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Georgetown

US News’ D.C. office is located on Thomas Jefferson Street NW in what is known as the Georgetown historical district. Georgetown predates the rest of the capital by about 50 years, and while its mostly known for embassy’s, retail, and films such as The Exorcist and Wedding Crashers, it’s also a really really cool place to work. The office is right next to the C&O Canal trail: Washington Harbor waterfront to the left, M street to the right. I gotta tell ya it’s pretty awesome grabbing a sandwich and just strolling down to the waterfront for lunch. So if you work in DC, or are just passing through sometime – give me a call, e-mail or text, and let’s grab some lunch or a beer!

star dot ico

It’s a tiny, seemingly insignificant, sixteen by sixteen pixel image.

But let’s be honest: it’s the first thing site visitors will notice when your site loads, and the only thing that will differentiate you from pretty much every other Bluehost WordPress site out there. And with how so very simple it is to change, let’s get a new favicon up there, shall we?

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, a “favicon” is that square image thingy you notice in the left-hand corner of your browser tab when you visit a site. Standards provide you with the ability to define an individual one for your own site – but if you don’t, a default one will be used. The following steps are for this site (which is WordPress), but it should be easy enough to replicate for all. It’s a simple as:

  1. Using an image editor (cheap, Windows junkie I am, I use GIMP), create an image 64px x 64px.
  2. Design your image, but remember it’s going to have to look great as 16px x 16px. Less it more. Mine is the letter “b”. I am also not a designer.
  3. Scale the image to 16px by 16px.
  4. Save or export your image as a “favicon.ico”. If that extension is not possible with your image editor, you can either (a) get a plugin, or (b) save it as a GIF, JPG or PNG and Google any number of favicon generators out there… those can be hit or miss though.
  5. Upload the “favicon.ico” image to your site. Often, this will be the root directory. But in my case, WordPress was looking for the image elsewhere based on a link tag with the attribute of “shortcut icon”. In that case, I’d rename the existing image to archive it, and upload your new image there.
  6. Ensure the aforementioned link tag is in fact pointing to your new image. If the tag does not exist, it’s not a terrible idea to add it to the <head> block: <link rel="shortcut icon" href="favicon.ico" />
  7. You may need to flush your browser’s cache in order to get it to show up properly.

And you’re done! Now was worth sixty seconds of your time, wasn’t it?

Coal Wharf

“Take a look up. Imagine ten-thousand years ago, all of this was under a glacier that was a mile high.” So the Meetup tour guide began. Kinda hard to imagine it being colder than it is now, I thought.

From glacier to river, Podunk-ground to colonial shipyard, all that now remains of the 19th-century coal wharf is a small earthen outcrop that juts into the Connecticut River. Surrounded by the Rocky Hill – Glastonbury Ferry and acres of farmland, you’d never guess what a bustling place this used to be.

For now, it’s merely a picturesque alternative to traffic on I-91.

And I’m sure the neighbors appreciate it that way.

Back From Bristol

March 11 was my last day working at ESPN. After nearly three and a half years working for “The Worldwide Leader,” I’ve accepted a very exciting Senior Web Developer position at “US News and World Report” for their Travel and Auto vertical, located in the Georgetown sector of Washington D.C.

There have been so many memories from ESPN through those few years: From Magical Unicorns to Deadspin announcing layoffs during the summer of 2013. From crazy “Reply-All” e-mail threads to the annual NCAA tournament pot-luck. From the Ooyala Video Migration to Jim Abbot pitching batting practice.

Trying to “steal” Rita LeBlanc’s Super Bowl Ring…

Rita LeBlanc’s Super Bowl Ring.

Conquering the Mt. Snow with the Tough Mudder Crew…

ESPN’s EXT Team: Tough Mudder, 2011.

Shark attacks…

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

The Stanley Cup…

The Stanley Cup comes to visit ESPN.

Imperial entanglements…

You do not know the power of the Dark Side… we have cookies.

Blizzard of February, 2013.

Through hard times like numerous blizzards, two earthquakes, two hurricanes, the “Franken-Storm”, Newtown and the Boston Marathon Bombing…

Through three reorganizations…

Through working with all the various groups at ESPN: Sports Production, API group, X-Games, International, Editorial and WatchESPN…

It was a blast working with such talented and fun people.

My brother Matty and I on the ESPN News set.

My only regret is that I never got into a “This is Sportsceneter” spot like Lucas and Wong. Though is that really Wong in the green shirt? Now I’m not so sure…

Oh well, there are days when this might as well be me.

So as honestly as I can, to all those that I had the pleasure of working with or knowing, I’d like to say: thanks.

Please keep in touch!

Quieres construir un muñeco de nieve?

The Marian statue atop the “Panecillo” in the background.

Last week, my brother Matthew, my sister Lisa, her husband (Tim), their two daughters (Evangeline and Audrey) and I were fortunate enough to visit my sister Michelle and her family in Quito, Ecuador. Quito is the world’s highest capital city, and you notice the altitude right off the bat – with an elevation of 9,350, it’s almost twice as high as Denver, CO. Simply walking up the stairs becomes no easy task, much less chasing the nieces and nephews up and down.

Flowers along “Seven Crosses Road”.

Though it’s on the equator, Quito’s temperature rarely ranges outside of a 70-50 degree zone, and its only seasons are “Dry” and “Rainy” (it rained nearly every day). That fact that they use a similar enough electrical voltage as the US was handy for charging mobile devices, as well as the fact they are also on the US dollar – though be aware that because of a “change shortage,” bills as large as a twenty were all but useless because many vendors would not accept them.

Evangeline’s all set for the tour of Quito.

Basílica del Voto Nacional, Quito

At any rate, the first day out and about was spent on a bus tour that took us through the city, it’s historical sector, and “el Panecillo”, a central hill at about the center of the city that sports a statue of the Blessed Mother and a 360° degree view of the city, its surrounding hills and dormant volcano.

Malia getting one of the butterflies to land on her finger.

Next stop was the remote town of Mindo, about 2 hours northeast of Quito – easily the most remote place I’ve ever been. While rumbling along the road of mud, you half expect a pack of Velociraptors to rush from the bush. Our destination was the Mariposas Butterfly Garden, where they raise over 40 species of butterfly within a netted, walking environment. After a long St. Patrick’s day lunch at El Quetzal De Mindo (where they make their own chocolate and beer amongst other things), we made our way back to casa Hilleary for dinner and a traditional viewing of “Darby O’Gill” via the projector.

There are two equator museums in proximity to Quito: one on the equator itself, and one – more picturesque – that sits about about 250 yards from 0’0″. Not exactly sure how they screwed that one up, but regardless we visited the former – and I’m glad we did. One of the features of the real museum is that there’s all sorts of cool experiments you can do such as balance eggs and drain water straight down (even six feet to the right or left causes the water to spiral). Also cool were the native american exhibits, specimen of the local fauna such as the “Goliath birdeater” tarantula, and even the ancient shrunken head of a 12 year old boy… hmm.

In between all the action out and about, hanging out with the fam at “Casa Hilleary” was a blast. The movie “Frozen” was definitely the feature of the week with two showings and daily soundtrack plays – I especially enjoyed screwing up the lyrics to annoy the kids. Shay was able to construct a Duplo tower to the ceiling of the play room, and the compound’s trampoline was a big hit for all, especially Evangeline. All in all, just a great country to visit, with such gracious and generous hosts.

That’s a load-bearing pillar now, Shay.

Evangeline “fishing” for Koi.

RE: Reply All

Since it’s Friday, figured I’d repost an oldie but goodie:

This past Friday some unfortunate employee accidentally sent an e-mail to the wrong distribution list. Not all that uncommon really, except that this particular list was comprised of 800 employees, including the television talent.

Even then the damage should have been minimal. Until the reply-all’s began.

“Why am I on this list?”, “Please remove me from this thread” the wildfire began, the senders either too hasty or ignorant to realize that every response would only exacerbate the situation and be forwarded to hundreds of other employees. How they didn’t realize this is beyond me, but it was totally awesome.

We spent the next half-hour watching the responses roll in. Some ballsy employees even began to chime in: “GO BILLS!”, “So who does everybody like in Rays-Rangers tonight?”. I can now honestly say in one day I received e-mails from Jay Harris, Scott Van Pelt and Michelle Beadle. But how was your Friday?

Alas, all good things must end. John Skipper laid the hammer down with a thunderous cease and desist e-mail. Six replies later, that was that.

My favorite of the afternoon? ‘What a great way to close out the week! I love EMAIL.’

Ragged Mountain Preserve

One of my recent reads is Hilaire Belloc’s “The Path to Rome,” which is the account of his walking pilgrimage from southern France to Italy in the early 1900’s. Not a bad read, though I’m only midway through. But today it inspired me enough today to get off the couch and get outdoors. And I’m really glad I did.

I’d heard of Ragged Mountain Preserve in Berlin, Connecticut a while back, but I couldn’t have picked a better day to go. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, and as it was the first day above mid 40 in a few weeks, the hikers were out in force.

Maybe also from literary inspiration, I decided to ditch my camera for my sketchpad, thought maybe with mixed results as Ragged Mountain had some of the cooler rock formations I’d seen along the East Coast, and it would’ve been nice to get some camera shots in. One in particular caught my eye that the sketch really couldn’t do justice.

At about the one mile mark, I came across a memorial marker that was both heartbreaking and inspiring. It was a memorial to Darin Findley, an avid rock climber who died of a brain hemorrhage while scaling the cliffs in 2003. While reading the laminated note left by his mother, I was struck by her faith and perspective. I can only imagine dealing with the sudden death of a loved one like that has to be terrible, but her faith in God’s mercy and providence was beautiful to read. In the end, he died doing something he loved to do, and it’s hard to imagine a better fate than that.

 

Let the Madness Begin

Well it’s March again, and for the VOD and WatchESPN teams at the four letter, it only means one thing: Basketball (insert obligatory 4 game shot of screens).

In all fairness, it’s a well deserved reward for all of the hard work the teams put into their NCAA Basketball products before the mandatory tournament “code freeze” goes into effect. As well, this year we had quite pot-luck spread: wings, dips, meatballs, chips, cookies, veggies, fruit… and best of all, pizza. Almost takes the sting from my busted bracket.

But I’m having a conundrum: with VCU and Georgetown now out of the mix, I really don’t have a horse in this race. So who to root for… Coach Larranaga and Miami (gasp)? Gonzaga?? Michigan??? Or maybe it’s just time to throw my attention towards Baseball and  warm thoughts of Spring and Summer to come. Hmm…

Let’s go O’s!

 

Nate Silver

One thing that I’ve really grown to enjoy as a (relatively) young professional is the opportunity to hear successful professionals speak. In college, we would often have the opportunity to hear authors, publishers, professors and activists come and speak through what was called the “Major Speaker Series.” As a web developer in NOVA, we had “Refresh DC.” And I’m sure most of you are familiar with “TED – Ideas Worth Spreading.”

At ESPN, we’re very fortunate to have similar events called “Newsmaker.” Since I started working there in 2010, I’ve made it a point to attend as often as possible. And I’ve gotten something out of every one, from Mark Murphy to Billy Crystal, Maureen Dowd to the Farrelly brothers.

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a Q&A with Nate Silver, the famous statistician, sabermetrician and author of the blog “Five Thirty Eight.” Nate spoke on a number of subjects, from the recent Baseball Hall of Fame vote to the 2012 Presidential Election, and each of us received a copy of his newest book, “The Signal and the Noise.”

I’ve never much cared for math, and the thought of reading a book on statistics makes me yawn. But one thing I came across in what little I’ve yet read was the a concept of which I’ve thought much about recently:

“The instinctual shortcut that we take when we have ‘too much information’ is to engage with it selectively, picking out the parts we like and ignoring the remainder, making allies with those who have made the same choices and enemies of the rest.” [p. 3, 4]

To me, that really cuts to the heart of what I feel to be the reason why public discourse is so heated today. We have access to more information than we’ve ever had before, and yet rather than being more knowledgeable for it, ignorance reigns supreme. People are so gung-ho to prove themselves right, they grab any internet factoid or rumor they deem relevant and ignore the rest – so long as it aids their position. There’s precious little time spent gathering knowledge, and even less for reflection.

But at any rate it’s a Sunday night, and I hope to get a few more pages in before bed. And sign up for the next “Newsmaker.”

Fun With HTML5 Video

Every now and again, it’s good to to have some fun with the ol’ wide web, and remind myself why I do what I do. One great article that I find myself going back to time and again is Mark Pilgrim’s “Dive Into HTML5“. The whole thing is frankly fantastic, but as a web developer who works with VOD, I especially get alot out of his section on HTML5 video. It’s pretty much all you really need to know, from encoding to markup.

So just for fun, I went a tiny step further to build it out in JavaScript (of course with some help from my niece and nephew): http://publicdev.appalabs.com/video/finestra/

So check it out Mark’s article. It’s well worth the read.