Developer Hardware Nerdvana at TSOT

Gear-wise, life is pretty sweet at TSOT. The standard-issue computer is a 15″ MacBook Pro (the 2.2 Ghz model), which is a great Ruby on Rails development machine. The standard issue keyboard is the ultra-skinny Apple Wired Keyboard and Apple Mighty Mouse, but I don’t like the feel of either. I prefer the feel of the Logitech Cordless Wave Keyboard/Mouse combo, so that’s what got assigned to me.

The final piece of the developer gear complement arrived today: our Dell 24″ Ultrasharp widescreen LCD monitors. Now I’m in Hardware Nerdvana:

TSOT standard-issue developer gear: 15″ MacBook Pro, 24″ Dell widescreen LCD monitor and Logitech Wave cordless keyboard and mouse.


TSOT’s Ruby/Rails Project Nights – Starting January 8th

Bruce Lee, wearing a TSOT t-shirt and holding Ruby on Rails nunchuks.

The Quick Version

TSOT Ruby/Rails Night
Tuesday, January 8th, 2008 (and the second Tuesday of every month)
@ TSOT’s office — 151 Bloor Street West (on the south side, just east of Avenue Road)
11th floor
Door open and food at 5:30 p.m.
Presentations start at 6-ish
FREE ADMISSION (but limited space)
To register, please email

About TSOT

TSOT is a Toronto-based start-up that develops — look out, here come the buzzwords — social networking applications using Ruby on Rails. Our first applications are FraternityLive and SororityLive, social software built specifically for people in fraternities and sororities. Both apps are currently being tested with a userbase of thousands of university students and alumni, and we expect to release them in early 2008.

About Ruby/Rails Project Nights

We believe that it’s good for Toronto to have a healthy developer ecosystem — it’s good not only for us as a Toronto-based development shop, but also as a group of developers who are passionate about the work we do. We’d like to see Toronto as “Silicon Valley++” — with the vibrant high-tech scene, but with all the amenities that make Toronto a better place to live than the Valley (such as not being a dreary 50-mile stretch of suburbia and having decent places to go at night).

Hence our contribution to the local developer scene: TSOT Ruby/Rails Project Nights, which will take place on the second Tuesday of every month. They’ll feature in-depth presentations by developers working on interesting projects — primarily Ruby and Ruby on Rails — along with drinks and munchies and a chance to socialize with your fellow developers. They’ll be hosted by Yours Truly, TSOT developer and DemoCamp regular Joey “Accordion Guy” deVilla.

The First Night: Tuesday, January 8th

This first Ruby/Rails Night will feature presentations by a couple of Ruby/Rails local heroes on their current Ruby/Rails projects:

The doors will open at 5:30, the first presentation will start at about 6, and we hope to wrap up the evening by 8:30 or 9. We’ll provide food and drinks, and if there’s enough of a demand, we can always go out to a nearby pub afterwards. There’s no cost to attend (but be advised that seating is limited).

If you’ve been thinking about making a Ruby or Rails presentation (perhaps you want to rehearse for RailsConf 2008!), we’d like to have you present it at one of our project nights!

Add TSOT Ruby/Rails Nights to your list of New Year’s resolutions!

How Do I Register?

Registration is free, but space is limited. To register for the upcoming Jan 8th gathering, please email

For More Information

For more information about TSOT Project Nights, please contact:

The event is also listed on


The Office Desk

Ever since I got my first digital camera back in 1998, I’ve made it a point to snap pictures of my workspace on a regular basis. The nature of my work has meant that I’ve rearranged or changed desks about every six months since I joined the workforce full-time back in ’95, so I’m glad that I have some sort of record.

I’ve posted the most recent picture of my desk at TSOT’s temporary office below.
Until we move to the permanent space in January, we’re all working on folding tables covered in the kind of tempoarary tablecloth you can get from a party supply store. We got decent chairs and great computers from the get-go, so it’s not too bad. The spartan arrangements give me a feeling of deja vu — it takes me back to that time at OpenCola’s first office in San Francisco, a large warehouse space near Potrero Hill, where all the desks were unfinished doors set on two sawhorses.

Preview image of Joey deVilla’s desk TSOT, November 29, 2007
My desk at TSOT’s temporary office, taken November 29, 2007. Click the photo to see it at full size.

I should gather up the photos of my previous desks and put them into a post — I think it would be an interesting study.


Scenes from Day 1 at the New Job

The New Company

People from the SororityLive and FraternityLive home pages
The “mascots” from the SororityLive and FraternityLive home pages. Party! Whoo!

My new company is TSOT, a little start-up specializing in social software. The company’s first products are SororityLive and FraternityLive, social software with special features for people in — you guessed it — sororities and fraternities. It’s pretty interesting software, and it doesn’t hurt that the customer base relies on social networking and has some money to throw around.

The New ’Hood

151 Bloor Street West
151 Bloor Street West. It’s smack-dab in the middle of a lot of fancy-pants shops.

The photo above shows the office building, located at 151 Bloor Street West. It’s a short walk away from the intersection of Accordion City’s two main streets and at the west end of the Bloor/Yorkville neighbourhood (also known as “Mink Mile”), which has a lot of posh shops, hotels, restaurants, pricey condos and office buildings.

It’s a sort of homecoming. OpenCola, the last start-up for which I worked, was located on the east end of Mink Mile, a short walk away. Like TSOT, OpenCola was a start-up in an unlikely location.

This neighbourhood is quite different from my old work ‘hood of Liberty Village, which consists of old factories that have been converted into office space. Liberty Village borders on Parkdale, a rapidly-gentrifying neighbourhood that still shows a few signs of its “Crackdale” past, such as colourful neighbourhood characters like “Low-talking Burger King Bible Lady” and “Incomprehensible Pee-reeking Guy on Roller Skates and Ski Poles Who Thinks He’s Running for Mayor”.

There is a similarity between my old and new work ‘hoods: both feature people who appear to be talking to themselves. It’s just that in the new ‘hood, such people are very likely to actually be talking into their Bluetooth headset phones.

The Temporary Office

TSOT’s office, which will eventually be on the building’s 11th floor, is currently under construction. In the meantime, the company is divided between two offices, with the programmers at 151 Bloor West and the management and “biz dev” a couple of blocks away. Being temporary, the current office setup definitely has the classic start-up feel, being sparsely furnished with folding tables acting as desks. I’m getting big-time deja vu.

The developer room at TSOT’s office
The developer room in the temporary office. Sure, they’re folding tables, but the computers, chairs and people are excellent!

My New Gear

When I got into the office, the guys showed me my desk, which had the following arranged into a neat little pile:

  • 15″ MacBook Pro, in its original packaging
  • Extra RAM for the MacBook
  • A Mac OS X “Leopard” install DVD
  • One of those new really flat Apple keyboards
  • A FraternityLive pen and mousepad
  • A copy of Barron’s Speed-Reading for Professionals
  • A Post-It note from CEO Kris White that read “Welcome, Joey! Here is some stuff to get you going. Cheers, Kris.”

15″ MacBook Pro, OS X Leopard DVD and other goodies waiting for me
Here’s what was waiting for me when I showed up. Well, this stuff was still in the original packaging when I showed up.

Now That’s What I Call a Welcome!

Kris White, the CEO, knows that I keep a spare accordion handy at the office and knew that I’d be bringing mine in on Day 1. He decided it would be a good idea to get some small instruments — a cowbell, maracas, drums, a xylophone and a harmonica — from the nearby music store for the other employees, as a “welcome to the club, can we join yours?” gesture. Now that’s what I call a welcome!

Box for OS X Leopard DVD and a toy xylophone
What every start-up needs. Mac OS X “Leopard” and musical instruments.


Among the perks of working at TSOT are some free food from Whole Foods in the kitchen and the programming department’s main room, which features some beanbag chairs, a big screen TV and a Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 Elite.

The game room at the TSOT office
All work and no play makes Joey a dull boy. Nintendo Wii and XBox 360 Elite! Whoo!

So in addition to getting up to speed on the code base and Ruby on Rails development, I’m going to need to work on my Mii and Wii bowling score.

Wii Bowling at the TSOT office
The cornerstone of co-worker bonding: Wii Bowling. I need to work on my Mii.

I think I’m going to like it here.