Collecting the Internet So You Don't Have To

We work on the Internet. As such, we are constantly consuming information. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. Sometimes we even forget things unless we write them down. Our blog covers everything from web standards to the muppets, php to comic books, music and everything else that we find interesting. Leave us a note when you drop by.

Gord Downie has Passed Away

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

[image from https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/vdqndd/on-gord-downie-my-dad-and-taking-people-for-granted]

Gord Downie passed away yesterday, October 17, 2017. He succumbed to his battle with brain cancer. While we all knew it was coming, death is always a shock with the finality of it. Gord will be greatly missed by a nation that he and his bandmates nearly perfectly encapsulated in their music as the Tragically Hip.

As a teenager growing up and living on the Canadian Prairies, right next to the 100th meridian, Gord's lyrics about butterscotch rivers and fields of wheat, vaccination scars, open skies, water meeting the shore, strangely coloured highschool walls, the group of seven, pine trees, and canoes painted vivid images of all the parts of my life and that of many of my friends.

Gord's lyrics were always underscored by the bands rhythm and guitars that often started like a slow canadian season, then quickly jumped right to mid-summer, and faded out like the last leaves giving up their grip in a late fall wind.

My first connection and understanding of how important the Hip would become came at Sunfest, in Gimli Manitoba in the summer of '91. This was the year we had graduated from highschool. Most of us figured it was the last time the high school gang would be together before we all went off into the world to try out being adults. It was also the summer weekend I met up with my future wife.

Their show at Sunfest was something else. The crowd at the previous year's festival was a few thousand people. However, this year the festival had the Hip and Saturday's crowd grew steadily over the course of the day reaching a peak nearing 15,000 people around 8pm in preparation. The Tragically Hip hit the stage around 9pm and they blew the sunset out of the western sky as they seared their way through tracks from Up to Here and Road Apples.

Shortly into the show, someone needed medical attention near the stage. The band stopped playing and helped organize the crowd so that an ambulance could be driven through the field. The band remained calm and Gord spoke directly to the audience, telling them what was happening. Everyone at the festival helped as they could, being Canadians and all, and the band didn't get back to the set until the ambulance was out of the crowd and headed for the hospital. Then they proceeded to rip raw energy out of the cosmos and played for another 2 hours, in perfect summer weather, to a very appreciative crowd. Not a person I knew there wasn't converted into life long fans of Gord and the Hip.

Later on, in 1999 I caught the Hip again at Woodstock in NY. They played an early Saturday show to a sea of Canadian flags, which where rapidly hidden away when their set finished. While the crowd was largely Canadians that had come down for the festival, the Americans in attendance that I spoke to couldn't believe they had never heard or seen these guys. It was then, at the peak of their success in Canada, that we all knew their brand of wisely crafted lyrics and carefully consutructed music was our secret. A tiny Canadian voice reaching around the world and being picked up by only a few who cared to listen.

As life moved along from the 90s to now, through weddings, funerals, births and a global world that seems increasingly in need of intelligent observers, the Tragically Hip and Gord's poetry have always been a constant. They encapsulated what it means and feels like to be Canadian better than most Canadians can describe for themselves. From long drives across the country, down gravel roads to the cottage, at parties, on decks, working, relaxing, paddling, sitting on the dock in the summer or getting ready in the dressing room before hockey, the Hip have always been there.

I'm going to miss knowing that there is nothing new on the horizon from Gord, but I'm also so grateful for all that he gave. Having taken the last exit, may you rest in peace Gord.

The statement from his family does a far better job than I can of bringing some closure to Gord's life.

Today We Lost Something More Than Jokes

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

In recent years there have been countless acts of terror around the world from 9/11 to suicide bombings to drone attacks in response to the latest round of extremist acts. Today, however, something different happened. Two armed gunmen attacked a satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and murdered 12 people in what can only be described as an act of insanity rather than terrorism.

If you have not been following pop culture much in the past few years, Charlie Hebdo routinely lampooned all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others. Recently there had been threats towards the newspaper because of some of the cartoons they came up with that included drawings of the Prophet Muhammed.

Today, two completely misguided individuals decided it was worth their lives to take the lives of people who have been working to open the eyes of everyone around the world. As I write this, I can't think of any rational response that would make any sense. None of this makes sense. They were cartoons, meant to make people laugh, think, and feel. Little drawings meant to provoke emotion, thought, and realization that maybe things can be different.

It doesn't take a strong hand to pull a trigger on an unarmed person. It doesn't take a skilled military mind to storm an office full of artists and journalists armed with pens and pencils. That is something cowards, who are afraid to look at themselves and their beliefs, do.

One of the artists murdered today, Charb, was quoted recently as saying "I would rather die standing than live on my knees" when asked if they took the threats seriously. I can't think of a more rational, brave or noble stance to take in the face of irrationality such as this.

All of us around the office are shocked and sad at this sensless act. Our thoughts are with the victims and the families of the injured and dead.

Hopefully something good comes of all this, but right now I can't see what ... #JeSuisCharlie

Suddenly, Foosball!

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Being located in the heart of the Exchange, we occasionally wet our whistles over at the King's Head Pub after a long day of building the internet. Imagine our surprise this afternoon when they got ahold of us to let us know that we had won a foosball table in one of random draw contests!

Since we're only a hop, skip, and a jump away, we took a moment from our busy schedules to claim our sudden-but-appreciated aquisition. After a little assembly, we're ready to challenge our friends, partners, and clients alike at a little table football... and hey, someday we might actually get pretty good at it, too :D

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Is There Such a Thing as Bayesian Classification for HTTP Requests?

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Dwayne Kristjanson
Dwayne Kristjanson Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Dwayne Kristjanson Indifference Engine

We use Atomic Secured Linux on most of our servers to lock them down and keep out spammy content, SQL injections, and cross-site scripting attacks. It's not our only layer of security, by any means, but it's definitely one of the most powerful. It's also one of the most strict. Which sometimes causes problems. For example, Casinos of Winnipeg is one of our clients. For obvious reasons, they occasionally trigger rules meant to prevent gambling-related spam. Other clients have had problems embedding videos, since common methods of video embedding can also be used to inject cross-site scripting attacks. Managing this is largely a matter of disabling rules and/or categories of rules when they prove problematic. This can either be across all sites or on a site-by-site basis. However, since the rules in use are constantly being updated to account for the latest attacks, the side effects need to be constantly updated as well.

At this point, Atomic Secured Linux is approaching the problem by creating rules for each specific type of unwanted content. Some of these rules are quite broad, and may block both clearly unwanted content and other content that's possibly permissible. The general approach reminds me of where email spam filtering was ten years ago. Prior to Paul Graham's publication of A Plan For Spam in 2002, email spam filters were similarly rule-heavy. As a consequence, they were usually either too weak, letting in large amounts of junk, or too strict, banning lots of perfectly acceptable content. Paul Graham's suggestion was to train a  Bayesian classifier on email he'd already flagged as junk, as compared to email he'd left in his inbox. It worked extremely well, especially in comparison to the tools available at the time.

We suspect a similar approach would work for classifying incoming HTTP requests as likely to include spam, cross-site scripting attacks, and/or SQL injection attacks. However, so far we have not found any products that make use of the Bayesian approach. We have found a few somewhat related things online. Jon Bulava wrote a proof-of-concept Apache module that would proxy web content and filter out spammy looking sites. That's close to what we'd like to have, but would work on the client side to filter content sent from another server. We'd want to look at the POST or GET data sent to the server, instead. For SQL injection protection, SQLassie is a database firewall that uses Bayesian filtering to look for malformed queries that are likely the result of SQL injection attacks. This is apparently a response to brittleness in how the GreenSQL database firewall applies it's rules. SQLassie hasn't been released as stable yet, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on.

If you've heard of an Apache module or other tool for scanning incoming HTTP requests and classifying them as either spam or a potential security threat, let us know. In the meantime, we'll keep adjusting the knobs on our security software to find the right balance between "open to attack" and "locked down too tight to do anything".

Hooray, Pizza Day

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Dwayne Kristjanson
Dwayne Kristjanson Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Dwayne Kristjanson Indifference Engine

Today for lunch, we made pizza. Everything turned out mostly OK.

 

Dough Recipe

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon yeast

Mix together sugar, water, and salt (which I forgot) and sprinkle yeast on top and let it bloom. Dump or sift the flour into the largest bowl you have access to (or straight onto your counter if you don't mind making a mess) and make a hole in the center of the flour. Slowly add the water/yeast mixture into this well, mixing thoroughly. When the dough starts to come together, knead by hand until it's smooth.

Cover the dough with a little olive oil, to keep it from sticking to everything, and leave it to rise in a warm place for 15 minutes to half an hour. You should pre-heat your oven to 500 F, so I used the counter next to the oven.

(For those of you who don't get Jonathan Coulton references ... my kneading theme music.)

Pizza Fixin's

Wil helpfully provided bell peppers and onions. I wanted a Margherita pizza, so I had fresh basil and slices of mozzerella.

Sauce

  • small (213ml) can of general-purpose tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper

MIx it all together, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. Then take it off the heat and let it cool down a bit before putting it on your pizza.

 

Prior to adding spices.

Prep Work

We had enough dough for 5 small pizzas. It probably could have been 6. Or two medium sized. Or one really large.

Cooking

Bake at 500 F for 15 to 20 minutes. Or, as we discovered, for 40 minutes if you've put too many pans in the oven at once preventing hot air from getting to the top of the oven where it can properly brown your pizza. Switching the pans to different levels sped things up ... but the crusts ended up a bit tougher than I'd like.

Not the best pizza I've made, but they still turned out pretty delicious. It took far too long to make this a regular thing, but cooking at work can be pretty fun. 

Spontaneous Office Pizzas

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
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http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

For lunch, Dwayne had brought ingredients to make a small homemade pizza in our office kitchen. Since he is a generous cook and some of the rest of us had other fixings available, we all chipped in and it became a spontaneous office lunch!

We decided to share this unplanned kitchen cooperation over Twitter. Then decided to share it here on our blog through Twitter's embeddable tweet functionality, a new feature that allows web-savvy folk to include tweets and all associated functionality right into their content…

Twitter's embeddable tweets make for an interesting new way to bring social media onto websites. They provide multiple ways to support it, specifically an oEmbed endpoint, and some clean HTML for web visitors without javascript enabled. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that any extra content in the tweet (like the above images) is HTML code that is injected by Twitter's JS, so it might be picked up by social sharing sites when sharing your content (such as Facebook when looking for thumbnails).

As for the pizzas, they come out delicious… so much so that we didn't pause to take a picture of the final results. Right out of the oven, onto plates, and into our bellies. Mmm. If you are interested, you can read Dwayne's follow-up post for his pizza recipe! :)

The Importance of Vacation Time

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Ross McDowall
Ross McDowall Senior Web Developer
Visual Lizard
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Ross McDowall Fearless Dwarven Warrior

So I am back from my vacation. Believe it or not this is the first time I have ever gone away for a vacation. Until now I had always thought that time off was a vacation. I now know that this is not the case. Over the last decade and a bit my "vacation" has always been free time at home by myself, and while this can be relaxing, it is not really the refreshing time off that has been described to me by others.

This time however I went away! I visited my girlfriend in Toronto! I had not been to Toronto since I was 8 years old, so this was a new experience for me. And while I did the basic touristy things, I also figured out what a vacation is supposed to be. I didn't think about work. I didn't worry about phone calls and emails. I took the time to be myself and experience some of life that I don't often get to see.

Now that I am back at work, i do feel refreshed and refocused. I am not feeling the pressure that sometimes gets to the point where it makes you want to snap. If you are reaching a point where you feel in danger of saying something you will regret at work, it is best to ask to take a day off or use your vacation time. I now understand why vacation time is necessary and I am glad that my bosses insist that we take the time.

301 Permanent Redirect

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Visual Lizard is moving to it's new offices on Princess Street, right in the heart of the Exchange District! Unfortunately, we may not be able to answer the phones as quickly as we like as we'll have our hands full hauling boxes and computers and furniture. We apologize in advance, but remind you that you can still contact us through email.

Things should be returning to a more normal state early next week.

Speedworld with Velocity

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Visual Lizard joined Velocity Branding in go-karting at Speedworld's indoor track, Le Mans-like. Though most of us had never driven a go-kart before, and many of us had never really driven fast before, everyone who gave it a try had a fantastically entertaining time. Click on any of the thumbnails below to enjoy a small sampling of the high-speed fun.

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Beware of the Leopard

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Dwayne Kristjanson
Dwayne Kristjanson Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:154
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Dwayne Kristjanson Indifference Engine

As you may be vaguely aware, the CRTC has ruled that it's A-OK for Bell to charge overage fees to not only it's users, but also to resellers who make use of Bell's network to connect their customers. They did back off a little bit, and mandated a 15% discount for the little guys. Not for you, of course, but for those DSL resellers. That's possibly just enough to keep the competitions' noses above water, not that it matters to the end users. Canada already had the worst deals for internet and cellular connectivity in the (first) world. Now things are even worse. Yay.

However, since this has been portrayed in the media as a Bell Canada thing, you may not be aware that this affects everyone. They didn't really go to great lengths to make anyone aware of this. I just double-checked with my ISP (Shaw) and, yes, they will be charging for overuse. I was told $2.00 per GB over 100GB for my plan (Extreme), but online the number is $1.00 per GB. Not sure who to trust here (and in any case, according to some the actual cost to Shaw would be less than an penny per GB). According to customer service, in February and March I can expect a notice on how much I went over on my bill, and then in April they'll start charging. This is likely to be as much fun as per-minute phone charges. i.e. Full of inexplicable overages and sudden unexpected increases in your monthly bill. But even better, someone driving by your house can probably use your internet connection to download, well, whatever they want.

In any case, my monthly internet bills are set to double or quadruple, depending on whether or not I need to go up one level or two to match my current level of use. Unfortunately, I don't really know what that is. Apparently this month I used 107GB, but this month I used more than normal. But I'm not sure how much more. I'd be less annoyed with this if I hadn't tried this summer to get Shaw to activate the bandwidth usage logs associated with my account so I could see how much I was actually downloading. At the time I just wanted a rough idea of how much data I used so I would know for certain that I couldn't afford to get all my data by tethering over my phone. Since I already knew the answer to that question, I gave up after calling them every week or two for three months straight. Every time they said it was set up now, and every time they were wrong. If they'd actually set that up for me, I'd already know what to do. (I'm similarly annoyed with Rogers for my phone's data plan. The first two months were unlimited, but they wouldn't show me what I actually used so I'm going into month three blind.)

So, I'm not especially confident that what I was told today by Shaw is true. But I should hopefully have a few months to hack into my neighbours' wifi figure out what my usage actually is. If you, like me, are a Shaw customer, set up an account at my.shaw.ca and check that your bandwidth usage actually starts showing up. They'll be charging you for what you use, so they'd better keep you informed. I was told the website would be relaunched (it was) and that I could find my bandwidth usage there (I haven't been able to find that yet). If you don't use Shaw, find out where to go to get a detailed account of your bandwidth usage. Get to know how much data you actually use, keep a close eye on it, and lock down your wifi.

Update: Just spoke with Shaw technical support again, apparently they don't show your overage until you have gone over 2 months in a row. And, if I understand customer support correctly, they will stop showing this information if you go a month without going over. This is, to me, completely unacceptable. So I'll be harassing Shaw until I get that information.

Update 2: Finally got access to my bandwidth usage from Shaw's website. (Although my.shaw.ca is still down, secure.shaw.ca works somewhat.) For some reason they've hidden this link behind a popup combined with a meta-refresh. So if you block popups (and everyone should, they suck) you can't see your usage. The real link is https://secure.shaw.ca/customer_care/internet_usage/monthlyGB.asp. I'll be having words with them about the inanity of this. And for some reason I can only see usage for part of November, part of December and January. That better improve too. (And, no, we haven't won even if the government reverses the UBB decision. Not unless you were a customer of one of the DSL resellers directly affected. My bill is going up just due to a cash grab timed to look like it was related to this ruling.)

Visual Lizard turns 15 today!

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Doug Ross
Doug Ross CFO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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Doug Ross Master of Space and Time

Visual Lizard turns 15 today!.

As we turn one year older ( and hopefully a bit wiser ) we would just like to thank all our clients for allowing us to develop their Internet presence. We will continue to provide the quality of work and level of service that you expect from us.

We would also like to thank all the design agencies that we work with. Our joint effort shows that clients get the best of both worlds when working with us, award winning design and unsurpassed programming.

As programmers we are proud of the fact that in the past year we have helped our design partners win numerous awards. We have some exciting new projects that are about to launch so stay tuned for updates.

In case you haven’t seen what we have been working on lately, here is an example of a few projects that we launched in the past year that showcase our programming skills.

Winnipeg Art Gallery - design by Velocity

src="/files/Image/wag.jpg"


Fillmore Riley - design by Blacksheep

Fillmore Riley


Outlook Financial - design by Fusion

Outlook Financial


The Civil Rights Agenda - design by Guppy Design

 The Civil Rights Agenda


Casinos of Winnipeg - design by Velocity

Casinos of Winnipeg

Visual Lizard Launches the Nellie McClung Foundation Website

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

ournellie.com-homepage

Visual Lizard is proud to officially announce the launch of http://www.ournellie.com for the Nellie McClung Foundation. We worked with our friends at KIK Strategy and Blindside Creative to bring it all together.

The site contains a wealth of information about Nellie McClung (Wikipedia link on Nellie McClung), but more importantly, it challenges us to remember that it was not so long ago that women were not considered persons in the eyes of the law. Nellie McClung helped to change that and forever change the course of history in Canada.

Some of the interesting bits of the site that we got to build, aside from a gorgeous design from Rob, are:

  • a special module for our Catalyst CMS to handle pull quotes, or specifically in this case, Words of Wisdom from Nellie.
  • a tool for creating a timeline from within Catalyst. You can see the public results at http://www.ournellie.com/womens-suffrage/history-of-womens-rights.
  • an interesting system for managing source information which comprises the archives found at http://www.ournellie.com/primary-sources. This area of the site is setup to allow it to grow to any size.
  • a tie into our email system so that the staff at the Foundation can manage their electronic mailing list, get stats back on what they send out, and much more. I'll save the specifics for when we launch our site around the mailing system (hint: look for a future post on that).
  • a special visual separation between the corporate site and the public site. We will let you discover that for yourself. Go exploring.

As always, we very proud to have a project we have worked on go live. It has been very busy around here of late, which is odd for mid-summer, but we love it. Cheers to everyone involved~!

On The Road To A New Web Site - Photography

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

In 1996, when we started Visual Lizard, we didn't have a web site. The Internet had just started to appear on the landscape of everyday use. In fact, at the time, there wasn't even a web host in Winnipeg that had a working server, but that is a different story. 

One of our first tasks after opening the doors, was to put up a web page no matter the effort. We worked on and learned about the web as we went. We built a site in good old HTML 3.2. Since 1996, we have had 7 official versions of VisualLizard.com.

For our upcoming VisualLizard.com version 8, we decided that we needed to get some proper team and staff shots done. Photography is important in helping convey our personality and who we are to our clients. In the past, we have been using pictures of the team that were taken at random intervals over a couple of years. They where alright, but the new site needs to take things up a level. We needed proper lighting, uniform focus, retouching of our ugliness, and, most importantly, someone who could hold a camera properly. Of course we turned to our long-time collaborator in Jerry Grajewski. Coincidentally we had just launched GrajewskiFotograph.com.

Our 1.5 hour photo shoot with Jerry was a ton of fun. We had some laughs. We all posed like the super models we are. We broke one of Jerry's lights. Well, we didn't break it directly. It died while trying to make Max visible. After all of that, we now have a great set of staff photos and an awesome team photo. The team photo is posted below to give you an idea of where our staff page on the new site is going to go. It should also give you an idea of what sort of wizard Jerry is, since we all look great. Thanks Jerry!

Visual Lizard Team 2010

Visual Lizard Launches the Women's Health Clinic Site

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
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1 (888) 237-9559
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http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

It was back in the fall of '08 when our good friends over at Guppy Design asked us to help out with a project  for their landlords. The Women’s Health Clinic site needed a makeover so we said sure and jumped in.

womenshealthclinic.org-archive-copy

Working with Guppy and the crew at the Women’s Health Clinic (WHC), we built a new site on our Catalyst Content Management system. The staff of WHC has full control of the content within the site. They can also set their titles, keywords and descriptions to help optimize the indexing of the site in search engines. At launch, the site is built to valid web standards for XHTML Strict 1.0 and CSS2.

Womenshealthclinic.org

Congratulations to all involved and we will be watching for good things to come.

Summer Days Are Here Again

General
Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
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1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Come on in. The water is fine!

It is that time of year again. The sun is warm. The days are long. There is a great big country out there just begging to be explored. As always, Visual Lizard will be maintaining normal business hours over the course of July and August, from 9am-5pm Monday through Friday

Fireworks over theforks.comDuring those summer hours, we are going to be doing a little bit of exploring. The first stop on our Recharge Tour 2010 is an extended Canada Day. We are going to be closed on July 1st through July 4th this year so that we can enjoy an extra day with our families and friends. We encourage you to do the same!

Over the remainder of the summer we have trips planned to:

  • Iceland
  • Portugal
  • Thunder Bay, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal
  • the cottage (maybe a couple of times)
  • The Whiteshell
  • New Austin, Nuevo Paradiso, and Tall Pines
  • Vancouver
  • a golf course or two
  • and a few more which we haven’t decided on yet.

Never fear though, we will still be working as hard as always on your projects. There will be code written, logic tested, web standards adhered to and sites launched. Of course we will make sure that you are aware of any specific dates when people involved in your project are out of the office.

We look forward to seeing your pictures when we all get back in September. Keep those cameras handy and have fun!

Your friends at Visual Lizard

Valve Releases Steam For Mac

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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1 (204) 957-5520 ext:152
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1 (888) 237-9559
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http://www.visuallizard.com
Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

On Wednesday afternoon, Valve Software officially released Steam, their video game launch platform and online store, for Mac. Steam had been a service exclusively for PC users since launched it in 2004. This year, however, Valve has not only ported it over to the Mac, but given it a visual refresh!

Steam for Mac

The Steam client downloads as a DMG file, and installs fairly easily, though, as John Gruber discovered, there were some odd decisions in the build. All the elements of the PC version are here, such as the built-in Steam Community. A new feature with this launch, however, is Steam Play, which allows customers to purchase a game once and play it on all Steam supported platforms. Gamers who have previously purchased games on Steam will find them available in their account on the Mac as they are released.

Steam for Mac

One of the best features of this launch is that Valve is allowing any Steam user to download Portal for free until May 24th! Powered by Valve’s Source Engine, this FPS puzzle game has earned critical praise and won several game-of-the-year awards, and is well worth trying out. Naturally, giving away this game only adds to the anticipation for it’s upcoming sequel.

Steam for Mac

Valve has announced that on subsequent Wednesdays, additional collections of Mac titles will become available, each designed to highlight specific functionalities of Steam on the Mac. We suspect that more Source games, such as Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead, will be staggered over the next couple weeks to keep the community interested in the platform. But with sixty-three titles at launch, several good bundles and some fantastic games, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dive in right now. :D

Happy Earthday 2010

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Julian Moffatt
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

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Photo credit: NASA

Kyleigh woke me up this morning with "Happy EARTH DAY!" and a song about earth. It was pretty cool actually, even though it was 6am. So to honour that childhood enthusiasm, we are going to assemble the Visual Lizard BEST of Earthday right here.

The Official Earth Day Site

Head on over to http://www.earthday.org/ and jump in. They have several initiatives going on right now. Post your Act of Green on their homepage, sign the responsible climate declaration, and check out the Earth Day 2010 campaign.

Sustainable Sushi Pocket Guide

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We eat a bit of sushi around here. This is a supper handy guide we use to try and keep our sushi habit as green as possible. Thanks Earth Defense Fund!

Urban Forest Map

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This site is an awesome idea that is starting to happen. While not directly an Earth Day initiative, the site is attempting to map every tree in San Francisco. Every single tree! The best part about the site is that it is user driven and leans heavily on Google Maps to do handle the heavy lifting. Hopefully their beta opens to the public soon and we can start mapping our awesome urban forest here in Winnipeg.

40 Years of Earth Day Posters

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What a great look back in time. Awesome.

Do your part for the planet. It is the only one we have.

Fieldnotes, Evernote and Scanning in Written Words

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Packet of Sunshine I freely admit that I have an unhealthy addiction to FieldNotes notebooks. Something about them makes me feel smarter when I use them. Maybe it is the fact that I fill up pages so quickly because of the small size? At any rate, I now have a rather large collection of filled notebooks. The problem with taking notes on paper, is that I have found it really hard to search via Spotlight and find anything I have written down. Damn analog vs digital.

Additionally, I’ve been hot and cold on Evernote for a couple of years now. The entire concept of dumping everything into one bucket and then searching over it seemed so alien to me after 12 years of keeping thousands of folders, with nested files, all neatly organized.

It was only with QuickSilver, and then later Spotlight in OS X 10.6, that I realized how much time I was spending organizing stuff on my computer. I was wasting time just filing things. Spotlight’s running indexes work well enough to let me forget about my need to file things.

However, I still have the problem of not being able to search paper. All those thoughts written down and immediately forgotten. Then a few days or weeks later someone calls and you know you had some information written down someplace, but where? A little googling turned up a few posts about sending notes to Evernote and leaning on the OCR abilities there.

Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Fill up a notebook and hook up the scanner.
  2. Create a scan folder for your files. I went with FN-VolNumber as the parent folder.
  3. Open up Automator and follow Ken’s automator evernote write up on making an automated task.Thanks Ken!
  4. Scan in your pages with a suitable naming convention. I went with FN-VolNum-pgNum
    TIP: Make sure to include 0 before all the single digit spreads.
  5. Rinse and repeat as often as needed.

That is it. Evernote’s OCR is working on indexing several notebooks as you read this. Results have been hit and miss with my hand writing, but if you remember to print really important bits, the OCR works well.

Of note: handwriting is important; printing works better than cursive; pen ink wins over pencil grey; images are being captured as high quality JPGs with 150dpi resolution; I’m on the free Evernote account for now; having the Evernote iPhone app means my FieldNotes are always with me.

Posted dug up by Google that helped with the writing of this post:

Canada 3 USA 2

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
Visual Lizard
work
1 (204) 957-5520 ext:1
toll-free
1 (888) 237-9559
url
http://www.visuallizard.com
Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Canada 3 USA 2

The best newspaper cover in Canada this morning. Translated - King of the Games. What a great hockey game.

State Of The Internet

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Originally posted at Focus.com

State of the Internet

Interesting stuff that is pretty much inline with my experiences. 

To comment, please visit the original article at the Focus site.