Stack Overflow DevDays Toronto


On Friday, the Stack Overflow DevDays travelling conference, which covers ten cities in North America and Europe in a month, took place in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. The sold-out conference was packed enthusiastic developers from both the Toronto area as well as cities within driving distance as well as a large number of volunteers (in fact, there were too many; the conference typically “overbooks volunteers in anticipation of a drop-off, but every volunteer who signed up showed up!).

It was a fun conference, and I was honoured to be selected as a speaker for the event. It was good meeting Joel again (it’s been a number of years now) and speaking on the same stage with some good local friends (Reg Braithwaite and Greg Wilson) as well as some new ones (Jordan Baker and Ralph Whitbeck).

At the end of the conference, Joel took a show of hands of people who’d attend next year. When nearly all the hands in the audience went up, he said “All right – we’re going to be back here next year!”


For the benefit of all, I’ve posted the slides from all the presentations below:

ASP.NET MVC: Barry Gervin and Joey deVilla

Our presentation followed Joel’s opening keynote and was centred around a live-coding demo in which we built a quick-and-dirty ASP.NET MVC-based clone of, a site that lets you know at what times you can take a bathroom break from a movie in a theatre and not miss any crucial plot points.

I’ll admit it right now: this presentation could’ve been much better, and as the one who gets paid to promote Microsoft’s tools and technologies, I assume full responsibility for this one (Barry’s a great presenter who volunteered and took time out of his extremely busy schedule to do this). Watch this space for a "lessons learned" post, as well as some ASP.NET MVC posts that take the material from the presentation and explain it a little better.

Python: Jordan Baker


Jordan’s presentation was an introduction to Python by way of a walk-through of Peter Norvig’s How to Write a Spelling Corrector exercise, which comprises 21 lines of Python 2.5 but in those few lines, covers a lot of the Python programming language.

View more documents from hexsprite.

jQuery: Ralph Whitbeck


Ralph’s presentation was a walk-through of jQuery’s features, and how it will make your web applications sing. I need to get more familiar with jQuery (I’m far more acquainted with Prototype and Scriptaculous), so Ralph’s was the technology demo that was the most useful to me.

Academic: Greg Wilson


By my own judgement, as well as the judgement of the attendees, Greg Wilson’s presentation was by far the best one of the day. This was sole no-code-at-all presentation of the day, featuring the sort of "let’s change the world" vibe that we strive for at DemoCamp. In it, Greg challenged us to weed out the false or faulty maxims based on poor or no research that are now an accepted part of programming practices, find out what we really know about the practice of software development, and do our best to expand what we do know about programming, with research and rigor, not anecdotes and assumptions. This presentation got a lot of applause, and deservedly so — there’s nothing like a great topic delivered by a great presenter.

View more presentations from Greg Wilson.

Ruby: Reg Braithwaite


Reg Braithwaite’s talk — made up of slides consisting entirely of Ruby code (or Ruby pseudocode, where appropriate) — wasn’t so much about Ruby as it was about metaprogramming, with Ruby examples. Following the quip about a man (one account says it was Winston Churchill) who is chastised by a woman for being drunk who then retorts "Yes, but in the morning, I will be sober and you will still be ugly", he encouraged the audience to "turn ugly problems into drunk ones".

Other Writeups

There are a couple of review of the conference:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


27 Takes on Windows 7

27 on 7

If you’ve got customers wondering if they should upgrade from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 and are looking for testimonials, go to Gizmodo’s article, 27 Takes on Windows 7. It features quotes from 27 reviews of Windows 7, which include the following seven:

  • CNET
    "Windows 7 presents a stable platform that can compete comfortably with OS X, while reassuring the world that Microsoft can still turn out a strong, useful operating system."
  • PC Mag
    "It’s far and away the best OS we’ve ever seen from Microsoft."
  • Guardian
    "Windows 7 is simply the best version of Windows you can get."
  • Slate
    "Indeed, the new Windows is not only the best operating system that Microsoft has ever produced. It is arguably the fastest, most intuitive, and most useful consumer desktop OS on the market today."
  • PC Pro UK
    "We like Windows 7 a lot – so much so, that the disappointment that was Windows Vista has already become a distant memory…"
  • Wall Street Journal
    "I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced."
  • bit-tech
    "For want of a better way of describing it, Microsoft has essentially fixed Vista and the result is arguably Microsoft’s best operating system to date."

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Mississauga SharePoint User Group Inaugural Meeting – Monday, October 26th


You can learn about learn about SharePoint 2010 – the upcoming version of Microsoft’s enterprise information portal platform — at the inaugural meeting of the Mississauga SharePoint User Group taking place this Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Microsoft’s Mississauga office. Rob Windsor from ObjectSharp will lead a session covering SharePoint 2010 with a particular focus on what’s new for developers. You’ll learn about the new designers, explorers and templates and overall developer experience. You’ll also see what’s new for your users, including the new ribbon interface, in-place editing and the new page and dialog interface model.

Many details surrounding Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 were announced at last week’s Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. One of SharePoint 2010’s top investments is user experience, from the ribbon UI, which allows users to easily add, modify and interact with content on the site, to mobile device support to its true multilingual user interface. Once you have the language packs installed and you set the appropriate languages on the sites, users will be able to interact with SharePoint in the language of their choice. To find out more, check out Steve Ballmer’s keynote at the Sharepoint conference.


The meeting takes place on Monday, September 26th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Microsoft Mississauga office (1950 Meadowvale Boulevard, at Mississauga Road, just north of the 401). Register for the event – it’s free!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows 7: Even Linus Approves!

Here’s Linux creator Linus Torvalds, taking a break from the Japan Linux Symposium to pose at a store where Windows 7 was on sale:

linus torvalds and windows 7

[Thanks to Stefan Arentz for pointing me to the picture!]

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Burger King’s Windows 7 Whopper

To celebrate the release of Windows 7, Japanese Burger King franchises are offering a Windows 7 Whopper with 7 patties, selling for 777 Yen (CAD$8.92 as of this writing), available only for the next 7 days. I have no idea why they’re not doing this on this side of the Pacific; I’m sure it would be a big hit:


According to Julie from ObjectSharp, the Japanese text after “13cm” says “American-size buns”.

[Thanks to Ian Irving for pointing this to me!]

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Me and Steve B.

I bought a fuzzy “Cat in the Hat”-style raver hat with a Canadian flag pattern on a whim earlier this year, thinking that I’d probably find a pretty good use for it some day. That day, it turns out, was yesterday, where I turned it into what I believe was yesterday’s only Steve Ballmer photo-op with a non-management Microsoft Canada employee:

Joey deVilla and Steve Ballmer, wearing Joey's Canadian flag raver hatPhoto by Barnaby Jeans.

Yesterday was a busy day at the Harbour Castle Convention Centre, where we had an all-day Steve Ballmer-rama. In the morning, Steve keynoted an event showcasing Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010 for the media, key customers and partners. This was followed by an employees-only “town hall” where Steve did a short presentation followed by a Q&A session. On a whim similar to the one that led me to buy it, I took the hat (along with the accordion) along with me.

Following a suggestion from my co-worker Damir, I arrived very early for the town hall, grabbed a seat by the stage and donned the hat. When Steve made his appearance, he did so in classic Ballmer style, running and whooping, high-fiving people as he made his way to the stage. As soon as he saw me, he yelled “Hey!”, put the hat on and posed with me for the photo above.

I’d made a decent splash at Microsoft in my first year, and I’d been wondering if I could match it in my second, which began on Monday. This isn’t a bad start.

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


Tonight on “The Hour”: Steve Ballmer and Snoop Dogg


Fo’shizzle my Ballizle: on tonight’s episode of CBC’s news show The Hour, “Strombo”’s interviewing an unlikely pair: the CEO of the company for whom I work, Steve Ballmer, and Snoop Dogg. Alas, they’re taping the segments separately, so there’s no chance of Ballmer and Snoop doing a rap duet called Win and Juice.

The Hour airs on CBC tonight at 11 p.m. Eastern.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.