Journal

What went right, wrong and was missing from our service business

July 8, 2017

After over two years working in the public sector, I’ve had the opportunity to look back and consider what went right, what went wrong and what was missing in our previous company. In government, I’ve grown substantially as a designer. Daily exp…

Believing in heroes

February 26, 2017

As a kid, I had lots of heroes. They started out from the super variety like Batman or Spiderman and as I grew older, they morphed into sports heroes. Posters of superstar baseball, hockey, basketball and football players lined my childhood bedroom…

How I keep my feet warm while fat biking at -30°C and colder

January 21, 2017

I ride my fat bike in winter both on single track trails and to and from work almost every day. I also happen to live in Canada's Yukon. This combination means that I ride in some pretty cold weather on a regular basis. By no means am I a hardcore…

At the end, all you'll have is memories

January 16, 2017

This is something that's been occupying my thoughts as of late. In the minutes before you die, what will you have left in your possession? Most likely, simply memories of a life lived. I say "most likely" because I'm really just guessing.…

Fat biking on Jubilee Mountain in Tagish, Yukon

January 4, 2017

Across Tagish Lake from our cabin sits a mountain called Jubilee. At one of its peaks is a microwave tower and a fire tower, both of which are easily visible on a clear day. Hot day, tired dog This past summer I decided I'd take our dog and try to…

The poetry of alpine snowboard carving

November 8, 2016

I've been riding alpine snowboards for nearly 20 years. According to The Carver's Almanac people who purchase carving gear, like me, represent less than 1% of the total snowboard market. In a way, that's sorta depressing. But in another way, it's…

What "service design" really means

October 18, 2016

Before I joined the government, I thought that "service design" was mostly related to the realms of customer experience design, user experience design, visual design or interaction design. In other words, the design of things that people…

Leaving the tribe

October 10, 2016

In elementary school, I took up skateboarding. I still skate today - mostly to and from meetings on my longboard - but if you asked, I'd no longer consider myself a skateboarder. 1991: The year I figured out the trick to skipping school without the…

Doing the hard work in order to make things better

September 13, 2016

I've been employed at Government of Yukon in the eServices for Citizens branch for more than a year and a half. In this time, I've been part of a very small team - me, my director, several local programmers and a development company out of…

Bikes are way more fun these days

September 9, 2016

Like me, if you've been riding higher-end "performance" bikes for a while, you know first-hand how much better they are than they used to be. And by better, I mean way more fun. My first mountain bike (that is, not the Canadian Tire-sold…

The pain and suffering that comes from shutting down a business

November 14, 2015

I've been working in my new job for about eight months. I've really enjoyed the stuff we've been doing and are about to start shipping. Additionally, I get to work with some pretty awesome people in and outside of the government. All in all, it's…

28 years of snowboards

September 28, 2015

I started snowboarding during the winter of 1987/88 so this season of 2015/16 will mark my 28-year anniversary. Crazy! A couple of years ago I sold one of my older snowboards (up until then, I had three) and that experience made me think about all…

One day at a time

September 20, 2015

The other day when I left our house and climbed aboard my bike to ride to work, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed. Not only did my shoulders feel heavy (a big backpack full of papers and gear didn't help) but my mind was jam-packed with worries,…

Follow your fears, not your dreams

May 7, 2015

When you choose to follow your dreams - to do something dramatically different than you are - you seek to live out an ideal. An ideal life, an ideal situation or perhaps an ideal relationship; something that you believe, based on assumptions, will…

When opportunity knocks; a follow-up

March 18, 2015

In case you didn't see it on our website or read about it via email or Twitter...yesterday we announced Subvert is shutting down. Okay, well not so much shutting down, but we're, hmmm, dimming the lights. The company will still be open for business…

Don't accept business advice from just anyone

February 17, 2015

Just like you shouldn't take cooking advice from a skinny chef, you probably shouldn't accept business advice from someone who has never run their own business. Photograph of the Boyardee family courtesy of NPR. A number of years ago, I went to the…

Avoiding Amazon and buying local

February 10, 2015

I don't buy much non-essential stuff—that is, everything that isn't groceries, medicine or clothing (okay, and fuel)—online, but when I do, I try NOT to purchase from Amazon. One of their warehouses is below. A typical Amazon warehouse. Instead, I try…

Apps may not be as important as you think

January 22, 2015

Even after being on the market for more than four years and making a lot of progress with both the quality and quantity of apps in its store, Microsoft routinely still gets lambasted for not having enough Windows Phone apps. Or the right apps. Or…

Finding flow through solo sports

January 3, 2015

I first learned about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's flow more than twenty years ago in university (or to be more accurate, 1993; ancient history). Lately I've found myself actively seeking that state as a means of stress release and emotional reset.…

A single place for all of my stuff

December 20, 2014

I finally did something I've been wanting to do for years and that's to scrape together and then consolidate content from all of my various personal blogs and websites, right back to the beginning in 2001. My objective was to have everything be…

Finding the best mouse for big hands

November 13, 2014

My hand span (as pictured below is something that you measure from the outside tip of your thumb to the outside tip of your little finger) is about 22 cm or 8.7 inches. Not especially huge, but big enough to make it difficult to find a mouse that…

Flanders (Vlanderen) desktop wallpaper

March 27, 2014

It's March and that means road cycling's spring classics are in full effect. I love watching the Giro and Tour as much as the next roadie nerd, but the spring classics truly have my heart. From Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of…

A big guy's review of the 2012/13 Lib Tech Skunk Ape

March 12, 2014

I've mainly ridden the same snowboard since 2001, an Option Supercharger 174. As far as boards go, this one is big, stiff and built like a tank. Hence, why I've owned it for 13 years. I've ridden (and crashed) it all over Alberta, BC, Alaska and…

A day in the life (of me)

November 14, 2013

I subscribe to a neat magazine called Offscreen. Inside is a regular feature titled A Day in the Life in which people lay out their typical day, about hour by hour. Most of the interviewees are younger than me and very few have kids, so I find their…

Making room for the good things

October 10, 2013

Over the past couple of years, I've found myself becoming a more anxious person, whereas growing up and even into my early 30's, I had a fairly mellow personality. It could be my age (I'm turning 40 next spring), it could be that it's been almost…

Too many feelings

June 1, 2013

I've always been a social person, but the effort of socializing exhausts me. I need regular time alone to recharge and have the energy to talk to people once again. My wife is the opposite: she loves to socialize and draws energy from the people…

One from Whistler

April 25, 2013

I spent from September 1997 to May 1998 in Whistler, BC and I have just but this one photo to show for the entire experience. Random cliff drop somewhere in Whistler, B.C. These were the days long before mobile phones, Instagram, Twitter and…

The loneliness of childhood

January 16, 2013

Childhood can be a lonely place. Despite my parents' best efforts, I remember it feeling like sometimes I was the only person in the world.I've never suffered from depression, but I certainly recall feeling anxious and scared. Whether it was from…

Parenting ruts

October 15, 2012

When your children are very young, it's easy to think that you're going to do everything better than your parents did. When your baby is only a few months old, those ideas are all new and fresh in your mind. You're going to be the Best Parent Ever.…

When friends die

September 27, 2012

Yesterday my friend died. He had brain cancer. The day before, I went to see him at the hospital. I hadn't seen or talked to him in several months. All I could do was look at him and talk to his wife and daughter because he had been sleeping for…

The long, lonely road rides of summer

August 3, 2012

In Whitehorse, you first see road cyclists hitting the pavement in early April. Basically, whenever the Alaska Highway is dry enough to be ridden. Cyclists wave to one another as they pass by. Groups of three or four riders are common, but I've seen…

I no longer want to be known as Grumpy Daddy

July 6, 2012

A number of years ago, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain posted a drawing his daughter made of him, "Grumpy Daddy". That illustration has stuck with me ever since, for various reasons. That's not to say I'm always "Grumpy Daddy", but…

Nights like these

June 19, 2012

A Yukon summer evening Barely any wind in either direction. Midnight sun ablaze (photo taken at 10:00 p.m). Storm clouds in the distance. Thick humidity in the air and endless road ahead. It was a pretty amazing way to spend a Yukon summer evening.

Signs that there's a toddler in your house

June 6, 2012

Our youngest child is about 18 months old. In other words, a toddler. And boy, is he busy, curious and a little bit mischievous, as toddlers most often are. Here's how to tell you've got one on the premises: There's sippy cups in obscure places…

Getting rid of old keys

May 29, 2012

Today we returned home from a short family vacation to discover that we had not taken spare house keys with us. Luckily, the friends who were checking in on our house were around to return the keys we had leant to them. Phew. So, as soon as we got…

The fearlessness of kids

April 18, 2012

Until tonight, I thought I knew about fear.I've done a lot of dumb stuff in my life, risking my own safety (and others; sorry). I've overcome my personal fears too many times to count and have come out relatively unscathed. Some broken bones, blood…

I have no idea what I'm doing

March 30, 2012

The older our kids get, the more moments I have where I think to myself, "I have no idea what I'm doing." The fact that I went through most of my life assuming that my parents knew the answer to everything proves that either they did or…

Putting kids first

March 29, 2012

Last night our kids put on their pyjamas early and we sat down as a family to watch some episodes of Little Bear before they went to bed. This is not a regular occurrence, so it was a big treat for them. After two episodes were over - they are about…

Kid debris badges of honour

March 15, 2012

I've lost count of how many times in the past seven years I've shown up to a meeting wearing a dress shirt that's covered in either food, toothpaste or snot. And those stains aren't of my own doing. Well, most often not. Other parents, whether to…

The joys of business

January 24, 2012

Do you daydream about getting an ulcer? Long for the thrill of panic attacks? Want to lay awake at night stressing out? Do you desire to cut your life short by a decade or two? Do you find enjoyment in giving other people, especially large…

Making for happier customers

January 11, 2012

On our company page of this website, we talk briefly about the culture of Subvert. From listening to other people's opinions to charity donations and outsourcing tasks to delivering both speed and quality, we have a number of core beliefs that keep…

The six rules of using a men's washroom

November 29, 2011

Not particularly complicated, so it's surprising how many guys get these wrong. If you're a father, it's your job to teach these rules to your son. So, onto the list: No eye contact Even if it's your best friend, your long lost twin or Santa Claus,…

Remembering Pop-Pop

November 11, 2011

I'm very blessed to have had two grandfathers that I knew well and lived near growing up. Both, along with my grandmothers, resided less than 30 minutes from my childhood home located in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. My mom's father, William, on the far…

A powdery trip down memory lane

November 8, 2011

A couple of days ago I bought the newest issue of Snowboard Canada. This is the 20-year celebration of the magazine, which is a remarkable feat. Although my taste in snowboard magazines has changed - nowadays I much prefer Frequency over SBC…

Being a husband and a father

July 7, 2011

Riding my bike home from work the other day, I started thinking about my family. About being a husband and a father, and how it is, at once, a blessing, a privilege and a promise. A blessing because each day with your wife and children is a gift. A…

The new Subvert office

October 10, 2010

After two years of running Subvert from the second floor of Horwoods Mall in downtown Whitehorse, we decided some additional room and newer digs were in order. Here's a couple of photos from the old office. Looking out into the hallway that…

Running a business is (sorta) like raising kids

July 11, 2009

I've got both, so I guess it makes me a subject matter expert. There will be times, often quite regularly, that a business will keep you up at night and/or wake you early in the morning with thoughts of things left undone or general stress and…

A return to bike racing

August 8, 2008

A local three-day road cycling event, Tour de Whitehorse, held July 25-27, 2008, marked my formal return to bike racing after a three-year hiatus. Racing bikes is never an easy task, even when you're in the best of shape. Your lungs hurt, legs…

Business = Stress

April 30, 2009

It's been a long-time dream of mine to own an agency. When I was in high school, I developed a company name and logo, designed our studio space, wrote a business plan (!) and labeled all of the creative work I did as if I were running a commercial…

What I've learned from running my own business

December 5, 2007

November marked the ninth month of Subvert Marketing Inc. being open. Business has been extremely good. So good, in fact, that the company is on track to hire a second employee (besides me, of course) in the new year. Here are two lessons I've…

Links and the power of visual feedback

November 8, 2007

Today while putting the final touches on a website interface design, I suddenly noticed that something didn't feel right. At first I couldn't pinpoint the issue, but after stepping back, staring at the screen and clicking around on the page, it…

Urban Yukon redesigned

May 24, 2007

Since I started Urban Yukon back in March 2006, the basic visual design has stayed intact, with some minor tweaks here and there. As the community has grown and the site audience has greatly expanded, the previous version was being stretched to the…

Left vs. right-hand navigation: Which is better?

March 3, 2007

Most websites I've built over the years have either had the main navigation placed along the left side of the screen or straight across the top. On the rare occasion, I implement a right-hand design. While it's true that left-hand navigation is more…

How to build your website from the inside out

February 14, 2007

I have utilized a technique called epicenter design for most of the website interfaces I've created over the past few years. The methodology encourages me to focus on the most important pages of the site first and then gradually design outwards,…

Christmas and the demise of Yukon shopping

December 12, 2006

When I first moved to Whitehorse nearly 10 years ago, I did all of my Christmas shopping on Main Street. Stores were lit up with decorations, deals and of course, people looking for deals - or just buying whatever was left on the shelves. My family…

Do comments make a blog?

August 28, 2006

For blogs, a vibrant comments community is just as, if not, more important than the posts themselves. Comments are where readers talk about the subject matter, share their opinions and get involved. Typically, the more passionate and lively your…

Passionate communities and what I dig about the independent web

July 14, 2006

I'm heavily involved with the local cycling club, acting in the volunteer role of mountain bike director. I coordinate and run all of the events from April to September. All in all, it's a fun way to spend evenings in the summer. Not being a…

Yes, that moment

June 12, 2006

I'm currently part of a tiny start-up developing what we consider to be a game-changing product. It has been a challenging experience thus far; planning and building something that's never been done before naturally leads to a considerable amount of…

Domain name graveyard

May 30, 2006

Do you own more than one domain name? Of these domain names, how many are in use today as functioning websites or applications? At last count I personally owned 11 domains, excluding all customer or work-related stuff. Five are actually online and…

Traditional design obsolete?

April 4, 2006

Jeff Veen, really big dude and recent appointee to Google via the acquisition of Measure Map, yesterday posted a podcast entitled Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps. What interests me is his third point, The Role of Design: User generated…

In search of the CMS Holy Grail

January 31, 2006

ADI Interactive has at its disposal a custom-built PHP/MySQL Content Management System (CMS) that we use for large websites and web applications: ADI ContentManager. We continually update the main CMS code-base and deploy new versions where…

YouTube acquisition rumours

January 19, 2006

January 19, 2006 I've been stoked on YouTube since it first went live in February 2005. It's much like Flickr but instead of static photos, people upload, share and tag videos. You can then link to your videos on blogs, other websites or through…

Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters burns down

November 9, 2005

Unless my eyes were fooled by the early morning darkness of this northern November morning, the 4th and Black St. location of Midnight Sun Coffee Roaster here in Whitehorse is currently burning down. I've been a happy regular at Zola's original…

Kraft dinner

November 28, 2001

Today I am eating kraft dinner for lunch. Our receptionist, Cheryl, told me that you can now buy kd in microwavable pouches, thus making an already easy, low-nutrition value meal even easier. Can our lives truly get any more cushy? I would think…

Davey and Goliath

April 6, 2001

Yes that's right. D & G to all you Ontario homies or for those who grew up on the right coast of North America in the seventies. This tv show was made in the late 1950's and used some pretty spectacular claymation (before it was called…

Whitehorse Freeride Championships

February 24, 2001

I have uploaded my mountain bike movie to the server so now you can check out my film work. This was my maiden voyage into the world of digital editing and I've learned a lot since the movie was made in August 2000. Soon I will upload another movie…

Stuff to do

December 8, 2001

I have a lot of stuff to do, but it's not like I am doing any of it. Well, yeah. I have a bunch of side projects on the go, like a re-design for Northview community church which is a volunteer design job. I am collaborating with two other guys on…