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25 + 148 points

A place you have never been. by Spidere

August 24th, 2007 9:43 PM

Now copy the random word go to Google maps
Select find business and enter the random word in the left text field and your address in the right address field.

Go to the first business listed that you have never been to.

ADDENDUM: write the word permanently or semi-permanently outside the business.

Good tasks have a story.

This story begins simply, with a single word: criterion.

Criterion seems like a word with a world of promise--what sort of place would sell an abstract concept, an idea? I expect a store of dreams, or of tools for wielding the abstract, or measuring the intangible.

Criterion Information Systems
7901 Stoneridge Dr # 225, Pleasanton, CA
(925) 467-1300

Well, I can't deny that this was a little bit disappointing. After such wonder, it turns out to just be another tech company? Ah, well; it's certainly a business related to the word criterion! And on reflection, I realize that this really is a business which sells ideas and concepts. A tech consulting firm specializing in how to organize information--really, what could be more relevant?

Google gives me this:, you say? I'm a tech person myself (though back in school now), have a decent history in organizing and automating information flow, and have been thinking about doing more consulting work. Besides, it would be a good excuse to use the suit I brought with me to CA. I thought it would be pretty cool to visit the site as part of a job interview, so I sent them a cover letter and resume.

Sadly, the story does not follow that path. After a week of no response, I decided to visit the place anyway, and see what it was like.

I also thought that Mink's wire sign was so beautiful, I had to steal it. I acquired wire and began making the criterion sign. It was actually very satisfying, and I highly recommend it.


Arriving at the office building, I thought it was a very nice place; surrounded by trees and stones, it also had little paths for employees to walk down and relax. I saw that it was home to a number of different companies (including the University of Phoenix, that famous/infamous online university)...but no Criterion! Was my search for ideas, for rules and metrics, to no avail? Perhaps...but perhaps not. No one was in the office, but the company which was listed in #225, Dynascribe (ScribeBase in the directory), sounded familiar, and suspiciously tech-company as well...I would have to do some more research.


In the meantime, I thought I would find a grate to attach the wire criterion to. The only problem? No grates! Well, that's okay, I thought--as an Aesthetematician, this just requires a new vision, a little interpretation. And so, as this place was integrating technology with nature, I decided to symbolize this by tying the wire criterion label to the stones surrounding. Each bound to the other.


With this complete, I returned home to do some digging. When I called the next day, the answer was indeed, "ScribeBase, how can I help you?" But a little whois research showed that and were both registered to the same person and were using the same DNS servers; as it turns out, they were even hosted at the same IP address. It seems that ScribeBase (as listed on the criterion site) is a new technology they are using; I had originally thought this was merely a parter company, but it seems to be a tool which they created and are now using for all of their clients. They developed this technology, which slowly grew, eventually overcame poor Criterion, and swallowed them from within. In any case, it was clear that this was what Criterion had become.

Action Sequence!

And so I returned to the site. While I'd been gone, I'd had another idea; the rocks on the ground were no fitting place for Criterion to rest: it was too low, too accessible for people to remove, and not clearly related to Criterion's current state. I had decided to move the criterion wire to a new place, a safer home and one more befitting its status. Directly outside the ScribeBase office windows, there is a tree. I had a vision of a silver line of criterion on a branch of that tree--it would be difficult to remove, show an even more fitting integration of nature and technology, and be a visible reminder from the ScribeBase offices.

It turns out that this was more difficult to achieve than I had imagined. The tree had no low branches; I could not reach anything to help pull myself up, much less attach my sign. Could I jump? Wrap my legs around and shimmy up the trunk? Find something to stand on? No, no, and no. But it would not do to come so far, and yet to fail! Inspiration struck. Close by, there stands a pole, to indicate handicapped parking. I held onto the trunk, leaned backwards, and started to walk up the side of the pole. Using the pole for support, I slowly made my way up the trunk. It was difficult, but eventually I made it to the branches. After resting a bit (days later, my arms are still sore), I attached the sign and dropped to the ground.


A few days later, I thought about Criterion once more. I thought about Drive, and about how I could do something to really make this task completion. I thought about all the amazing completions done recently, and I thought, surely, I could do more for this task.

I knew that I would need to revisit, to make sure the sign was still there, and I still wanted to get into the actual offices. While I could send a resume to ScribeBase (presumably those e-mail addresses are checked, but the old criterion ones are not), I only had two days before leaving CA; they might not give me an interview by then. So, I thought, why not take the other side? Certainly, they'd be more responsive to a potential customer than a potential employee...

I've been involved with the Vericon convention for several wouldn't be too much of a stretch to talk about how ScribeBase might help manage the events and attendees. So I called and tried to set up an appointment. As it turned out, the phone number just goes to a professional answering service--they could leave a message, but couldn't set up an appointment. I left a message, and once the day was over, decided to write an email as well.

This email got a prompt response, which was very exciting! Unfortunately, the response suggested enthusiastically, "Lets meet at Starbucks!'. I responded, trying to suggest we meet at their office, but when he wrote back "I really wasn't planning on going to the office on Friday. If you really want to meet there we can, otherwise I propose an outside cafe or coffee shop.", I started to feel bad and have second thoughts. As much as I wanted to get in there and make this task that much better, I couldn't in good conscience justify making him get invested in something that probably wouldn't pan out for him. The product, though not very expensive, would almost certainly be too much for a small con like Vericon--there was little chance I could in good conscience recommend buying it. So I emailed back and said that we could just talk on the phone. And yet, I really did want to try to put in a little more effort, to get something more for the completion. "Oh, well," I thought, "there's always next task. At least I'll talk with the guy about something that might help Vericon, and I can talk in the completion about the call."

The call...the call...just fifteen minutes before the scheduled phone call, I had an idea. The phone! Data is data! I'll just dial in the 3-way to the SF0 messager, and record the audio...wait...wait...I remember KristinawithaK/The Vixen's message seeming to cut off after two minutes. Well, that's not so bad...two minutes of audo is more than enough for people to listen to, anyway. Better test it out first...yep, two minutes...oh no! A message at the end! That's great for telling me when I've gone over two minutes--but not so great for an interruption in the middle of our conversation. All right, quickly now, 10 minutes left, what are my other options? Find another recording service? Nope, can't find one. A tape recorder? Don't have one. 5! Skype will record, no it won't. But I can skype call and record with Audacity!

A few frantic minutes of installing and testing later, I was in business. just a couple of minutes late for the call. I ended up being a little bit flustered in the beginning, but it went all right in the end, we talked about products and possibilities, and I didn't take too much of their time.

I will point out that, for legal reasons, you should always make sure to ask before recording a call.

It turns out that they aren't quite set up to do what we'd like them to anyway. I want Vericon to eventually move to a more community-integrated site, allowing people more opportunity to get involved on the site after registering; they're mainly set up to help companies manage customers, without having those customers interact with the web site database at all. I had thought that this would be a sticking point as I was researching ScribeBase, and it was nice to have a reason that wasn't price to not pursue it.

At one point in the conversation, he asked me if I'd really come across the company just by searching on the web. I had a moment of fear--did he know I was doing it for an sf0 task? No, that was impossible. Perhaps he had seen my resume after all? Even if so, we were essentially done already. I thought it best best to respond simply: "Yeah, I was actually looking for...something different and just sort of came across this, and thought it might be useful for Vericon." It seemed to pass muster. Whew!

Did you just come across us by searching on the web?


Later in the day, I went over to the building again, to confirm that the Criterion still remained. I also went in to re-take some shots of the directory and door.

On a whim, I knocked. This time, someone answered.

I was momentarily taken aback, and asked, "Is this Dynascribe?" With a slightly suspicious expression, he started responding, "Not really...we changed our name..." He was coming out, closing the door behind him--my window was closing (literally). I cut to the chase asked, "Would you mind if I took a picture out of your window?" Fortunately, my camera was still in hand, "There's a shot I'd really like to get."

Amazingly, this worked: he let me in (the office is small, but actually not bad) and I immediately walked over to the windows to start taking pictures. For a moment, I was worried--had I in fact placed correctly? I had! In fact, directly outside the CEO's office window (presumably--it's the only solo office, and had a nice plush leather chair) was my criterion! The gentleman prompted, "You probably want to raise the blinds" Oops. Indeed. As I started taking pictures, I was trying to talk about the shot I wanted, how it was framed, and I had to get up higher to get it...after I was satisfied I'd got a few quick pictures, it was clear that there was really nothing but trees and ground to see outside. I talked about how I wasn't sure I had got the exact the shot I wanted, I was hoping it would be framed a little bit differently, but thanked him very much for letting me take some pictures. He actually suggested that the next office had the corner view, and that I might bet a better view of the hills from a higher floor, or that the tall hill across the street might even work. I thanked him again, told him it was a genuine pleasure, and headed out.


As I walked back, everyone I passed gave me a smile--returning the big grin I couldn't keep off my face. Farewell CA, farewell ScribeBase! I hope the silver letters will serve as a reminder to you, and that you always remember the Criterion from which you came.

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11 comment(s)

(no subject)
posted by Lank on August 24th, 2007 10:58 PM

Nice! Great story!

(no subject)
posted by Ink Tea on August 24th, 2007 11:39 PM

Over the top and full of audacity.

(no subject)
posted by anna one on August 25th, 2007 12:15 AM

Audacious is right! Wicked awesome.

posted by Loki on August 25th, 2007 3:43 AM

Way to raise the bar on this task. Impressive!

Poor Criterion gettin swallowed from inside by ScribeBase
posted by YellowBear on August 25th, 2007 5:33 AM

Drive. Wow, nicely done. I think this may be my favorite completion on this, i love the extra mile gone for return trips, research and recording.

posted by Blue on August 25th, 2007 12:53 PM

I love how the epicness of the Praxis is driving people to be more epic in their completions…
Hopefully this will lead to exponentially epic audaciousness!

(no subject)
posted by Meta tron on August 25th, 2007 4:19 PM

I think I may be about to lose yet another little blue circle! *sigh* Your word looks beautiful in that tree! glad to be of inspiration for such a dedicated completion. : )

Mink x

(no subject)
posted by Rainbow Bright on August 25th, 2007 10:53 PM

Wow, great completion. I agree with Shp'ellowbear...It's great to see the praxis on a hot streak of epicness.

(no subject)
posted by rongo rongo on September 10th, 2007 7:00 PM

Climbing up that tree was very impressive. I wonder how long it will be before someone from the company notices the word.

posted by Charlie Fish on September 26th, 2007 6:16 AM

Your heart must have been beating - palms sweating - with the thrill of the Drive. And that deserves points, even if you do talk way too much...

(no subject)
posted by Grant B on December 9th, 2007 3:12 PM

Im having a terrible day and I got hopeless, T_T.