Archive for the Category Geek Parenting


Workday Message Board

I came across the Windows-based desktop tool extraordinaire ‘Samurize‘ the other day courtesy of my friends at Lifehacker and have been running with it ever since.

The app does a number of things, the one that really interested me was integrating the contents of a text file on your desktop and updating it as the file changed.  My usage started with first the ‘Hello World’ of desktop modding and adding a todo list, then evolved to writing a script that monitored a number of automated processes at work and created a text file for an embedded desktop dashboard.

I then turned my attention to how I could set up something with Dropbox and Samurize to synch between my daytime laptop and the one at home where the kids are constantly working.  Both being Windows machines made this easy as Samurize is currently Windows only.  Now I have 2 cross referenced files, synced over the net with Dropbox, that are edited on one machine and appear on the desktop of the other.  This makes it easy to post notes and messages, in a bulletin board style setup, to the kids during the day, allowing them to do the same.

Now we have a live bulletin board for swapping messages during the work day.  Shiny.

I have a few Dropbox invites left, shoot me an email if you want one of them.

Starting a Family Wiki

My long term memory is, well, OK at best. This is not a new development and the age of electronics has enabled me to store the information I want to remember and access it easily so this is not a debilitating personal shortcoming. I’ve embraced it, or at least compensated for it, reasonably as I accepted it and tools evolved.

Years ago my wife and I started recording (on paper) and placing in a box all of the memorable quotes that our children said so we would not forget them. Within a few days of a great quip we always seemed to have trouble remembering exactly what was said. So a decade later we had a treasure trove of hilarity scribbled on scraps of paper stating what someone said, when they said it and what the context was.

I was already using MediaWiki to store notes and pieces of code that I’d written over the years giving me an easy and convenient way to index and refer to that info when we decided to do the same for family info we did not want lost to faulty memories.

We have now been running a family wiki for over a year now and have piles of great information stored away for ourselves in later life or our children or grandchildren to refer to. The wiki format allows us to write a little bit about teachers (favorite and otherwise), crushes, art projects, first roller coasters, what people dressed as for Halloween, what we did on family vacations, favorite family recipes, poems written for school, who coached the basketball team in ‘06, great family practical jokes, those quotes and sayings that everyone has, and ten thousand other things that will be wonderful to flip through and remember in a few decades.

We’ve affectionately named ours the Clio Project in honor of the Greek Muse Clio, the Muse of memory. Now ‘to Clio’ something is a common verb. Well kind of common…

With some dedication the Clio Project is turning into a family treasure as increasingly more information is finding its way into an electronic format anyway and flowing into our data store. MediaWiki supports pictures, files, version control, categories, discussions (handy when my oldest disagrees with my assessment of any given item) in addition to passwording and overall site-access control.

So start early, having great moments documented from their beginning would be a great gift to give your child or grandchild one day. I wish the technology was around back when we started ‘The Box’ as much of the great details over those years have already faded or are fading rapidly now. I’ve found that if you take just 30 minutes a week to make an entry on some topic and it starts to accumulate pretty quickly.

I’ll end this post with a favorite entry from our wiki, from the category ‘Quotes’:

Kevin asked [son] if he wanted a hard-boiled egg for a snack:

[son]: No, I don’t like eggs (pauses) except when they are in cake.

6/17/2005 – [son] almost 5 years old.