About


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Writing an about page is one of those weird things a person does when you have a blog.  It reminds me of writing silly corporate yearly reviews on yourself where you have to say what you want to learn and do in the following year knowing full well that it’s all puff as the business needs will define that, not your wishes.  Since this is not one of those dreaded exercises I feel a little less bound by convention but still mind full of the audience.

So I guess I can start at the beginning then. Back in the early fifties my father met my mother…. no, just kidding!  I have had my eyeballs firmly glued to a computer screen in one form or another since the late 70’s as a young lad of just 8.  Programming was one of those things that just sort of felt natural to me.  I have tried many times in my life to move in other directions, such as music, but I seem to always end up back at the pc again.

Since 1994 I have worked exclusively on web technologies with 90% of it using Microsoft technology.  Even before 94 I was working with MS software such as Visual Basic, developing client server applications.  Must admit there are times I wish for those days when screen resolutions, browser implementations and all the other issues one has to deal with on the web simply did not exist.

Until late 94 I worked for Stentor Canadian Network Management, sort of a clearing house of overseas phone data for Bell Canada and the Provincial telephone companies.  After that I set out on my own as a consultant for nearly 13 years.  I worked in both the private and public sector, but not surprisingly being a government town, the majority of it was the later.  Over those 13 years I managed to work at just about every major federal department within the city limits and a few of them on numerous occasions.

In late 99 I started getting very interested in client side functionality.  I could see there was going to be a gradual shift back to the client server paradigm as browsers got more and more powerful.  Now 13 years later we are seen AJAX being in the forefront of web development. Gone are the days of constant post backs and hidden iframes. The technology has really matured with frameworks such as Sencha’s sweet of products. Browsers have also become the predominant means of communicating information and exchanging data.

Since late 2006 I have focused almost exclusively on front end development.  I was always miffed that I was doing ‘AJAX’ before the term even came out and somehow felt I wish I had come up with the term.  Although in the beginning with Internet Explorer 5’s introduction of the asynchronous request object we where communicating with XML. It soon became very apparent in the mid naughties that this transportation schema was just to fat and parsing was a real pain.  Hence along came JSON for developing web applications using  HTTP/REST schema. REST takes advantages of standard http headers to provide information back and forth while the body of the message contains the JSON package. Alsoadvances, most noticeably Crockfords’ design patterns for OO JavaScript development and the use of closures, has now gotten us to a point where very clean and highly functional web applications can be developed that are disconnected or distant for server requirements.  This of course reduces server load, traffic use for the consumer and many other advantages.  In many ways the experience provided to users through sites such as FaceBook have now led to a level of expectation that we must all adhere to.

Although I love digging into SQL Server and modeling databases and writing all that middle tier .NET or CFM or PHP code there seems to be a certain lack of creative spark in it.  For the most part, doing .NET development is a repetitive task of creating a connection, getting a dataset, binding a control and serving up the results.  The manner in which you do this, and there are many, still lacks creativity in thinking and in results.  Drag and drop, within the .NET world, has in my opinion become a real ‘drag’ that ‘drops’ your level of enjoyment and numbs the logic skills.

I like to focus on the final product, what the user sees.  You can write the most elegant OO code in the world, but if your interface is lousy who is going to use it.  Great that you did it in a week but nobody is going to care and if that is the case why would you reuse it, which is one of the cornerstones of OO by the way.

So some fun facts about me and how I work.  I have a basic expression that I like to use, ‘I would rather be the nut than the empty shell that encased it’.  In other words who wants to be like everyone else, I would rather be my own cookie cutter.  I have a lot of fun working with people and I bring a lot of fun to the table.  I am that rather unusual person who says good morning and how was your weekend and actually wants to know. Just because it is a work environment does not mean you should not have consideration for you fellow human beings in the office. I have been fortunate to work in some awesome environments with some great people.  One small company I worked at had Friday lunch BBQ’s.  When they found out I am a bit of a cook I was soon on call to prepare food for everyone on Friday mornings for lunch.  Speaking of food I am indeed a real ‘foody’ as they say.  I even have cooking videos up on youtube under the title ‘Keiths Kitchen Nightmares’, can you say trolling for hits ;-)!

Since April 2010 I have been a single full time father to two wonderful boys who are presently heading into grade 1 and 2.  So time is limited, life is busy but a hell of a lot of fun.  We often talk about work life balance and how to achieve it. For me, there is no choice, family comes first end of story.  Although it is often the case, like most developers, putting the code down is impossible so once the kids are back in bed I am back at the computer getting grumpy trying to solve a problem that eludes me.

Cheers

Keith

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