|Sam Bacsa, a long time team member and the actor who plays Alex Wozniak sat down with me and chatted about his character, his work outside HF, and his plans for the future.|
What is your position on the Hidden Frontier Staff, and what does your job entail?
We'd like to thank Sam for taking the time to answer some questions for us, and for being so candid with us.
You have a large fan base on the forums. How do you feel about your role being so enjoyed?
I'm credited as "Support Services", but my self-professed title (to which no one has taken any objection to yet :P) is Technical Administrator. I take care of making sure the forums, website, and mirrors system are working perfectly. I also do the backend coding for most of the stuff you see on the site, except the forums. I couldn't bring myself to write forum software.
Large fan base? I don't think the five or so people who've come to know my name would count as being a "large fan base", but I'll take what I can get. :-)
Well, I'm glad people have taken a liking to my character. He's fun to play, though my skill level as an actor is a bit sub par, but to me just being able to play a role is really a privilege, and I'm happy to do my part in adding to Trek fandom.
Most fans may not be aware of this, but the name of Wozniak actually holds has a bit of an honorarium in it. Can you tell us a bit more about why that is?
The name? Oh, it's nothing special. I've always admired innovators on any end of the technical spectrum (read: Macintosh, Windows, *nix): Alan Cooper, Larry Wall, Rasmus Lerdorf, so on and so forth.
You're quite the programmer, in addition to being a popular recurring guest star and one of the forum administrators. Are there any projects you can tell us about that you're particularly proud of?
A huge innovator in how we use computers today was Steve Wozniak. I admire him, though he's lost somewhere on the Apple end of things. :-P That, and I like the name. It's unique, and people remember it... though, I'm not sure at times I want to be remembered for my performances. :-P
Ed. Note: On the other hand, I think the Woz made a fine choice in computers... ...but that's another article for another day. *grin*
Well, I've written several pieces of software for several companies out there over the past six years or so, including AEM, which is a very popular automotive performance part manufacturer; Wachovia, which is a financial company; Multacom Corporation, which is a tier 2 ISP in Los Angeles; and iEntertainment Network, which is an online games service provider based in Cary, North Carolina. I've worked for several small businesses as well, developing billing systems, automation programs, and much more.
Word on the block is that you enjoy online gaming, and actually manage forums as well as game servers? ?care to tell us what your favorites are?
All this work, though at times exhausting, has provided me with enough money to pay for school and have some left over to spend on whatever, plus, you can't put a price on experience. I'm still in school, and when I get out with my degree, I'll have enough experience to not end up having to get an entry-level position somewhere.
I've managed communities for several US-based versions of Korean games. My longest-running community is Helbreath Portal (www.hbportal.net), which was founded in late 2001. During the height of the game's popularity, the site drew well over 1 million hits per month and had over 10 thousand forum members. We recently migrated to a new set of forums, and the Europe and Korean versions of the game had closed, so it's a smaller community now. I'm also a game master, though I've forgotten my account?s password, and I've only used it in emergencies when the main GMs couldn't be reached :P
I also managed the community for a short-lived game called Khan: The Absolute Power. It was licensed by iEntertainment Network early last year, but they closed the game in August because the licensors were not holding up their end of the bargain.
I currently am a game master for the US version of The Legend of Mir 3 (www.lom3.com), which is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the MMORPG with the most recorded simultaneous users online at 750,000. It's fun to work on the GM team, and it's a rewarding experience helping others get the most fun out of the game, and the extra money sure doesn't hurt at the end of the month :P
Can you tell me a bit about the challenges you faced as you developed the systems that make Hidden Frontier's episodes so available and easy to download?
Well, it's your typical load-balancing scenario: you have more requests than you have the ability to service, so the whole idea was to create a system whereby people wouldn't suffer through 14kb/sec download speeds. Through some simple AJAX magic and load-balancing logic, I got a system up that allows us to not only track downloads, but balance the load across all of our mirrors.
If you could do anything with your character, or with the Hidden Frontier storyline, what do you think it?d be, and why?
It's a good system and works well, though some browsers are more cranky than usual. While people sometimes do have to wait in line to download something, when they start downloading it, they'll be getting it at high speeds, and that's more important than having to sit in a queue for 10 minutes.
A lot of the challenge was making the system as streamlined and cross-compatible as it is. I won't get into the technical details, because that would no doubt bore everyone. It works, and that's all that matters. :-)
I really, honestly couldn't answer this question. Just having the ability to play a character on Hidden Frontier is an honor. I hear Dan's written me into the last couple of episodes of HF, so I'm sure I'll be making an appearance soon. :-)
What are your plans for after Hidden Frontier? Are you planning on participating in future "Team HF" productions?
Ed. Note - The plot ninjas allowed this, but I wouldn't recommend saying anything more about it, Sam... :-P
I'll participate in whatever Rob asks me to participate in. :-) I really enjoy working with Rob and the rest of the HF staff, and it would be a privilege to embark on another journey with them.
Any special words you have for the fans?
Thanks for everything! :-) Reading some of the posts on the forums that happen to have been about me / my character really make me smile. Glad to see some people are getting a kick out of my little contribution to HF. :D
Look for more interviews with the cast featuring your questions in future editions of the newsletter, and in future updates on the site!
--Jonathan Connor-Foertsch, Website Content Administrator
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