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May 20, 2012

Life, the Universe and Everything

Posted in: Streams

If you are here to see our work - please sneak a peek at our new site  - there are still a few rough edges to smooth off before we can unwrap the plastic but its a much nicer experience.

Now that little important thing is out the way, lets continue from where we left off last time shall we…


We didn’t win any cash in the Apps4Edmonton competition even though we managed to get the most community votes so thanks to everyone who did vote for us. We rented an apartment for 3 months and enjoyed our time in Edmonton working on our competition entry, spending time with family & friends, soaking up the fringe festival and looking for work opportunities.


I had bought a beautiful new Lanyachtz longboard skateboard when we first arrived to get around and explore the city until we found a car and was keen to put it through its paces in the 20km annual River Of Green Ultimate Endurance (ROGUE) race through Edmonton’s beautiful pedestrian and bike trail system. Unfortunately it had rained a little the night before and I took a nasty spill when I hit a mossy patch at the bottom of a steep section that ripped both my hands up (I didn’t have gloves yet) quite badly. I ended up needing surgery and 4 pins sticking out of my right wrist which meant I had to wear a darth vader cast for 6 weeks and made all the moving and driving we had to do quite a bit more challenging.


After 3 months in Edmonton,with winter approaching, we decided to follow the original plan and head west towards the coast and a job possibility for me at northStudio in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I had gone down to Calgary to present a brief session at Drupalcamp Alberta and met some of the North Studio guys and lined up an interview.

There was also the small matter of another little one on the way which was both a thrilling and daunting thing and we looked forward to settling somewhere that we could call home after being transient for 5 months since Cape Town.

We had never been to “the island” before but had heard only great things and so were looking forward to a new place with new challenges.


As with any new place it took some time to settle in but we found a nice house to rent with a beautiful apple tree close to the majestic forests in Mt Doug Park. Victoria is a nice size city and felt like a gentler starting point to Vancouver’s big city - at least while we found our feet in Canada and settled enough to have another baby.

I enjoyed the work at North Studio and gained some good development experience building, theming, fixing and supporting a range of Drupal sites. I had wanted more experience working with a larger team and I enjoyed learning from and working with a range of talented people.

It was also great being more immersed in the active drupal community on the west coast and I attended the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit in Vancouver in 2010 and presented a case study of our fringefest app. I also attended the PNWDS the following year in Portland and had a great time.


During winter I began exploring the local mountain 3hrs away and realized a lifetime ambition to start snowboarding. I am still in absolute awe of how much fun it is and now with two seasons under my belt, Mt Washington is definitely one of my favourite places on the island (if not the planet). The memories of insane summit views, hidden powder stashes,  hectic tree runs, downhill bombs, mellow carves and fun times solo, with family and with buddies continues to keep me smiling and looking forward to the next season.


Autumn Indigo Coppen was born on April 30th 2011 in our home by natural birth and has been another amazing light in our lives. Angella was an amazing warrior and the experience of giving birth at home was a very special one for us. Autumn has just turned one year old and is a source of ongoing amusement and absolute joy to us. Seeing her interactions and developing relationship with her sister Aurora is such a sweet thing to witness. She has a strong set of lungs but is sleeping through the night in her own room which is great.


Aurora continues to grow and sprout into her own amazing  little person and turns 4 in a month or so. She is a creative, inventive and very funny little girl with a storytelling streak a mile wide, an ever expanding vocabulary and a level of confidence far exceeding her size. Her questions are endless and her world can be spectacular to behold at times.


Angella is an amazing mother and wife and I am grateful for her patience, love and strength. She is  still creating beautiful drawings which will make their way onto her new site we are busy working on at angellacoppen.com. There is a whole lot of her lovely new work posted in the design section on the new site.


This really is a spectacularly beautiful part of the world as we re-affirmed when my folks came to visit for a few weeks and we  headed up island and explored Tofino, Lake Cowichan and Parksville. Some of the old growth forest explorations and island dotted sunsets were entirely  soul soothing.

I left working full time for North Studio 2 months ago and have been enjoying working from home and spending more quality time with my family.  I like to work at odd hours and its been nice to shuffle around when I work  - with kids now it seems that the night owl shift is often most productive - and I find I am getting much more exercise and balancing life and work better

iaminawe are working on some fun new client projects and I have finally had time to work on a personal portfolio/resume site at greggcoppen.com as well as getting the iaminawe site nearer to launch.

The new iaminawe site built in Drupal 7,  is hosted on a linode LEMP stack, is managed by Barracuda/Octopus Aegir and powers the main company site and each of our personal sites through the domain access module. Its a whole lot more maintainable than this wordpress blog became and we look forward to posting stuff more often.


I had a really interesting and enlightening time at Drupalcon in Denver in March. I met a lot of legendary drupalistas (including Dries), learned a ton from the sessions, made some great new friends, tasted some great craft beers and found out that this is a great time to be looking for work if you have Drupal skills. Most of the top companies at the conference seemed to be  on fairly aggressive hiring sprees and it was great to know that there are some great employment options out there.

I returned home having made some great contacts, with over 40 business cards (I did the freelancer speed dating BOF that probably accounted for half of those), inspired by the Drupal community and eager to try some of the new stuff I learned.

Its good to be busy, summer is finally here in Victoria, the cherry blossoms and sun are out and life is good and there are some interesting possibilities for the road ahead.

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