Operations Control Centre

This is a small dynamic project I have been developing over the course of the year during off work hours. It originated from the idea of having a network map done up specifically for work displayed on two monitors. Instead of using tools to create a flowchart or network topology I built a control that asynchronously allows for communication between the host machine and a destination until the program terminates. Each connection sits in a group and each group can connect to other groups – these features are automated. This is a great tool for everyone to visually see the status of the network in real-time and gives an overview of the network. A quick glance over at this two screen Ops program and you can see what servers are running and which ones are not. Future additions include audio alerts and better video alerts.





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IT Metrics

The importance of IT Metrics usually overshadows work that needs to get done, or it is the opposite, work is getting done with no metrics. To create a balance, there are a couple of things needed.

  1. Technical Infrastructure – this is important – there needs to be an underlying system to automatically maintain, gather stats.
  2. Employee Co-operation – Like anything new, employees are usually resistant to attempts at new processes and new technologies – gathering stats requires co-operation and teamwork
  3. Proper processes – without processes, statistical gathering can be cumbersome, tiresome and overshadows the actual work that needs to get done. The time it takes to gather the stats, takes longer than the work done.
  4. Training – training for a new process is vital, not only having employees be able to use the new process effectively, they need to be immediate stakeholders of the process and after training there really is no excuse for a good system to not be used.

Using this type of formula, statistics can be a joy to work with and increase productivity by creating a self organizing system. Forecasting and maintaing a proper accounting of what is required within an IT Department is much easier when an automated process is in place.


Helpdesk Ticket Overview



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This project was around before google maps or kijiji existed – remember mapquest ? the mapping feature for Thunder Bay rent grabbed it’s map data from there. At the time mapquest was a paid service, who would have new mapping would be free for everyone. The website included  a landlord administrative interface for property managers. The target market of Thunder Bay rent were quick turn over landlords, which is now a service that is widely available.  I believe this was the last visual incarnation of Thunder Bay rent.  The database for thunder bay rent was the initial foundation for Canadararent.


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Anonymous Suggestion Box

This suggestion box project was created for staff to be able to send anonymous suggestions to different departments. The project was perfect for a small one week project. The code includes error handling, multi-threading, multiple email targets, and some quick smtp code to send an email from an anonymous user. Every email is routed through a generic email address and sent directly to the intended targets. Who the message came from, we will never know.



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X-Hex is a game I programmed a long time ago. This game is still very exciting to play and I believe was ahead of its time when it was written. The idea stemmed from my brother who had described a game to me he had played on the Unisys computers from the 1980’s.  E-games wanted to publish this title originally but that deal fell through in order to keep IP and publishing rights.  I think in the near future I plan to resurrect this product in all of it’s glory. Today this game would be perfect for a tablet or mobile device which did not exist back when it was created. The best part of programming this game was the artificial intelligence.  I designed the multiplayer aspect to be editable, and it worked great. You were able to choose to play against multiple personalities, all of whom had there very distinct game play.



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Canada Rent

Canada Rent was a great ambitious project, well before Kijjiji was around. The focus was on local communities being able to gain full access to search and promote rental listings.  The rental engine was based off of Thunder Bay rent, which was successfully tested averaging 120 fresh rental listings at any given time.  This site was fully data driven and capable of handling any size of growth.  Some of the challenges and barriers this project faced were no different than most websites from it’s time.


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Part 2 – Encoding a simple value

For the second part, we will encode a simple 4 bit integer value – let’s use the the 4 bit integer 6 to encode, this is our “message”. The integer six has a 4 bit binary value of 0110. To help us understand the process of encoding we will illustrate step by step how it is done. For our simple encoder we will use the following variables top(top), bottom(bot),bit (bit), probability(prob), message(message). This example will assume a 50% probability of any bit value 0 or 1 to be encoded.

First we initialize our range. Now remember from the first example, our range is our decimal values. Well let’s start with the same range 0 to 15 (a 4 bit range). Our range has a top and a bottom. We will assign the bottom variable the bottom value of the range, that value is a 0. Next we assign the top value, the top portion of our range, that value is a 15.

Currently we have assigned the following variables some initial values:

[code lang=’cpp’]message = 0110 
bot = 0
top = 15[/code]

Here are the steps of the encoding process for our message;

  1. Extract our first bit to encode, from our message; bit = 0   {message=0110}
  2. Always get the probability of the zero bit; prob = 0.5 (use 0.5 for our example)
  3. Encode our first bit using our range of 0 to 15. Partition the range into two new ranges using the probability of the zero bit.
    1. first partition is 0 to 7 (50% of the total range).  The second partition is 8 to 15 (what is left over of the total range).
    2. Now we need to update our variables with our new range. The new range will depend on the current bit we are encoding. If the bit is 0 then we choose the first partition if the bit is 1 then we choose the second partition. In this example the bit is 0 so our variables would be update like so:
      bot = 0
      top = 7

Quick overview of encoding our message:

  1. Extract bit from message
  2. Get probability of the zero bit
  3. Partition the range into two ranges
  4. Choose partition depending on bit, 0 bit=first partition, 1 bit=second partition
  5. Update top and bot variables with the new range
  6.  Goto step 1, extracting the next bit in the message

You would continue this process until you are at the end of your message or if the range is equal to zero ie:  (top bot) is equal to zero.  We will get into more detail on this in the next part of our series. Below is an illustration of the process of encoding our message.  

 4 bits have been successfully encoded with an end result/code of 6. This is the same as the original message only because the probabilities for each bit to be encoded are equal, 50%. So the message has no compression and the code or result does not change from the original message.  This is the beginning of bit encoding.

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Part 1 – Introduction to a simple bit encoder

To start off in the first part our series we will take a look at the properties of a 4 bit integer to help imagine where our simple bit encoder comes from. For purposes of encoding and decoding data we will refer to our decimal values as our range, and every range has a top and a bottom value.

Looking at the illustration below we can see that the msb of our range can be partitioned into two groups. The second table illustrates the partioning of the msb, as you can see an integer range of 0 to 7 has a msb of 0, and an integer range of 8 to 16 has a msb value of 1. This table can be further partitioned into two ranges using the third bit. The range of 0 to 3 has a 3rd bit of 0,  and the range of 4 to 7 has a 3rd bit of 1.

Binary Partitioning of a 4 bit integer

Following this sequence you can continue to equally sub divide our 4 bit integer ranges into  further binary nodes, creating a binary tree. What is the signfigance in this ? Well our bit encoder will work with a range of values and partition that range depending on the probability of the bit we wish to encode. For the simplest example we will use a 50% probability for every bit, for encoding in our next part.

Continue to Part 2 – Encoding a simple value

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