Toronto Girl Geek Dinner with Sarah Prevette of Sprouter – September 29th


What are Toronto Girl Geek Dinners?

Toronto Girl Geek Dinners are a Toronto-based offshoot of the original London Girl Geek Dinners, whose goal is to make technology accessible and interesting to all age groups and all people, especially women. They’re informal gatherings that usually feature a guest speaker who presents a short talk on a technology for a topic along with dinner and socializing. They’re a great way to get to know the other women in Toronto who either work in or have an interest in technology. A couple of co-workers from my days at Tucows, Leona Hobbs and Heather Leson, help put these events together.


What’s Happening on the 29th?

There’s a Toronto Girl Geek Dinner happening on Tuesday, September 29th featuring guest speaker Sarah Prevette, founder of Sprouter (formerly known as RedWire). She’ll talk about start-ups, strategy and her own experiences. Here’s some info about Sarah from the Toronto Girl Geek Dinners site:

Sarah Prevette has captured attention as a passionate and pioneering web entrepreneur — an exciting voice from inside the online community revolution. Sarah’s nontraditional and multi-faceted approach to branding and promotion provides actionable insight to those looking to build communities, truly engage their audiences and leverage the full power of the web. An entrepreneur long immersed in the start-up community, Sarah has robust familiarity with the common pitfalls of early stage start-ups and the tips and tools that foster success.

And here’s some info about Sprouter:

Sprouter, in private beta, is an online collaboration tool facilitating knowledge exchange between start-ups and business leaders. Augmenting the online tool with community networking events, the Sprouter team is currently touring North America with Sprout Ups. You can request invite codes to from their twitter account and sign up Toronto’s Sprout Up.

Event Details

  • The date and time: Tuesday, September 29th, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (event agenda starts around 7:00)
  • The location: Fionn MacCools at 181 University (at Adelaide)
  • The cost: $10.00, a nominal fee that reserves your spot and pays for your first drink
  • Where to register: You need to register at the dinner’s Meetup page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Barbara Liskov, Interviewed

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Barbara Liskov The Interview

Over at the IT Manager Connection blog, there’s an interview with Barbara Liskov, who is:

  • The Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
  • An Institute Professor at MIT
  • The first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in computer science
  • An ACM Turing Award Recipient for both 2008 and 2009
  • An IEEE John von Neumann Medial Recipient for 2004
  • An ACM and American Academy of Arts and Sciences Researcher
  • …and most relevant to us, the “Liskov” in the Liskov Substitution Principle, one of the five SOLID principles for object-oriented design.

In the interview, Barbara talks about winning “the Nobel Prize of computing”, her vision for computing, what got her interested in computers, the challenges that the field still presents to minorities, the work she’s done and her thoughts on up-and-coming tech. If you’d like to listen, here’s the MP3 of Stephen Ibaraki interviewing Barbara Liskov. Stephen also wrote an article containing an abbreviated transcript that appears in IT Manager Connection. Enjoy!

The Liskov Substitution Principle

Small Liskov Substitution Principle poster

In case you’ve forgotten (or perhaps never learned), the Liskov Substitution Principle is:

If for each object o1 of type S there is an object o2 of type T such that for all
programs P defined in terms of T, the behavior of P is unchanged when o1 is
substituted for o2 then S is a subtype of T.

Well, duh. Who didn’t know that?

Object guru Robert C. “Uncle Bob” Martin took this bit of math nerd-speak and paraphrased in a way making it somewhat easier to follow:

Functions that use pointers or references to base classes must be able to use objects of derived classes without knowing it.

And because I’m nowhere near as smart as Uncle Bob, here’s the way I like to cover it:

If MySubclass is a subclass of MyClass, you should be able to replace instances of MyClass with MySubclass without breaking anything. Sort of like when they changed the actors who played "Darren" in Bewitched or "Becky" in Roseanne.

(Unlike Liskov or Martin, I don’t have to write academic papers, so I can get away with making references to old TV shows.)

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be writing more about the SOLID principles. Watch this space!


Ignite Your Career: Women in IT Panel Discussion

This article originally appeared in Canadian Developer Connection.

This Week’s Webcast: Women in IT

Ignite Your CareerAnd at long last, we’ve arrived at the sixth of the six-episode Ignite Your Career webcast series. This webcast, which takes place this Tuesday, April 7th at 12:00 noon Eastern, has the title Women in IT Panel Discussion.

Here’s the abstract:

Come and join your peers and a panel of leaders from across the country to discuss issues relating to women in the Canadian ICT industry. This panel discussion will help answer your questions and provide you with insight on the challenges and opportunities faced by women in the ICT industry.

The panelists are:

elisabeth_vanderveldt Elisabeth Vanderveldt
Elisabeth is co-founder of multi-award winning Conamex International, a Microsoft Gold Certified Excellence partner. An international board member of IAMCP Elisabeth is also the global chair Community and Corporate Citizenship and is the founder of the international Women in Leadership and Technology group.

betty_johnson Betty Johnson
Betty has been working in technical support for 10 years and is a Microsoft certified professional. She works at Métis Nation of Alberta as their Desktop Support Analyst with responsibilities in managing networks and servers. She started off as a nutritionist but proved a point that women in any age group can make a great impact in IT.

caterina_sanders Caterina Sanders
As Director, User Experience, Caterina acts on behalf of end-users to make certain that Habañero solutions exceed their needs and expectations. Drawing on her wide variety of business and technical experience, Caterina manages the user experience team, provides UE leadership for all projects, and conducts project business analysis and project management.

shann_mcgrail Shann McGrail
Shann McGrail is a Business Director reporting to the President of Microsoft Canada. In this role, she is responsible for readiness, communication and business execution for the Canadian subsidiary. Shann has worked in the technology industry for the past 18 years.

As with all the other Ignite Your Career webcasts, this one isn’t tied to any particular vendor or technology, Yes, this webcast is presented by Microsoft and CIPS, but whether you never touch Microsoft tech or tools or use the entire Microsoft stack, we think you’ll find a lot of useful career-building information in Ignite Your Career.

Don’t forget: it costs nothing to catch an Ignite Your Career webcast. It’s free of charge; all you have to do is register to listen to the Women in IT Panel Discussion with your Windows Live ID (which you can also get for free).

Listen to Previous Ignite Your Career Webcasts on Demand

If you missed any of our earlier Ignite Your Career webcasts or want to hear any of them again, you’re in luck. We’ve got them archived, and you can listen to them – free of charge, of course – with your Windows Live ID. The previous webcasts are:

  • Industry Insights and Trends
    The nature of technology is one of continual change; a fact of life for professionals in the ICT industry. As a result, you need to be on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position yourself and your organization to benefit from these trends. This panel discussion will arm you with the information you need from experts in the ICT industry in order to stay on top of your game.
    Speakers: Joel Semeniuk, Jeff Kempiners, Jay Payette and Paul Swinwood.
  • Discovering Your Trusted Resources
    Building a set of information sources and connecting with the community at-large are critical to your success in the ICT industry. This session brings successful community, technology, and information leaders together to share their experiences in discovering these resources. Our experts will help you learn how to identify credible sources and find the right tools, links and techniques to keep you up to date in a world of constant change.
    Speakers: Michael J. Sikorsky, Richard Campbell, and John Bristowe.
  • How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance
    With mobile technologies and our always-on culture, it’s imperative to establish and maintain a balance between work and life. If your only time to manage change in your environment is after hours, how can you maintain a healthy balance without burning out? How do you manage change so that you can develop your career and spend time with loved ones? This panel discussion will connect you to individuals who strive to establish and maintain this balance.
    Speakers: Mack Male, Cameron McKay, Paul Gossen, Mark Blevis.
  • How to Become a Great Leader
    Being a great manager does not by default also mean you are a great leader. For some people, being a leader comes intuitively, for others it is something that requires both self awareness and leading by example. This session will focus on what a panel of Managers/Leaders has done in order to further their development of leader qualities. Topics in this area are wide ranging and based on webcast participation will include such as goal setting, importance of goal alignment, motivation techniques, nurturing trust, developing listening skills and coaching team members. Be sure to listen in and join the conversation with this panel of experts for what should be a very interesting wrap up to the Manager series.
    Speakers: Stuart Crawford, Dana Epp, Barry Gervin, Greg Lane.
  • Building, Managing and Strengthening Your Team
    One measure of success for a Manager is the result your team is capable of achieving. How to build a productive team while working with the resources at your disposal can be a challenge at times. Amongst other things, you need to overcome previous history, identify team dynamics and foster a productive work environment. This session will bring together real world managers who have found the right balance for their teams and share their insight on what worked for them. Listen in and ask them questions about what they have done to create a healthy and productive team environment.
    Speakers: Kevin Brice, Steven “Doc” List, Vicki Mains, Peter John McFarlane, Shaun Walker.

It’s Ada Lovelace Day!


It’s a special day in the blogosphere today: it’s Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to bring attention to women excelling in technology.

Whether you’re venturing into a career, a scene or even a room full of people, it’s always nice to find people like you. This is especially true if you’re in the minority; you wouldn’t believe the number of people who’ve walked up to me and said “You’re an accordion player too? I was beginning to think that I was the last one left!” It’s a reassuring feeling.

Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood suggests that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. This leads to a chicken-and-egg-style problem in the tech world: it’s perceived as a “sausage party” (that is, a gathering of mostly men), which in turn turns women away, which in turn keeps it a sausage party.

The solution is make sure that we’re recognizing the women in technology, which is why we have Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron and is widely considered to be the first programmer, having written a system of symbol-manipulating rules for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She is also crediting as having foreseen that computing devices would do far more than crunching numbers – while Babbage thought of his machine as a mechanical calculator, Lovelace suggested that “the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent”.

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, I thought I’d give a shout out to some Accordion City (that is, Toronto) area women in technology whom I know and have seen in the past couple of months. Take a bow and be recognized!

  • Sandy Kemsley: A regular on the Toronto tech scene with a career spanning over 20 years, she has forgotten more about BPM than I will ever learn.
  • Leigh Honeywell: She might just have the most-booked calendar in Toronto, what with her co-founding HacklabTO, working at the local Symantec office and finishing her degree at U of T.
  • Sacha Chua: Toronto’s most energetic and enthusiastic technology evangelist.
  • Qixing Zheng: My coworker! She’s the User Experierience Developer Advisor (Microsoft Canada’s first, in fact) and one of the hardest-working people on the Developer and Platform Evangelism team. She blogs at the Canadian UX Blog.
  • Kate Gregory: Microsoft Regional Director for Toronto, has forgotten more programming languages than I will ever learn, and the first non-Microsoftie to welcome me to The Empire at the Professional Developers Conference back in October.
  • Amber Macarthur: Tech news videoblogger extraordinaire!
  • Leila Boujnane: Founder and CEO of Idee, who make the coolest visual search.
  • Estelle Havva: The reality check at DemoCamp (she was the one who always asked presenters the question: “What’s your business model?”, promoter of Canadian tech at the National Reasearch Council and can do more pushups than almost anyone at DemoCamp.
  • Kaitlyn McLachlan: Creator of AskItOnline, the best survey web application I’ve seen.
  • Juan Musleh: I met her at the excellent CUSEC conference, where she was the Sponsorship Director.
  • Linda Wang: I also met her at CUSEC, where she was the co-chair and did some great work.
  • Jaclyn Konzelmann: I met her recently in a meeting with the organizers of the CUTC conference (and I owe her a couple of email replies).

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!