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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

Computer with logos for Chrome and Brave browsers on it

 

If you ask the average person today what web browser they use, I think most would tell you that they use Google Chrome. It is a powerful browser with direct ties to Google Services, giving the browser a lot of power under the hood. The Google team itself is also a massive force, so you know the browser has a lot of support behind it in terms of a workforce.

 

Along with this power, comes a great loss in privacy as well as quite a bit of social profiling being done on you in the background by 3rd parties. Google makes a lot of money off of you without you being aware of specifically what they are doing.

 

The Search for Alternatives

I spent a long time looking for alternatives, but there is always a pitfall if you stray from the Chrome platform. If you try and move towards non-Chromium browsers you start to run into compatibility issues on some websites. If you gravitate towards international browsers, you may be feeding your data into unknown or questionable sources. It took a long time, but I found a solution for myself. I want to be clear that this opinion is a personal experience and does not reflect the views of the REM team as a whole necessarily, this is a personal blog entry.

 

Ad-Free Browsing

I was recommended to try Brave by a friend of mine on the basis that it has a native adblocker/tracker blocker, and is based on the Chromium platform. This means it was addressing my privacy concerns at the same time as not compromising to the compatibility issues I feared would occur by leaving the Chromium base platform. What I didn’t know was that it would also give me the option to view “non-invasive” ads for essentially money. The browser gives you the option to opt in to see up to 5 ads per hour in exchange for a small amount of money (I think my cell phone was paid $2.50 last month, so it is nominal). The thing is, I didn’t notice the ads and I didn’t see any other ads for the entire month. My browsing experience was flawless and I enjoyed ad-free YouTube and various other platforms without needing to use 3rd party addons to Chrome.

 

Encrypting Personal Data

In addition to this, Brave also automatically tries and upgrades non-secure http connections to https automatically. This can potentially help encrypt your data across server connections where it would otherwise be exposed. You can also outright block scripts right from the URL bar.

 

While not everyone will benefit from such a browser, especially in a more business-like setting where you may be required to see advertisements etc., or follow a company policy on browser – I personally would highly recommend this browser for home use to help protect your privacy, make a small payback on the ads that you do opt to see, and sacrifice absolutely no quality or functionality.

 

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

an office set up in someone's house

 

A concept many people are becoming more familiar with these days, working from home is something that is only recently becoming practical for many people.

 

In our industry, it is something that can be done easily and seamlessly thanks to the speed of current home internet connections, and the fact that most people do have computers in their homes now. Go back 20 years, and it was the vast minority who could work from home if needed. There are some careers, such as construction, which for obvious reasons will never be home jobs – however for those of us who can work from home, these can be some essential tips and tools for the tasks at hand.

 

Proper Setup

 

You are going to want to make sure you are lined up with all the gear you need before you sit down to begin. I would highly recommend that if you work on a monitor/monitors at the office, you get a peripheral to allow your laptop to connect to your home monitor/monitors as well. Clear your desk of any distractions you may have in your field of view, and try your best to make the surrounding environment quiet enough to work in. Having a good pair of headphones at home will really help, and if it also has a built-in mic, you are covered for your phone as well. Wireless is key here for home, as it will allow you to go to your kitchen and other areas of your home while on the phone. Having a USB hub will also help ensure you have all the connections you may need.

 

Mimic your Regular Schedule

 

Try your best to act like you are “going to work” for real. This means getting up at the same time as if you had to commute, doing your same morning ritual, and getting dressed as if you were going to go to the office. This part is important and the temptation is there to skip out on some of this as you do have the extra time and likely won’t be seeing anyone, but the mentality of getting ready for your workday will put you in “work mode” and help to wake up your brain, which may revert to “weekend mode” otherwise.

 

Try and take your breaks and your lunch at the same time you would at the office as well, as this will help keep your day on track. It is easier to work through lunch, or take excessive breaks if you are not self-monitoring more carefully.

 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

It’s no secret that we love games and are very competitive at REM. Combine a passion for games with building comradery, rapport and trust and we got: an awesome company event!

 

REM's 1st 2020 team-building event

We played games at Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo; a fun place with a cool vibe where one could hang out with friends and coworkers to play unlimited arcade games.

 

  Todd Hannigan playing an arcade game

 

Sean McParland playing a pinball machine  

It has a very nostalgic, retro feel that would appeal to casual players and hardcore gamers alike. It’s also in a perfect spot uptown in a plaza where university students could come in to take a break from studying. Check out their Facebook page here.

 

In the arcade is a nice assortment of games such as super-retro ones from the 70’s that’s completely mechanical and analogue to machines that have bright, flashy digital screens. Some are familiar classics such as Pac-man, Super Mario, Tetris and Street Fighter, while others are based on TV or movie franchises like Terminator, Guardians of the Galaxy or South Park.

 

Competitive streaks came out as each tried to best their colleague by getting the highest score or by winning in a one-on-one game. A few of us got particularly competitive while playing 3 games:

  1. International Shoot Out where a person controls a pair of paddles to shoot a ball into their opponent’s goal
  2. Another game where one had to throw basketballs into a moving hoop.
  3. And of course, at a few games of foosball on a table that lit up.

 

 

Below is a short video of Sean Legge getting “nothin’ but net!” Check out and follow us on Instagram for more videos and photos!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sean Legger going for the top score!!

A post shared by REMWebSolutions (@remwebsolutions) on

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This is a headshot of Brad Anderson.

I'd like to take a break from the regular type of posts that I put out and talk about a personal passion of mine:

MMO gaming!

Person's hands on a gaming keyboard

 

Since about as long as I can remember, I have always loved role-playing and adventure games. It can provide an escape from the mundane realities of daily life, and can give you a chance to be a hero, even if it is in an entirely seperate world. Of these types of games, the pinnicle would be the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). It takes all the best elements of gaming, and mashes them together. You have level-up systems, fighting, peaceful gathering, teamwork, loot systems, chat, groups, unique art styles, massive worlds, and great storyline in most cases.

 

While these games are generally the best quality and most immersive of any game genre, this often comes at a price. They are not only generally full-price games to start with, but often come with either a monthly cost to continue playing, or a microtransaction system which is nesseccary to utilize to stay competitive within the playerbase. That being said, most of the great MMOs out there will offer at least 2 methods to pay for this: in-game currency, or real money.

 

Of any of the MMORPG out there (and there are plenty!), there are 2 that I have consistently played and come back to throughout my life, and which I can forsee continuing to be powerhouses in the MMO genre. I will be releasing 2 seperate blogs talking about these at another time, however both games have been going for more than 15 years and still have very stong playerbase numbers. These two games are World of Warcraft and RuneScape.

 

Stay tuned for the next blog where I do a feature spot on RuneScape (RS) and get into some details on that!

 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

Happy Halloween 2019! REM team wearing Napoleon Dynamite costumes

 

Happy Halloween - Napoleon Dynamite Style!

 

This year, three of us from the REM team decided to to dress up as our favourite characters from a 2004 movie called Napoleon Dynamite!

 

They are (from left to right):

  • Sean Sanderson as Napoleon: he put all the pizzaz and nerd-cool style in his costume by having an afro wig, a "Vote for Pedro" T-shirt, eyeglasses, a retro casette player and the coolest part: he drew on his notebook a sketch of a "Liger" (half lion, half tiger creature)
  • Brad Anderson as Kip: Brad's looking cool with his khaki shorts, blue polo shirt and glasses holding a "La Fawnduh" sign.
  • Christine Votruba as Pedro: vote for me: Pedro! Had a lot of cross-dressing fun by dressin' up in a short, black wig, eye-liner mustache, big blue dress-shirt, a bolo tie (made with a broch and shoe laces), belt buckle, "vote for pedro" pin and a "If you VOTE FOR PEDRO all your wishes will come true!" flyer. It was an easy DIY costume put together thanks to a few things from my house and Value Village!

 

We've had a lot of fun! We got into character for the photoshoot by having spaced-out, dorky looks on our faces.  If you haven't seen this movie yet, I highly recommend watching if you're up for a lot of laughs.

 

To end this blog post, watch this scene from the movie of Napoleon's infamous dance routine. Enjoy!

 

 

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This is a headshot of Sean Sanderson.

For me, I think of a design trend as a movement that has gained enough usage that it starts to become recognizable and used. A trend can start slow before gaining momentum or can be influenced and fueled by new technology.

 

For myself, as a designer, I make it a priority to keep current. For me, trends are meant to keep me inspired and thinking in a contemporary way. I don’t choose to completely ignore them but being aware of what they are is very important. I find myself longing to experiment with a new design and try a new trend even if it’s just for a personal project.

 

I believe we are currently in an interesting time with web design. We’ve seen many new web design styles push the boundaries of what we expect the modern web to be. As well as significant advancements in technology that are allowing users to not only ‘surf’ the website but leave with a feeling of an exciting experience. Accessibility is certainly not new but has been making a statement to ensure a more consistent and accessible environment for everybody who uses the web.

 

With so many developments, it’s important to slow it down and take a look at what trends have the ability to stay and what new things we can expect to see in 2019.

Below are 5 of the more notable styles that we can expect to wedge themselves into web design for 2019, and beyond.   

 

Flat Design

 

Starting as a trend, the flat design grew to become a standard. Preferred by many users from a user experience perspective flat design is a minimalist approach that features the use of wide-open white space, colors, and uncomplicated illustrations. Pairing clean fonts and minimal content seem to work very well with flat design.

 

Minimalism

 

Web design is always moving in a “less is more” mentality. The most time-honored web design trend, minimalism has always been my favorite style as hard as it can be to pull off properly. With fewer components on a website, the less the user has to process. Clients are more and more opting towards a simpler layout with greater amounts of white space. Using white space to separate the different sections on your pages helps improve readability and makes it easier for users to digest important information.

 

Animated GIFS

 

Can you remember a time when the dancing Ooga Chaka baby was a thing? Animated GIFs can definitely capture the limited attention span of most users. They are great at conveying ideas while being intriguing and captivating. Animated icons are becoming more and more popular and the use of animation/movement isn’t something that will be die off as long the rise of UX is still a thing.

 

Organic Shapes

 

Traditionally set up in grids, some websites have moved away from the cookie-cutter horizontal and vertical dividers and designers are turning towards natural shapes and smooth lines. Geometric shapes can give a feeling of accessibility and comfort. Organic shapes are irregular, uneven and imperfect. They can provide emphasis to make content stand out and give a personal touch.

 

Website Accessibility

 

Last but not least, accessibility. This is not a trend, its an evolution and progress of the web that can’t be ignored in 2019. Designing ( and building ) websites for people with disabilities and ensuring they can use them easily shouldn’t be something web designers and developers simply choose to do anymore. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are quickly becoming more enforced and it’s going to be increasingly important to make sure your website is up to par.

 

Everything or ( most things ) have been done in design at one point before. A lot of the new trends are merely recycled ideas from earlier movements in design. That being said they can be revisited and reinvented. From the look and feel, websites will move toward the clean style of flat and minimalistic design. From a UX side of things, companies will need to focus on making their sites engaging and accessible.

 

Ooga Chaka!

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This is a headshot of Matt Stern.

While thinking about my blog, one topic keeps coming to mind. Coaching youth sports. I have

always been very involved in coaching, as my son has played soccer, basketball and baseball.

However, coaching youth is something I have been a part of, for a long time, prior to having

children. I am often asked the question, why I chose to coach different sports. There are

several reasons why I enjoy coaching, some more obvious than others.

 

Firstly, I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in my son's activities. Coaching is like

teaching. Life lessons are always being taught. Learning how to win, how to lose, and how to

be a team player. We learn how to work together for the purpose of one goal. Sometimes I

coach for the love of the game, and the chance to share that love and appreciation with others.

 

An unexpected outcome is sometimes learning ourselves, as coaches. Coaching requires

adaptation, as it's very fluid and always changing. This may require communicating with players

and/or parents, or making adjustments to the way we play as a team, or with other coaches.

Communication is ongoing, whether with participants or parents. Learning to be a more effective

communicator may result. Finally, coaching encourages us to find lifelong friendships, between

teammates and coaches, which can only be seen as positive.

 

As you can see, there are various reasons to coach youth in sports. Learning life lessons,

teaching life lessons, finding lasting friendships but perhaps most importantly, we having the

opportunity to make a difference in our children's lives.

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This is a headshot of Sean Legge.

At Work

Role at REM:  

Junior Web Developer

 

Education:  

Web Design and Application Development - Fanshawe College

 

Work Experience:  

Mostly from my time in school.

 

Something That Makes Me Smile at Work:  

When I solve a difficult problem.

 

 

Favourite

Web site: 

https://www.reddit.com/

 

Books:  

The Illiad, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Poetic Edda, Spice and Wolf.

 

Food:  

Mince and Tatties

 

TV Show:  

Departures

 

Musical Artists:

Eluvetie, Korpiklaani, Protest The Hero

 

Time of Day:  

7:00 PM

 

Season:  

Fall

 

Places in the World:  

Jyväskylä, Finland

 

Recreational Activities/Hobbies:

Kendo, Reading, Writing

 

Sport:

Hockey

 

App:  

Audible

 

Least Favourite

Food:  

Cilantro


Activity: 

Running

 

Time of Day: 

7:00 AM


Season: 

Summer


Place:

The Hospital

 

More Info

Best Thing Someone Said to You: 

“You know too many random facts.”

 

Life Motto: 

Never stop learning. 

 

My Hero: 

My Dad

 

One of the Things I Find Fascinating:  

History

 

Most People Don’t Know This About Me:  

I played in a metal band for a couple years.

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This is a headshot of Todd Hannigan.

Learning Better Pinball Skills:

 

We have a pinball machine at the office and it has become somewhat of a competitive monthly game to be in the top spot. We have a score board and we record the top three scores every month. You never know when you are going to get knocked out of the top three and it changes almost daily. The top player gets their name up on Pinball Wizard board for bragging rights for the month.

 

Brad is the Pinball Wizard for June

 

It is appropriate that we have a Pinball Wizard, because we make a content management system called WebWiz@rd, that makes adding content to your custom designed website extremely easy. If you want to be a web wizard as much as I want to be a pinball wizard, please send us an email at sales@remwebsolutions.com or check out our site at remwebsolutions.com and the great things we do here.

 

Back to pinball! It has become so much of a competition that I find myself wanting to learn more about the skills necessary to give myself the advantage over the other players in the office. So much so, that I decided to write a blog about it to let others know of a great site https://papa.org/, that you can learn all of the tricks you need to become the best pinball player you can be. The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association website has some great tips in their Learning Center under Player’s Guild. I especially like the videos on flipper skills, really makes the game more fun once you master a couple of new flipper skills. You really do have much more control of a game that most people think is random and very little control. Give them a watch and see just how much you game improves.

 

This is the machine in our office

 

Our office likes pinball so much that we are planning a night out to go to the Pin Up Arcade Bar in Waterloo (https://www.facebook.com/PinUpArcadeBar/). It is a great place to go and pay one low price of $5.00 and you can play as much as you want for the night. 

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This is a headshot of Christine Votruba.

October Quarterly 2018 group photo

 

For our October quarterly, we had fun, excitement and took our chances betting on live horse races in Flamboro Downs. REM commemorated the event by taking a group photo with Race #3’s winner: Domitian Hall.

 

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Contributors

Brad Anderson
162
May 20, 2020
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Rob Matlow
88
April 9, 2020
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Christine Votruba
26
January 17, 2020
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Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
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Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
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Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
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Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
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Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
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Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
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