Who am I really?

Adrian Lebar

When I was younger, I spent my winters racing down snowy slopes on skis. In the summer I did my racing on bicycles instead, and also taught sailing on the tall ship T.S.PLAYFAIR. I don’t race any more, and the Tall Ship is in the hands of others (my two older sons, in fact!), but I still cycle about 1000km every year when Canada’s weather permits.

I still ski too, and have recently branched into the seriously energetic cross-country version, an exercise (ha!) that certainly taught me to appreciate edges! And a recent foray into the graceful art of snowboarding has helped make the small hills of Southern Ontario fun again. I’ve skied on two Olympic class mountains (Lake Placid and Whistler), and dozens of smaller ones.

I’ve not travelled as much as I’d like to, but I still get around. Just this summer we spent a month in Europe, driving from Glasgow Scotland to Kranjska Gora Slovenia and back via England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. The adventure of a lifetime for a guy who had never been to the Continent before! Seeing the country of my forebears (Slovenia) was deeply moving, and gave me a much greater understanding of my father’s family.

I have owned a couple of sailing boats in my time, a beautiful Contessa 26 then an equally beautiful, but much larger Alberg 29. Both of these I sailed on Lake Ontario in the summer. Life, divorce and circumstances conspired to make it difficult to keep the Alberg, and I was subsequently forced to let it go. In November 2012, I bought a Kittiwake 23 sailboat – also an Alberg design – in Ottawa that I first laid eyes on while dropping my oldest son off for his first year of his Aerospace Engineering program at Carleton University. In the early summer of 2013, him and I sailed the boat home to Toronto via the Rideau Canal system and Lake Ontario. It was quite an adventure!

I’m a father. I play, learn and grow with my three older children. They are amazing people, and I have learned more about myself from watching them than ten lifetimes of navel-gazing could have taught me. I love them dearly, and count myself among the lucky to have them in my life.

In August 2012, we welcomed a new son to our family. Becoming a father again in my late 30s was worrisome, but also wonderful. An experience without equal. With my first three kids, I was in my early 20s, and had lots of energy, but lacked patience and was working hard to support my family. Now that I am older, I don’t have as much energy, but I do possess the patience to more than make up for it. And I’m at a place in my career that makes it far easier to spend time with the little guy.

I am also lucky to have the most wonderful and supportive wife a man could ever ask for. Sarah is my best friend, a patient shoulder to lean on in hard times, and an amazing cook. In addition to all her talents with a camera or frying pan, she is a brilliant writer and freelance editor and science writer, specializing in writing and editing Grant proposals. She’s also the most educated person I’ve ever met, and can speak five languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian).

I like to read and write, both fiction and otherwise (as you can tell from this website), and to draw and take photographs. I don’t paint as much as I used to, or draw, but I still break out the sketchbook once in a while.

The cinematograph, storytelling and technical wizardry of movies like ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas‘ and ‘Coraline‘ (and more recently ‘Mary and Max’, which touched a personal nerve for me) fascinate and delight me. So do architecture and art galleries.

My combined love of things both technical and artistic has led me down two parallel but distinct career paths:

Web design & development

I have always maintained that the design of a thing is far more than how it looks, it is how it works. I went to school to study graphic design, was accepted (but did not attend for a variety of reasons mostly centred around having children) to two of the finest art schools in Canada, and have spent most of my design career as a web designer.

I have seen highs and lows in the Internet industry, and watched technologies that looked promising fade into obscurity while technologies that looked laughable took the world by storm. The things that endure all have one thing in common – they all work right.

The recent ascendency of the Mobile Web and native apps has added a level of excitement to our industry that I haven’t felt since the late 90s. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face and a fire in my heart.

I’ve always believed in hand-coded goodness. While WYSIWYG editors have come a long way since I first laid hands on one in 1996, they still produce code that is less efficient and meaningful than hand-coding does. I write my own CSS, I write my own HTML, and I write my own Javascript (I also write my own PHP, Ruby, Python and Perl), and I’ve done so since I first started working in this industry 12 years ago.

The code I write works. The sites I build work. This is one of my core beliefs – that the Internet should be easy to use whether or not you can see or hear. Or even type.

In 2008 I took a job with Canoe, first as the Senior Web Developer, then as Director of Development for the Toronto office.

Late in 2010, I moved over to become CTO of Square Crop Studios, a small (in comparison to Canoe) company dedicated to creating private social networking systems catering to Student Governments.

We succeeded admirably, and I left that startup in July 2013 to lead the Web and Mobile Development teams at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest media website. I’m always on the lookout for great development talent, so if you think you have what it takes, drop me a line.

Music

I’m a classically trained pianist, and an Associate of The Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT). But in the last twenty years I’ve picked up the electric bass, guitar ukulele and violin, and now play on numerous stages with many different musicians. Sometimes it’s a cover band in bars full of drunken students in university towns, sometimes I’m playing original music in jaunty little bistros in downtown Toronto. Sometimes I’m just in my studio, with the door closed, and headphones and midi controller plugged into my Macbook Air.

Who am I really? Like Zaphod, I’m just this guy, you know?

Last updated October 23, 2013


About A Rain of Frogs

A Rain of Frogs is written, designed and built by Adrian Lebar. As a twelve-year veteran of web design and development, the Internet is his canvas, interface design, typography, usability, accessibility, XHTML and CSS are his tools.

Web standards

A Rain of Frogs meets Strict XHTML 1.0 and CSS 2 web standards. It is coded utilizing recognized best practices developed over twelve years of web site creation. The site features an elastic approach to web typography that allows the layout to scale based on the reader's chosen font-size. This ensures maximum readability to the largest number of readers.

Browser support

Every effort has been made to ensure A Rain of Frogs is available to all readers using any web browsing software. Some typographical and layout techniques may not work properly in some web browsers, notably Microsoft's Internet Explorer versions Six and Seven. Both are known to lack support for documented web standards, and users are encouraged to switch to other more standards compliant web browsers, such as Apple's Safari, Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox.

Most content on the site is available via an RSS feed, which makes it possible for visitors with RSS reader software to be notified of new content in an automated manner.

Typography

Body copy is set in Linotype Design Studio's Helvetica Neue (Macintosh OS X) or Monotype Imaging's Arial (Windows). The logotype is set in Font Bureau's Nobel.

Tools

A Rain of Frogs was designed and built on a black Apple Macbook, using Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Bare Bones Software BBEdit, and Transmit by Panic. All photographs on the site were taken with a Canon Powershot G3, a Canon Powershot G5, or a Canon Rebel XT digital SLR with 18–55 mm, F3.5–5.6 and 80–200 F4.5–6.5 lenses. More recently (starting 2011), a new camera - an Olympus E–PL1 with a 14–42mm F3.5–5.6 M4/3 lens has been added to the stable.

A Rain of Frogs is powered by a content management system called Textpattern. It is a flexible and elegant open source PHP/MySQL software package.