article friends Photography work

My Photos in Alberta Views Magazine

My friend Shannon Phillips is a freelance writer and journalist. When she asked me to take some photos for her new story, I jumped at the chance. I’m happy to say, the editors at Alberta Views used two of my images for the October edition article.

My Photo in Alberta Views

You can read Shannon Pillips’s full Alberta Beef article ON ITS LAST LEGS?.


Copy Protection Rant

I’m doing some work for a client this morning. I’m updating his portfolio for his acting career and ironically, trying to download the tv show which he plays in is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. The CBC is streaming the show in SWF format, however, they’ve made it nearly impossible (as far as I can tell) to save it locally.

After spending nearly a half hour trying to work it out, I finally decided to check my favourite bit torrent site. The show in question will be downloaded in about 30 minutes—so much for trying to do things the CBC’s way.

design work

NDP Lethbridge

Here is a screen shot of the Lethbridge NDP website that I recently designed.

Lethbridge NDP website screen shot

I incorporated design elements from both the Federal and Provincial NDP in order to convey the message that the Lethbridge office exists for both sides of the party. Although I originally used the lime green of the Federal party, ultimately the shade of green that the Provincial side uses is much easier on the eyes.

design work

Karleb Homes Ltd Website

Karleb Homes Ltd. LogoI just finished putting together a site for a small construction company in Drayton Valley, Alberta, Karleb Homes Ltd.

Using cascading style sheets (CSS) I was able to keep the “content” of the site separate from the design. I also used Douglas Bowman’s sliding door technique for the navigation tabs which allows greater accessibility for larger fonts and screen readers than say just using regular, old-fashioned rollover images.

The footer is actually a repeat of the top menu, placed at the bottom of the screen because that’s really where the user needs it most—ie. at the end of the page ready for when he or she is done reading. For the spacing of the fonts, I relied on Richard Rutter and Mark Boulton’s SxSW talk, Typography for the Web.

I took the photos inside Karleb Homes’ newest project. I used my sister’s brand new Canon 5D as well as two of her Alien Bees lighting kits. The yard in the photo used for the header hasn’t been landscaped yet, but will be replaced when the landscaping matches the quality of the house.

I’m very pleased with the outcome of the site and I look forward to the making the next one—I love creating nice, friendly, and accessible websites and I’m currently looking for more opportunities, so if you are in need, let me know.

life work

Is it a Near Miss or a Near Hit When You Almost die?

There was an accident at work last week. No one was hurt, but I was almost seriously injured.

Here’s the situation, some walls were taken out of the change rooms because they are rebuilding everything. At least one wall had heating vents going through it and when they moved the wall out, they left the bricks on top of the vent.

There was a guy grinding some metal bits out of the ground right where I wanted to pile some blocks. If he hadn’t been there, I would have just been piling away happily. Instead I asked him if I could start my pile beside him—if I would be out of his way or if I should just wait until he was done. He said yes so I just walked a few steps away to grab some blocks from the pallet and a couple of guys—I’m not sure who they are, (they call them the tin-bangers), started hammering on the vents, presumably to bring them down. Even though this particular job was supposed to have been done long before the bricklayers got there and certainly it shouldn’t have been done while there were four of us working beneath the vents, I guess they thought it was a good idea to be working on it right then.

All of a sudden about six bricks came falling out of the sky and landed beside the grinding guy on the ground and right where I was about to pile my blocks. It was so close to hitting him, and me, it was just CRAZY.

Some of the bricks hit the new wall that had just been built and knocked one of its blocks right out of the fresh cement onto the ground.

One of the guys stopped pounding when he saw the accident but the other idiot—probably the one that actually caused the bricks to fall, didn’t even stop for a good 30 seconds. Somebody yelled at the grinding guy to get out of the way because there were still more bricks up there and the guy just kept pounding. Did I mention he’s an idiot!?

Anyway, needless to say, I was pretty shocked that I was almost struck down by six bricks that fell from about four meters. That would have left a pretty deep mark.

Some might call it a near miss, but I think a near hit is a more accurate description. I also don’t think anyone reported the incident. “No blood; no foul” I guess. I can’t wait to finish this job.


Mixing Mud

I started my first day of work as a mud mixer today. (That’s the common term for brick layer’s assistant). I’m now fully aware of why I went to university.

The guys I work with are nice enough though and the money’s good, so until I build up a little nest egg that I can use to move on to bigger and better things, for the next little while it’ll be hard labour.

games work

The Outfit

The Outfit title image

The Outfit game for Xbox 360 is now in stores.

Last year I had the opportunity to be a small part of the creation process, helping with the motion capture setup and then again later as a production assistant. I saw a copy of the game on Friday and sure enough, my name is in the credits.

About a month ago the developers started posting a blog about the conception and realization of the game; it’s interesting to read the posts from some of the great people that I met in Vancouver.

Of course, I still haven’t actually played the game yet, but the reviews I’ve read so far have been positive.


Moose Crossing

I’ve been working on a hockey fan site for the Halifax Mooseheads— When I started, I was a little worried that I might be overdoing it with the amount of red and black that I was putting in the design, but I think it actually turned out quite nicely.

Not only did I come up with a standards compliant design that fit with the motif he was looking for, but I also set him up with a copy Word Press so that he is now completely in control of his content. WordPress is great because of the amount of customization available through plugins (and brute coding—if you’re into that sort of thing). WordPress also makes it extremely easy for updating and modifying your site. It’s hard to believe something so valuable is available as a free download. Sometimes the free choice, is the best choice.

The site owner still has a couple of things he’d like me to help him with, but Moose Crossing is up and running and (in my opinion) it looks pretty sweet. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.


New Media Movie Making Camp

I started my new job on Monday. It involves teaching 11 to 17 year-olds how to create a movie from script-writing and storyboarding to burning the final DVD and creating a fancy package for that DVD to reside in.

In some ways teaching a movie making camp is a lot easier than you might expect. Basically you just tell the kids the basic structure of a movie and tell them to get at it. The hardest part is keeping them on track, writing their scripts or what have you and not playing flash based Internet games all day. It gets progressively easier the farther away from the classroom they are. Once they are out filming you can practically leave them on their own.

You can’t actually leave them on their own though. Oh no. Oh no, no, no.

For one thing, there are these people that work at the University. I use the term work loosely. Basically they show up in the morning, drink some coffee, visit with their friends in the office, and then look for ways of disrupting any movie making from happening on campus.

We were just outside the residence area of the University (the residence is built right into the building), when we became aware of our first complaint. All of a sudden a lone security guard showed up and asked us what was going on. I looked up at the kids filming their mob movie each armed to the teeth with a massive armada of toy guns. Flashbacks of the Medicine Hat Police cocking their shotgun and yelling at me to hit the ground flew through my head. (I’ll share that story some other time).

Nevertheless a little confidence can take you a long way. “Just filming a movie for our New Media Movie Making Camp,” I explained with a smile. I turned away from the guard and instructed the kids to get ready for their next scene.

He just stood there. I asked him if he needed anything else. He repeated back to me who we were trying to get the story straight so he could report back to his supervisor. I could tell he didn’t have the killer instinct that security guards usually exhibit upon receiving their walkie-talkie’s on the first day. Furthermore I was happily surprised that despite his obvious desire to tell us we were doing something wrong, he wasn’t able to compose a reason why the kids’ toy guns posed a security risk.

Later that day, an acquaintance of ours, that works at the University, came to tell us what a ruckus we were causing around campus. Apparently there had been several complaints about our kids and one specifically about their use of guns. But seeing as security didn’t do anything about it, I’m guessing that it was one of the rare occasions when common-sense trumped power mongering and know-it-all attitudes.

We wondered what we could do to prevent any further problems. That same friend suggested (perhaps sarcastically) that we create a couple of signs explaining that the 11 to 17 years olds holding a video camera and pointing caps guns at each other were just taking part in a University sponsored camp and that their weapons are only “props”. She also added to keep up the good work because the disruptions were likely an indication that the kids were having a good time, and besides — they made her day more interesting.

life work

Jeff Milner the Hero

I saved a child today at the pool. She was swimming in the deep end and when I looked over at her she was going under coming up for air and then going under again. The other guard didn’t see her and I tried to reach her from the edge but she was too far to swim over at all; she just kept going under. I even tried to reach the towel that I happened to be holding out to her but it was just out of her grasp. Next thing I know I decided to just jump in and grab her. I pulled her to the side, got out, and then suddenly the other guard noticed us. He came over quickly and I let him take her along with one of the councilors while I went and got changed. She was okay, just a little shaken up.

It’s weird jumping in for someone in distress. At first it doesn’t seem like much, I mean just some wet clothes, and really when you think about it, it’s not much. However, at least this is what I found, afterwards my adrenaline was just flying. I felt like my heart was beating so fast and at the same time felt a little bit of the shock setting in myself. Then I let myself wonder if she really did need someone to jump in for her. I’m glad the other guard there assured me I did the right thing and the more I think about it the more I agree that there was really nothing I should have done differently. I felt the best about it when I was leaving from work this evening one of the councilors that was there (it was a day camp girl that was going under) said to me nonchalantly, “Thanks for saving that little girl today.” Saving someone is pretty cool, even if it is so minor as just jumping in the pool and pulling them to the side.