Category Archives: This-and-That

Check out what I do for a living and have a chance to win something

There are a lot of fun things I like about working for Zoocasa and one of them is that it is truly a start up. It has all the challenges of a start up (crazy busy schedules) but also all the perks as well (web 2.0, mashables) and there is never a dull day at work. Also, another cool thing about Zoocasa is that the roles are always loosely defined. While my primary role is to head up technology, I am also involved in most parts of the business. Lately we've been doing a marketing push and it's been very interesting learning how marketing plans are developed and executed. One of the ideas is our Discover Zoocasa contest.

If you haven't checked out Zoocasa yet, here's a chance to check it out and have an opportunity to win an iPod Touch, $100 or $50 gift card from Home Depot. All you have to do is enter your info.
You can increase your chances of winning if you invite other friends and they sign up as well. While you're there, check out the site. Any feedback, thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated ๐Ÿ˜€

Oh yeah – one last thing; check out the contest details and rules too… There are some restrictions that I can't remember off the top of my head.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

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Loving what you do

I've always been fascinated with people stories of courage, tenacity and honour and I came across this video while looking at a profile of someone following a friend of mine. It really blows my mind sometimes. The words that rang out to me were "it's not doing what you love, it's loving what you do." It's so impressive that someone can have made as much as he has just selling a $5 potato peeler for all these years. I hope you are as inspired by this video as I was.

Freedom is not free

in Detroit this weekend, one the things we were talking about was
getting a t-shirt that said "Freedom is not free." The boys and I are
random like that. At any rate, I thought it was an appropriate title
for me for Remembrance Day. Being a Canadian, I greatly appreciate the
freedom that I enjoy here. The freedom to practice my faith, the
freedom to choose the governing organization of my country and to do so
without malice or prejudice. It doesn't get any better than that. Many
thanks to those who have given their body and lives to preserve this
freedom for all of us here in Canada, especially on this Rememberance

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Settling in at the Zoo(casa)

Let's just start this by saying that the opinions I'm about to share is not necessarily of my employers. They're simply thoughts about my job and what makes me excited about where I am.

So, for those of you who don't know, I currently work for a company called Zoocasa. It's a start-up that is fully funded by Rogers. While I know I can't share why Rogers has decided to do this, it makes a lot of sense in a positive fashion. So a month ago, I was hired on as Head of Technology/Technology Lead of Zoocasa. I'm responsible for all things technical such as technology operations, development, QA and architecture. The team is a good size – approximately 10 people large with a good range of skillsets and experiences.

The business value in itself is extremely interesting. Zoocasa markets itself as Home Search in Canada with Smarts. When I look at the site, it feels like a natural way of searching for a home. I can search by neighbourhood, try to pick out the nearest LCBO (yes, I've become an alcoholic in the past few years), the nearest restaurants and the nearest shops. It's got things like a gas mile calculator – personally I haven't used it since I'm a big transit person in general. There has been a lot of focus is trying to come up with not only features that users might find useful but also data to support those features. Definitely a lot of cool things that I like about the site.

It's been a while since I last worked for a small company like this. While it's associated with Rogers, we use very little of Rogers infrastructure (i.e. networks, mail servers, etc). It's truly a start up in most sense of the term. Where we can, we rely heavily on open source technologies, web services and web APIs. The results on the front end is a mashup of sorts. The culture here is definitely one of go-go-go. My first day here consisted of starting at 8:30 am and going through all the way to around 6:30 with a 30 minute break in between. And that was an easy day. There are no fiefdoms here – everyone does what they can to help and everyone is usually more than happy to accept the help.

There are definitely opportunities here and it'll be interesting to see how the next few months turn out.

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into week 3 here at Zoocasa and I've been swamped! Such is the life of
working at a startup. The technology is interesting but there are
definitely growing pains. At least the work is challenging. I'll
hopefully have the time to write more about my thoughts on Zoocasa over
the weekend. In the mean time, I've completed a more complete review of
PockeTwit. Just need to do some screenshots of the app. I am getting
around to do a review of Newsgator and Bright Kite. So more to come in
the next few days.

Other randomness that's going on in my tech
life: for the life of me, I can't seem to fix the 404 error redirect on
BlogEngine. It's also I haven't had time to sit down to figure it out
either. Also put together a mini (not micro) machine. I wanted to put
together a VMWare sandbox at work. Maybe I'll write about that too.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Fall Colours


I've been antsy to go take photos this past few days and the colours in our part of town has been so vibrant. As it was Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, we decided to take a walk in Leslieville and then take our niece and nephew apple picking at Chudleigh's farm. Here are some of the results from the day. For pictures from the entire set, see them on my Flickr collection.

Update: Had to fix the broken link from before. I was playing with the new Flickr Uploadr and the new security features confused me.

All Done!

I've always wanted to get my basement done but could never really come to a final decision on what to do with it. Almost after half a year of debate, a design was decided on and a vendor was chosen. The final design was relatively simple. Outside of just covering up the furnace area, we also decided to move the entrance door of the basement and move the location of our washer and dryer.

We opted to go with a company called Owens Corning Basement who has their own Basement Finishing System. Owens Corning is the same company which makes the insulation commonly known as the Pink Panther. We chose them really for a variety of reasons. One was that I really liked the material and the second was that they were structured where a build manager would be assigned to us to take care of all of our building needs.
I didn't regret the choice of building material but it was expensive. The end result was a phenomenal basement. The journey to get us there was definitely less than satisfying. First, we ended up managing a lot of the tasks and co-ordination of work which we expected our build manager to do. The downside is that Owens Corning does not install flooring unless it's their own carpeting system. We wanted to use up the remaining bamboo floors that we had bought earlier. Installing the floors turned out to be harder as the job we wanted to do was relatively small for most contractors to do. Once the basement was complete, getting warranty work was very slow.
That being said though, the workmanship of the basement was quite good. We would definitely recommend our installer which was a subcontractor to Owens Corning.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

New Beginnings

The old is gone. In the past, I’ve been using DotNetNuke and I’ve decided to move to BlogEngine.NET for various reasons. DotNetNuke was great in it’s way; it was rich with a lot of basic features but unfortunately the features never worked to how I would have liked them to be. Towards the end, I was using DotNetNuke mostly as a blogging tool. In the version that I was using, DNN’s Blog module did support categories but did not support tagging. The other feature which I’ve been dying to try was the ability to blog using Flock. It’s one of the key reasons why I started the migration to Flock as my primary browser. Another driving reason, is that over time, I’d like to reduce my dependency on Microsoft tools for the backend in my house. And this is the first step towards that.

On top of technology changes, Friday was also an end of an era for me as I start my new job on Monday as well. I’ve left the Ministry of Health to work on a startup called It’s a real-estate search engine focusing on Canadian Real Estate to begin with. It’s an exciting move for me as it’s the first time in a long while that I’ll be involved in technology projects and hopefully an opportunity to explore and implement some web 2.0 concepts and ideas.