Archive for the 'self-promotion' Category

My Productive Practices

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

productive matrix

At this time of year the interwebs get very productive creating blog postings about productivity, and this blog is all about me adding  information to an existing saturation, so here goes:

These two recent articles have some good ideas for a more productive 2013:

Geeks are always keen to approach organizing their lives as an engineering problem.  Hence the obsession with David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a time-management methodology  and the steady flow of ideas that come out of

Here’s what I consider my top five most productive practices:

  1. The OHIO principle for E-Mail: Only Handle It Once.  
    Don’t keep re-reading waiting until you’re ready for a response, choose to handle then or not respond at all (with an exception for the “can’t read this here” problem with mobile devices – but mark it as unread).  I’m not a dogmatic process-to-zero inbox person, but I do work sequentially. I’ll only mark as read when the messages is “no longer my responsibility” and some times that means responding asking for clarity to buy a little time and share the responsibility of transmitting a clear message.
  2. Tasks are important and ubiquitous.
    I think I’m one of the few people who values Microsoft Outlook’s Tasks feature, and there’s all kinds of other task Apps.  The trick for me is having those task synced across all my devices, so that when I have the moment of inspiration or recollection I record it easily.  Tasks (or your calendar) is often an important next step after E-Mail comes in that allows you to “deal” with it at an initial level and mark the message as read.  It’s also worth noting that a project is not a task.

Code Babies – HTML for Babies

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Six months ago I ordered the Code Babies book Web Design for Babies (Vol. 1) . I took a while for it to arrive as PayPal passed on an old address and I failed to catch it, but after a number of months both ends figured it out and then package arrived. Code Babies were kind enough to include a poster (now in our second child’s room).

The board book’s colours are bright and the content teaches children about SGML-based markup languages and their tag and property based structure, demonstrating the merits of extensibility. I consider my children a significant revision of their parents, and it’s my intent that as they encounter new experiences in life they demonstrate exciting innovation when possible and otherwise fail gracefully.

I taught myself HTML when I was about 15, reusing a notebook that had been used for story writing from when I was about 8 for my notes. Why not give my children an earlier start, especially since they have 2 more versions of HTML and CSS to learn than I did?

Since both our children were born with their own web site already up and running (first child’s site was standards compliant and dynamic, the upgrade for our second child brought a responsive, bootstrap-based, design) the sooner they can contribute to the World Wide Web the sooner they can start shaping the world they’ve found themselves in.

Next lesson: POSIX-based file structures and how they relate to putting away their toys.

Birth Blog Announcement of Alyssa Clare

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Alyssa Clare

My wife Lindsay were joyfully surprised by the birth of Alyssa Clare on September 17th at 5:41, 2012.

Alyssa Anne Clare was expected to be delivered by C-Section on October 9th, but showing the independence she no doubt got from her mother and the hurried pace she got from her father she arrived about 4 weeks early.

Lindsay and I did not know we were having a daughter until she was there before our eyes. We couldn’t be happier to have our little girl, and she completes our 2+2 family. The waiting room at Joseph Brant Hospital was filled with family waiting for the news, but her older brother Evan was the first to be told that he had a little sister. Evan has also been a good older brother to the “ba-by” sharing hugs and being the first to alert anyone that Alyssa might have lost her hat. Born at a weight of 5 pounds 6 ounces she needs to stay warm.

Alyssa’s four grandparents, two aunts, three uncles and many others in the GTA have all had a chance to hold her and she is well loved.

We’re excited for what Alyssa will grow into, and the experience of watching a baby grow to a toddler and older again but from a new perspective.

Full gallery can be found here

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Our private gallery of family photos has received upgrades in anticipation of Alyssa’s arrival and you’re welcome to visit it to see the latest updates if you know the trivial account and password.

P.S. It’s hard to write a blog posting like this and not think of a future hacker trying to research Alyssa’s security challenge questions — you know, when she runs for Prime Minister and people want to read her E-Mail.

Structured Schedule and Course Calendar Data for Brock University

Monday, August 20th, 2012

As my last post about a Brock University Important Dates iCal Feed indicated, I often find myself needing Brock University information in a structured, digital format. As I’m not one to improve public information and make it private, here’s the how I made this information more fun to play with.

As we in the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (formerly CTLET) at Brock University to update places like Contact North’s and other reporting work, we often need this type of information, and to make it easier for a number of purpose to make use of the information as a web services.

To that end I created is a collection of RESTful APIs that return Brock University course calendar information in a number of formats: xml, html, csv and txt. The request URLs are created in a way that respects’s guidelines for URLs.

Along with a the course calendar information is a handy “function” I created called brock_year. brock_year returns the current course calendar year by default, or the year that corresponds with a queried UNIX time value. This is useful because the course calendar issuing year does not always match the Gregorian calendar year. For example, duration 3 of Brock University calendar year 2012 occurs in January of Gregorian year 2013! I’ve cut and pasted the PHP for that code a few times for me and others, now it’s a web services for all.

Things will be updated as time permits and need arises. Also I should note that the Brock University Registrar’s information is considered definitive, and is the most accurate and well maintained source for this information .

Hope this helps someone, or inspires someone else to expose data in a number of structured formats.

Lunch Blog

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I’ve started a new lunch blog! I encourage you to check it out at

The site is obviously more of a joke at the expense of my daily lunch at Brock University of two penut butter and jam sandwiches that I slather in double fruit jam and chunky penut butter before I leave for work each morning.

The blog was built using Bootstrap, from the developers at Twitter. Bootstrap was created to help people build web responsive web sites easier, better, and faster. You can read more at

The blog itself simply uses a Bootstrap example, two pictures I took with my phone yesterday, a little CSS to apply the pictures to the backgrounds of the right divs, and some PHP to dynamically create “dated” posts. The PHP is key to the ability to review older posts and the short reviews of each lunch. The source is posted here .

All and all, a positive experience and I look forward to bootstrapping more sites.