Great UX, hard demanding but fulfilling work. NOTHING is ever as easy as it appears.

50 Year Anniversary of “The Maple Leaf”

The largest collection of Canada Flags I have seen. Yes even more then the previous Canada Day.
2010 Olympic Hockey Gold. The largest collection of Canada Flags “The Maple Leaf” I have seen. Yes even more then the previous Canada Day (2009). Since the Olympics I have seen more love of our maple leaf.

For a nation that is still quite young in many respects it certainly has had a large number of flags flown over it’s soil. Although I don’t know one that suits it more then our Maple Leaf, Happy 50th Birthday.

Ladies Learning Code Presentations

Tutoring Ladies Learning Code

I come from a family of teachers. But I never took up the trade myself. While it may not be the highest paid career in the world many people find it completely rewarding.

Sure I train clients on how to use their website and I’ve worked the odd Happiness Bar at a WordCamp, but I had never actually been in a tutoring role.

Some months ago at a SaturHack I met Meredith Underell who runs the Vancouver Chapter of Ladies Learning Code or for short LLC. I thought it was a totally cool project and friends like Mandi Wise and Christine Rondeau have both volunteered as tutors in the past.

I made one wrong assumption about LLC was their tutors were only women. Nope! male tutors are invited to volunteer as well.

So when I heard that LLC was having a Girls Learning to Code and was in need of some volunteer mentors for a HTML / CSS course. I had some time and I decided to sign up and give it a try.

I was a little nervous as what to expect but was warmly welcomed when showed up. I got myself a name tag and sat down next to a girl who was having a little trouble getting started.

Turns out she wanted to make a photography website. Well did I ever pick the right girl to sit next to. I was a photographer for 7 years before I switched to web design and I have built a few photography websites in my day.

The hot topic of website creation was Minecraft but also cats, grumpy or other wise, dogs, fashion tips and bagels!

Clio ( Legal Case Management Software for Law Firms Tech as a service ) provided the location, bandwidth and a wonderful lunch. ( Along with a couple beers with the fellow tutors after our apt pupils left for the day. )

Just before we broke for lunch one of the tutors overhead a girl saying.

“I don’t want to have lunch, I am still coding”

We’ve all been there. Trust me.

I also met a number of developers from the wider Vancouver Tech Community. Great networking time at lunch and over beers afterwards.

The girls used Mozilla Thimble code editor which gives real time updates of their code.

I’d highly suggest any developer sign up for a Saturday of this. It was fun, lite, easy, rewarding and filled me full of good karma.

The Girls and Tutors. Photo by Florida Elago
The Girls and Tutors. Photo by Florida Elago

The Real Bansky is not Banksy

This guy has been parading around twitter for years as “The Real Bansky”. He until recently still linked to Bansky’s website and posted Banky’s art work as his own claiming we own nothing shared. He is nothing but a “fan” or imposter account and this latest image the imposter claimed as the work of Bansky when it fact it was artist Lucille Clerc.

To set the record straight.

Banksy is not represented by an art gallery, is not on Facebook and has never used Twitter. ~ Banksy

via the only thing he has ever claimed to own… his website.


Don’t get me wrong I love a good parody account on twitter as much as the next person. the9oclockgun and BCferrys are some of my personal favorites.

But I absolutely hate Internet hoaxes who are out to miss lead and profiteer from ill gotten gains. I hate when other people take credit for another persons work so I also invite you to check out this awesome podcast from On The Media’s TLDR on the subject.

Davis Bay Sunset

Davis Bay Sunset

Sunset on the first day of 2015 at the newly renovated Davis Bay Pier in Sechelt BC.

Your site is not a clown car. Decide what is most important and do that. Adding stuff doesn’t fix what’s broken below.

~ Lyza Danger Gardner

(speaking at WordCamp San Francisco)

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.