Category Archives: toronto

Industry showcase at U of T

Via Greg Wilson: Check out the computer industry showcase at the University of Toronto from 4 – 6 PM on Tuesday, September 5. Confirmed attendees:

I’m looking forward to the showcase and to the pub night afterwards!

If you want your company to be part of the event, you might be able to
get in touch with Greg Wilson through his blog.

By the way, gotta love the tagline for Greg’s blog: “Data is zeroes and
ones — software is zeroes and ones and hard work.”

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Of BarCamp and conversations

People who have never been to a BarCamp
probably have no idea what to expect from this un-conference. In fact,
I get the feeling that the BarCamp *I* go to is very different
from the BarCamp that everyone else goes to, even if we’re all going to BarCampEarthToronto.

I think my way is cool, and I think you should try it out. =) Here’s
what I get out of BarCamp and why I think it’s tons of fun.

For me, BarCamp is all about conversation. I start with the
assumption that as a whole, everyone else knows more than I do about
anything I want to talk about. My sessions are not presentations, but
roundtable discussions. I’ll structure them a little bit to give
people something to work with, like the way I talked a little bit
about Enterprise 2.0 or shared some of my networking tips. The value
of the session doesn’t come from me, though, but from the
participants.

My job is not to tell people answers, but to share a few stories and
ask lots of questions. I turn Q & A onto its head by saving more time
for questions than for speaking, and asking more questions than I
answer.

This also allows me to adapt to people’s interests on the fly. In the
middle of hallway conversation, I’ve said, “Hey, I’d love to have a
larger conversation about this,” run off to find a marker, and then
added the session to the grid. I think it’s okay not to be an expert
on something just yet, to not have a slick well-rehearsed
presentation.

I think this is so much more fun than treating BarCamp as a
self-organizing series of traditional presentations. I’d rather say,
“I feel like talking about ____” and see who else wants to.

Conversation. For me, BarCamp is all about starting
conversations. It’s fun following up with people, too. Just finished a
BBQ with a few people I met at BarCampEarthToronto – that was
great fun!

I’ll blog about this more when I’m more coherent, but yeah. Conversation.

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Free Software and Open Source Symposium, Toronto, Oct 26-27

Via Kelly Drahzal: there’ll be a Free Software and Open Source Symposium in Toronto from Oct 26 to 27. Admission for full-time students to the symposium is just CAD 10.00! I will so be there, if only to hang out.

The workshops look like mainly intro courses, which isn’t bad. I’d
like to see more people get into development. I wanted to get into the
workshop for educators because I want to convince everyone that open
source development really should be part of all computing students’
experience. I can get quite passionate about that! The workshop seems
to be full, though, so I may need to talk my way in.

Coming? =)

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Usability Camp

When Mira Jelic and Jyotika Malhotra told me about UsabilityCamp, I immediately signed up. Good thing I did, too. The event filled up quickly and more than a hundred people were on the waiting list. If last Tuesday is anything to go by, the next UsabilityCamp will probably fill up in a few hours! <laugh>

It was great crossing over into a different world and learning more
from user experience designers who focus more on user interactions
instead of code. My favorite presentation? I can’t decide between Ilona Posner’s demonstration of these very cool immersive devices that let kids (and adults!) experience what it’s like to be a cat, frog, or butterfly, or Michelle Ivankalc(sp?)’s talk about the physical design of objects.

I really enjoyed getting to know a bunch of new people, too. I met
Paul Forest, who’s on the steering committee
of the International Game Developers’ Association (Toronto Chapter).
He’s looking for a development job, and has experience in everything
from C++ to Java to .NET. Richard McCann
asked me about technology evangelism when he noticed it on my nametag,
and we ended up talking about his newly-fored company called
IdeaFarmer. I met Veau Trotter for the second
time (first was at Enterprise2.0Camp). I met Daniel Tsang again, too, and we chatted a bit about FreshBooks, a web-based accounts receivables system. He told me about monkeyonyourback, which I should definitely look for. I also got to know Robin Ward, and we got into an animated discussion of extensible software (Emacs for me, Firefox for him). I should ask him about the Firefox extensions he wrote…

I was particularly glad to have an opportunity to chat with Mira Jelic and Jyotika Malhotra, both of whom are very cool people (in both tech *and* style!). Kudos to them for organizing a great event, kudos to Ilona Posner for pulling in more sponsors and speakers, and kudos to everyone for making the event tons of fun!

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Random Emacs symbol: gnus-summary-pop-article – Command: Pop one article off the history and go to the previous.

Mesh planning party

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been blogging lately, that’s
because I’ve had just *so* much to do and so many interesting events
to go to. Last night’s planning party for the Mesh Web 2.0 conference
was definitely worth the late night. It was held six months after the
conference, apparently by sheer accident. Just like the conference,
the planning party was full of totally awesome people.

I really enjoyed catching up with Mark Evans and thanking him for his blog post about me, which my mother has no doubt printed and framed. Stuart and the rest of the Mesh organizers were there, of course. It was nice catching up with Michael O’Connor Clarke and learning of his love of Heinlein books.

I met tons of new people, too. Sulemaan Ahmed and I had a lot of fun explaining the benefits of LinkedIn and other business networking sites to Lesley Sturla and anyone else within earshot. Craig Borysowich has a company called Imagination Edge. Adam Clare‘s awesome. He runs a blog called Things Are Good. How can you not like that? Rob Schaumer and Eric are cool, too. Rob’s into personal development, and has just started blogging. Joseph Thornley and Chris Clarke are both from Thornley Fallis, and Chris Clarke runs a blog called Student PR. That’s nifty. Mark Ruddock looks like an interesting person, too – “entrepreneur in residence”? Wayne Gomes and I chatted a bit about the value of blogging. I briefly chatted with Gary Grant and Lars Hansen, too. Connie Crosby told me about her library blog. Jeremy Wright remembered me from Mesh because of my little black Moleskine notebook. Kevin Magee introduced himself just as I was heading out, telling me that I looked like an IBMer. He remembered that I’m an evangelist. =) (See? Memorable!)

And of course, it was a great excuse to catch up with Brent Ashley, Leesa Barnes (whom I haven’t seen since August!), Craig Saila (I will finally get to sit down for hot chocolate with him on Saturday), David P. Janes (who reminded me to blog more often), and other folks.

This is starting to read like a society column focusing on the Toronto tech scene… <laugh>

Anyway, great party, awesome mix of people, tons of fun, now time to decompress.

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Random Emacs symbol: load-in-progress – Variable: Non-nil iff inside of `load’.

#hohoto conversations

  • I put “Sacha Chua, @sachac, livinganawesomelife.com” on my nametag because putting “Sacha Chua, @sachac, sachachua.com” felt a bit repetitive. It made a number of people smile, although some people asked me if I was no longer working with IBM. I told them I’d gotten an alternate domain name for my blog because it’s a bit easier to spell.
  • Kristan Uccello pointed me to the red glowsticks near the stage. I stuck one in my hair. That and my white blazer made me slightly easier to spot in the club, although it was still quite, quite packed.
  • Ian Irving told me about some Twitter data analysis and visualization he’d like to do. I promised to send him some information about Many Eyes, Wordle, and other visualizations.
  • I introduced Elena Yusunov to Patrick Dinnen, who regularly spends some time at the Center for Social Innovation. Elena is interested in social media for nonprofits, and would like to check CSI out. I should get Elena and Jane Zhang together for coffee next week. Also, I should check out those capoeira lessons.
  • I told James Walker about the Drupal hacking I’m having a lot of fun with at IBM. =) I also told him about hacklab.to after he mentioned that he occasionally drops by the Center for Social Innovation to hang out and print stuff.
  • Saleem Khan mentioned spampoetry.com.
  • Eva Amsen mentioned that she’d heard about me from Jen Dodd and Michael Nielsen, and that she was one of the organizers of SciBarCamp. I think she’d have a great conversation with Elena Yusunov about organizing events and about social media for nonprofits. She also explained the meaning of her Twitter ID, easternblot – it’s a biochemist secret handshake thing.
  • Sunir Shah asked me if I’d been to Toastmasters lately. I haven’t, but I might try exploring some of the downtown clubs with him after he’s done with house-hunting.
  • James Woods said he’d been to Mauritius, and he found it interesting to hear unexpected people fluently speak French. Gabriel Mansour mentioned that Sameer Vasta had been to Mauritius recently.
  • Gabriel Mansour told me about http://cupcakecamp.ca, which looks interesting. I promised to e-mail the details to Greg Frank, who is interested in cooking but doesn’t bake much.
  • David Crow’s 15-month-old daughter is getting quite good at sign language, and tends to string signs together like sentences.
  • Adam Schwabe turned out to be the guy doing my usability test this week. We talked about the challenge of finding out what other people are doing when it comes to Web 2.0 at IBM. I promised to send him info about our upcoming Web 2.0 for Business community call, and to connect him with a few people. (I actually talked shop at a party; meep!)
  • Brent Ashley’s on his third ultra-mobile PC. He handed down the rest to his two daughters. Reminds me of the way my dad goes through Swiss knives…
  • Kieran Huggins should definitely look into getting one or two external flashes. They’re portable and they really make a difference in pictures. For photography awesomeness, buy glass (lenses) and light (flashes). And practice, of course, which he obligingly let me do.
  • Mike Miner runs into all sorts of interesting stories as a producer. He wants to go to Africa or South America.
  • Pete Forde’s planning a dinner party. I’m looking forward to it!
  • Bryan Watson can dance swing! That was lots of fun. I may have accidentally stepped on someone’s foot while finding this out, though.
  • I promised to e-mail David Crow and Jay Goldman about volunteering to help out with events so that I can learn how to organize external events.
  • I caught up with or met a whole bunch of other interesting people. =) (Hooray! I’ve been in Canada long enough to have old friends!)

… I feel like a gossip columnist with all these names in my blog post. Odd!

Also, I need to port my BBDB-auto-hyperlink-to-people’s-blogs-or-websites code over to Org mode. Ah, Emacs…