Accidentally in Code

Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

I’m fairly outgoing – I mean, I moved to another country knowing basically no-one. And I coped. But it’s easy to meet people when you’re a student, and there are a lot of international students here who know what you’re going through. So it’s not been that hard for me to build a group of friends. Meeting people outside university though, is harder and scarier. It took me ages to connect with people I met at kickboxing outside the dojo, for example.

At my first conference (MCETECH), I met someone who suggested another conference (FOSSLC) and then I went to that as well. Another person at that conference followed me on Twitter, and we started interacting, and after a while, hanging out. And then I went along with her to an Ottawa tech event (Democamp – I blogged about it here), where I met some more people, discovered that there are a lot of tech events in Ottawa and also an easy way to find them.

Since then, I’ve been to Ignite and last night I went to Teamcamp. One of my friends went to Ignite, as well as one a guy I met at Democamp and had been interacting with on Twitter. Teamcamp was new, because I didn’t really know anyone there, although there were a couple of people who I’d talked to on Twitter. I nearly flaked, because I haven’t been feeling well all week, but I told myself to snap out of it and set off. And then I got lost in the rain because Google maps was confused.

But once I made it I had an awesome time, met some cool new people and really enjoyed myself. I’m really glad I went!

I guess I’ve accidentally given myself a crash course in “Networking”! Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Going with someone is fine, but try and come away with one or two new connections.
  • It’s OK if you’re not comfortable working a room, connecting with just a few people is still connecting.
  • Follow up – see how you can help someone and pass that information or contact on. Add them on Twitter and LinkedIn if you want to as well.
  • If you’re nervous, connect with people beforehand on Twitter. Find out the hashtag and tweet about it.
  • Be interesting – have something you’re working on that you can talk about. Be passionate about it!
  • Listen. You’ll have more to talk about later (and if you end up in the vicinity of a presenter, something to complement them on!)
  • Go for it! Most people are nice, and are probably going to these events hoping/expecting to meet people too.

Anything I’ve missed?

I’d never heard of Don Dodge until about a week ago, until he was one of the people laid off in Microsoft’s latest round of layoffs. He took it with great class, you can read the blogpost here.

I didn’t subscribe to his blog before, but his blogpost about his departure went viral on Twitter. A week later, the fact that Google has hired him went viral as well.

First off, well done him – on the new job and on handling the transition with grace. In his exit interview with TechCrunch he refused to say anything bad about Microsoft. Right the end, all he said was, “I was just surprised… I don’t… y’know, when I’m emperor I won’t do it that way”.

Second – this is a great example of blogging being good for your career. Working at Microsoft might have contributed to his personal brand, but when he left he took his personal brand with him. Handling it with class, built his personal brand up more. Now, a week later, he takes his personal brand to Microsoft’s nemesis – Google.

Talk about the best revenge being a life well lived!

I read a lot about how companies worry about their staff using Social Media. Microsoft was rare in that it allowed it’s employees to blog and identify themselves as working for Microsoft. It’s dawning on me that companies are going to have a new problem – when they lay off someone and that person announces it on their blog (what better way to let your contacts know you’re in the market for a new job?) they will have to deal with the fallout from that as well. That person could be bitter, and justifiably so, but maybe if they say no more than,

However, laying off 5,000 people when you have $37B in cash and huge profits is not cool.

… that might be worse.


Posted on: November 15, 2009

Ignite is a tough format – 5 minutes, 20 slides, and the slides advance every 15 seconds. As such, the talks aren’t so much informative as inspiring and I really enjoyed the evening. First such event in Ottawa, but hopefully there will be more to come.

You can see the full line up here, however sadly some people couldn’t make it and so the line up was as follows:

Adele McAlear – Death and Digital Legacy

Jairus Pryor – How I Stole $15M from the Canadian Mint

Ian Graham – Coworking

Sue Murphy – Online Community

David Akin – Media and Technology

Kris Joseph – Shakespeare and Oral Culture

Scott Annan – You Inc.: We’re all freelancers now

Nick Charney – Public Service Renewal in 5 Minutes

Al Connors – Improv and Everyday Life

Death and Digital Legacy

This is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately and had actually sat down with my boyfriend, given him my passwords and told him that if anything happened to me I’d want him to let people know. I will probably blog about this properly soon. What I hadn’t thought about, and what this talk brought into focus for me is OK, so I die, my boyfriend lets people know – then what? Do I want my Facebook profile to be a memorial? What do I want to happen to my Twitter account, my blog, LinkedIn etc. I still haven’t come up with any answers to that.

Adele talked about Mac Tonnies who died recently. He had not planned his digital afterlife, as a result the problem of what to do with his archives is ongoing. His family apparently do not own a computer, and did not realize that he’d not just left a website, he’d left a tangible community and online ecosystem – an Amazon affiliate account where money is paid in, and also services that cost, such as hosting.

Before this talk I realized that we had to think about our digital afterlife. Now, I’m starting to realize how much thought needs to go into it. I have more thinking to do.

Shakespeare and Oral Culture

Apparently Shakespeare couldn’t spell. I always thought that was just how people wrote at the time – but apparently it was more than that! Interesting talk and perspective about how rules restrict creativity. Mashups have no rules, and that’s partly why they’re so exciting.


Fantastic quote from this – “The harder I work, the luckier I get” (originally by Samuel Goldwyn). This was a talk on entrepreneurship. He stressed the importance of small victories – celebrate them. Think you can change the world, because the people who do change the world are the people who think they can. Love what you do. Being an entrepreneur means you can choose who you work with.

Summary: Work hard, have fun, surround yourself with great people and eventually you will succeed.

Online Community

Susan talked a lot about “Superstars”. In the case of her work in a production company, these were the people in the trenches, people with full time jobs spending 18 hours a day working on productions. Everyone working there was a superstar – they finished each others sentances and raised each other up. Acheived the near impossible on a regular basis.

She started (URL not currently working for me). after noticing the lack of good arts and entertainment information in Ottawa when out with a friend. She thinks that building stronger communities means building the 3 elements of a community, which are: soul (passionate to come together and create), everyone needs to be a superstar, space to come together and share. Concludes – we spend so much time thinking about technology and tools, but it’s not what’s important.

You Inc.: We’re all freelancers now

Scott starts by urging us all to quit our jobs, today (even if we don’t tell our bosses). We used to trade our skills and time as an employee so the company would make a profit in return for security, however that security doesn’t exist any more. Hence – we are all freelancers now! In the new reality, we won’t get to retire at 65, and thus rather than trying to earn more money we should instead look at our career as a journey.In Canada, the opportunity to have your own business is better than ever before.

Focus on skill growth – broad, not deep as this means more industries open to you when you change jobs. Connect with people – social networking enables connections. Your social reputation is increasingly important. Because of connectivity, it’s possible to make a living in a niche market. Authenticity trumps brand. Don’t worry about what you put online, just get online and do something. Do something that’s big and important to you.

In sum:

  • Dream big.
  • Quit job.
  • Build skills.
  • Build network.

Recommends Network Hippo as a tool to help manage your personal network.

Public Service Renewal in 5 Minutes

Great quote (threat?) from this guy – “or I’ll retire on the job and collect my pay for the next 26 years“. Trying to encourage us to put pressure on the government to change, because it moves so slowly. Talks about how difficult his first year working for the government was, how he was in denial about being in the public service. However, through blogging and finding his personal voice (buried under bureaucratic bullshit) he was able to connect with “fallen comrades” and started to build respect – which he used to try and tear down walls. Finally he started to connect with the job, and now he’s excited to go to work every day. He uses social media technologies to try and make the government more effective but it’s a drop in the bucket. What we can achieve collectively is far greater than what we can do on our own, we need to try and envision new ways to do stuff.

The goal of his talk was to be a call to action – a demand that we step up our civic participation and get our hands dirty. If you work in the government, be willing to think and act in color in a system that’s black and white. If you’re not in the government, you need to help to change the game – more pressure from the public is needed in order for the government to become more open and transparent – come up with ideas! Public servants need to be more engaged, and make change faster.

Improv and Everyday Life

Improv is increasingly popular – businesses want it, although they’re not sure why. Thinking on your feet, being able to work off the cuff and have intelligent things to say is helpful, great skill for job interviews – as such, Al owes every job he ever had to improv, especially those that weren’t improv related.

Another word is “Yes” – positivity. Things happen when you say yes. If you say no, nothing goes everywhere. He thinks we’re at the start of a trend towards positivity, which will carry us through the next decade. It’s important to say yes because it makes stuff happen. Pessimists make great stand-up comics – but lousy improvs. Accept the challenge, move forward and defeat it. Yes it involves risks, but risks motivate. There’s the potential for failure, but celebrate your failures – if you’re celebrating, the audience is laughing with you. The wost thing to be on stage is boring.

Concludes: MacGyver was an improv – didn’t worry about what he was going to do, just went for it and it was great. Make more improv in your every day life

Monday was Democamp 12, I heard about it in the morning and managed to get a ticket (someone dropped out). It was really a great evening; I met some really cool people and won a model plane.

Events: Betidings and Twegather

First up presenting was Betidings. The concept is that you have a calendar of events that you’re interested in, and you can follow other people and events they add to their calendar will show up for you as well. So with very little effort I now have a schedule of events in Ottawa and I can see what days I’m free and what interest me. The downside – I was living in contented ignorance about the Girl Geek Dinner on Monday, and now I’m gutted that I’m missing it! I think it’s worth checking out, you can see what I’m interested in here.

This is still in the very early stages and is more of a proof of concept than a fully fledged application but I think it’s worth a go – the more data there the more useful it will be. And it’s a nice way to share stuff you’re interested in without forcing it on people. I guess it could potentially be for events what Twitter is for ideas and content. Not sure everyone got this though – one jerk said the user interface sucked. Not quite in the spirit of democamp! The UI isn’t fully there yet and I’m not a big fan of the colorscheme but they’re actively looking for feedback and welcome any comments to @betidings.

Twegather (not yet public) was created through TeamCamp – read about it here. It’s an event system using Twitter, you’ll be able to create an event using @WhoWantsToGo.

Crazy Planes

The planes were what I was talking about in this tweet. A full article on it is this one, by the lovely @loudandskittish. I thought these were awesome because to me they illustrate the programmer mindset applied to something not-programming. I’m definitely going to be taking mine (and hopefully a few more) to my Holiday Science Lecture in December!

Twitter Procrastination Tool: BattleTwip

This is kinda cute! Battleship on Twitter, played against everyone. Created by 76Design, you can follow @battletwip and play via Twitter when the next game starts. They also have a really awesome looking web interface which we saw a preview of, but as far as I can find it’s not up yet.

Advertising: Shiny Ads

Shiny ads is an alternative to Google Adsense. It allows you to attract your own advertisers, gives them the tools to make their ad or upload it and then you can approve it (or not) and earn a much better rate for click-through. Wasn’t so relevant to democamp – although most people had websites, they seem to use them to either promote their (non ad-based-web-) business or personal brand.


Great experience, great people, great opportunity to interact with the Ottawa tech community and it’s nice to see what’s up and coming. I love the vibrant tech scene here! Can’t wait for democamp 13 – wonder if I could present my graphs…?