Project highlights: products shipped, accomplishments, and major initiatives delivered.
Code can be found on Github.
Habits make us. We become what we do regularly.
harsh is habit tracking for geeks. A minimalist, command line, open source app for tracking and forging habits.
After trying an exhaustive number of uninspiring habit trackers, I took the best ideas, coded them up in GoLang, simplified them, and made it cross platform for OSX, linux, and windows.
I’ve added features, simplified commands, and provided much easier ways to install and start using the app via homebrew, snap, and OS-specific binaries built on an automatic release pipeline in Github Actions. Oh, and better onboarding to get people started too.
There’s more about it on the release post. This was seriously fun. Between it and genomics coding work, it’s made me enjoy GoLang a lot more and it’s become pretty much my go-to language for everything these days when I’m not forced to use Python.
AArk Species Assurance App
A full 1/3 of the world’s ~8000 amphibian species are critically endangered or on the verge of extinction.
AArk’s Species Assurance app tracks amphibian programs globally, allowing zoos and wildlife organizations to prioritize scarce resources to bring at-risk species back from the brink of extinction.
I loved working on this and I’m keen to work on similar wildlife conservation projects. If you found this via search and have some interesting problems, please mail me to talk.
DataKind is a datascience-for-good charity, helping NGOs answer difficult data science questions key to their effectiveness and using and collecting their data better.
When DataKind decided to expand to 5 global chapters, a trio of co-founders and I put forward Singapore as a site. We won, started up, and I acted as Director of Operations for over a year before stepping down and handing over the reins due to work commitments.
Nothing in Rubyland did what I considered essential. So, I took the best ideas I’d seen, shmooshed them together, and created something super fast, hackable, easy-to-use, and with a tiny code base (<250 LOC!). I had a blast coding this strangely and learned a surprising amount for what seems like such a simple project on the surface.
Sunset late 2014
A Leadnow project during the 2011 Canadian Federal election National Debate to allow a large constituency to discuss and understand details of policy arguments in the debate.
The app itself pulls tweets out of the twitter firehose for any arbitrary hashtag(s) (or any text in the tweetstream, for that matter) and dumps it into a database and then pulls it out slowly in a nice, ordered waterfall cascade-style for coherent discussion and response.
Sunset late 2014
Leadnow contacted me and asked for help getting their fledgling operation off the ground tech-wise for Canada. The site was light, fast, and very scalable with an easily extensible codebase that was put up in record time and ran their online presence until late 2014.
My favourite thing about this entire project was that I did the initial work and pushed www.leadnow.ca live globally from a lovely little island in the Andaman Sea in Thailand while on vacation, digital nomad style at a time when that was very rare. I really need my life to be a bit more like that, more often. It definitely proved I could do remote work from anywhere despite geography and timezones.
Catherder aka Tess the TOIL-bot
Catherder came about since I work a lot with people whose big problem is that they work way too long and hard. Unhealthy overtime becomes the norm, burnout follows, and good people end up leaving organizations that can ill-afford the loss.
Tess allowed us to see trending counterproductive overtime, stick to legal TOIL (Time Off In Lieu) obligations, vacation, and sick days, and make sure staff stayed healthy, rested, and firing on all cylinders. Audit compliant, one-click approvals via email, nice reporting and alerts, this was an “off book” project with an easy weekend-to-PoC solution.
Catherder was further enhanced inside Pivotal Labs and rolled out for all APAC staff across 5 countries.
I still think its simplicity and ease-of-use for manager and staff make it far superior to most commercial HR systems I’ve seen.
A big problem for fast-moving activist organizations is they rarely have time or resources to focus on campaigning infrastructure until it starts to hurt core execution and actions
Brought in as Director of Online Campaigning and IT in 2009, our team redesigned and rearchitected GetUp’s core campaigning engine in Rails for rapid response campaigning, action flexibility, email blasting at “Obama-esque” campaigning speeds, salient metrics and A/B testing, and an elastic cloud architecture designed to handle massive, yet intermittent “fireballing” of the site. As a benefit, using cloud-first technologies minimized costs during off-peak email blasts and TV media by backing off resources.
Sunset late 2013
Lunchmeets was designed to solve a seemingly small, but big problem Amnesty had, people not really knowing the people they worked with. Collaboration and sharing are vastly more difficult with people you don’t know (and trust), and a showstopper if you’re trying to change an organizational “gatekeeper” culture. This app randomly matched people up to go to lunch or coffee.
Another “off book” project, hugely successful with users and had been running in production since mid 2007 to late 2013 with thousands of Lunchmeets gone-on and over a third of all full-time staff participating.
Amnesty International needed a complete overhaul of their web platform, online branding, and ability to reach and engage supporters in non-traditional locations globally.
A massive project involving overhauls of everything from underlying technologies, to branding, to content, to the document library at the heart of Amnesty’s human rights research, this comprehensive relaunch of the amnesty.org flagship site delivered capabilities the organization had never had before as well as a key deliverable for faster turnaround for digital campaigning and rapid response actions.
GPC Federal Leadership Canvassing
Sunset late 2007
This was the very first Rails app I ever built, way back in 2006 when the framework was at 1.2.
Built over a sleepless weekend to meet the urgent need to get good information on voting patterns for the original federal leadership campaign of Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada. It was simple, tightly featured, and did precisely what was needed.
It gave the national campaign team daily statistics on canvassed ridings which was critical for understanding where to focus resources for maximum effectiveness to win the election.
I like to think this app helped contribute to May coming from behind in the polls to beat her opponent by a 2:1 margin. Elizabeth herself actually personally thanked me on national television with a really nice mention in her victory speech in Ottawa.
Sunset mid 2011
Knowledge management is a deep problem for all organizations. Vendors intentionally confuse buying software with creating a culture of knowledge sharing and findability.
Whuffie tried to solve the problem my new
organization had of being great at writing things down (explicit knowledge),
but with low organizational learning value. Tacit knowledge in peoples'
heads had more value but was inaccessible, so Whuffie was an experiment to deal
with questions and dialogues and socially reward people breaking down a
“gatekeeper” culture by creating a marketplace for knowledge and help while
encouraging information sharing as something valued by the organization.
For scifi fans, the project takes its name from Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom where Whuffie, a form of post-scarcity digital reputation and ersatz currency, replaces money and is a proxy for societal value.
Sunset early 2012
This ML system extended from my MSc work methodically sifting satellite imagery to try to find undiscovered archaeological sites.
The idea was inspired by NASA’s remote sensing help in the 1992 discovery of Iram of the Mighty Pillars, the famed Atlantis of the Sands in Arabia’s Empty Quarter (the Rub' al Khali/الربع الخالي), via ground penetrating and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) from satellites.
If you’ve run across this via search, I love applying technology to archaeology, so if you have an interesting project, please mail me.