It Happened to Me

Where I’m Working Today

Here (click the photo for the full story):

Entrance to the Cantata Lounge at the Delta Armouries London Hotel


It’s Ada Lovelace Day!

This article originally appeared in Global Nerdy.


It’s a special day in the blogosphere today: it’s Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to bring attention to women excelling in technology.

Whether you’re venturing into a career, a scene or even a room full of people, it’s always nice to find people like you. This is especially true if you’re in the minority; you wouldn’t believe the number of people who’ve walked up to me and said “You’re an accordion player too? I was beginning to think that I was the last one left!” It’s a reassuring feeling.

Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood suggests that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. This leads to a chicken-and-egg-style problem in the tech world: it’s perceived as a “sausage party” (that is, a gathering of mostly men), which in turn turns women away, which in turn keeps it a sausage party.

The solution is make sure that we’re recognizing the women in technology, which is why we have Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace was the daughter of Lord Byron and is widely considered to be the first programmer, having written a system of symbol-manipulating rules for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She is also crediting as having foreseen that computing devices would do far more than crunching numbers – while Babbage thought of his machine as a mechanical calculator, Lovelace suggested that “the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent”.

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, I thought I’d give a shout out to some Accordion City (that is, Toronto) area women in technology whom I know and have seen in the past couple of months. Take a bow and be recognized!

  • Sandy Kemsley: A regular on the Toronto tech scene with a career spanning over 20 years, she has forgotten more about BPM than I will ever learn.
  • Leigh Honeywell: She might just have the most-booked calendar in Toronto, what with her co-founding HacklabTO, working at the local Symantec office and finishing her degree at U of T.
  • Sacha Chua: Toronto’s most energetic and enthusiastic technology evangelist.
  • Qixing Zheng: My coworker! She’s the User Experierience Developer Advisor (Microsoft Canada’s first, in fact) and one of the hardest-working people on the Developer and Platform Evangelism team. She blogs at the Canadian UX Blog.
  • Kate Gregory: Microsoft Regional Director for Toronto, has forgotten more programming languages than I will ever learn, and the first non-Microsoftie to welcome me to The Empire at the Professional Developers Conference back in October.
  • Amber Macarthur: Tech news videoblogger extraordinaire!
  • Leila Boujnane: Founder and CEO of Idee, who make the coolest visual search.
  • Estelle Havva: The reality check at DemoCamp (she was the one who always asked presenters the question: “What’s your business model?”, promoter of Canadian tech at the National Reasearch Council and can do more pushups than almost anyone at DemoCamp.
  • Kaitlyn McLachlan: Creator of AskItOnline, the best survey web application I’ve seen.
  • Juan Musleh: I met her at the excellent CUSEC conference, where she was the Sponsorship Director.
  • Linda Wang: I also met her at CUSEC, where she was the co-chair and did some great work.
  • Jaclyn Konzelmann: I met her recently in a meeting with the organizers of the CUTC conference (and I owe her a couple of email replies).

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!


It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

when the Exxon Valdez hit the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, spilling about 40 million litres of crude oil.

The Exxon Valdez being escorted by Coast Guard ships
Click the photo to see it at full size.

Unlike many other oil spills, this one worked its way into popular culture:

  • The belief at the time was that the Exxon Valdez’ ship’s master Joseph Hazelwood was drunk, leading David Letterman to make a “Top Ten List” of his excuses, one of which was “I was just trying to scrape some ice off the reef for my margarita.”
  • In an episode of Futurama, the robot character Bender crashes an intergalactic tanker into a planet because he’s not drunk enough. In the world of Futurama, robots need alcohol to function properly.
  • In the movie Waterworld, the bad guys’ boat was named the Exxon Valdez, and their patron saint was Hazelwood. Hazelwood even appears in the movie, in portrait form – here’s a still featuring the movie’s chief villain, The Deacon (played by Dennis Hopper), talking to the portrait:
    Dennis Hopper looks at Joe Hazelwood's portrait in "Waterworld"

For a little more detail about the story, here’s a July 1989 Time magazine issue: Joe’s Bad Trip.

The Current Situation

Greg Gutfeld’s Gutless Apology

It looks as though even though Greg Gutfeld’s show on Fox News Channel, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, is consigned to the gulag of the oh-dark-thirty timeslot, his ignorant remarks about the Canadian military caught the attention of many people, including our own Defence Minister Peter MacKay:

Although Gutfeld has some access to the resources of a purported news network, his comments suggest that he was unaware of the fact that Canadian soldiers have been in Afghanistan since 2001, have been fighting in some of the most violent regions of the country and have even taken on friendly fire from their American allies. His timing couldn’t have been worse either; shortly after the broadcast of this show, four Canadian soliders were killed in Afghanistan.

In response, Gutfeld has made a weak half-apology:

I call it a weak half-apology, because it uses the “I’m sorry you were offended” time-worn cop-out instead of the proper “I’m sorry I offended you”:

However, I realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian military, and for that I apologize. Red Eye is a satirical take on the news, in which all topics are addressed in a lighthearted, humorous and ridiculous manner.

Was he not there when he did his piece on the Canadian military? There’s not much to “misunderstand”. Perhaps we should start referring to him as Greg Gutless.

Red Eye, which is a poor (and possibly brain-damaged) man’s attempt to capture some of the flavour of The Daily Show, often has commentary on the news with guests weighing in. One of the guests weighing in was comedian Doug Benson, who pitched in with his own ignorant remarks. He was scheduled to perform at The Comic Strip at the West Edmonton Mall later this month, but it has since been cancelled. After his remarks on Red Eye, doing stand-up at Canada’s murder rate capital might not be such a good idea.


Ignite Your Career #4: “How to Become a Great Leader”

This is a post that would normally go into just Global Nerdy, but I thought it would also be of interest to non-techies, which is why I’m posting it here. Enjoy!

Inspirational poster: "Captain James T. Kirk: I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am."

This Week’s Webcast

How to Become a Great Leader is the topic of this week’s Ignite Your Career, Microsoft Canada’s and CIPS’ webcast series aimed at helping you further develop your career with opinions and advice from experts in Canada’s tech industry. Here’s the abstract for the webcast:

Being a great manager does not by default also mean you are a great leader. For some people, being a leader comes intuitively, for others it is something that requires both self awareness and leading by example. This session will focus on what a panel of Managers/Leaders has done in order to further their development of leader qualities. Topics in this area are wide ranging and based on webcast participation will include such as goal setting, importance of goal alignment, motivation techniques, nurturing trust, developing listening skills and coaching team members. Be sure to listen in and join the conversation with this panel of experts for what should be a very interesting wrap up to the Manager series.

The panelists for this webcast are:

stuart_crawford Stuart Crawford shares his experiences and serves the Calgary Small Business community in his role as the Vice President of Business Development for Bulletproof InfoTech, a leading Microsoft Small Business Partner with offices in Red Deer and Calgary.

barry_gervin Barry Gervin is a founding Partner of ObjectSharp. As a Principal Consultant, Barry provides technical leadership to his valued clients, staff, and the development community. Barry currently serves as a Microsoft Regional Director in Southern Ontario and has received the Microsoft MVP Award for Solutions Architecture for the past 3 years.

dana_epp Dana Epp researches software security and focuses on strong authentication and identity assurance solutions at Scorpion Software Corp. As a computer security software architect, Dana has spent the last 15 years focusing on software development with a particular emphasis on security engineering.

greg_lane Greg Lane is the current Chair of the Canadian Council of Information Technology Professionals (CCITP) of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS). Greg is currently employed with Avanade as the Director Business Development Public Service for Canada.

The webcast will take place this Tuesday, March 24th, from 12:00 noon (Eastern) to 1:00 p.m.. Ignite Your Career webcasts are free of charge – all you have to do is register to listen using your Windows Live ID (which is also free).

Ignite Your Career isn’t about any specific technology or vendor; it’s about maximizing your potential at work and helping you come up with a career plan. No matter what platform or tools you work with, we’re sure that you’ll find this webcast series informative and helpful.

Previous Webcasts

All Ignite Your Career webcasts are recorded and archived so you can listen to them on demand. As with the live webcasts, there’s no charge to listen to them; you just have to register with a Windows Live ID.

The webcasts we’ve had so far in this series are:

  • Industry Insights and Trends
    The nature of technology is one of continual change; a fact of life for professionals in the ICT industry. As a result, you need to be on top of what is happening in the industry in order to position yourself and your organization to benefit from these trends. This panel discussion will arm you with the information you need from experts in the ICT industry in order to stay on top of your game.
    Speakers: Joel Semeniuk, Jeff Kempiners, Jay Payette and Paul Swinwood.
  • Discovering Your Trusted Resources
    Building a set of information sources and connecting with the community at-large are critical to your success in the ICT industry. This session brings successful community, technology, and information leaders together to share their experiences in discovering these resources. Our experts will help you learn how to identify credible sources and find the right tools, links and techniques to keep you up to date in a world of constant change.
    Speakers: Michael J. Sikorsky, Richard Campbell, and John Bristowe.
  • How to Establish and Maintain a Healthy Work/Life Balance
    With mobile technologies and our always-on culture, it’s imperative to establish and maintain a balance between work and life. If your only time to manage change in your environment is after hours, how can you maintain a healthy balance without burning out? How do you manage change so that you can develop your career and spend time with loved ones? This panel discussion will connect you to individuals who strive to establish and maintain this balance.
    Speakers: Mack Male, Cameron McKay, Paul Gossen, Mark Blevis

Now THAT’s What I Call Technical Innovation

If I ran a bar, all my liquor bottles would be rigged with one of these. They sell for USD$29.99 at the BudK Catalog:

Gun-and-holster attachment for serving shots from liquor bottles


Checkin’ Out the Scene While the Accordion Player Does His Thing

This photo was taken at the Accordion City club This is London at the Startup Empire conference back in November, but I didn’t know about it until just now. It’s either an album cover or a scene from a David Lynch movie waiting to happen:

Joey deVilla plays accordion in the foreground as two guys in the background look onPhoto courtesy of Lee Dale.