Toronto

Ruby Job Fair in Toronto Tonight!

by Joey deVilla on February 10, 2012

Ruby Job Fair Poster

Don’t forget: the Ruby Job Fair takes place tonight at Unspace headquarters (342 Queen Street West; it’s the door just to the right of Lululemon)! If you’re looking for work that involves Ruby programming or if you’re an employer looking for Ruby developers, you’ll want to be at this event, which is more cocktail social than career fair. Yes, there will be a bar.

The event takes place from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.. DO NOT show up early! They’ll either be wrapping up the day’s work (remember, Unspace is a development shop) or prepping for the event. If you plan to show up fashionably late, please note that the employers are doing their three-minute “soapbox” spiels starting at 6:30.

There’s a small registration fee to help cover the costs of holding this event: it’s $5 for people looking for a job; $15 for employers looking for Ruby developers. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck at this event. Click here to register for the event, and do it before the tickets run out!

Shopify logo

If you’re looking for Ruby work at one of the most successful startups around, you might want to consider Shopify. I’ll be there tonight as Shopify’s representative – find me (I’ll be the guy with the accordion) and we’ll talk.

If you’re looking to find out more about Ruby Job Fair, check out the Ruby Job Fair site as well as my earlier article on the Fair.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Scenes from Today’s Toronto Techie Dim Sum

by Joey deVilla on September 21, 2011

Toronto techie dim sum 1

The return of the Toronto Techie Dim Sum lunch took place earlier today, and it went off even better than I’d hoped! It had been a while since we’ve had one of these events, so I wasn’t expecting a turnout larger than a single table at Sky Dragon (their larger tables will easily accommodate 8 or 9 people), but we ended up being sixteen people in total.

There were a number of dim sum “alumni” who showed up, including Andrew Burke, who wins the Phileas Fogg award for greatest distance travelled to attend — he’s visiting from Halifax. We also had some people who’d never been to one of these events before, including my cousin Saturn, making it an event with not only figurative, but literal family! As always, it was one of those wonderful things that happens when good people meet over good food and make good conversation. I bounced between tables, either meeting people for the first time or catching up with old friend. And it was pretty inexpensive too — it worked out to about eight bucks a person, and we all ate our fill.

Toronto techie dim sum 2

I plan to organize these on a monthly basis, typically in the middle of the week in the middle of the month. Sky Dragon are great people and are only too happy to have our business. They’ll even give us a room all to ourselves if we end up with three or more tables’ worth of people, which I’d love to see in October.

Thanks to everyone who came, and if you couldn’t make it today: see you next month!

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

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BarCamp Seattle

seattle barcamp

This weekend, I’ll be in Seattle for BarCamp as part of the BarCamp tour, a cross-North-America sponsorship put together by five startups: Batchblue, Grasshopper, MailChimp, Wufoo and the company for whom I am representative, Shopify.

BarCamp is an unconference – a gathering that turns the traditional notion of a “conference” upside-down. Rather than the content being determined by its organizers, it’s determined by the attendees. At the start of the conference, any attendee can propose a session topic, and if it’s accepted by the group, that session gets put on the schedule grid and assigned a time slot and a room. Sessions themselves are somewhat different from sessions at a traditional conference: while there’s still roles akin to a “presenter” or “presenters” and an “audience”, the line between the two is considerably more fuzzy. They’re closer in spirit to open discussions rather than lectures.

barcamp-tour-logo

BarCamp Tour are not your typical sponsors. Just as BarCamp is an unconference that turns the notion of a conference upside-down, you might say that we’re “unsponsors” doing the same to what is traditionally viewed as sponsorship. Yes, we provide funding to various BarCamps, but we do something that most sponsors don’t do: we show up and participate. We help out the organizers with everything from putting together parties to helping move furniture and clean up. We take part in the sessions, sometimes as participants in the “audience”, sometimes as “presenters”. While we do promote our companies, it’s not in a hard-sell way, and often, we do it by listening to and learning from the people there – after all, they’re potential customers, partners and even hires.

BarCamp Seattle takes place this weekend on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday June 25th at the Adobe Conference Center in Seattle’s Fremont neighbourhood (801 N 34th Street). Saturday is a full day with check-in starting at 8:00 a.m. and the unconference kicking into full swing at 9:00 a.m.; Sunday is a half day with check-in starting around 8:00 a.m. (emphasis on around; there’s a party on Saturday night) and the unconference resuming at 9:00 a.m..

BarCamp Seattle, like all BarCamps, is free but you need to register. To register, visit BarCamp Seattle’s EventBrite page.

BarCamp New Orleans

barcamp new orleans

My next BarCamp will be BarCamp New Orleans, also known as BarCamp NOLA. I’m rather looking forward to this one for a few reasons:

BarCamp New Orleans takes place on Saturday, July 16th and Sunday, July 17th at the Launch Pad coworking/startup space (643 Magazine Street, Suite 102). Registration on the Saturday is at a very civilized 9:30 a.m. with the unconference getting into full swing at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m.. Sunday is a “Hack Day” with registration at 9:30 a.m., start at 10:00 a.m. and running until 5:00 p.m..

Like all BarCamps, BarCamp New Orleans is free but you need to register. You should register soon – only 76 spaces remain as of this writing!

BarCamp Toronto

barcamp-toronto-anyone

A couple of weeks ago, I put out the call for help in getting together a BarCamp in Accordion City. We haven’t had one in four years and I think it’s about time! The other folks on the BarCamp Tour, most notably Jonathan Kay of Grasshopper who absolutely loves “Toe-RON-toe”, have expressed interest in having one in Canada and are willing to be a sponsor.

A great collection of people have stepped forward and volunteered to help. I’ll be meeting with them online very shortly (I’m in Ottawa for the summer, but I return to Accordion City in the fall) to discuss what happens next, but know this: the first step toward bringing BarCamp back to Toronto has been made.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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Airplane wing

Some of the Shopifolks are travelling this weekend to some interesting events.

rspec::table, a.k.a. The Ruby Job Fair (Friday, May 20th)

Rspectable employment

If you’re in the Toronto area and looking for a job, you might want to drop by rspec::table employment, otherwise known as the Ruby Job Fair. Our friends at Unspace are holding this event, where Rubyists seeking employment can meet with potential employers.

It’s the third such event put together by Unspace, and it’s specifically aimed at those programmers who’ve eschewed more mainstream programming languages and frameworks for the Ruby, Rails and other Ruby-related goodies because, let’s face it, they’re fun. And hey, we believe that if you’re going to spend your working life — half your waking existence — doing something, it had better be fun, don’t you think?

Have you considered developing for Shopify? Think of it: we’re growing start-up that’s actually profitable, and that was before we secured that Series A funding. We’re in the business of helping people sell stuff online, a field whose growth is strong and steady. We’ve got some killer coders in the shop; I feel like the dumbest guy in the room when I’m around them (I’m okay with that — it has its advantages). The perks of working here are great, from the people to the gear and welcome swag to the location — not some soul-draining industrial park, but in Ottawa’s ByWard Market: central, and the liveliest part of town.

If you’d like to get a job with us and in on some of this action, come on down to the Ruby Job Fair this Friday, May 20th at Unspace’s office (342 Queen Street West, Toronto, east of Spadina, above LuluLemon) from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and say hello to the Shopifolk who’ll be there: Brittany, Edward and Julie!

To find out more about the Ruby Job Fair and the after-party, visit the Ruby Job Fair site.

BarCamp Oregon (Friday, May 20th – Saturday, May 21st)

BarCamp Portland logo

Shopify is one of five startups that makes up the BarCamp Tour, a group helping sponsor BarCamps all over North America. Thus far, we’ve been to BarCamp Boston and MinneBar (a Minneapolis-based BarCamp serving all of the state of Minnesota). This weekend, we’ll be at the third BarCamp on the tour: Portland, Oregon, affectionately known to some as Portlandia:

BarCamp Portland is an unconference: a conference whose topics, sessions and schedules are determined by the attendees. On the start of the unconference day, people will propose session topics and set up a schedule, after which the unconferencing will begin. We’re expecting geeks of every sort to show up: not just the hackers, but artists, engineers, hobbyists, writers and poets, jokers and journalists, entrepreneurs, cooks and bakers, people who till the land or help neighbourhoods take shape, and anyone else who likes create.

Shopify, along with our partners on the BarCamp Tour — BatchBlueGrasshopperMailchimp and Wufoo — isn’t your typical event sponsor. Yes, we’re each throwing in money to help BarCamp organizers hold their events, but we’re also there at the conference, actively participating, joining in the discussions, providing food and drinks, and even helping carry stuff or clean up. We’re also there to promote our companies, but not in a hard-sell way — we’re there to meet people who want to use our software and services, have questions and get to know the creative, inventive, ambitious people who attend BarCamps!

I’ll be there, helping out, facilitating sessions, answering questions about Shopify and playing accordion (of course). If you see me, please say hi!

To find out more about BarCamp Portland, visit the BarCamp Portland site.

If you’re interested in finding out more about BarCamps, watch this video, taken at one of the first BarCamps in San Francisco:

This article also appears in the Shopify Blog.

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Edward and Daniel on Open Data

If you’re into Open Data and in the Toronto area on Monday, you’ll want to catch my fellow Shopifolks Edward Ocampo-Gooding and Daniel Beauchamp at TechTalksTO. They’re going to be talking about how you can (and should) write apps that make use of open data — that’s public information that’s been put online in a form that applications that use, crunch and mash up. It’s out there, it’s free, and it’s there for the public good, so get out there and make the most of it!

Here’s the description of the event:

  • Wondering what your next big project should be?
  • Need some ideas for new and innovative features?

Work on something that matters. You’re bright and hungry to sink your teeth into using new tech all the time. Instead of making yet another X, build something for yourself and for your neighbours & city. Do it with open data: public records now online in an easily hackable form.

Edward and Daniel will talk about how making cool and interesting art & tools backed by open data has catapulted Ottawa hackers into the limelight with coverage & support from the City of Ottawa, CBC, newspapers, local radio and TV stations, and a *lot* of citizens. We’ll show you what’s worked for us, what the scene is like and how you can make open data work for you in your city.

Edward Ocampo-Gooding’s awesome titles include Developer Advocate at Shopify (talk to me about APIs and apps) and lead Organizer at Open Data Ottawa (talk to me about APIs and apps). Daniel Beauchamp is a developer at Shopify and one of the core members of Open Data Ottawa. Along with Edward, he has given several talks on open data, and has recently helped organize a hackfest spanning 76 cities worldwide.

Edward and Daniel’s TechTalk takes place this Monday, May 9th from 6:45 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West, just east of Dufferin). Admission is $3.00 (free for students) and if you want to attend, you need to register here.

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Friday Morning Ritual

by Joey deVilla on December 5, 2010

Biking Downtown

View from the eastbound bike lane at University Avenue and College street, with two cyclists ahead

With Accordion City’s rapid transit being quite prone to delay and the distance from my home in High Park to downtown being just over 7 km (about 4.5 miles), biking downtown is often just as quick as taking the subway. Biking has the added benefit of “free” exercise in addition to getting me from point A to point B, hence my tendency to get to the core via two wheels whenever possible and practical.

College Street is a good east/west thoroughfare for bikes. It’s mostly level, many parts of it have a dedicated bike lane, there’s lots to see and some good places to stop by if you have the time, and during the day, it doesn’t get as congested as some of the east/west streets further south.

I shot the photo above at the corner of College and University. The eastbound bike lane on this part of College at the time I took it – around 8:30 a.m. on a Friday – is usually quite full. I was at the head of a pack of bikes, with these two cyclists ahead of me and another half dozen or so clumped behind me. Most of the cyclists appeared to be students or people who worked in places with casual dress codes, although I saw a couple of guys in suits with their right pant legs strapped (so as not to get caught in the gears) and with executive-type leather laptop bags slung over their shoulders.

Greg Wilson’s Nerd Breakfast

A long booth at Fran's diner, with assorted Toronto nerds drinking coffee and conversing

The reason I was biking downtown was to attend Greg Wilson’s weekly nerd breakfast. I first met Greg via email when he was doing some editorial work for Dr. Dobb’s Journal (back when it was still available in dead-tree form) and asked me to write a couple of book reviews, then in person through DemoCamp and various activities he organized when he was one of University of Toronto’s best-loved computer science profs.

He’s since left academia and is working on his own, and that’s why he holds these weekly breakfasts. Escaping the Land of Cubicles and working on your own has many perquisites, but one of the big downsides is the isolation. Greg holds a Friday morning breakfast gathering at Fran’s near Yonge and College as a way of staying in touch with his peers, and it’s become a Friday morning ritual for local nerds both student and professional, indie and corporate.

If you’re a techie local to Toronto and want to catch one of these breakfasts or become a regular, I’m sure Greg wouldn’t mind if you simply dropped by. We’re usually at the back of Fran’s on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15-ish.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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Technologic’s Inaugural Gathering

by Joey deVilla on December 3, 2010

technologic logo

Last night, I helped my friends at Unspace with the inaugural session of Technologic, their new monthly series of gatherings that’s part cocktail party, part mini-conference, part salon (in the sense of bright people getting together informally to share ideas rather than in the hair salon sense).

Unspace's "pinball room", filled with nerdy partygoers.

The event was held at their office, which is located in Toronto’s Queen West, a neighbourhood that mixes boutique-type shops, resto-bar/night club type-places and a number of start-ups and tech consultancies.

Unspace's boardroom, converted into a bar, filled with nerdy partygoers

Unspace have strong ties to the Toronto developer community and a reputation for putting on some of the best indie developer conferences around, having set the bar rather high with RubyFringe and FutureRuby. Technologic is but one of their big plans for the coming year, and these plans are going to make Toronto’s developer scene even more interesting. Better still, they’ve invited me to help out with these events whenever I’m available. Looks like I’m going to be the Microsoft go-to guy at these events, as well as someone you talk with about development, the industry, or whatever else you like.

Unspace's kitchen, with the catering crew preparing food

There were no pizzas, box lunches or other food typical of developer gatherings. They did charge a cover, but it went to good use – they got a catering service to make use of their kitchen (Unspace’s office could easily be converted into a very sweet downtown condo) and crank out some excellent hors d’oeuvres: chili meatballs, chorizo sausage, egg rolls, mushrooms and goat cheese in pastry and my favourite: puff pastry filled with bacon custard. I will have to atone for my dietary sins in the gym this weekend.

Unspace's bullpen, cleared of desks and filled with Technologic attendees

The photos above and below show the Unspace bullpen. Normally it’s packed with desks and bookshelves, but they cleared the room in order to create a makeshift standing-room-only conference space, with a riser at one end of the room functioning as a stage. With the initial drinks and food served, the attendees were herded here so we could start the presentation portion of the evening.

Unspace's bullpen, cleared of desks and filled with Technologic attendees

It started off with a quick intro by Unspace partner and master planner of all events social, Meghann Millard:

Meghann Millard onstage

And with the quick intro out of the way, Reg “raganwald” Braithwaite took to the stage for the first lightning talk.

Reg Braithwaite giving his presentation

Reg’s talk was titled Bullshit, and it was about how many of the popular beliefs held by computer programmers may just be that. Sure, we believe that object-oriented programming makes us more productive than structured programming, but can we actually prove it? Or that you can be more productive or less error-prone or some other superlative in programming language X than programming language Y? Or that pair programming produces benefits other than preventing you from constantly checking your email or idly following Digg/Reddit/Hacker News links?

As you can see in the photo below, taken during Reg’s presentation, the topic gave them considerable food for thought:

Reg Braithwaite's audience, a packed room of nerds, as seen from the stage area

Next up was Unspace partner Pete Forde, who talked about one of Unspace’s current projects, a web application that lets people who make TV shows and films find music for the soundtracks based on criteria like style and mood.

Pete Forde showing off the screens from the music web app

The application makes great use of HTML5 to create a slick yet usable user interface that would’ve been all but impossible in web pages only a little while back.

I got called into my role as “Guy who can kill time onstage while the big presenter sets up” and a couple of jokes and a performance of the Oompa Loompa Service Pack 2 song later, Rails core team/Merb Guy/jQuery core team guy Yehuda Katz took the stage for the big presentation, titled Explaining What You Do.

Yehuda Katz giving his presentation with a slide in the background that reads "Explaining What You Do"

This was a non-technical talk for techies and focused on explaining to laypeople – specifically, the creatives and “suits” with who we work or who are our clients – what it is we do and what the technology we work with does. All too often, we techie types take a techno-snobbish, high-priesthood kind of attitude and expect laypeople to learn about our world, all the while refusing to learn about their work. Yehuda’s talk was about the first step in fixing that relationship and explaining our work to laypeople so that we can work with them better. I certainly hope that it’s not the last time he gives this talk – there are a lot of developers who need to hear this message.

The bar at Technologic

With the presentations done, it was back to the cocktail party / salon aspect of the night, with good food and drink, good conversation and great people to share both with. A number of people asked me for a quick Windows Phone 7 demo, a request that I’m always happy to oblige, and I helped point people with questions about various Microsoft tools and technologies (namely ASP.NET MVC and Azure) in the right direction. It’s also good just to hang out with the folks who make Toronto’s tech scene fun, interesting and motivating.

Kudos to Unspace for putting on a great event! When I find out the details of January’s Technologic, along with the other things that Unspace is planning, I’ll let you know – I’d love to see you there!

Want to Find Out More About Technologic?

technologic site

Check out their site at technologicto.com, and also keep an eye on their Twitter account (@technologicto) as well as their hashtag (#technologicto).

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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