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Hyper-parenting

March 30, 2015
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I am arguably one of those parents that constantly obsess over their kids’ grades, activities, eating, sleeping, even potty times! Helicopter parenting, hyper-parenting and over-scheduling are all attributes of almost all middle class parents these days. What makes us constantly worry about our efficiency as parents? What drives us to push the kids to the extend they break? May be we lack the confidence that our previous generations had. May be the world we grew up in was a much less competitive place with much lower expectations. Or may be, we are more aware. I see a 2 year old playing violin somewhere else in the world and wonder if my kid can. Can my 8 year old spell Czechoslovakia because some other kid just did? We tend to prepare them to face a safer tomorrow by sacrificing a better today.

There are scores of parenting books that advice how a child should be from the moment of conception. Every development from then are measured and checked for delays. Even the slightest change becomes a reason of worry and is usually dealt with therapies, interventions, medications. Not everyone is born genius. Albert Einstein did not do well at school! Not “gifted”, not “learning-disabled”.

 

The Cost: Over-Scheduled Families

Mine is a typical example of an over-scheduled family. My kids have scheduled activities throughout the week and the weekends. What do we gain out of it other than fatigue and loss of family time? I don’t get to play with my kids the way my parents did. They don’t even know how to deal with “free time”.

Solution?

You can either start accepting busy life as the perfect way of living or you can start taking it apart and really start prioritizing. Keep things you know will go a long way and cut short the ones that won’t. Second, give the kids some space to breathe. Let them be kids. Encourage playtime. Grant the freedom they deserve. Stop obsessing over standards and measurements. Easier said than done! But that sure is a good place to start. Let it go!

Xamarin Forms: Implementing Infinite Scroll on a ListView

March 19, 2015

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Xamarin over the last year. It’s ability to create cross platform mobile applications at an incredibly efficient rate continues to impress me. One feature I find myself implementing on almost every project is infinite scrolling. Today I will walk you through implementing infinite scrolling.

The main goal with this style of infinite loading, is to prevent the user from ever seeing the “end of the page.” We accomplish this by invoking the onAppearing function of the ListView; As you get near the bottom, the web service loads more data in the background. When the changes hit the ObservableCollection, the UI immediately reflects the changes.

You can find the full source here:

https://github.com/jguibault/Xamarin-Forms-Infinite-Scroll

    public class InfiniteScrollExample : ContentPage
    {
        private int itemsPerPage = 20;
        private int pageNumber;
        private bool dataLoading;
        private ObservableCollection<TextCellData> UIData;

        protected override void OnAppearing()
        {
            base.OnAppearing ();
            pageNumber = 0;
            UIData = new ObservableCollection<TextCellData>(FakeWebService.GetData (pageNumber, itemsPerPage));

            var list = new ListView ();
            var cell = new DataTemplate (typeof (TextCell)); 
            cell.SetBinding (TextCell.TextProperty, Text);
            cell.SetBinding (TextCell.DetailProperty, Detail);
            list.ItemTemplate = cell;
            list.ItemsSource = UIData;

            list.ItemAppearing += (object sender, ItemVisibilityEventArgs e) => {
                var item = e.Item as TextCellData;
                int index = UIData.IndexOf(item);
                if(UIData.Count - 2 <= index)
                    AddNextPageData();
            };
            list.ItemTapped += (sender, args) => {
                System.Diagnostics.Debug.WriteLine (ItemTapped);
            };

            Content = list;
        }

        private void AddNextPageData() {
            if (dataLoading)
                return;

            dataLoading = true;

            pageNumber++;
            List<TextCellData> nextPage = FakeWebService.GetData (pageNumber, itemsPerPage);
            foreach(var item in nextPage)
                UIData.Add(item);

            dataLoading = false;
        }
    }

public class TextCellData {

        public string Text {get;set;}
        public string Detail {get;set;}

        public TextCellData(string t, string d) {
            Text = t;
            Detail = d;
        }
    }

 public static class FakeWebService

    {
        public static List<TextCellData> GetData(int pageNumber, int pageLength) {
            List<TextCellData> data = new List<TextCellData> ();

            for (int i = (pageNumber * pageLength); i < (pageNumber + 1) * pageLength; i++) {
                data.Add (new TextCellData(Item  + i.ToString (), Infinite Scroll Example));
            }

            return data;
        }
    }

Espresso-Yourself

March 19, 2015

coffee-617x416

Ok, I admit it: I love coffee.

I love the smell, I love the ritual of making it and I love that it wakes me up. I am notorious among my family and friends for drinking coffee all the time. So, full disclosure, part of the reason I wanted to write this story is to protect my own ego — and get everyone off my back when I go for my third cup in the afternoon.

Coffee is not the Evil III that Grand Proprietors of Health like to profess while they are making their organic, herbal tea. In fact, drinking three to five cups of coffee per day is actually good for your heart, according to a new report from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. That’s a report authored by a group of highly regarded scientists, with more letters after their names than in them, who assemble the latest scientific knowledge and present it to federal regulatory agencies.

Ah, the clouds part, the angels sing, and glory is forever mine!

But seriously, coffee is a controversial subject. Working class America is busy round-the-clock and we are always looking for ways to increase our productivity.

And so I add to the cacophony of how to be your best, most productive self by cheering a trip to the coffee room. The report says that there has been “consistent evidence” to indicate that coffee drinking adults tend to have lower risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Coffee drinking is also a buffer against Parkinson’s disease, according to the report.

To be fair, the report also says that excessive calories coming from cream and sugar that is usually put into coffee is never good. I like my coffee black, a smooth espresso over a green tea any day for me but every now and then I will add some creamer when I’m in the mood to have a cheat day. So, there you are, tea-drinkers with your puffed chests scoffing at the lowly coffee drinkers, you are free to scorn me for the cream in my coffee, but not the coffee itself.

Haters gonna hate. Now, stop yapping and someone join me on a Starbucks run.

Happy Belated Birthday Panda!

February 25, 2015

Yesterday Google celebrated its Panda algorithm turning four years old.  As some may see this as a trivial fact, it is actually a very important day – one that reshaped the internet like we’ve never seen before.  With Google still being the most used search engine to date (11.944 billion monthly searches on average) it is by far the most significant quality algorithm to date affecting everyone from SEO specialists to your grandparents using AOL.

Taking a trip down the memory highway, Panda was released on February 24, 2011.  At this time, the internet was a place of poor quality content.  Keyword stuffing, link farms, autoGoogle Panda Algorithmmated blog commenting, were all common tactics used to enhance a websites presence to achieve the all mighty page 1 spot #1 ranking.  If your business had the money and resources to continually perform these black hat techniques, your website thrived and dominated the search rankings.  As a result, the quality of Google’s search results were under constant scrutiny.  Panda focused on removing poor-quality sites from search results and returning higher quality sites instead.  It affected approximately 12% of all search results – applying that to the 11.944 billion monthly searches on Google – we’re looking at around 1.4 billion searches affected!

So what is a high quality site?  An analogy commonly used is that of a term paper – it should be well written, little to no grammatical mistakes, provide insight that draws a reader in, and contain citations to bring about validity and trust.  I like to think about it as “Would I trust this website with my credit card?”  If the answer is no, it’s probably not a high quality site.

Returning to present day, one can truly see and experience the positive changes Panda created and set in motion.  Not only did it force websites to begin using white hat techniques and truly care about their content, it paved the way for other algorithms (Penguin, Hummingbird, etc.) that have jumped on the quality bandwagon.  Happy belated birthday Panda and thank you for helping cleanup our internet search results!

The forest and the trees in 2015… and beyond

January 29, 2015

It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the end of January – it seems as if we just celebrated the start of the New Year!  And as the resolutions and goals for the year come and go, we so often focus on the short term:  lose weight, start working out again, get that promotion or even a new job.  But what about the big picture?

These short term, specialized goals are like the trees in a forest.  It’s easy to focus on a tree or two (or three), and ensure that they’re growing strong and healthy.  But what about the rest of the trees?  The whole forest?  As the saying goes, it’s critical to not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.  The entire system needs to be in balance.

Take a broader view of your life:  Where do you want to be in 5 years?  10 years?  What do you want to be doing?  How are you growing professionally?  Personally?  Are your relationships with your family and friends strong?  What’s on your bucket list?  Do you have a plan for the future and are you making progress on it?  Basically, think about what you’d like your forest to be, and determine what needs to occur to achieve that goal.  What trees need pruning?  Some extra TLC?  Or maybe you need to plant a few new trees…  Cultivate your trees, but do so in the context of the overall forest – and enjoy the results!

The Importance of Code

January 20, 2015

Today, there’s hardly a facet of life where we aren’t interacting with a computer of some sort.  We program our alarm clocks to ensure we wake up on time.  We set a program on our microwave to heat our food.  There are even special ways to construct search requests on Google to narrow down your results.  These seem like ordinary, even mundane, tasks, but we are programming.  In the workforce, many professions make use of software such as Microsoft Excel, which allows the user the opportunity to custom program in equations and logic, and allows people who don’t think of themselves as programmers to create full blown applications, and even games.

The use of programming in everyday life will only increase.  People will find innovative ways to leverage technology to support needs in their lives, and a foundation to this learning should start as early as possible.

As parents of the future generation, I ask that you introduce your children at an early age to computers.  As my father explained to me when I was very young, there is far more that you can accomplish on a computer than play games.  I was extremely fortunate, and had a computer in the house when I was young.  I remember writing simple programs in BASIC on an Apple ][ computer.  At the time, most of my programming involved drawing pictures on the screen, but I was programming.  The foundation of my understanding of software happened when I was very young, and I continued to hone these skills in college.

Last month, my son, who is in first grade, came home with a certificate announcing he had participated in The Hour of Code.  In association with Code.org, the hour of code is an initiative that aims to introduce young people to coding.  In my son’s recollection, all he did was play games, however these games involved setting small instructions on familiar character (Angry Birds, Frozen, etc.) to have them perform a series of actions.  The Hour of Code is an event that is scheduled to happen in December, but the website is available year round and free.  I recommend that you log in and encourage your children to learn the fundamentals of code.  You should also reach out to your local school and ask them to set aside time to participate.

Happy Holidays from Status Not Quo and Oddly Even Studios!

December 23, 2014

SNQ_2014Holiday_nonclient

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