Steve Roy

My dad was at different times coach, recruiter, and referee for women’s hockey. He would have been excited to see the PWHL games. Sadly he passed away in November so he didn’t get that chance.

But in a satisfying twist, the PWHL Montreal team plays half their games blocks away from where he was born. That makes me happy.

Imagining how surgeons introduced themselves if they talked like software engineers…

“Are you backend or frontend?”

“I’m top-end.”

“Oh wow cool.”

The ArriveCAN app scandal is ridiculous. As someone who makes apps for a living, of course it doesn’t cost $60M+ to turn a paper form into an app with a database backend.

Of course. That is way, way, waaaayyyyy too much. No, the true cost is a lot less than that.

Tell you what, I’ll do it for $30M. Half price, what do you say?! Total deal!

Money has lost all meaning.

Christopher Nolan movies should come with not one but two sound level controls: voice and music.

I’ll let you guess which one should go up and which one should go down.

I’m not one to get anywhere close to Google Analytics, so for some time I’ve been trying out WP Statistics. I like that it runs and stores everything locally on my site. No sending data anywhere. And it presents the collected data very nicely. I’m far from an expert on web stuff, but this seems like a pretty good option.

It’s still only the first week but it’s pretty darn cool to be able to tune in and catch a women’s pro hockey game on TV several nights a week. It’s so normal!

The PWHL is up and running and it’s a treat to watch! I’m happy to finally see a pro league for women’s hockey. I’m especially glad to see the games being broadcast on TV and online so everyone can see how good it is.

My daughter played when she was little, and we watched Cassie Campbell lead Team Canada at the Olympics and went to see Hailey Wickenheiser play once, but women’s hockey never had the visibility it does now.

It’s going to help their game and their skill so much to play professionally, train every day, building rivalries, and competing against the best in the world. 👏🏻

I finally stopped my Quickbooks subscription. I wasn’t happy about the price continuing to rise, and it didn’t make sense any more considering the little amount of side-gig work that I bill.

A good thing to know is that Quickbooks remains read-only for a whole year after canceling.

So now I’ve switched everything over to Wave, which is free for the bits that I use.

My Dad

A few weeks ago my dad passed away at 87 years old. I’ve been truly scared for years that this moment would come. I deeply feared what losing my parents would do to me. Would I unravel? How can people possibly go through something like this? I’m not afraid of my own death, just that of the people I love.

Now that my dad is gone, I have this sense of introspection, that this is what it’s like to not have a father. I’ve been very consciously trying to navigate through this grief in a healthy manner, to let the pain do what it does, and also to learn from it as much has I can.

I find that the wave analogy still makes sense, intermixed as it is with sadness, insights, and sometimes odd realizations. One of them has been that grief is geographically located: trying to make sense of this loss is not the same in a hotel room as it is at home. Another is that my dad won’t be there to witness who I become next. I’m not a kid anymore, but I somehow never realized that knowing my dad was there to see me grow as an adult was still an important part of me.

You just never know what feeling is around the next corner.

At the celebration of life that we did, I spoke and tried to put in a bottle many of the recurring thoughts everyone kept bringing up about him. This is what follows, expanded on with the help of not having tears streaming down my face.

~•~

My dad was an eternal optimist. I always knew it, and sometimes worried that he wasn’t facing hardship the way he needed. But in the last few years of his life I really appreciated seeing him take everything with a positive attitude. It really made supporting him that much easier.

He was always inclined to see the bright side of things, and maybe that’s why he always seemed so lucky. I always envied him for it.

Me, I was only lucky when I was with him. Like that time when we went to a Blue Jays game in Toronto, the last time he was able to visit a few years ago. I caught a tee shirt during intermission and knew as it landed in my hands that I would turn around and give it to him. He put it on immediately and he had this wide smile on his face. He was so happy.

He always had luck on his side, even when things went wrong.

In December 2019 he had a big stroke that did some damage. He unfortunately lost his driver’s license and the apartment where he had lived for 24 years. However the silver lining is that this forced move to an old folks home came just as the COVID pandemic started, and I didn’t have to worry about him because he was vaccinated, well fed, and taken care of by the staff at his new residence.

I was impressed to see how well he adapted to this new life. He had lost the routines that had defined him seemingly forever, like having breakfast at the restaurant every morning, or sitting outside on his balcony to read and take notes. But still he called the new place his “little paradise” and he created new routines for himself that he held on to for the rest of his life.

~•~

More than anything he was my biggest fan, and I know that’s also true for my sister and brother. No matter what I did, I knew that when I called he would put me on that pedestal. Sometimes that felt over the top, but now? Now I think that’s the way he loved us, and I have to find a way to continue without him cheering me on.

He always supported us in our projects with enthusiasm. It’s in good part thanks to his encouragements that I went to live in the U.S. a long time ago. I almost chickened out of it because that was such a big change for me. But he told me to go for it, and a few years later I came back married, father for the second time, with a new professional career. I owe everything I have today to that decision.

Wherever we lived, throughout the years my dad kept visiting us. He loved traveling and he came down several times when I was in the U.S. That includes the time he came to help me move and pack the moving van, at 63 years old. Then later he came to see us in Alberta and more recently he came several times to Toronto.

~•~

I will miss him.

I will miss hearing his excited voice when I would call on the phone, as though I was the most important person in the world. That’s because to him, I was. I could call in the middle of the Super Bowl and he would say hold on, let me turn off the TV.

I will miss when he would inevitably pull out “his list” because he had questions or he simply had things to talk to me about. He had always made it his habit to write these things down, and so inevitably, when talking with him the list would make its appearance eventually. It made me laugh every time.

I will miss the trust that he had in me. When we gave our opinion, it was important to him. He was happy to let me take responsibilities. I sometimes felt it as pressure. Could I possibly always make sense and do the right thing? Now I realize that it didn’t matter. He loved us and trust was implied.

You just can’t buy these things.

~•~

In the end, I will never forget when he told me he was ready. He knew it was time before I did. When I came to that realization as we talked, my eyes immediately filled up with tears. At that moment, I saw the focus in his face change. He instantly went from inwardly handling his discomfort to outwardly taking care of me. His blue eyes looking at me with so much love and clarity. He was at peace with it. He gestured for me to hug him and he patted my back as I cried.

I cannot be more grateful for the clarity that he gave me in that instant. That was a true gift. One that I will never forget. Going through such a loss is better when you’re not afflicted with doubt. Taking care of the people you love is also letting them know that the end you’re about to meet is what you want.

He had a good life, and it was so much more than I could ever put into words here. But he is still inside us, in our values and the way we see life. It continues. It’s a cliché, but one that is genuine and true for me now.

Thank you, Dad.

The impact of ChatGPT in education is a very complex question. There are a lot of aspects to consider, ranging from ethics to social responsibility to personal development. And it’s not all black or white. Joss Fong from Vox touches on many of the top questions in her latest video. It really resonated with me regarding the concerns that I had when I worked in education.

We went to see a movie in theater yesterday. Being Saturday night I was expecting the usual crowds but I was amazed how empty it was. Combined with the 20 minutes of ads we had to endure as the so-called “pre-show”, it really does feel like theaters are dying. It’s sad.

$700M to play baseball? It’s just another data point, but I’m starting to think that money has lost all meaning. Where I live, any dinky old house sells for $1M. And don’t get anyone started about groceries. There used to be decency, a certain logic, a fear to lose customers. Now it’s all gone. Raise the price! Put whatever number you want on it! People will be on the street or get into deeper debt! No problem!

Kids menus are a weird idea. Is it just a North American thing?

There is a menu, use it. Kids could get anything they want from it, albeit as smaller portions for say half the price. Wouldn’t that be easier than making a separate menu and restricting choices to junk food?

</soapbox>

A little gem from Helen Czerski today:

The key point that I think a lot of engineers still don’t get is that their job is not about making widgets that get plonked on top of the world. This is about changing the shape of things inside a working system (Planet Earth) to shift how it operates. Those widgets become part of that system – it’s like operating on a living human. The engineers of the future mustn’t see their job as creating things external to the world.

Which perfectly matches another post I highlighted earlier this year:

However thoughtful or well intentioned, a developer lives, works and is accustomed to a space where having fun “tinkering” is habit, using the “parts”/patterns already lying around the norm, and making tools/features that are seemingly magical to use in their ease or laziness the aim, but, deep consideration of the system wide design uncommon.

A developer sees themselves more like a young person hacking away at something for fun. This is still held as an ideal. They don’t tend to see themselves as a professional contributor/operator of an important social system with serious responsibilities.

So much nodding here, I’m going to need physical therapy.

Daring Fireball had this quote today:

Our expectations for software are different from other products we use in our daily lives.

I forget where I wrote about this before but I remember comparing software with a toaster. Everything in our lives is a toaster: always the same, immutable. Software is the exception. Nerds were fine with its ever changing nature, but computer culture has now been pushed to the population at large. And I would argue that there is a whole class of users—not just your grandmother—who wishes software was like a toaster.

Runaway Jury is one of my favourite movies because it’s about standing up to the corruption and the nonsense that keeps guns in people’s hands. And doing it by fighting corruption with smarts, and just plain old sticking it to them. I so wish it was true.

I’m looking forward to see the PWHL, the new women’s hockey pro league, get started in January. So much work it must be to start a league from scratch. Can’t wait to see the schedules and what arenas the teams will play. Finally some good hockey without undue violence at a good ticket price. Will definitely go see some games.

The last time I saw a live hockey game was women’s Canada vs US at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto in 2019! 😱

Independently and a week apart, both my daughter and wife asked what country I’d like to visit and I said the Netherlands. Both responded the exact same thing, and I quote: “You might never come back!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how much they know I’d love to bike everywhere.

Kottke is opening up comments as an experiment:

Some days, my inbox is the best thing on the internet and I want to bring that vibe to the site.

I’m thrilled to see how this turns out. The web sometimes (too often) feels less and less like the people-centric place it used to be. It’s great to see Jason pushing back because his site is one of the very best things about the Internet.

The Magic Editor feature on the Pixel 8 exemplifies perfectly the kind of tech that we create not because it’s particularly desired or useful, but because we can and it’s cool. There is no interest here in capturing and celebrating the beauty of the human experience as it really is. Forgotten also is the social responsibility of creating a record of our reality for future generations. No. We can and it’s cool so let’s do it is the extent of the thinking being presented. It’s a sad lack of values.

I don’t know why anyone would want to read the work of Walter Isaacson after the shit job he did for Steve Jobs’ biography. He hadn’t done his homework. And I’m hearing now the same comments about Elon Musk’s bio.

Fool me once, fool me twice, and all that.

My wife was commenting that our dog would have turned 32 yesterday. She knew because her iPhone notified her, thanks to having set the birthday in her contacts and enabling the birthday calendar. That happens to me too, for pets and people. It’s been a problem for years.

And I’m surprised it’s not something that has come up yet on Apple’s radar. Surely higher-ups at Apple get birthday notifications for deceased loved ones too. I’m curious why it hasn’t been addressed. Especially considering that the solution seems pretty straightforward: add a death field to the contacts database.

I picked up my iPhone 15 today. Having carried around an iPhone X for the last 6 years, I love the improved camera. The 15’s front camera is better than the X’s back camera. 😄

However I’m surprised that it doesn’t feel like much of a speed bump. It might just be that we passed the point where phones were “fast enough” for regular use a long time ago. If it wasn’t for the fact that the X can’t get iOS 17, I would’ve been happy to keep using it.

Maybe I’m just a word nerd, but the expression “traffic calmed neighbourhood“ reads to me as “neighbourhood calmed by traffic”, which makes no sense. It should be “calmed traffic neighbourhood”.

And while “traffic calming” fixes the subject of the sentence, traffic is not a living thing capable of emotion, so calming it is just weird. ”Reduced traffic” or “slowed traffic” would be more to the point.

That’s all I got.

Me, every time Siri asks me if I want to send a reply to a text message:

“No, thank you.”

Then I spend the next 2 minutes pondering whether it makes sense and if it’s necessary to be polite and say “thank you” to a computer.

My mom and dad are in their 80s and walking is a skill that they cannot take for granted anymore. That’s been on my mind a lot as I walked and biked around the last two weeks. There are places I can go that are now simply out of reach for my parents. One day that’ll be me. It reminds me to cherish these moments when I’m walking my dog and riding in the woods somewhere.

I pulled out my old Nexus S and Nexus 5 phones today for some testing.

Nexus S conclusion: Cute little device that fits well in the hand, but that screen was incredibly smudgy. It finds oil on my fingers like no other device.

Nexus 5 conclusion: Still one of my favourites, good size, light, no case needed. And since I installed /e/OS on it a couple years ago, it’s nicer and runs Android 7 instead of 6 which is where Google stopped supporting it.