Archive for April, 2006


In My Lifetime

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Today I receive the meme baton from a ReMarkK!able guy central to the braintrust of the Toronto techsphere about which I’ve been enthusing of late.

The task at hand is to enumerate the three things I’d like to see happen in my lifetime. I’m immediately reminded of Steve Martin’s SNL sketch (“the first would be the crap about the kids definitely…”).

These three things come to mind:

  1. A return to primary respect of skilled trades in Canada. Apprenticing to be a carpenter or bricklayer is at the very least as important to our economy as as going to university to study liberal arts or computer science, but you wouldn’t know it from the attitude of parents and legislators across the country. Our immigration policy needs to recognize this as well. There’s no future in being a nation of eggheads with nowhere to live because there’s nobody to actually build and maintain the necessary infrastructure.
  2. Let us have a resurgence of hope. Let us have new vibrant leaders who follow the historical examples of the likes of MLK and JFK and PET who despite the trials of their times could deliver inspirational speeches that they themselves authored from their heartfelt passion for the basics of democracy, brotherhood and goodwill. Let us eschew the culture of ultraconservative fear, distrust and control that has been foist upon us and embrace openness, enthusiasm and the kind of collaborative altruism that once was strong enough to spawn the very nations we care about so deeply when it could have been so easy to succumb to the despair of the circumstances of the day.
  3. Will the real omnipotent being please stand up? Just step out from behind your veil of allegories and parables long enough to establish that indeed, you’re the definitive sole entity towards whom our genuflections should be directed and clear the air that either of Messrs Bush and/or Bin Laden or whomever you care to anoint does or does not have the authoritay to speak on behalf of your corporate mission. Oh, and if you wouldn’t mind doing the odd bit of smiting while you’re at it, thanks in advance.

In the interest of spreading this further afield, let’s hear what Nate, Terry and Rick have to say.


The cream starts to rise

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

Toronto’s DemoCamp5 this week once again demonstrated this city’s huge as-yet unsatiated thirst for tech collaboration.

Summaries and reviews of the content can be had from a few places – here are two of them:

I spent time afterwards working the room at the pub and had quite a few interesting conversations, the most interesting of which were with Ryan McMinn and Pete Forde of Unspace. I’ve been acquainted with Ryan for some time but was impressed with his depth and how well he articulates his passion. I met Pete at the last DemoCamp and we clicked on a few levels. and it was gratifying to share opinions on the state of webdev and its potential directions.

Pete has been posting some Unspace essays that contribute extremely well to the evolution of the web development commons. Highly recommended reading – there’s an rss feed to be had, so snarf it with all speed.

The braintrust at these gatherings is remarkable. Come and see for yourself. And I mean YOU.


Mixing with the masses at MUSH

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Via TheMose and, it looks like although due to a calendar mismatch I’ll be missing Mesh it doesn’t mean I can’t be first in the mosh pit at MUSH!

Come along and together we’ll energize synergies and enable a Web 2.0 user-generated content value proposition.


Spring Cleaning

Monday, April 17th, 2006

After 5 years with the same design and content, I’ve changed my main AshleyIT home page to reflect my current direction which has been evolving for some time from code monkeying towards more consulting and strategy.


Toronto area tech biz groundswell

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Over the last few months, a flurry of BarCamps, DemoCamps and Schmoozes, along with iSummit and the upcoming Mesh have convinced me that there is a huge amount of energy building in Toronto where tech and business circles intersect, and it’s happening largely from the bottom up among startups and entrepreneurs.

Last night I spoke to The Greater Toronto Web Centric Meetup Group, which is a well-organized group amalgamated from 17 smaller Meetup groups. My subject matter was fairly technically intense for a general group, but I found to my surprise that there was a widely-expressed appetite for technical information about current internet development trends. People and organizations aren’t just messing about with this stuff, they really want to make use of it.

I reconnected with long-time friend and erstwhile blogger Shane McChesney, who runs Nooro, a top-tier internet research and online survey company. As someone who has already built a successful company (and note that he not only survived but thrived during the lean years without the support of the kind of buzz that’s happening now), I’m encouraging Shane to rekindle his blogging fire to inspire the grassroots to follow his example. I plan to convince Shane to come along to Dave Forde’s next Shoeless Schmooze on Thu Apr 20. Come along and have a blab with him, his positive energy is infectious.


Speaking at Toronto WebDesign Meetup

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

I’ll be speaking at the Greater Toronto Web Centric Meetup tomorrow evening, Wednesday, April 12, 2006, at 7:00 PM.

While I’m ostensibly previewing and practicing my AjaxExperience presentation, it’s a 90-minute gig on a specialized subject, so I’ll have to play it by ear as to how much I deviate from it to accomodate a much smaller venue, more diverse crowd, and time limits.

Come along if you’re interested in such things.

It’s at:

Fiddlers Green (3rd floor)
27 Wellesley Street East
Toronto , ON M4Y 1G7
(416) 967-9442


Amazon’s S3 meets Ajax

Friday, April 7th, 2006

Julien Couvreur is building an RSS reader that uses Flash to call Bloglines without running up against cross-site scripting restrictions.

The last restriction not to forget is that Flash will only allow requests to domains that explicitly allow it, by publishing a policy file (crossdomain.xml), for security reasons. A number of sites already have one, such as Yahoo/Flickr, Amazon or Bloglines.

Using Amazon’s S3 storage from a browser app represents a huge development in Ajax apps. Les Orchard is working on it and I think that Flash/crossdomain.xml may be the key to making it work in current browsers.

Exciting stuff.


W3C XHR working draft – is it enough?

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

Ajax Magazine points to the new W3C XMLHttpRequest Working Draft Specification.

While I’m all for standards, and the XMLHttpRequest object has become a defacto standard since it has been included in the leading browsers, I wonder if the effort to formalize the status quo is enough when the current object, while extremely useful, could benefit from a number of improvements. I suggest it’s time to also make some forward movement.

Douglas Crockford has addressed many of the restrictions and common criticisms of XMLHttpRequest in his recent abstract proposing a new JSONRequest object to be implemented in by browser makers.

I think JSONRequest (or something similar) is a natural next step in the evolution of browser interaction, building on the tremendous success of XMLHttpRequest and learning from the experiences it has given us.