#100daysofcode R1D2

Today I had some fun with APIs. I have now got part of my Twitter application functional. However, since I haven’t actually figured out what I’m going to do with the data, and whether I’m going to store historical data or just display current info, I got stuck.

So, I moved on to the Amazon shopping API. I already use this API in a few places to display books by subject, and books by author.

In an experimental mood, I thought I’d try using some sorting magic on it, and found Isotope. Watching books sort and filter themselves was a lot of fun, though I don’t know if there’s a practical use for it on my site. For now, it’s in my ‘/experiments’ folder.

This was all pretty lightweight stuff, but I have been a little off my usual rhythm all day. It took me twice as long as usual to get through editing a dozen XML files, and I still haven’t gotten my invoices updated for the day.

The weekend starts tomorrow, so hopefully I can do some less work-focussed programming for day 3.

#100daysofcode R1D1

One of my goals for the new year is to do a bit more coding. I used to be pretty darned handy with Python, but lack of use has dulled my confidence and probably my abilities. I aim to get that back to help with a few projects I hope to accomplish this year.

I also have a pretty spiffy idea for a WordPress plugin floating in my head that I hope to work on as well. That’s all PHP, which I have been working with on a regular basis for a very long time, so there’s no learning or re-learning to do, just buckling down to get it done.

And then there’s Javascript. I’m pretty good with the basics, but then there are SO many frameworks and libraries that I haven’t tried or used. I’ve played around a bit with Angular, but I’ve been reading a lot about Ember and React and I’d love to take some time to see what the fuss is about.

But for my first day of code, I’ve been fiddling with PHP and the Twitter API to build on some basic code I’ve been using to pull Twitter feeds in order to extract and some other information to help quantify social media effectiveness and reach.

Why I decided to start my 100 days on this particular day, when I’m so backlogged with regular work I will be burning the midnight oil just to get everything done, I will never know. But if I can get an hour of coding done today, I can get it done every day!

M.B. Williams – The Woman Behind Parks Canada

With my free Parks Canada 2017 pass in hand, I have been looking forward to visiting a few favourites and a few new treasures this summer. Right now, though, I sit at home waiting for the weather to warm up and the flowers to bloom.

I was pleased, therefore, when I saw the University of Calgary Press had a book on the history of Parks Canada that was Open Access. It was through this book, A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011, that I discovered the fascinating history of M.B. Williams, the author of the first and most definitive series of guidebooks about Canada’s national parks.

MB picnicking in the Rockies, 1920s. Photo Credit: mbwilliams.academic-news.org


M.B. (Mabel Bertha) Williams began her career as a file clerk in Ottawa where she spent her days cutting press clippings. When her boss at the Department of Interior, J.B. Harkin, had the opportunity to start a new department in charge of National Parks, he asked her to come to the Dominion Parks agency with him.

Within a decade, she was in charge of almost all the promotional material for the parks and had authored an amazing series of guidebooks that could be found in tens of thousands of Canadian households.

When the depression hit, her entire female staff was laid off. Even though her job was secure, M.B. quit in solidarity.

She struggled thereafter to find success as an author, publishing the first history of Parks Canada, Guardians of the West, with Thomas Nelson in 1936.

Looking through an archive of her work is amazing. I recall leafing through a well-worn copy of Jasper Trails as a child. It’s still a wonderful read today.

The audio clip below is an interview with MB much later where she explains how she went from clipping newspaper articles to writing the guidebooks and promotional material for Canada’s parks.

You can read all of the available guidebooks online at mbwilliams.academic-news.org, and the University of Calgary Press title is free to read here. Or just grab the chapter on MB Williams. It’s a short and fascinating read.