Thursday, August 28, 2014

UXCamp Ottawa Tickets Still Available (But Prices Go Up Soon!)

UXCamp Ottawa Logo
I've been asked several times over the past few weeks whether there are any tickets left for UXCamp Ottawa 5. Apparently, there are rumours going around that we are sold out. So here's the deal:


Yes, we sold out of Early Bird tickets in less than half a day. (Wow!)
Yes, we sold out of the next price level of tickets within a few days after that. (Again, WOW)

But then I think all this talk of levels selling out led to some confusion about tickets being sold out.
So let me re-iterate:

That said, let it be known that when this price level sells out ($269), we move on to the $299 level. And when those are gone... well, let's just say, you should have your tickets before then. Ok? You wouldn't want to miss the amazing line-up!

Still on the fence or Wondering: What is UXCamp?

Seriously, are you new here? Oh, you are. Ok. Well, then: UXCamp Ottawa is Canada's largest UX community conference. The event is in its 5th year and brings together over 400 user experience practitioners from Ontario and Quebec, the Prairies, British Columbia: we get folks from Montreal, Toronto, London, Waterloo, Vancouver, Calgary and some of the border states.

Our speakers are a cross-section of the best and brightest minds from the UX, development and design industries. The event is a real treat for attendees because we often manage to bring in speakers who either never or rarely ever come to Ottawa, let alone Canada, for speaking engagements.

That said, the two-day single track program is delivered with a lot of fun, excitement and we generally describe it as a two-day UX love-in (seriously, there is a *LOT* of hugging at UXCamp. It's a little weird but it seems to be our thing).

There are 3 co-chairs (including myself, Barb and Cornelius) who coordinate the non-profit event year over year. Beyond us, there is a group of volunteers (which changes every year) and a slew of local UX businesses who help us put on the event.

Want to know more?

If you're looking for information about UXCamp Ottawa, the best place to start is our website: Or tweet @uxcampottawa or reach out to one of us directly (our names above link to our Twitter accounts). Not on Twitter? Email for more information. We love to talk about UXCamp, so ask away!

And, most importantly, go buy a ticket!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tabletop Gaming: Adventure Time Card Wars

Adventure Time Card Wars (Image Credit:
I was recently browsing in a game store and came upon an interesting box that I knew the Dude would love: it was the Adventure Time Card Wars game. In real life.

Card Wars started off as a fictional game portrayed in the cartoon show Adventure Time (see the episode below). In the show, the main characters Finn (the human) and Jake (the dog) square off in a rousing card game which escalates into the usual insanity that defines the show.

[Aside: If you've never seen Adventure Time, I basically describe it as Ren & Stimpy on crack. I still haven't figured out if you're supposed to watch it when high or never ever watch it when high. LOL]

The game setup is basically similar to other tabletop card games like Magic the Gathering: two opponents, each gets some land and a basic hand of cards containing some combination of characters, buildings and/ or spells. The goal is to build up an army and wage wars on the opponent's territories, with the intent to reduce their life points from 25 to 0. First to do that wins. (Sadly, there is no 3-d tabletop action like in the Card Wars episode ;)

Now, since this is an Adventure Time game, the instructions are entirely written in Adventure Time-speak. Which means of course that after reading them several times, I was still somewhat confused about the game play so we headed to YouTube to watch a couple of videos to figure out the remaining details. (I posted them below for reference.) Even with all this info, it still took us a couple of tries before we finally figured it out. I think. LOL

Thankfully, there is also a handy Card Wars wiki that we can use for reference.

If you're interested in giving it a shot, we picked up the set for  less than $20 at our local game shop but you can find it pretty much anywhere with a quick Google search. The game is rated 10+ and plays with 2 players. An average session ranges from 15 minutes, but ours seem to take longer (we're still learning). Expansion packs are available to add more cards and different players (BMO vs. Princess Rainicorn, for example).

Overall, Card Wars is a great way to introduce younger kids to gaming (I refer to it as a "gateway game" into other tabletop games), or just a fun way to kill some time on a rainy day.

Note: If you prefer video games, the Adventure Time wiki page about Card Wars lists Android and iOS versions of Card Wars too.

Board Game Geek: Adventure Time Card Wars

WeaponsGrade Review: Adventure Time Card Wards

Adventure Time Card Wars Episode

Adventure Time - Card Wars

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ottawa Geek Social Club: Meetups For Getting Your Geek On

OGSC logo
So, I was looking for geeky things to do with the fam in July and came across this Meetup Group: The Ottawa Geek Social Club.

There is a group of people in Ottawa whose sole purpose is to get together and do geeky things.
I had no idea.

OGSC is meant to bring together folks of the geeky persuasion from the Ottawa area. With its 19+ (age) membership, they target adults, however they do have some kid-friendly events. Wondering if you're geeky enough? They certainly do seem open to just about anyone based on their profile:
Calling all geeks! Socialites and shy; trekkies and star wars buffs; cosplayers and bookworms; fluent in MS-DOS and Objective C and those who don't even know what those are; workers, students and non-workers; alliance and horde players!
There are 619 members according to their Meetup page and 24 upcoming meetups, including such things as game nights, stargazing and movie nights, nerdy speed dating :), geek garage sales (yes, please) and OMFG: the Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat-Cereal Cartoon Party. It's exactly how it sounds: Saturday, August 30th, you go to the Mayfair from 10am-1pm and pig out on cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons. And you're even welcomed to go in your PJs. Who's with me????

Game Night Tonight

If you want to get your nerd on tonight, OGSC are hosting a game night tonight starting at 6:30pm at the Royal Oak (188 Bank). Apparently, it happens every two weeks, so checkout the meetup page for info and RSVP.

More upcoming events

Check out the OGSC Meetup upcoming events page or the OGSC Facebook page for more a full list of upcoming events. And don't forget to let me know if you plan to head to Cartoons in August!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

UXCamp Ottawa Update: Regular Tickets go on Sale Today

Just a quick note to let you know that if you missed the Early Bird tickets earlier this week, you'd better keep an eye out for the first batch of regular-priced tickets going on sale TODAY. 100 tickets will be released and they don't last long!

Buy UXCamp tickets

P.S. Not sure if UXCamp is for you? Read this!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UXCamp Ottawa 5 Tickets Are on Sale NOW! (UPDATED)

UPDATE: YOU GUYS. Early Bird tickets sold out in less than half a day. Heed my advice and follow that link to the UXCamp site to get on the mailing list and so you can find out when the regular prices tickets are released! This is going to be a great UXCamp!

UXCamp Ottawa logo
Did you get the most lovely email in your inbox overnight? The one declaring Early Bird tickets to be on sale for UXCamp?

(If not, you need to head over to the UXCamp site, scroll down to the footer and register to be on the mailing list. These are announcements of the utmost importance, people!)

Here's the scoop: there are 100 Early Bird tickets available at $189 apiece. Once those are gone, we'll have regular tickets for $249. And then there will be last minute tickets at $299. So really, you should get on this ASAP.

In fact, you're kind of late, already. The tickets were released at 1:30am and the first two tickets were gone by 1:34! How insane is that?!

Overview of UXCamp Ottawa 5

If you've been to a UXCamp before, you know how incredible an experience it truly is, from the speakers to the venue to the hugs. It's like a 2-day UX love-in. Ok, if that's not your thing, it's the biggest UX community conference in Canada. Better?

I never feel so energized as I do at UXCamp. Or stressed. (Granted, I'm a co-chair so that's part of the job :) but I love every minute of it.

Here's a sneak peek at what to expect this year:

  • 2 days of UX learning and networking
  • A stunning venue (the theatre of the Canadian Museum of History)
  • HUGE names in UX including Lou Rosenfeld, Steve Krug, Kim Goodwin and Abby Covert
  • Awesome local stories (Want to be a speaker? Call for Speakers is on NOW)
  • Bonus optional activities before and during the conference (these are still being planned so stay tuned!)
Check out the UXCamp Ottawa site for full details. Or better yet, REGISTER NOW.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

On Conferences and Quotas: A Conference Organizer's Perspective

As many of you know, I am a co-chair of UXCamp Ottawa, Canada's largest user experience community conference. I've been asked numerous times how I feel about being a woman who runs a conference that is male-dominated. So I thought I would write down my response once and for all.

I don't believe in quotas. I believe in equal opportunities.

I run an annual conference that generally seems to have a highly male roster of speakers. But it's not for lack of trying.

Our goal when we set out to create the lineup for each event is to find speakers who are "doing something interesting this year" - we want to find the best speakers this year for our event. That way we can keep the topics timely for the conference audience. We don't want to bring in someone who was really great 10 years ago but hasn't done anything relevant since. So we're definitely selective with the people that we invite; we're picky, but we don't discriminate. Especially on gender.

In fact I can say with confidence that we almost equally solicit female and male speakers.

So why doesn't our roster reflect that?

Usually, it comes down to scheduling. Schedules don't always align and that's usually a significant factor in a speaker's decision to join us. We've invited plenty of female speakers who turned us down due to scheduling issues. Same goes for the male speakers. Which leaves us heading back to our speaker wish list (yes, we have one and it's in a spreadsheet :) to cross their name off and find another person to invite.

We have a policy though: if a female turns us down we're not necessarily going to try to replace her with another female. We're going to try to replace her with another expert on that topic who is doing something interesting in that field right now. Because that's what makes for an interesting conference.

We fully don't care the replacement's gender; we care about their work, their presentation skills and their ability to inspire the community we work so hard to gather once a year for an event they can really sink their teeth into.

No, we don't set gender quotas.
We set an awesomeness quota.
And the gender that awesomeness comes in, is irrelevant.

Yes, there needs to be more equal representation of genders on rosters at conferences. But the most we can do is continue to offer an equal opportunity to our industry's stars (and up-and-comers!) But at the end of the day, we will always pursue awesomeness over gender-based numbers.

We hope our community can support that. And to date, they have.

Related Posts:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Science Explains Why We Blew on Nintendo Games (video)

One of the fun things about being bilingual is that I indulge in geekery from places like France. Language not being a barrier, I follow some great French blogs like Le Journal du Geek. And good thing, too, since one of their posts taught me (and now, you!) some science this weekend. The best kind of science, too: science that has to do with geekery.

Even better.

In fact, I have to say that I absolutely loved this video. The title seems a little link-bait-ish at first, but then it all comes together quite nicely. You see, they don't get to the part about blowing on cartridges until around the 2:40 mark. What they do cover in the first two and a half minutes is all about cognitive science.

What. Wha?

It turns out that our penchant for blowing into our Nintendo cartridges has nothing to do with physics or chemistry or even technology. It has everything to do with sociology and cultural norms. Who knew?

A science lesson wrapped up in retro gaming awesomeness and just a hint of an incredible Michael Jackson/ E.T. poster. What more can you ask for on a Monday?

(Source: Le Journal du Geek) - International geeks, FTW!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summer Science: What Makes Your Ears Ring? (video)

So, it's the summer and hopefully the kids have not yet been out of school long enough to start proclaiming how bored they are. I mean, between Canada Day this past Tuesday and Independence Day tomorrow, there should be no shortage of celebration and awesomeness, regardless which side of the border you are on.

Now, if you're anything like me, you spend these types of celebrations at events with loud music and fireworks. And you might come home afterwards with the. most. annoying. problem.

That is, post-awesomeness ringing in the ears.
Totally a thing, amirite?

This year was no different for me; in fact, annoyingly, I still had it a bit of tinnitis the next day (which I take to be a sign of my fallibility aging).

So what causes tinnitis? Can it cause permanent damage? The answers from SciShow might surprise you. It's a quick, insightful video packed with plenty of info. So grab the kiddos and gather round the YouTubes for a great little summer science lesson!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Geek Portal: A Dose of Canadian Geeky Goodness

Geek Portal Canada logo
So, tomorrow being Canada Day, I thought it would be fun to bring you a distinctly Canadian dose of nerdery. There are some really great geeks all across our lovely country: from The Geek Chic Boutique in the Maritimes to former Ottawan Geek Sweet Treats out in Vancouver.

And now, a fun source of all things geek and Canadian: Geek Portal Canada. According to their site, the site endeavours to uncover:
the ultimate links for gamers, anime fans, horror fiends, comic collectors, sci-fi & fantasy enthusiasts, stellar steampunkers, techies and music maniacs....[also] full listings of Canadian conventions and festivals for geeks and nerds alike.
I think what I love best is the range of topics: from the usual games and events to horror, music and even a catch-all "Humour & For Fun" category, which naturally requires definitions of both "humour" and "memes" c/o the Urban Dictionary. (Right, nerds? I think we can agree that we're among friends, here.)

And the content has a Canadian focus: specifically, our venues and our events. Which is nice, because nothing is worse than googling nerdy events and not finding anything in your country city. Check out Geek Portal Canada via their website and on the twitters @GeekCanada. (Seriously wish I'd scored that Twitter handle. Love it!)

And Happy Canada Day, my geeks! (And if you're in Ottawa, don't forget to check out Canada Day Barrhaven, which is where we'll be hanging out.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This Weekend: Hack For Good at Random Hacks of Kindness Ottawa

Random Hack of Kindness Ottawa
Want to hack for good? Random Hacks of Kindness might be just for you. Join volunteers, designers, developers, NGOs workers and data nerds to work on solutions for local organizations: hack their problems and contribute your knowledge right back into our community!

What is RHOK?

In similar fashion to Startup Weekend, RHOK is a global movement. However instead of being focused on entrepreneurship, RHOK is focused on Hacking for Humanity. (Love that) Specifically, in their own words:
RHoK is unique in the space of “apps competitions”, “hackathons” and “technology for social good”. RHoK’s model is to start from identifying, defining and refining problem definitions provided by subject matter experts and local stakeholders. This ensures that volunteer time is focused on solving real problems for real people. RHoK is more than simply a weekend event. It is a process that begins with problem definition, continues through rapid prototyping of a solution at a hackathon event, and culminates in working with the experts and technologists alike to create a sustainability plan for promising applications to ensure they make it out into the real world.
I had the chance to exchange a couple of emails with one of the organizers of the RHOK Ottawa event, and here's what I learned:

  • Normally these types of events happen simultaneously across the globe in early June and December, but this month that was the same weekend as Startup Weekend, so RHOK changed their dates to this weekend.
  • They are looking for a pretty even mix of developers, designers, data folks, NGO workers and people who volunteer at the organizations we're hoping to help. Although they would like as many developers as possible.
  • There is no theme and there are no pitches! The projects have already been picked ahead of time by the organizations partnering with RHOK such as Artengine, who want to build a reservation system for their laser cutter, 3d printers and other tools.

Who is behind bringing RHOK to Ottawa?

As is usually the case with these types of events, a lot of hands are needed to make it happen. The team behind the event consists of a dozen local folks including Brandon Brule, Simeon Seguin, Lisa LaRochelle, Brett Tackaberry, Patrick Karpiak, Christian Garceau and Liz Mcdonald, among others.

Want to join in the fun? 

Here's what you need to know:

  • RHOK will be held at Shopify Lounge
  • The event runs from Friday, 27 June 2014 at 7:00pm to Sunday, 29 June 2014 at 3:00pm
  • There's a detailed schedule posted and if you look along the right side of the page... the projects are listed (You can even help one of my favourite causes: Code For Kids!)
  • If you're interested, you'd better move quickly: as I write this, there are only 16 spaces left: Register here
I'm hoping to pop by this weekend to check out the action. Will I see you there?