Category Archives: Editorial

YoYoSkills.com – Indefinite Hiatus

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I have been sitting at my computer now for an hour trying to figure out how to write this out. The best way is to just be straight forward and come from the heart… it’s not you, its me.

(ha)

No but really. I really love all of you guys. The readers, fans, and yes even “teh haters.” For 5 years YoYoSkills.com has been my passion and my drive in the yo-yo world. When I started there were only a handful of yoyo web blogs but now…. now there are HUNDREDS. The landscape is changing and the time has come for me to realign my hobbies to my lifestyle. I am a father who is getting ready to add to our family through adoption, I have a full time career that is very demanding of my energy, and I am quickly approaching a few specialty training courses followed up by a Masters program. I am a busy guy and as much as I love bringing everyone in the yo-yo world news, reviews and videos I just don’t have enough time to juggle everything effectively. I have to focus on my family, my career, and my education and to do that unfortunately I have to make responsible sacrifices. That’s right, being an adult can suck.

So I am placing YoYoSkills.com on indefinite hiatus. That is a fancy way of saying YoYoSkills is on hold, and maybe if things align or change I may re-launch YoYoSkills.

A few questions I expect:

Are you quitting yoyoing?
No, Just the website, and its not quitting its just on hold. I still plan to come to contests and be part of the community.

Are you going to sell the domain?
No, and I won’t autoforward it either. There may be a few tweaks to the front page but the main site will stay up in archive mode.

Can we still comment on stuff?
Sure.

What about YoYoNation?
The YoYonation project turned into a giant cluster of programmers rage. I am still picking apart the code to dig for the the online content from the store. If I come up with anything salvageable I will upload it. The forum is at YoYoNation.net is up but in all forms of reality should be considered “For reference use only.”

Will you still be selling the Skill Life Shirt and the Throw Game?
Yes, links are in the side bar.

Was that a shameless plug?
Your mother…

Where will you go now?
Wherever there is new content… I’ll be there. Wherever there is a new video… I’ll be there. Wherever there is El Guapo, the Three Amigos will be there…. I’ll be around also. I may find another role in the yo-yo world that doesn’t require daily site updates, but we shall see. In the mean time there is always Facebook and Twitter

Any other questions, feel free to hit me up. I do really love this site and all of you. 5 years of my blood, sweat and tears are embedded in this PHP and HTML script bag along with a ton of time and dedication but the professional career world is calling, the kids need help with homework, and I have a book report due on Tuesday.

Love you all

– Chris Allen

SF Day 2

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Incicible Bike Art

Lessons learned on Day 2

That strange smell is probably what you think it is
The term “Crosswalk” is highly suggestive
If there is a way to put a restaurant somewhere, someone will have
If you don’t want to be bothered, walk with headphones
Nothing is “marked price” in China Town
There is art everywhere
Learn the BART system
There is no 13th floor
For the price of two Hi Chew packs in Candy Barrel, you can get 5 packs from Walgreens
Starbucks is your best bet for finding a restroom
Carry only what you need. Netbook and yoyo in a sling is ideal

San Francisco for Training – Day 1

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Hello readers,
I hope you all won’t mind me flexing my personal blogging muscles this week. I am in San Francisco on a training trip. This is going to make my yoyo news and review postings a bit erratic so bear with me.

Things I have learned in SF Day 1 –

  • Space is a commodity, especially your own.
  • You can go from gorgeous to grimy in 10 feet, but back to gorgeous in 5
  • Don’t walk under a fire escape if possible.
  • If you smile and open the door for someone, they act surprised.
  • Walk, don’t drive.
  • If you have to drive, park at a self park garage and walk.
  • There is a Starbucks and/or Walgreens on every corner.
  • There are too many things to take pictures of.
  • Coffee giants will work in a pinch, but try to find the unique coffee places like Blue Bottle.
  • Throw yoyo every day.
  • Doctor Popular’s office is visionary.

I am tweeting and FB’ing on my breaks and trying to take a bunch of photos if you are interested in that.

History Lesson – The Millbury Crew

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The Millbury Crew was:
Jeff Coons – player, primary videographer & editor
Brian Cosky – player
Andrew Piscitelli – player, additional videographer & editor
Nathan Pasquale – player
Jesse Anaya – player
Billy Breault – player
Camden Moriarty – player

These are names you should know because they helped shape and mold the modern yo-yo crew. The Millbury Crew was one of the earliest examples of a modern yo-yo video crew. It was more than the occasional video, these guys released over 30 videos with varying themes, lengths, and examples of pure ability and the youtube channel also has 28 previously unreleased videos. These guys took yoyoing out of the dirty rooms with piles of dirty laundry and put real production into their work. The above was some of their finest work, Chapter 3: Haunted Estate.
Jeff Coons had put up all of their videos including some unreleased ones at the Millbury Crew Youtube Channel.
You can also follow Jeff on his blog over at Tumblr

Why Google failed to +1 me

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now it looks like the G is firing a laser

(Note: Editorial for editorializing)
Social Networks are a big part of the our community. While it may not be directly yo-yo related, the social networking service battle is relative to how we interact with each other as a community. When Google announced Google Plus, I was looking forward to it. Excited even. Facebook is crowded with spam and virus-ish applications. Google seemed like a good choice to create a product to replace Facebook, one giant to face down another. I use a lot of Google products like Picasa Adsense, Analytics, Gmail, Maps and such and even encourage others to use the same. Having watched Google bloom from a simple search engine to a full blown internet giant, I had high expectations for their social network.
Then came Google Wave. It was complicated, not user friendly, and didn’t work half the time.
Google proceeded to jedi mind trick everyone to forgetting about Google Wave and started working on Google Plus.

This is not the social network you are looking for....

This time my expectations were lowered but I still had hopes that this new Google project would catch on. Google Plus started out pretty solid. Clean interface, easy to use, but lacking a bit in the features Facebook has gotten me used to. I stayed on with hope that it would be resolved. I ran into a few bugs, problems with reading the whole thread of a link, problems with Picasa’s integration, ect. I started adding geek celebrities to my circles like Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton, but immediately noticed that the long reply threads from every one of their posts could not be shrunken and was a pain to scroll past. (They have since added a minimize arrow but honestly I didn’t notice.)
Then Google Plus attacked and digital harmed my friend Doctor Popular. Doc had not only his Google Plus account shut down, but all his other Google accounts shut down as well. Years of email, pictures, documents, gone. They also blocked him from reading Google operated pages. I imagine it was like losing a digital arm.

Doc minus a digital arm.... never mind

What was his crime? He used the name Doctor Popular. Google Plus’ restrictive terms of service limit users to one account each, and does not allow pseudo names. They want their users to use names they are commonly known by. Doctor Popular is commonly known as… Doctor Popular. Not only in the yo-yo world but across other geek spectrums as well. He even has a sandwich named after him. Even worse, Google’s right hand didn’t seem to know what it’s left hand was doing and the result was inconsistent answers that came across as actions between trolling and teasing.
Frustrating problems, hurt feelings, creating a social network giant is serious business. Google should not make it’s customers feel like criminals.

All this though is not the sole reason why I am breaking up with Google Plus. Primarily, it is about the Apps. A few years ago when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone and said it would be ” Your life in your phone” I could not conceive how accurate that statement was. I rely on apps like Instagram, and Meebo, which don’t interface and update to Google Plus. Facebook is so deeply integrated into smart phone apps that I don’t think Google Plus ever stood a chance. Games, business applications, photo apps, many many apps are already set up for Facebook. In fact, the only reason my Google Plus page gets any updates at all is due to a Chrome app called Publish Sync. Facebook’s interface is almost second nature at this point, and from a business stand point Google’s stance against using pseudo names does not work in the interests of the business user. Everything Google told us we needed in a social network, Facebook just modifies their code to include it.

Google has products I love, but Google Plus is not one I am willing to endure a painful relationship with.
So Google Plus, I will watch you to see if you resolve your problems. I will leave the box checked on Publish Sync, and I will leave the +1 badge on my blog, but as far as Google Plus for my personal use; I don’t think it is working out between us at this point.
It’s not me, it’s you.
– Chris

The freestyle everyone is talking about

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I have talked to a few people who were at Worlds, and one thing comes up again and again.  Jensen’s Freestyle.

This is the video.  Some context for you.  Jensen was virtually unseen up until this point of the contest.  The announcer had just called him to stage and stated that “Jensen requests complete and total silence for his freestyle”

Thanks to YoYoFactory for capturing this

Added this version for a reference on “Jensen’s Request”

Requesting compete silence, and then only throwing for 2 min 30 seconds. From my on scene informants, the entire crowd was glued to the edge of the seat. Every eye was on stage and people were holding their breath. At the Worlds (lil) party at my house, the room was silent except me banging away at the keyboard. Even the Chat room slowed down, it was quite a sight. At one point, I think Jensen starts whistling along with the song. The effect of silence and flow was almost hypnotic.

Jensen may have cost himself the Championship by cutting the routine short but I don’t think he we there to win it. Jensen was making a statement. He used an unconventional song, requested silence, threw none of the high scoring Vertax tricks that we all know he can do, and ended early. If you kept track, once he got going he only had one throw and a string of extremely smooth regens. My guess is that Jensen was saying he is doing this his way only. Not a freestyle designed to rack up points or speed combo, just pure showmanship.

This the equivalent in yoyoing to (in my opinion) Babe Ruth calling his shot. At the time it was apparent that Babe could show up and destroy any pitcher he wanted. When the Yankees came up against the Cubs, Babe Ruth pointed out to over the center field wall and then proceed to knock the ball over the same wall. Ruth set his own terms and did exactly what he intended to do. It was ballsy, unheard of, inspiring, and has lived on as a legend.

Now I am not comparing Jensen to Babe Ruth nor am I calling Jensen the Babe Ruth of yoyoing, I am talking about the action here. Jensen called his own shot by asking for complete silence. He then went on to deliver an artistic, poetic, inspiring, nail-biting performance that never intended to take first place. It was only two and a half minutes, but it was two and a half minutes no one in that room will likely forget. It had champion level yoyoers glued to the edge of the seat. Love it or hate it, I would not be surprised if yoyoers talk about this freestyle and “Jensen’s Request” for a very long time.

– Editorial by Chris Allen