Toronto

Ruby Job Fair in Toronto Tonight!

by Joey deVilla on February 10, 2012

Ruby Job Fair Poster

Don’t forget: the Ruby Job Fair takes place tonight at Unspace headquarters (342 Queen Street West; it’s the door just to the right of Lululemon)! If you’re looking for work that involves Ruby programming or if you’re an employer looking for Ruby developers, you’ll want to be at this event, which is more cocktail social than career fair. Yes, there will be a bar.

The event takes place from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.. DO NOT show up early! They’ll either be wrapping up the day’s work (remember, Unspace is a development shop) or prepping for the event. If you plan to show up fashionably late, please note that the employers are doing their three-minute “soapbox” spiels starting at 6:30.

There’s a small registration fee to help cover the costs of holding this event: it’s $5 for people looking for a job; $15 for employers looking for Ruby developers. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck at this event. Click here to register for the event, and do it before the tickets run out!

Shopify logo

If you’re looking for Ruby work at one of the most successful startups around, you might want to consider Shopify. I’ll be there tonight as Shopify’s representative – find me (I’ll be the guy with the accordion) and we’ll talk.

If you’re looking to find out more about Ruby Job Fair, check out the Ruby Job Fair site as well as my earlier article on the Fair.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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The Toronto Sun: The “Human Centipede” of Local Media

by Joey deVilla on February 9, 2012

"Human Centipede" diagram with Toronto mayor Rob Ford at the front, Ford's former press secretary and Sun Editor Adrienne Batra in the middle and at the very end, Sun columnist and annoying Rob Ford cheerleader Sue-Anne Levy.

"I'm the Mayor. Deal with It." Picture of Family Guy's Peter Griffin in a suit.Ah, the Toronto Sun. I’ve seen better paper after wiping my ass. Once upon a time, it served a purpose; there was the SUNshine girl, Bloom County and countless ads for electronics. It’s the only paper here that sasses back at letters to the editor. These days, we can do all that and even better on the internet.

This graphic nicely captures the Sun’s true nature: a “human centipede” (here’s the Wikipedia entry, but be warned; it’s a really gross movie) of news, mindlessly and slavishly loyal to Rob Ford, mayor and general embarrassment of Toronto. Toronto people, share this one around widely!

Thanks to Chris Charabaruk for finding this for me!

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Toronto’s Got an Ultimate Tazer Ball Team!

by Joey deVilla on February 6, 2012

Every year, we get closer to having a TV show like The Running Man. The latest sign in this progression is Ultimate Tazer Ball, which looks like a sport that the guys behind Jackass would’ve dreamed up: rugby (itself supposedly a game born in a moment of frustration) with a medicine ball…and tasers! Add uniforms with electroluminescent wire – to remind you that there’s actual electricity in this game – and you’ve got something that I might just have to see live…at least once.

As you might expect, UTB’s real draw is the addition of tasers. In a moment of Buddha-like insight, player Jason Bornstein says in the promo video (see above), “It hurts, man. It doesn’t feel good. It’s why the cops use ‘em.”

toronto terror

Best of all, Accordion City has a team! It’s the Toronto Terror, and the logo is cleverly to designed to remind you of the fact that this team plays with live current. The other teams in the league are the San Diego Spartans, the L.A. Nightlight and, in what must be an homage to the Springfield Isotopes, the Philly Killawatts, all of whom use some kind of jagged lines in their logos to say “Electricity! Dude! TASERS!”

Monster trucks and mixed martial arts no longer bring me the inner peace and joy they once did; perhaps Ultimate Tazer Ball will. When they schedule the first match in Toronto, I’m definitely going! Who’s with me?

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My Night at Canada Suites on Bay Street

by Joey deVilla on December 16, 2011

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Last Wednesday, I stayed at the Canada Suites located right in the heart of downtown Accordion City at 736 Bay Street, just south of College. They maintain a number of condos here, which they rent out as executive suites to visitors to Toronto or locals from the burbs who want to have a weekend downtown. They’ve been wanting to get the word out about their offerings, so they contacted Danielle “that PR thing” Iversen, who in turn contacted me.

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I’ve been living a somewhat itinerant life ever since The Great Reset a year ago, having spent about half the year waking up and seeing strange ceilings. My longest such stay was at the Swank Tank, my nickname for the 126 Sparks executive suite in Ottawa, located on Sparks Street and right around the corner from the Parliament buildings. I lived there from May Day to Labour Day as I immersed myself in my new job at Shopify. I figured that I could offer an expert opinion on Canada Suites.

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Kevin Murphy, who helps manage the suites, greeted me in the lobby of 736 Bay. It’s a condo building where Canada Suites owns about a dozen or so of the units. Kevin typically meets guests in the lobby, gets the relevant paperwork signed, takes them up to their unit, gives them the nickel tour and depending on their familiarity with the city, tells them about what’s in the area. He’s a young, friendly guy; in our conversation, I found him to be helpful and happy to answer my questions about the place.

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The unit I stayed in was on the very top floor of the building – the 31st – a one-bedroom, one-bath affair with a combined living room/dining area and a kitchen that looked onto it. Tucked away near the entrance was a closet with a washer and dryer, and both the entrance hallway and bedroom had sliding-door closets.

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Once Kevin left me to my own devices, I snapped photos of the unit. All the photos in this article were taken by me.

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Most long-term stay places tend to be decorated in neutral colours in order to appeal (or at least not offend) the widest possible array of guests. Not this place: whoever decorated the living and dining rooms went for an Asian-ish theme in red, white and black with a bit of gold here and there. Red and gold are colours that symbolize prosperity and luck in Chinese and Japanese cultures, and they were into black lacquer before it was cool. It seems as if they were trying to attract taipans, and it’s a nice change from the typical, intentionally-bland hotel suites that I’ve been in all year.

The couches were comfortable and far less squeaky than they look, and the overall living room setup would work just fine either for meetings or social visits.

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Although I didn’t try it out, Kevin told me that one of the couches folded out into a bed so that people could also sleep in the living room. He said that a number of their clients were people from the outer burbs or a few hours’ drive away who wanted to do a “boys weekend” or “girls’ nights out” and rented the unit as a group. It’s a good way for a group coming into town to stretch their dollar, especially if they take advantage of the kitchen and nearby groceries (there’s a Sobey’s in College Park across the street, and the big new Loblaws at the old Maple Leaf Gardens is just a short walk away).

The living room had a TV connected to a DVD player (the convenience store downstairs rents movies) set atop a fake fireplace (an electric heater, but it did give off a nice glow at night). Beside it was a computer desk with an iPod/iPhone dock; it’s a decent enough size for a laptop, but it might be a bit small if you’re working with paper or reference material on the side.

The suite comes with free wireless internet. It’s not all that fast (about 700 kbps both up and down according to SpeedTest.net’s speed test), but enough for you to get most kinds of work done.

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Other clients who’ve stayed in the unit include the usual people travelling to Toronto on business, as well as people from out of town/province/country who are interviewing for jobs or who’ve landed a job in Toronto and need a “base of operations” while they look for a place to live. There have also been clients who’ve come into town to visit relatives on a longer-term basis.

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In my opinion, the nicest feature of the place was the bedroom. It was nicely appointed, had a comfy bed (more comfortable than those in some hotels I’ve stayed in this year) with nice sheets, big closet, TV and fake fireplace (like the one in the living room) and its window was actually a glass door leading to a balcony overlooking downtown. It felt considerably more like staying in someone’s guest room than yet another cookie-cutter, could-be-near-any-airport hotel room.

If you’re sensitive to noise, you should note that there’s a constant hum that you can hear at night; it sounds like an HVAC unit on the roof (the suite’s on the top floor of the building, so the unit is just above). It didn’t bother me, but I was woken up by a helicopter ambulance coming in for a landing at one of the nearby hospitals. This is downtown in a city of three million, so you should expect that sort of thing.

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Here’s a view from the balcony, which faces south towards downtown and the majority of the skyline buildings. That’s a fine mesh net you’re seeing; I have no idea of what its purpose is.

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I liked the parquet flooring. It’s far less of a bedbug/dust/spill trap than carpeting is. The Swank Tank (the executive suite in Ottawa where I lived this summer) was carpeted and had a fair number of red wine stains. The wood floors at the Canada Suites suite were much nicer. They were well-swept; whoever they’ve got cleaning up after guests is doing a pretty good job.

The suite is a little more hotel-like in that not only do they provide towels in the bathroom, but there are also toiletries.The bathroom’s a decent size, with tub/shower, and was very clean; as with the bedroom, it felt more like the guest bathroom in a nice house than a hotel bathroom.

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Being in a condo building, the kitchen doesn’t have windows facing outside, but it makes up for this by being extremely well-lit. There is a central light, a ring of fluorescents around the perimeter and even more lights for the counters. It’s a fully-functional you-could-live-here kind of kitchen with stove and oven, fridge, microwave and dishwasher.

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There are enough cookware, utensils and dishes to make some decent meals, and as is typical for such places, they haven’t been used much. The pots and pans are bachelor-sized and aren’t going to be sufficient to make a Thanksgiving feast, but they will do for cooking meals for one to two people with the occasional couple coming over for dinner. Between the kitchen and the two nearby full-service groceries, you could really stretch your visiting dollar by cooking meals in the suite.

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Here’s a view of the living and dining rooms from the kitchen:

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All in all, I enjoyed my stay. The accommodations were far better than many of the hotels I’ve stayed at this year, and the suite is in a prime location: the middle of downtown, near transit, near shopping and a short walk away from the financial district, with Chinatown and the Entertainment District also within reasonable striking distance. The living room and work area were good, the bedroom was excellent, the bathroom was clean and Kevin, the one staffer with whom I interacted, was helpful. If you’ve got the money – the fee varies with how you make arrangements, whether directly through Canada Suites or via one of the discount hotel search engines – I’d recommend staying here.

Links

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HoHoTO is Happening This Thursday!

by Joey deVilla on December 12, 2011

An overhead view of the packed dance floor at HoHoTO

hohoto logoHoHoTO began three years ago as a Twitter conversation among Toronto’s tech and social media crowd and turned into the Toronto Christmas fundraising event. This Thursday, December 15th, marks the fourth HoHoTO party, and tickets are still available. Since the very first HoHoTO party, the event has raised over $200,000 for the Daily Bread Food Bank (making them one of the largest donors) and this year’s goal is to raise $65,000. The unofficial slogan of HoHoTO is “You party for a night; they eat for a week”. Good times, good cause, what’s not to like?

If you’re in town and want to enjoy an amazing party with great music, dancing, drinks and other fun goings-on with some of the people who make Accordion City the special place that it is, you’ll want to buy a ticket now.

If you can’t make it to HoHoTO – or like me, you’re not in town that night (I’m in Ottawa for the week) – you can still do good by making a donation (visit the HoHoTO site and click the “Donate” button). With a million Toronto-area people having had to make a visit to a food bank in the past year, your help is needed, and there’s nothing more in the spirit of the holidays than giving.

If you’d like to find out more about HoHoTO, check out this Canada Newswire piece: HoHoTO Feeds Hungry Torontonians for the Fourth Year Running.

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Scenes from Bordeaux “After-Work” Party

by Joey deVilla on November 17, 2011

bordeaux 0

Between work, travel and living in Ottawa for the summer, I’ve been missing the Bordeaux After-Work Party events that have been taking place in Accordion City all year. I’ wish I could’ve made this one at Marben:

Or this one at Eight Wine Bar:

However, on Monday, October 24th, the date of the final one of the year, my schedule was wide open and there was no way I was going to miss it.

bordeaux 1

I like Crush Wine Bar, where this event took place. I’ve been going there for years, both to simply have some wine and cheese at the bar in the front as well as to have a full meal in the larger room in the back, and for reasons ranging from business to dates. They’ve been preparing continental bistro food in the same consistently good way over the years, and I’ve come to think of them as an ever-reliable spot for an evening out. For a party like this one, it’s a natural fit.

bordeaux 2

For the Bordeaux After-Work Party, they cleared the large tables out of the dining room, replacing them with smaller stand-up cocktail tables and win serving stations. Even with the extra room gained by this arrangement, the place was packed pretty solidly – easily 200 people – not bad for a Monday night.

bordeaux 3

For this event, they served six wines: three reds, three whites. I’d give you more details, but alas, the brochures are at home in Toronto, and I’m in Chicago as I write this. I stuck with the reds and one in particular caught my fancy. I’m going to have to check my hand-written notes when I get back at the end of this week.

Crush complemented the Bordeaux with great appetizers. I was pretty fond of the sliders and selections from their charcuterie plates. These guys do food wonderfully, and I was only too glad to return a couple of weeks later when an old pal from high school took me there for a birthday dinner.

bordeaux 4

The crowd were a lively bunch. They guys appeared to have come straight from work, which a number of the women looked as through they’d managed to change into something more suitable for a cocktail party, and both were a chatty bunch. I struck up a number of conversations and even played a couple of requests (of course I brought the accordion!) and exchanged some business cards, email addresses and digits. If you’re looking to make friends, acquaintances, business contacts and accordion fans, the Bordeaux After-Work Party’s a pretty decent place to do so.

I’m looking forward to the next one!

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Marg: Princess Warrior’s Greatest Hits

by Joey deVilla on October 28, 2011

Screen capture of the BoingBoing article linking to my articleYesterday’s post about Accordion City’s Peter Griffin-esque mayor, Rob Ford, hit 20,000 pageviews and climbing thanks to a link from BoingBoing, the long-time 800-pound gorilla of the blogosphere. Thanks to my friend and former coworker Cory Doctorow for the link!

Yesterday’s post also introduced a lot of people, most of whom live outside Canada, to Mary Walsh’s character-within-a-character on the current events satire program This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Marg Delahunty playing Marg: Princess Warrior.

The CBC were quick to note that the Rob Ford 911 incident has put the Marg: Princess Warrior character in the spotlight, and they’ve assembled a montage of Marg’s greatest hits, which you can see in the video above. In it, you’ll see her quick-hit interviews with a number of Canadian politicians and one hockey commentator: Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Lucien Bouchard, Joe Clark, Ralph Klein, Don Cherry and Paul Martin.

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