Commercial interruption

[I started this post a few weeks ago, got buried with work, and never finished it. I still don't have time to finish it today, but if everything had to be perfect before it went out then the world would move too slowly, or this blog might sit untouched for weeks, like it has. So...]
A few years ago, I took a couple months off from work to travel, heading first to New Zealand. During that, trip, I went on a sperm whale watching expedition. I started the trip filled with anticipation. I hadn't seen any sperm whales in the wild before, but the images in my mind were romantic and fabulous: giant white sperm whales locked in battle with giant squid, or the white leviathan from the movie version of Moby Dick, last seen swimming off with Captain Ahab (a bearded Gregory Peck) tied to its side.
By the time our boat arrived at the viewing location some two hours later, I too had an Ahab-like obsession with a white leviathan, but it was the seasickness bag whose head poked out of the seat pocket in front of me. We'd listened to one report after another of whale sighting here or there, each of which sent our boat scurrying in another direction, but thus far the only marine life we'd spotted had been on a poster stapled to the front of our boat.
Finally, we got the signal to climb out on deck. At long last, we were called to the deck and told to bring our cameras. We were pointed to one side of the railing where we elbowed and shoved to find a suitable position to point our telephoto lenses.
"There it is!" someone shouted. I looked through my lens and saw...a thin sliver of the sperm whale's back, maybe fifteen or twenty feet long, maybe a foot or so above the surface of the water. It looked like a gray log. It barely moved.
For fifteen minutes, that thin sliver of sperm whale bobbed up and down in the ocean. For all I know it could have been some piece of garbage they had tossed out in the ocean to head off what might have been mutiny by a hundred or so disgruntled and seasick customers. After fifteen minutes of inactivity, and with one kick of its tail (the only moment worth photographing), the sperm whale headed back to the depths of the ocean. If the crew had staged the whole thing, the least they could have done is strapped our boat's captain to the decoy and given us some Moby Dick-level entertainment.
This is me surfacing for air, though I hope I'm not as disappointing as that sperm whale. Sometime this summer, I dove back into the tech startup life with some friends. Summer ended, school was about to start up, and my work was not yet done. I was faced with one of those moments when surplus of choice seems a burden.
Opportunities don't always orient themselves around your personal schedule, and they also don't always persist. The startup gig seemed more time sensitive, but despite that, it was a tough choice. In the end, the folks at school were gracious about letting me take a leave of absence, and I wouldn't have felt right leaving so much undone.
So our merry band at work went into 7 day a week crunch mode, purchasing some air mattresses for the office so we could sneak naps when we weren't planted in front of our computers. It reminded me of that first year at Amazon, when we had sleeping bags under our desks for those overnight days.
I'd roll out of bed and head into work, and then I'd roll back home at 3 or 4 in the morning, and most days Eric would still be at work when I left. I ate every meal with my coworkers, spending all my waking hours with them. In the midst of this I had to move, one of the things I hate most in the world, so when I wasn't working I'd be home trying to pack up all my stuff.
There were the usual tight timelines and technical and business obstacles, and you never quite get everything you want into your v1, but getting a product out the door always provides a huge psychological boost. And today (or was it yesterday) we sent our private beta out into the world:
We're in private beta right now, so you'll have to sign up for a beta invite, and we'll get one out to you as soon as we're ready.
But I can offer a sampling of what we have to offer here, or you can check out much of our content at our partner sites, like AOL.
One of the cool features is the ability to embed a video but point users to a portion of it. Since this post is a bit of a pitch for Hulu, let's start off with an ad of a different sort. Here's the Michael-Scott-directed version of the Dunder-Mifflin commercial from last week's episode of The Office:

Never saw Arrested Development, that show that was tragically killed off before its time? We have all 22 episodes of Season 1 for you to watch. Here, for those of you looking to see what you missed, is the entire first episode.

Sad that you won't be able to see more of those Dane Cook baseball promos (someone help me to understand Dane Cook)? Here's an SNL take that can tide you over until next October (yes, there's more than one October, there's actually one every year).

Planning a long lunch break tomorrow? Maybe you'd like to see a movie. One I really enjoyed from Universal's library is Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Here you go:

There's more, but to get it to you, we need to go back to work. Thanks to those of you who still visit for having endured my non-existent posting schedule, and if you're one of the select group who've received beta invites, let me know what you think.