I’ll post a more detailed write-up of the Make Web Not War conference later, but I thought that those of you who were there (or wished they were there) would like to see some photos as soon as possible. I’ve posted my photos at full resolution to my Make Web Not War Flickr photoset, which you can view either on Flickr or the slideshow above. The photos all have titles, and I promise I’ll finished the remainder of the descriptions over the next couple of days.
Here’s a little hint: if you ever get an invitation to a Microsoft party from High Road Communications – they’re Microsoft Canada’s PR firm – accept it. They’re always in great places, have great tapas and drinks and they always invite interesting people. You’re guaranteed to have fun, and that guarantee is doubled if I’m there.
The W’s “Extreme Wow” Suite
On Thursday, right after the end of Day 2 of TechDays Montreal, my fellow developer evangelist Christian Beauclair and I made our way from Centre Mont-Royal (the TechDays Montreal venue) to the W Hotel. That’s where we were holding a little party to which we invited a number of local open source developers, some of who were at the previous night’s Career Demo Camp Montreal.
Montreal’s W hotel is a building that has undergone a radical personality change. It used to be the Banque du Canada building, the home of one of our federal government’s most stuffy, buttoned-down organizations. W hotels tend to be the exact opposite: everything about them suggests that they were designed by people who usually design nightclubs, what with DJ booths in their lobbies, electronica and funk music piped into every nook and cranny, dimly-lit hallways with lighting straight out of Blade Runner and other little touches that make it seem as if you’ve somehow managed to get into one of those secret clubs in New York City’s Meat Packing District. Simply put, it’s a pretty good place to hold a swanky cocktail party,
Christian and I followed the directions to the “Extreme Wow” suite that High Road had booked for the party. Here’s what we saw when we entered the room:
The suite was located on the top floor of the W. It was one large room with a 20 foot-high ceiling and an equally high set of windows revealing a balcony looking out onto Square Victoria and a good chunk of Montreal’s skyline. I had a sense of deja vu and soon realized that the place reminded me a little bit of Tony Prince’s swanky condo in the videogame The Ballad of Gay Tony, minus the mobsters to whom Tony owed money and wanted him dead.
Near the back of the suite was the bathroom, which in the spirit of open source, was itself open concept and had nothing to hide. Rather than being tucked into a separate room, the shower, tub and sinks were poised on a split level four or five steps above the rest of the room, with the shower stall being a glass-and-brick enclosure in the middle of it all, looking like the monolith from 2001. The tub was recessed into the floor beside it and covered with a sheet of plywood for the party, either in order to prevent people from falling into it or to prevent me from attempting to start a party hot tub:
(Thankfully, the toilet had its own separate “water closet” room, just off to the side.)
The room had been rearranged to better suite a party than overnight guests. The bed had been removed and replaced with a hybrid couch/chaise lounge:
Just about everything in the room could be commanded via the master remote control, which Christian found. It controlled lights, the TV, sound system and even the curtains and skylight blinds (which could be opened and closed via remote-controlled servos):
Here’s a view of Square Victoria from the balcony:
Christian also found a table centrepiece that reminded him of an M.C. Escher image that I had used in my slide presentation at Career Demo Camp Montreal:
For reference, here’s that M.C. Escher piece:
Having checked out the place and taken my first set of photos, I did what I always do in such a setting: I got got a drink from the bar and made myself comfortable.
It wasn’t just cocktails and conversations at the party. We had some presentations as well, starting with Nik Garkusha, part of Microsoft Canada’s Open Source Strategy team. He talked about how Microsoft views open source, as well as the work we’re doing in order to make Microsoft and open source work better together.
I split his presentation into two videos. Here’s the first…
…and here’s the second:
Brendan “Digibomb” Sera-Shriar, developer with Optimal Payments, WordPress evangelist, founder of PHP Toronto and WordCamp Toronto and organizer of WordCamp Montreal, talked about his experience working with The Empire: “They’re actually doing open source!”, his use of Windows and the Windows Platform Installer and how open source and Windows can work together:
Yann Larrivee, developer, founder of PHP Quebec, FooLab and the upcoming ConFoo conference, spoke next. He talked about how he enjoyed Make Web Not War 2009, the importance of “playing well with others” both inside and outside the world of open source and how Microsoft is participating in ConFoo:
Marc Laporte, developer of TikiWiki, and among other things, talked about PHP running under IIS. It’s in French, and if anyone would like to give me a hand translating, I would appreciate it greatly!
As nice as the photos of the suite above are, the place looks far better when it’s filled with guests:
On Wednesday, a mere hour or so after the end of Day 1 of TechDays Montreal, came Career Demo Camp Montreal, a community event that combined presentations on job-hunting and career-building with demos of projects by Montreal-area developers.
What’s With All These “Demo” and “Camp” Events and Techdays?
For this year’s edition of TechDays, we decided to try something new. TechDays is a two-day cross-Canada conference taking place in seven cities – Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg – and all the conference events take place during the day. There are no events scheduled for after 5 p.m., which means that on the evening of Day 1, the venues are ours – and unused. Since they’re already set up for presentations and it costs relatively nothing to hire an A/V tech for a few extra hours, we decided to make our venues open to local developer community events. We even lent a hand in helping put the events together.
This year, we opened our space to four such community events:
- Demo Ignite Camp in Vancouver with the help of Boris Mann
- FailCamp Toronto 3 in Toronto with the help of Justin Kozuch (Refresh Events) and Meghann Millard (Unspace)
- Career Demo Camp Montreal with the help of Jean-Luc SansCartier (iWeb) and Yann Larrivee (PHPQuebec/Confoo)
- …and next week’s Demo Night in Canada in Ottawa with the help of Colin Melia (Ottawa .NET Community) and Scott Lake (Startup Ottawa)
The Career Portion
People started milling in at around 6:00 p.m.:
The evening began with Alex Kovalenko, Director of Operations at the tech recruiting company Kovasys. His presentation was all about what smart job hunters do, how to write a good tech resume, and the elements of a successful tech interview.
Alex was joined by a couple of his coworkers at Kovasys for the Q&A session, which included the question “What kind of salary can a PHP developer command in Montreal and Toronto? If I recall correctly, their answer what that in Montreal, they’ve seen a range of CDN$55k for starters to CDN $90k for leads. Salaries are 15% higher in Toronto, but with that comes a commensurate increase in the cost of living.
Next came my presentation, Better Living Through Blogging, in which I talked about how having a blog has improved my life in a number of way, not the least of which was to help land me the last four of my jobs.
Blogs, I argued, were probably the most effective way for you to have control of your online identity and therefore to put your best foot forward to potential employers and customers. Among that stats and opinions I cited in the presentation were:
- 77% of recruiters surveyed by ExecuNet said that they use search engines to check out job candidates.
- According to CareerBuilder.com, 1 in 4 hiring managers say that they use search engines to research potential employees.
- SearchEngineWatch.com reports that there may have been up to 50 million proper-name searches in 2006.
- Tim Bray, Director of Web Technologies at Sun: “If someone came looking for a senior-level job and had left no mark on the Internet, I’d see that as a big negative.”
That was followed by a quick presentation by my coworker at Microsoft, Open Source Strategy guy Arun Kirupananthan, who used Dragon Ball Z as a metaphor for Microsoft (as Vegeta) and Open Source (as Goku) and how they can work together and talked about the Make Web Not War conference, which will take place in Montreal in May 2010.
The Demo Portion
“With a single click,” he said, “WPTouch transforms your WordPress blog into an iPhone application-style theme, complete with Ajax-based article loading and effects when viewed from an iPhone, iPod Touch, Android or Blackberry.”
Next up: Patrick Lafontaine, MySQL developer and DBA:
His presentation was on how to back up your MySQL databases effectively and for free-as-in-beer.
(I have to give Christian Beauclair kudos for volunteering to be his mic stand. It’s not easy holding a mic in a single position for ten minutes!)
Then came Sylvain Carle of Praized:
Sylvain talked about the Praized API, which lets you harness their “white label” local search platform fro finding people and services in your local community.
After Sylvain came Marc Laporte demoing TikiWiki, a Full-featured open source multilingual all-in-one wiki with content management and groupware features, written in PHP. It’s our plan to make TikiWiki one of the apps included in Microsoft’s Web Platform Installer:
Bruno of DokDok did the next demo. DokDok is a way to share, track and version files of any size, and it’s done using an interface that everyone understands: email.
Talker is a group chat application that is particularly good for collaborative work. I may have to give it a try soon.
Testatoo – I think it’s a pun on “tests à tout”, or “tests for everything” – was the next presentation, which was given by David Avenante.
Here’s a closer look at Testatoo in action:
L’Agenda du Libre is an online calendar of Free Software events in Quebec and was implemented in Django in under 30 hours:
This was the first DemoCamp-style event where the presentations were some presentations were done in English while others were done in French. I felt like a Family Guy character listening to Stewie Griffin during the French presentations: I got the general gist, but missed out on the subtleties. Guess I’m going to have to work on my French!
With the demos done, all that was left to do was to award an XBox 360 Arcade to the presentation that the audience liked most, based on their applause. Marc-Andre and Gary of Talker won, and in a very generous move, decided to donate it to the Salvation Army so that some kids who’d otherwise never get the chance would get a video game console this Christmas. Nicely done, gentlemen!
No DemoCamp-style event is complete without a trip to the pub afterwards, so about 35 of us moseyed down to the 3 Brasseurs on Avenue McGill College and St-Catherine, where Microsoft bought the first round of pitchers.
A few brave souls, Arun and I kept the party going at Benelux where we continued to chat and drink until 2 in the morning, after which I had to scurry back to the hotel in order to get some shut-eye for Day 2 of TechDays Montreal.
I’d like to thank the following people for Career Demo Camp Montreal a success:
- All the presenters, for putting in the time and giving great presentations. It’s not possible without you!
- Jean-Luc San Cartier and Yann Larrivee for helping us put it together on the Montreal community end.
- Christian Beauclair for his invaluable assistance with the A/V setup.
- Matthew the TelAV A/V guy for his work and for staying late.
- TechDays head honcho Damir Bersinic for giving me the latitude to use TechDays’ space for community events.
- Microsoft’s Open Source Strategy team of Nik Garkusha and Arun Kirupananthan for helping to put this thing together on the Microsoft end.
(By the way, if you’ve got an open source project and are wondering what Microsoft can do for you, you’d do well to get in touch with Nik and Arun, shown below!)
This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.
One of the nice things about my job is that they actually ask me to incorporate the accordion into it. Yesterday, we shot this video featuring me on accordion promoting the upcoming Make Web Not War event happening next week right here in Accordion City. Think of it as another of my contributions to Accordion Awareness Month:
There’s only one mistake in the video – “accordion” is misspelled. If you’d like the follow me on Twitter, the correct ID is AccordionGuy, not AccordianGuy.
For more details about Make Web Not War, see: