# Monday, 25 January 2016
Monday, 25 January 2016 12:09:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 21 January 2016

I moved to Chicago in 2014. Although I had spent a lot of time in this city prior to my move, much of Chicago was a mystery to me. I knew a few square miles of the Loop and the area just to north of the Loop; and I was sure I would become familiar with Old Town, where I rented an apartment.

But Chicago has 77 Community Areas and over 200 neighborhoods. And I knew little or nothing about most of them. I wanted to get to know them better.

My first thought was to take some time driving around the city - either randomly or in an organized pattern, but that would have given me only a view from my car and no taste of the actual neighborhoods, so I rejected this idea.

Heritage General Store

One day, I happened upon a list of the best coffee shops in Chicago.  Those who know me, know my fondness for fine coffees and will not be surprised that I was drawn into this list.  I formed a plan.

I decided to visit each coffee shop on the list and use this journey as a way to explore the neighborhoods of Chicago. Every cafe except Hard Boiled Coffee offered a latte on its menu, so that’s what I ordered. Sometimes I accompanied the caffeine with food. Mostly I went alone, but my brother Dan and I visited 2 places in Pilsen when he was visiting from Australia. I also visited a few places that were not on the list but that were close to my home or where I happened to be on a given day.

Kristoffer's

The coffee shops themselves were just a means to an end. My goal was to see the city.  While visiting each cafe, I was able to also visit a new neighborhood and absorb its charm. I experienced the family atmosphere of Ravenswood and the bustle of Wicker Park. I spent time walking around the Mexican culture of Pilsen and the stylish area of Boys' Town. I found areas filled with artists, with rushing businessmen, and with working class people.

The Perfect Cup

As for the cafes themselves, the decor ranged from the simplicity of Big Shoulders Coffee to the hodgepodge of Jackalope Coffee and Tea. A giant cat painted on a garage door looms over the backyard of Dark Matter Coffee at the Star Lounge, while I found a man repairing a bicycle in the back of the Heritage General Store. I don't have a favourite coffee or cafe, but I will say that all were good and I would recommend any of them.

Dark Matter Coffee at Star Lounge

If you decide to make this same journey, be aware that 2 of the coffee shops on the list (Bad Wolf Coffee and Knockbox Cafe) have closed and that Hard Boiled Coffee now exists only inside the Horse Thief Hollow Restaurant in Beverly.

Ipsento

And I feel now like I know Chicago a little bit more for having experienced her neighborhoods.

I'm still deciding what my next urban journey will be. I may explore the top Chicago Style Hot Dogs.

More photos

Thursday, 21 January 2016 13:12:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 18 January 2016
# Friday, 15 January 2016

CodeMash2016-03  CodeMash2016-59

For me, CodeMash is like a family reunion.

CodeMash2016-46 Even though the event has grown to 2500 attendees, I still look forward to seeing people that I've got to know at previous CodeMashes - many of them have been coming every year.

CodeMash2016-83Sure, there are over 200 great sessions and I was proud to be asked to deliver one of them ("A Hitchhiker's Guide to Azure Mobile Apps"); and there are plenty of great workshops and I was pleased to help out at a couple of those presented by my colleagues; and there were sponsors (including Microsoft) happy to share information about their company and talk with potential customers or recruits or just about anyone; and there were numerous activities organized by volunteers, sponsors, and others, including cocktail parties, charity events, a record-breaking Pong game (the Guinness Book folks were there to confirm this), and a game room, and a jam session, and... well, you get the picture.

CodeMash2016-52 But, for me, the conversations with speakers and attendees are what make an event special. And CodeMash is even more special to me because I was attending for the 9th consecutive year. I still kick myself for declining an invitation to the first CodeMash. I learn so much from these conversations and there are so many experts to learn from at this event. I worked as a sponsor at the Microsoft booth for most of the event, so people were coming to me to talk. CodeMash2016-22 Highlights of the week included:

  • A charity event organized by Microsoft in which attendees adapted toys so they could be used by special needs children. Over 100 participants adapted dozens of toys.
  • A conversation with Mark Miller about UX design principles
  • My own session, for which I received some positive feedback.
  • The CodeMash Factory, where numerous people came to learn about and hack on IoT and other topics and build some amazing projects.

CodeMash2016-01 This was the 10th anniversary of CodeMash and it shows no signs of slowing down. It was an excellent way to kick off 2016.

 

More photos

Friday, 15 January 2016 15:03:01 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 14 January 2016

Recently, I chatted with Oisin Kim, CEO webdoctor an online prescription and medical service. We talked about Azure and BizSpark and their market.

You can watch the interview below.

Thursday, 14 January 2016 11:29:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 12 January 2016

2015 was the year my son Nick completed his Masters degree at the University of South Florida, He is now the Director of Basketball Operations at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville. I was able to attend 2 SIUE games in December - at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and at Northwestern (both losses by the Cougars).

2015 was the year my son Tim decided to pursue Informatics - a field of applied Computer Science - as a major at Indiana University. He is currently halfway through his third year of college.

2015 was the year I finally got serious about my health. It had been years since I had a medical checkup so I scheduled one, along with a long-overdue colonoscopy. I had not been to the dentist since the Reagan administration so I scheduled a checkup and a series of teeth cleanings. Miraculously, I had no health issues and only one small cavity. The doctors did not point it out, but I was aware that I had been steadily gaining wait over the past few years. So I began a serious exercise program and cut my calorie intake dramatically. As a result, I lost about 45 pounds and I've kept it off for 4-5 months now. I hired a personal trainer and worked with him to increase my stamina and core strength and I began riding my bicycle all over downtown until the weather dropped below freezing.

2015 was the summer I finally sold my house in Michigan, closing an unpleasant chapter in my life. My drivers license now reads "Illinois" and I have very nice home in urban Chicago. More importantly, for the first time in over a decade, I was able to choose where I want to live.

2015 was the year that my friend Jay lost his wife to an automobile accident and my friend Bill lost his life to cancer. It was also the year my cousin Sharon successfully made it through her cancer treatments.

2015 was a busy year for me professionally. I delivered well over 100 presentations at user groups, conferences, universities, and startup incubators; mentored at 7 student hackathons; held monthly office hours at 2 startup incubators; staffed the Office 365 booth at the Ignite conference; and attended countless user group meetings. I delivered 9 Cloud Camps and 14 Dev Camps during the year. I traveled around the country from Miami to Seattle to San Diego. I made my first trip ever to Alabama when I spoke at the DevSpace conference in Huntsville. I delivered 2 keynote presentations: One at Detroit Dev Day at Cobo Hall and one at GR DevNight in Grand Rapids, MI.

2015 was the year I accelerated my practice of producing online videos. I released a new episode of Technology and Friends ever Monday (Episode 400 aired in early 2016) and I recorded and released 15 DevRadio episodes; I also began a new series - GCast - featuring short educational screencasts.

2015 included a trip to Europe. In May, I flew to Romania to speak at the IT Camp (my second time speaking at the this conference); then to Stockholm, Sweden to speak at DevSum. I spent a few extra days in Stockholm visiting friends and exploring the region. This is by far the farthest north I have ever been. Although most days were partly cloudy, the sun set after I went to bed at night and rose before I awoke in the morning. I highly recommend a visit to Stockholm.

2015 was an excellent year for my favourite sports teams - the Michigan State Spartans. Both the basketball team and the football team advanced to the national Final Four - an unexpected and amazing accomplishments. I was blessed to see a few games, including the Big 10 Championship football game in Indianapolis last month.

In 2015, I continued my practice of beginning each day thinking of something for which I am grateful.

It's hard to believe 2015 consisted of only 12 months. I packed a lot into this time. On the other hand, it feels like I wrote a retrospective of 2014 just a few weeks ago. 2016 is beginning strong. I've already attended one excellent conference and I have some adventures planned for the first month. I approach this coming year with much optimism and much anticipation.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016 13:27:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 11 January 2016
Monday, 11 January 2016 21:20:57 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 04 January 2016
Monday, 04 January 2016 12:29:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Sunday, 03 January 2016

1/3
Today I am grateful for unbound optimism for the coming year.

1/2
Today I am grateful for the progress I made on my software project yesterday.

1/1
Today I am grateful for an amazing season by the Michigan State Spartans football team. ‪#‎GoGreen

12/31
Today I am grateful for 2015 - all the good times and all the challenges and opportunities to learn and become better.

12/30
Today I am grateful for a hot tea in a warm room on a cold morning.

12/29
Today I am grateful that Matt and Tim made it back to Michigan yesterday, despite the bad weather and hazardous road conditions.

12/28
Today I am grateful for a couple days in Chicago with my son Tim and my nephew Matt.

12/27
Today I am grateful for a visit to Shedd Aquarium yesterday with my son and my nephew.

12/26
Today I am grateful for Christmas with my family.

12/25
Today I am grateful for Christmas Eve dinner with Nick and Tim last night.

12/24
Today I am grateful to re-start my Personal Trainer sessions after a long hiatus.

12/23
Today I am grateful for a morning exploring Chicago's South Loop yesterday.

12/22
Today I am grateful to those who donated over $800 to the Fink family in the first couple hours the donation page was online.

12/21
Today I am grateful to win a bottle of wine at a Christmas party raffle last night.

12/20
Today I am grateful for a rare day of relaxing and doing almost nothing.

12/19
Today I am grateful for: -Seeing "The Force Awakens" yesterday morning. -Watching a 4-overtime victory by the Pistons last night at the United Center.

12/18
Today I am grateful for the empathy shown by friends, colleagues, and strangers.

12/17
Today I am grateful to know William Fink as a friend and a colleague and that I had a chance to spend time with him the last few months of his life.

12/16
Today I am grateful for inspiration and education from those around me.

12/15
Today I am grateful to be able to ride my bike in the middle of December. In Chicago!

12/14
Today I am grateful I live in a neighborhood with beautiful churches.

12/13
Today I am grateful for dinner with Kate last night.

12/12
Today I am grateful that my car is now fixed.

12/11
Today I am grateful to J. for inviting me to speak at GRDevNight in Grand Rapids and allowing me to stay at his house last night.

12/10
Today I am grateful for: -A chance to teach young children to code yesterday -A holiday party at 1871 last night

12/9
Today I am grateful for God's grace that shines on me every day.

12/8
Today I am grateful for dinner with my team last night.

12/7
Today I am grateful to arrive home safely yesterday morning after driving all night.

Sunday, 03 January 2016 16:16:17 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 28 December 2015
Testing | Web
Monday, 28 December 2015 23:16:22 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)