In the News Life

Book of the Day / A Proposed Patron Saint for FailCamp

Cover of the book "How to Avoid Huge Ships", featuring a picture of a huge ship

The reviews of the book How to Avoid Huge Ships on Amazon UK won’t tell you very much about the actual content within its 122 pages, but they are quite amusing. For example, here’s J. Courtney’s review:

Instead of falling into the same trap that other authors of this subject fall in to, such as "stay on land" or "move out of the way", John Trimmer offers thought provoking, deep insight into the complexities of Huge Ship avoidance.

If you or anyone you love plans on setting out to sea any time soon, and are worried about encountering a huge ship – then I cannot encourage you enough to read this book.

Here’s another review, this one by Gordon Hawk:

Trimmer’s book is deceptively simple, take his opening passage for example:

"when walking down a local thoroughfare, or perhaps on a day out to your local dock, and suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, a 40ft metallic compound hull emerges in your line of sight, it is most likely, if not definitely, going to be – a huge ship"

It’s theoretical groundwork like this which lacks from today’s ‘pick and choose’ postmodern discourse. Trimmer unleashes this devastating examination with relative ease; most interestingly with chapters such as "Avoiding the ship itself: Moving Left or Right?" which comes up with a flurried and meticulous deconstruction of ethics and theoretical obstacles, for instance "is there anything on either side of the huge ship? – if so, and there is, it is probably, if not definitely, going to be – difficult to move round to that side of the huge ship".

A must for those with an eye for Naval pragmatism and/or a small ship.

Jessica Watson aboard her boat

I was led to the book by a comment from a wag about the snag in Australian teenager Jessica Watson’s attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world. Less than 24 hours into her journey, she collided with a bulk cargo ship, snapping the ship’s mast and damaging the deck. She is unharmed, the ship is getting repaired and she still intends to go through with the trip. That’s very good news, considering how many people I’ve seen give up on something after the most minor of inconveniences, snags and bumps in the road.

Jessica, I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword, and nominate you for patron saint of FailCamp!

(And yes, plans are in the works to have another FailCamp. Watch this space!)

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Demo Ignite Camp in Vancouver: Less Than a Week Away!

Demo Ignite Camp: Monday, September 14 - 7:00 p.m. - Vancouver Convention entre

If you live in Vancouver or are going to be there on Monday night, don’t forget that Demo Ignite Camp, the show-and-tell event for the bright lights of the Vancouver tech scene, is taking place that night at the Vancouver Convention Centre!

For more details, see my earlier post on Demo Ignite Camp or visit its event page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection and Global Nerdy.

Geek Work

How to Get Office 2007 Ultimate for $64 if you’re a Canadian University / College Student

Package for Office 2007 Ultimate: "$64.00 (Canadian!) for students / Glossy reflective table not included)"

If you’re a student at one of the eligible Canadian universities or colleges, you can get the top-of-the-line edition of Microsoft Office 2007 for CDN$64. For more details, see my article in Global Nerdy.

Life Work

The Road to Success

I saw the illustrated map titled The Road to Success on the Strange Maps site and thought that there can’t be a more appropriate day than today, the first day of school, to post it. Enjoy!

"The Road to Success" - an illustration made in 1913 showing the obstacles to success as a landscape map.
Click the illustration to see it at full size.

If you’re wondering who the “Caruso” in the “Caruso can’t touch you” line is – it’s spoken by one of the people in the Mutual Appreciation Society building, in the lower-right hand corner, just above and to the left of Hotel Know-It-All – it’s Enrico Caruso, an opera tenor who became a star thanks tp his embrace of then-newfangled recording technology, namely the phonograph (a.k.a. gramophone).

It Happened to Me

Slice of Life: Bacon Covered with Chocolate

There was one unhealthy food item at the CNE that I didn’t order:

Food stall on the Midway at the CNE: "Bacon covered with Chocolate sold here"

Geek It Happened to Me Life Play

Your First Warning: Vancouver, September 11 – 18

Photo of downtown vancouver at night, captioned: "September 11th - 18th / Vangroovy", with arrow pointing to Fairmont Waterfront hotel

I’m going to be in Vancouver from the afternoon of Friday, September 11th until the morning of Friday, September 18th. I’m there first and foremost to manage the “Developing for the Microsoft-Based Platform” track of the TechDays conference, then to meet up with the local tech community, but also to enjoy the city I fondly refer to as “Vangroovy”.

Here’s what I’ll be up to:

Coffee and Code Vancouver: Saturday, September 12th

"Monkey" latte art

My coworker John Bristowe and I will be holding Coffee and Code on Saturday, September 12th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Pacific time, of course) at the Take 5 Cafe on Granville (429 Granville, near Hastings). We’ll be there to talk about TechDays, The Empire and the tech industry in general – but it won’t just be geeky stuff; we’ll provide scintillating conversation about accordions, the Calgary Flames, deep fried snack foods, “Am I metrosexual or not”, life, the universe and everything. I will have the accordion with me, so tunes are definitely on the menu!

You can register for Coffee and Code Vancouver on its event page.

TechDays Vancouver: Monday, September 14th – Tuesday, September 15th

TechDays 2009 Canada banner

TechDays is Microsoft Canada’s cross-Canada tour, where we highlight what you can do with currently-available Microsoft tools and tech that you probably aren’t doing yet. We take the content from the infinitely more expensive TechEd North America conference (admission fee USD$2000), update it, and have local techies present it near you at a price you can afford (CAD$299 if you caught the early bird rate, CAD$599 otherwise). You get great content at a great price, and we get to make contact with tech communities across the country. Think of it as “Geek Global, Spend Local”.

TechDays Vancouver will be happening at the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is also the venue of…

Demo Ignite Camp: Monday, September 14th @ 7:00 p.m.

Demo Ignite Camp banner

Since we had the Vancouver Convention Centre booked for two days, it meant that we had these big rooms lying fallow on the first night. I wanted a pajama party for accordion players, but since that idea got nixed, I called on Boris Mann and suggested we hold a DemoCamp-style event. The end result: Demo Ignite Camp!

Thus far, we’ve got 5 out of 8 presentation slots filled:

  1. Joey deVilla’s Ignite Presentation: Do the Stupidest Thing That Could Possibly Work.
  2. Avi Bryant will demo Clamato, a Smalltalk dialect that operates within the JavaScript runtime.
  3. Dima Berastau will demo RestfulX, a RESTful framework for Flex and AIR applications.
  4. Carson Lam will demo TransitDB, his Vancouver transit information web app, which won the PHP FTW competition earlier this year.
  5. The folks from Ayogo will present their iPhone games built using the PhoneGap cross-mobile-platform framework.

I’m more than happy to drop my Ignite presentation to make room for a demo or Ignite by someone local. I’m already hosting, and Demo Ignite Camp is about the Vancouver tech scene, not me!

For more information, see the Demo Ignite Camp event page.

Launch Party Vancouver, Wednesday, September 16th

Launch Party Vancouver logo My fellow TechDays coordinators and I will be attending Launch Party Vancouver, which is:

…a lively mixer for the city’s brightest entrepreneurs, tech junkies, and bloggers, who are doing it, have done it or want to make their ideas happen here. The goal of the event is to connect BC’s growing community of Internet and new media leaders with investors and other trailblazers across Canada and abroad.

Founded by local entrepreneurs,  LPV is not your typical networking event. There are no presentations or panels to be found.  But what you will discover are the individuals responsible for making Vancouver one of the greatest start-up cities in Canada.  Every event features local, early stage new media companies strutting their stuff and sharing their ideas with the community.

It’s happening at Circa Resto Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; tickets are available via EventBrite.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

It Happened to Me Slice of Life

Slice of Life: Taco in a Bag!

The Ginger Ninja and I went back to the Canadian National Exhibition yesterday to catch the Superdogs, see the sights and sample some more so-bad-it’s-good food. One item on our list was Taco in a Bag, which many people speak of only in hushed tones.


Taco in a Bag is made by taking a bag of Doritos and giving it a couple of whacks to break the chips into smaller pieces. The bag is sliced open along one of its long sides and then the taco filling is added: ground beef, grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and lettuce. You eat it right out of the bag with a fork. It’s like a Frito pie, but you can pretend it’s healthier because it has some lettuce.

It’s just one of the deliciously unhealthy items that the poutine place in the corner of the CNE’s Food Building serves. They also serve a number of different types of poutine. Here’s the left half of their menu:


The first two poutine items on the menu are:

  • The Lumberjack: French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds, sausages and a fried egg. I need to try this sometime.
  • The Canadian: French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds, topped with two strips of bacon.

Here’s the right half of the menu:


The poutine items on the right side of the menu are:

  • The Mexican: French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, ground beef, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and jalapeno peppers.
  • The Traditional: Good ol’ fashioned poutine – just french fries covered in gravy, cheese curds and nothing else.

Getting back to Taco in a Bag – here’s what it looks like when you get it:


It just needs to be stirred up. Here’s what the first bite looks like:


It’s so dirtylicious. If you get the chance, try it. The CNE’s open until next Monday, so keep in mind that time’s running out.