. Nothing noteworthy happened in Munich except me walking from gate 40 to gate 8, only to then find out that they changed the gate to 69 and walking all the way back and then it was off to Ancona.

There was a free WiFi at the airport and I connected to it in hopes of finding a better suggestion for the journey from Ancona to Rimini. Google maps continued to insist that I had to take a cab from the airport to the nearest train station, but since I had so much time on my hands, I decided to try and make sense of the information available at the airport. Thanksfully, Ancona’s airport is so small that you can’t really get confused; it seemed like there was only ONE bus that connected the airport with the rest of the world and it stopped where I was supposed to board the train. So I bought a ticket, loaded the Google map again just to make sure (even if you’re no longer connected to the internet, GPS will continue to work and tell you where you are) and headed off to Falconara.

Minutes later, I found myself at the train station, continuing my adventure by making sense of the ticket machine. Once you changed the language, it would speak to you in the language you selected and the German sounded so ridiculous, I immediately regretted not having selected English or any other language for that matter. My credit card didn’t get accepted the first time, so I tried again, this time changing the language to English and I learned that this didn’t really improve things; the machine was still making very little sense.

I recorded another video of the weather situation so it would be easier to rub it into the faces of guys like Ben that continued to whine about the fact that they couldn’t make the trip to Rimini, did some breathing exercises and then boarded the train. I spent the next 10 minutes wondering whether I accidentally sat down in the first class section and prepared my arguments for the conversation with the train staff in case they felt like arguing with me (I would kick things off with a weaker line like “this really doesn’t look like a first class section” so I could bring the real punches later).

That’s basically how we ended up right at this point in the article where I feel like I should now talk about the process of doing coverage so we finally got something in here that makes you feel like “it paid out reading all of this mumbling as he’ll finally educate me on something”!

The psychology of setting goals

Providing the folks that decided to stay at home (there are various reasons for that, especially lack of money, lack of ambition and lack of skill) with live updates over the course of the weekend is a very rewarding task when done right. Once you got familiar with the challenges the job provides, you’ll be able to have a great time working as part of a larger team and earn a few bucks at the same time. It’s as close to a win-win as you can get at an event if you ask me.

The first “skill” you need to have is a strong desire to do so. Over the course of the past few days, I picked up another book that talks about “zen entrepreneurship” and that’s trying to educate the reader about his “inner self” and how to live in harmony. It’s an interesting and different take on psychology, a field I’m rather interested in. Since I also had a number of conversations with friends that either admired me for the life I’m living (or secretly cursing me, but as the famous poet Drake once told us, “jealousy is just love and hate at the same time”), I want to share a thought with you that occurred to me the other day:

The most common misconception / lie that people are telling themselves is “I could do that too”.

I’m not saying this to discourage you and improve my chances to continue doing this for a lot longer (since fewer people will “challenge me” for my position), I’m saying this to instead motivate you to pick the fights you’re fighting. Let me elaborate.
Half the time when people are watching TV, they come across some reality TV show with some “starlet” that’s making a bunch of money looking pretty and entertaining an audience (most people stop at “looking pretty” when describing the role of the person on the screen). If it’s a pretty girl, other girls will say “I could do that too.”
And that’s simply not true. In some cases, they don’t have a friend they can count on that will then tell them that they aren’t all that pretty, but in most cases, the biggest part of the problem is that they are way too comfortable living their life. While they might be feeling like “something” is missing, they are not feeling unhappy enough to letting everything go and pursue a career in modeling / “acting” (if you can call this reality TV garbage that) and focusing exclusively on this one occupation.

You can say what you want about the girls that keep popping up on the screen (in Germany in recent years, Silvie van der Vaart and Daniela Katzenberger and a couple of years ago Verona Feldbusch, just to give you some examples), but the one thing they did right is focusing on this one occupation and not giving up until they “made it”. When you say something like “I could do that too”, what’s the next thing you’re doing? Are you getting up, taking a sheet of paper and writing down how you’re going to accomplish the goal of becoming a TV personality?

Most likely not.

In the same way, people are reading / watching the coverage and they then think that they could do this too. I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now (which is why it’s so much harder now to make people believe I’m 22) and I’ve seen a lot of writers (and a few guys doing streaming commentary) come and go. Quite a few of them have only been invited to an event 1, 2 or a maximum of 3 times. More often than not because they simply did NOT get it. They were overpromising and underdelivering (I recommend doing the exact opposite if you want to accomplish something in business).

Sure, if you have a good knowledge of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG and you’re familiar with the popular decks, how hard can it be to write a couple of articles and highlight some new takes on existing archetypes, explaining how a feature match went down and interviewing a duelist here and there?
It turns out this can be quite daunting if you’re not used to focusing on one task over the course of up to 12 hours. Sure, you might have been playing in a tournament that lasted for 12 hours, but did you play 12 hours straight? Most likely, you were playing your match, then taking a break of sorts in between rounds and you repeated this process over the course of the day.

The challenges of doing Text Coverage

When you’re doing text coverage, you don’t get a lot of breaks. You interview players after they finished their round. When the next round is getting paired, you need to stop doing what you’re doing, pick a feature match and then it might be your turn to write down what’s happening between the two selected duelists

Right after that, you need to insert a number of pictures in this article / edit it, send it to the guy that will publish it and then it’s back to your interview. This can be really stressful; not everyone will be able to pick up their original train of thought and switch between tasks this easily. And this is going on for hours and hours over the course of the day.

You also need to be able to type fast enough so you won’t need forever to churn out an article; if you’ve never written a feature match before and you’re still telling someone with a straight face you could do coverage too, you’ve instantly lost all credibility.
Also, it is really disrespectful in my opinion to not know a thing about something and tell someone how easy it is to do that something.

Video Coverage to the Rescue?

These days, you no longer need to be a fast “typer” to help out in a coverage team. Modern technology allows us to stream from the larger events like a Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series, which means you “merely” need to talk instead of type.

The first reality check you should be doing when thinking about becoming a coverage commentator is this: Ask yourself when you were last talking for almost 10 hours straight with only little breaks in between. Chances are, that’s a little while back (like when you were 1 year old and you were practicing to speak while your parents were encouraging you).
I’ve had a number of players that did the post game interview with me and as soon as we went offline, they took down the headset, looked at me and told me something along the lines of “man, I never imagined talking could be this hard.”
Well, it can be. If you’re not supposed to say something stupid and interact with another person while a camera is on your face and a big light is making you feel like you’ve been lying under the Italian sun on the beach of Rimini for a little too long.

Luke did his first “full time coverage” this weekend; we’ve had him on the stream before, but at that event (the European Championship), we had 4 commentators and we were all taking turns, making our job a lot easier as everyone was almost constantly getting a break. He was doing an excellent job in my personal opinion, but in one round, we were missing the decklists of the players. It was extremely obvious that he was a lot less comfortable in this round. Even a small change in procedures like not having a decklist to “hold on to” can feel like a big obstacle that’s hard to overcome. Suddenly, when you no longer know what to talk about, you cannot provide insights into possible Side Decking strategies or Extra Deck choices and this will then throw you off. We still managed to provide entertaining commentary for the match, but you could tell the difference if you knew what to look out for.

Let’s say you’ve come up with a plan on how to best provide quality commentary and suddenly you need to adapt as things are not going the way you were expecting them to. Can you adapt fast enough or will you instead be forced to “fold”?

I hope I was able to share a couple of thoughts with you that will help you set better goals for yourself. If you decided to become a helper for our coverage team, that’s cool and I’d love to one day work with you. At least if you have actually done some reality checks and you’re willing to take the necessary steps to accomplish your goal.
If I further managed to entertain you a little (instead of just looking fab like those above-mentioned starlets), then that’s great, too.

There’s a good chance I’ll be publishing another piece that’s loosely connected to Rimini since a lot has happened this weekend (these last few paragraphs have been written on the train journey from Rimini to Ancona, so the weekend took place “in between” the paragraphs of this article). Let me know what you think so I feel a little more motivated to stick with the writing.

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Some advice for freelancers

I was too lazy to translate this post. Either use Google Translate or, well, learn German. 😉

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Semi Secret Marriage

It is done! A few days ago, on the 10th of October, I married my long-time (in just a month, it’s already been 6 years) girlfriend Wincy. We celebrated with just a select few friends and members of my family (7 adults and 2 kids, not counting the marriage registrar) and we’ve only told a few more friends (maybe 40 people, probably less) upfront. Since very few of you think of me as a secretive person, I wanted to spare a few words and explain why.
(Despite the fact that up to this point, no one has approached me in a “Man, Oli, why didn’t you invite me? Or at least tell me?!” way.)

Reason #1: I’m gonna be a father!

My son's growing fast!

My son’s growing up fast!

“Man, Oli, why the fuck didn’t you tell me?!??!!”

Yeah, yeah, I know. Sorry, I would have preferred telling the world, but my better half wasn’t the biggest fan of that plan. That’s why I’m sharing the good news “better late than never” and I hope you can still appreciate it and celebrate with us.

It’s gonna be a boy and he’s due on the 3rd of January, 2015. Unfortunately, most of the people I know that have been born in January are somewhat moody (understandable, it’s way too cold in that month and if your first glimpse of the world you’ll be living in for the rest of your life is such an unwelcoming environment, it will most likely affect you in some ways), but I’m hopeful that my son can be the exception to the rule and he’ll be a very happy person.

Reason #2: Family Issues

My wife (I’m not yet used to saying / typing this) has a somewhat torn relationship with her side of the family. It would have looked more than just a little awkward if one of the newlyweds invited 40 people and the other person only brought 1, so we decided to both invite very few people.

We want to have a “real celebration” at some later point. After

  • our son is born and doing fine
  • we moved to a place where we’ll have more space for a family
  • Wincy will also be able to “properly celebrate” again
  • the “situation” on one side of the family tree has been resolved to a healthy degree

No worries, it’s not like all of those conditions have to be met for us to “properly celebrate”.

I’ll add pictures of the celebration once I get my hands on them. I focused on some other tasks, like “making sure that all the mobile phones are switched off”, “ensuring that we brought the rings”, “packing the IDs”, etc. I’m certain that the pictures turned out great since we all had a good time.

What else is new? Wincy is doing fine considering the circumstances. She’s sleeping quite a bit and very often, she’s not able to make it to work. Fortunately, her employer is very understanding.
My business on the other hand is still going great. I’ve surpassed the goal I’ve set for myself at the start of the year (turnover of 40 k €) already, so I’m now reaching for some stretch goals rather than “taking it slow” – it’s better to aim for an eagle and hit a pidgeon instead of aiming for a pidgeon and hitting a rock.
I’ll soon™ relaunch my business website and I also want to maintain a somewhat active company blog then. That’s the plan at least, but I’m hopeful that there will be some reason coming along that foils it again… 😉

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Fitness Update #2

Well, my promise to update this blog soon™ (see last post) worked out rather well, didn’t it?! Anyway, let’s not dwell on my inability to share my life with the rest of the web (we do have Facebook for that, after all…) and instead take a look at my fitness progress.

After 9,5 months

We’re getting closer to the magical 1 year since I joined the gym (another important anniversary is coming up shortly, but I will probably not blog about it here but rather on the company blog on nexTab.de – which is a *hint* in itself… can you guess what it is?). In case you aren’t aware of the progress I’ve made so far and you do want to know, read Fitness Progress Aug 2013.
I have, for quite a while, given up trying to only eat low carb foods. I simply couldn’t take it anymore and my craving for cookies, chocolate and bakery was simply a little too overwhelming. I tried to compensate for these sins by going to the gym even more often. Here’s an update of my fitness calendar since August:

Once again, I worked out on the highlighted days (and today!)

That's me in the shape of my life (so far). :)Yes, I did go to the gym 22 times in December…

Without further ado, this is me in my (so far) best shape ever (pic on the right, obviously).

Lately, I had to deal with a nasty cold and I then spent another weekend in Leipzig which often involves lots of less healthy food and the occasional drink (or two) with great friends. This resulted in me gaining weight for the first time in the last months. Even worse was the fact that I added a centimeter around my waist, so in a way, I was going in the wrong direction. Since that’s totally unacceptable, I’ve stopped eating chocolate and cookies and I’m going strong for… 3 days already. This is huge for me, I love chocolate, but well, fruit has to do for the time being.

Work has been crazy this year, which might have something to do with the fact that I set some “challenging” goals and am now doing quite a lot to reach them. I will talk about that some more in the near future (this time for real), but once again, I have to refer you guys to my company blog on nexTab.de.

So stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed that I’ll reach my goals this year!

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He’s back!

Me? No, of course not, why would I talk about myself in the third person? It’s not like I ever do that

Rated-V.comNah, I’m talking about my friend Vasco, who – after a long absence – got back into blogging. He asked me to help him setting up a personal blog and here it is: Rated-V.com.

We started working on the page on Saturday and today, after less than a week, the site went live and there’s already a first post appearing. A great result and I hope Vasco will gain a strong following and his blog will rise in popularity fast!

Oh, and while you’re here, I did actually go over the about me page (because it was broken) and I added a few bits here and there. I will soon™ update this page a little more, I promise…

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WNP failed because of Deutsche Telekom

I’m afraid this rant is only available in German, so switch languages on the right if you’re interested and maybe try Google Translate.

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e-plus customer service fail

I’m afraid this rant is only available in German, so switch languages on the right if you’re interested and maybe try Google Translate.

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