Shopify’s Toronto Job Openings (PR Manager and Social Media Manager) and Some Insider’s Hints on How to Land Those Jobs

This company:

top ecommerce solution matrix

They’re looking for a couple of good people to fill a couple of job positions:

in this city:

Here’s one of the positions…

shopify pr manager
There are more details about the PR Manager position on Shopify’s “jobs” site, but here’s the general gist:

  • The ideal candidate is probably doing one of the following in his/her current job:
    • Managing PR, communications, or media at a tech company.
    • Working at a PR firm, primarliy with tech clients.
    • Journalism, with a fair bit of media outreach.
  • To do well in this job, you have to have a solid understanding of, and at least a few contacts in, tech and business media. This job is about putting Shopify’s best foot forward on TV (think tech business news segments on cable news), national newspapers with a tech business bent (think New York Times and the Wall Street Journal), national magazines with a focus on tech, business, and entrepreneurship (think Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Inc.), and tech-meets-business sites (think Mashable, TechCrunch, The Next Web).
  • Whoever gets this job will effectively be a one-person PR firm, doing all sorts of things from planning global PR campaigns to doing media relations to creating supporting promotional materials to working with the product team to measuring the impact of various PR initiatives.

…and here’s the other one:

shopify social media manager
There are more details about the Social Media Manager position on Shopify’s “jobs” site, but I can sum it up for you:

  • The ideal candidate should have:
    • A solid grasp of how social media works, and how it can be used to get more people open Shopify shops, make Shopify shopowners happy, and boost Shopify’s online reputation.
    • A presence on the “usual suspects” of social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter at the very least, with Google+ and Pinterest as nice-to-haves. It’ll help if you have a decent Klout score, say like mine.
    • Enough graphic arts skill to create images to be used in social media campaigns.
  • The major goals of this position is to make more Shopify users, and to keep the existing Shopify users happy — all through social media. Doing this will also require measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns.
  • Whoever gets this job will effectively be a one-person social media machine, doing all sorts of things from planning global social media campaigns to maintaining Shopify’s presence on various social media platforms to actively monitoring social media channels for mentions of Shopify and responding when necessary, and building trust.

At Shopify, they equip everyone with a nice set of really cool gear to get their work done:

The picture above shows the gear that was waiting for me at my desk on my first day at the job. I’m sure they’ve updated what comes as “Shopify standard issue”, and I’m sure it’s fantastic.

…and you get to work in a fun, stimulating environment instead of a joyless, soul-killing, joyless cubicle farm…

These are all photos of the mothership in Ottawa, but they’ve gone to great lengths to make the Toronto office a great place to work as well. Much of the credit goes to Chief Culture Officer Daniel Weinand, whose job is to keep Shopify feeling like a fun place, even as it grows from scrappy startup into established middle-sized company.

shopify environment 1
shopify environment 2
shopify environment 3

Better still, you’ll be working in an industry that’s only getting started, and growing like gangbusters!

ecommerce growth
Ecommerce used to be a nichey “early adopter” sort of thing, but not anymore! It’s harder and harder to find someone who hasn’t ordered something online, and with ecommerce growing at twice the rate of regular bricks-and-mortar retail and still less than 10% of all retail (that’s still something on the order of $50 billion every quarter).

Does this sound like the kind of place where you’d like to work?

kirk and bones agree

So how can you get yourself one of these jobs?

You’re going to have to do more than just fill out the application form and submit a resume. Having a resume puts you in the not-so-elite group known as “everybody”:


Shopify sets itself apart, and you’re going to have to do the same:

One successful applicant created a Shopify shop as his application, “selling” himself and also proving that he understood the product:

mike freeman
Hint, hint: If you’re applying for the PR Manager position, perhaps you should put together a press kit about yourself. If you’re applying for the Social Media Manager position, perhaps you might want to start a social media campaign to explain why you’re the best candidate. You might want to make use of this hashtag:

i want to work at shopify

Do you know who Shopify’s competition are? You might want to look that up.

Hint, hint: There’s a graphic near the beginning of the article that might help!

“Draw the fucking owl” is a mantra at Shopify. If you’re applying to work there, make sure you’ve internalized the comic below, and be ready to explain how you’d draw the owl if you landed the job:

how to draw an owl

Make sure you touch base with Mark Hayes, marketing and PR guy at Shopify, and tell him Joey sent you.

He’s and @allsop8184 on Twitter. Try and strike a balance between being creative in how reach out to him and not wasting his time!

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


Music Hack Day is Coming to Toronto – August 10th and 11th!

music hack day

Music Hack Day is coming to Toronto on Saturday, August 10th and Sunday, August 11th! An event that’s taken place in many cities all over the world, Music Hack Day is when people with different skills and talents — programmers, musicians, designers and artists, to name a few — get together to brainstorm and quickly build prototypes of interesting musical creations. It’s happening here, and it’s free!

Here’s what their registration site says:

Music Hack Day is a hacking session in which participants will conceptualize, create and present their projects. Music + software + mobile + hardware + art + the web. Anything goes as long as it’s music related.

This is the first time that Music Hack Day has come to Toronto! We’re calling on all programmers, designers and artists to come and help us build the future of music.

Music Hack Day has been a great way to demonstrate the creativity around music that comes from the tech community, fostering cross-platform and cross-device innovation.

What’s It Like?

Music Hack Day is whatever the participants (everyone who attends is a participant — there are no spectators) make it out to be. The best way to get a feel for what it’s like is to look at some past Music Hack Days in other cities.

music hack day london

Creative Commons photo by Thomas Bonte. Click to see the source.

Music Hack Day London took place in their Facebook office in November 2012. Some of the goodies that were created in the 24 allotted hours were:

music hack day stockholm

Creative Commons photo by Duncan Geere. Click to see the source.

Music Hack Day Stockholm happened in January. Here are a couple of interesting projects from that event:

  • Super Mutroid: A Metroid-themed platform-jumper videogame that generates levels based on the music you give it; you jump over and duck under obstacles to the beat.
  • The Sampler Formerly Known as Magnum Infinity takes a folder of MP3s, looks for samples with a reasonably pure pitch and assembles those samples into a musical instrument.
  • Joggify is a mobile exercise music app that plays music at regular speed while you keep jogging, but slows it down as you slow down and slack off. Stop jogging, and the music stops completely.

music hack day reykjavik

Creative Commons photo by “grossvogel”. Click to see the source.

Music Hack Day Reykjavik gave the world:

Here are some goodies from Music Hack Day Boston:

Specklesounds is a sound generator based on Specklesense hardware.

bohemian rhapsichord
Bohemian Rhapsichord takes snippets from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and turns them into a full-screen sample playing instrument. Get your hands on a big-ass toucscreen start jamming!

And then there’s Drinkify. Tell it what you’re listening to, and it’ll suggest a cocktail.

There’s been at least one Music Hack Day project that became a full-on commercially-available product: Arpeggionome!

Okay, I’m Sold. What’s Up with Music Hack Day Toronto?


Music Hack Day Toronto is being put together by Toronto Ruby development shop (and excellent putter-together of amazing conferences) Unspace, along with Soundcloud, Rdio and The Echo Nest. It’ll take place at the Glass Factory, located at 99 Sudbury Street (nearest major intersection is Queen and Dufferin).

Here’s the official description of the event, taken from their “About” page:


  • To fast prototype and create brand new music apps (web, mobile or physical) in just24hrs.
  • To bring together the music industry and the developer community.
  • To highlight and showcase the platforms and API’s of companies working in and around music tech.
  • To foster cross-platform and cross-device innovation.


  • Taken place in 17 cities in different countries: London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Boston, San Francisco, Stockholm, Barcelona, Cannes, New York City, Denver, Philadelphia, Paris, Vienna, Reykjavík, Edinburgh, Sydney & Montreal.
  • Over 1.200 people taken part including developers and invited members of press/music industry.
  • Over 60 companies officially involved and associated with Music Hack Day.
  • Over 200 apps built during Music Hack Days, some of them launched commercially.

music hack day apis

The sponsors and API providers for the event are:

  • Soundcloud: Online audio hosting and distribution.
  • Rdio: Music streaming service with a big-ass linrary.
  • The Echo Nest: A powerful music search engine that lets you search for songs by artist, similar artist, who’s hot, tempo, key and lots of other criteria.
  • Semantria: Text analytics and sentiment analysis. If you didn’t know that the Kinks’ song Lola was a bout a dude (I’ve met such people), Senatria will tell you.
  • GigaTools: An API for search for who’s having a live gig, where, and when.
  • LyricFind: A song lyrics search engine, powered by a lot of agreements with music publishers.

I Can’t Make This Event, But You Should Go!

An event like this — one that mixes music, technology, and the chance to hang out with old and new friends — has my name written all over it, but alas, I’m going to be out of town. I may be missing out, but that means you shouldn’t. If you’ve been dying to work on a music+tech project, go sign up for Music Hack Day Toronto! And once again, it’s free-as-in-beer!

click here to register

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


Practice Makes Perfect: Learning to Code by Building 180 Web Applications in 180 Days

there is no try

Jennifer Dewalt is on a mission: to learn to how to code. She’s doing it by building a web application and then posting it online, every day, over 180 days. Day 1 was on April 1st this year, and on that day, her assignment was to make the home page for her learn-to-code project. Since then, she’s gone on to make web applications of increasing complexity, from a dice game (day 12) to Pong (day 47) to a weather app (day 49) to a commenting system (day 75) to an animated terms of service (day 99) to a game where you get to shoot flying strips of bacon (day 115).

She could’ve signed up for a course or “boot camp” — there are no shortage of these things in San Francisco, where she’s based — but she instead to Yoda’s advice to “do, or do not”. She made sure that she’d set aside enough money to live on while teaching herself programming full-time, then set out to create a small web application every day, using each assignment as an opportunity to learn something new. She set the following rules for herself:

  1. Build a different website every day for 180 consecutive days.
  2. Every website must be accompanied by a blog post.
  3. Any code I write must be made publicly available on GitHub (open source) so that everyone can see it.

Her project recently became one of the most-discussed topics on Hacker News for the week. In the discussion, Derek “CD Baby” Sivers posted this comment:

There’s this great story from the book “Art and Fear”, that’s very appropriate here:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.

All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: 50 pounds of pots rated an “A”, 40 pounds a “B”, and so on.

Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.

It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work-and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Advance congratulations to Jennifer. This is amazing.

Simply put, Jennifer’s taking the old adage, “practice makes perfect”, and putting it into practice. I think it’s time to borrow a trick from her book.


Damian Conway Returns to Toronto – Tuesday, August 6th at Mozilla, and Thursday, August 8th at U of T

damian conway in toronto

He’s back! Damian Conway, Perl’s answer to Steve Irwin (Australian, engaging presenter, doer of things you probably shouldn’t do), is coming back to Toronto to stretch your understanding of programming by pushing its paradigms to ridiculous lengths while entertaining you at the same time with talks that are:

  • One-third deep programming talk,
  • One-third showmanship, and
  • One-third eating a Guatemalan Insanity Pepper and tripping balls in a fever dream.

Whether he’s taking about the goodies that are (someday) going into Perl 6 (the Duke Nukem Forever of programming languages) or how quantum superpositioning can find its way into everyday programming tasks, he’s always got something interesting to say, and he’s often left me with a whole new way of looking at code. It doesn’t matter whether you use Perl or not — I’ve made a career out of keeping as far away from it as possible — if you’re into programming, Damian’s presentations are for you!

Damian demonstrates Aikido on a brave and handsome volunteer (me) at one of his talks.

He’s got two talks taking place in Toronto in early August…

Fun With Dead Languages

  • When: Tuesday, August 6th at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:45)
  • Where: Mozilla’s Toronto offices — 366 Adelaide Street West (just east of Spadina), suite 500
  • How much?: Free!

Here’s the abstract:

Watch in mesmerized terror as Damian hacks code in several unrelated programming languages (none of them Perl). Along the way, you’ll also discover what’s wrong with modern CS education, why programmers shouldn’t frequent casinos, the power of Thor’s Law, the language of moisture vaporators, C++ mysticism, how to use the three shells, state machines on steroids, programming without variables or subroutines, a cheap and eco-friendly alternative for distributed persistent computation, what the Romans used instead of braces, the ancient probabilistic wisdom of bodkins, and the price of fish.

I’m told that this is going to be a really off-the-wall talk — completely inspired, completely insane. It’s an updated version of a talk he gave here seven years ago (and it was great) in which he takes the audience on a grand tour of all sorts of programming languages, while bunny-hopping back and forth over the fineline between genius and bat-shit insanity. No matter what language you prefer, you’re going to love this talk.

A Few of My Favourite Things / Sex and Violence: Social and Technical Lessons from the Perl 6 Project

  • When: Thursday, August 8th at 7:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:45)
  • Where: Bahen Centre for IT, University of Toronto, 40 St. George Street (just north of College), room BA-1160
  • How much?: Free!

Two talks! Here’s the abstract for the first:

Up-scoping context, the lexical-hints hash,
Padwalking my vars, programmable fail cache,
Subpattern regexes matching source strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

User-definable keyword conversions,
Perl Parsing Interface, table inversions,
Tools that make Perl even more amazing
These are a few of my favorite things

When the bug bites,
When syntax stings,
When I’m being bad:
I simply deploy all my favorite things
Then I can write code that’s mad.

And here’s the abstract for the second:

In June 2000, Larry Wall announced a new four-month Open Source development effort: the reinvention of Perl. In this keynote, Damian Conway will unfold the twisting and sordid tale of what happened over the next ten years of the project, highlighting the sexy new language that has been created, the extreme violence that was sometimes necessary to make it happen, and the dozen or so harsh-but-invaluable lessons that the development team learned along the way.

Donations, Please!

Richard Dice has been organizing Damian’s presentations in Toronto for the past dozen or so years (thanks, dude!), and he’s always kept them free-as-in-beer. But while Damian is easy, he isn’t cheap! Things like a plane ticket, roughly a week of hotel rooms, and meals and other incidentals while he is here cost money. If you’d like to help out, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up with Richard.

And Finally, a Little Bad Touch…

Here’s a little Damian in action at OSCON 2011’s “Ignite” presentation, in which he does more damage to The Bloodhound Gang’s The Bad Touch than I ever did on accordion:


Area Man Makes Good (or: Reg Braithwaite Now Works at GitHub!)

reg braithwaite github

GitHub’s been on a hiring streak lately, first with fellow ex-Shopifolk Joshua Wehner, and now with Reg Braithwaite (and a lot of other folks, but I don’t know much about them). Reg is often called upon to explain tricky concepts, so his new position on the documentation team, where he’ll be improving GitHub’s Help, is going to be a blessing to a lot of programmers out there. Congrats, Reg!


iOS 7 Development: Tutorials to Get You Started

iOS 7 development (by way of iOS 6)The Story So Far

So far in this series on iOS 7 development for people new to iOS development, we’ve looked at:

At this point, you’re probably raring to go and start coding.

Learning iOS 7 By Way of iOS 6

As I write this, only developers registered in the iOS Developer Program have access to iOS 7 and Xcode 5. These developers — of whom I am one — are under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) where they’ve promised not to share screenshots or any other information about iOS 7 until it’s out of beta and made available to the general public. We’re allowed to discuss iOS 7 and Xcode 5 within the confines of the developer forums inside the members-only Apple Developer site, and nowhere else.

As long as the NDA’s in effect, I can’t cover specifics about iOS 7 development in this series. What I can do is talk about developing for iOS 6, which should be good enough for the developer who’s new to iOS. Until iOS 7 is finally released and the NDA is lifted, this series of articles will cover learning developing iOS 7 apps by way of learning iOS 6.

Ray Wenderlich and How to Get Part One of their iOS Apprentice Course for Free

Ray Wenderlich’s blog is the 800-pound gorilla of iOS programming sites, with almost 300 iOS and iOS-related programming tutorial articles as well as a number of great for-pay courses you can buy. I can’t recommend their four-part course, The iOS Apprentice, strongly enough. Spanning hundreds of pages, this set of extremely detailed tutorials teaches iOS development through the building of four different apps:

  • Bullseye: Learn the basics of iOS interface programming by building a game.
  • Checklists: Build a “to-do list” app and learn about table views at the same time.
  • MyLocations: This is a biggie in which you build a location-based app that saves its data using Core Data and takes advantage of the camera and photo library.
  • StoreSearch: Build an app that accesses data from a web service.

Each tutorial sells for $24 each, or you can buy all 4 for a mere $54.

Better yet, there’s a way to get the first tutorial for free! If you sign up for the Ray Wenderlich newsletter, they’ll give you the first iOS Apprentice tutorial, which will show you how to build this game:

The AppCoda Blog and its Free iOS Programming Course


AppCoda is a beautifully-designed blog devoted to the topic of iOS programming. They regularly post “how to” articles for developers, and a good number of these articles put together form a cohesive and free iOS development course. The iOS Programming Course listed on their Course page is currently made up of 28 tutorial articles, a good number of which introduce iOS development through the building of a recipe app.

Local Hero: Ash Furrow and Your First iOS App

your first ios app

Your First iOS App is an ebook created by Ash Furrow, creator of 500px’s iPad app and an iOS developer at the Toronto-based (and world-famous) design firm Teehan+Lax. Written as a book for people with experience programming but who are new to iOS development, the book introduces iOS development topics by walking you through the development of an app called “Coffee Timer”, from rudimentary program that simply displays a blank screen like this…

blank ios app

…to a fully-fledged app ready for submission to the App Store like this:

completed coffee timer app

…and all in just over 200 pages. It’s well-written and explains iOS programming quite clearly. You can see for yourself; chapter 1 is posted online.

Ash raised the funds for writing the book with an Indiegogo campaign, beat his CDN$5,000 goal by raising $5,542, and published it on LeanPub in DRM-free PDF, ePub and Mobi formats. Your First iOS App is available at a variable price, starting at the low, low, low price of $9.99…


…with a suggested price of $14.99. I bought my copy at the suggested price to show my appreciation for Ash’s work.


On Vacation – Back Monday, July 8th

Once again, I’m on vacation — with the same lovely lady as last time, even! — and will return with regular postings on Monday, July 8th.