Summer Projects

Abandoned Old Rusty Car
Alex Proimos via Compfight

I accepted that something wasn’t right with me when I realized that what I was looking forward to this summer was… doing work. Specifically, getting my digital footprint up to snuff and taking care of work-related planning and organization. Here’s an excerpt from my lengthy to-do list (kept, of course, in Evernote):

  1. Update my personal website at
  2. Transition to a new cloud service
  3. Finish annual teaching reflection
  4. Complete planning maps for my world history courses

My work thus far has been steady but plodding. First off, I wanted to select a cloud service that I would use next year to keep my work and home computers in sync (Win7 and Mac-Lion, respectively) – not only with work files, but also my 50GB music collection. Furthermore, I needed a service that would allow me to easily share files and folders with my two co-planning teachers. After a feature and cost comparison between cloud services Spideroak, Skydrive, Google Drive, and Dropbox, I settled on Skydrive. It’s among the cheapast of the options, and it offers 7GB to free users – a better deal for my co-planning teachers who probably won’t shell out $50/year for extra storage. I quickly find this to be the wrong choice, though. Skydrive suffers from strict file name limitations (no symbols like ; ” , / etc), so I had to use a mass filename replacer to fix the hundreds of errors that Skydrive had. Then I had to trash the app’s preferences to get it to sync properly. I still haven’t completed a full sync since I’m on a limited data plan here in rural Canada. If I could do it over again, I’d choose Google Drive. It’s comparable in cost, offers similar sharing features, and I doubt it faces the same filename restrictions (or if it does, it deals with them more gracefully).

My personal website has also been a time sink. I signed up for 1and1’s unlimited web hosting package on the recommendation of a friend – it’s $3 or 4 a month for all-you-can-eat bandwidth and web storage. They also claimed to offer 1-click WordPress installs. But my 1-click install didn’t work, so I ended up having to install WordPress and set up the domain manually. Admittedly, it wasn’t complicated – the WordPress install takes five minutes. But still – more complicated than it should have been.

Then it was on to customizing my WordPress install. I chose a theme, imported content from my Coetail blog, and tinkered for hours. The results are alright for a first attempt – But I let the tail wag the dog, choosing a theme and tweaking the CSS styles before deciding what pages and content I wanted to have, instead of vice versa. I anticipated regular changes to what’s posted there now.

The past week has been all about the tools. Next step: using these tools to actually accomplish something.

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