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OpenWest Conference 2013 Presentation Slides
Posted on 03 May 2013 08:40 | Permalink

Thanks to all who came by to see my presentations at the OpenWest conference. I hope you came away with some useful information. Without further ado, here are links to my slides:

Vector Graphics for the Web with Raphaƫl

Linux Arcana


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Utah Open Source Conference 2012 - Presentation slides
Posted on 06 May 2012 22:32 | Permalink

Thursday and Friday of last week I attended the Utah Open Source Conference held at Utah Valley University. Though registration fees were waived since I presented at the conference, dollar-for-dollar compared to other, much more expensive conferences I've attended, I think the Utah Open Source Conference is an amazing value. Between great sessions and informative content, and rubbing shoulders with so many smart people, I had a great time.

I presented on Friday morning, about Open Source tools for automating web performance analysis. The audience was great, and I extend my thanks to everyone who attended. Hopefully my content was helpful. Slides are available via the link below.

Automated, Open-Source Web Performance Analysis (PDF)

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E-Book Review: Data Mashups in R
Posted on 04 November 2010 22:24 | Permalink

For an idea of just what's possible with R, have a look at Data Mashups in R

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Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders
Posted on 19 January 2010 19:27 | Permalink

If you're itching to get some time under the nighttime sky, the Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders will be a good companion.

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Book Review: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts
Posted on 24 August 2009 06:52 | Permalink

I've decided to make writing a more regular part of my life. For starters, I'll be working through a backlog of book reviews. Despite the corny title, Wicked Cool Shell Scripts isn't a bad read.

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PLUG Presentation Slides: The Open Source Data Center
Posted on 13 May 2009 23:04 | Permalink

Tonight I presented at the Provo Linux Users Group. My presentation was entitled: "The Open Source Data Center: Plugging Open Source Software into Patterns of Data Center Operations". The presentation was about patterns in data center operations, and Open Source software to fill those patterns. Slides are available below:

I used SlideRocket to put together the slide deck. Their app is very nice. Also used Inkscape and Google Docs (Presentations) to create some of the graphics. The slides are too bullet heavy at this point, I'd like to liven them up with some more images and such.

Audio is available here:

Turnout tonight was decent, and I got some good feedback. I hope to submit this for the Utah Open Source Conference later this year. Omniture graciously provided pizza and drinks. Thanks to all who attended!

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Harnessing human computational power from computer games
Posted on 03 July 2008 22:35 | Permalink

I came across tonight. Essentially it's a set of fun games people can play. But there's more than just some idle time involved. Behind the scenes, these games are harnessing human computational power to solve interesting problems. The video on the site gives more technical details about what is happening here. It's an idea related to Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

What I found interesting in the video was how this guy generalized what he was doing by looking at each game as an algorithm that could be applied to problems other than those he was interested in solving. Of course, the natural question that arises in my mind is, how can we apply this approach to problems in family history research? Can we use this sort of thing to make indexing as fun as playing a game?

This is yet another example of harnessing the power of the Internet masses. As he describes it, you can almost look at this as a human computational grid, where human brains are being used as the processing units. In his talk at the 2008 Family History Technology workshop, Paul Allen mentioned the possibility of applying some kind of 'by-product' from all the computer games the rising generation like to play towards solving problems in family history work. I think's approach is perhaps a step in this direction. Are there other, more meaningful interactions with our computers from which we can harvest computational 'by-products' to solve important problems in the world? Is there some way I can harness some aspect of, say, reading my email, or perusing my blog reader to make the world a better place in some small way?

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I love a good roadtrip
Posted on 08 May 2008 22:50 | Permalink

When I was a young boy my parents owned a bus touring agency ("Hanks Tours"). They would load up a bus full of senior citizens and drive around the country for 2-3 weeks at a time, stopping at prominent landmarks along the way. On certain occasions I got to tag along as a bag boy (the poor kid who got to haul all the luggage from the bus to each hotel room). Because of this I was able to visit many of the United States and a handful of the Canadian provinces. As a kid I was able to visit Disneyland, the Redwood Forest, the Calgary Stampede, Alaskan glaciers, the Gateway Arch, Disney World, NASA, a World's Fair (Louisiana Expo), Washington D.C., Niagra Falls, Mt. Rushmore, Gettysburg, and many more interesting spots. One tour took us to Egypt and Israel.

Perhaps it was these tours that instilled in me a great love for a good roadtrip. Packing up the car and heading down the Interstate still gives me a bit of a thrill. I love to see new places, and half of the fun is stopping at odd, out-of-the-way (though interesting) spots like Wall Drug, and the Mitchell Corn Palace.

Today ran a story about 3 guys from Utah who set out to travel to the 48 states in the span of just 100 hours. You can read about their adventure at The Great American roadtrip. Makes me want to pack up and try it myself.

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FamilySearch Developers Conference 2008 presentations now available online
Posted on 01 April 2008 21:50 | Permalink

For those who missed the recent Family Search Developers Conference you can now listen to audio and watch slideshows from the conference presentations. Good stuff! I'd love to see the same done for the FHT presentations.

My favorite part of these conferences is the "hallway track," where I'm able to meet and talk with others who are enthusiastic about challenges in family history technology.

If you're interested in this kind of stuff here are some other forums you might be interested in:


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FHT follow up: an idea for a mobile genealogical application
Posted on 17 March 2008 23:34 | Permalink

At the recent Family History Technology Workshop Paul Allen of World Vital Records gave the keynote over lunch. In his talk he suggested that we look to the newest technologies coming out today and think about what kind of genealogical applications will arise out of these platforms. Among others he mentioned the rise of social networks as platforms, as well as the incredible potential the mobile market will provide as it begins to really open up. (When, oh when will I be able to write Perl code for my phone???)

One thought that came to me tonight was an idea for a mobile application that could potentially aid in family history research by putting you in contact with those of your relatives whom you may not even realize are relatives. The application would work like this. Each user of the application would upload to their device some form of genetic information--the same kind of info you get back from the DNA tests currently used in family history research. As your mobile device comes into proximity of other mobile devices belonging to users who are also using this application, it would check the markers in your DNA with those of the mobile owners around you to find which, if any of the individuals you are physically close to most likely share a common ancestor, and how far back that ancestor would likely be. You would get an alert indicating that you were near someone with similar DNA markers.

The implications of such an app are both intriguing and spooky all at the same time. There are obviously privacy and other security issues related to going around with your personal DNA markers displayed like a virtual name badge. What kind of personal information (aside from being able to discern the likelihood of a common ancestor) is also available from such a DNA fingerprint?

What other family-history-centric apps will we see arising from these platforms? What will be the next platforms? What will be the next layer in the stack? One question Paul raised that has had me thinking is how do we use these technologies and platforms to engage the rising generation in family history? Are there ways we can harness these technologies so that the side-effects of everyday interaction with technology can provide beneficial information to family history research?

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More . . .
True love begins when the needs of others become more important than your own.
The practice of true love begets true happiness


Daniel Hanks

I'm a system administrator working for Omniture

Interested in

digital archival
digital libraries
web applications
web infrastructure
distributed storage

among other things . . .


Pamela Hanks

is an excellent storyteller.

(She also happens to be my wife :-)

A storyteller makes a wonderful and unique addition to family, school, church or other group events. Schedule her for your next gathering.

Utah Open Source
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Recent Blog Entries

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- OpenWest Conference 2013 Presentation Slides
- Utah Open Source Conference 2012 - Presentation slides
- E-Book Review: Data Mashups in R
- Book Review: Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders
- Book Review: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts
- PLUG Presentation Slides: The Open Source Data Center
- Harnessing human computational power from computer games
- I love a good roadtrip
- FamilySearch Developers Conference 2008 presentations now available online
- FHT follow up: an idea for a mobile genealogical application
- Family history and technology: it's only getting better
- President Hinckley passes away
- December is NaBoMoReMo - National Book of Mormon Reading Month
- Family History, Photos, Blogs, and Books
- The Compact Oxford English Dictionary
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All Entries . . .

LDS Open Source Software
A website discussing the use of Open-source software for applications useful to those sharing values of the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) faith.

© 2009, Daniel C. Hanks