Category Archives: Miscellanea

Free AI-Driven Profile Pictures

I recently found out about something called #newprofilepic (that appears to be the name of the site).  When you click on their privacy policy, you are taken to, which advertises their use of “smart algorithms” for “simple photo editing”.  I figured that I would give it a swing and it turned out pretty well.

I’m not too sure how they pay for doing what they do but I like the result.

I have made 83 kiva loans in 72 countries and I’m not sure what to do next

A decade ago, I watched a ted talk about Kiva and made my first kiva loan.  The first few loans were kind of random but I eventually settled on the goal of giving a loan in every country.  Kiva officially works with lenders in 76 countries and I typically gave one loan per month, so it took a while but I eventually reached the point where I had made loans in 72 countries.  A few years ago, they added something where you can list what countries you had and hadn’t lent to, yet.  This is my list:

There aren’t any potential borrowers in those countries, though.  Do I set a new goal?  Do I go back to random?  If you have a suggestion, feel free to drop a comment, below.

This blog is 10 years old!

It has been exactly 10 years since I posted Changes on this website.  This blog has never had a singular focus.  It has always just covered what I am interested in at the time.  So far, I have published 988 posts (including this one and a few that are scheduled out into the future).  I might need to commemorate a 1000th post in the near future. 🙂

Here’s hoping for another 10 years of randomness?

The summer 2021 blogging forecast

Over the past few weeks, I have mainly been posting content related to the State Parks App and work on that project is not stopping at all but there is some additional content that I really want to work into the weekly schedule.  Last week, I posted an update about my preferred coding tools and next week, I am posting something about the Vue CLI and Webpack.  In addition to that, I also want to revisit MongoDB after ignoring it for a few years (and not just because I have a future need).  After that, I also want to try to work some non-vue-related content in (maybe Alpine.js or Angular).  You can expect some more content related to the State Parks App after that.

It is safe to say that my two posts per month plan is shot to hell, at the moment.  I am still limiting myself to a code-related post on Thursdays and non-coding posts on Tuesdays, though.


[ Cover photo by Mark König on Unsplash  ]

Five years at UWM

On June 6 of 2016, I started working for the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee again.  It genuinely feels like I just started yesterday.  When I started at UWM, I had been writing ColdFusion code for a decade and I was looking for a little bit of a reset.  I was explicitly looking for something that had nothing to do with CFML.  These days, I am primarily using Laravel / PHP on the backend and Vue.js / javascript on the frontend.  Before I came back to UWM, I was honestly getting a little bored.  This job definitely has not been boring.

In the past five years, have also been to China, Morocco, England, Germany, Switzerland, and I returned to France.  I’ve been to Laracon, That Conference, and CypherCon.  I have upped my front-end development game and I think that I have become a lot more confident.

I can’t wait to see where I am in another five years.

What happened, Joe?

Back in December, I was talking about posting regularly on this blog but there hasn’t been any new posts since March.  So, what happened?  Back in April, I started looking at moving the blog over to Jekyll or Gatsby.  After a few weekends of research, I decided that this was too complicated for a hobby site and started looking at Ghost but I was having trouble importing things.  I switched gears again and tried using the WordPress hosted solution but I was having trouble importing things into that also.  Finally, I just rebuilt the VM and went back to self-hosting.

I am going to eventually give Gatsby or Jekyll a swing again but it looks like this is staying a WordPress site for a while.

2020 Time Capsule Post

I am sitting here in the back of a coffee shop in December 2019, thinking about what I want out of 2020.  In August, I turn 40 (which is slightly frightening).  I want to move my career forward in 2020.  I do not particularly know how to do that but by the time you read this, I will have been at UWM‘s ITA office for 4.5 years (assuming that I didn’t leave for somewhere else in 2020?).

I recently became a member of the Office of Research’s Talent Management Working Group.  The UW System is trying to revamp performance evaluation to align it more with professional development goals.  It is an exciting concept but it also doesn’t involve increasing training budgets, so I am not sure how successful it will be.

I recently pushed for my position description to be rewritten.  Before I left for the year, I even wrote an early draft of it.  I am angling for a formal position title of “Web Systems Engineer V” and a business title of “Lead Web Systems Engineer”.  The title change is driven by the UW System’s Title and Total Compensation project so I have finite power over what happens.

In the second half of 2020, I am planning to submit my packet for indefinite status.  I don’t know if I will get indefinite status or not but I have hope.  I think that it would be a big win.

I recently bought Sparrow’s Challenge Vault and I am planning on mastering it before Cyphercon.  I have my eye on that safe cracking village.

I went crazy with the international travel goal in 2019.  In 2020, I just want to do one trip.  I am currently looking at a trip to the Golden Triangle in India and a few days in Kathmandu.  I haven’t booked anything yet, though.

I started working on a side project, recently.  “Joe’s App” is running on firebase (a platform that I have had very mixed success with).  The current goal is to use Skyscanner’s APIs to build something that could be more holistic for travel planning.  I want it to go beyond the price of the flight and include things like the price of food and lodging.  I figure that (at the very least) it could be good fodder for technical blog posts.

Let’s hope that I met some of these goals, this year. 🙂


[ Cover photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash ]