Daniel Ho

A Toronto-based management consultant who spends too much time thinking about coffee, riding around on two wheels, photography, books, and fried chicken!

Satechi Smart Travel Router/Travel Adapter

I thought my previous recommendation for travel power adapter was good. I'd been using the "Swiss Travel Products" adapter for the past 5-6 years and thought it was brilliant. But I've found something even better!

The Satechi Smart Travel Router / Travel Adapter with USB Port adapts to fit into four (actually five) of the most common plug configurations used around the world and features four different modes for your wireless networking needs.

Satechi Smart Travel Router/Travel Adapter plug configurations

Satechi Smart Travel Router/Travel Adapter plug configurations

Why is this adapter so great? Well, it is an all in one solution for travel. For a traveler, it acts as

  • Plug adapter for any popular configuration to any other
  • USB charger with TWO 5V 2.4A jacks--this is enough to charge any phone or tablet quickly
  • WiFi router to allow you to share a single WiFi connection among multiple devices/users; create a WiFi connection for your devices if there is only an ethernet connection; extend a WiFi signal to reach when it is needed (I've had hotel WiFi that only works at one spot in the room)

Best part? it is all less than $50 which I think is amazing value for what you get. I've only started using it and all has been well. From reading the various reviews online, there is no reason for me to believe that it won't be reliable longer term.

 

Herding Cats

Sometimes I describe my job as "herding cats".  

Other than provide strategic management consulting to firms on projects involving technology, I spend a lot of time providing project management support to jobs involving geeks. Doing this while managing the expectations of stakeholders that often have conflicting interests can't be that hard...right? :-)

Hey Donna, buy something...

This is a test post to help out my brilliant friend Donna with a iframe issue on her blog.

Issue: While trying to embed an affiliate iframe code from Amazon on her blog, she just gets a blank page. It seems like embedding iFrames in WordPress is broken or just not working for her.

Resolution: It seems that if you have an ad blocker running, you can still see YouTube embedded iframes like this one from one of my favourite musical finds below, but not the Amazon affiliate iframe below that...

Speaking of brilliant friends, check out this amazing book from my friend Anthony De Sa. Anthony is a Giller-nominated author who serves on the Story Planet board with me.

How to watch US streaming services like Netflix or Rdio in Canada using Unblock-us.com

OK, it seems that I've been asked a few hundred times in the past few weeks, so here is it is... Most streaming services like Netflix or Rdio check to see where you're located by examining the IP address provided by your internet provider. So if your internet provider is in Toronto, your IP address will also be pegged to Toronto. So, what happens if I want to appear from the US or anywhere else in the world?

There are a couple of ways around this, but the simplest is through the Unblockus service. It is $4.99 a month with a free trial to see if it is worth it to you.

Rather than going through a VPN or other similar scheme, this service does a bit of black magic with DNS.

How_to_Setup___Unblock-Us_-_smarter_faster_VPN

 

 

 

All you do is change your device or router's DNS settings with a few simple instructions.  If you can't get it to work yourself, their Support is pretty good too.

The gist of it is that you go either into the DNS settings of your device like computer, iPad, Apple TV, Roku, PS3, etc. and change the DNS address to:

208.122.23.22 208.122.23.23

And that's it!  You go to the Unblockus web interface, and from there, you can select your region.

If you change the DNS settings in your network's router, you can switch the region for ALL the devices on the network. The DNS settings don't mess up other applications such as Facebook, banking, etc. It only changes the region for the selected streaming services. As far as I can tell, their DNS servers respond very quickly as well.

An interesting thing about using Unblockus with Netflix is that when you change the region, with the same account, it will change the content. So, if you change the region to the US, you see US content. If you change it to the UK, you see more content from the Beeb!

These are the Netflix regions that you can pick from:

Unblock-Us_-_smarter_faster_VPN

Getting back to running

20131106-233117.jpg As most of you know, I'm a bit of a road cycling nut. Now that it is getting colder here in Toronto, riding for anything besides commuting isn't nearly as fun.

I need another exercise to keep me from exploding from my other interests of cooking, eating and drinking! So, I thought...why not run?

I was a fat kid and lost my weight from running frequently...almost obsessively.

Who knew that I'd be decent at endurance sports? This possibility was never explored during my childhood over the many boring or traumatizing 45 minute gym classes. Who know the fat kid would one day run hours at a time or ride a couple hundred km without too much effort?

Anyway, the running was a long time ago. The shoes I started on are now having their 30th anniversary! I'm totally dating myself with this tidbit.

I've picked up some new snazzy Nikes and made a declaration on Twitter and Facebook that I'm going to run my first 50 km in 30 days! This is no big deal for a "real" runner. Without this goal and the possibility of public shaming, it will be an effort to get me going regularly again.

I'm also using the Nike+ site to help me along by gamifying the goal.

So here goes! I started this morning logging 3.5 km but Nike+ only recorded 2.5 km as the iPhone ran out of charge. To make matters worse, it was raining then and it is raining now.

Here's hoping for nicer weather tomorrow morning. So far, the forecast looks OK. We'll see...

What Board Directors Really Do in Their Free Time - Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell - Harvard Business Review

This HBR blog post reveals what Board Directors do in their free time across the globe.

I find it interesting that philanthropy and community service makes it into the top 3 only in Asia and "Sports & Fitness" is in the top spot in all regions.

Research on boards shows that good board dynamics involves being in sync. There are some interesting points about how these alignments globally are remarkable but also questions about how gender differences persist and how they affect group cohesion.

 

 

What Board Directors Really Do in Their Free Time - Boris Groysberg and Deborah Bell - Harvard Business Review.

LED Light Conversion for Dynamo Bicycle Headlight

 

 

OK, so this SHOULD work. I have a Pashley Roadster Sovereign bicycle that comes with a dynamo powered headlight. While it is very convenient that I don't have to change or charge the batteries, it is 2013 and we're used the pretty bright LED headlamps on bicycles.

This lead me to start surfing for a LED light conversion that will fit and just work. For sure, I thought the Dutch would have worked this one out already. However, there doesn't seem to be a ready made kit for sale. Let me know if you've seen anything like this.

So, it looks like I'll have to sketch out how to make my own and power up the soldering station. If you're actually interested in how this is going to work, you can follow my nerdiness on MyGeekJournal in a few days.

I think it will be a simple bridge rectifier circuit to turn the AC from the dynamo into DC suitable for an LED module. I'll have to smooth out the power a bit, make sure it doesn't go over voltage and kill the module, and maybe put in a "stand light" feature so the light stays on for a bit even while I'm stopped at a light. Currently, as soon as I stop, the front lights go dark...sub-optimal!

 

Adventures in Fundraising

IMG_0927

Being on the board of non-profits and charities brings the necessity of fundraising to the forefront. While everyone is generally well intentioned and wants to do great work, the fuel and lubricant the keeps these social ventures going is cold hard cash.

Over the years, the various organization that I've been involved with have had varying amounts of success in raising funds to sustain its activities. To a geek and business person like me, this all seem a bit haphazard. I'm thinking there must be a framework--a system.

So, in the past weeks, instead of reinventing the wheel, I've been picking the brains of various masters in this field.

Today's visit with Geoffrey McDougall has been most enlightening.

From Geoffrey's blog, his bio is certainly impressive. His current job is described as:

Geoffrey is currently working to establish partnerships with foundations and governmental institutions for Mozilla, makers of Firefox and one of the largest social enterprises in the world.

What's most impressive is his generosity with his time and knowledge. He tells me that there is "no magic" in fundraising. While that may be true, what I've gathered is that I have much to learn.

A lot of what is required seems reasonable. Remembering to position your opportunity in a story arc that makes sense to a funder; spending time being more social; treating funders like human beings and collaborators; and learning how to A-B test a pitch. Now the only trick is to piece everything together and just put it into practice. No problem. :-)

Some resources:

Geoffrey's Personal Blog

Jennifer McCrea's Exponential Fundraising Blog

#onepitch

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic - NYTimes.com

20120919-082648.jpgAn Op-Ed piece on the cause of climate change that I missed earlier. It is surprising as it is by Richard Muller, a Berkeley physics prof whose research is mostly funded by the Koch brothers.

CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I'm now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

If the Koch brothers believe their own research, do they care? Here's an article that says that maybe, BUT it is all predicated by self-interest and the moneymen.

The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic - NYTimes.com.

"NATO" replacement strap for Suunto Observer watch

The Suunto Observer is a solid outdoors watch that I like very much. However, over time the rubber strap degrades and gets brittle to the point of crumbling.

While looking for a replacement strap, I noticed that the Suunto replacement strap was about $50. This, I thought, was a bit spendy for a rubber strap.

When I went to look at how the custom strap was attached, I thought that a slim NATO strap would work. So, I took out my handy calipers to do some quick measurements.

I ordered a thin 18mm NATO strap in drab green and here is the result. The cost was less than $20 and I think it looks great. Not using the original strap doesn't make the watch look strange.

To my mind, the NATO strap is more functional and secure than the original. The green in the strap also matches the green tone of the LCD.

I'm sorry I didn't figure this out sooner!

I bought mine off eBay, but here's an Amazon store that has the same thing:

18mm NATO G10 Green Nylon Military Watch Band Strap

Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

This is something basic and logical that seems to be forgotten these days. It isn't just religious fanatics, but also the mainstream media.

Translation from Latin: What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously. Variants: What is asserted without evidence/proof/reason, may/can be dismissed/denied without evidence/proof/reason.

Seems reasonable, right? The crux of the saying is that if you make stuff up without reason, it can simplby be ignored.

It was bad enough when people were making evidence up to support a claim. Now, it seems that people are so lazy that they don't even bother doing that! They just make shit up and the masses nod in agreement. WTF?!?!

Pro Git - Pro Git 1.3 Getting Started Git Basics

Because someone asked, here it is for others...

So, what is Git in a nutshell? This is an important section to absorb, because if you understand what Git is and the fundamentals of how it works, then using Git effectively will probably be much easier for you. As you learn Git, try to clear your mind of the things you may know about other VCSs, such as Subversion and Perforce; doing so will help you avoid subtle confusion when using the tool. Git stores and thinks about information much differently than these other systems, even though the user interface is fairly similar; understanding those differences will help prevent you from becoming confused while using it.

via Pro Git - Pro Git 1.3 Getting Started Git Basics.

And, this is how you set it up if you're on a Mac: http://help.github.com/mac-set-up-git/

Hive Toronto Youth Hack Jam: Changing the World through... - Eventbrite

This looks like it'd be a great event. My kid is a little big young for it, but I may pop by nonetheless... Hive Toronto Youth Hack Jam: Changing the World through TechnologySaturday, February 18, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM ETToronto, Ontario

 

Event Details

Want to be sure you're first to hear about our next event for youth? Join our email list -?click here.

What is a Hack Jam?

  • Local events or ?hack jams? make webmaking and digital literacy easy, social and fun
  • Hack jams are based on the premise that the web is a collaborative, open, co-building environmentHive
  • We?ll be using tools that help make it easy for youth to explore, remix and redesign the web
  • Understanding how to tinker with code is a skill that?s in demand and makes youth more employable
  • Taking part in a hack jam helps teens to develop learning competencies, including critical thinking and interpersonal skills
  • Working as part of a group or managing a project are important soft skills that employers look for
  • All of the tools and curricular content are designed to be peer learning experiences that are constructed and evolved by community input and contribution
  • Youth will usually leave a hack jam event having?made something - and this event will be no different!
Why do we need events like this in Toronto?
Toronto has an unique opportunity to become a world leader in teaching kids to code and be digitally literate. Together we can make our city a more interesting place and inspire a new generation of web makers and digital innovators. This year, Mozilla aims to bring together a community of people who care about increasing digital literacy among youth, planning events for youth in Toronto, and finding ways for youth-focused organizations, educational groups, non-profits, the private sector, other stakeholders (e.g. youth, parents, teachers) and the community-at-large to collaborate to create and support a generation of digitally literate youth. This is our first youth-focused event, and we hope you'll find time to join us! (See an opportunity for collaboration??Email us.)
Our Plans for this Hack Jam:
Theme: Changing the World through Technology Date: Saturday, February 18th, 2012Calendar Time: 1 pm - 4:30 pm (or just drop by) Location: Mozilla's Community Space (366 Adelaide Street West, Suite 500) What to bring: A laptop! This event is BYOL. And if you have other electronics that you don't mind your child/children/ward using, then please bring those as well - for example, digital camera, flip cameras, tablets, etc. They just might find something interesting to do with them! *Please note that you must accompany your child/children/ward at this event.*
How We're Going to Change the World on February 18th:
This hack jam is meant to be a semi-unstructured, collaborative, creativity-inpsiring experience for youth. There is no strict agenda, and we think just a touch of chaos is good for learning. There will be five stations set up around Mozilla's Community Space. When kids arrive, they'll be taken on a tour of each of the five stations, and then they'll be free to choose where they spend their time. This gives them the opportunity to work on the projects that they personally find interesting. Some kids will float around, spending time at many stations and working on many different things, while some kids will choose to spend the majority of their time working on one project. We welcome this sort of self-directed learning.
Each station will have volunteer instructors and assistants - there to teach the kids how to use the tool, and then to support them as they think creatively and use the tool to "change the world".
The Five Stations (No experience required!):
Computer1. Websites for Awareness Mozillian Marilyn Wigglesworth and her daughter Sara will be leading this station. Want to help??Email us.
At this station, participants will use Mozilla's?Hackasaurus tool to hack a website and build awareness for a social issue that they care about. Or, if they like, they can remix a newspaper website to feature an article they write about their issue. Kids can also hack webstes to include projects that they develop at the other hack jam stations...the sky's the limit!
Earth2. Resource Usage Calculator (with Python) Greg Wilson will be leading this station. Want to help??Email us.
At this station, kids will create a simple program using Python that asks a user about their resource usage habits - the typical length of a shower, how many bags of garbage they throw out every week, the number of hours their lights are on every day. Kids will research the impact of these activities, and then output for the user the impact of their habits on a weekly, monthly or annual basis - or beyond. If they prefer, they can also use Python to build a MadLibs-style story, like in?this activity, or anything else they come up with.
Ocean3. Building a Game with MIT's Scratch: Keep Our Oceans Clean!
Matt Price will be leading this station. Want to help??Email us.
At this station, participants will use MIT's Scratch to program (and play!) a fun and interactive game. The scene is the depths of the ocean, and the player has a net - they must use it to catch litter, barrels of oil, and other things we don't want in the sea, while avoiding the fishies! You can play something similar to the game the kids will build?here. Of course, we encourage kids to be creative! This project is just a suggestion - they are free to take Scratch as far as they like!
Notepad4. App Prototyping Station Karen Louise Smith will be leading this station. Want to help??Email us.
Paper, markers, crayons, stencils and other craft materials - that's what you'll use at this station to bring your ideas to life! We may also play around with a few online prototyping tools. So, bring to this station your ideas for the most awesome world-changing apps and websites you can think of...and let's get them down on paper. It's the first step towards turning our ideas into reality!
Popcorn5. Tell your story
Ben Moscowitz will be leading this station. Want to help??Email us.
At this station, kids will produce a short interactive video on something they really care about. Whether it's an endangered species, an important social issue, or a pet peeve?participants will produce a quick video and webbify it with Mozilla's Popcorn Maker.
Reinvention6. Reinventing Transit - ZIP TRANSIT by?PlayLab.ca
Our roadways are so busy and traffic is always a problem. At this station, participants will be challenged to reinvent public transit for Toronto. They will brainstorm, design and using simple, everyday materials, will prototype, test and build an innovative system that will transport people across a zip line, high up in the air. ?Facilitators will be available to help participants use?PlayLab's unique adaptation of the Design Thinking Process to solve this very real problem and generate ideas on how to change the world through technology. ?To learn more about PlayLab's unique approach to problem solving, visit?www.playlab.ca.
The More, the Merrier!
Please feel free to tell other parents, your teachers, and friends about this event. If you can't come the whole time, feel free to drop in! We'd love to have you come and see some of the things digitally-literate youth can do.
*Please note that parents/guardians must accompany their children/wards at this event*
Want to be sure you're first to hear about our next event for youth? Join our email list - click here.

Want to volunteer?

We are looking for volunteers (teenagers and adults) with design, HTML, CSS, publicity, video and photography superpowers and skills. Sign up above or email Heather Payne at heather [at] heatherpayne [dot ca].

via Hive Toronto Youth Hack Jam: Changing the World through... - Eventbrite.