Office

Old Office, New Office

by Joey deVilla on September 6, 2011

Summer Sojourn’s End

Joey's car (Black Honda CR-V), packed to the gills, with a red bike in the rear-mounted bike rack.

My summer immersion term at Shopify ended on Friday. I’d found my niche within the company, gotten to know the team and was ready to continue working remotely. It was time to return to Accordion City.

I moved out of the furnished apartment they provided me for the summer – affectionately dubbed the “Swank Tank” – a day early because I had a business trip to Montreal and packed everything I’d brought with me and picked up over the summer into my car. I tucked my car into Edward’s driveway for the couple of days I was away, far enough out of sight of the kind of people who break into cars to help themselves to the loot inside.

Between not knowing how much kitchen stuff would be provided by the Swank Tank’s proprietors, wanting to have a good chunk of my home office material handy over the summer and just being be ready for anything, I overpacked when I left for Ottawa in May. I’d also picked up a couple of large items over the summer, including a new monitor and bike. Looking at my car, you’d think that I’d made a permanent move and not just gone somewhere else for the summer.

I decided to wait out the Labour Day Friday cottager traffic and make the five-hour road trip from Ottawa to Toronto in the evening. I had dinner at the Smoque Shack with my coworkers Liz, Julie, Nick and Brian, picked up my car at Edward’s and went into the Shopify office one more time to get the last of my stuff.

Old Office

Here’s the entrance stairway to the current office. This won’t be our current office for too much longer; we’re moving into a newer, larger space a couple of blocks down the street later this fall:

The entry stairway to the Shopify offices

Here’s the reception area and lobby, as it appeared at 9:30-ish on Friday night:

The reception desk and lobby at Shopify

Offices take on an eerie, haunted sort of vibe late at night, so I decided to snap a couple of pictures. Here’s the “Fishtank”, the glass-enclosed room where Shopify’s design team works:

The empty desks of Shopify's design team room

The Fishtank has a big glass wall that looks out onto the main “bullpen”:

The big glass wall in the Shopify Fishtank looking out onto the main office

Right across the hall from the Fishtank is the boardroom, which you may remember from the Epic Meal Time video that was shot at our offices; this is where the final tasting scene was shot:

Shopify's boardroom, with cardboard animal "trophies" hanging on the far wall

By some strange coincidence, whenever I get an assigned space at an office – something that hasn’t happened since I left Tucows in late 2007 –- I usually get the “Keanu Reeves Location”: a desk situated in the dead centre of the mass of desks (just like his character in The Matrix had). I had that spot in the Shopify office:

Two rows of empty desks in the centre aisle of Shopify's main office

Here’s my old desk, all clear and ready for the next person to occupy it. I took the Shopify standard-issue 15” MacBook Pro, Magic Mouse and wireless keyboard with me, but left the Cinema Display and Aeron chair behind. It would’ve been nice to take both back to the home office with me, if I’d had the room in the car:

A desk that is empty except for an Apple monitor

New Office

This year’s been a bit of a weird one. Between being in the hospital, several trips (two of which lasted nearly two weeks each) and being in Ottawa for the summer, home wasn’t where I lived; it had become a nice place to visit. The (not so) recent change in the domestic situation also meant a few changes in the layout of my apartment, including a chance to reclaim the home office. I got the basics done before I left and did some serious setup over the Labour Day weekend. The results are shown below.

Here’s what you see as you enter the new home office:

Carpeted apartment bedroom converted into a home office, showing a long desk with computers and a window looking out onto treetops

Here’s a closer look at the desk. I bought it at Cooper’s old Queen Street location back in 1997 for what seemed like a lot of money back then, and it’s served me well over the years. It was originally L-shaped, but over the years, I’ve reconfigured it in all sorts of ways: L-shaped, split into two desks and finally, as a single long workstation:

Joey's workstation, as seen from the left

Here’s the desk from the other side:

Joey's workstation, as seen from the right

Opposite the desk: a set of matching shelves and a lot of organizers I’ve picked up over the years. I used to have more programming books – they used to eat up shelves – but in the age of PDFs and the iPad (plus the fact that the half-life of a tech book seems to be nine months these days), most of my tech library is in electronic form now:

Bookshelves packed with books, plus photo boxes of files and many plastic bins full of wiring and other tech equipment

Here’s another view of the whole office. The window looks west out onto the courtyard behind my building, and beyond that, the tree-lined Gothic Avenue:

Joey's home office as seen from the desks, showing a windows overlooking treetops and the bookshelves and organizers

The left side is the Windows half of the desk. My main Windows machine is the Dell 15” laptop I got as one of my fabulous parting gifts from Microsoft. The monitor is one I bought as a present to myself shortly after joining The Empire just before my birthday in 1998. And hey, who wouldn’t want to have an Xbox in their office?

The left side of Joey's workstation, with a Dell 15" laptop, 25" Samsung monitor, Wacom drawing tablet, Xbox and wireless controller and office chair

On the right side of the desk: the Mac side. That’s a 15” MacBook Pro driving a 24” LED Cinema Display that I bought from my coworker Nick just before heading back home. Note the Avenue Q “The Internet is for Porn” mousepad just to the left of the keyboard.

The right side of Joey's workstation, showing a 15" Mackbook Pro, 24" Apple monitor, several organizing containers and a "The Internet is for Porn" mousepad

The New Old Routine

Today’s my first day back at my old routine as a mobile worker. I’ll get a fair bit of work done at the home office, but I’ll also be mixing it up by being on the road, plus working at some alternate locations because I don’t like being a shut-in.

The view from the front of Cafe Novo, a cafe that opens out onto Bloor Street

I’m a member of the Hacklab, which gives me 24/7 access to their Kensington Market space; it’s often empty during the day. There are also a number of work-friendly wifi-equipped cafes where I hang out, both close to home in High Park (I’ll write about them soon) as well as closer downtown. And finally, I’ve got a fair bit of travel in my future – so much that I’m getting my Nexus card next month – which means I’ll be working from hotels, cafes, airport lounges, BarCamps, other people’s offices and so on.

It’s going to be an interesting fall.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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Fabulous Parting Gifts from Microsoft

by Joey deVilla on May 16, 2011

In recognition of some damn good evangelizing, and to make sure I don’t forget about all the .NET developers out there, Microsoft Canada sent a big package to me at the Shopify offices containing some fabulous parting gifts, including a Dell Latitude E6500 with 8 gigs of RAM and the large battery:

My Dell Latitude E6500 laptop

…along with the Samsung Focus that was assigned to me, and DVDs for Windows 7 Ultimate and Office Professional 2010

Windows Phone 7 (Samsung Focus) box, Windows 7 Ultimate DVD, Microsoft Office 2010 Professional DVD

…and last but certainly not least, an MSDN subscription, which gets me all kinds of developer goodies including Visual Studio (still the nicest IDE out there, in my opinion):

MSDN logo

I’d like to thank Microsoft Canada (and Damir Bersinic, who made the arrangements) for these fabulous parting gifts. They weren’t under any obligation to send anything other than my final paycheque and expense reimbursements, but they’re taking a page from Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, and I greatly appreciate the goodies. I was wondering how I was going to continue with Windows Phone and XNA development, but thanks to my old employer and coworker, that question’s been answered. I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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Office 365 Public Beta: Available Now!

by Joey deVilla on April 18, 2011

office 365

The news is all over online – perhaps you saw the PC World article or the official Microsoft announcement – Office 365 is out as a public beta and ready for you to take it for a spin! It’s the successor to BPOS, Business Productivity Online Suite and gives you productivity goodies such as:

Here’s a diagram that gives you the 10,000-foot view of what Office 365 can do for you (click to get the full-size version):

office 365 poster

If you’d like to get the public beta of Office 365, office365.ca is the place to go! You’ll find out more about the various packages available for business, from small businesses who want to get stuff done but don’t have the IT department or infrastructure, up to the biggest enterprises looking to integrate Office 365 with their own infrastructure for that special you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter IT goodness.

There’s also the Office 365 Blog and the Office 365 Technical Blog, which show you how to best take advantage of Office 365 tools as well as performing advanced tasks and troubleshooting issues. If you’re the competitive type, there’s the Ready for Work contest where you can win $50,000, a one-year subscription to Office 365 for your business and more – and all you have to do is share your Office 365 success story on our Facebook group.

win 50000

Go for it – sign up for the Office 365 beta now!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Web Versions of Office: About Effing Time!

by Joey deVilla on October 28, 2008

This morning at the PDC keynote, one of the announcements made was about the online, web-based versions of the Office Apps we know and love: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. They look better than their Google Apps equivalents — so good that it’s quite hard to tell the web version from the desktop version. Take a look…

Word

Take a look at these two photos that I took at the keynote. Which one is the desktop Word and which one is the web Word?

word_for_office_14_web
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

word_for_office_14_desktop
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

The answer: The top one is the web version; the bottom one is the desktop version.

OneNote

Try the same thing again, this time as OneNote:

onenote_for_office_14_desktop
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

onenote_for_office_14_web
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

The answer: The top one is the desktop version; the bottom one is the web version.

Excel

One more time, with Excel:

excel_for_office_14_desktop
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

excel_for_office_14_web
Click the picture to see it on its Flickr page, where you can see it in larger sizes.

The answer: The top one is the desktop version; the bottom one is the web version.

Live Collaboration

One more thing: in the demo, they were running the web, desktop and phone versions simultaneously on the same document, with each user’s edits updating the other two’s versions. There are some great collaborative possibilities here.

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Why Microsoft Will Never Win (Again)

by Joey deVilla on June 6, 2008

Mathew Ingram, after reading the Wall Street Journal’s article Gates-Ballmer Clash Shaped Microsoft’s Coming Handover, suggests that Microsoft killed their future for the present by killing NetDocs, their web-based office apps suite so as not to cannibalize their cash cow, Microsoft Office.

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