“Get Excited and Make Things”

As a Developer Evangelist, it’s my job to make sure that programmers are inspired to build software. In the pursuit of that goal, I’ve the picture below as the last slide in my presentations at TechDays and Career Demo Camp. I’ve had a number of requests for the image, so I’m sharing it below:

Poster: "Get Excited and Make Things"Click the image to see it at full size.

The poster is Matt Jones’ reworking of this poster issued by the British government during World War II during “The Blitz”:

Keep calm and carry onClick the image to see it at full size.

Enjoy the pictures and remember: Get excited and make things!

(And if you do make things, let me know! I’d love to feature you and your work in this blog.)

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


More Photos and Videos from the Road Trip

The Ford Flex

Here’s the Ford Flex that we drove to TechDays Montreal, parked in front of my building:

05 ford flex front

Here’s the interior, as seen from the front passenger-side door:

04 ford flex cockpit

Here’s the back of the Flex, with Damir applying (non-permanent) Bing and Windows 7 stickers to the windows:

01 ford flex rear

Here’s the magnetic bumper sticker we affixed to the back of the Flex:

03 ford flex bumper sticker 2

Here’s the Sync console:

06 sync console

We have lift-off! Here’s Damir getting us out to the open road:

07 damir driving

The open road at last!

08 open road

Little Boxes

Here’s a video featuring some pre-fab houses being moved on the highway to their final destination. It inspires a quick discussion about how we might want to travel down to the TechEd 2010 conference in New Orleans:

Big Apple Videos

Here I am, marvelling at the Big Apple’s pie selection, while looking for people to show Bing in action (I was using a Rogers stick for internet access, which worked quite well).

I was wearing my Crazy Go Nuts University (a.k.a. Queen’s University) Science ‘91 jacket while in the restaurant, which a guy in the corner noticed. He turned out to be from the class of Science ‘90 and had never heard of Bing. I walked him through a couple of demos and he was impressed — “I need to show this to my IT guys!” he exclaimed.

Here’s another video – it’s got me and Damir enjoying the Big Apple’s pie and how “cutting the cheese” onstage at a tech conference can have serious (ahem) blowback:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Demo Night in Canada: Wednesday December 9 in Ottawa

demo night in canada

Demo Night in Canada

The “DemoCamp”-style event happening in Ottawa next week (which coincides with TechDays Ottawa) has an official name: Demo Night in Canada! It’ll take place in the Hampton Inn Conference Centre (200 Coventry Road, Ottawa ON)  on Wednesday, December 9th at 7:00 p.m..

Demo Night in Canada is a free-as-in-beer event where the bright lights of the Ottawa tech scene can talk about their favourite technologies and tools or about one of their development projects. It’s also an opportunity for techies in the Ottawa area to meet other members of the community, network, make friends and even strike up a collaboration. It’s all up to you!

The presentations at Demo Night in Canada will be:

  1. Scott Lake (SWIX and ThinkSM): The first ever public demo of his new social media metrics app.
  2. Jean-Rene Roy (Technologies SoftDesign Inc.): Microsoft’s Sync Framework.
  3. Scott Annan (Mercury Grove) Techdrifter, a never-before-demo’ed co-worker discovery tool.
  4. Charles Wiebe (TrackerRealm) and John Hansen (Jetfire): "This is My Language", which will showcase Dynamic Language Runtime.
  5. Ivan Paramonau (Itteco) Itteco Development Platform.
  6. Joël Hébert (Opulent ASP Development) The Boo Programming Language.
  7. Islam Gommaa: Implementing ISO 27001 .
  8. Mark Stephenson and Kareem Sultan: UnRealDecoy Bot Challenge

Registration for Demo Night in Canada is FREE! All you have to do is sign up at the registration page.

Apres-Demo Night Celebration

scoble_and_accordion_guyGeeks! Beer! Whoo!

After Demo Night in Canada wraps up, everyone attending is invited to the Startup Ottawa holiday party, which will happen in a to-be-determined location somewhere in the Byward Market. There’ll be much merriment and perhaps a pint or two tossed back in celebration.

Want to attend Demo Night in Canada? Click here to register – registration is free!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Road Trip Video #2: Damir Picks Me Up

In this second video of our Ford Flex road trip from Toronto to Montreal, Damir arrives at my place to pick me up:

(In case you missed the first video, you can watch it here.)

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Road Trip Video #1: The Boss Reluctantly Hands Over the Keys to the Ford Flex

In case you didn’t see yesterday’s blog entries, we spent most of yesterday on a little road trip from Toronto to Montreal. We took nine hours making a journey that normally takes about five, but that’s because we made a number of stops along the way, demonstrating Bing to random passers-by and trying out the Sync technology in a Flex that was lent to us by Ford Canada.

Here are links to yesterday’s blog entries in case you missed them:

I did a lot of tweeting from the road as well – go check out what I wrote on my @AccordionGuy twitter page.

Upstream bandwidth wasn’t quite so hot on the road, so it wasn’t possible to post videos yesterday. So I’ll be posting yesterday’s video today.

The Hand-Off

Here’s our boss, John Oxley, Director of Audience Marketing, at Microsoft Canada Headquarters in Mississauga (just outside Toronto), handing the keys to the Ford Flex to Damir with much apprehension:

In the video, John says:

It’s Monday morning and our good friends at Ford Canada and Bing have sponsored my team to go out and highlight technology innovation changes and the impact they’ve had – with Ford Flex, location-based software and Bing – across the country.

I’m about to give this brand new Ford Flex to Joey deVilla and Damir Bersinic to go from here to TechDays in Montreal, to do Coffee and Codes, show it along the way to developers, IT pros and anyone who wants to come by and see how technology has changed.

I’m really excited about the possibilities [but] I’m a little hesitant about giving away the keys to a car…especially to Joey and Damir. But you’ve got to trust your team, and I trust the impact they can have.

You’ll tell me three or four days from now whether this was a good decision or whether it was a lesson that I learned.

Was letting us take a brand new car on a road trip a good idea or a bad one? Let us know in the comments, or email the boss-man directly at

(Please tell him it was a good idea.)

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Road Trip Diary, Part 5: Avril Lavigne’s Hometown and My Alma Mater

Avril Lavigne’s Hometown

Tim Hortons' "Always Fresh" "Drive Thru" signs

While on the road, we sent out a tweet asking anyone who was near the route we were taking to Montreal if they’d like to catch up with us. We got a message back from our friend Todd Lamothe (who’ll be presenting at TechDays Ottawa next week), who works in Avril Lavigne’s hometown, Napanee, so we decided to catch up with him at the nearby Tim Hortons. What Canadian roadtrip doesn’t include a visit to this venerable Canadian institution?

My laptop on a table at Tim Hortons Checking the Twitter action with Seesmic while enjoying a chicken salad sandwich.

We’re taking the Ford Flex back to Toronto using the same route on Friday – Highway 401 westbound from Montreal to Toronto – so if you’re somewhere on the route and would like to join us for coffee, lunch, an accordion performance, whatever – let me know, either via email or the comments, and we’ll make arrangements!

Tim Hortons sign

The Sync has been terribly handy on the trip, functioning as phone dialer, GPS, entertainment system and ever-so-handy, rear-bumper-saving rear-view camera:

"Reverse" camera view from the Ford Flex's Sync monitor

My Alma Mater

A stone’s throw east of Napanee is Kingston, home to my alma mater, Crazy Go Nuts University (a.k.a. Queen’s University). After demonstrating Bing to a couple of students at the John Deutsch University Centre – guys from Science ‘12, who were surprised to see a guy in a Science ‘91 jacket – we made our way to Goodwin Hall, the home of the School of Computing.

I couldn’t visit without getting a shot of me beside the entrance to my former home-away-from home:

Me and my laptop, posing beside the sign at the entrance of Goodwin HallNote the Clark Hall Pub logo sketched in chalk, just right of me.
I probably spent as much time there as I did at Goodwin Hall.

When I graduated in 1994, the options for departing undergraduates were considerably more limited than they are today. Most of the jobs seemed to centre around banking or insurance. Wanting to do something that was equal parts techie and creative, I opted for something a little more creative and joined Mackerel, a multimedia company that made interactive apps for floppies and CD-ROM instead.

So when I entered Goodwin Hall and saw the poster below, I exclaimed “Why, oh why wasn’t this program available when I went here?”

"Computing and the Creative Arts": poster promoting course offered jointly by the School of Computing and various arts departments

We were there to make the first steps in getting both Microsoft and Yours Truly back in touch with the Queen’s School of Computing. A quick glance at the staff list turned out to be very surprising: a lot of the professors who taught me were still there!

This was an unplanned spontaneous thing: I made a mental notes of the professors I new and their office numbers and visited each one. It was pretty late in the afternoon and I was lucky to find two.

The first was Dr. Michael Levison, who ran the department in my final year at Crazy Go Nuts University, when I was president of the Departmental Student Council for Computer Science, whose role was to represent the students in meetings with the faculty. Dr. Levison was responsible for a number of important changes in the department’s direction and one of the department’s most trusted advisors. Of the many things I learned from him, I consider the two most important were:

  • That technology should work in the service of people, and not vice versa
  • The best teachers are great storytellers

Dr. Michael Levison and Joey deVillaDr. Michael Levison and me.

The other professor was Dr. Robin Dawes, who taught a number of courses that I took – I’m sure a good chunk of what I know about data structures is his doing – and who also dispensed some very good advice to me as both an individual student and as a student representative. Dr. Dawes has always been a favourite with the students thanks to his breezy lecturing style and his penchant for magic tricks, including the show-stopping “flaming wallet trick”.

Dr. Robin Dawes and Joey deVillaDr. Robin Dawes and me.

When I left their offices, I made sure to say “Thank you…for everything.” The lessons I learned from them about technology, its relation to people and the art of teaching technology have served me very well over the past fifteen years. I am forever in their debt.

I’d like to give back to the school that gave me so much (and yes, I send them a cheque every year already). I’d like to drop by next semester and talk to the students about my experiences as a programmer and tech evangelist, make myself available to them as an “industry resource” and reassure them that even a perma-student like myself can make good in the real world. I’d also love to grab a pint or two at good ol’ Clark Hall Pub.

I’m glad we drove to Montreal rather than flew – otherwise, I wouldn’t have had this chance to catch up with my profs!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.