west coast

Visiting Victoria

by Joey deVilla on April 13, 2010

Victoria, Day 1

The day after Damir and I did our EnergizeIT presentation in Kelowna, it was time to go to our next destination, Victoria, by way of Vancouver.

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The Vancouver-to-Victoria flight is so short that you spend almost as much time taxiing as you do in the air. The actual flying time is 15 minutes, while the gate-to-gate time is just under half an hour (if you’ve ever done flown from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, this flight is similar). It’s short enough that it’s done using a Bombardier Dash 8, which is essentially a bus with turboprop engines and wings, right down to the bench-style seat at the back of the plane. If you peek into the seam in the wall behind the last row, you can see the ground crew loading the luggage into the cargo area.

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The Dash 8 has tiny overhead bins; they’re so small that my travel accordion won’t fit in them. This required reversing my normal carry-on approach: my laptop bag went overhead, while the accordion went under the seat in front of me:

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Victoria’s got a nice airport. I wish more airport waiting areas had trees in them:

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The trip from Victoria’s airport to downtown Victoria takes twice as long as the flight in from Vancouver. We were fortunate to get a lift into town from Ron Demedash from the local Microsoft user group. Thanks, Ron!

One of the perks of being a Microsoft employee with a lot of travel in your schedule is that we have a deal with Fairmont hotels. Fairmont buildings are often a nice change from Mies van der Rohe-esque filing-cabinets-in-the-sky, tending to be grand old-school ones like Toronto’s Royal York, Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier, Calgary’s Palliser and Victoria’s Empress, pictured below. Better still, their service is excellent.

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We settled into the hotel, and later that evening, Ron picked us up and took us to rabbit-rich University of Victoria. We did our EnergizeIT presentation – two hours and forty-five minutes of pure actual-working-code-and-infrastructure demo with no slides until the very, very end – in the Engineering and Computer Science building. The room was packed; Ron had to bring in extra chairs to seat people at the back.

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We handed out the usual raffle prizes at the end of the presentation with a special bonus prize provided by Ron: a budget tablet computer, with four built-in apps. The icons on the tablet are easy to read, and the screen is readable even in bright sunlight. To sweeten the deal, we threw in a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate:

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On our way in, we noticed that the elevator featured something that looked like a button labelled “EARTHQUAKE”.

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A quick check confirmed that it was not a button that took you to a penthouse club or restaurant named “Earthquake”, nor was it a button that summoned seismic activity:

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I assume it lights up in the event of an earthquake, which I also assume is a warning to the elevator’s passengers to get out. Does anyone know if such elevators have other built-in safety features, such as stopping on the nearest floor in the event of a quake?

Victoria, Day 2

Damir flew back to Vancouver to do an academic presentation at Douglas College, while I stayed in Victoria to do an academic presentation at Camosun College’s Interurban campus. I didn’t get a picture of my academic audience, but did get a shot of this ad for Camosun later that night in downtown Victoria:

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The academic presentations are part of the EnergizeIT tour – we do them at colleges close to the place where we’re doing the main EnergizeIT sessions. Unlike the main session, where we talk about what’s possible with the Microsoft-based platform, the academic session is all about helping students make the transition to the working world and plan their careers in high-tech. Unlike the main EnergizeIT session, which is a Microsoft-technology-specific “do these things in the right order or the demo doesn’t work” affair for working techies, the academic presentation is conversational, not specific to any tool or technology, and has plenty of room for dialogue with the audience.

The Trip Home

The next day, I went back to Victoria’s airport…

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Back on the Dash 8:

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Here’s the obligatory “art shot”. Propellers are great photo subjects:

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And half an hour later, I was in Vancouver’s airport. (Memo to Toronto’s Pearson airport: would it kill you to offer free wifi?)

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…and a few hours later, I landed back at home.

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Coming up this week: Damir and I hit the road and drive to our EnergizeIT presentations in London and Kitchener.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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