Sunshine Coast Art Crawl 2014

Volvo Ocean Race 2014 Fleet Credit: David Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race

I’m sailing around the World… from my computer

Every pink dot is another player in the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual game. The fleet is splitting the Canaries.
Every pink dot is another player in the Volvo Ocean Race Virtual game. The fleet is splitting the Canaries on October 15th.

Last year I was talking with one of my sailing buddies about the Volvo Ocean Race and he said there was a game that you could play side by side with the real competitors last race.

I kinda forgot about it until the Volvo Ocean Race started in Alicante, Spain over the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend. I was day late but I did start with some 71,000 other players online my user name is CoffeeRob. You don’t see all 71,000 boats on your screen unless you choose the satellite view. But you do see a couple of players around you, ones your about to pass and the virtual leaders of the race.

Your boat, a Volvo Ocean 65, is exactly like the ones the real competitors are racing and you can upgrade your basic two sails to an extra 5 pro sails (It’s a paid upgrade by well worth it). Your sailing using real weather data, the same the competitors use. Which means their isn’t any other crew to sail your boat while your asleep! The map interface shows you your heading and trajectory with current wind conditions which helps you plot your course. You can upgrade and use the auto pilot which has a bunch of options available.

Your displayed in red, friends/competitors in green other boats are in white.
You’re displayed in red, friends / competitors in green other boats are in white.

The fun thing I find about this game is that it’s all strategy and you don’t need to constantly watch your boat. You set you course and go about your day. Check in at lunch or your afternoon coffee break make sure you haven’t run aground.

I have also found a couple other Canadians (Including WhiteWings who is in the leading group) that are racing and you can tag friends and/or competitors you have made keep track of them as you progress.

It’s been great fun so far. I just never though I would go to be worried about my virtual boat running aground as I sleep.

See you in Gothenburg, Sweden in June, 2015.

Update January 18th : Their are now some 170,000 players in the game. Not all of them actually complete the stage. But you can watch an amazing time lapse by Andreas Heydecke of the second stage below.

How to make a Web Page by HomeStar Runner

With a hat tip to Paul Clark @pdclark on twitter, Here is StrongBad on how to create a website.

It’s awesome. You should check it out.

It’s also in flash so no go on a smartphone

The moss covered tree's of the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic Pensula National Park

Taking the Art Wolfe Photo Workshop

This spring I revisited my first passion of photography by attending the Art Wolfe Workshop on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

The three day workshop was spent on exploring our creative sides. We based out of Port Angeles and spent the mornings in a seminar and the afternoons out shooting at Sol Duc Falls, Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach.

The moss covered rocks of  Sol Duc River in the Olympic National Park.
The moss covered rocks of Sol Duc River in the Olympic National Park.

It rained all three days we were there and just like news photography you go out in all types of weather. The weather was actually perfect for the subject matter – A study on a West Coast Rainforest.  Although I could have brought better footwear like gum boots or Gore-tex runners.

First thing I learned about nature / fine art photography was they love tripods and as a news photographer I barely used mine in my 7 year career. Aside from the fireworks on Canada Day and the Northern Lights I shot during my time in the arctic. (They also never use monopods) But I guess they don’t shoot a lot of sports.

So my first lesson was how to shoot quick and fast with a tripod… I finally realized why the Gitzo tripods all have a twist and grip system for their tripods and ball heads for the camera mount. You can get really fast at setting up your camera for maximum adjustability and ease of use. It was so much faster than my old school silver Manfrotto was. (Yes I know they are owned by the same parent company)

Instead of just touring us to different locations  Art’s morning lectures really focused us on how he creates the masterpieces he does. What he looks for and what your eye does when it looks at a photo. He really encourages you to explore you environment and really engages you to make your photo look as good as possible before shooting it. The textures patterns and framing are really everything that goes into a great photograph. Out in the field he certainly challenged me to keep shooting… keep finding a new angle.

“My goal is no less than to change the way you see.” ~ Art Wolfe

Unlike my news photography career where it’s a fast pace environment and getting your images back to the newsroom is key to everything. Nature photography is much slower and gives you opportunity to find beauty in the abstract and slow down the creative process. Unlike editorial photography you are creating art and those hard and fast rules of creating the image need not apply here.

My DLSR equipment was ancient and falling apart. It was a used D100 that barely functioned and the lenses had all seen better days. So I left all that old heavy outdated gear at home and stuck with my Fuji X10 Range finder. Without the interchangeable lenses of a SLR I had work with the boundaries of what the camera could do. It was a fascinating exercise as I only had a 28 – 110 mm lens ISO of 100 and a closed down aperture of only f11.

Pebbles and Burnt firewood merge to make this contrasting photo of form and texture on Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park.
Pebbles and Burnt firewood merge to make this contrasting photo of form and texture on Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park.

What the camera did have was an awesome macro lens that could get me inches away from the subject matter.

Out in the field Art and his Workshop Staff really helped you to find that great shot. I actually needed some help setting up my tripod in a middle of a hollow tree as it was a little cramped. But I knew the shot I was looking for I just couldn’t get it just right. Art was there ready to help this old news photog out.

We carpooled out to the different shooting locals and randomly I found Larry Calof in need of someone to ride shot gun. I could not have picked a better travelling buddy. As a Semi-retired Lawyer in Silicon Valley we had plenty to talk about. But I also found out we both love the Dave Mathews Band amongst other things in common we had great conversations while we drove all over the peninsula.

While at Rialto Beach I was able to capture this awesome photo of Larry at work. The pipe really made the shot. I stopped what I was doing grabbed the camera off the tripod and grabbed a couple frames before he finished his pipe. We all have our processes and this was Larry’s. For me the old adage is true: You can take the boy out of the news… But you can’t take news out of the boy.

Larry Calof working his camera with pipe in month on Rialto Beach

In conclusion if you have a passion for photography and want to spend a vacation shooting. I highly recommend taking one of Art Wolfe’s workshops, it fed my soul and let me see part of the West Coast I had never been too

ps. no vampires or werewolfes were harmed in the making of this workshop.

Howe Sound in the fog

The morning Fog of Howe Sound shrouds The Queen of Surrey as she pulls into Langdale Terminal


White on white

The view from The Lighthouse Pub

The Sechelt Inlet and Porpoise Bay from the Lighthouse Pub
The Sechelt Inlet and Porpoise Bay from the Lighthouse Pub

Laser Sailing: If your butt isn’t wet you’re not doing it right.

Marine Building Reflection

Vancouver Marine Building Reflection
The unique sunlight reflecting off the opposite building illuminates the entrance of the marine building in afternoon sun. Vancouver, Canada 
Connect Asana and GitHub

How to connect Github and Asana

This blog post complements the WordCamp Vancouver 2014 Talk I gave called How to build your own robot.

I was working on a new website with a new collaborator who was literally 5,000 mile away for a client was 300 miles away. With all this long distance I’ve been using both Asana and GitHub to keep the team organized.

I wanted to but hadn’t tried to sync the commit message from GitHub to tasks in Asana. I was originally inspired by the svn-bot that appears in the WordPress core IRC chat.

While I had never set up this before both services make it quite easy.

You can set up the connection on your own Asana user account. But then all of the commits from everyone on the project will be attributed to you. What Asana support suggested was that I make a new user and call it git commit or commit. I took this one step further and gave my user the Octocat Icon. Once you have set up this user go into the account settings and grab the API Key.

The GitHub Sync is repo based and not user based and is located under the webhooks and services. Put the Asana API Key in the Auth token. You can also restrict it to just one branch if you like.

So whenever anyone commits to the repo all he have to do is grab the URL of the task from Asana and put it in the description of the GitHub commit and it will appear in Asana under the user Git Commit.

This method isn’t application specific any way you want to commit to Github will work.  You can also add multiple tasks and the commit will be tracked in both tasks.

The git-bot will publish who made the commit, which branch and the account and repo name it also links back to the GitHub commit.

This really helped in both a contractor and client setting. Assigning tasks to contractors was easy and feedback on the commit as well.  When the client found a bug on the beta launch of the site they recorded it on Asana and they knew when it was fixed. This really worked well in both regards as anyone involved could see the progress of the project.

The condensed workflow:

  1. Create / get assigned Task in Asana
  2. Code away upload via FTP
  3. Commit the code with the Asana task url in the description of the commit.
  4. See the commit in the Asana.

Couple side notes:

  • We weren’t using any auto deployment on upload.  ( FTPloy, Beanstalk, Dandelion )
  • I didn’t want to track every single commit on Asana, just ones which either completed the task or which required review by another team member.

Slides from WordCamp Talk:

WordCamp Seattle Contributor Day

Why you should go to a WordCamp Contributor Day

A WordCamp Contributor Day Logo created by  Jenny Wong
A WordCamp Contributor Day Logo created by Jenny Wong for WordCamp Sheffield

You’re a WordPress developer and you attend WordCamps?

But I ask you? Have you ever attended a Contributor Day?

The reason I ask is many WordCamps now are actually two-day events. First day is the general conference with speakers and the second day is a contributor day. I have attended the contributor days at WordCamp Seattle for two years now and it’s a great place to learn, talk, discuss WordPress core and how you can contribute back to WordPress. (Hence the name)

Have you working with WordPress and said:

  1. I wish I had time to suggest or submit an improvement to WordPress.
  2. I think this is a bug but I am not sure and I am way to busy at work to investigate.
  3. Why doesn’t the codex have updated documentation on this.
  4. There are a lot of unanswered questions in the forums.

These are all great reasons to go to a contributor day and give back to the community!

You’ll also be able to meet and chat with other developer and often their are core contributors or committers to WordPress in attendance that you can converse with.

So if you love WordPress and want to start contributing but don’t know where to start. Then attend a contributor day and find a way to give back.

ps. WordCamp Vancouver 2014 is holding it’s first Contributor Day and you should attend!