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Programming Uncategorized

Accessibility Camp DC 2011

Last year, I went to Accessibility Camp DC 2010 and afterwards said:

Before hand, I knew just a little bit about accessibility, but I’m happy to say that I walked out with a ton of new knowledge and a desire to keep learning on the subject.

I’m happy to say I did keep learning and this continued at Accessibility Camp DC 2011. Some of the highlights for me this year included:

Thanks to John Croston and everyone that helped organize and run this things. This is the first annual event in DC that I’ve attended multiple times and I am already looking forward to next years event.

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Programming Uncategorized

Big Data DC #3

Two enterprise big data consulting companies presented about the architecture they use for processing and storing at the third Big Data DC meetup.  Much like the first and second meetups, the common thread seemed to be the decisions that the engineers made to optimize certain aspects over others.

First up, Joey Echeverria who works for Cloudera, talking about using HBase in the real world.  Joey’s presentation covered the basics of Hadoop, and then dove into HBase, the database for Hadoop.  He talked about the benefits of HBase, including having a variable schema in each record and it being atomic per row.  He then gave a few examples of real life applications including Lilly, an open source project content repository, OpenTSDC, a distributed, scalable Time Series Database from stumbleupon and Socorro, the crash report database used by Mozilla.  Peruse Joey’s slides for more information on HBase.

Next up, Ted Dunning from MapR spoke about the Hadoop distribution his company sells.  Ted spoke of the bottlenecks in Hadoop that they try to solve with the implementation they built.  These bottlenecks include Read only files, many copies in I/O path, shuffle based on HTTP, and spills go to local file space.  Ted spent a large amount of his talk on maprfs, the file system they built to solve these bottlenecks.

This meetup had the largest turnout of all the Big Data DC meetups so far.   I can’t wait for the 4th meetup.

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Current Events Programming Uncategorized

Big Data DC meetup #2

For the second time, a group of bright and talented developers gathered at clearspring to discuss Big Data.The first Big Data DC meetup had a great turnout. Rather then write up a summary, I decided to check out storify and build my first one for the meetup. Once again all of the talks were great. If you have an interest in big data and the technical ways to work with it, you should check it out.

View “Big Data DC #2” on Storify

What do you think of this format? Is this something you would like to see for future meetups or would you prefer a more traditional summary post?

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Programming Uncategorized

Dancing and Coding

Two weeks ago I switched to primarily standing at work.  I’ve found that while my foot are kind of sore by the end of the day, (though I’m hoping the barefoot shoes I just ordered help with that).  I also have definitely noticed an increase in the amount of dancing I do while coding.  My coworkers can attest to it.

Here is what my current setup looks like.  I need to work on the cable management a bit, but for now this works well.

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Programming Uncategorized WordPress

Debuging for WordPress

WordCamp Raleigh 2011 featured me talking about how to Debug in WordPress and how to file a bug report for WordPress.  I talked about a number of tools that make debugging easier that everyone should check out.  These tools are:

Xdebug – make your php errors look better and easier to fix

Log Deprecated Notices – Easily see in your admin area when plugins or themes are using deprecated functions, files, and arguments

Debug Bar – Firebug for your WordPress.

Debug Bar Console – add a php and sql console to your WordPress front end

Check out my slides for more information on WordPress Bugs:  How to Kill Them

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Current Events Programming Uncategorized

The first Big Data DC meetup

At work I deal with a lot of data (i.e we deal with as much data in a day as the library of congress collects in a month) . Part of my job is making that data presentable to to publishers.  I don’t deal with the actual storing of the data ( for that we have some brilliant engineers), but I think in order to do my job correctly, I need to understand the full stack that we have.  The first Big Data DC meetup was an opportunity for me to learn more about the bottom half of the stack.

Matt Abrams kicked things off with an overview of how Clearspring deals with big data.  Big data might be a bit of an understatement.  We are talking about 4-5TB of data a day from 2.5 billion view events that needs to be processed.  How much data is this?  Well if it took one millisecond to process each event, it would take us 29 days to process each full day of data.  To accomplish this Matt and the team have four main design philosophies:

  • Speed of Safety
  • Simplicity over Complexity
  • At scale, small performance delta’s matter
  • Close is good enough in many cases.

Take a look at Matt’s slides as he goes through these philosophies in detail and the stack that Clearspring uses to accomplish this big data task:

(Matt is also doing a series of Blog Posts about this topic.  Check out the first one.)

Next up was Dave (who’s last name I didn’t catch) from Foundation DB.  Foundation DB is creating a distributed key value store with transactions.  Dave presented his philosophy that “The easiest way to build a scalable high performance fault tolerant application is on top of a scalable high performance fault tolerant foundation”.  To do this, they have created Flow.  Flow adds Futures, Promises and actors to C++.  Foundation DB is entering beta soon.  I look forward to seeing where they go with it.

I’m looking forward to future Big Data DC events.  It’s a few days since the meetup and I’m already anticipating learning how more companies are dealing with Big Data.

Want to work with Big Data?  Come work with me at Clearspring.

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Programming Uncategorized

Get AddThis Refresh


We just launched an updated process for getting AddThis. We took a multipage process that wasn’t always clear and condensed it down to one page. Together with my talented coworkers, we created what I think is a much simpler way to go from wanting sharing tools on your site to putting them there.

Head on over to Get AddThis and then let me know what you think?

Bonus:  Our creative director, Jeff Wong, talks a bit about the overall refresh on his site.

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Programming Uncategorized

Designing for the world: Color contrast tools

The other day I put a call out for tools to check websites to make sure they are accessible for people with color deficiencies and got back some great responses that I thought I would share. Please note, that I am using the term color deficiency here, rather than color blindness. It’s not meant to be politically correct, it’s meant to be more accurate. Some of these tools also help when designing for people with other visual deficiencies.

Contrast-A is a adobe air app that Allows you to easily Check how two colors look when placed on top of one another and also if they pass Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for contrast in their natural state, and four different common forms of color deficiency. You are able to save color pairs for later reference and export a pdf that explains what level of WCAG2.0 passage it has under normal vision.

Sim Daltonism is a OSX application that allows you to view a portion of your screen as if you are suffering from one of eight types of color deficiency. It is incredibly easy to use, and can be especially handy when you are dealing with very color complex websites.

WorldSpace Fire Eyes is a firefox and firebug plugin that allows for excellent accessibility testing, including color contrast testing. It provides you with a list of concerns related to the page you are looking at, including recommendations from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines on solutions.

Those three tools are coming in very handy when testing the accessibility of designs and sites. As I look for more and find them, I’ll make sure to share them here.

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Programming Uncategorized

AddThis Blog » Blog Archive » Using HTML 5 to Make the Analytics Charts

I wrote a post today on the AddThis blog describing how we made the new analytics mobile friendly by getting rid of flash and using HTML5 canvas, JavaScript, google charts api and css for all of our charts:

All in all, our charts went from being a clunky, heavy, flash-based monstrosity to being light weight and flexible

via AddThis Blog » Blog Archive » Using HTML 5 to Make the Analytics Charts.

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Programming Uncategorized

Accessibility Camp DC 2010

I spent last Saturday at Accessibility Camp DC learning about some ways to make technology more accessible to the world. Before hand, I knew just a little bit about accessibility, but I’m happy to say that I walked out with a ton of new knowledge and a desire to keep learning on the subject. Some of the highlights for me:

  • Jeanne Spellman from the W3C speaking about standards and the upcoming Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines. She also spoke of other important standards that all developers should be aware of when it comes to accessibility. Slides
  • Russell Heimlich (like the maneuver) gave speaking about “”How to Build an Accessible Website from the Ground Up” that was one of the most code heavy speeches for the day. I can’t wait to see his slides online so I can look through them for all the great tips EDIT:Russell shared his slides in the comments below.
  • The Fire eyes plugin is a great tool for accessibility testing. Every developer should have it in there toolkit.
  • UX expert Jimmy Chandler speaking about Integrating Accessibility Into Your Projects.
  • The Able Gamers Foundation had some cool accessible games setup. I was able to play a racing game with my face, much like a quadriplegic would. It gave me a completely different prospective on gaming.

Overall, I’m incredibly happy that I went and can’t wait to continue learning. Big thanks to John Croston and his team for organizing this great event. Hopefully in the next year I will have learned enough to feel comfortable presenting a session at Accessibility Camp DC 2011.