Changing It Up

Happy New Year! It may not look like much has changed since I last posted, but behind the scenes I have been pretty busy. One of the big things I did was move Adventures in Play to a new hosting company. It wasn’t quite as simple as clicking a button to backup then restore. After my domain moved, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my blog transferred after a few failed attempts to migrate my WordPress site, but it all came together yesterday and now I can focus on my much neglected blog. Yes, I have high hopes to continue blogging into 2015 with posts that are sure to grab your attention by providing you with invaluable tech tips and other useful tidbits. I’m grasping here but I am sure it will be worthy of your attention at some point (if you are bored of playing YouTube videos or games on your phone—does that ever get old?)

Well, I hope you had a good start to the new year. Now, I need to go and make some late New Year’s resolutions… Resolution sounds monumental, like enacting a law. Maybe we should call them New Year’s Goals or the Big To-Dos.

Oh, I almost left without posting an image. I just spent an hour creating a new favicon for my website and you might have missed since it is so small.

New favicon  for Adventures in Play

Adventures in Play favicon – Actual image is 32x smaller.



Learn Python the Hard (Fun) Way

The course is available online and you can try it for free!

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a book called “Learn Python the Hard Way” (LPTHW). The book sat by my bedside under a stack of other reads until I rediscovered it over the weekend. I bought the book because of the unusual way it marketed itself. Learning something the hard way struck a chord with me because taking the easy way has so seldomly worked out for me. I had dabbled with Python throughout the years and even purchased a neglected book or two on the topic. One of my first professional experiences with Python was when I was tasked with fixing an automated process that was scripted in Python.  Googling here and there I was able to patch up the script and get things running again, but I didn’t have the chance to really solidify my knowledge. I was amazed by how much I could do with so little code, but I found debugging and deciphering the code challenging. Since then I transitioned to other jobs, and worked with teams who preferred a different standard for scripting (For reasons I will never understand, Perl is a common favorite). Python felt accessible and yet mysterious and powerful to me. I wanted to learn more and see what other cool things I could do. Perhaps it reminded me of my early programming experiences.

When I was a kid, I used to go to my school library and read the RUN magazine. I would scour the pages to catch up on the latest techno gadgets and games that were on the horizon, but I also loved taking home code to try on my Commodore 64. I would meticulously transcribe the BASIC and assembly code from the magazine to my notebook. I couldn’t wait to get home to try out the new programs and games on my C-64. Often my programs would not run at all and I had to figure out what was causing the crash. This was a terrific training ground for teaching me how to write and troubleshoot code, skills I use to this day at work. Fast-forward to today where all of the information you could possibly need is at your whim and you might think kids have it made. Learning should be easier than ever, but people still need to go through the process and learn a wide array of skills. That takes time, effort, patience and a lot of hard work. You can’t skim over it. You can’t Google your way through it. You just have to do it.

Now, if you review Learning Python the Hard Way, you might think that the text is really just for beginners, but I believe anyone can benefit from the instructional approach to learning. I am going to work my way through each and every chapter in the book, not skipping a page, skimming over an exercise or cutting and pasting so much as a line of code. I am hoping to become a better programmer in the process, but also, I would like to teach my children how to program in Python using the same textbook. I think LPTHW offers a terrific start for anyone making their first steps into the wonderful world of software development. The book even comes with instructional videos to help you through the rough sections. Learning the Hard Way might be a tough sell for kids, but I hope they will gain an appreciation for programming but also learn important life skills like: self discipline, analytical thinking and problem-solving.

The New iCloud is Coming!

If you haven’t heard, Apple is updating its iCloud service, providing a better integrated cloud experience for all your iDevices at a price that won’t bust your budget.

The main feature of the new iCloud service that I am super excited about is Family Sharing. Now, up to six members of your family can share their App Store purchases, iTunes, iBooks, family photos, calendars, etc. This will save you money in the long run because now you don’t have to buy multiple copies of your favourite apps (like 1Password) to share in the fun. Although a lot of apps today are free-ish, some still cost over $15, a fee I don’t care to pay more than once.

The other reason that I am excited about this announcement is the reduced cost of online storage. Now, you can afford to backup all of our Mac data to the cloud and if you are like me, you have a lot of data. No worries, now Apple has provided all the space you need at a reasonable price. Gone are the annual fees where you had to guess how much space you would need for the year ahead. Now, you can upgrade or downgrade month to month. If you decide that you don’t need 500 GB of space, you can drop down to the 200 GB level.

You might be a little concerned about storing all of your private data in the cloud, especially with the recent stories of hackers breaking into Apple’s beloved iCloud, but Apple has investigated the issue and apparently shored up their security. I understand that part of the issue is weak passwords. Perhaps the lesson here is to make sure that your all of your online accounts have strong passwords. Hey, another reason to use a terrific app like 1Password to auto-generate some unguessable passwords for you! (Really, I don’t work for AgileBits but I think 1Password does deserve high praise).

Space Monthly Cost
20GB $0.99/month
20GB $0.99/month
200GB $3.99/month
500GB $9.99/month
1TB $19.99/month


Check it out:

Blogger’s Block

Can it be? I haven’t written a post since March 2014?! Wow, where did the time go? Well, it wasn’t like I was a regular blogger to begin with, but seriously that’s six months! Shameful I know. To be fair, I have been busy with my new job and then there was summer vacation. Okay, that just sounds like a lame excuse. I know what happened, I developed “Blogger’s Block”, a condition worse than the common writer’s block. Once you stop blogging it is like 100 times harder to go back and write something or anything, really. You stop visiting your own website and feel bad for any loyal visitor who comes back day after day only to see the same post about a donut that I ate back in March. Granted, those were some yummy donuts. So now it is time for me to promise that I will return to my former semi-regular pattern of blogging, but that would be a comfortable lie. No, I cannot promise that, but I do at least aspire to write about something interesting, and maybe even helpful. I’ve read some truly great technical blog posts recently that sure helped me out (Thanks Jonas for your post about resolving an annoying SSRS Scale-out Deployment Error. Check out his blog:

Okay, it’s Friday night and I am off to eat some pizza and spend time with the family. That sounds like a Tweet… Hmmm. That reminds me, I haven’t tweeted in quite some time. Appears that my blogger’s block has transferred to my social networks.


Coming Soon!



FAQ is available here.


Chat with other users about Nightcap

Nightcap Support

You can file support tickets and make feature requests by going to the link below:

1. What is Nightcap?

Nightcap is a power saving utility that puts your Windows PC to sleep after a period of inactivity.

2. How does Nightcap work?

Nightcap quietly monitors any mouse or keyboard activity on your PC in order to determine when to put your computer to sleep. Once you stop interacting with your computer, Nightcap takes notice and after a prolonged period of inactivity, it displays a warning message that your computer is about to enter a deep state of rest. You can easily dismiss this message by moving your mouse or pressing a key.

3. Why Nightcap? – A Brief History

Your Windows Desktop uses a lot of power and having it on when no one is using it is wasteful and can make for costly power bills. So, you probably already have configured your PC to sleep by going into the Power Plans system settings, but perhaps you noticed that your Windows desktop stays awake regardless of what power options you choose or tweaks that you make.

That is what happened to me. I spent countless hours tweaking system settings and scouring forums for tips, but nothing worked. I would come into my office in the morning to find the naughty little machines, wide awake. Sometimes I would see my PCs powering down but then waking up moments later by an invisible force. I had enough and wanted to solve this problem once and for all. That is why I wrote Nightcap. Since I created Nightcap, my PCs are always in a sleep state when not in use.

4. Doesn’t Windows already have “Power Plans” to put my computer to sleep?

Yes, but often these power settings “don’t take” and you spend  hours of troubleshooting to figure why. Nightcap provides a better solution by putting your computer to sleep on time, every time. (See Why Night – Brief History).

5. What are the system requirements?

  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8

The following prerequisites are required:

  • Windows Installer 4.5
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (x86 and x64)

6. How much does it cost?

Nightcap is 100% free! It also comes with absolutely no warranty.

7. Where can I download Nightcap?

You can download Nightcap here.

8. Where can I go to provide feedback or get support?

File support tickets and make feature requests by going to the link below:

Ending March Break on a High Note

Ol' School Donuts

Rumour had it that there was a bus with fresh, homemade donuts just off the Bedford Highway across from the Bedford United Church, so we had to go check it out. We packed up our little campers to scope out the scene. Sure enough, there was an “Ol’ School Donuts” bus waiting to take our requests.
Ol' School Donuts Bus

What a great way to finish off a super-fun March Break week!
Strawberries and Cream Donuts

Sent from my totally awesome iPhone!

Experts stumped! Weird trick that increases traffic to your site!

That was pretty much it. Disappointed? Don’t be. Here are some more sites that you simply can’t resist:

  • [expand title=”How centenarians are beating twenty-somethings at their own game“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    It’s just too tempting, right?!

    How centenarians are beating twenty-somethings at their own game

    Ahh.. I really did want to know more about how those centenarians are winning… I mean beyond outliving us all.

    [Insert ad here]

  • [expand title=”Is your face symmetrical? Learn how your life could depend on it!“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    Is your face symmetrical? Learn how your life could depend on it!

    Did you really think that your life would depend on your face being symmetrical? Of course not, but probably some part of you was thinking that facial symmetry could be important in ways that you don’t yet fully understand. Am I talking to you from my good side?

    [Insert obnoxious ad here]

  • [expand title=”Dietitians angered over amazing pizza diet weight loss results“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Insert annoying ad here]

    Dietitians angered over amazing pizza diet weight loss results

    Wouldn’t it be great if just for once you could stick it to those smug dietitians who harp about your cholesterol and penchant for pizza. Wow, what a life it would be if you could eat pizza all the time and still lose weight!

  • [expand title=”Astronomers frightened by what they see“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Insert  another annoying ad here]

    Astronomers frightened by what they see

    Who isn’t interested in a good, “The World is Going to End” story? I mean, it’s only a matter of time, right?

    Just the imagery of it all is so tempting. Astronomer’s peering through telescopes and terrified by something, but what has them so afraid? I just need to know!

  • [expand title=”What parents don’t know that could be holding their kids back“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook!

    What parents don’t know that could be holding their kids back

    And what parent isn’t interested in knowing more about the things that might hold their kids back? These type of articles love to prey upon the insecurities of parents. It implants the idea that for some reason, your kid isn’t going to succeed if you pass on this article.

  • [expand title=”Educators embarrassed to learn about missing weekday“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    Educators embarrassed to learn about missing weekday

    Really, a missing weekday? How could they miss that?

    I think this headline might grab you because it is appealing to learn about “know-it-all” teachers who don’t know-it-all and in the process are ashamed by what they don’t know.  

     Back > Experts stumped! Weird trick that increases traffic to your site!

  • [expand title=”Man goes sixty days without left sock“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Insert yet another annoying ad here]

     Man goes sixty days without left sock

    What man? How could he possibly go sixty days without a left sock? Why his left sock? Why did he lose his sock? What is this story even about?

    I have so many unanswered question.

  • [expand title=”Get noticed at work without showing up“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Why this would be a perfect opportunity for a well placed ad]

    Get noticed at work without showing up

    How can you get noticed at work without even showing up? This headline is sure to appeal to the Timothy Ferriss fans out there. Certainly you would get noticed for not showing up for work, but probably for all the wrong reasons.

  • [expand title=”Why everything experts have told you could be killing you“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Insert annoying ad here]

    Why everything experts have told you could be killing you

    Darn experts know everything, right? Now I learn that all this advice could be killing me!?! Isn’t that just typical? Here, I thought I was living a pretty healthy life, listening to the helpful advice of John Tesh while taking everything in moderation. Who can you listen too? So much conflicting information.

  • [expand title=”What your neighbors don’t want you to know“]

    Congratulations! You have fallen for the hook.

    [Insert ad about latest amazing product]

     What your neighbors don’t want you to know

    What are my neighbors up to? I never see that guy next door until late at night and then there is the lady across the street who just bought that new, expensive SUV. What do they know and what are they hiding from me? I want to get ahead too!  Inquiring minds want to know.

  • And so much more! Oh, and it’s all new too.

    So what do you think? Is your curiosity getting the best of you? Why do we find these headlines so appealing?