Catching up

with my daughter.

Two Christmases ago, I thought that we had the ultimate gift for her.  Wandering through a Coles store, we saw a Trivial Pursuit version of Harry Potter.

Now, chances are, you don’t know my daughter but I’m here to tell you that she’s into everything Harry Potter.  Read the books, saw the movies, dresses as characters during the appropriate events, researches everything Harry Potter, …

She flipped when she opened the present and quickly was into doing what you should never do with Trivia Pursuit – read all the cards and then the answers.

  • that’s easy
  • everyone knows that
  • that occurred in this novel
  • saw that in the movie

Well, it kept her busy for a while.  She still goes through them periodically but doesn’t play them with her equally as obsessed friends because it’s too easy…  Well, I tried.

This morning, though, there’s another thing bound to catch her attention.  I know that it caught mine.

Google’s Arts and Culture application is featuring a Harry Potter:  History of Magic.


The collection of stories is extremely interesting.

After scrolling through the opening page, I started to plan where I’d start reading and it wasn’t top down.  This story – Ten Strange Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Magic was the clear winner.

Google Arts and Culture is an incredible resource for things and I find it indispensable when I’m waiting for things.  Instead of mindlessly scrolling my way through Instagram, I take the time to read articles and, hopefully, become smarter.

I know and fully admit that I will never “Catch up” to my daughter.  But, it’s fun trying


OTR Links 02/28/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Change your looks

Out of the box (or after a download), your web browser is pretty bland looking.  I understand why; it’s the goal to make sure that the browser will work on every computer that it’s installed.

For many, that’s enough and life goes on.


For the rest of us, you know, the curious types, we may want to do things just a bit differently.

So, typically it’s off to your browser’s “store” to check out alternatives.  In this case, I’m working in Google Chrome so I head to the Chrome store.  And, there are a whack of them!

You’re not limited to the store; there are other places that have collections as well.  One such location is ThemeBeta.  Oh, so many themes to add to the Chrome Store collection.

You could change to a different theme every day and have something new to look at daily.  What caught my eye at ThemeBeta was a Theme Creator.


Look at the options to truly make things yours!  Images, generate your own colours, oh my!  Of course, I had to dig in and play around.

Those that know me know that green is my favourite colour.  Off I went to play around with frames, toolbars, backgrounds, …  Until I got it just right.


That’s certainly more colourful than the default.

How does the magic work?  It’s actually pretty easy to create a theme and apply it to the browser without ever looking under the hood.  But, there is the option to download your effort to take a look.

JSON Editor Online is a handy tool to view the code online.

“manifest_version”: 2,
“theme”: {
“images”: {
“theme_frame”: “images/theme_frame.png”,
“theme_toolbar”: “images/theme_toolbar.png”,
“theme_tab_background”: “images/theme_tab_background.png”
“colors”: {
“frame”: [
“toolbar”: [
“tab_text”: [
“tab_background_text”: [
“bookmark_text”: [
“ntp_background”: [
“ntp_text”: [
“button_background”: [
“tints”: {
“buttons”: [
“properties”: {
“ntp_background_alignment”: “top”,
“ntp_background_repeat”: “no-repeat”
“name”: “”,
“version”: “1”,
“description”: “”

So, don’t settle for the defaults.  Add a little colour to your browsing experience.

OTR Links 02/27/2018

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Big data and lost towns

We don’t think about it much these days but Ontario went through a whole bunch of amalgamations a few years ago and literally changed the map of the province.

In terms of me, you may remember this post – My Childhood Community.

We actually knew the perimeter of our town from riding our bicycles around the streets at its outer limits.  We also knew the names of the townships that surrounded the town – Goderich, Hullett, Tuckersmith, and Stanley.

But, no more.  Towns and townships had been amalgamated into new communities or adminstrative entities.

I ran into this terrific resource recently.  It was a Fusion Table resource of Canadian Administrative Boundary data.

As you can see from the visited link colour, I checked out Ontario.

Screenshot 2018-02-25 at 12.17.51

That’s when it got real for me.  I set the Filter to filter by name.  Then, when I searched for “Clinton”, I got nothing.  Why?  Because it’s not an administrative place any more!  Then, I remembered the new name which covered more than the traditional town.  They named it after my old high school “Central Huron”.


Then, it gets educational, a bit nerdy, a bit mathematical, and big time geographical!

From the Fusion table, there’s the KML data that defines the area.

Screenshot 2018-02-25 at 12.23.32

How’s that for your above average polygon?

Here’s a piece of it.  Ideas about how to use that or plot that abound.

Want to see that on a map?  Of course, that’s possible.  This is Google after all.  All the jagged edges reveal the extent of the KML entries that define the place.

Screenshot 2018-02-25 at 12.24.26

Let’s zoom out to get a better look…

Screenshot 2018-02-25 at 14.47.00

How’s that for an n-gon?

It was actually kind of fun after that.  I started poking around looking at other administrative areas.  I learned very quickly that the process is additive so I had to reset if I just wanted to look at one area.

If you’re interested in exploring and doing a little geographic inquiry or if you’re in search of some raw data for a project or two, this is the place for you.