Rob Dolin's Blog

Thoughts on technology, politics, non-profits, and their intersections; and food

Chicago Eats: The Trifecta (and more)

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago and got to see family, friends, and enjoy some great food.  My friends and I joke about a trip to Chicago including the Chicago food trifecta of: deep-dish pizza, a hot dog, and an Italian beef.  Here are my favorite places to enjoy these Chicago delicacies:

  • Deep-dish pizza: Lou Malnati’s is my favorite with their thick chunks of tomato and butter crust.  Original Uno’s and Due’s (both downtown) are great too.  Some of my friends favor Gino’s East and one friend recommends Pequod’s.
  • Hot dogs: Irving’s for Red Hot Lovers is my long-time favorite but I also got to enjoy Poochie’s and Portillo’s this trip and they both do good work.  There’s lots to be said for a town where you say you want a hot dog with “everything on it” and they know not to include ketchup.  😉
  • Italian beef: Al’s Italian Beef downtown (River North or Taylor Street) is my favorite but Portillo’s makes a good sandwich as well.

Chicago Hot Dog

Two other great dining experiences I got to enjoy this trip were:

  • Walker Bros. Pancakes: Walker Bros. has grown to a half-dozen locations in the Chicago area and this awesome “Original House of Pancakes” (OHOP) should not be confused with the mediocre “International of House of Pancakes” (IHOP.)  Their German or Dutch baby pancakes are amazing and their apple cinnamon pancake is also stellar.  There was always a line out the door when I was growing-up and I’m so glad they now take orders by phone.
  • Brownie Pie: Baker’s Square, an upper Midwest chain of casual restaurants specializing in pie offers “Brownie Pie.”  My spouse and I picked-up one for after dinner dessert but about half got eaten as snack before dinner.

 

Advertisements

Filed under: Food and Drink

Recommendations for Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza in Seattle

Growing-up in Chicago, I developed a test for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.  Now that I live in Seattle, here are my two recommendations for getting it without getting on a plane:

  • Delfino’s Pizza – This restaurant tucked into a corner of University Village serves the closest local version.  I recommend ordering what they call the “stuffed” instead of what they call “Chicago-style” since their “stuffed” actually has the sauce on top and a thick layer of cheese while their “Chicago-style.”  If you don’t want to make the pilgrimage to the U-District (and see pictures of Chicago adorning their walls), you can get delivery via BiteSquad.
  • LouToGo.com – Chicago’s Lou Malnatti’s Pizza was my favorite growing-up.  They actually ship overnight in dry ice and if watch for special deals, their prices are comparable to local delivery like Pagliacci’s.

Filed under: Food and Drink

What is the width of a Diono Radian rXT car seat

For people looking to do three car seats across, this is very useful information; and rather hard to find.

From what I can tell, 15″ at the base and 17″ at the child’s seat and shoulder.

Here are the product dimensions from Diono: https://us.diono.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/RadianRXT_Measurements.pdf

If this link doesn’t work, please leave a comment and I can share a picture / PDF.

Filed under: Uncategorized

GOTV Opportunities and Election Night Parties

As I write this, we have less than four days before ballots in WA state are due.

Here area bunch of dates, times, and locations you can help to get-out-the-vote (GOTV):

Updated Sat, 11/5, 5:00pm: Removed 11/5 GOTV activities, added Island County and The Stranger Election Night parties

 

Sunday, 11/6:

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       10am: Voters for Tina Countdown to the Election Brunch (Seattle)

·       10:30am: 46th LD Dems GOTV Canvassing (Seattle)

·       10:30am: Doorbelling for Lisa Wellman (41st LD) (Meet at Ballard H.S.)

·       11am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       11:30am: GOTV (Spokane)

·       4pm: Voters for Tina Reception (Seattle)

·       4pm: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee (Wenatchee)

·       4:30pm: Suquamish Standing with Standing Rock (Suquamish)

 

Monday, 11/7:

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       7am: Sign Wave / Picket for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       10:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Tacoma)

·       11am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       12:30pm: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Fircrest)

·       2:30pm: GOTV Doorbelling with Sen. Patty Murray (Everett)

·       2:30pm: GOTV with Gov. Jay Inslee and Tina Podlodowski (Puyallup)

 

Tuesday, 11/8 (ELECTION DAY):

·       7am: Sign-waving (Bellevue)

·       7am: Sign Waving for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       9:30am: GOTV (Federal Way)

·       9:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray (Bothell)

·       10am: Phone-a-thon for SoundTransit Prop 1 (Seattle)

·       11:30am: GOTV with Sen. Patty Murray, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Tina Podlodowski (Seattle)

 

Tuesday, 11/8 (ELECTION NIGHT)

·       Election Night Party at Grethe Cammermeyer’s house (Langley)

·       Election Night Watch Party at Skagit County Headquarters (Mount Vernon)

·       Election Night Watch Party at Nile Temple Country Club (Mountlake Terrace)

·       Election Night Party at the Coachman Inn & Suites (Oak Harbor)

·       Election Night Watch Party at The Berliner Pub (Renton)

·       Election Night Pre-Func at the Warwick (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party! at the Westin (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party at Lincoln Center (Spokane)

·       Election Night Party at the 10th LD Dems office (Stanwood)

·       Election Night Celebration! at Hotel Murano (Tacoma)

·       Election Night Party at Warehouse ’23 (Vancouver)

 

Candidates and Initiatives (ELECTION NIGHT):

·       (CD7) Brady Walkinshaw at Canterbury Ale House (Seattle)

·       (CD7) Pramila Jayapal at Optimism Brewing Company (Seattle)

·       (LD43) Nicole Macri at Rachel’s Ginger Beer (Seattle)

·       Yes on I-735 (U.S. Constitutional Amendment for Campaign Finance Reform) at the Triple Door (Seattle)

·       Yes on I-1433 (Raise the Minimum Wage) at the Westin (Seattle)

·       Mass Transit Now (Yes on SoundTransit Prop. 1) at the Crocodile (Seattle)

 

Other (ELECTION NIGHT):

·       Election Night Viewing Party at the Barrel Thief (Seattle)

·       Election Night Party at the Red Door (Seattle)

·       The Stranger’s Election Night Party with Dan Savage at the Showbox (Seattle)

Filed under: News and Politics

Endorsements for 2016

Many friends know I’m an active volunteer in local politics and I’m often asked about “down-ballot” races.  Below are my recommendations as well as some footnotes explaining some of these.  I’m not including a bunch of the Democrat vs. Republican races since I suspect most people reading this already have a party preference.  Thanks for reading–
–Rob

  • Initiatives
    • I-1433 (State Minimum Wage): Yes
    • I-1464 (Campaign Finance): No (1)
    • I-1491 (Extreme Risk Protection Orders): Yes
    • I-1501 (Privacy protections): Yes
    • I-732 (Pollution tax): Yes (2)
    • I-735 (Corporations are not people): Yes
    • A.V. 14 and A.V. 15: Maintained (3)
  • Amendments
    • SJR #8210 (Faster redistricting): Approved
    • King County Charter #1 (Nonpartisan Prosecuting Attorney): No (4)
    • King County Charter #2 (Gender-Neutral Language): Yes
  • Federal and Washington State
    • In D vs. R., vote your partisan preference
    • Secretary of State: Tina Podlodowski (5)
    • Congressional District 7 U.S. Representative: Brady Pinero Walkinshaw (6)
    • Legislative District 43 Representative Position 1: Nicole Macri
  • State Supreme Court (7)
    • #1: Mary Yu
    • #5: Barbara Madsen
    • #6: Charles (Charlie) Wiggins
  • King County Superior Court
    • #14: Nicole Gaines Phelps
    • #26: David Keenan
    • #31: Helen Halpert
    • #44: Cathy Moore
    • #52: Anthony Gipe
    • #53: Mariane Spearman
  • City of Seattle
    • I-124 (Protect hotel workers): Yes
  • SoundTransit
    • Prop. #1 (Expand Transit): Approved (8)

Footnotes:

  • (1) Public finance of campaigns seems like a good idea, but this is only funded for 6% of WA voters to participate and after that, it could cut into the state’s general fund.
  • (2) This is not perfect, but we need to take action against pollution
  • (3) These are on the ballot thanks to Tim Eyman.  Let the state legislature do its job.  #15 is a tax break for electric cars.
  • (4) Partisan labels provide more information to voters in down-ballot races
  • (5) The incumbent has taken actions to suppress the vote; challenger Tina Podlodowski is encouraging of voter participation
  • (5) Two diverse, progressive Democratic state legislators are running for this open seat.  Brady has a track record as the more effective legislator and is endorsed by 3x as many legislative colleagues as the other candidate.
  • (6) The three independent incumbent Justices face under-qualified challengers backed by Tim Eyman and some wealthy billionaires.  Vote for the independent, more qualified incumbents.
  • (7) Our region is choking and we need more transportation choices.  This proposition would help expand light rail (helps with I-90 and SR-520 traffic), commuter rail (helps with I-5 traffic), and buses (helps with a ton of arterial traffic.)  Even if you NEVER ride a train or bus, you will benefit from less congested highways and streets and less air pollution from cars.

Also: if you’re looking for a list of election night parties, visit: http://blog.robdolin.com/

Filed under: News and Politics

Live Writer is now Open Source (Cross-Post)

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working as a part of the awesome team of volunteers who worked to release Open Live Writer v0.5 earlier today.  You can read my guest post on the .NET Foundation’s blog from earlier today.  Thanks–
Rob

(Cross-posted from: http://www.dotnetfoundation.org/blog/open-live-writer)

Live Writer is now Open Source

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Windows Live Writer has been turning blogging up to 11 since 2007, but since 2012 things have been a bit quiet with the application itself. However over the past few months I have had the pleasure working with a very pasionate group of engineers volunteering their time to ensure that Live Writer has a sustainable future. I’m pleased to announce that today the .NET Foundation welcomes a new project – Open Live Writer. One of the great things about Live Writer has always been the passionate community behind it and I can’t wait to see what that community does now everying is open source and on GitHub.

In this guest post from Rob Dolin, he explains more about the new project and how to get started with the new, Open Live Writer which is available to download now.

— Martin

Windows Live Writer Released as the open source Open Live Writer

It’s a great day for bloggers who have a favorite tool for creating content. Today Microsoft announced that Open Live Writer was released and has been contributed to the .NET Foundation. Open Live Writer is an open source application enabling users to author, edit, and publish blog posts. It is based on a fork of the wellloved but not actively developed Windows Live Writer code. Scott Hanselman helped carry the torch at Microsoft on this project, and I’ve been proud to be part of the all-volunteer team to make it happen.

History of Windows Live Writer

The product that became Live Writer was originally created by a small, super-talented team of engineers including Jeremy Allaire, JJ Allaire, Joe Cheng, Charles Teague, and Spike Washburn. The team joined Microsoft through an acquisition in 2006 and organized with the Spaces team where I was working. Becky Pezely joined the team and over time, the team grew and shipped many popular releases of Windows Live Writer.

As Microsoft was planning for the version of Windows Live that would coincide with the Windows 8 operating system release, the teams that built the Windows Live client apps for Windows were encouraged to focus on building a smaller set of Windows 8 apps designed to work well with both traditional PC input mechanisms and touch. The original team concluded their work on Windows Live Writer with Windows Live Writer 2012.

Reviving Live Writer

Even though there was no active development, Windows Live Writer continued to be a favorite tool of a passionate community of Windows PC users for authoring, editing, and publishing blog posts. Data from WordPress.com at the time suggested that Windows Live Writer (even two years after active development ended) was the #1 app for authoring a blog post to WordPress.com on a Windows PC. In fact, some of our technical evangelists were actively using Windows Live Writer for publishing on WordPress-powered blogs. A few team members from my former MS Open Tech team took an early interest in joining Scott Hanselman to revive Live Writer as an open source project.

By January 2015, a group of about a half-dozen engineers interested in spending some of their volunteer time to help release an updated version of Live Writer had found each other. Jon Gallant sent an email to a few large group email lists at Microsoft soliciting volunteers and we collected about 50 people interested in helping. Anne Legato, Ed Essey, and the team at The Garage were most helpful in sharing advice on launching external projects. Scott Guthrie also agreed to be Open Live Writer’s sponsor.

Why v0.5

You might wonder why we’re releasing a version 0.5 now instead of waiting to get to a v0.9 or a v1.0. A few considerations went into this. First, we wanted to get this out as an open source project as quickly as possible so people outside of Microsoft could start participating. Second, we suspect many people may be taking some vacation around the end of December and we wanted to make sure the project was available. Third, Eddie Kessler and the folks on Google’s Blogger team asked us to ship no later than early December 2015 so they could turn-off an old API that Windows Live Writer was dependent on. Eddie and team originally had planned to turn-off the API earlier and we are thankful for their collaboration and partnership in extending its life until we could release Open Live Writer.

Why .NET Foundation

The volunteer team considered a few options for releasing Open Live Writer. Ultimately, we found a great partnership in the .NET Foundation to support our goals around growing community participation for the project. Martin Woodward, Robin Ginn, and the team has been super-helpful in many matters including open source governance and administrative support, to marketing and communications.

And Open Live Writer is many thousands of lines of C# code, so the .NET Foundation is a good technical match too. J

Enough Background, SHOW ME THE BITS!

To download the latest version of Open Live Writer, visit our website: http://www.OpenLiveWriter.org/. Open Live Writer is designed to sit side-by-side with Windows Live Writer so installing Open Live Writer won’t impact your existing version of Windows Live Writer.

For the latest news and updates about Open Live Writer, you can follow us on Twitter as @OpenLiveWriter and find other ways to connect on: http://www.OpenLiveWriter.org/.

Help Wanted

Open Live Writer is brought to you by a volunteer team and continued improvements are dependent on volunteers. The code is available on GitHub: http://www.github.com/OpenLiveWriter/ and we welcome pull requests and open issues.

However, we’re not just looking for developers. Anyone who wants to test early bits, help with visual design, interactive design, technical writing, partnership negotiation, product management, marketing, digital media, and more would be welcomed. You can find ways to plug-in to the community at: http://www.OpenLiveWriter.org/.

Thank You

Thanks very much for your interest in Open Live Writer and many happy blog posts—
–Rob

Rob Dolin (@RobDolin)
Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Cross-Platform and Open Tools team
(On behalf of the Open Live Writer committers)

Filed under: Technology

Thanks for visiting

I publish here occasionally; often previously using Windows Live Writer and now this post was created with Open Live Writer

You can also find me on Facebook (work, personal), GitHub (work, perosnal), LinkedIn, and Twitter.

‘All the best–
Rob

headshot 2012 (600x600px)

Filed under: Technology

Open edX + Microsoft Office 365: Better Together (Cross-Post)

As a part of the Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech) team, one of my projects was leading engineering on integrations with open source software from the educational sector.  Here is a post about some of that work:

(Cross-posted from: https://msopentech.com/blog/2015/06/26/open-edx-office-365/ )

Open edX + Microsoft Office 365: Better Together

In the past few days, key contributions have been accepted into the Open edX codebase to enable integration between Open edX, a popular open source system for massive open online courses or MOOCs and Office 365’s popular productivity software and services.

This continues Microsoft’s contributions to educational open source software including Office 365 integrations with Moodle announced earlier this year.

Background

For readers who may not know, Open edX is an open source platform for teaching and learning. It powers edX.org where Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, IIT Mumbai, Tsinghua University, the University of Arizona, the University of Texas, and many other academic institutions publish MOOCs. Open edX software also powers academic, professional, and vocational learning sites including: Blue Planet Life, Cloud Genius, DrupalX, McKinsey Academy, MongoDB University, University of Alaska, UNC Online and many others.

Microsoft uses edX as well, and in March of this year announced a new set of edX courses designed to provide developers with the skills they need to be successful in the cloud-first, mobile-first world. Taught by well-known Microsoft experts, these course focus on in-demand skills and feature interactive coding, assessments and exercises to help students build the expertise they need to excel in their careers.

Single Sign-On

With the “Cypress” release coming in July 2015, administrators of Open edX software will be able to enable single sign-on with a variety of identity providers including Facebook, Google, and Office 365.

The story of enabling Office 365 sign-on for Open edX is a story of collaboration that happens frequently in open source software. Initially, an MS Open Tech engineer made a pull request to add support for login with Office 365 to Open edX. A member of the edX team pointed us to another pull request authored by Braden MacDonald from OpenCraft. We connected with Braden who provided our engineering team with a sandbox for testing. We verified that Braden’s pull request would satisfy our scenario as long as it picked-up the latest version of another open source library. Earlier today, Braden’s pull request incorporating our requirements was merged from the feature branch in to the master branch of the code.

During discussions on GitHub, we also found that there was a need for documentation of the new single sign-on / 3rd party authentication functionality. We have volunteered to dedicate some resources to that work.

Insert / Embed File XBlock

Our contributions to Open edX have also included a new XBlock which enables supported files to be inserted or embedded. Like single sign-on, we began with an initial goal of Open edX + Microsoft Office 365 integration and ended-up not just contributing Microsoft integration to the open source project, but contributing an XBlock that supports integration with any service that provides a public URL for hosted documents and implements oEmbed.

The “File Storage” XBlock enables course authors to insert a hyperlink to a file or embed a file from a large number of file hosting solutions. Our team has tested: Box, Dropbox, Google docs, Office Mix, OneDrive, Slideshare, Soundcloud, TED, YouTube, and more. You can find a full list of tested file hosts in the XBlock’s ReadMe file.

Documentation, installation instructions, and the open source code for the “File Storage” XBlock is at: https://github.com/MSOpenTech/xblock-filestorage

Office Mix XBlock

MS Open Tech is not the only team from Microsoft contributing to Open edX. The Office Mix team has developed an XBlock for embedding content authored in Office Mix into an Open edX course. The XBlock was originally published at the end of 2014 and the Mix team is working to ensure all Office Mix content embedded in Open edX courses is accessible. Thanks to the flexible XBlock architecture, when these issues are addressed, all Office Mix content embedded in Open edX courses will automatically get the accessibility fixes.

Documentation, installation instructions, and the open source code for the Office Mix XBlock are at: https://github.com/OfficeDev/xblock-officemix

Future Contributions

In addition to our collaboration with Braden, we are appreciative of the friendly, welcoming, and helpful members of the Open edX community including Beth Porter, Sarina Canelake, Ned Batchelder, Mark Hoeber, and others.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to see this integration between Open edX and Office 365 and as we did with Moodle over the last few months, we look forward to this just being just the beginning of exciting integrations between open source Open edX and Office 365.

Jean Paoli, President
Rob Dolin, Senior Program Manager
Doug Mahugh, Senior Technical Evangelist
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

Filed under: Education, Microsoft, Online Communities, Technology

Office 365 Open Source plugins for Moodle: getting better all the time (Cross-Post)

As a part of the Microsoft Open Technologies (MS Open Tech) team, one of my projects was leading engineering on integrations with open source software from the educational sector.  Here is a post about some of that work:

(Cross-posted from: https://msopentech.com/blog/2015/06/26/office-365-moodle-getting-better/ )

Office 365 Open Source plugins for Moodle: getting better all the time

Earlier today we shared the news that the upcoming Cypress release of Open edX, the most popular open source MOOC (massive open online course), will include new features for tighter integration with Office 365. Those features are the result of our open source collaboration with members of the Open edX community.

In addition to the new work we’re doing with Open edX, we continue to work with Remote-Learner (a leading Moodle partner) to make improvements and additions to the open source Office 365 plugins for Moodle. Moodle is the most popular open source learning management system (LMS), and the Office 365 plugins were released in January of this year. In this post, we’d like to share a few details about the great work Remote-Learner is doing to evolve the plugins.

Evolving plugins to keep up with Office 365 and Moodle

Many of the changes over the last few months were in response to feedback from Moodle and Office 365 users, but there have also been changes due to the ongoing evolution of Moodle and Office, respectively. For example, the plugins were originally released for Moodle 2.7, and Remote-Learner has performed the necessary testing and changes to assure that the plugins work with Moodle 2.8 and now Moodle 2.9, the most recent version.

Another good example is the new User Groups feature in Office 365, which the plugins have exposed within Moodle for use by students and teachers. As Remote-Learner’s Bryan Poss explained in a recent blog post, “Unified user groups are a new feature in Office 365 that provides a way for groups of users to collaborate throughout Office 365 applications. Groups can now be created and maintained for each course in a Moodle site, giving users an easier way to share with the other people in their courses. Teachers have a simple way to share documents with their students, and those students have a simpler way to contact their peers.”

Adapting to feedback from students, teachers and administrators

Many organizations have been testing and deploying the plugins, and their feedback helps guide and prioritize updates. Mike Churchward’s January post on the Moodle forums, for example, has dozens of comments back and forth between early adopters and the Remote-Learner team. Some of the comments identified bugs that have been fixed (specific examples can be found here), and other feedback has resulted in simplification of the user experience.

In the original release in January, you had to use a Microsoft Account (MSA) for the OneNote integration, even if you were using an Office 365 login for the other features. This spring, however, OneNote has released a new API that enables use of an enterprise login for all of the functionality, including the OneNote integration, so the plugins have been modified to take advantage of this new API. The need for a separate MSA was something some early adopters had found to be clumsy, and now they can have a streamlined experience using only their Office 365 login.

For more details about the improvements to the open source Office 365 plugins for Moodle that have been released over the last few months, see Remote-Learner’s blog post Microsoft Office 365 Plugins Update as well as MS Open Tech’s blog post Office 365 plugins for Moodle: updates and new features.

Growing Momentum

The Moodle plugin repository provides download statistics for each plugin, and it’s exciting to see how many people are using the Office 365 plugins! The latest stats show more than 180 sites are using the plugins now, and there have been more than 4,000 downloads, with download activity growing steadily over time:

Moodle plugin downloads

Of more than 1,000 plugins in the Moodle plugin directory, Office 365 plugins are all in the top 10 of their respective categories. A few highlights:

  • OneDrive for Business was the number 4 Repository download for the last 12 months, and was the number 2 Repository download for the last two months.
  • OneNote was the number 9 Repository download for the last 12 months and the number 3 Repository download for the last two months.
  • OneNote was the number 5 Assignment download for the last 12 months and was the number 4 Assignment download for the last two months.
  • oEmbed was the number 9 Filter download for the last 12 months and was number 6 Filter download for the last two months.
  • OpenID Connect was the number 3 Authentication download for the last 12 months and the number 2 Authentication download for the last two months.

We’re pleased to see the growing momentum around this work, and look forward to continued collaboration with open source educational software communities!

Jean Paoli, President
Rob Dolin, Senior Program Manager
Doug Mahugh, Senior Technical Evangelist
Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc.

Filed under: Technology

Cute Kids Books

As a new dad, I’ve found myself reading books with many more pictures and fewer words.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Which books are you currently enjoying?  ‘Best–
Rob

Filed under: Uncategorized

Rob Dolin on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: