2016 OmniUpdate User Training Conference: Travel Day

Traveling over to LA with Lou went pretty well. I woke up a little before 2:00 am with no problem. Drove over to his house and his super friendly father in law gave us a ride to the airport. We arrived at the airport with no issues, got our boarding passes, etc.

Security was a cinch too. We didn’t have to wait in line at all. I did have to be patted down (this seems to happen to me often), and Lou had to have his notebook checked out, but besides that no issues.

The flight was pretty easy. We sat next to small children or skinny women, so there was plenty of space for us on the ride. Very minor turbulence, and the take off and landing were very smooth.

The shuttle service from the airport to the hotel was great too. The driver was super nice and very fast.

However, travel and the early morning hours left me a broken man. I was dehydrated, had a really bad headache, and my whole clock was just off. Quite frankly I was mad that I wasn’t in the comfort of home for a good part of the day. Not in good shape.

After taking a very long shower, attempting to eat (it was difficult to put food down I felt so lousy), and drinking water constantly I eventually got close back to being my normal self. Oh and I no longer curse California to hell as I’m now feeling a lot better.

Later in the day we had the conference registration where I got some cool long sleeve tech shirt thingy. Might be good to go running in on colder days. We also had a little area for people to play huge games. A massive game of Jenga, Operation, etc. It was pretty cool, and we were able to meet a lot of people from other schools. Though I was still feeling pretty lousy and probably said some very strange things to some of the folks.

The Millennium Biltmore, the hosting hotel is pretty unique. It’s very old and really sums up the golden age of Hollywood. Very glamorous and you can tell it must’ve been a very big deal back in the day. The only drawback is that our rooms are pretty old too. But alas, I just need a place to sleep so I’ll live.

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Front-End Web UI Frameworks and Tools

I just completed and enjoyed the Front-End Web UI Frameworks and Tools on Coursera. It’s part of a Full Stack Framework 6 course specialization.

I’ve taken a couple of courses through Coursera, with some being great and others not so much. This course specialization has been pretty great so far. The courses are very well organized and the instructors do a pretty solid job. They even are very active in the discussions (you’d think it’d be a given, but it’s not).

I’ve been very impressed and am looking forward to the next courses in the specialization. Particularly the angular.js and PhoneGap courses coming up. Good stuff.

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joedag32.com 3.0 upgrades

I’ve been so busy that I keep putting off upgrades to this very blog. But I’ve finally gotten some time to get this blog with a fancy responsive design and make it a bit friendlier on tablets and larger screens too.

I looked over many CSS grids and decided that Pure would work best for me. I was very much impressed with their minimal footprint and it’s responsiveness. It was extremely easy to work with and flexible. I was very much impressed. Plus their blog layout example was almost too perfect for what I was hoping to achieve! It saved me a ridiculous amount of time!

While I mostly use jQuery for my framework of choice in most projects, I wanted to give YUI3 a crack in this one as my early roots go back to mostly YUI. It was a great working with YUI3, and I was very impressed with their TabView module. It worked great.

I really think that the new layout makes my posts much easier to read on mobile, tablets, and traditional users as well. So I’m very excited for that.

I’m still cleaning up my work section though. I’ve let that fall behind a bit, even neglecting to add many recent projects. So, that’s next on my list of things to do!

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Lionel Ritchie Pumpkin Carving

I carved a pumpkin for work last week of our school’s logo. It turned out pretty nice and I had a lot of fun doing it as well. So I really wanted to carve another pumpkin. I really can’t explain why, but I decided to carve Lionel Ritchie. While I can’t say I’m a huge fan or anything like that, he is a solid artist and if by myself have belted out a Ritchie tune from time to time.

So the first step was to create a stencil. As luck would have it my co-worker Chelsea happened to have a pretty perfect image she came across a while back that would be perfect for a pumpkin carving. I scaled it and printed it out and step one was done.

Next I needed a suitable pumpkin. I stopped at Ronnie’s after work and after inspecting close to every pumpkin in the place finally found one that I felt was just right. I’m sure I looked like an insane guy picking up all those pumpkins, but well if I’m going to carve Lionel Ritchie I might as well do it right. There was also a very nice dog hanging out at Ronnie’s as a side note.

I got home and got straight to working cutting a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin and gutting it out. This guy had a lot of seeds, a whole lot of seeds. I took that as a sign of good luck by the pumpkin gods.

I then traced the stencil onto the pumpkin and began to saw it out. The fine lines in Lionel’s face were pretty tough. It’s really not much pumpkin to work with in many spots, but I was banking on him really shining through once lit up.

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Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps

I really wanted to take a course on Coursera this summer to learn something new. Learning stuff for the sake of learning is great. So after checking out what was being offered this summer, Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps from the University of London International Programmes caught my eye. It sounded like some fun stuff.

The course was pretty nice. No additional materials were required besides downloading some open source software (Processing, Audacity, etc.). With video lectures posted every week and discussion forums to ask and answer questions.

The first week of the course started a bit rough. Setting up a working environment can always be tough, and it seemed that many were having similar issues in the forums. There were some coding errors in a few of the early examples that were giving me issues. Most notably the javascript examples. This was a pain to deal with, especially early on. But luckily, I’m a skilled enough coder already to of figured out and fixed it for myself. If I wasn’t already comfortable coding, I probably would have left the course though.

The remaining weeks the coding issues disappeared and it was much easier to follow along with the lectures. The video lectures were great and of very good quality. The instructors were easy to follow and a bit funny as well.

The quizzes and assignments were great too. Though I really aimed a bit too low with my first assignment, doing the peer reviews really had me step up what I’d do for my final assignment.

With the suggestion of a friend I decided to re-create Donkey.bas (the original DOS game) using Processing. I found a video of it being played on YouTube and just went from there.

It does have some gaming flaws as speed picks up still, and has been formatted to a mobile devices screen size. But overall I thought it turned out ok, and kept the cheesiness of an early 80’s DOS game.

All in all I was very satisfied with my experience with taking this class. If you’re into learning something new and don’t really care about a degree or grades to prove it (so overrated to me), then I can’t imagine there’s ever been a better time to gain new knowledge. It’s really an amazing time to be around with all the information so readily available.

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Building a Lego Sculpture Tips

I’ve recently completed a life size Lego sculpture of a Jack Russell Terrier as well as the head of a capybara. Using Legos as a creative platform has turned out to be even more fun than I anticipated it would be. However it can be a lot of work and get expensive rather quickly, so I will share my tips on how to build a Lego sculpture.

  1. Like any project you need to have a plan in place before you begin. Give it some good thought about what you would like to construct. Sketch something out on paper first or use the Lego Digital Designer to help you prototype before actual building. Discovering that something might not work in the planning phase could save you much time and money.
  2. Color – there is a limited color palette that is at hand. For instance, you’re going to find it to be very difficult if not impossible to find certain brick colors (good luck with purple). So be sure to be aware of any color limitations that you might run into.
  3. Amount of bricks necessary. This can be very difficult to gauge. I highly recommend using the Lego Digital Designer to assist you in figuring out just how many bricks might be necessary. I find that no matter how many bricks you have, you always somehow seem to need more.
  4. Next you’ll need to acquire bricks. You might want to start off asking people if they have some lying around that they wouldn’t mind parting with. This didn’t work out so great when I attempted, but free bricks is worth a shot. If you’re really serious you’re going to have to stock up at a Lego Store or online using the Pick a Brick. Stocking up of Brick Buckets always helps too.
  5. Now I begin the fun part, building. I tend to start with the area that will be the most detailed, then build around that. I found that approach to work best for me. Also be sure to give much thought to strength and stability when stacking bricks.
  6. That’s really it. I will ask others for their opinions and then make any adjustments if necessary. Usually end up needing to scrounge up even more smaller bricks to get more detail into the sculpture.
  7. Have fun and show off your masterpiece to everyone you know!
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