What I’m Up To This Week

It’s going to be a busy week for Yours Truly…

Monday: Windows Phone Deployment Clinic

monday - windows phone deployment clinic

On Monday, I’ll be helping out at the Windows Phone Deployment Clinic at Microsoft Canada HQ in Mississauga (1950 Meadowvale Boulevard, off Mississauga Road, north of Highway 401), where you can book some time to test your apps on a real Windows Phone 7 device. If you’ve got an app and you’re going to be in the area, drop me a line and book an appointment!

(By the bye, that thing I’m standing beside in the photo above is a promo device known colloquially as the “Big-Ass Phone”.)

Tuesday: AndroidTO and TechDays Setup

tuesday - androidto techdays

On Tuesday, I’ll be spending some time at the AndroidTO conference, a gathering of Android developers, where I’ll be minding the Windows Phone 7 booth. Yes, that’s right, Microsoft is a gold sponsor at an Android conference. Why? Because:

  • We feel that if you’re an Android developer, go ahead an build Android apps, but expand your market reach by developing for Windows Phone 7 too! The programming languages and layout markup are similar.
  • If you’re an Android developer, what’s the best OS for doing development? We think it’s Windows 7, which is a great environment for Java. Loads of great Java dev tools run on Windows, and we don’t consider Java to be deprecated.

AndroidTO takes place at the Polish Combatants Hall (206 Beverley Street, just south of College), is free-as-in-beer, and is alas, completely booked solid.

I’ll also be doing some setup for TechDays Toronto, which takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wednesday: TechDays Toronto and Go DEVMental

wednesday - techdays godevmental

Wednesday brings with it TechDays, Microsoft Canada’s cross-country tech conference: two days of great sessions for developers and IT pros who are building stuff with the Microsoft stack. I’m the guy who picked the content for both developer tracks, “Developing for Three Screens and the Cloud” and “Optimizing the Development Process”. I strove for the best mix of both technology-specific stuff like Mark Arteaga’s Windows Phone 7 sessions and Kate Gregory’s Windows API Code Pack presentation as well as practice-of-programming sessions such as “Top 10 Mistakes in Unit Testing” and “Branching and Merging Strategies”. TechDays will occupy me from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m..

From 7 p.m. on, it’ll be Go DEVMental, the student event where we’ll show university and college students what’s possible with Microsoft’s web and mobile platforms. I’ll be doing a presentation on getting starting with game development for Windows Phone with an amusing little live-coded game called “BieberSmash”, starring the bubblegum pop idol of the moment. Go DEVMental is free and open to post-secondary students – just bring your student ID! You’ll get all sorts of goodies, including a DreamSpark token and Visual Studio 2010 Pro.

Both TechDays and GoDEVMental take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s South Building (222 Bremner Boulevard, right beside the CN Tower).

Thursday: TechDays, Day 2

thursday - techdays day 2

Thursday means another full day of the TechDays conference, to be followed by some very strong whiskey-based drinks.

Friday: Coffee and Code

friday - coffee and code

I’ll be running a Windows Phone 7 Coffee and Code this Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Timothy’s at 225 Front Street West (in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre building). I’ll be hanging out at the cafe, working on Windows Phone 7 code on both the emulator and real Windows Phone devices. Want to learn more about Windows Phone 7, see a real-live phone, play some games or test your code? Come on down!

Saturday: ACSE Conference

saturday - acse conference

University of Toronto computer science prof Steve Engels invited me to speak in front of a group of high school teachers at the ACSE (Association for Computer Studies Educators) Conference taking place on Saturday. I’m going to be showing them programming for high school students on Windows Phone as well as with the Kodu game development environment.

…and Sunday?

sunday - zzzzz

Well, it won’t be all sleep. I’ll have to pack for my Monday flight to TechDays Halifax!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek Life Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

GovCamp’s Coming to Toronto: Thursday, June 17th

govcamp toronto

GovCamp in Toronto!

First came GovCamp in Ottawa (May 31st – June 1st), and now GovCamp is coming to Toronto! GovCamp is an “Open Government” or “Goverment 2.0” unconference with these two goals:

  1. For governments to become more open, transparent, participatory, innovative, efficient and effective
  2. For citizens to become more connected to each other around their civic passions in the place they call home

GovCamp Toronto will take place on the evening of Thursday, June 17th and will be an evening where all sorts of people, from private citizens to government officials to representatives of publicly-funded organizations will get together to talk about the intersection of:

  • Government transformation
  • Social networking software
  • Participatory approaches to public engagement
  • Open data
  • Public service renewal

Is GovCamp the sort of thing you should attend? It is if you’re one of the following:

  • A municipal, provincial or federal public servant or a public sector agency employee with an interest in these topics
  • A thought leader looking to share and connect with this community
  • A member of the community of developers, advocates and practitioners in public engagement, government communications, technology, open data, open government or "Gov 2.0"

Who’ll Be There?

Few people know more about setting up “Government 2.0” unconferences than Toronto’s favourite high-tech policy wonk Mark Kuznicki, and we’re very fortunate to have him as GovCamp Toronto’s MC and facilitator. Mark has been behind a number of similar unconferences, including ChangeCamp, TransitCamp and Metronauts.

There will be a number of special guests including:

GovCamp Toronto will be hosted by:

  • Omar Rashid, Public Sector, Microsoft Canada
  • Julia Stowell, Interoperability Lead, Microsoft Canada

Where, When and What’s Happening

appel salon

GovCamp Toronto’s venue is nice and also quite central: the Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street, just north of Bloor).

Here’s the agenda:

5:00 Catered reception
6:00 Welcome
6:10 Opening remarks (David Eaves)
6:25 Discussion hosts introduce topics
7:00 Small group discussions and demonstrations
8:30 Closing wrap discussion
9:00 Catered reception

There are a number of ways to participate:

  • You can host a conversation. The conversations at GovCamp Toronto are created by you. We are looking for up to 20 hosts to help convene small group conversations on a variety of topics related to our theme. If you’ve got an idea for a conversation topic, propose one using the online form.
  • You can demo your web or mobile application. We’re looking for up to 6 web or mobile app demos that show the value of open public data, demonstrate what is possible in open government, or demonstrate real world application of social tools inside government. If you’ve built such an app, propose a demo using the online form.
  • You can join the conversation. You can either:

Find Out More About GovCamp

There’s lot of information, ideas and reportage from the recent GovCamp in Ottawa at the GovCamp site – be sure to check it out!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek It Happened to Me Work

I’m in Montreal This Week

Montreal: photo of poutine

I’m headed to Montreal this week, where Microsoft Canada’s Developer and Platform Evangelism team (of which I am a member) will be getting together for our annual team meeting as well as to help run the Make Web Not War conference on Thursday. There’ll be a lot of crazy stuff going on, and whatever isn’t blackmail material will end up here on the Accordion Guy blog, so watch this space!

The first part of the trip is about getting there, and we’re not doing it in the usual way. We’ve hired out a VIA Rail car to take us and a lot of Make Web Not War attendees to Montreal in style. The car’s rigged with power, wifi, Xboxes, Rock Band, monitors and other goodies to make the five-ish-hour trip even more nerd-a-riffic. I’ll post photos from the train.

Geek It Happened to Me Work

Toronto-Montreal NerdTrain (Departs Tuesday, May 25th, Returns Friday, May 28th)

via nerd car

A quick reminder: if you’re looking for cheap transport to Montreal for MonDev, Montreal’s Open Source Week (which concludes with the Make Web Not War conference), we’ve booked an entire VIA Rail car from Montreal to Toronto! The train car (pictured above) has wifi, power outlets and will be equipped with video monitors, an Xbox or two, a big-ass HP TouchSmart computer and other technological goodies to make the time pass by.

Best of all, if you want to book a trip on this car, we’re subsidizing it. Round-trip tickets are a mere $50 and cover the cost of the ride, a sandwich lunch and drink voucher! The train departs for Montreal on the morning of Tuesday, May 25th and departs back for Toronto on the morning of Friday, May 28th.

For more details, email

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek It Happened to Me Life Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City) Work

Mesh Conference: Toronto, May 18th – 19th

mesh conference

The 2010 Mesh Conference – the fifth one – takes place at Toronto’s MaRS Collaboration Centre on Tuesday, May 18th and Wednesday, May 19th. Its organizers call it “Canada’s Web Conference”, and it is: it’s this country’s premier get-together for creatives, techies and “suits” to share ideas about the internet and how it affects how we work, live and play.

This Year’s Keynote Speakers

This year’s keynote speakers are:

Chris Thorpe, Developer Advocate for the Open Platform at The Guardian

His background as a research scientist and his early involvement in Open Access publishing, makes him fascinated and passionate about what happens when data, content, platforms, identity and pretty much anything opens up. He spends his time at The Guardian working on the best ways to integrate The Guardian’s content, data and APIs with other people’s technology and businesses as part of the drive towards building the distribution and engagement channels of a mutualized newspaper.

Joseph Menn, author of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet

Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet, Menn’s third book, was published in the US in January 2010 and in the UK in February 2010 by PublicAffairs Books. Part true-life thriller and part expose, it became an immediate bestseller, with Menn interviewed on national television and radio programs in the US, Canada and elsewhere. Menn has spoken at major security conferences on his findings, which include hard evidence that the governments of Russia and China are protecting and directing the behavior of some of the world’s worst cyber-criminals.

Scott Thompson, President of PayPal

Scott Thompson is president of PayPal with overall responsibility for establishing PayPal as the leading global online payment service. Scott previously served as PayPal’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, where he oversaw information technology, product development and architecture for PayPal.

Arvind Rajan, Vice President, International at LinkedIn

Arvind Rajan leads the company’s initiatives in markets outside the United States and Europe. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Arvind was the CEO of Grassroots Enterprise. Also a co-founder of the company, Arvind developed pioneering online grassroots communications programs for a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. Arvind began his career with the Boston Consulting Group, and has held a wide range of leadership positions in emerging growth technology companies.

This Year’s Topics

Mesh will have two days’ worth of sessions covering a number of topics, including:

  • Open Government
  • Mobile phones and computing
  • The Pirate’s Dilemma
  • Privacy in the age of Facebook
  • Real-time
  • Social media in the Olympics, in the newsroom, as used by Médecins Sans Frontières and your business

For more, see the schedule.

Who’s Behind Mesh?

Mesh is a great example of the sort of thing that engaged and enthusiastic communities can create. It wasn’t created by a professional conference-organizing company, software vendor or government program, but by these five individuals known through the Toronto tech scene:

  • Mark Evans: Digital marketing and social media consultant, former VP at my old company, b5media, worked with the startups PlanetEye and Blanketware, and former tech journo with the National Post and Globe and Mail.
  • Mathew Ingram: Senior writer with GigaOm, former tech journo with the Globe and Mail and supreme tech blogger-about-town.
  • Mike McDerment: Runs Freshbooks, one of Toronto’s most successful start-ups.
  • Rob Hyndman: If (or more likely, when) I get sued, I’ll haul ass for Rob’s office! Considered by the Toronto tech scene to be its unofficial legal advisor, Rob runs Hyndman | Law, a boutique law firm catering to tech companies.
  • Stuart McDonald: Runs Tripharbor/Tripharbour; in a former life, he brought Expedia to Canada.

And of course, there are the sponsors, which includes Microsoft Canada. I’ll be there, representing The Empire along with my coworkers David Crow, Barnaby Jeans and John Oxley.

Get Your Tickets Now!

There’s not much time left before Mesh, and tickets are going quickly. The student tickets are already gone, but a few regular tickets — CAD$539 each – are still available at the registration page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

MeshU Workshops: Toronto, May 17th

MeshU: May 17th, 2010 - Toronto, Canada

MeshU – short for “Mesh University” – takes place on Monday, May 17th at the MaRS Collaboration Centre (101 College Street, just east of University). It’s a series of workshops for web designers, developers and “suits” that takes place the day before the Mesh Conference (“Canada’s Web Conference”) and will feature 12 workshops divided into “Design”, “Development” and “Management” streams delivered by people with real-world startup/tech business experience.

I’ll be there, as both an attendee furiously taking notes (which I’ll post here) as well as a representative of Microsoft Canada and Silverlight, who are MeshU’s event partners.

Keynote: Bill Buxton

Keynote: Bill Buxton

Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, human-computer interaction guru extraordinaire and fellow alumnus of Crazy Go Nuts University, will deliver the morning keynote. Every presentation I’ve ever seen him do has always inspired me and given me at least three new ideas, and I expect that this one will be no different. He’s an intelligent, engaging and interesting speaker – don’t miss your chance to see him live!

MeshU Sessions

Here are the MeshU sessions:

Registering for MeshU

Alas, the $49.00 student tickets for MeshU are sold out. Here’s what remain:

  • Regular tickets: CAD$289.00 each
  • “Friends of MeshU” sponsorship: CAD$1000 each – with this, you get:
    • 1 regular ticket
    • 1 student ticket
    • Your logo on the MeshU site and at the event
  • “Really Good Friends of MeshU” sponsorship: CAD$2000 each — with this, you get:
    • 2 regular tickets
    • 2 student tickets
    • Your logo on the MeshU site and at the event
    • A table at the event

To register for MeshU, go to the MeshU registration page.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

Geek It Happened to Me Work

Montreal Bound

porter plane Photo by Tom Purves.

I’m boarding a Porter flight bound for Montreal, where I’ll be attending CUSEC (Canadian University Software Engineering Conference). I’ll be there from today through Saturday afternoon, watching technical presentation, flying the Microsoft banner, hosting DemoCamp and having a beer (or twelve) with my fellow conference-goers. I’ll be posting notes and photos from the presentations and other goings-on, so watch this space!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.