Sign of the Day

Sign painted on doors: "Please do not block these doors unless we say: 'Oh alright then, just this once'." Photo courtesy of

Geek It Happened to Me

A Busy Week

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

It’s gonna be a busy week for me — there’s a lot going on!

Damian Conway

Monday: Damian Conway and The Missing Link

On Monday evening, I’ll be catching Damian Conway’s presentation, The Missing Link. There’s nothing quite like a Damian Conway presentation – they’re equal parts computer science, mathematical digression, history lesson, physics lecture, pop-culture observation, Perl module code walkthrough and stand-up comedy routine.

If you’re up for an entertaining and enlightening presentation by one of the bright lights of the open source world and you’re going to be in Toronto tonight, you should catch this one. There’s no charge for admission and no registration process – just show up at University of Toronto’s Bahen Centre for Information Technology (40 St. George Street, west side, just north of College) at 7:00 p.m. and head to room 1160 (the big lecture theatre near the back of the first floor).

Map picture

Tuesday: DemoCamp 21 with Special Guest John Udell

DemoCamp Toronto 21: Tuesday, July 28th Tuesday evening brings the 21st edition of DemoCamp, which I like to describe as “show and tell for the bright lights of the Toronto-area tech community”. It’s a chance for people, from hobbyists working on a pet project to enterprise software developers building something globe-spanning to show their peers their projects in action or share an idea. It’s put together by my fellow Microsoftie David Crow (who’s also in Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism group); I cost-host the event with Jay Goldman.

This one’s going to be a special one for a couple of reasons. Firstly, this will be the first DemoCamp held at the Rogers Theatre. Second, Jon Udell, Microsoft Tech Evangelist extraordinaire, will be there.

The presentations on the schedule are:

  • You can’t pick your neighbours, but you can pick your neighbourhood!
    Saul Colt, Zoocasa
  • ArtAnywhere : Where Lost artwork meets Empty walls
    Christine Renaud, ArtAnywhere
  • Bringing Social Media to Contractors
    Brian Sharwood, HomeStars
  • Create a BlackBerry/iPhone Mobile App in 5 Minutes
    Alan Lysne, Cascada Mobile
  • Stories Told Together – Introducing Social Cards
    Shaun, MacDonald, MashupArts
  • semantic search for city events
    Dan Wood,
  • Guestlist – online event management
    Ben Vinegar, Guestlist
  • guiGoog: Advanced Visual Power Search
    Jason Roks, GuiGoog

Alas, this event is sold out. I’ll take notes and post them on this blog.

Wednesday: Science 2.0


The Science 2.0 conference takes place on Wednesday afternoon. Its topic: how the web and computers can radically change and improve science. It takes place at the MaRS Centre and the presentations are:

  • Choosing Infrastructure and Testing Tools for Scientific Software Projects
    Titus Brown
  • A Web Native Research Record: Applying the Best of the Web to the Lab Notebook
    Cameron Neylon
  • Doing Science in the Open: How Online Tools are Changing Scientific Discovery
    Michael Nielsen
  • Using “Desktop” Languages for Big Problems
    David Rich
  • How Computational Science is Changing the Scientific Method
    Victoria Stodden
  • Collaborative Curation of Public Events
    Jon Udell

As with DemoCamp, this event is a popular one and is sold out. I’ll take notes and blog the conference.

Thursday: Windows 7 Blogger Event

I’ll be helping out at a gathering of Toronto bloggers on Thursday, where we’ll be showing them Windows 7.

Friday: Coffee and Code

coffee-and-code-2 If it’s Friday, it must be time for Toronto Coffee and Code! It’s the day when I set up shop at a cafe – usually the Dark Horse – and work from there, making myself available to answer questions, hear your opinions and comments and chat. I’ll talk about Microsoft, our tools and tech, the industry in general, whatever!

This Friday’s Toronto Coffee and Code will take place at the Dark Horse Cafe (215 Spadina) from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.. Feel free to drop by!

Map picture

Other Stuff Going On This Week


  • Along with the other people on the team, I’m helping out with the preparatory work on the TechDays conference, which will be taking place in seven cities across Canada this fall.
  • I’m also working on ongoing series of articles covering stuff like coding fundamentals, ASP.NET MVC, mobile and some other stuff that I have to keep on the down-low for the time being.
  • And it’s not too late for me to start working on the ASP.NET MVC presentation that I’m doing with ObjectSharp’s Barry Gervin at the Toronto edition of Stack Overflow’s DevDays conference in October.
Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Filipino Heritage Workshops Starting in September


Are you looking for “Juan de la Cruz”? Let us help you!

“Juan de la Cruz” is a symbolic name used to refer to the Filipino in general. The closest North American equivalents are names like “John Doe”, “John Q. Public”, “Joe Schmoe” or “Joe Blow”. According to Wikipedia, the term was coined by Robert McCulloch Dick, a Scottish-born journalist working for the Manila Times in the early 1900s after discovering that it was the most common name in blotters. “Juan de la Cruz” is often used as a term to refer to the collective Filipino psyche.

The Filipino Centre Toronto is hosting a series of Heritage Workshops starting in September. They’re doing this in response to the growing need among Filipino youth in their search for cultural identity. It’s an expansion of the Tagalog and Homework club classes that the Centre has been offering over the past few years.

This fall, the Centre will be holding eight Saturday workshops on various aspects of Filipino culture for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. They’re aiming to reach college and university students, who have told them that they wanted to learn more about their culture. Through these workshops, they hope to help young Filipino adults in their search for their Filipino identity and what it means within the context of the Canadian society and environment.

The workshops will cover a number of topics, including:

  • Filipinos in Canada
  • Our cultural roots
  • Social and family values
  • The arts: visual, performing, literary and culinary
  • Filipino cinema and popular culture

Other related topics will be covered based on participant interest.

If you’d like to participate in this program, please contact the Filipino Centre Toronto by September 1st. You can register by calling the Centre at (416) 928-9335 or by emailing the program coordinators:

Life Work

The Job Opportunity You Can’t Refuse

Allen Stern blogs about a sign that’s outside Rice to Riches, a rice pudding place in New York City’s East Village:

Sign: "Help Wanted: Start a career in the fascinating, fast-paced lucrative pudding business. Long hard hours, very low pay, lots of heavy lifting, work for a ball-busting asshole, dead-end job, no benefits, no advancement, must be college grad. Start immediately."

The sign reads:

Help Wanted

Start a career in the fascinating, fast-paced lucrative pudding business

  • Long hard hours
  • Very low pay
  • Lots of heavy lifting
  • Work for a ball-busting asshole
  • Dead-end job
  • No benefits
  • No advancement
  • Must be college grad

Start immediately

It’s attention getting; Allen says that he saw a number of people read the sign and as a result step into the store. There’s more in his blog entry about the sign.

I wonder how many people read it and thought “Sounds great! Where do I sign up?”


Even More on the 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos

If the taste I gave you of the 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos yesterday left you hungry for more, I’ve got good news. There’s a full 14-minute infomercial that covers the upcoming event in greater detail:

Paste magazine goes into a little more details about the infomercial in their article Thirty Reasons Why the Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos Infomercial is the Greatest YouTube Clip Ever.

Accordion, Instrument of the Gods

The “No Accordions” Sign

I don’t normally vandalize signs, but I’d make an exception for this special case:

Sign banning accordion playing

Stefan Arentz, a co-member of HacklabTO, sent me the photo. He says that it was put up by a Dutch cafe owner to ban accordion-playing gypsies.


The 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos

Insane Clown Posse

Every now and again, I get an email or a phone call from someone doing a story on technical evangelism, community-building or some other Tipping Point-y matter. I’m always happy to answer their questions, and they usually take my answers seriously until they ask me for examples of people, organizations or groups that have been successful at community building. When I mention Insane Clown Posse, they think I’m pulling their leg.

If you take a couple of guys who started out holding wrestling matches in their back yards, put them in clown make-up, have them rap while backed by a metal band, all the while giving a GWAR-like performance, you get the rap-and-wrestling act Insane Clown Posse. They know how to put on a good show (yup, I’ve been to one), and they know how to reach out to their fans, who are referred to as Juggalos (which comes from the name of one of their numbers, The Juggla). Juggalos are a very loyal and tightly-knit group, which comes from their being outside the mainstream. They appear in droves at Insane Clown Posse’s shows, host gatherings for other Juggalos and evangelize Insane Clown Posse to people who don’t listen to them. They are true believers, the sort of audience that any band, author, performer or even brand would kill to have.

(Okay, I’ll admit it. In my collection of mix CD’s and my MP3 collection, you’ll find mixed CDs and playlists for long car trips, and in those playlists, you’ll find a selection of Insane Clown Posse songs. There’s something about a combination of carnival barker-style hip-hop combined with circus music, wailing guitars and shotgun blasts that I find enjoyable when behind the wheel. There. I said it. Commence your mockery.)

The 10th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos

One of the ways Insane Clown Posse reach out to the Juggalos is through the Annual Gathering of the Juggalos, a big camping event with a carnival atmosphere. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Gathering of the Juggalos, and they’re doing it up in grand style. Check out the promo video for this year’s Gathering:

I have to admit that I’m intrigued by:

  • The wrestling: I have to admit that I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.
  • The music acts: Ice Cube, Vanilla Ice and GWAR, all on the same ticket?! I’d like to see that.
  • The comedy acts: What’s Pauly Shore doing there? Jimmy Walker, “J.J.” from Good Times? And Rowdy Roddy Piper, former wrestler and star of the eighties cult classic film, They Live?
  • Hey, helicopter rides!

I’ve already booked a trip for the weekend of the Gathering of the Juggalos, and even if I hadn’t, it would be impossible to sell this idea to The Missus. I did mention it to my friend Pete Forde, and it piqued his interest. Were I single, I think I could’ve convinced him and a couple of other people to make a road trip down to wherever Cave-In-Rock, Illinois (population 346) is and spend a weekend in the mosh post drenched in Faygo.