Get in touch with us today! Call us toll-free at 1.866.754.4111 or email us at sales@remwebsolutions.com
AODA Web Design Development Kitchener Waterloo Guelph Cambridge E-commerce




Blog

We've written some insightful, entertaining articles that span topics from support to design to content management and beyond!




This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

the road ahead

 

 

I am excited to announce that my team has grown so strong with such a clear direction for our various projects that I am able to move on to new challenges outside of REM.

 

It was a fantastic 6 year journey that was filled with amazing accomplishments and many, many, many proud moments.

 

My connections with REM are still very deep, even as I move on to my new adventures and I am committed to making sure that everyone is carefully transitioned into the new normal.

 

I want to personally thank Rob Matlow for the opportunity he has provided me at REM, and the entire team for building such a strong and vibrant culture.

 

I look toward the road ahead and see great things.  I will fondly look toward the road behind and see the same.

 

Onward and Upward!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Networking

It is quite impressive to see how far the corporate lingo generators have come since the bad-old-days of dial up!

 

Andrew Davidson has put together a generator that is hilarious to read.  It's scary to think of the number of presentations I've listened to that sound exactly like the following direct quote:

 

------------------

 

What does the term "web services" really mean?

We here at WebWiz@rd HQ have proven we know that it is better to facilitate virtually than to grow cyber-cyber-extensively. Is it more important for something to be 1000/60/60/24/7/365 or to be bricks-and-clicks, mission-critical? Do you have a game plan to become user-defined? Without iteration, you will lack e-commerce. Think cross-platform. We have proven we know that if you iterate wirelessly then you may also whiteboard virtually. Our feature set is unmatched in the industry, but our social-network-based nano-intra-short-term raw bandwidth and user-proof operation is always considered a remarkable achievement. Think nano-compelling. What does it really mean to optimize "magnetically"? We apply the proverb "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched" not only to our Total Quality Management but our aptitude to embrace.

 

The e-businesses factor is revolutionary.

 

-----------------

 

Comedy Gold!

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Gear VR Blog Image

 

Well, my early impressions didn't blossom into any interesting.

 

I purchased a great MOGA controller to give the gear VR a fighting chance, but after the novelty wore off (about 3 weeks) my Gear VR is sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

 

My primary complaint is that the maximum time I could keep the unit on my face was about 15 minutes before requiring a heat break, complete with a sweat clean up.   Gross.

 

The secondary complaint is that even the best games inspire a lot of "You've got to see this" comments while immersed.  Unless you buy a Gear headset for everyone in the room, most people are just left staring at some person twisting in unnatural positions.  It's not a shared experience.  I think the lack of sharing relegates the device to a party trick/novelty as opposed to the next big gaming paradigm.

 

With that said.... I will still buy an Oculus Rift for my PC to give it one final chance to win me over during this generation.  Innovation requires investment, so I don't want to bail completely at this point.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Technology Road Map Symbolism

 

"Technical Road Maps Are Never Done"

 

The calendar year has rolled over to 2016 and our latest quarterly general meeting has completed.  

 

It is safe to say that our entire team is so overwhelmingly enthusiastic about our next set of technical objectives, that they are bursting to spill the beans.

 

"I Want To Spill The Beans Too"

 

But I can't....not yet.  Let's just say that our technical accomplishments of the past are about to give the REM team the tools to jump even farther ahead of our competition!

 

Stay tuned for more details....

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

By the time you read this post, we've probably already selected a winner for our Holiday Greeting Card Music Puzzle but you still might have fun taking a look at what our team accomplished over a few Friday afternoon Creative Jam Sessions!

 

Our core culture revolves around a few guiding principles and it takes a lot of our effort to fulfill those objectives to a standard that makes us feel proud.

 

We often counter balance that hard work with some sort of activity that helps us stretch our legs (often literally) but in this case figuratively with a project that didn't have many business rules to adhere too.

 

Our Team Had Fun Creating Everything From Scratch

 

  • Sean Sanderson was able to create a festive back drop and establish his trademark typography.
  • Sean McParland created the random and wacky bobble head routines.
  • Ryan created the physics based snow fall.
  • Christine created the bobble people.
  • I added the music and the puzzle sequence.
  • Jill, Shauna & Rob provided feedback and collected customer praise!

 

It's cliche to say, but still true: a team that plays together stays together.  Thank you everyone for your kind words and feedback and I can't wait to see what happens in our next goofy project.

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

My fundamental code development philosphy is "Simplify It".

 

Every swiss army knife object or jack of all trades method proposed by my most excellent coding team is met with the people's eyebrow and a patient ear.  Ultimately every complicated idea is refined into a digestible chunk that can be read by people and quickly crunched by servers.

 

This philosophy has led to one of the most incredible examples of "code efficiency" that I've witnessed in my entire career.

 

Inside 1 GB of JVM RAM (sitting inside 4 GB of total system memory), my team has been successful in spinning up just over 450 independent web sites that are responsible for millions of hits every day.

 

We maintain a performance threshold objective of approximately 100ms per page hit which translates to approximately 1/10th of a second to process and load a webpage from our server.  Add on some network traffic, transfer time and the usual overhead and we're still showing completely rendered pages to customers in less than 1 second - from click to render - more than 99% of the time.

 

One crazy snag in all of this boasting is that REM is still growing its customer base.  Our J2EE infrastructure is finally pushing 90% capacity which means it's time for me to spin up a brand new server to handlie our growth.

 

I know it's the right thing to do, but I can't help but think about the Seinfeld episode where Kramer pushes his rental car past "E" just to see how far he could go before things really ended.  

 

I'll have to settle on 450 or so per machine.... maybe I'll spin up a test server just to see "what could have been".

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

Mojave Desert - Red Rock Mountains

I had the pleasure of heading out to the Mojave desert to blow off some steam trail riding, downhill riding and hiking in the mountains for 3 days last week.

 

What made this trip interesting was that for 2 of the days I adventured as a solo trekker with some supplies, a trail map and desire to leave technology behind. I have to confess that I did have an electronic trail GPS to make sure I wasn't completely without guidance.

 

The landscape in the Mojave is a lot more vibrant than I expected and I tried to snap a few representative photos when I stopped to take my ritual swig of water every few KM.

 

Fun Fact: I traveled more than 200 KM on bike and about 30KM on foot across three days.

 

 

I came across more lizards than people on most of my journey, although I don't have photos to prove that either existed.  

 

One thing that I found nerve testing was that most trails in the desert / mountain ranges of the Mojave have very little guidance or direction markers.  On the other hand, the sense of accomplishment was greater for me knowing that every solution in this excursion was the result of my own ingenuity and determination.

 

This last photo is atop one of the mountain peaks I ascended.  My photographic vantage point doesn't give a sense of scale, but I'm about 1000' above the desert floor at this point. The higher I climbed, the fewer foot prints of previous climbers were visible.  Nothing screams out "You are more equipped to navigate HTML than REDROCK" like a lack of evidence that people kept going forward on this blurry trail up-wards.  However, I made it up a little shaken but still alive.

 

Getting down took even longer than going up, because slinking up to each cliff to determine it's suitability for descent took soooooo much more time.

 

Alas, my journey was without major incident and completely refreshing.  I have a renewed energy to pump out technology related solutions that rely on brain power while I let my muscle power recuperate.

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

It's incredible to see how deep our 7 Guiding Principles have penetrated the very souls of our entire workforce here at REM!

 

It was around this time last year that I first introduced the distilled nuances of REM's key values and principles into an easy to understand and easy to execute body of bullet points.

 

Since then I've had numerous comments from our leadership team and indeed all employees declaring how much easier it is to make critical decisions when there's an anchor of concise objectives to guide them.

 

I am extremely grateful for how much we've accomplished over the last year in building a strong and satisfying culture, and based on customer feedback throughout the year, I can see the ultimate reward for such hard work has also been realized.

 

More and more customers are sending us letters of praise and calling out individual employees for going above and beyond.  It's an incredible feeling to know how many companies we've helped success.  It's what makes working at REM so worthwhile.

 

We have our yearly employee reward event in October and I can honestly say that I have more rewards to hand out this year than any other year before it.

 

Kudos to my team.  Kudos to REM!

 

 

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

 

 

I was bitten by the virtual reality bug and decided to use some loyalty points to scoop up a Samsung Gear VR system a few weeks ago.

 

My early impressions are mixed, and those impressions rise and fall with the sporadic quality of the launch content.

 

My biggest beef is with the display quality of the video content.  The bit rate on most video is disappointingly low and I found myself straining to stay immersed. The resulting compression artifacts ruin the immersive experience because every cinematic sequence is marred with smearing squares and never ending jaggies.

 

There were some above average video demos, but even those demos weren't anything with which I'd try to sell "VR" to my friends.

 

The games have something more to offer, and the novelty of being immersed is still impressive.  I really need to see what developers dream up as this technology matures, but I'm skeptical, at this point, as to whether the market for this type of entertainment will ever grow big enough to support triple A games.

 

I remember when Kinect and PS Move thought they would drive a new segment of gaming experiences, and those devices didn't make your eyes sweat while using them.  

 

My judgment is leaning toward 'meh', but I will give it a lot more time to see if it can pull me in completely.  

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn
This is a headshot of Jamie McBurney.

We've just hired another great new employee here at REM HQ and as she was working on one of our projects when she asked me what the name was of the text below the hero text...  Obviously I told her it was the sidekick text.

 

But hold on... I just searched online and I can't find any of references for the nomenclature anywhere.

 

Let's change that by establishing some ground rules about the sidekick text/sidekick copy/sidekick headline so that we can all stay on the same page as we talk about web design.

 

Rule 1: Sidekick text is concise.

Three sentences push the limits of what sidekick text should be.  Each carefully chosen phrase should be diligently pared down to minimalistic proportions, and each sentence should be examined for purpose.  If a sentence has no communicative value, toss it.  If a word has no substance, omit it.  

 

​Rule 2: Sidekick text is never bombastic.

Leave over-the-top expressions for the hero text.  Sidekick copy grounds the hyperbole with rational explanation and factual context.  It is true that most people gloss over this blurb, but when they zero in, they are often looking for a better understanding of what's going on.  Use sensible language to keep users connected.

 

​Rule 3: Sidekick text always supports the hero text.

The context of the hero headline can be lost on some readers.  Sidekick text accentuates, describes or otherwise explains what the hero text is trying to say.  It should never be used to take readers in a new direction, and it should never be text that stands on its own.  Heroes and sidekicks work together.  The hero takes the lead, and the sidekick follows in the same direction.

 

​Rule 4: Sidekick text should always use simple language and structure.

A user will spend less than 2 seconds scanning the general area of the sidekick text.  It is important to use simple language and simple sentences to give users a fighting chance to absorb the message.  Technical jargon, run on sentences and polysyllabic words will impede idea comprehension, and comprehension is the catalyst of the action that site owners require.

 

There we go.  I've established some communal ground rules related to sidekick text.

 

Send me your thoughts on the idea using the comment section below.  I always appreciate the feedback.

 

 

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn

Contributors

Brad Anderson
132
November 14, 2019
Show Brad's Posts
Christine Votruba
25
October 31, 2019
Show Christine's Posts
Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
Show Ryan's Posts
Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
Show Sean's Posts
Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
Show Matt's Posts
Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
Show Sean's Posts
Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
Show Sean's Posts
Rob Matlow
84
April 17, 2019
Show Rob's Posts
Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
Show Todd's Posts