Book Review: Project Animal Farm

For most people, myself included, ignorance is bliss when it comes to meat. We prefer to pick up our vacuum wrapped cuts from the grocery stores with only a cursory thought to its journey there. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Project Animal Farm by Sonia Faruqi. It’s the story of a Wall Street banker who followed her curiosity into the dark world of animal farming. It’s a very personal journey and mainly anecdotal, which doesn’t take away from it; in fact it enhances the connection with the reader. Read On →

America is stumbling, what can Canada do?

Last week, the US passed a law to ban refugees and Muslims. From a world that views America as a role model in freedom and opportunity, this is a shocking reversal on some core values. America is one of the strongest democracies in the world. If this can happen to America, then no country is safe. Here’s what Canada can do today to avoid a similar eventuality down the road: Electoral Reform In my lifetime, the Canadian political experience has always included numerous political parties. Read On → Launched!

A website I have been helping to build for CSED has officially launched! is a directory of social enterprises in Ottawa. A social enterprise is a venture which has a mission that goes beyond profit. This can mean offering employment to vulnerable or disabled people, protecting the environment, or passing their profits on to a charitable organization. Check out the website for many examples of social enterprises in Ottawa. This website will serve customers of the social enterprise sector by gathering all the local enterprises listings in one place, where a potential customer such as yourself can discover and browse the offerings. Read On →

Book Review: Into the Silence

The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest Into the Silence by Wade Davis recounts the failed 1920s Everest expeditions, the first ever attempts on the mountain. But it’s much more than that. All the climbers were shaped by the Great War, and so the book begins there. This leads into an engrossing look at the chaos, the folly, and the haunting reality of a generation of men who would return from war with wounds that could never heal. Read On →

Integration Testing with Node and Mongo

I’ve been building an application using Node.js with a MongoDB datastore. Now I want to perform some integration testing (without mocking the DB layer) to ensure full end-to-end success of the application. Here’s how I went about doing this. Using a test database While the goal is to execute code paths that go through Mongo, it will still be acceptable to execute against a different db than the one used for production deployments. Read On →

Presentation Skills Training

I recently completed a two-day training course on presentation skills. While I have been known to give a killer presentation (or speech) in my time, doing so takes a lot of preparation on my end and it’s never as natural as I would like. By taking this course, my goal was to hone my skills, practice a little more, and discover some new tips and tricks. Here are the main takeaways for me… We live in a world of partial attention, so we cannot assume that our audience is engaged with us. Read On →

Book Review: Mindset

Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success summarizes the ground-breaking research she and others have been leading on the subjects of motivation, identity, self-awareness and ability. All of these, it turns out, can be influenced significantly by one’s mindset. Her most famous experiment involves taking two groups of kids and giving each kid an easy puzzle to solve. She then praised one group of kids for being smart, but praised the other group for their effort. Read On →

Book Review: Quantum Night

Quantum Night is the latest from Canadian sci-fi author Robert Sawyer. In it, two researchers independently discover two techniques to identify psychopaths objectively, and they come together to try and figure out the implications of their discoveries. Some interesting themes raised in the book: what are the ethics for research on human subjects why are there so many people all over the world doing terrible things, all the time? are people still responsible for their actions even if they are physically “hard-wired” to be that way? Read On →

Book Review: What Does It Mean To Be Human

What Does it Mean to be Human is the companion book for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum’s Human Origins initiative. The book takes the reader on a breathtaking journey through our ancient past to explain when and how we acquired the traits we most closely associate with modern humans. All of these are human, but not Homo sapiens (Although you could be forgiven for mistaking one!) While the book covers many topics on the history of our species, I’ll focus on three of the items that I found most fascinating: 1. Read On →

Random Hacks of Kindness 2016

This past weekend I participated in a hackathon for Random Hacks of Kindness where the goal is to support community organizations with tech solutions. I joined the project for the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CISED). A social enterprise is a venture whose purpose is to achieve a social mission. There are about 150 social enterprises in Ottawa, which includes ventures such as: ReStore - accepts donated home products then refurbishes and resells them in their retail stores with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Laundry Matters - employees with developmental disabilities provide residential and commercial laundry services Good Nature Groundskeeping: provides professional landscape maintenance services while also providing employment to people who are economically disadvantaged etc. Read On →