RubyFringe Guide: FAILCamp (Friday, July 18 – 4 to 7 p.m. at The Rhino)

by Joey deVilla on July 17, 2008

Joey\'s Unofficial Ruby Fringe Guide to Toronto - Small logoWelcome to the fifth installment of Joey’s Unofficial RubyFringe Guide to Toronto, my guide to Accordion City for attendees of the RubyFringe conference as well as people just curious about this place.

In case you missed the earlier articles in this series, I’ll list them here:

  1. Where Did All the Cigarettes Go?
  2. Getting from the Airport to the Hotel
  3. Boozin’ in Accordion City
  4. The Lay of the Land, Part 1

In this article, I’m going to cover FAILCamp.


The first event of RubyFringe is the only one that’s open to anyone, whether or not they’re attending the conference itself. It’s FAILCamp, a gathering where we’ll share stories about and lessons from failure. It will take place at The Rhino Bar and Grill (1249 Queen Street West, just west of Dufferin) and runs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.. Once again, you don’t have to be a RubyFringe attendee to catch this one. Admission is free, but you’ll have to buy your own beer.

Here’s a quick description of the event, as written by its originators, Amy “Slash7” Hoy and Thomas “Scriptaculous” Fuchs:

We believe that it’s time to give our personal fail some tough love and talk it out over beer!

Join us for a brief, rousing introduction followed by camaraderie, beer, and show-and-tell. We’ll present a little about failure through the ages, mining your personal suck, maybe some science, pithy quotes from people you may or may not respect, and share some failure stories of our own.

Then it’ll be your turn. If all goes to plan, you may even win in our friendly “race to the bottom” for the most public, most expensive, or most ridiculous Story of Fail.

I believe that the original plan was for Amy and Thomas to host the event as a dry run for a much larger FAILCamp event taking place on the 26th in Philadelphia. Circumstances have arisen and they will be unable to make it to Accordion City this weekend. While this fits with the theme of FAILCamp, it hasn’t stopped it — instead, two new hosts have stepped up to fill in for them:

  • Hampton “HAML” Catlin, who very well might be the best Ruby hacker in town, and
  • Yours Truly, who very well might be the worst Ruby hacker in town.

Hampton’s going to provide a lot of insight and programming know-how to FAILCamp. Me? I’m going to be responsible for innuendo-laden stories of personal and professional failure peppered with gratuitous Zardoz references.

As for the Rhino itself, it is truly pub with a “neighbourhoody” feel. Where many places are content to be mere endpoints in the Anheuser-Busch/Molson-Coors supply chain, the Rhino is what some sociologists call a “third place”, a neighbourhood gathering point for all kinds of people, from the locals who’ve been in the Parkdale area since it was a more rough-and-tumble place to the artsy and musician types who moved into the neighbourhood to the geeks who use it as the venue for the monthly Rails Pub Nites and Ajax Pub Nites. Even though the neighbourhood is gentrifying in a manner similar to New York’s Lower East Side or certain parts of Brooklyn, The Rhino has managed to remain pretty much douchebag-free and inexpensive, unlike a number of the other pubs in the area.

The only way in which The Rhino gets fancy is with their beer menu. There are about 200 beers on the menu hailing from a few dozen countries, and they’re generally well-stocked and priced in the 5 to 7 dollar per pint/bottle range. Be sure to try the locals: their own lager, as well as Mill Street, Wellington and Creemore Springs.

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