Ottawa Coffee and Code Today (Thursday, November 11) at Bridgehead in the Market

ottawa coffee and code

We’re holding an Ottawa Coffee and Code today – Thursday, November 11th – from 11 a.m. to about 4 p.m. at the Bridgehead Coffee in Byward Market (224 Dalhousie)! Drop by and talk Windows Phone 7 and other Microsoft tech with us!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 2: In Which I Go a Little Whiteboard Crazy

wp7 whiteboardClick the photo to see it at full size.

The “Ask the Experts” (or in French, “Demander aux experts”) area of TechDays Ottawa sports whiteboards that were looking a little too blank for this recovering cartoonist’s tastes. Taking matters into my own hands, I started working on a whiteboard “tapestry”, adding to it during lulls that happened in the conference centre as sessions took place. By 2:45 p.m., the whiteboard was full and the result appears in the photo above – click on it to see it at a larger size.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Scenes from TechDays Ottawa, Part 1

The day started with Rick Claus’s introductory announcements in the breakfast/lunch room…


As attendees lined up to register and get their bags o’ swag:



“And don’t forget to get a look at the new Windows Phone,” said Rick, “except for that one phone I broke.”


“You’ve got ten minutes of breakfast left, and then the session start. Go get those muffins!”


Down the hall, Rob Burke of Infusion locks and loads for his session on Real-World Patterns for Cloud Computing in the “Optimizing the Development Process” track:


And we’re off! Here’s Rob getting off to a good start with his session…


…as the Ottawa crowd settles in to have “some serious cloud science dropped on ‘em”.


Meanwhile, in the “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” track, Colin Melia, Silverlight MVP and the guy behind Ace of Clouds, gives his audience the skinny of getting effective with Silverlight in short order…


…but he’s never to busy to mug for the camera. Nice smile, Colin!


This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


GamerCamp: Toronto November 13 – 14


Gamercamp: Toronto, Saturday November 13 and Sunday, November 14

Gamercamp is the creation of Jaime Woo and Mark Rabo and it’s Toronto’s celebration of videogames and all that they bring with them – not just the fun of gameplay, but also the creativity and art expressed within them, and the people games bring together. Last year brought us Gamercamp 1.0, featuring talks by great game designers and deep thinkers in the field of ludology (that’s a fancy-schmancy word meaning “the study of games and play”) as well as a showcase of the great games that local indie game developers are making. This year’s promises to bring us even more of what we love about videogames.

I’ll be at Gamercamp to talk about game development for Windows, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox 360, and I’m bringing PCs, Windows Phones and Xboxes (possibly event with a Kinect) for you to try. If you’d like to take Windows, Windows Phone or an Xbox for a spin, please say hi! Better still, if you’d like to develop games for Windows, Windows Phone or the Xbox 360, come talk to me! I’d love to help you get started.

What’s Happening at Gamercamp

Gamercamp is packing a full schedule, not just during the day, but with Saturday evening events as well! For the full story, be sure to take a look at the Gamercamp site.

Here’s the day schedule for Gamercamp, with as many details as I could get:

Day 1 @ Toronto Underground Cinema

When What
10:30 a.m. Doors open
11:00 – 11:15 Opening remarks
11:15 – 11:45 In the Studio for Sword and Sorcery EP (The Sword and Sorcery Team)

The creative forces behind the highly-anticipated iPhone/iPad release share the inside stories and philosophies that bring together the artistry, music, and gameplay of Sword & Sorcery.

11:45 – 12:15 p.m. The Depth to Which We Sink (Demo)
12:15 – 12:30 Break
12:30 – 1:00 Zombiedots (Demo)
1:00 – 1:30 Pixelating Scott Pilgrim’s Toronto (Stéphane Boutin, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game)

Stéphane Boutin, a lead 2D artist of the Scott Pilgrim game, shares the experience of transforming Toronto into an 8-bit masterpiece.

1:30 – 2:15 Lunch break
2:15 – 2:45 UDON 10: A Decade of Art, Games and Comics (Jim Zubkavich, UDON, Legends of Zork)

UDON co-founder and project manager Jim Zubkavich reflects on the last decade for the local studio and its unique position creating anime-style art for the Japanese market with companies like Capcom, Konami, and Hasbro.

2:45 – 3:15 CityState (Demo)
3:15 – 3:30 Break
3:30 – 4:00 Dyad (Demo)
4:00 – 4:30

We Are Trapped in the Belly of this Horrible Machine, and the Machine is Bleeding to Death (Matthew Kumar, Edge, Gamasutra, Exp)

The games press is sick and we are all drowning in its churning guts as it sprays infected effluent across the Internet. Join obscure dissident Mathew Kumar as he rallies the crowd into working out if we can construct a blade either sharp enough that we can cut the disease out or at least blunt enough that we can hack our way out into the painful glare of day.

4:30 – 4:45 Closing remarks
5:30 Doors close

Day 2 @ George Brown College School of Design

When What
10:30 a.m. Doors open
11:00 – 11:15 Opening statement
11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 8-bit retro cereal breakfast
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.


  • Stop Writing Adventure Games as Sitcoms
    Daniel Steger, behind Baby Maker Extreme, looks at the use of humor in games and explores the unique ways games can contribute to joke construction.
  • Riding the Creativity Choo-Choo to the Imagination Station
    Michael Todd talks about gameplay, learning, losing, challenge, chaos, control, neural patterns, getting bored, humor, coolness, worlds, speed, love, PR, fans, contests and finishing your game.
  • Set the Fight to Music
    Addresses how music sets the mood for games and also go through my approach to the creative and songwriting process. In short, one can never know what the finished song will sound like because of the variety of random factors in composing. A song may be composed on the spot.
  • Play’s the Thing
    What is play? Why do we need it? From human social development and learning to business, play is more than fun and games. This panel draws on gaming history, culture and design to explore the importance of play as a source of motivation, inspiration and engagement.
12:30 – 1:15


  • How to Make Babies
    Ryan Taylor will explore the phenomenon of fan art, swag, collectables & the tools available for small shops to seed and develop their own products based on games and characters.
  • Trials and Tribulations Developing for the iPhone
    There are an innumerable number of challenges developing games for the iPhone platform including…
    – How do you market your game?
    – Pricing: What should I be charging? Do you charge 0.99 cents,
    $1.99, $2.99 or sell it for free?
    – Support: How do you engage/support your users?
    – Retention: How to keep your users consistently coming back to play your game.
  • Developing Narrative in Comics and Gaming
    Comic books and video games—these two relatively young media have grown out of their infancy and are taking on complex issues, emotions, and ideas. Join us as we discuss the intersection of these media and what they can learn from each other. We’ll also be showcasing a range of interesting mutations that cross the barrier between media.
  • SCUMM-Sucking: Adventures in Educational Gaming
    What do you do when you LOVE building LucasArts and Sierra-style graphic adventure games, but you have to take boring educational service work to pay the bills?
    >Get MONEY.
    >Use MONEY on GAME.
1:15 – 2:45 Lunch break
1:45 – 2:15 Pwnage Presentations
2:45 – 3:30


  • Rebooting IGDA Toronto
    In its more glorious past, Toronto’s chapter of the International Game Developers Association had all corners of the local dev community regularly meet-up, learn together, and even start new partnerships and projects with one another. Today’s chapter still glimmers with some of its former shine, but it’s time for a fresh coat of paint. Join Lesley and members of the chapter committee to discuss the future of the chapter, and give your feedback on how to renew and re-energize the IGDA Toronto for a successful 2011!
  • Designing Puzzles for Goats 
    Miguel Sternberg discusses a psychological approach to puzzle design using examples from popular games, Spooky Squid’s own Guerilla Gardening, and a simple thought experiment involving pet goats.
  • Torontron: Legacy 
    Jph Wacheski will be providing information and details of the process of finding and retrofitting old arcade machines to play new indie games. From hacking the hardware to house the electronics, to wiring up the controls, and modifying software, all question answered.
  • Demand More Design from Your Games
    Shawn McGrath takes a look at design in videogames, board games and other forms of play.
3:45 – 4:30


  • OMDC
  • Indie Free-Flow
  • Chasing the Dragon
    Every game development studio has its challenges, triumphs and failures. As a young industry with few guidelines, it is easy to fall into common trappings. In this talk Nitai Bessette will explore the creative process and the risks and rewards of working in the games industry from one type of studio to the next.
  • Social Gaming Has Nothing to Do with Facebook
    Multiplayer games increasingly exist via the internet and services such as Xbox Live. In this 45-minute-long talk, Toronto indie game designer Benjamin Rivers discusses the importance of “social” games—not Farmville, not Mafia Wars, but games you play in a room with other people. What has changed as these games have moved from shared-space to remote experiences? What can we learn from this, and how can we rediscover real social gaming?
5:00 – 5:15 Closing remarks

Gamercamp will take place on:

  • Saturday, November 13th at Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina, a little bit north of Queen)
  • Sunday, November 14th at George Brown College School of Design (230 Richmond Street East)

Here’s how much it costs to attend:

  • The Gamercamp Festival Pass goes for $30.00 and gets you into the main sessions for Saturday and Sunday.
  • If you’re attending Gamercamp and want a ticket to the 1UP Party (featuring musical acts Anamanaguchi and Starscream), tickets for 1UP are $12.00.
  • If you just want to attend 1UP and not Gamercamp, tickets are $15.00.

To register for Gamercamp, visit the Gamercamp registration page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Speaker Idol Ottawa: Tuesday, November 9th

speaker idol

Speaker Idol takes place tomorrow night at the TechDays Ottawa venue – that’s the Hampton Inn Conference Centre on 100 Coventry Road. It’s a competition where new speakers – that’s right, these are people who aren’t “the usual suspects” who you’d expect to see speak in front of Ottawa’s tech community – get to test themselves against their peers. At stake: Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate and an MSDN Ultimate subscription, which normally retails for about 15 grand.

The Speaker Idol Competitors

Here’s the list of tomorrow night’s competitors and their presentations:

Ahmed Al-Asaad: Entity Framework

You can’t use the Entity framework or any other ORM for your data access layer…No problem. In 10 minutes I will be creating a handy utility to auto generate dataobjects, data access layer (i.e business objects) and CRUD stored procs using the SQLConnection.GetSchema() method.

Daniel Fitzgerald: 10 TSQL Tips in 10 minutes

Jean Sigouin: Take advantage of T-SQL “Common Table Expressions”

“Common Table Expressions” (CTE’s) have been available in SQL Server since version 2005. CTE`s can be leveraged to simplify queries that would otherwise require long stored procedures or scripts in order to achieve the same result. Unfortunately, a good number of DBA’s don’t know they exist or how to take advantage of this extremely useful tool. In this demo, I will de-mystify CTE’s. I will show simple examples of how you can use them to write great queries and solve problems such as:

  • How to build hierarchies using recursive CTE queries
  • How to create data load queries with a “Tally-Table-On-The-Fly” CTE
  • How to use CTE’s as temporary tables
  • How to optimizing query performance with CTE’s.

Wassim Sleiman: Customizing and controlling an MS-Word application using VB.Net

  • Customizing the ribbon (enable/disable menu options)
  • Applying the customization to an MS-Word document
  • Launching MS-Word using VB.Net
  • Loading a document
  • Embedding the MS-Word application within a Windows form using the interop features of the CLR using Platform Invoke (PInvoke)
  • Removing the customization from the MS-Word document

Sylvain Boucher: XNA Basics

I will be creating something from scratch that will fit into the 10 minute allocates slot. At the end we will have a working JezzBall like clone which will be playable from the users perspective. • Polling • Sprite’s and adding them to the project • Loading / Drawing Sprites • Animation • Collision Detection

Charles Wiebe: Help!

I just need to a little push to get started with Web Parts Classes have Properties. (Web Part) Properties are decorated by attributes. Reflection is used to discover the properties and attributes in a Web Part. Let’s explore how these properties and attributes are discovered and used to create simple and standard help documentation for Web Parts. Web Parts are used are used in ASP.NET and SharePoint sites.

Félix Langlois: C# Experimenting with Conditional Compilation

Come and see what you can do with Conditional Compilation. This is a very useful feature.

The event is free to attend and the fun starts on Tuesday, November 9th at 6:30 p.m.. For more details, see the Ottawa Code Camp page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Go DevMental Ottawa–Tuesday Night!


Since TechDays – Microsoft Canada’s cross-country developer and IT pro conference visiting 8 cities across Canada this fall – is a two-day event, we’ve got the venues for the entire 48-hour period, including evenings. Rather than have the session rooms (which are already set up for an audience, complete with A/V and seating) lie fallow, we decided to put them to good use and hold free community events in the evenings. One of these events is Go DevMENTAL, where we show college and university students what they can build using Microsoft’s tools and technologies and give them a lot of free stuff. Tomorrow night, Tuesday November 9th, we’re holding Go DevMENTAL Ottawa at the Hampton Inn Conference Centre (100 Coventry Road)!

Go DevMENTAL is a two-track conference, with one track devoted to web design and development using WebMatrix, Expression Blend and Silverlight, while the other covers mobile development for Windows Phone 7 using Silverlight and XNA. At the end of the evening, we give the students a token for DreamSpark, our program that gives them free Microsoft development tools and operating systems and a DVD full of goodies so they can start coding right away.

If you’re a college or university student and would like to have an informative and entertaining evening where you learn cool new things, get free cool stuff, connect with industry people and get some help with your career, register for Go DevMental!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


CloudCamp Ottawa: Tonight at the Hampton Inn Conference Centre

cloudcamp ottawaCreative Commons Photo by Numan Q.

TechDays, Microsoft’s cross-Canada conference for developers and IT pros, offers its space to tech communities to hold events free of charge when TechDays itself isn’t happening. Last year it was a series of “Camp” style events along the lines of DemoCamp abd FailCamp, and this year, CloudCamp is holding events in all eight TechDays cities on the evening before Day 1 of TechDays. TechDays Ottawa starts tomorrow, which means that CloudCamp Ottawa happens tonight!

It doesn’t matter whether your preferred cloud computing system is Microsoft’s, Amazon’s, Rackspace’s or anyone else’s – CloudCamp is for anyone with an interest in the cloud, regardless of technology stack or vendor.

From the event description:

CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas. With the rapid change occurring in the industry, we need a place where we can meet to share our experiences, challenges and solutions. At CloudCamp, you are encouraged to share your thoughts in several open discussions, as we strive for the advancement of Cloud Computing. End users, IT professionals and vendors are all encouraged to participate.

Here’s the agenda:

When What
5:30 p.m. Registration and refreshments
6:00 Welcome and introductions

Lightning Talks

  • Microsoft Azure by Rick Claus
  • Opportunities and Challenges of Delivering Analytics in the Cloud by Rob Rose
  • Books on the Ground; Data in the Cloud? – Libraries and Privacy in the Cloud by Heather Moulaison, Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa School of Information

“Unpanel” discussion

7:15 Organize breakout sessions

Breakout sessions, round 1

Suggested topics:

  • Intro to cloud computing
  • Comparison of cloud platforms
  • How to build an app in the cloud
  • NoSQL
  • Security in the cloud
8:15 Breakout session, round 2
9:00 Wrap-up
9:15 Where to next?

CloudCamp Ottawa takes place tonight at the Hampton Inn Convention Centre (100 Coventry Road) and admission is free. They’re even providing food!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.