I’ll Never Have Another Excuse to Use This Photo Again

Joey and the Royals


The Windows Live Royal Tea

Joey deVilla, dressed for tea.

Yesterday’s Windows Live Royal Wedding-themed afternoon tea was a hit. The Windsor Arms Hotel has a lovely tea room, a fantastic selection of teas and some very, very addictive scones. Toronto’s lady bloggers and social media mavens, who are excellent company on any day, were doubly so yesterday afternoon. Many of them got into the spirit of the event by dressing up for the event and even wearing tea-worthy hats:

Ruth Morton, Christine Estima and Krista

For those who don’t have hats, the tea room at the Windsor Arms provides a nice selection from which you can borrow; they ask that you donate $5 to an AIDS charity if you wear one for a photograph:

The hat rack at Windsor Arms Hotel's tea room

Here’s my tech evangelist teammate Ruth Morton modelling her new dress and hat – looking sharp, Ruth!

Ruth Morton in her new hat and dress

There was a lot of lively chatter and laughter in the room:





…and let’s not forget my favourite part of afternoon tea: the triple-decker thingy with the food on it:


Since the triple decker food thingies were so gorgeous and since this was a social media gathering, everyone had to snap a picture of them as soon as they arrived:


Global TV were there to get some quick coverage of the event:


After tea and snacks came presentation time. Ruth did the opening presentation, showing off some Windows Live goodies:


I think the hit of the presentation was Windows Live Photo Gallery 2011, and in particular, the “Photo Fuse” feature, which helps you fix photos where someone’s blinking, looking the wrong way or any other such thing by letting you assemble the best photo from a series of photos.

Afterwards, I did my presentation, where I showed off OneNote, Office Live and Bing’s uncanny ability to find embarrassing Kate Middleton photos:

disco kate middleton

(There are photos of Yours Truly floating about online that are far, far more embarrassing.)

Here’s Ruth, rocking her demo:


…and she was also available after the demos to answer questions and provide a little one-on-one help. That’s what great tech evangelists do!


The formal part of the tea ended with Jen from She Does the City thanking everyone:


And then it was photo time.



Krista, Joey deVilla and Ruth Morton

Attention Dell Canada! You know who’d be a good spokesmodel for the Inspiron Duo, and who needs a new computer (hers is on its last legs)? Raymi the Minx. She’s widely read, gets lots of hits, and hey, if these photos of her with the Duo don’t get your motor revved, you’re dead inside:


Give us laptop mode, Raymi!


Now table mode!


Now sultry mode!


I’m not kidding, Dell. Hook Raymi up with a Duo and she’ll be your best spokesmodel ever.

We had some prizes to give away. The problem: it was impossible to stump our guests with trivia about the royal couple; they knew far more than we did:


In the end, we had to resort to “Who’s birthday is coming up?” and “Who’s engaged?”

Here are a couple of prize winners, Raymi and Casie Stewart, with their booty:


All in all, a fun event – perfect for my last appearance as a Microsoft developer evangelist. My thanks to She Does the City and High Road Communications for inviting me!

Joey deVilla, at the entrance to the Windsor Arms' tea room


How to Reach Me

Dialing "5639" on a phone keypad

In addition to my temporary change of address this summer (I’m going to be in Ottawa from May 1st through the end of August – here’s why), there will be a couple of changes in the ways I can be reached:

  • My old work email,, will be deactivated this week.
  • My old phone number, (416) 948-6447, will be similarly shut down.

Want to reach me? Here are the ways that’ll work:

  • My personal email,, works just fine.
  • I’m still @AccordionGuy on Twitter.
  • My new mobile number is (647) 985-JOEY (and “JOEY” is “5639”).
  • I’ll publish my new work email (probably or something like that) as soon as it’s enabled. / (64) 985-JOEY (5639)

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Shopify’s Build-a-Business Contest and its Crazy-Ass Grand Prize

Build-a-Business logo

The Build-A-Business Contest is Back!

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz…I wonder where the cool contests is?

Wonder no more. Shopify is bringing back the Build-a-Business Contest. Last year’s contest was a major success:

  • It created almost 1,400 new businesses, all of whom were entrants in the contest
  • Those businesses’ Shopify stores took in 67,000 orders
  • Those orders totalled up to over $3.5 million
  • And the winning company, DODOcase (they make cool-looking protective cases for tablet computers) claimed the grand prize of $100,000.

This year, we’ve (See? I’m already using “we”! Do I get my bonus now?) upped the ante. How up is upped? This upped:

Over $500,000 in prizes: pair of hand holding a stack of crisp $100 bills, with many, many stacks in the background.

I will repeat that: over a half-million bucks in prizes.

“What sorts of prizes are we talking here?” you might ask.

I would reply “Lots. The details of all the prizes are on the Build-a-Business Contest site, but what say we just focus on the grand prize for the time being?”

The Grand Prize, Part One: Filthy Lucre

The grand prize – the ultra-mega-super-Kahuna prize, is so good that I’m beginning to wonder why I took a job with Shopify. Maybe I should quit, open an online store, win the contest and walk off with…

$100,000 in cash: close-up of a hand putting a coin in a piggy bank

…$100,000 in cash! That’s a nice little bonus on top of the money you can make with your store.

The Grand Prize, Part Two: The Big Apple

However, this is no mere raffle – this is the Build-a-Business Contest, and as I said earlier, we’ve upped the ante!

We think that “a hundred large”, while nice, just isn’t enough. We want this prize to be awesome. Like gangsta rapper video awesome. How about we throw in some trips? Say, to…

New York City!: The Empire State Building, lit up on a cloudy day.

…New York City! (If you win, I will give you directions to the coolest obscure little rooftop bar, right in the shadow of the Empire State Building.) We’ll cover airfare, hotel and even throw in some “walkin’ around money”. That’s how hard we rock.

The Grand Prize Part Three: Power Lunch

“But what about food, Joey?” you might ask. “And not just food…I need scintillating conversation with my meal!” I would usually respond by saying “Wow, there’s no pleasing you.” But this is the Build-a-Business Contest, and we’re all about pleasing you, so we’ll throw in:

Seth Godin!: Seth Godin giving a presentation on stage in front of an image of Superman

…lunch with Seth Godin! And no, not some silly thing where you meet at a restaurant; that’s for lightweights. We’ll do one better: Seth will cook you lunch himself. And all you thought he did was write great business books!

The Grand Prize, Part Four: V for Victory

“Not enough!” you cry, and I look at you with great incredulity.

“What more do you want? I’ve given you a hundred grand, a trip to New York and lunch with Seth Godin, which by the way, he is cooking himself.”

“But I’ll need help growing my business! Couldn’t you hook me up with an expert on the subject?”

At this point, I’d slap my forehead in frustration. But this is the Build-a-Business Contest, and we’re going to make it rain by giving you…

Gary Vaynerchuk!: Gary filming one of his videos, brandishing wine.

…a one-hour power session with Gary Vaynerchuk! Gary’s done a killer job helping other people build their businesses with his advice and books like Crush It! and The Thank You Economy, and now you’re going to get an hour of one-on-one time with him. Gratis. You’ll learn more from him in an hour that a lot of people I know learned in four years of business school.

Here’s what Gary has to say about the Build-a-Business Contest:

The Grand Prize, Part Five: We’re Bringing Plex-y Back

“But that’s only the East Coast, Joey!” you might say. And under normal circumstances, I’d reply by saying “Dude, isn’t that enough?” But this isn’t normal! This is the Build-a-Business Contest! And we will give you the West Coast too, in the form of:

The Googleplex!: Exterior shot of Google campus, featuring an Android statue

…a trip to Google! As in California. As in a tour of one of the most amazing high-tech campuses in the world. And we’ll also throw in a personal AdWords consultation to help boost your business.

The Grand Prize, Part Six: The Four-Hour Fix

I stand in front of you, my arms wide, wearing a big open-mouthed smile, awaiting your response.

You say: “Okay, Joey, the Build-a-Business Contest grand prize is sixteen different flavours of awesome. But…”

My smile fades. “But…?”

“Couldn’t you…you know…add one more business guru? I mean, you had a couple on the East Coast, and this is the West Coast and all…”

I compose myself and rub my temples, resisting the urge to admonish you for wanting so much. Why? Because this is the Build-a-Business Contest, and our motto is “Go hard or go home”. And we’re not going home!

So I offer one more thing:

Tim Ferriss!: Tim Ferriss at a book signing

…dinner with Tim Ferriss! Tasty food, and a chance to pick the ultimate lifehacker’s brain about The Four Hour Workweek and The Four Hour Body.

“Now are you happy?” I ask.

“Yes,” you reply.

“Good. Now here comes the hard part. You have to win the Build-a-Business Contest, and you need to do the following in order to get your shot…”

The Build-a-Business Contest in Four Steps

The Quick and Easy Guide to Shopify's Build a Business Contest

It’s pretty straightforward, really:

Step 1: Think of something to sell online. (Lightbulb)

Are you an artisan? Got a line on some killer sauces and spices? Perhaps you sell accordions? If you have an idea for a business in which you sell things online, you’ve got step 1 down.

On to step two…

Step 2: Build an online store using you-know-what. (Computers displaying the Shopify wordmark)

We’re cool with giving away prizes, but there’s a reason we’re holding the Build-a-Business Contest: we want you to build online stores using the Shopify platform. It was built with making it easy to start and run an online store – in fact, we were our first customers! Take it for a spin…we think you’ll love it.

Once you’ve done that, the next step’s pretty easy:

Step 3: Enter the Build-a-Business contest. (Big ENTER button)

You can’t win if you don’t enter. So once you’ve got your Shopify-based online store up and running, enter the Build-a-Business Contest!

And finally:

Step 4: Build your business with our help. ("Help is on the way" indicator in an elevator)

We don’t succeed if you don’t succeed. So we’re committed to helping you take your Shopify business and grow it. As a tech evangelist with Shopify, I’m going to be part of the team that does just that, and you should check in with this blog, because I’ll be posting lots of advice, tips and tricks for getting the most out of Shopify.

And Why are You Still Reading This?

Don’t get me wrong, reading is good. But you should be scurrying over to Shopify’s Build-a-Business Contest site, where you can get all the details about the contest…

To the contest site!

And watch this blog, because I’ll be posting regularly about the Shopify platform, the Build-a-Business Contest and more.

It. Will. Dominate.

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


The Cake is a Liu Kang!

Having trouble choosing between the new releases of Portal 2 and Mortal Kombat? With Portal Kombat, you don’t have to choose…

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Tomorrow’s Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea with Toronto’s Lady Bloggers

afternoon tea

I’m actually on vacation this week – I exited Microsoft as of last Friday and will be entering Shopify on Monday – so the Windows Live demo that I’m doing tomorrow is something I’m doing gratis, like a hobby or something to do in lieu of catching a matinee.

The negotiation went something like this:

Lesley (who works at the PR firm High Road Communications): Would you be available on the 27th to do a Windows Live demo?

Me: Actually, you probably haven’t heard yet, but I’m leaving Microsoft to join Shopify. My last day’s on the 22nd. I’m going to be taking it easy before heading up to Ottawa.

Lesley: It’s an afternoon tea and the guests are all women.

Me: …aaaaaaand what time would you like me to arrive?

The assignment is simple: do a tech demo at a Royal Wedding-themed afternoon tea. I can do that.

Fun fact: This is an afternoon tea, not a high tea. There’s a difference!

So along with my former coworker Ruth Morton, I’ll be demonstrating some features of Windows Live to some notable bloggers including She Does the City, Lauren O’Nizzle, Erin Bury, Casie Stewart and Raymi the Minx, who’s going to be wearing this:


Raymi writes:

i’ll be wearing this for high tea tomorrow and i have a flower on my arm to match the print. i’m going president’s wife angelica houston styles visiting tropical climate royalty, except with a fancy hat or some kind of insane feathery headdress of sorts with my hair straight down and blond. this is in front of my aunt’s old coach house october 4 2008 and this belonged to her, i think she said she bought it at g’s from those nice tibetans, maybe possibly incorrect here. anyway it will be the first time i ever wear it in public. the ante has been upped guy. i am just pumped not to have to buy a dress, well that part’s great but the trying on is exhausting and i have no energy for it.

I will look through my closet tonight for something appropriate. I leave it to you to guess what how I interpret “appropriate”.

This should be interesting.

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.


Scent of a…Well, Maybe You Should Just Read the Article

perfume atomizer

I thought the world of software was crazy, but it’s positively grounded compared to the business of making smells. New York magazine has an article about Christopher Brosius, “the perfume world’s Willy Wonka” and his work on an “invisible perfume”: one that only certain people can smell.

In one part of the article, author Geoffrey Gray tries on CBMusk, a cologne created by Brosius, and presents it to a scent critic (I had no idea such a job existed). Gray wrote that Brosius had never smelled a musk deer, but designed the scent around what he imagined a musk deer would smell like. The result is, to my mind, hilarious:

I sprayed on the fragrance for Chandler Burr, a former scent critic at the Times. He grabbed my wrist, pulled his nose close, and began to tickle my skin with machine-gun-like bursts of air: sniff, breathe, sniff, breathe. I could see the muscles on Burr’s face tighten and contort into the shape of raw disgust, as if he’d just been forced to slowly chew through a dozen rotten eggs.

“Have you smelled this?”

Of course I had.

“Do you like it?”

Kind of. Yeah.

“Are you straight?”

I nodded. Why?

“Because that smell isn’t musk. It’s not even close to musk. That …” He looked back at my wrist. “That is the smell of man’s anus—a very clean man’s anus.”

Well, at least it’s clean.

Brosius’ response is not surprising: “I can see where he would get that. That is exactly what musk is designed to do. It is designed to be an erotic perfume.”

Check out the article, and I’ll see you at the cologne counter. Or maybe not.