Trying out – Decentralized Social Web

I discovered a link to a few months ago, and it was very appealing to me. “This,” I thought, “is how the web is intended to work, and not all conglomerated into the big platform du jour.” Whether that platform is AOL, MySpace, Twitter, Google+, or Facebook, I believe all (well some already have) will go the way of the Dodo because they do not follow the architecture and promise of the Web.

This blog was intended to implement that promise of the Web. I would share everything that interests me in one place, and anyone who felt like interacting with that content would link to me, and vice versa. I’ll admit that I got sucked into Facebook a bit, and I like the features of the Google+ platform, but those platform are not neutral. They were not built for the altruistic reason of letting us all share thoughts and content with each other. They want to collect our information and serve us advertising to support their businesses.

I’ll be spending time this holiday season to set up my own Tent server on a VPS and hopefully find some other interesting people who have done the same and see how it all works.

If you, or someone you know, has a Tent server, drop me a comment and let me know.

Sublime Text 3 Beta is Available

My absolute favorite editor of all time, Sublime Text, now has a version 3 beta available for registered users. Seriously, if you use it, pay for it. Jon has done such an amazing job with this project that you really need to pay him to support future development.

I’ve been using it for about an hour so far, and it’s is definitely faster, and the new features of “Goto Definition” and “Goto Symbol in Project” are already paying off in my productivity.

If you’re not a registered user, you’ll have to wait until he officially releases version 3 before you can play around with it.

But seriously, buy a license.

Writing Introductory Coursework is Hard

At least, it’s harder than I thought it would be.

I’ve always had a modest talent for writing. I know that some people struggle with getting what’s in their brain down on paper effectively, but it’s come naturally to me since I can remember.

Recently, I’ve volunteered to write some coursework that will provide students enrolled in the Nashville Software School a basic understanding of JSON and AJAX. These are two technologies that most of us take for granted, and come as naturally as eating a meatball sub at lunch.

Trying to break it down to the bare essentials, drawing upon my own learning curve from a decade ago, and put it all in a coherent lecture – with supporting code samples and programming exercises – is a challenge. It’s a fun challenge, though, because it’s forcing me to draw upon skills I haven’t used heavily for almost two decades. That’s back when I actually tutored students in geometry, physics, and calculus.

I created a small VPS that the students can use to pull some sample JSON file and populate a simple HTML with jQuery. These two concepts are so intertwined that I’m having a hard talking about one and not the other, so maybe in the end they will be intertwined into a single lecture.

Not sure yet.

Of course, I haven’t sent this content our for peer review yet, so we’ll see how effectively I got the concepts across once a few people critique it.

Turning My Girls Into Science Geeks

No Higher Form of Praise

When people call me a geek, I take the moniker with pride and own it. I can think of nothing nobler than having a passion towards science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). These are the fields upon which all of modern society is built, and all other fields obtain their advances.

I feel it is one of my core duties as a father to install that passion in my girls. I am exposing them to science, and technology at every opportunity. I also am proudly watching my oldest daughter obtain a healthy, natural talent for mathematics. My bubbly, glittery, overly-talkative 7 year old girl who was talking full sentences at 1 year old has been doing basic multiplication and division while she struggles with writing and reading. The complete opposite of what I envisioned her skillset to be.

She is well ahead of what they are teaching in class. I have been teaching her at home, and it’s a lot of fun watching her skills blossom.

Why Are Leaves Green in the Summer, but not in the Fall?

So today, we a starting the experiment that will teach them about chlorophyll and why leaves change colors in the fall.



Mashing and Cutting







Ok, it ended in total failure, and I have no idea why. I remember doing this experiment as a child and it working perfectly. I set the jars out to let the alcohol dry, but when it was all said and done, all that was on the coffee filter strips was a thin green line. No yellow, no red… nothing else.

So we’ll try again next weekend and perhaps do a better job of mashing up the leaves. I just let the girls rip the leaves apart into tiny shards, but this time I’ll get them to mash it all up into a paste.

Regardless, they both had fun with the experiment and I at least got to explain to them why the coffee filter absorbed the green chlorophyll via the alcohol.

Solarized Light Theme for Chrome Dev Tools

I stumbled across a great article today that described how we can customize our Chrome Dev Tools interface. Since dev tools is all HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, then all we need to do is apply some new CSS in a particular file (see article for details).

I love the Solarized Dark theme, and have both my terminal and my Sublime Text editor in tha, but for Chrome, I chose to go with the Solarized Light theme.

So here’s what my dev tools interface looks like now.

Styled Dev Tools

Building an IVR System For Phone Dating Chat Line

My latest project consists of building a high performance IVR system capable of handling thousands of simultaneous phone calls. My client is launching a new phone dating party line, ChatlineUSA. The company behind the project — VoiceHub– will be investing 4 million dollars in development and marketing both the chatline and the accompanying smartphone app. The chatline will compete directly with some of the largest party lines such as QuestChat and LiveLinks.

This is one of the highest stakes project I’ve ever worked on. I’m being paid handsomely to develop a system capable of 100% uptime, a high order for this kinds of software.

Keep Reading

CSS3 Bling Presentation

Last night, I did a presentation at the Interactive Developers of Nashville meetup group about some of the interesting and creative things that developers can do with CSS3.

For those in the area who weren’t able to make it, and for those who aren’t in the area and would like to see the presentation and play around with some of the code I showed off, you can clone the CSS Bling repo on Github and the open the static/presentation.html file to see some simple examples of the topics I covered.

To see more advanced examples, you’ll need to serve the repo from a directory that can be accessed by a web server, as I use Less to compile some of the styles. Once you do that, you can open the static/background.html file, and the static/css/background.less files in your editor of choice. Then open background.html in your browser.

In the background.less file, you’ll see some commented import statements. Uncomment any of them and refresh your browser to see the changes in the page.

If you really want to see something cool, open up the iphone.html page in your browser and you will see a very nice image of an iPhone. Now look at the source for that page, and you’ll see some of the amazing power of CSS3, as there is only one DIV in the entire document and that image of the iPhone is built using CSS3 box shadows.

Teaching Technology

Presenting the Content

A couple weeks ago, I made a post about how developing content for a technology lecture I was giving ended up being a little harder than I thought it would be. Well, I finally spent some time at the Nashville Software School in downtown Nashville to a room full of eager, talented students who are learning the ropes of being software developers.

I have to say that it was a lot of fun.

The best thing about it was that all the content that I produced to help guide the students, and myself, through the concepts was largely ignored as I answered questions, gave real world examples, and shot from the hip to help explain things as best I could.

I can imagine that teaching subjects that were figured out thousands of years ago might become pedantic. Algebra doesn’t change, nor does the basics of English or Chemistry. Conversely, technology is changing and advancing at a blistering rate. Not only that, there are no static rules or procedures for teaching and learning technology. Of course, these same things are what makes teaching technology so problematic at a systemic level.

Keep Reading

Adding packages to a Meteor.js application

The first of many…. many Meteor.js mini-posts as I make sense of their documentation (or lack thereof?).

Create a top-level directory named packages
Create a directory for the npm module you want to install. For example, if you want to use connect, the directory would be /packages/connect.
Create a file named package.js in your npm module directory (e.g. /packages/connect/package.js).
Put the name of the npm module, the version you want in the following format.


“connect”: “2.7.10”

Then, in order to use that library, you don’t use the standard node.js require(‘connect’) statement, but rather the wrapping Npm.require(‘connect’) statement.

I Dont Want To Hear About It


This is all my opinion that, likely, is the result of lack of sleep combined with a couple interactions this morning with some really awful people. If reading me rant is not your cup of tea today, please move on.

If your Great Big New Idea is some shitty e-commerce site whose sole purpose is to sell more shit to people who don’t need more shit, thereby consuming more of our precious natural resources for the sake of consumerism all in the name of making you rich so that you, in turn, can go out and buy more shit that you don’t need….

I don’t want to hear about it.

Seriously, we’ve fucked up this world so much in our past states of selfishness and ignorance. Isn’t it time we stop passing the buck down to future generations? Can’t we start cleaning up this mess?

I think that we’ve acquired enough game consoles, smart phones, plastic quad copters, and worthless crap from China (produced by child, slave labor) and cheap clothes from Wal-Mart that we can start using our collective intelligence and work ethic to help people. Help people that really need help. I’m not talking about sending $20 to some poor, first world woman who broke her foot and has to scale back her spending for a little while.

You know what happened yesterday while we all sipped our lattes and caught up with each other on Facebook in our 4000 square foot homes?

A child starved to death.
A woman was beaten by her douchebag husband.
Someone who is talented and passionate about engineering, or health care, was just denied access to education on it.
A husband lost his wife too early to an easily curable disease.
Thousands of birds died because they don’t know that our trash isn’t food.
A corrupt politician or military person or religious figurehead abused his power to destroy someone’s life.
A lot of other bad shit that I don’t want to list here.

So I’m sorry if reading about your shitty new company on TechCrunch this morning that specializes in flash sales on bath soaps, ugly designer shirts, skinny jeans, and art from some pretentious jackass I’ve never heard of before didn’t get me all atwitter with excitement.

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