It’s One of the Perks of the Job

View from the bar at Cafe Novo, looking out onto the patio and High Park

The best antidote for a day full of meetings in boardrooms in a suburban office park is to finish it in different surroundings. So when my last meeting on Friday ended with a couple of hours of business day to spare, I made a beeline for one of my favourite “field offices” – Cafe Novo, located across the street from High Park, and a very short walk from home.

The photo above was the view from my “workstation” at 4 p.m. on Friday: the bar facing the roll-up front wall which in turn faces the park. Pictured are the tools of my trade – my trusty Dell Latitude XT2 tablet with the memory maxed out at 5 GB and the so-last-century mechanical hard drive replaced with a solid state one, my favourite portable mouse and an iced mocha.

Working in settings like this is one of the perks of the job.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Windows Phone Workshops

Windows Phone Workshops / FREE full-day workshops on developing app for Windows Phone 7 / Mississauga ON, Wednesday, June 23 / Richmond BC, Friday, June 25

Windows Phone 7 is coming soon, and we’re holding a couple of full-day workshops to show you its underlying architecture, walk you through its development frameworks, show you how to build apps with Visual Studio Express and sell them in the Marketplace, and then hold a codefest – and yes, it’s free-as-in-beer to attend!

We’re holding two of these workshops, which Yours Truly along with Paul Laberge and Jamie Wakeam will be co-hosting:

  • In Mississauga, Ontario (at Microsoft Canada’s headquarters) next Wednesday, June 23rd
  • In Richmond, British Columbia (at the Microsoft Development Centre) next Friday, June 25th

Here’s the agenda:

Time Session
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Check-in, registration and refreshments

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Session 1
– Introducing Windows Phone 7 and the user experience
– Selling your apps in the Marketplace
– The Windows Phone 7 architecture
10:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Session 2
– Building Windows Phone 7 apps with Silverlight

11:15 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Session 3
– Building Windows Phone 7 games with XNA

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 noon Q&A

12:00 noon – 5:00 p.m. Lunch, followed by the Coding Challenge
Bring your laptops, form a team and try your hand at building a Windows Phone 7 app or game in an afternoon!

5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Coding Challenge Results
Teams will present their apps, one will be selected as the Coding Challenge Champ and will a prize, and we’ll wrap up the day.

Want in on these workshops? As I said earlier, they’re free – just click the links below to sign up:

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


HTML5 and RIAs: Friends with Benefits!

Earlier this week, I was asked to make a short video that would be shown during a round table discussion on a hot topic: HTML5 vs. proprietary rich internet app technologies, such as Flash and Silverlight. My video was supposed to take the “RIAs complement HTML” side of the debate, while someone else would produce a video taking the “HTML5 trumps RIAs” side.

My own personal belief is that HTML5 – actually the stack of HTML5, CSS3 and Java/ECMAScript – has closed the interactivity gap between the web and desktop apps and will continue to close it. However, for the time being, there are still cases where HTML5 just can’t cut it – for various reasons, such as performance, browser compatibility or designer-friendliness – and that’s where RIAs shine. Hence I found it rather easy to put together an amusing little video titled HTML5 and RIAs: Friends with Benefits (5:47, YouTube).

I did the production work on Tuesday afternoon and evening using the following tools:

Enjoy the video!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Adobe Photoshop, Literally

An adobe hut functioning as a photo development store

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


GovCamp’s Coming to Toronto: Thursday, June 17th

govcamp toronto

GovCamp in Toronto!

First came GovCamp in Ottawa (May 31st – June 1st), and now GovCamp is coming to Toronto! GovCamp is an “Open Government” or “Goverment 2.0” unconference with these two goals:

  1. For governments to become more open, transparent, participatory, innovative, efficient and effective
  2. For citizens to become more connected to each other around their civic passions in the place they call home

GovCamp Toronto will take place on the evening of Thursday, June 17th and will be an evening where all sorts of people, from private citizens to government officials to representatives of publicly-funded organizations will get together to talk about the intersection of:

  • Government transformation
  • Social networking software
  • Participatory approaches to public engagement
  • Open data
  • Public service renewal

Is GovCamp the sort of thing you should attend? It is if you’re one of the following:

  • A municipal, provincial or federal public servant or a public sector agency employee with an interest in these topics
  • A thought leader looking to share and connect with this community
  • A member of the community of developers, advocates and practitioners in public engagement, government communications, technology, open data, open government or "Gov 2.0"

Who’ll Be There?

Few people know more about setting up “Government 2.0” unconferences than Toronto’s favourite high-tech policy wonk Mark Kuznicki, and we’re very fortunate to have him as GovCamp Toronto’s MC and facilitator. Mark has been behind a number of similar unconferences, including ChangeCamp, TransitCamp and Metronauts.

There will be a number of special guests including:

GovCamp Toronto will be hosted by:

  • Omar Rashid, Public Sector, Microsoft Canada
  • Julia Stowell, Interoperability Lead, Microsoft Canada

Where, When and What’s Happening

appel salon

GovCamp Toronto’s venue is nice and also quite central: the Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street, just north of Bloor).

Here’s the agenda:

5:00 Catered reception
6:00 Welcome
6:10 Opening remarks (David Eaves)
6:25 Discussion hosts introduce topics
7:00 Small group discussions and demonstrations
8:30 Closing wrap discussion
9:00 Catered reception

There are a number of ways to participate:

  • You can host a conversation. The conversations at GovCamp Toronto are created by you. We are looking for up to 20 hosts to help convene small group conversations on a variety of topics related to our theme. If you’ve got an idea for a conversation topic, propose one using the online form.
  • You can demo your web or mobile application. We’re looking for up to 6 web or mobile app demos that show the value of open public data, demonstrate what is possible in open government, or demonstrate real world application of social tools inside government. If you’ve built such an app, propose a demo using the online form.
  • You can join the conversation. You can either:

Find Out More About GovCamp

There’s lot of information, ideas and reportage from the recent GovCamp in Ottawa at the GovCamp site – be sure to check it out!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Kick-It: Buy Windows Server, Donate to a Good Cause

Kick-It / Right to Play / Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest version of Windows Server, which runs all sorts of goodies from ASP.NET/ASP.NET MVC, SharePoint, Exchange and SQL Server, as well as PHP.

Right to Play is an organization whose goal is to improve the lives of children in some of the world’s poorest areas by using sports and play to promote development, health and peace. logo Microsoft and Right to Play have put together a special offer for Windows Server 2008 R2 called Kick-It, named for this summer, the “Summer of Soccer”. If you purchase Windows Server 2008 R2 through a hosting provider, and Microsoft will make a donation to Right to Play. Here in Canada, the participating hosting provider is

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Betty White, Jedi Master

This image actually had me rolling out of my chair laughing. Click it to see it at full size:

Betty White, in a forest wielding dual lightsabers, as the spirits of Rue Mclanahan, Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty in Jedi Master garb, look on, a la "Return of the Jedi"

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