Category Archives: fribble

Marathon by 40

Marathon by 40

I know I haven’t been posting much here. But, I have been fairly active recently elsewhere on the net.

I’ve mentioned 404UXD already, so look there for UXD-related posts. But just a few days ago I started Marathon by 40 ( I’m starting this new blog a month before I turn 38 years old. I have a personal goal to run a marathon by the time I’m 40. Considering I couldn’t run a mile without walking about a year ago, this is going to be a considerable challenge.

I’ll be blogging there to keep track of my progress and to allow my friends an easy way to keep me accountable and encourage me to stay on track.

Are you on a running program right now yourself? Stop by and let’s encourage one another!

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Posted by on August 23, 2008 in fribble – You follow?

So, I’m in the middle of another drought here on Mark-Up. But, I have been a little more active on our team blog at We adopted a tumbler format over there for more frequent, more pithy posts. So, if you haven’t yet already, please check us out.

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Posted by on July 31, 2008 in fribble


Len memes well, so I’ll reciprocate.

I haven’t responded to memes in the past, as I tried to keep this blog more professional than personal. But Len Devanna, one of my new cohorts at EMC, tagged me today and after reading his response I’m inspired to post. Len’s the guy behind the recent redesign. I think they did a great job and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will evolve in the months to come.

I appreciated Len’s fresh take on memes:

In the past 30 minutes, I’ve read some fascinating stuff about folks I’d otherwise have no exposure to. I’m following them now, and my social network has grown that much more. It’s also interesting to watch the rules evolve as information flows from person to person.

Indeed, I appreciated getting to know more about him, so I’ll now return the favor.

Four jobs I’ve had:

  1. My first job was sacking groceries at the local Minyard Food Store. It was minimum wage (with occasional tips), but I learned a lot about grocery store merchandizing and marketing, which would come in handy later in my career when I worked as an intern and a consultant at the FritoLay and PepsiCo IT world headquarters..
  2. During summers of high school and college I was a Lifeguard at the local public pool. My last year there I even won our local “Superguard” competition (its kind of like the olympics for life guards).
  3. In college I was an “RA” (Resident Assistant) for 3 years. Every staff I worked on was a great group of guys. A few of us still stay in touch. I’ll be back on the 40 Acres in March to lecture again on “High Fidelity Prototypes.”
  4. For most of my professional career, my wife (an elementary and middle school teacher) hasn’t understood much more about what I do other than “computer stuff.” But when I worked for Voyager Expanded Learning for a year, she actually helped me with my assignments. I was there in 1998 helping them develop websites on CDs for low-income schools. Back then not many schools had internet connections. So, we would develop colorful and fun websites for kids that complimented the curricula Voyager sold. Because the sites were on CD, schools could still teach kids how to use a browser (we even had a primitive javascript-based search engine). Sounds rather silly now, but it was a novel idea for the time. I had my most rewarding project ever there: developing a Flash-based kiosk that was part of a small exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Four shows I DVR

  1. Texas Longhorn and Dallas Cowboys football – sports are really the only reason we have DishHD. It’s hard to watch football now any other way. I like the Voom channels (especially “Private Life of a Masterpiece” on GalleryHD), but most everything else we watch is available through iTunes or Netflix.
  2. LOST – is watched religiously timeshifted 30 minutes after it starts; that way we can see it as soon as possible without waiting for commercials.
  3. My wife and I really got into Pushing Daisies before the writers’ strike. I hope it comes back when they return. Since then we’ve been watching Wonderfalls and we’re starting Dead Like Me to scratch the itch.
  4. Did I mention how sentimental I can be? I record the very old reruns of Davey and Goliath for my kids to watch while they’re waiting to go to church. I’ve also subjected them to every single episode of Speed Racer.

Four places I’ve been:

  1. My mom is British and her side of the family all still live in England. I’ve been several times for pleasure and once for business. Hope to go back in a few years with the entire family.
  2. China was an eye-opening experience. I worked at a Cheetos plant that didn’t have any cheese (the favorite Chinese flavors were prawn and steak).
  3. Dothan, Alabama is the “Peanut Capitol of the World” and with respect to Len’s comments, is home to some of the friendliest people in the world.
  4. The place I’ve been and most want to take my wife is Venice. Someday when the kids are all off to college we’ll do the Grand Tour.

Four favorite foods:

  1. Just about anything on the menu (or on tap) at Henk’s. He’s really Dutch, but they serve the best German fare in Dallas.
  2. I could eat Sunet Beef Fajitas at Mi Cocina every day for lunch and dinner. Sunset = spicy queso with fried shoestring onions.
  3. Amy’s Ice Cream is a must-stop in Austin, TX. Mexican Vanilla with KitKat is my all-time favorite flavor.
  4. While I am thinking of dessert, my wife makes a mean Apple Custard Pie. She slices the apples paper-thin. It’s even better the morning after for breakfast.

So, there you have it, Len. Thanks for sharing, and the encouragement to actually post something on this so-called blog of mine.

I’ve invited several others to carry the torch. I’ll post their links should they decide to accept the mission.

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Posted by on February 2, 2008 in fribble


Air Conditioner Hack

Here’s a non-computer design related entry. My friend Wayne inspired me to fix my air conditioner drain issue. Mine’s been leaking condensation into the overflow pan all summer. The overflow pan is doing its job, carrying the water away outside the house through a PVC line out to the eave. But rust is building in the pan, and the fact that water was dripping out meant it was flowing somewhere that it wasn’t designed to, and that is never a good thing.

The end result, an easier to maintain drainWhy was it leaking where it shouldn’t thus dripping into the overflow pan? Because the main line (a closed line from the air handler to the sewer line) must have been blocked. Given the system is over 35 years old, there’s no telling what gunk had built up in there over that time. But because the line goes right into the air handler without any connectors, I couldn’t find a non-destructive access to flush or snake the pipe. A bad design (a closed system) kept me from maintaining favorable conditions for maximum throughput.

Armed with various elbows, t’s, and connectors to fit my 3/4″ pipes, PVC primer and cement, a Dremel (I’m always looking for something to Dremel), and a brand new and wonderfully designed shop vac , I headed up into the attic.

The project took much longer than it should have for several bone-headed reasons I won’t go into now. But by the end, I had cut open the line and used the shop vac (and a few drain-cleaning chemicals) to get water flowing easily through the line again. When I put it all back together, I replaced the first elbow joint with a T and a cap so that every few months I can easily pour some bleach down the pipe to keep it clean.

The AC ran intermittently through the night (it might just be psychosomatic, but it felt like it ran cooler). In the morning, the overflow pan was completely dry. There’s still lots of rust in there, but cleaning that is a project for another day. Checking the pan again this evening, a full day of operation after the clean-out, it is still dry. I can assume that water is flowing out in the route it was originally designed, and holding up well during the year’s most active use.

So, why didn’t they install the pipe with an easy way to maintain it in the first place? Could have been time or cost constraints. Or, it could simply be that design often takes several iterations before an ideal solution is produced.


Posted by on July 24, 2006 in fribble



my worlds collide – Stat City Tee

Data visualization and visual design combined on a cool looking t-shirt. Click the image to see a larger rendition. Using chart elements to create a sity(that’s what happens when I try to type Sim City too fast, then change my mind mid-sentence) city scene like Sim City. There’s even a legend on the side. If you look at the pictures of the models on the site, it looks like SharePoint Google Analytics (thanks, Jeremy) in the background.

Threadless is great. Jenny loves her Spanish Teacher and Scrabble shirts.

I can’t wait until mine arrives in the mail.


Posted by on July 20, 2006 in fribble


Genius + Brilliant = Geniant

Last week was my last at Hitachi Consulting. I started at Geniant on Monday, and I am very excited to be here.

This was a gut-wrenching decision that kept me up many nights over the past several months. The people at Navigator (now Hitachi Consulting) have been truly wonderful to work with. The intelligence, work ethic, integrity, and fun that this group has surpasses any employer or client I have worked for before. There are too many co-workers and clients to name (well, the friends list at the right is a good start) that I am proud to have worked with while at there Navigator.

So why leave? The gig at Geniant will provide more opportunities for me to work on UI-specific projects with many talented UI designers and developers. It’s a chance for me to follow some specific goals I have for growing as a UI consultant.

As I get settled in at Geniant, I’ll likely be posting more about UI ideas and experiences here on my blog (yeah, actions speak louder than words, I know). I hope you’ll stop by the website once in a while, or better yet, subscribe to the feed in your favorite news aggregator

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Posted by on July 19, 2006 in fribble


my new first look for books is

Back in the day, I loved spending time (and money) in Taylor’s Bookstore on Beltline in Addison. It was the mecca of technical books in the metroplex. They carried lots of titles on technical subjects back before the big-box Borders and B&N was around, and they were much deeper then than the rivals that outlasted them are today.

At the Dallas UPA meeting last week, I learned about I’m not sure how they’ll compete with the likes of Amazon online, but for me it is great that they are based here in Richardson, and have a store front you can visit. If you struggle with instant gratification like I do, you can check the inventory online, then drive over to pick it up in less time than it would take to ship. The inventory is huge (over 20,000 titles in stock) and there are comfortable chairs to sit in while you sample your selections. They even have a free soft-drink fountain setup in a comfortable lounge.

The store is on the east side of Central just off Collins; its a potentially dangerous trap for me now being on the way home from many clients.

Support a local good guy next time you need a technical tome.


Posted by on June 8, 2006 in fribble


We All Nowitzness

In honor of Dirk’s ridiculous performance last night, here’s a Dirk Nowitzki Witness wallpaper (1024×768), “We All Nowitzness”.

Go Mavs! Finish Phoenix Saturday night!


Posted by on June 2, 2006 in fribble


processing the desktop like your inbox

Keith Robinson had a great post today on spring-cleaning for your desktop. Here’s a tip that I have used to keep the new MacBook Pro’s desktop clutter free.

In addition to standard aliases (shortcuts, for my Windows friends) to important drives/directories I have a “downloads” folder on my desktop. Everything I save from the web or email goes in here. It’s easy enough to get to, being on the desktop, and keeps the clutter out of sight. Typically I then manipulate the file as needed, filing it appropriately or deleting it when I am done. If I get distracted or I’m not ready to use the file, it stays in the download folder.

Each morning I make it a point to “process” the downloads folder just like I do with my inbox. I look at each item and either use it (if it will take less than 2 minutes), file it where it belongs, or delete it if it isn’t needed anymore. If I’m still not ready to use it, it stays in the folder. At least I know it will be reviewed again the next day.

My old machines had very messy desktops, and I could never find those one-off files when I needed them. While I have only been using this new system for six weeks or so, it’s been very effective so far.

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Posted by on May 15, 2006 in fribble



Have you seen what’s “noteworthy”?

Thanks for reading Mark-up, my personal notes made public. Most of you are here because we were already good friends and we realized that RSS is much more efficient than email at sharing our ideas about common interests. But I have been happily surprised to hear from old and new friends that are reading the blog as well. I’m glad you’re here.

This main feed is where I infrequently post my own thoughts or analysis. This area is reserved for entire paragraphs or new threads. If you’re purely reading these posts through a news aggregator and you’re only subscribed to Mark-up, you’re missing the “snippet” section that’s updated much more frequently with happy finds on the web. In the spirit of Coudal’s Fresh Signals or Firewheel Design’s Current Plugs (both prolific sources of amusing and inspiring links) I have a “Noteworthy” feed powered by Links that I think my like-minded friends would also enjoy get an extra “noteworthy” tag when I post them to View them online beside the latest posts on the home page, or through the magic of RSS in your own comfy news aggregator.

I hope you’re amused or inspired by these links as much as I was.

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Posted by on May 11, 2006 in fribble