Tag Archives: joel beck

My Thunderbird / Firefox wallet – one of a kind

My friend Joel Beck is kind of a badass.

When he’s not designing / building reactors for Atlantic Hydrogen in New Brunswick, he’s learning all sorts of cool skills.

Skills like leather-working.

Look what he gave me as an early Xmas gift:

[shashin type=”photo” id=”812,810,811,809,808,807,806″ size=”medium” columns=”max” order=”user” position=”center”]

This is a one-of-a-kind, hand-made leather wallet, made by my good friend Joel Beck.

Thanks Joel.

The Shoulders of Tall, Smart People

Recently, I came to the realization that I’ve been writing computer programs in one form or another since I was about 6 or 7 years old.

Along the way, I’ve had plenty of people to influence the way I think about code, and how I write it.  Sure, there have been plenty of textbooks along the way too, but I want to give some thanks to the people who have directly affected my abilities to do what I do.

And what better way of doing that then by listing them?

A Chronological List of People Who Have Influenced My Coding

  1. My parents, for bringing home our first family computer.  It was an 8088XT IBM Clone – no hard drive, 640K of RAM, dual 5 1/4 floppies…it was awesome.  This is the computer I started coding on – but I couldn’t have started without…
  2. My Uncle Mark and my Aunt Soo.  Both have degrees in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo (that’s where they met).  My recollection is pretty vague, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of the programming texts in my house (a big blue QuickBasic manual comes to mind) surely didn’t come from my parents – must have been those two.  With the book in one hand, and the 8088 in the other, I cranked out stupid little programs, little text adventure games, quizzes, etc.
  3. The online QB community from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s.  When my family got online, I soon found myself hanging out at NeoZones, in the #quickbasic IRC channel on EFNet… actually, a lot of crazy stuff was being done with QuickBasic back then – I remember when DirectQB came out, and somebody was able to code a raytracer…in BASIC.  It was awesome.  I’d say these were my foundation years, when I learned all of my programming fundamentals.
  4. My friends Nick Braun, Joel Beck, and Doug McQuiggan – these three guys and I used to come up with crazy ideas for games, and I’d try to program them.  I’d come home from school, and pound out code for a computer game for a few hours in the basement.  More often then not, these projects would simply be abandoned, but still, a lot was learned here.
    Joel, Doug, our friend Julian and myself were also members of a band in highschool.  It was my job to build and maintain the band website, and this is when I learned to write HTML, basic Perl, and simple JavaScript.
  5. After highschool, I went into Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto.  I didn’t do too well at the Electrical bits, but I could handle myself at the Computer bits.  I learned OOP, Java, and basic design patterns from Prof. James McLean.
  6. I also learned a great deal from Prof. McLean’s course text – Introduction to Computer Science Using Java by Prof. John Carter.  I know I said I wasn’t going to mention textbooks, but I also got taught Discrete Mathematics from Prof. Carter, so I thought I’d toss him in too.
  7. My second (and last) semester in ECE had me taking Programming Fundamentals with Prof. Tarak Abdelrahman.  I learned basic C++ from Prof. Abdelrahman, and how to deal with large systems of code.
  8. After my move to the Arts & Science Faculty, I took my first Computer Science course with Dr. Jim Clarke. I learned about Unit Testing, and more design patterns.  I also eventually learned some basic Python from him, but I think it was in another course.
  9. I took CSC258 with Prof. Eric Hehner, and learned about the structure of computer processors.  Physically, this was a low-level as I’d ever gotten to computers.  I was familiar with writing Assembly from my QB days, but Prof. Hehner’s Opcode exercises were really quite challenging – in a pleasant way.  Also, check out his concept of Quote Notation
  10. After that year, I spent the first of three summers working for the District School Board of Niagara.  Ken Pidgen was my manager, Mila Shostak was my supervisor.  Ken gave me incredible freedom to work, and soon I was developing web applications, as opposed to just fixing up department websites (as I originally thought I would be doing).  Mila gave me guidance, and showed me how to use CSS to style a website.  She also got me started using PHP and MySQL to create basic web applications.
  11. While working at the Board, I had the pleasure of sitting across from Jong Lee.  Jong and I would bounce ideas off of one another when we’d get stuck on a programming problem.  He was very experienced, and I learned lots of practical programming techniques from him.
  12. Michael Langlois and Ken Redekop acted as my clients at the Board, and always gave me interesting jobs and challenges to perform.Everyone at the Board was always very positive with me, and I’ll always be grateful that they took a newbie undergrad under their wing!  I was given a ridiculous amount of freedom at the Board, and was allowed to experiment with various technologies to get the job done.  Through my three summers there, I learned bits about Rails, CakePHP, MVC, network security, how to deploy an application remotely, how to run a local server, how to develop locally and post to remote, ORM, Flash, web security…so many things.  The list is huge.
  13. Karen Reid and Greg Wilson have been the latest influences on me.  The MarkUs Project was the first project I’ve ever worked on with a team.  It was my first time seriously using version control, my first time using a project management portal (Dr. Project), my first time learning Ruby, and my first time working on an open source project.  I’ve also learned plenty about time management, people, the business of software, and how to get things done.  Again, I’ve been given lots of freedom to learn, experiment, and hone my craft.

Anyhow, these are the people who come to mind.  I might add to this list if I remember anyone else.

But in the mean time, for the people listed above:  thank you.

Operation: Party Mansion is GO

Operation: Party Mansion just got the green light from reality:  today, my two friends, Joel and Julian, purchased a house.

So that’s phase one.  Within a few weeks, they’ll be in possession of a killer downtown Toronto property, and eventually they’ll begin renovations.

Blueprints and specs have already been meticulously examined, and plans for a dramatic renovation of the house are already being made.

By September, I (along with 3 other friends) will have moved into the renovated house.  The apartment we’ve had near College and Spadina has served us well for 4 years, but it’s too small, and we desperately want the new space.

And man, did we get space.

Deck #1.  There'll be more.

Deck #1. There'll be more.

More photos soon.

A massive thanks to Julian Rabideau and Joel Beck for making this thing a reality.  It takes guts to buy your first house, and you guys hit a home run for us, first time at bat.  Big congrats!  I’m looking forward to moving in!

Last Post Focused on Summer Work. Operation: Party Mansion Update!

Some good work this week.  Nelle, Severin and I have been hacking away at OLM, and little by little, it’s starting to shape up.

But I’ve decided something – I’m not going to post anything else about OLM on this blog.  That stuff will go on the official OLM blog, that all of us developers have access to.

You can view that blog, and my latest post on it, here.

So, I guess that more or less finishes my “summer work” posts.  I’ll use this blog to post about other stuff going on with me.

Stuff like Operation: Party Mansion.

Remember Operation: Party Mansion?  I mentioned it a while back, but I’ll recap for those of you who don’t know.

I’ve got two friends:  Julian Rabideau, and Joel Beck.  These two friends of mine are looking to buy a house in downtown Toronto.  They’re going to renovate, and improve the house, and I (with a few other friends) will rent under them while it’s going on.

Sounds ambitious, doesn’t it?

I know what you’re thinking – “Big talk!  Good luck!”  But hold your horses:  there’s been a flurry of progress over the last week.  Joel and Julian have already managed to secure a sizable mortgage from the bank, and already have their eyes set on a property that meets/exceeds their requirements.

In terms of renovation, Julian is a certified Red Seal carpenter, and he’d been flipping houses for years in St. Catharines before coming to Toronto.  Renovation-wise, he knows what he’s doing.

Both have solid jobs, and already have tenants waiting to rent under them.

Did you pull a stunt like that when you were only 23?  I can’t think of anyone else I know our age who’s even remotely close to trying it.  Kudos to these two – it’s a big project, with big numbers, but so far it seems to be working their way.

Anyhow, the open house on the property was this weekend.  Photos were taken, and schematics were photocopied. All interested parties seem to be digging the proposed house.

Bids go in later this week.  Will they land the house?

I’ll let you know.