FAILCamp

FailCamp: One Week Away!

by Joey deVilla on July 2, 2009

FailCamp poster, featuring Sean Connery in his role as "Zed" from "Zardoz"

If you were at last year’s FailCamp, you might remember the best story of FAIL of the evening, which involved warming up some “body lube” in the microwave oven for a little too long, after which hilarity ensued.

Here’s how Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs, the originators of FailCamp, describe their vision of the event:

We believe that it’s time to give our personal fail some tough love and talk it out over beer!

Join us for a brief, rousing introduction followed by camaraderie, beer, and show-and-tell. We’ll present a little about failure through the ages, mining your personal suck, maybe some science, pithy quotes from people you may or may not respect, and share some failure stories of our own.

Then it’ll be your turn. If all goes to plan, you may even win in our friendly “race to the bottom” for the most public, most expensive, or most ridiculous Story of Fail.

FailCamp returns next Thursday, July 9th and once again, it’s the warm-up act for Unspace’s Ruby programmer conference (going by the name “FutureRuby” this year), which takes place on the weekend of July 10th through 12th. Just like last year, FailCamp will once again provide a forum for you to share your greatest and most pathetic stories of FAIL, and hopefully how that failure taught you some important lessons and made you a better, wiser, more-careful-with-the-lube person.

joey_presenting_at_failcamp_1Me, presenting at last year’s FailCamp.

Once again, I will be hosting FailCamp. I’ll start the evening with a couple of stories of failure, including a couple of Keyboard Cat-worthy ones of my own, after which I’ll open up the floor to you, the audience, to share your own stories of FAIL. Once we’re all thoroughly embarrassed, DJ Barbi will spin the wheels of steel and we’ll dance our shame away.

There are some tickets left as of this writing:

  • For FutureRuby attendees, there are 4 free tickets to FailCamp remaining.
  • For those of you who are not attending FutureRuby but would like to catch FailCamp, there are 19 “Pay What You Can” tickets left.

If you want ‘em, go to the FailCamp registration page and get them before they disappear!

joey_presenting_at_failcamp_2My one-slide summary of how things went terribly wrong in the movie Deliverance
(The link leads to the “Squeal like a pig” scene from the movie – you might not want to watch at work).

FailCamp will take place at the Queen City Yacht Club on the Toronto Islands (Algonquin Island, to be precise). Your printed ticket stub is good for a free ferry ride from the Toronto docks to the Yacht Club, where we’ll have some finger food, the Yacht club’s kitchen and cash bar will be open, and the evening should be full of surprises.

What better way to close an article about FailCamp than the Keyboard Cat video starring “Pinky, Pet of the Week”?

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FutureRuby and Failcamp: Register Now!

by Joey deVilla on March 10, 2009

futureruby

Last year, the folks at Unspace held a fantastic Ruby conference called RubyFringe. They took the standard conference format, threw out the stuff they didn’t like, amplified the stuff they loved and kept the attendance down to around Dunbar’s number. The end result: quite possibly the best geek conference I’ve ever attended (a lot of the other attendees would concur). I wrote quite extensively about RubyFringe in this entry, and here are my notes from the conference:

This year, they’re holding a slightly different conference called FutureRuby. They’ve described it as bill it as “an opportunity to prepare for the future by learning from the mistakes of the past”, and promise us that it won’t just be RubyFringe warmed over – we shouldn’t expect to find the same things in the same places! Here’s what the FutureRuby site says:

We are the artists, philosophers, and troublemakers. We realize that the fringe of today is
the mainstream of tomorrow. We grease the engines of progress, even when we’re working outside of the machine.

FutureRuby isn’t a Ruby conference, but a conference for Rubyists. This is a call to order – a congress of the curious characters that drew us to this community in the first place. We have a singular opportunity to express a long-term vision, a future where Ruby drives creativity and prosperity without being dampened by partisan politics.

FutureRuby runs from Friday, July 10th at 5:00 p.m. and officially end on Sunday, July 12th at around 11:55 p.m.. FutureRuby will also be paired with FailCampTO, which will take place on Thursday, July 9th (I’ll be MCing this event, and I’ll talk more about it in another post).

The early bird tickets for FutureRuby, which sell for CAD$700, are already gone. The regular rate tickets, which sell for CAD$800, are still available, but probably not for long. If you want to attend FutureRuby, I strongly recommend that you go to the FutureRuby registration page and sign up right now.

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Joey\'s Unofficial Ruby Fringe Guide to Toronto - Small logoWelcome to the fifth installment of Joey’s Unofficial RubyFringe Guide to Toronto, my guide to Accordion City for attendees of the RubyFringe conference as well as people just curious about this place.

In case you missed the earlier articles in this series, I’ll list them here:

  1. Where Did All the Cigarettes Go?
  2. Getting from the Airport to the Hotel
  3. Boozin’ in Accordion City
  4. The Lay of the Land, Part 1

In this article, I’m going to cover FAILCamp.


The first event of RubyFringe is the only one that’s open to anyone, whether or not they’re attending the conference itself. It’s FAILCamp, a gathering where we’ll share stories about and lessons from failure. It will take place at The Rhino Bar and Grill (1249 Queen Street West, just west of Dufferin) and runs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. Once again, you don’t have to be a RubyFringe attendee to catch this one. Admission is free, but you’ll have to buy your own beer.

Here’s a quick description of the event, as written by its originators, Amy “Slash7” Hoy and Thomas “Scriptaculous” Fuchs:

We believe that it’s time to give our personal fail some tough love and talk it out over beer!

Join us for a brief, rousing introduction followed by camaraderie, beer, and show-and-tell. We’ll present a little about failure through the ages, mining your personal suck, maybe some science, pithy quotes from people you may or may not respect, and share some failure stories of our own.

Then it’ll be your turn. If all goes to plan, you may even win in our friendly “race to the bottom” for the most public, most expensive, or most ridiculous Story of Fail.

I believe that the original plan was for Amy and Thomas to host the event as a dry run for a much larger FAILCamp event taking place on the 26th in Philadelphia. Circumstances have arisen and they will be unable to make it to Accordion City this weekend. While this fits with the theme of FAILCamp, it hasn’t stopped it — instead, two new hosts have stepped up to fill in for them:

  • Hampton “HAML” Catlin, who very well might be the best Ruby hacker in town, and
  • Yours Truly, who very well might be the worst Ruby hacker in town.

Hampton’s going to provide a lot of insight and programming know-how to FAILCamp. Me? I’m going to be responsible for innuendo-laden stories of personal and professional failure peppered with gratuitous Zardoz references.

As for the Rhino itself, it is truly pub with a “neighbourhoody” feel. Where many places are content to be mere endpoints in the Anheuser-Busch/Molson-Coors supply chain, the Rhino is what some sociologists call a “third place”, a neighbourhood gathering point for all kinds of people, from the locals who’ve been in the Parkdale area since it was a more rough-and-tumble place to the artsy and musician types who moved into the neighbourhood to the geeks who use it as the venue for the monthly Rails Pub Nites and Ajax Pub Nites. Even though the neighbourhood is gentrifying in a manner similar to New York’s Lower East Side or certain parts of Brooklyn, The Rhino has managed to remain pretty much douchebag-free and inexpensive, unlike a number of the other pubs in the area.

The only way in which The Rhino gets fancy is with their beer menu. There are about 200 beers on the menu hailing from a few dozen countries, and they’re generally well-stocked and priced in the 5 to 7 dollar per pint/bottle range. Be sure to try the locals: their own lager, as well as Mill Street, Wellington and Creemore Springs.

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This Week in Toronto Tech

by Joey deVilla on July 14, 2008

Toronto Tech People
Just a small sample of the people that make Toronto’s tech community great.

This week is going to be a week unlike any other in the Toronto technology scene: a week of events created not by municipal groups, large techno-conglomerates or industry think tanks, but by small groups of passionate individuals who enjoys working with both people and technology.

These events don’t have the benefit of major sponsorship or media coverage, nor will they be lining their organizers’ wallets. They’re events put together by amateurs in the original sense of the word: people who do it not for profit, but for their love of their craft, in the hope that both the attendees and even the field itself will be advanced from insights, understanding and knowledge gained by gathering together and exchanging ideas.

It’ll be a busy week for me. I’ll not only be attending these events, but I’ll also be MCing two of them as well. I’ll be posting reports from these gatherings here — keep watching this blog!

DemoCamp 18: Tuesday July 15th, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at Supermarket

DemoCamp Toronto 18: Tuesday, July 15th @ Supermarket

DemoCamp 18 is the eighteenth gathering of the bright lights in Toronto’s software development community where we show each other our projects in action. DemoCamp has grown from a gathering of a couple dozen in late 2005 to a meetup of hundreds at locations like the MaRS Centre and the Toronto Board of Trade and was voted “Toronto’s Best Unconference” earlier this year by BlogTO. It’s given many local software people the chance to showcase their work, meet other people in their field, make connections, get jobs and even get venture capitalist funding (that’s what happened to b5media, for whom I work).

I’m one of DemoCamp’s stewards and will be co-MCing DemoCamp.

You can see the schedule of events for DemoCamp 18 at the DemoCamp.info site. This event’s tickets — a good number of which were free, the remainder going for five or ten dollars — got snapped up within hours of becoming available.

Damian Conway: Wednesday, July 16th, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. at the Bahen Centre, U of T

Damian Conway - July 16, 2008

The Perl programming language has been given the nickname “the duct tape of the internet” because of its importance in the development of the early web. Damian Conway is its most eloquent spokesperson and a speaker who can turn the dryest of academic lectures into a brain-tickling comic monologue that delivers both laughs and technical insight.

On Wednesday, Toronto will play host to the world premiere of his new talk, titled Temporally Quaquaversal Virtual Nanomachine Programming in Multiple Topologically Connected Quantum-Relativistic Parallel Timespaces… Made Easy. The event will be held at the Bahen Centre at the University of Toronto and it will be free of charge. For more details, see its Upcoming page.

FAILCamp: Friday July 18th, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at The Rhino

FAILCamp

I’ll let the FAILCamp creators, Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs do the talking:

“My reputation grows with every failure,” wrote George Bernard Shaw in a letter to fellow author Frank Harris. A healthy attitude towards the natural state of humanity, if you ask us.

We all know failure: public, private, large, small, free or costly, embarrassing or funny or poignant (or all of the above). We have all experienced what our friend Patrick has called “the beautiful rainbow of Fail.” And we tend to stuff it in the closet, keep it under wraps, don’t-ask-don’t-tell or any other number of hidey clichés that poor, beautiful rainbows should not be subject to. We believe that it’s time to give our personal fail some tough love and talk it out over beer!

Join us for a brief, rousing introduction followed by comraderie, beer, and Show and Tell. We’ll present a little about failure through the ages, mining your personal suck, maybe some science, pithy quotes from people you may or may not respect, and share some failure stories of our own.

Then it’ll be your turn. If all goes to plan, you may even win in our friendly “race to the bottom” for the most public, most expensive, or most ridiculous Story of Fail.

Also, did we mention beer?

For more details, see FAILCamp’s event page on Facebook.

RubyFringe: Friday July 18th – Sunday July 20th at the Metropolitan Toronto Hotel

RubyFringe

Finally, the upcoming weekend belongs to RubyFringe, the “deep nerd tech with punk rock spirit conference”.

“RubyFringe,” says its site, “RubyFringe is an avant-garde conference for developers that are excited about emerging Ruby projects and technologies. We’re mounting a unique and eccentric gathering of the people and projects that are driving things forward in our community.”

I’ll be MCing the opening night’s events at the Amsterdam Brewery. Alas, tickets are sold out!

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