Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Trying out wp-svbtle, a new theme and way of writing Dec 14 2012

wp-svbtle is an open-source clone of the svbtle platform, which has been developed both as a fresh approach to writing content and as a way of developing a network of excellent writers. I’ve really enjoyed reading posts on the svbtle network, and after an excellent conversation today with Jonathan Hess @hessinteractive I decided it was time to test out a new writing style for myself. I moved my previously developed playful colorful theme to a new WordPress multi-site subdomain play.gabrielserafini.com and proceeded to install the new wp-svbtle theme and editing environment.

So far, I do like how the focus is very much on words — there are basically very few distractions. No image uploading in this version. I like the way that the svbtle network seems to have handled that issue, and hope that the same technique can get ported to the WordPress version as well.

I did end up modifying the theme a bit, and it looks like as of this writing, there are 124 people who have forked the project on Github. I hope that the main / master project can end up reflecting all the good ideas other people have had, so there aren’t in the end like 50 “Improved wp-svbtle” projects floating around out there.

Words, words, words. One of my goals for 2013 is to write more, and to try to be more meaningful for more people. The idea of a personal motto that I’ve been developing is this:

“I like to help people.”

Not too profound, but pretty much summarizes what it is that I hope to do with my life. I look forward to exploring this further next year.

Namaste.

I am grateful for good tools Nov 4 2012

Every craftsperson has a toolbox that they rely upon to help them get their job done to the best of their ability.  If you’re a carpenter, you have sharp saws, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers in multiple sizes, an excellent tool belt, and a box to carry it all.  When you arrive at a job site, you are ready to go, ready to provide your best effort to the problem at hand.  You can judge a craftsperson by the quality of their tools.

My toolbox consists of my computer, phone, and an internet connection.  With these 3 items, I can talk with people and design, build, deploy and maintain high quality websites.  I can consult, share ideas, help discover insights that can transform lives.  I love my job, and having excellent tools is truly something to be grateful for.

I like my Apple products so much that I’ve even invested in AAPL.  I currently own 8 shares and hope to acquire more, as long as they continue making excellent tools.

HARDWARE

These provide utility and delight for me every day:

  • 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina screen — this is a game changer.  So FAST, so BEAUTIFUL, I love it.
  • iPhone 4S – A lovely phone, it is really a computer you carry in your pocket all the time.  A magical device.  The new iOS 6 Maps does occasionally provide some interesting and humorous results.  They can and will fix this, I know.  It may take 10 years and self-driving cars to get there, but it’s too important to leave it as a failure.  I just upgraded to be able to use my phone in tethering mode, which means I can now work from anywhere I have cell data coverage.  Pretty rad.
  • 2TB Time Capsule — automatic, wireless backups of everything every hour.  What’s not to love?

SOFTWARE

As you probably know, I love using WordPress to build websites for my clients.  It remains the easiest to use solution, and the plugins and themes available are wonderful.  It keeps on getting better all the time, and is a core asset that I rely on to get things accomplished that would take much longer any other way.

  • WordPress
  • TextMate 2
  • VMWare
  • Adobe CS 6 – it is very nice using the newest version of Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.  I had been stuck using an old copy of CS (1).
  • Transmit (excellent FTP client)
  • Safari, Chrome
  • Address Book
  • Gmail
  • Microsoft Office
  • Sequel (excellent MySQL client)
  • Stickies
  • Calculator
  • I could list a lot more that I’m grateful for!

What are your favorite tools to use?

 

Let’s go GIANTS! Oct 24 2012

Giants logo

Excellent work by the San Francisco Giants today on winning Game 1 of the 2012 World Series.  Way to go!

Javascript Canvas Color Series Aug 9 2012

I made these using the <canvas> tag and Javascript.  Which one do you like the best?  What do they make you think of?

 

Webelos Scout Dropout Oct 5 2011

Webelos Scout colorsWhen I was in 4th or 5th grade, I joined the Boy Scouts. Except it wasn’t Boy Scouts for me, no, it was Webelos Scouts, since that was the appropriate group for my age at the time. I hadn’t been a Cub Scout, but did like the idea very much of camping, friendship, outdoor activities, and all of the other things that I envisioned Boy Scouts doing.

We didn’t have a lot of money in our family at the time. I remember purchasing the Webelos Scout uniform (shirt, some patches maybe) was a significant purchase. But my parents were willing to support me in joining this fine organization if that was what I wanted to do.

My expectations were high when I joined. The reality turned out to be a little bit different. As I recall, having not been a Cub Scout in the Den I joined, I felt like an outsider. I also had pretty terrible social skills at the time, and didn’t really adapt well. At first I gave it my best shot to fit in and participate, but eventually felt like something wasn’t quite working for me there.

We never went camping. The most exciting part of being a Webelos Scout seemed to be the silver or gold candle we would burn at each meeting. That was our fire — maybe it symbolized a campfire, or burning stuff, or some kind of eternal flame of awesomeness. All I know is that we did some glue-gun projects, and burnt that candle at each meeting. During my short stint as a Webelos Scout we never even discussed going on a camping trip. That being my primary motivation for trying to break into this tight-knit group of young boys, I got discouraged. I gave up.

Ever since I’ve considered myself to be a Webelos Scout Dropout. Someone unfit to participate in that system of rules, achievements, honor, glory, companionship, excellence.

Recently I’ve had an opportunity to revisit this mental image in my head about who I am. I’ve thought of many fine men I know who are Eagle Scouts — they completed the Boy Scout journey, graduated basically with the highest honors. Now I know that not every Eagle Scout is a shining example of awesomeness, but that is basically what they aspire to be.  And the people I know who are Eagle Scouts I’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for.  They seem to be able to get worthwhile things done in a way that is worth emulating.

I will never be an actual Eagle Scout. You have to graduate from that program before you turn 18. I’m 35 years old. Not gonna happen without time travel, and I don’t know if I would have turned out that different had I stuck to it at the time.

I got to thinking though, what am I holding on to by seeing myself as a broken Webelos Scout who could never have been an Eagle Scout. Not a productive way to see myself.

What makes an Eagle Scout a good person is their drive to be a good person, and their capable practice of good qualities that gradually tell people — yes, this is a good person. This is someone who is interested in helping the world.

Eagle Scout PatchHere is the Scout Oath:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

And the Scout Law:

A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent

It’s interesting to me that even though I haven’t thought about the Oath and the Law in many years, I realize that those are really important qualities to me. Those really do help define what it is to be an honorable, good, helpful person in this world.

I may still be a Webelos Scout Dropout, but I realize today that I do strive to fulfill those ideals every day.  I don’t have to accept for myself non-Eagle Scout qualities.

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. That starts in our thinking and our practice.  Every day we have an opportunity to act like an Eagle Scout.

I’m really grateful to have been able to directly assist the following non-profit organizations in my lifetime by working on their websites, training individuals how to use the tools to say what they want to say, and generally try to help them do their jobs better. Most of these folks are active clients. I love the opportunity to serve in this way and plan to continue doing so as long as I’m able.

I may be missing an organization or two but I am very grateful to have been able to serve in this way.

Be Prepared.

My uncle Jim Sheldon is retiring this month after teaching over 1,000 fifth graders in Napa for the past 39 years Jun 9 2010

Jim Sheldon

Pretty amazing life and career for my uncle Jim Sheldon who is retiring this year after teaching so many fifth graders.

Here’s the article about it from the Napa Valley Register:

Four decades in fifth grade

By NATALIE HOFFMAN Register Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2010 12:00 am

Jim Sheldon knows room 10 on the El Centro Elementary School campus like the back of his hand.

The teacher spent almost four decades teaching in the same classroom, working mostly with fifth-graders, an age group Sheldon has built his career around.

“They’re aware of other people and I like that,” he said. “They’re not particularly self-centered (and) they’re developing a sense of humor … a sense of humor is very important and I really enjoy laughing with my class.”

After 39 years and more than 1,000 former students, Sheldon has had countless chances to do just that. “The best thing about teaching is seeing former students,” he said. “I just like to catch up with their lives.”

Students and colleagues say he’s a master of knowing when to trade getting down to business for cutting loose. He’s definitely in charge in the classroom, where he misses very little of what his 33 students are up to.

The kids love Sheldon — the consensus is that he’s fun but strict, a winning combination.

“He can be strict when it comes to work … but he kind of acts like a kid sometimes,” fifth-grader Jessica Vargas said.

Anastasia Hildebrandt, another of Sheldon’s students, agreed. “It’s a lot of fun being in his class, but it’s scary when he gets mad,” she said.

Sheldon, who won’t reveal his age and stands at least 6 feet 2, said being a tall male teacher doesn’t hurt when it comes to keeping his kids’ attention.

“I have a presence; I have a look,” he said. “I’m firm but fair, and when the kids buy into it, it’s a joy … I set the rules and expectations and I hold the kids to it.”

In the classroom, Sheldon doesn’t stay still much. One moment he’s at his desk — a landscape of flash cards, homework set in neat piles and a towering coffee mug — with students lined up, seeking help. Five minutes later, he’s ambling around the students’ desks, making sure they’re on task.

You can learn more about Sheldon from his classroom decor. A tiny orange paperweight shaped like a construction cone sitting atop a batch of paper is a good example.

The side of the cone reads: “There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

He is direct and patient while helping a fifth-grade boy with his math class work. Minutes later he’s helping another student.

El Centro Principal Molly McClurg said individualized attention is the way Sheldon does business in the classroom.

“His interactions with the kids are just like his interactions with other staff members and the community,” she said. “He looks at people for who they are … and treats them as human beings, and they give that respect back to him, naturally.”

Fifth-grader Celine Parra said she and her classmates will walk away from Sheldon’s classroom with valuable memories. One of her favorites was last Halloween when Sheldon came to class in full wrestling regalia, complete with faux-muscled arms made of blown-up balloons.

“He’s leaving and we’re going to miss him,” she said. “It’s so fun having him around.”

Alice Jackson, a former Phillips Charter School principal who taught fifth grade at El Centro from about 1973 to 1983, said Sheldon is “very dedicated and very tuned-in to individual students.”

Jackson credited Sheldon with starting an after-school soccer program in the 1970s before the sport took off in Napa. Sheldon is not afraid to go outside of his comfort zone, she said. In 1998, he left Napa to teach in Bristol, England, as part of a teacher exchange program.

A top tennis player in a local recreational program in the 1970s, Sheldon encouraged students to get involved in sports, the arts and earth-friendly causes, she said.

Nancy Caffo, an El Centro fourth-grade teacher who has known Sheldon professionally for 21 years, said students appreciate his gift for getting silly. One year, a student with a reputation for being tough said he was too embarrassed to wear a flannel nightgown for a school play. Sheldon took charge, donning the frock in class to show it was no big deal, she said.

Along with his wife, Nancy, Sheldon is known to weed the campus, fix light fixtures and retrieve soccer balls accidentally kicked onto the roof, Caffo said.

“It’s going to be interesting because I don’t think people realize how much he does,” she said. “It’s going to be tough.”

They’ve got some good comments on the article as well as a nice video featuring Jim talking about his teaching style: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/article_89ad05c4-72b5-11df-b4d1-001cc4c002e0.html

Obama wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize – Congratulations! Oct 9 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama on winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize!

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

2009 Nobel Peace Prize press release:

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2009

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Oslo, October 9, 2009

See the video announcement here: http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1173

Working at Northwest Coffee Jun 18 2009

Fun times working at the coffee shop 🙂

One of the last times we will all be physically in the same place. Good times. 🙂

Wired Magazine collection for sale – 100 issues from September 1999 through June 2009 Jun 7 2009

Wired Magazine collection for sale

Selling my entire collection of Wired Magazine, including most issue from September 1999 through June 2009. Page through 10 years of cool technology, neat ideas and interesting ads. Wired is jam-packed full of good graphic design ideas. Individual back copies sell on eBay between $4.99 and $17.99.

To make an offer, call (314) 477-4529. Starting offer is $160 or best offer. Need to sell by end of June, 2009 due to move.

Collectible 75th Anniversary Edition Esquire Magazine with E-Ink cover for sale (SOLD) Jun 7 2009

Collectible 75th Anniversary Edition Esquire Magazine with E-Ink cover for sale

For sale: Mint condition copy of the October 2008 SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION of Esquire Magazine that features an animated e-ink cover graphic.

Bid on it on Ebay here: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180366379500

Update: This has been sold.

Collectible 75th Anniversary Edition Esquire Magazine with E-Ink cover for sale



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