I’m in Montreal at ConFoo, the “web techno conference” where both open source and Microsoft technologies are the topics. I did a presentation on ASP.NET MVC earlier this morning, and as I write this, I’m watching Mario Cardinal talk about REST. I’ve seen him do this presentation before, but I always enjoy watching his sessions; they feel more like techie conversations over coffee (or beer) than lectures.
You’re probably wondering what that pirate flag draped over the lectern is all about. I put that up there for my session to declare my allegiance. It’s a reference to the Pirate/Ninja personality spectrum, where:
Ninjas prefer to work quietly in the background, while
Pirates like to work flamboyantly, swashbuckling and yelling “Arrr!”
If you know me, you know where I fall on that spectrum.
(I also brought a goalie mask in case I needed to talk about JSON. Get it? Goalie mask? JSON?)
This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.
Here’s a little hint: if you ever get an invitation to a Microsoft party from High Road Communications – they’re Microsoft Canada’s PR firm – accept it. They’re always in great places, have great tapas and drinks and they always invite interesting people. You’re guaranteed to have fun, and that guarantee is doubled if I’m there.
Montreal’s W hotel is a building that has undergone a radical personality change. It used to be the Banque du Canada building, the home of one of our federal government’s most stuffy, buttoned-down organizations. W hotels tend to be the exact opposite: everything about them suggests that they were designed by people who usually design nightclubs, what with DJ booths in their lobbies, electronica and funk music piped into every nook and cranny, dimly-lit hallways with lighting straight out of Blade Runner and other little touches that make it seem as if you’ve somehow managed to get into one of those secret clubs in New York City’s Meat Packing District. Simply put, it’s a pretty good place to hold a swanky cocktail party,
Christian and I followed the directions to the “Extreme Wow” suite that High Road had booked for the party. Here’s what we saw when we entered the room:
The suite was located on the top floor of the W. It was one large room with a 20 foot-high ceiling and an equally high set of windows revealing a balcony looking out onto Square Victoria and a good chunk of Montreal’s skyline. I had a sense of deja vu and soon realized that the place reminded me a little bit of Tony Prince’s swanky condo in the videogame The Ballad of Gay Tony, minus the mobsters to whom Tony owed money and wanted him dead.
Near the back of the suite was the bathroom, which in the spirit of open source, was itself open concept and had nothing to hide. Rather than being tucked into a separate room, the shower, tub and sinks were poised on a split level four or five steps above the rest of the room, with the shower stall being a glass-and-brick enclosure in the middle of it all, looking like the monolith from 2001. The tub was recessed into the floor beside it and covered with a sheet of plywood for the party, either in order to prevent people from falling into it or to prevent me from attempting to start a party hot tub:
(Thankfully, the toilet had its own separate “water closet” room, just off to the side.)
The room had been rearranged to better suite a party than overnight guests. The bed had been removed and replaced with a hybrid couch/chaise lounge:
Just about everything in the room could be commanded via the master remote control, which Christian found. It controlled lights, the TV, sound system and even the curtains and skylight blinds (which could be opened and closed via remote-controlled servos):
Here’s a view of Square Victoria from the balcony:
Christian also found a table centrepiece that reminded him of an M.C. Escher image that I had used in my slide presentation at Career Demo Camp Montreal:
For reference, here’s that M.C. Escher piece:
Having checked out the place and taken my first set of photos, I did what I always do in such a setting: I got got a drink from the bar and made myself comfortable.
It wasn’t just cocktails and conversations at the party. We had some presentations as well, starting with Nik Garkusha, part of Microsoft Canada’s Open Source Strategy team. He talked about how Microsoft views open source, as well as the work we’re doing in order to make Microsoft and open source work better together.
I split his presentation into two videos. Here’s the first…
…and here’s the second:
Brendan “Digibomb” Sera-Shriar, developer with Optimal Payments, WordPress evangelist, founder of PHP Toronto and WordCamp Toronto and organizer of WordCamp Montreal, talked about his experience working with The Empire: “They’re actually doing open source!”, his use of Windows and the Windows Platform Installer and how open source and Windows can work together:
Yann Larrivee, developer, founder of PHP Quebec, FooLab and the upcoming ConFoo conference, spoke next. He talked about how he enjoyed Make Web Not War 2009, the importance of “playing well with others” both inside and outside the world of open source and how Microsoft is participating in ConFoo:
Marc Laporte, developer of TikiWiki, and among other things, talked about PHP running under IIS. It’s in French, and if anyone would like to give me a hand translating, I would appreciate it greatly!
As nice as the photos of the suite above are, the place looks far better when it’s filled with guests:
If you’re a techie in Montreal, you want to attend Career Demo Camp on Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:30 p.m. in the Mont-Royal Centre! It’s part tech career guidance conference, part DemoCamp-style event, and an opportunity for developers and start-ups to get together and learn about the job market, see projects that Montreal-area techies are working on and get to know and network with your local nerds. It’s presented by the Confoo conference (taking place in March 2010) and PHUG and will be hosted by Yours Truly and Jean-Luc SansCartier.
Here’s the schedule:
6:30 p.m.: Intro to Career Demo Camp
7:00 p.m.: Alex Kovalenko – IT Headhunting and Recruiting
7:30 p.m.: Joey deVilla; Better Living Through Blogging
Microsoft Canada’s providing the space – we booked the Mont-Royal Centre for TechDays Montreal for two days (December 2nd and 3rd) and we weren’t doing anything with the space on the evening of Day 1. We decided to offer the space for some kind of community event, and Confoo and PHUG put together Career Demo Camp. I love doing developer community events and was only too happy to co-host.
The DemoCamp portion of the evening needs people to do DemoCamp-style demos: 5 minutes of “Show and Tell” where you show your software, web application or project in action. It’s the only thing you’re allowed to show on the big screen — no slides allowed! The idea is for you to show off your technology in action and inspire us, not to do a sales pitch. Think you’ve got a demo in you? Contact Jean-Luc Sans Cartier or Yann Larrivee and let them know you want to demo at Career Demo Camp!