andrew burke





Andrew Burke Portrait
Me, taken by Terry Williams

Dear family, friends and random people on the internet,

Every year I promise to hand-design beautiful holiday cards in October. That never quite works out, so I promise to at least buy some cards and send them out by my birthday in mid-December. That doesn't quite work out either, and late December is always busy with travel and a lot of client work due for the New Year, and so I end up sending out apologetic messages (like this one) in early January. One of the biggest changes for me this year has been a real growth of my presence on the Web - so I've decided that I'd put my New Year's friends-and-family message on my site.

This year I continued my regular visits to Santa Cruz, California. My partner, Shannon Brownlee, has been working on her PhD. in the History of Consciousness program at U.C. Santa Cruz since mid 2003, and I've been going out to visit her every few months or so. Not only is she there, and the weather is beautiful, but Silicon Valley is just over the hills and I can catch up on the industry while I'm there. Even better, my mother and stepfather are a day's drive north in Eureka, and we've had a number of nice visits - when they're not travelling in Japan or Italy.

Andrew Burke presenting at BarCampTDot
Presenting at BarCampTDot in May. Taken by 'm@burpee' - available here on Flickr.

Back in Toronto, I've continued to work as a freelance software developer, building web-based applications for various business, agencies, and non-profits. I've switched almost all of my development work from Lotus Notes/Domino and Java to Ruby on Rails, with a bit of PHP on the side. I've generally had three or four projects on the go at any given time this year, including work for The Beer Store, Signs of Change, Amnesty International, Get Signage, and others. I'm feeling like much more of an accomplished programmer, and people still seem to want to pay me for it, so I must be doing something right!

2006 has been a good year for building connections. The technology community in Toronto is very active and friendly and I've been attending a lot of events in the area, particularly the DemoCamps. I even presented at BarCampTDot in May and hope to present at a DemoCamp in the coming year.

I've also been attending various events in Silicon Valley over the last few years, particularly with SDForum. In April, I attended the two day Silicon Valley Ruby Conference, which was not only interesting in itself, but my notes on the conference became the first blog posts I had written that actually got significant outside traffic. Now that there seem to be actual people reading my blog, I've started writing more and seem to have pretty regular traffic. For the first time ever, I'm near the top of the Google results if you search for Andrew Burke, just underneath the poet, the travel writer, and the guy from Australia - the closest to posterity I've ever had.

Andrew Burke at Opera
At the opening of the new Opera House in October.

Personal highlights of the year included:

The last part of the year was been a time of transition. Shannon finished her course work in Santa Cruz and moved back to Toronto in late December. Since we'll both be working at home all day (Shannon on her dissertation, me on my programming), we needed a bit more space - so I moved to a bigger apartment in October. Thankfully, it's in the same building, just two flights up - perhaps the easiest move I have ever made!

Shannon's move was a little more difficult. She packed up the apartment, organized a moving truck, loaded up the car, and, with the help of her mother, drove across the continent in mid-December - managing to stay one day ahead of a terrible winter storm - all while suffering from a bad flu. Thankfully she made it in one piece - just in time for us to fly to Edmonton for Christmas with her family.

We're now recovering from a busy holiday season and are figuring out where to put all the books and furniture. We're also going to be adopting a pair of cats soon - now that we're both in the same place and no longer travelling all the time, it's time to get a bit more domestic.

All the best to everyone for the new year! If you're wondering what I'm up to, you can always check my blog - which is occasionally technical and occasionally pointless - but is always up to date!

Andrew Burke in bathtub
Me at Mondo's Bathroom Exhibit at the Gladstone Hotel in May

Andrew Burke and Shannon Brownlee
Shannon and Me, taken by Terry Williams