Posted on June 21, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Zoe and the Amazocalypse Search for Seattle’s Space Needle

seattle space needle

Amazocalypse Realizes Maybe He Built Too Fast

The Space Needle’s gone missing beneath Seattle’s epic growth. Zoe goes searching for it and soon meets Amazocalypse and his dog Prime. Once Amazocalypse realizes the impacts of his actions, he decides to do everything he can to find the city’s special landmark.

Please consider a pledge to our Kickstarter campaign for Zoe and the Amazocalypse! The illustrations are done by Megan Marie Myers.

microsoft id card circa 1991
Posted on June 3, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

25 Years Ago Today I Started at Microsoft and…

On June 3, 1991, I began my career at Microsoft. Today is also the one year anniversary of my brain surgery. Both have provided incredible experiences yet only one left me permanently scarred.

For the first four years at Microsoft, I worked in research to bring Windows to fax machines so you could send files from floppy disk via fax:

Unfortunately, email took off right about that time. But, I had time to work on designs of the first touch screen user interfaces and personally argue with Bill Gates about whether the buttons were big enough for people’s fingers. Though the project wound down to ultimate failure, I had the opportunity to sing karaoke in Japan (Young MC’s Bust a Move) and learned everything about successful project management that one needs to know.

Interestingly, my first manager at Microsoft was one of the company’s earliest and most successful female executives, Karen Hargrove. I’m greatly appreciative for having had a strong woman leader as a mentor. Another member of our team even went on to become a U.S. congresswoman and her lowly husband, only the head of Microsoft Office.

After Microsoft At Work, I helped build the technology team that launched MSN News and; the first major story covered was the explosion of TWA Flight 800.

I left Microsoft in 1999, with one of our At Work team members to launch GiftSpot, now After leaving GiftSpot, the Wall Street Journal quoted me as saying, “It’s weird not having a reason to shower and shave.” I’ve come far.

In all seriousness, the anniversary today reminds me how grateful I am for my best friend Kerry who stayed with me through surgery (I was required to shower for it, twice!), my neurosurgeon and her team, and the nurses that supported me in ICU last year and for the overall outcome.

I’m also grateful for my experience and time at Microsoft, my friends and mentors, and the privilege and opportunity it’s helped provide me. My time at Microsoft’s allowed me to orient my focus towards making a difference in a variety of different ways.



Posted on May 25, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

Update on Amazon’s Impact on a Ballard Street

My post last May about Amazon’s impact on a Ballard neighborhood street proved quite popular, especially on Slashdot’s: Visual Walk Through Amazon’s Impact On One Seattle Neighborhood. You may remember there were two houses sold as lots:

ballard neighborhood development

Two Ballard Houses Sold as Lots

Here’s what those lots look like now, a third house beside the lot will be torn down shortly:

ballard seattle development

A View of Ballard Neighborhood Development

ballard seattle development

Another View of Ballard Neighborhood Development

You can see originals of all the photos on Flickr.

Word is that the townhomes pictured in the earlier story are experiencing numerous defects from the fast-paced construction including leaky roofs.


Digital Ocean Referral Program
Posted on May 19, 2016 by Jeff Reifman

My Digital Ocean Affiliate Program Experience

People ask me all the time if it’s possible to earn money by blogging. Well, it’s difficult. However, using carefully selected affiliate programs can be helpful. I’ve actually done quite well with two of my favorite services that I use regularly: the Digital Ocean affiliate program and WPEngine. Digital Ocean is a cloud-based hosting startup that’s one of the fastest growing and emerging as a major player. While, WPEngine is, in my opinion, the best managed hosting service for WordPress; I run Flee the Jungle with it.

Today, I want to share my historical experience with the Digital Ocean referral program. First, let me tell you a bit about the quality of Digital Ocean as a hosting company.

I run all of my self-host WordPress sites with Digital Ocean (like this one) and WPNow, my guide to WordPress management. The service continues improving and I can’t remember any slowdowns or downtime in recent memory. It’s solid. Support too has improved consistently. I am a satisfied customer. I’ve also written about them for Envato Tuts+, check out some of my Digital Ocean tutorials there. It’s nice promoting a company on my site that I believe in.

Furthermore, the Digital Ocean affiliate program has proven financially beneficial. When you refer someone, they earn $10 in credits and once they spend a total of $35 in hosting, you earn $25. This year, I’ve earned an average of $465 monthly. In nearly two years, I’ve earned $6,975 to date.

digital ocean affiliate statistics

Digital Ocean Referral Statistics


The most I’ve ever earned was $775 in January and then $650 last month. Digital Ocean sends a PayPal transfer at the beginning of the month for the prior month’s revenue.

I used to keep more careful track of ongoing signups but the chart above and the chart below show the approximate growth of signups and income from the referral program. For recent months, I’ve estimated the monthly sign up rate.

digital ocean affiliate and referral income

Digital Ocean Affiliate Program Income

Last spring there was a short term spike in the rate of click throughs and sign ups. We could never determine where it was coming from and it eventually faded. The best information Digital Ocean gave me is that a popular Google search item may have redirected to my affiliate link.

As you can see in the above statistics table, if all of my referred members eventually reached $35 in spending, I’d earn $52,320. It would be nice if Digital Ocean shared more transparently the age and state of these accounts — which are active and their current progress towards completion.

You can sign up for an account at Digital Ocean here!

Please let me know about your experience below in the comments below.

Note: Sometime in 2014, Digital Ocean switched from cash awards to service credits for new referral program members. However, if you have an existing account, you may have been grandfathered into the cash awards program.

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