Year: 2006

Challenges

Here I am starting Week 3 at InfoTech. Our house has been on the market for 20 days, we've had one agent's open house and seven or eight individual showings. So far nobody's made an offer, but everyone is telling us that this is very positive as nobody's looking at houses right now (what with it being like a week before Christmas and all), but that things will pick up in January. I'm currently driving to and from London once a week and sleeping at my parents place 2 nights a week.

My first week was really tough, and I didn't know if I'd be able to pick up enough to keep my head above water, but something happened over my first weekend, and I had a series of epiphanies. By the following Monday I was able to figure a ton of stuff out. Today, a week after that, I have a good grasp on what I'm doing, and I'm starting to make plans for the future (which is what I do), I see a path, and I'm starting to build a plan to get us to the plan. At some point last week I also started making a concerted effort to talk about “us” when I'm referring to Infotech, and using TSN in the past tense…which was really hard.

The driving is the part that sucks the most. Driving to London is about 2 hours each way, which isn't that much different than the hour driving commute, or hour downtown Go Train trip. Thank god for my iPod. When I'm in London the commute is about 10 minutes, which is totally sweet. I can leave my house at quarter after eight, and still make it to work five minutes early.

The most frustrating thing right now is the waiting. We're waiting for our house to sell, to take over the new house, and waiting to start this new chapter in our lives.

Our house is officially on the market

Our house is on the market, yesterday saw about 14 real estate agents come through, today was supposed to be our first showing (although I don't think they ever came), and the pictures that were taken on Tuesday morning are now up on MLS.

Our agent (Rick Menary of Sutton Heritage Realty Inc), has a great little listing up on his own website for our little house at 96 Tansley Crescent, soon available at 96Tansley.com. The MLS listing is also online, we're listing E1034835.

We were supposed to have a showing today from 10-11, but I don't think the agent showed up, we've got another showing on Saturday from 11:30-12:30 as well.

Hopefully something will happen quickly and we can move on with the next phase in “the big plan”.

Oh crap! We own two houses!!!

This week has been pretty busy so far. We painted on the weekend, re-organized the house, bought and installed nearly a dozen light fixtures, took care of a sick baby, and bought a new house…and so far it's only Tuesday!

On Saturday and Sunday my parents came down and along with Char's brother Dennis, sister-in-law Tina, and sister Sharon, we painted and cleaned the house top to bottom. Dennis, dad and I painted the Master bedroom, ensuite, 2nd bathroom, hallway and office.

I re-painted the 2nd bathroom Sunday night (because the blue we painted it was just totally wrong, so I repainted it green).

Char and I “edited” all of the rooms to have just basics, our basement is now practically FILLED with stuff, which will take us a few more days to edit down (not to mention a few dozen trips to the dump).

Sunday night Kaylin got sick, vomiting and running a fever, so she stayed with me on Monday, and I only got 2 light fixtures up (Living room and hallway).

Monday was mostly spent with Kaylin sleeping on my chest. Not that I'm complaining, I love that little munchkin, and it was actually kind of relaxing to be stuck on the couch with her sleeping on me.

This morning I put up the kitchen light fixture, and threw out a bunch more stuff, the photographer came by and took some photos, and we packed Kaylin up and headed out to London.

In London we went to Oakridge Crossing, and looked at a pair of houses by Reid's Heritage homes. After about an hour of comparing and contrasting, we chose to put a down payment on the Rosewood model, and if all goes according to plan, we'll be moving into it in late January.

Wednesday there will be a realtor's showing of our house by our agent Rick, and we're hoping that it will drum up some interest. We've put our house a bit under the market in the hopes that we can have a quick sale, and I have to say, sitting in our ridiculously clean office, I want to buy our house…and I freakin' live here already!

Web 2.0 and you

This post is part of my new resolution to post at least once a week, every week on this site. Sometimes I'll write about purely personal things, sometimes I'll write about things that interest me, who knows what it will be? The point is, there will always be something here, every week, by Wednesday. This week: Web 2.0, and how it impacts you.

Web 2.0 is a big buzzword, it's all about AJAX, Ruby on Rails, social networking, vertical integration, and mass adoption of web technologies as tools. It's marketingspeak for “the same old crap we've been doing forever”.

Jeffery Zeldman on “A List Apart” says of Web 3.0:

In addition to favoring simpler solutions built by leaner teams, the stuff labeled “Web 2.0” tends to have technological commonalities.

On the back end, it is most often powered by open source technologies like PHP or (especially) Ruby on Rails.

On the front end, it is mainly built with web standards—CSS for layout, XML for data, XHTML for markup, JavaScript and the DOM for behavior—with a little Microsoft stuff thrown in.

When web standards with a little Microsoft stuff thrown in are used to create pages that can interact with the server without refreshing, the result is web apps that feel peppy and, dare we say it, Flash-like. In a white paper that actually got read, writer/consultant Jesse James Garrett named what I’ve just described. He called it AJAX, and the acronym not only took, it helped interactivity powered by these technologies gain traction in the marketplace.

The thing I find kind of interesting is that a lot of these sites are starting to look similar. Del.Icio.US looks very similar to Flikr. Ma.Gnolia and BoxCloud have similar looks. The UI of newer upstarts like FileMobile and VOX share looks. Digg, the new “Social Networked” Netscape, and ShoutWire all look very similar.

The clever naming schemes like Del.Icio.US really annoy me, and make me long for the old days of Web 1.0.

Now how does Web 2.0 impact you? Simple, small, dedicated teams are creating tons of useful tools every day that allow you, the user, to do everything from host a photo gallery, to upload your personal videos, to easily set up a web log.

Web 2.0 is about useful applications which are web based, and therefore easily update able. There are still tons of applications waiting to be built. Where's the Web 2.0 version of iTunes (where my account is associated with my device, not the computer which I use to upload my music from)? Where's my easy to use web interface that ties into my Media Centre?

I find all of this stuff interesting because the web has suddenly come back in vogue (although in reality it never left) and it's largely because of stuff that's been around for a number of years, but now has a buzz word attached to it.

UPDATE: I just stumbled across a really cool article on Pixel Acres called “The Visual Design of Web 2.0“.

PS3 Insanity!!!

The Playstation 3 went for sale today, people lined up for days, and the action was fast and furious. Stores got 15 units, people lined up since Tuesday, and in the aftermath the eBay sales are just stupid.

A quick check on eBay sees that a PS3 sold online for $15,000.00.

That's just plain silly.

Meanwhile, I popped by Future Shop this morning and grabbed an Xbox 360 with Gears of War, Ridge Racer 6, Ghost Recon, and Xbox Live Arcade, all for $449.00.

Now I just have to sell my regular Xbox and all of my Xbox games, and it should net out to zero.

Of course the “Wah wah wah” part of this story is that I don't have time to actually play the darned thing until after we move to London.

Le Sigh.

The plan begins

A couple of months ago I mentioned “the plan” and how I would be working on “The plan”, and how just having “the plan” made me feel better about my future. Well I'm pleased to say that after quite a bit of thought, a little bit of negotiation, and a lot of soul searching, “the plan” has begun and we initiated the first phase of it this week. Yesterday, for the second time in my life I quit TSN.ca.

I've accepted a position with Info Tech, an IT research group based in my home town of London Ontario.

Char and I have been talking about this for a couple of months, I had two head hunters working for me, but it was my London friend John who came up with the contact at Info Tech which led to the job.

Info Tech looks like a really cool place to work, and because they have an office in Toronto, I'll be able to transition nicely to our eventual London base.

Moving to London will put us closer to family, give us a smaller mortgage, and most importantly reduce our expenses to a level that will allow Charlene to stay at home with Kaylin.

For the last week or so we've been putting the finishing touches on “the plan” getting things in place just in case everything came to pass, which it now has. We're in great shape now.

Last night we found a real estate agent in Ajax, and our house should be on the market in the next couple of weeks. We found some painters who should be able to paint up our house this weekend or next week. We're going to hang pictures, make the joint look more pretty.

Ryan suggested a real estate agent in London, who we're going to speak to this weekend, and we've found 4 places we'd like to take a look at as well.

Yep, “the plan” is in effect.

Psst, wanna see something REALLY scary?

Halloween is a time for the creepy crawlies, the things that go bump in the night, and the truly scary. Scary stuff like…SCARECROWS!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEK! That's what Kaylin was this year, a really scary scarecrow.

That's right, our little kegger was a scarecrow this year. Mommy whipped up this costume which consisted of the cutest little overalls and shirt from Value Village, little patches, an attached crow (because let's face it, she's too darned cute for the birds to REALLY be scared of her), and lots of felt “straw” sticking out of her clothes.

Pictured with Kaylin is her stuffed Owly figure, available soon from All New Comics. Owly is featured in three awesome kid-friendly graphic novels from Top Shelf Press. The Owly stories have no words in them, Owly and his friends speak in pictograms, which is awesome for little ones to read.

Okay, the comic pimping is over…honestly. I'm just trying to help build Kaylin a good college fund though.

It's hard to believe that a year ago she looked like this.

Since Halloween is over, I'm going to throw together a Christmas themed design for this site, something I had started on a couple of years ago, but then got sidetracked. Check out the original design, and tell me what you think.

October means…brains!

October is not only the month that Halloween falls in, (hence the new look on my site for this month), but it also means a ton of stuff for Char and I. The 13th is our anniversary, 15th my birthday, and the 26th her birthday. October was originally supposed to be the month that we moved into this house, but that got bumped to the much less hectic December.

So what do we do this month? Well Char and I decided to celebrate this last year in a little bit of style last night.

Since Friday was our 5 year anniversary, and since we haven't really been out on our own since Kaylin was born, we decided to get a hotel in downtown Toronto and have a wild and crazy free night in the T-Dot.

My mom and dad came to Ajax to take care of the Kegger, and we headed in to the big smoke, but first, we made a brief pit-stop at the slots of Ajax Downs. The slot machines have been there for almost a year now, but we haven't made the long two minute commute to them until yesterday. The place is tiny, but the parking lot is packed and nearly every machine had someone in front of it. Char and I managed to find a couple of free machines and did $10.00 each of gambling. It was fun, but uneventful with neither of us recouping our money (though I was up about $5.00 at one point).

We went downtown to our hotel and then walked over to the Paramount Theatre, where we watched The Departed, which was an amazing, albeit bloody, movie with a terrific ending. By the time the movie was over it was 10:30, and we went out for a very late dinner.

Strolling down Queen Street, we headed over to Tortialla Flats, only to find out that the building it had occupied has been torn down (and replaced with what looks like 5 or 6 stories of something or other). Not knowing what to do, we headed down Queen and finally stopped in at Peter Pan, which is something of a Queen Street institution (and which was once upon a time the home of master chef Suser Lee). I had the steak, Charlene had the Pasta Primavera, we were both delightfully gorged when we walked back down Queen Street and up Yonge to our hotel.

It was so nice to remember what life was like 14 short months ago, but as we strolled, most of our conversations strayed to things Kaylin does that we love, or funny little things she did this past week. They say having a child changes your perspective, and it's very true. She is truly our everything, the centre of our worlds, and the light of our lives.

She's pretty special, and we like her a lot.

This morning we woke up, and headed down to Front Street looking for breakfast. We decided on the Marche, and had a delicious breakfast of waffles, Rosti Potatoes, and sausages, not to mention the Marche's awesome coffee (which is my favourite coffee in all the world). After breakfast we bought some magazines, popped into a shop on The Esplenade and bought Kaylin a little gift, and headed back home.

Our mouse was pretty happy to see us, though she was feeling quite under the weather, she's developed a bit of a cold, and I seem to have picked some of it up as well.

Kaylin was in great spirits though, and she toddled around all afternoon chasing my mom's dog Cera, and playing with her books, toys, and animals.

Today's my 35th birthday. I spent the morning in Toronto, and the afternoon with my little girl, my wife, and my mom and dad. Yup, I'd say that was just about the perfect way to end a pretty perfect weekend.

Holy craptastic reporting, Batman!

The Toronto Star had an article in yesterday's paper about how comics are losing their value. Of course no actual figures were given on how comics are losing their value, the article was horribly written and incredibly disjointed, and had no merit other than a pithy title that cashes in on a failed TV show which is now 40 years old. The Toronto Star…why ask why when you can just be dumb?

It's stuff like this that makes me question everything that a newspaper puts out. When they write a horrible piece about something I actually know a lot about, what does that say about the stuff that I depend on the paper for? How biased, wrongheaded, and downright out of context is the crime problem in Toronto? How accurate is their reporting of what's going on in the middle east? Heck, are the movie listings even accurate?

The article (which can be read on the CGC Message boards under the title of “Old comics losing their value??“) is an example of shoddy reporting at its finest.

What boggles my mind is the mainstream acceptance that comic books and comic book themes are getting these days, and how a newspaper can be so mired in the past as to simply not “get it”.

Two of the top 10 box office records of all time go to comic book inspired movies. Comic inspired movies are nominated for Academy Awards (see Ghost World, American Splendour and A History of Violence). Comic themes dominate the TV screen these days (See Heroes, and pretty much any JJ Abrams or Joss Whedon produced series such as Lost, Alias, Buffy or Angel).

Yet the Toronto Star is stuck in 1967.

Congratulations Toronto Star, you made me ask why.

A total lack of writing ability

So Ryan recently pointed out to me how lax I've been in updating my site of late. It's sad when he's posted 8 times in the time since my last post. There's no good reason for it either. I'm busy of course, but not busier than normal. I've got a couple of projects on the go, but nothing huge that's monopolizing all of my time. I'm actually in a little bit of a rut with a lot of big things on the horizon, but nothing big happening right now.

Let's go down the list shall we?
Ryan McFadden – October 20th he's set as his date to release his latest short story. So October 20th is now the date that I'll be launching his new e-store/website which will allow him to publish his stories through an e-store, which will in turn build him a mailing list, which he will use to cultivate a market, which will then make him a published author.

All New Comics – A couple of fairly major updates are on the horizon, I'm thinking about ways of tweaking the site and maybe doing a major update in the new year. We need to come up with a major marketing plan, because we've hit a little bit of a plateau, but it's a good plateau right now (the trick is to rise above these plateaus and move on).

TSN.ca – Firing on all cylinders. I actually spend a lot of time managing projects lately, and I'm very busy doing that.

HeadsDown – has hit a plateau, but it's a “where do we go from here” plateau. It's a good question, and one that both Ryan and I need to consider. I know where I'd like to go, but it's kind of a 5 year plan, and I don't think that much of it's in his 5 year plan. Maybe if “The Plan” comes to fruition I can start getting back into coding and just work on this full time.

Kaylin – Non stop fun. She's a blast all the time, but she doesn't require THAT much effort. The one thing I'm having a hard time with is figuring out when to do certain things. I don't like making a lot of noise in the office when she's sleeping because she's in the room next to the office. I don't like working in the garage when she's sleeping because it's right under her, so that leaves the main floor or the basement.

Then there's “The Plan”. I'd talk about that here…but then what would tease you into coming back? Check back later in the week and I'll discuss some of “The Plan” here.