What I’m thinking

  • The CN Tower

    Because I’m missing getting outside and downtown right now, here are some photos of the CN Tower.

    I can’t remember when I took the night shots. Maybe a Jays’ game?

  • George Graham, the Spanish Flu, and Now

    I’ve been thinking a lot of my grandfather, George Patterson Graham. He was born in 1898 in New Glasgow, N.S., and was 17 when he was shipped to France to fight in WWI.

    3 soldiers in WWI dress on leave in Paris

    (That’s George on the right)

    My paternal grandmother was my grandfather’s...

  • 28 Days Later

    28 Days Later

    For most of Canada, it’s been five weeks of lock-down. We elected to go to the West Coast for March Break (the 14th to the 20th), back when the Covid scare wasn’t in full swing and we didn’t really know the impact that this virus was going to have on us.

    We were fortunate...

  • Samples, Ziath, and Their COVID Response

    When I was at Scimatic with Jamie, we worked to build our own product, Samples. Part of getting it to product-market fit was working with Neil Benn of Ziath to integrate Samples with Ziath’s 2D test-tube rack scanners.


    When we closed Scimatic down, we transferred the Samples software to Ziath because it was a...

  • Dev Managing …

    Someone at work asked me to write down what my expectations of a Dev Manager are. So here they are. These notes are cobbled together from my readings, talking and observing other Dev Managers, and a little bit of experience. I’ve added some resources at the end that might be helpful.

    The most useful book for me personally is

  • Battlestations!

    We’ve all had to pivot very quickly to work-from-home in the Covid-19 era. At Shopify, we were sent home March 11th, and we’ve been on that WFH “war footing” ever since.

  • I’m Back!

    I’m thinking I’m back

    Been gone for 4+ years. But I’m feeling it’s time to write a few things down.

  • End of a Beginning

    February was my last month at Scimatic Software. Due to some changing markets and changes at some of our customers, Jamie and I decided that it was best to move on. He’s taken a role with Perkin Elmer, driving their software innovation group. I’m going to do some freelance work while I see where my next opportunity is.

  • Github

    Is GitHub your new CV? I don’t think it should be, since not everyone has the opportunity to work on open source (see Ashe Dryden for the reasons why), and most of my work is in private repos.

    However I did put some fun stuff that you might like on my profile.

  • CV – Academic Papers

    Here is a sample of the papers I worked on while in graduate school. The KTeV Collaboration had approximately 80-100 people (professors, senior scientists, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students, plus engineers and techs) working on it at various times.

  • Installing a Pax Wardrobe

    The major parts of our renovation are finished, but we continue to work on little details around the house. Plus there are items that I want to complete in a DIY fashion so I feel like I built something in the house.

    In the previous incarnation of our master bedroom, the closet was far too small, to the point where...

  • Windows 8.1 on Boot Camp

    I recently got a new Macbook Air. I installed Boot Camp so that I could run my Windows development environment. Microsoft has a very straightforward reference for setting this up.

    I purchased Windows 8.1 from the Microsoft Store, which was pretty easy. Running WindowsSetup.exe will download the .iso or create a bootable USB drive. For the...

  • Levelling the floor

    Slightly out-of-order post here. I wanted to go back and talk about how Tom leveled our floors.

    As with most renovations of older homes, we found that the structure of the house had taken a bit of a beating with renovations that had occurred over the last 60 years. In addition, in that time, the back of the house had...

  • Science Outreach

    Crossposted from the Scimatic Blog.

    A few weeks ago, I took some time to do “science outreach” with my son’s Grade 3 class. Nothing fancy – the teacher had asked for volunteers for their “Scientist in the Schools” program. I had been the parent volunteer before, for units on recycling and insects, but this one was right up my alley...

  • Keeping the Hot Side Hot

    The insulation of the house was lacking, to say the least. After the previous owners had expanded into the attic, there was no insulation on the roof at all, and the only insulation on the exterior walls was some foam board added under the siding when the siding was bolted onto the house in the 80s.

  • In The Walls

    I’ve been trying to update the blog with all the details of the renovation. The problem is that I take lots of photos, but Tom and his crew are working so quickly that I don’t get a blog post up in time, and they’ve already moved on!

  • New Steel

    We decided to go “above and beyond” with the roof for the new house.

    The standard roofing material in Toronto is a 25 year asphalt shingle applied to the roof, possibly with ice-and-water shielding tar paper underneath the shingles. The shingles can last up to 25 years, but with wind damage, one may have to make repairs as soon as...

  • Let the Sun Shine In

    Paul the architect decided to big up the size of all the windows in the house, and it’s really made a huge difference.

    The house already got quite a bit of sun, based on its east-west orientation, but by making the windows that much larger, we’re going to get that much more light. We had to change some of the...

  • Papers For Windows 1 0

    Crossposted from the Scimatic Blog.

    We’ve had a very busy two months getting Papers for Windows ready for a 1.0 release. And just a bit after Earth Day, we decided to release! Alex and company at Mekentosj announced the release here along with their release of Papers for Mac 2.2.

    The pre-release of Papers for Windows lasted...

  • Reinforcements

    Tom’s guys, led by foreman Jon, have been hard at work beefing up the structure of the house. We knew that we would have to add some heft to the house, because our plan calls for opening up the main living space in the back, and the span of the second floor would be too big to do without a...

  • 10+ Days with Papers

    Crossposted from the Scimatic Blog.

    We released the first Papers for Windows pre-release on February 14th, and I’ve got to say, it’s been an exciting couple of days! We’ve learned a number of things from the release:

  • Demo!

    Tom and his crew have started removing material from the inside of our house, and it’s quite a revealing process (see what I did there?) They say it’s going to take about three weeks, but they’ve already managed a lot of work in one. Amazing what four dedicated guys with crowbars can do.

  • Finally Getting Going

    It’s been a bit of a long haul. We’ve been working for a while to get to the point where our renovation was under way, and work has finally started. The major sticking points were finding the right contractor, getting the building permits, and finding a place to live during the reno.

  • Sparkly!

    Crossposted from the Scimatic blog.

    We’re working on a client project where one of the requirements was a Sparkle-style updating mechanism. For those of you who are Mac folks, you’ll be familiar with the Sparkle “A new version of YOUR FAVOURITE APP is available!” window, with the options to skip, remind me later, or install the update.


  • Contributing to F/OSS and Dogfooding

    Crossposted from the Scimatic Blog.

    Jamie sent me a link to a great review of the Business of Software conference, and before you think I’m going to go off on one of my business-analyst posts, I’m actually going to talk about “dogfooding”. The aforementioned review post talked about the best way to build a software product, and one...

  • Getting The Kitchen Planned out

    We met with Yoko our kitchen designer last week. She and Cindy had met earlier to get the basics covered, and Yoko came back with her first set of plans for our new kitchen.

    The biggest change to our house (with the exception of the dormers on the third floor) is that we are moving the kitchen to the front...

  • Let’s Crowdsource It!

    Okay, we need some help from the interwebs.

    We need to add dormers to our third floor, and we are investigating two possibilities. The first is a straight dormer, where the walls of the dormer come straight down vertically, and create another “wall” surface.

    The second choice is a hip roof, where the wall of the dormer come down at...

  • Committee of Adjustments FTW!

    I just got back from City Hall where we were in the Committee of Adjustments meeting. We were 14th on the list, so I got to hear all about the new critical care wing of St. Mike’s and a new restaurant on Dovercourt.

  • Meeting the Neighbours

    Because we are going in front of the Committee of Adjustments, Paul the Architect recommended that we show our preliminary plans to our neighbours so that they won’t be surprised when they get a letter from the city informing them of the hearing about our changes.

    So far, it’s been a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to the neighbours,...

  • Called In Front of the Committee!

    We’re going to the Committee of Adjustments.

    The City has confirmed what Paul our architect suspected. The ‘pre-application law’ review showed that our plan to use our third floor will put our usable floor space of our house above 60% of the area of our lot. Since our neighbourhood is zoned as ‘R2 Z0.6’, we are only supposed to be...

  • First Sketches!

    Last night Cindy and I met with our architecture/design “team” of Paul and Yoko. Paul had sent Yoko and one of his other employees, Mike, to do detailed measurements of the house as it currently sits. From those measurements and the survey, they came up with some suggestions for directions to go with the design, and a plan.

    Paul had...

  • Starting Over With The House

    We’re finally getting around to renovating our house.

    We were extremely lucky to find our house when we did. We had given up on house hunting as we had lost out on three bids on previous houses (one under dubious circumstances). We happened upon this house somewhat by accident, and decided to buy it based on the fact that that...

  • Most Fun Day Skiing Evah

    Found this photo after my wife was cleaning up the office.


    Chris Miller throwing an awesome old-school 80s style daffy at the base of Pakalolo on Blackcomb.

    Possibly the best photo I’ve ever taken.

  • One Year Gone

    Cross-posted from Scimatic

    I find it hard to fathom that it’s already been one year since I joined Scimatic. It’s been a great year full of exciting developments, and I think that we are well-poised to do some more great stuff in the future.

    In the past year, we’ve done a major project for one of our European clients,...

  • Bring the Cyclone

    My wife and most of friends are aware of my deep love for Neko Case. So when I was at the Spadina TTC station and saw this poster,

    Middle Cyclone

    I started to think, “How more awesome can Neko get?” And the answer is “None, none more awesome.” Check it out – Neko, fast...

  • Oh The Irony

    So it’s our fourth day here in West Vancouver for our Christmas break. We come back to BC every other year, and I get really excited for it. I love Christmas with the whole Graham family, and this will be the first year that Iain will go into ski scamps.

    Except it won’t.

  • Big Ups to the … Passport Office?

    My passport expired in November, and I feel that I have to have a valid passport. Just in case I get The Call and have to leave the country in the dead of night. The last time I went through the process, it was a giant pain in the ass, as I had to get a new birth certificate from...

  • Malcolm Gladwell and Outliers

    Cross-posted from Scimatic.com

    Was out at UofT’s Convocation Hall last night, where I got to listen to Malcolm Gladwell riff on, well, lots of stuff.

    Gladwell has always been one of my favourite writers, not only because he writes well and raises interesting questions, but also because he’s one of the only writers I know who is willing...

  • Happy Thanksgiving

    Hope all my folks and friends down in the US have a great Thanksgiving. I’d love some turkey and apple pie, so save me a slice.

  • Fired Up, Ready To Go

    It’s been non-stop election coverage around here. I’m going a bit crazy about it.

    But I’m going to assume the best about my friends, family and fellow Americans (even those, like me, living in another country) have done or are doing the right thing and voting for Barack Obama. Most of the people I know live in traditionally blue states...

  • Thanks

    I worked for 16 weeks one year in Columbia, SC, with a great group of folks down at SCANA (including the guy who won $100,000 from America’s Funniest Home Videos for his quadruplets). The best contact I met there was Rick Kirkland, all-around great guy.

    Rick had a tradition of calling people up on Thanksgiving to personally thank...

  • So … Found The Higgs Yet?

    Cross-posted from Scimatic

    The Large Hadron Collider at CERN turned on last week to much fanfare. It managed to make Google’s front page image. Fortunately, they avoided this. It’s quite a technical achievement, decades in the making, and the LHC is the "undiscovered country" of experimental particle physics. However, I have mixed feelings about it.

  • Network Effects

    Cross-posted from Scimatic.com

    Jen Dodd wrote to the attendees of SciBarCamp 2008 to ask “… what has happened for you because of SciBarCamp. New business contacts or opportunities? New research projects? New artistic collaborations? New directions in your work or education?” Well, for me the impact of SciBarCamp was pretty huge.

  • How Come I Wasn’t Informed Of This?

    Seriously. I’m sitting in the theatre for The Dark Knight (aside: Totally Awesome. Loved it. Wicked. Go see it. Big ups to my friend Matt’s wife who was second assistant accountant on the shoot, and hence associated with something way cooler than I’ve ever done), when the trailer for The Watchmen came on. Within about 6 seconds...

  • New House

    We bought a new house!

    Pretty exciting stuff, as it is a detached house in a slightly better area. By that I mean that we are now in the school catchment that we wanted to be in so the kid can go to JK with all his friends from his daycare. Still in the same neighbourhood, so all the same...

  • New Contact Cards

    Now that I’ve left my job at OpenMake, I needed new business cards. But really they are more like “contact” cards as I don’t yet have a business.

    My wife (and the rest of the blogosphere) is a big fan of Moo Cards. And now they’ve started printing business cards in the standard sizes. So I made up...

  • New Day Dawning

    Well, I left my job.

    I was employed for 6 1/2 years at Catalyst Systems/OpenMake software working on build management tools. I’ve decided that I needed to take some time off and figure out what the next move in my career was going to be, seeing as I’m 36 and I want to make sure that the next 10 years...

  • The Intrinsic Awesomosity of the Interwebs

    My washing machine broke on Monday.

    Suddenly, it wouldn’t start the spin cycle or drain the water from the drum. And that left my towels soaking in a pool of dirty sudsy water, which I had to bail out.

    The last time the door latch broke on the washing machine, it was $200 just to get the guy in the...

  • Tuesday Fitness Update

    Whoa, 180 pounds. Not good.

    I’ve been back from Vancouver and Whistler for about 10 days now. I got to go skiing three of the days I was there, and I made the incorrect assumption that I was skiing so hard and burning so many calories that the food intake didn’t matter. And that the beer intake didn’t matter. It...

  • Monday Fitness Update

    Went two weeks without checking in here – have to get focussed again.

    Weight was 176 lbs. Good direction, and I’m doing well with not drinking cola. I had one last week and it didn’t taste very good. Still having a few beers, though.

    Next is to get the exercise ramped up. Soccer seems to be on hold indefinitely, so...

  • Monday Fitness Update

    Good news: 178.5 lbs, still no cola, down on the alcohol.

    Bad news: no additional exercise and indoor soccer got postponed for a week.

  • The Backup Strategy

    They say you have to back up. Back up your data or you’ll regret it. Well, now I’m pretty aware of why you need the backups, because of two recent events. In the first, the backups worked; the second, they didn’t.

    In the first case, (the one that worked), my wife and I had to transition our iPhoto library. We...

  • Monday Fitness Update

    Got on the scale today. Still 180 lbs, no change.

    The good news is that I’m way down on drinking Coca-Cola. Haven’t had any for a week, and I’m not really missing it.

    The bad news is that I’m way up on alcohol – we had the annual-ish boys steak night on the weekend and restraint went out the window....

  • New Year’s Resolutions — Fitness

    Well, it’s that time of year again, to think about how to make the next year even better. I’m going to post a few resolutions so that they are in a public place. I hope that will motivate me to keep to my commitments.

    For the fitness aspect, I realise that I have to get into better shape. I’m not...

  • Toronto Real Estate

    The wife and I are sitting around, trying to figure out if we can buy a new house. We’re looking to move slightly up into a different school catchment, but stay in the same overall ’hood. So I cooked up a spreadsheet that calculates all the variables that I could think of:

    • What we’d sell this house for
    • The...
  • Eclipse on Mac OS X Cocoa

    Just got my new MacBook Pro laptop up and running, and I’m stoked with it. I really dig working on it. I also dig Eclipse as an IDE and development platform. So, it was interesting to see these two coming together: Steve Northover has posted about how he was working at Apple to get SWT (the core of Eclipse)...

  • First!

    This is my first post to my blog. I hope there will be more to follow.