Thoughts on Blogging, thoughts on me, ramblings

Chris Brooker
February 18, 2011

Hey all,

I know there hasn’t been any new content here for a while. This isn’t because I don’t like writing or don’t like hearing your comments. I just think I’m might have hit a cross roads about it or have lost direction.

Here are the different kind of personal blogs I can think of (I’m not including gawker type blogs which are more news then anything);

Lifestyle – A person blogs about their experiences and usually features a large number of photos of themselves and the odd post about how awesome their life is and what they got for free by blogging. They’ll talk about emotions and relationships. There is nothing wrong with this kind at all, in fact I enjoy a large number of lifestyle blogs. I’ve also done a lot of this myself.

News – someone finds an interesting news article on Gizmodo or Engadget and writes a paragraph summarizing the already summarized blog post about the original article and posts it. They add no additional insight or information. Just repeating the news. I’ve been guilty of this before.

Editorial/Opinion – This is the bread and butter of male bloggers. A typical male blogger can’t post pictures of themselves and get traffic. Usually because they’re not photogenic and women don’t care to look at pictures of men nearly as much as men like looking at pictures of woman. A blogger will pick a subject, often a recent news event or subject and write about their opinion. This happens a lot every Valentines day, it’s a very polarizing subject. If this year you write about your feelings on Valentines day what will you write about Valentines Day next year? If your opinion changes over that year it might be interesting to read how and why your opinion changed but if it stays the same will you just paraphrase the post from the year before?

Business/Niche – These are people who eat, breath, and live their industry. If that industry is marketing, they’re thinking and writing about marketing 24/7. These people are amazing wealths of information and think long and hard about every little detail of the business and are happy to share those insights. They’ve carved out a niche and use the blog to build credibility in the industry so they can hop from agency to agency. These blogs will eventually turn into books and these people will leave the industry and go on speaking tours.

Foodie – Goes to restaurant, takes pictures of food, repeat.

Then there are people like me. I write about all sorts of shit, take lots of photos of myself, rant about products that don’t work, review music, make videos, write about events, repost news I find interesting, write about scientific theories I have.

I suppose I lack a focus, a style, a niche and it’s this unfocus that leads me to not post for weeks on end. I second guess myself and think what I’m thinking is uninteresting. I have nothing to say, I have no opinion. Usually I’m just tired and burnt out from all the other stuff I do.

There is one thing that for some reason I’m never blogged about. Work. I’m a developer, a web developer, .net developer, iPhone app developer. If it involves a computer, I probably know it. I don’t post code samples or answers to problems I struggle through. I often think, hmm, I should start posting those things, become an expert in my field but every time I think that, I don’t. Then I think about why I don’t and this always come to mind “The more you know the more you’re aware of what you don’t know”. So my knowledge makes me aware of how many other people there are that know way more than I.

I considered blogging about my experiences with the iOS SDK and how different it is from .net. Thought I could help .net developers learn the subtle differences of object-c but didn’t get the time. If this is something any .net developers are interested in let me know. I have lots of opinions about that.

I’m going to end here as I’ve hit 650 words and still don’t have a point. Perhaps that is the point. We’re all just trying to get somewhere, some people have a clear definition of where that is, others write posts like this.

I sewed! (Laptop Sleeve for an ultra-portable computer)

Chris Brooker
December 5, 2010

First I have to start by saying that I’m totally disapointed by all the different computer cases out there. I’ve had this problem for a while, but this is the first time I’m writting it down. I’ve typically had small computers, Ultra-portables they’re typically called. Small, light, which is exactly what I want. Something that  I can bring with me without a second thought and don’t need a bag with wheels on it to carry.

I also want to protect these expensive machines but the cases out there are HUGE! Even the ones made for 13″ laptops or for netbooks are just huge, with tons of extra fabric (or neoprene) hanging over the sizes of the computer. Not the tailored case an ultra-portable machine deserves.

Then there is how I’d like to use the case. I have a Ben Sherman vertical messenger bag, which isn’t a laptop bag (they’re also huge), so it has no padded pocket for a computer but it’s the perfect size for me and it perfectly fits a 13″ computer. With my old computer, I would just put it in the bag and after a while I noticed it got scratches from the day to day wear. It needs a case before going in the bag.

With the new MacBook Air I wanted to correct that problem. So I went looking for cases again. Nothing, huge, massive, ugly things. I did however find the perfect case but it was for an iPad and wouldn’t fit the MBA. It was like a big sock that you could slip the device in and it would protect it from minor abuse. That’s what I wanted! There is nothing like this for computers, at least not that I find in stores.

So I stopped at Fabricland and set out to make one!

I managed to find this amazing fabric. It was knit on one side (like a sock) but was soft and fleecy on the other. I picked up a meter (which is lots).

I also picked up a small and cheap little sewing machine. I don’t have one, but have used them before. I was hoping it would do the job.

I cut a piece of the fabric larger 20% larger than the computer.

You can see it’s nice and big.

Here’s the little sewing machine I picked up for $30 at Zellers. I had just tested a piece of the fabric to see how it would sew. Worked great.

I cut a second piece of fabric the same size as the first and folder one end over to make a seam, tacked with pins.

With the “pocket” inside out, I started sewing it up.

With one side sewed up, I put the computer in to set a line for where to sew the other side. I want this sleeve to be tailored. Drew the red line.

After sewing the second side and the bottom of the pocket, I cut away the excess fabric.

Flipped it right-side-out. Looking good.

The moment of the truth. Oh ya!

Snug and cozy! Perfect and on my first try. (Yes, I do know this is a super simple project for anyone who knows what they’re doing with fabric. I’m still proud of the results.)

Back! and thoughts about blogging workflow and technology

Chris Brooker
November 25, 2010

Hey all,

If anyone even reads this anymore ;). I’ll be posting again! I was having some major server problems after the move. The server was unresponsive, the site would barely load, the images wouldn’t come in, etc. It was a mess. After a long time of screwing the with the config the problem was all down to the shitty DSL modem/router Bell gave me when I sign up for Fibe 25 at my new place. I have since disabled everything on that POS and now do all my routing through a much better piece of kit and things finally seem to be running smoothly.

Photo to the left (Tip: Apparently this look……Is major cougar bait. No lie, ask @MichaelNus)


I also need to figure out a better workflow for blogging. Currently I’m all over the place. I have hundreds of images sitting on my camera, sitting on my phone, videos on my video camera, files on my work computer, files on my laptop, on my server, on my desktop, and on my cloud storage. Things are everywhere and the biggest problem I find is that the internet is too damn SLOW! I have an Amazon S3 account (Amazon Simple Storage Solution), think of it like DropBox but with no size restriction. This is where I keep everything import, documents, images, backups, everything. Which is great because no matter where I am, I can get access to all my important files. But there comes a point where uploading things there take FOREVER, especially when I come home from an event and have gigs of pictures. I can’t upload them. So they end up living on the camera or whichever computer I’m sitting at.

I need to figure out a workflow so things can more a little more quickly. I also find the WordPress image resizing ability to very limited and have to shrink all images before I post them, which eats up more time and then I have another set of the same images only smaller sitting on whichever PC I’m on.

I guess I just need to sit down and plan the whole process out. Does anyone who blogs regularly have a good workflow that works for them? I’d love to talk.

So keep and eye here every once and a while, I’ll actually be posting, cuz man, a lot has been going on.

Where has Chris Brooker gone?

Chris Brooker
November 25, 2010

Let me start by saying, I’ve been a shitty friend.

Not a shitty friend by my actions but a shitty friend by my inactions. I’ve failed to stay in touch, failed to make a phone call, failed to be there. If you haven’t notice, I haven’t been around much. I haven’t even tweeted in weeks. I make it to the odd event here and there and I do try my very best to come out to things to show my support for the awesome people that deserve it. This however, is starting to feel like a hollow gesture, even though I genuinely want to be there to show my support. It’s almost impossible to have a meaningful connection with someone at a noisy crowded event.

Here are some of the things that have been keeping me up at night and keeping me busy. This is not an excuse.

– Moving (Ya, I’m moving in 2 weeks)
– My current landlord is dicking me around. My condo is showing at least 2 times a day and must always be spotless, tidy, and Chris free.
– The lease on my car is up Sept 28th and I need to find and get a new one aspa. I’ve been test driving tons of cars and find most of my evenings involve a visit to at least 1 dealership.
– Work is incredibly busy. I seem to working out of a client’s office at least once a week (an hour drive away in terrible traffic), which is really grinding on me and leaves me more drained than anything, plus it leaves me with a pile of missed work when I get back. Then customer’s aren’t paying in a timely manner and that’s also my problem…. But I have code to write.
– Money, moving and new cars are expensive. I am feeling some major pain and don’t have a lot of beer money.

All of these things have contributed to me having very little free time. In fact, when I do get a little bit of free time I try to enjoy the company of the amazing Krista Whiteside or I’m  just sitting at home alone playing guitar. Music is my way to escape the pressures of life and relieve stress.

The Sony Xeperia X10 Mini really is small

Chris Brooker
July 28, 2010

Last night I was super surprised to run in to this little guy; the Sony Xperia X10 Mini. It’s almost shockingly small compared to our usually cell phone fare like the iPhone and way smaller than all the new beasts coming out like the Dell Streak and Droid X.

Side by side with an iphone 3GS

Me today

Chris Brooker
July 9, 2010

Me today in my office with my plant. Ya, we’re chilling. Taken with a webcam.

Looking forward to the weekend.

Shit son, I went to the rodeo!

Chris Brooker
July 8, 2010

Hey all, in Canada this past long weekend was Canada in the US is was July 4th weekend! It’s very similar but I think the 4th of July involves way more country. Canada day involves more Justin Bieber. I’m not sure who wins there.

For the long weekend I headed down to Ellicottville again. It’s always nice to go on a trip and relax somewhere else. We pretty much did the same things as seen in the video linked above, except  this year there was a rodeo!

This is my friend James and my brother. You can probably tell which one is which.

See that beer, $4. In fact everyday, every beer, bottle, draft, was $4. That I could get used to.

Would you believe this guy is my brother? His name is Jon and he lives in Guelph, it’s always awesome when we get to hang out.

After the rodeo we hit the bars in town to party it up. It turns out all of these cowbows had the same idea. They all can strolling in to the bars with their numbers still pinned on. The local girls went nuts! It was awesome, these guys are superstars in these small towns. You should have seen the mad line dancing skills they threw down when the “nightclub” played Ice, Ice, Baby. With $4 beer everyone was having fun.

James is an old friend of the family and I’m so happy we finally got to really hang out. He’s an awesome guy and I just found out he lives really close to me in Toronto. So we’ll definitely have to hang out again soon. He’s also a great musician and plays in the band TEDD.

This was by far the most insane thing they did to the calves, we were all a bit up in arms at how violent they were with them. See that calf that just got lassoed, well, when the horse puts on the brakes, that rope snaps back really hard and the calf get launched in the air, does a flip and slams back on the ground. See the above picture of them all looking sad at the top of this post.

A bull after bing ridden. Also is the worlds most annoying reckneck joke spewing rodeo clown.

Kegs, Jello and Keg stands

Chris Brooker
July 7, 2010

June 21, 2010 – A friend mine was having a keg party, asked if we’d come along. There is no way I’m turning that down!

The guests of honour. Mill St Organic and Mill St tankhouse.

Lee-anne made Jello shooters, a wonderful addition!

Keg stand!

Spadina blackedout out

Chris Brooker
July 7, 2010

June 20, 2010 – I looked outside and the east side of Spadina all the way up was completely blacked out. Looked really crazy.

Toronto Wine and Spirits Festival

Chris Brooker
July 6, 2010

Hey-ho, let’s pretend that I wrote this a few weeks ago. Picture the day June 19, 2010. It was a Thursday, I believe, myself and some friends hit the Wine and Spirits Festival in the historic Distillery District.

Started out with pre drinks in a friend’s back yard.

Some hot dancing girls. 🙂

$1 shots. Things went way down hill from here. Think we did 5 each at this sitting.

This is the Mount Gay rum girl, she was awesome and kept listening to our ridiculous drunken stories while keeping our glasses full. 🙂

The constant mixing of Wine, Beer, and hard liquor was a deadly combination. Let’s just say that someone (that wasn’t me) threw up in the cab. The hallmark of a good night.

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