January 2009

The Gnu IS a Real Creature

by Joey deVilla on January 26, 2009

This article originally appeared on Global Nerdy.

After winning the auction for the Free Software Foundation plush gnu, I hung out in the hotel lobby, checking my email. I talked with some passers-by, and occasionally Richard Stallman, who sat at the couch across from me, cracked the occasional (and very painful) pun.

In these conversations, I was approached by no less than three people who asked me if the gnu – the animal mascot of the Free Software Foundation — was a real creature or a mythical one.

Doesn’t anyone watch Animal Planet, nature shows or The Great Space Coaster (starring Gary Gnu) anymore?

A gnu running through the veldt

They’re real. Here’s the first line of their Wikipedia entry:

The wildebeest (plural wildebeest or wildebeests), also called the gnu (/gəˈnuː/ or /ˈnjuː/), is an antelope of the genus Connochaetes. It is a hooved (ungulate) mammal.

Maybe it’s time to organize a bus trip of geeks so that we can all go to the zoo.


Perhaps if they’d given the night another name, it might have turned out differently:

Chalkboard sign outside a bar: "Due to physical violance, Shit Faced Mondays have been cancelled."

I have no idea what bar this sign is for. I just ran across this picture here and thought it was too good not to share.

(I hear every Monday is Shitfaced Monday over at David Crow’s house.)

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A glass of beer and a book
Beer and science have always gone together!

This article was originally published in Global Nerdy.

nature-networkI’m going to speaking at tonight’s Nature Network Pub Night here in Toronto on the topic of blogs, how they’ve helped me both do and find work, and how people in the sciences can make use of them.

The pub night is being held at Fionn MacCool’s at University and Adelaide (the full address is 181 University). People will start assembling there for dinner, drinks and conversation at 6:00 p.m. with the presentations starting at 7:00 p.m..

If you’re interested in getting to know your fellow science-types in town or want to catch up with me and talk about blogging, programming, science, accordion playing or anything else, please drop by tonight!


Fun with Richard Stallman

by Joey deVilla on January 26, 2009

Richard Stallman and Joey deVilla onstage with a plush gnu at the CUSEC 2009 conference

Over at my tech blog Global Nerdy, there’s a story from the recent CUSEC convention that’ll only seem funny (or even make sense) if you’re a programmer who knows about the Free Software Foundation and how they view Microsoft. It’s called Winning the Gnu, and it’s about my winning bid at Richard Stallman’s auction for a plush gnu.


This article was originally published in Global Nerdy.

Slide: "Programming is a big world. You have choices."

Slide: "Q: How is a brain surgeon a kind of artist? A: Why would I want to be an artist? I'm a fucking brain surgeon." 

Slide: "Live some of your life outside of the nerd ghetto."


T-Shirt of the Day

by Joey deVilla on January 24, 2009

I’m at CUSEC (Canadian University Software Engineering Conference) in Montreal, where Daniel, pictured below, is wearing the T-shirt of the day, devoted to The Greatest Sci-Fi Movie of All Time: Zardoz!

Daniel in his "Zardoz" T-shirt

Daniel screened this one himself, and he’s promised me one. Looking forward to wearing it!


My Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony

by Joey deVilla on January 23, 2009

This article was originally posted in Global Nerdy.

On Tuesday, the day that Barack Obama got sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, my 3-month probationary period at Microsoft also ended and I became a full-fledged Microsoft Developer Evangelist. I figured that if Obama could have a swearing-in ceremony to mark his official entrance into his new job, why couldn’t I?

As luck would have it, I was at the Vancouver Convention Centre to speak at Microsoft’s TechDays conference, where the Microsoft logo was projected onto the waterfall on the second floor. It made a pretty good backdrop for the ceremony, which was conducted by my fellow Developer Evangelist John Bristowe. I swore my oath on a “Techie Crunch” box, a cereal box containing the swag we gave to every attendee:

This magic moment would’ve been lost forever if it weren’t for videographer, blogger and man-about-tech Warren Frey, who was recording interviews for TechVibes and caught it for posterity. Thanks, Warren! I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!