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Showing posts from June, 2014

Geek Portal: A Dose of Canadian Geeky Goodness

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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.)

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

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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 culminate…

The ONLY Way To Get Girls into STEM (Boys Too!)

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Three times in one weekend, I was asked if I was involved in female-oriented and girl-specific tech programs. And it bugged the hell out of me. I love any initiative that has the potential to interest people in science, technology, engineering and math (aka STEM) but I loathe initiatives that focus on gender and quotas. Here's why:

We Need to Focus on Kids, Not Girls I am a woman who works in STEM. And I work in an environment where there are easily as many men as there are women, working on websites and applications. Sure, more of the devs are male but there are just as many female user experience designers, metrics practitioners and information architects as there are male counterparts. Am I lucky? Are we out of the norm?

It hasn’t always been this way for me: I was the only female on a research and development team. I was the only female business analyst working with a largely male development team and mostly male management. But I also worked for a tiny consulting firm run by …

Star Wars: The Musical is Perfect Parody

Hubby sent me this and I just had to share. I know it's a lot of Star Wars for one week but I promise, this is perfection. I have no words other than: watch it.

Mid-Week Nerd Fix: Star Wars Battlefront Game and Star Wars Minute Podcast

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Ok. It's Wednesday and you need a little something to tie you over till the weekend. And that guy in the cubicle down the hall won't stop talking about some sport thing (Andalé!) that's going on right now but our country has no skin in the game so you're not paying much attention to all the hoopla. All you know is that the weekend is nowhere in sight and you need something fun to get you there. Fear not, my nerd. You've come to the right place.

I have not one, but TWO amazing finds from the Star Wars universe that I must share. One which has become an obsession of mine on my daily commutes and the other which will likely become an obsession of mine when it comes out in late 2014-early 2015.

Star Wars Minute PodcastStar Wars Minute is not what you think it is. It is not a series of one-minute podcasts about Star Wars. No, it's a series of 10-20 minute podcasts that dissect the Star Wars movies one minute at a time.

Let's call a spade a spade: It's a gian…

iPhone Case "The Selfy" Makes Narcissism So Much Easier

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Fire.
Steam engines.
Computers.
Smartphones.

There are certain technological developments that spawn significant sociological impacts. The smartphone seems to have spawned a number of cultural changes that will affect us and future generations: always-on connectivity, social sharing on a global scale and, of course, the Selfie (aka the self-photograph).

I'm sad to say that when we arrived at the hiking trail this weekend, the first thing the Dude wanted us to do was "take a selfie". Hearing that word come out of his mouth for the first time was jarring. Thankfully he turned his camera toward the scenery for the rest of the hike but the moment struck me nonetheless. He's a tween and this is normal to him. When I was a tween, we'd look for someone who looked trustworthy to hold the family camera and take our picture for us. Do people even do that anymore?

Well if iLuv has anything to say about it, no they won't. ILuv has launched an iPhone case that comes with …

What the %$*& is UX? (video)

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I've got UX (user experience) on the brain for a whole lot of reasons:
first of all, I'm doing a whole lot of it at work (in fact, I'm pretty sure that I might get banned from saying "personas" any more if I keep it up :) secondly, last week I mentored on UX at two fantastic events (Ottawa Gov Jam and Startup Weekend Ottawa) and finally, because my co-chairs and I are ramping up our planning activities for UXCamp Ottawa 5.So I've been thinking about UX pretty regularly.

Now, here's the thing. Unless you work in it, you might not know what UX is. In fact, you might not even know that you are doing it (or worse, that you should be doing it). So I went looking for a great video I could bookmark and share about user experience and user-centered design.

I stumbled onto this gem from UX Mastery: it's short, simple and has a really understandable way of explaining UX.

Here's a breakdown of the video:
The first two and a half minutes is dedicated to explaining…

Adorkable Gets Into the Dictionary (Internet: 1; English Teachers: 0)

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We've done it again, Internet. We've kluged together some words to make something silly and somehow convinced the world that it's a thing. In this case, we have made "adorkable" an official word. And through crowd-sourcing, no doubt.

In the ultimate example of design by committee global collaboration, the Collins dictionary held an online vote to determine which new pop culture world should be added to the dictionary. Now, the competition wasn't exactly stiff (I mean, felfie, really? Or better yet, nomakeupselfie? #sigh) Anyway, the bloggers Internets voted and adorkable scooped up the win. This win seems to reaffirm the geek hold on pop culture these days; that, or hipsterism a la Zooey Deschanel. (You can probably guess which side I'm on :)

In case you're curious, here's the official definition of adorkable:
adorkable(əˈdɔːkəbəl) adj slang
socially inept or unfashionable in a charming or endearing way
ETYMOLOGY C21: blend of ADORABLE and DORK Can y…

Dispelling The Myth of "Fake Geek Girls"

Each and every one of us has at some time felt impostor syndrome (i.e. that feeling that you don't belong and someone will find you out eventually). Being a nerd, it's been a recurring theme throughout my life, but no more so than when surrounded by other geeks. Though I'm pretty knowledgeable on my geek culture these days (slight understatement ;), I wasn't as much growing up. Until I was able to pay for my own entertainment, I was largely influenced by what my family had and watched.

That means that I missed out on things like owning a Nintendo or any other gaming system, I didn't buy comic books, I had no Nerf guns and limited access to Lego and Meccano because they were my brother's toys. My parents didn't watch a lot of sci-fi either, so it was a while before I ever saw all three Star Wars movies (the originals, not the prequels). Although I can tell you that seeing the first Tron movie changed me in ways that I wouldn't understand for decades.

In …

Startup Weekend is Upon Us! (& You Can Participate From Home)

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Chances are, if you follow my Twitter stream, you already know that I'm sending my weekend hanging out at Startup Weekend Ottawa.

It's my third time hanging out at this event, and my second time as a mentor. And it's way too much fun to put into pixels.

Last night, 50+ people showed up to nervously mingle and get the courage up to stand in front of the room to pitch their ideas. The session kicked off with a welcome from the organizers, as well as an overview of the global nature of SWO from Cheryl Draper, SWO alum and now global Startup Weekend Facilitator.

Cheryl informed the group that we're not alone at this; there are 12 simultaneous events going on all over the world this weekend. And those events will provide attendees in Ottawa the opportunity to reach out to other people around the world to do field research and testing on their prototypes.

The group heard from two former SWO teams, VidRack and TattooHero, who offered advice on how to get through the weekend …

What's Up With Spydergrrl On The Web? The Next Chapter

As of today, there are no more Star Wars and Lego categories on Spydergrrl.

No, I'm not having a breakdown.
No, I'm not suddenly becoming a mommy blog.
Yes, that yummy content is still there.

Here's what's going on:

A couple of months ago, someone asked me why the content on my blog is so varied, "kind of all over the place". I tried not to take it personally, since the site is a reflection of my interests. :)

Kidding aside, this blog has been a reflection of topics that are interesting to me, things that I am thinking about it any given moment. For almost three years, I was blogging five times a week and covering a lot of gadgets and tech news but I found it exhausting. Balancing the blog with all my projects, my job and of course my family life became overwhelming. Back in November, I decided to reduce my stress level by changing my tagline from:
"geeky goodness five times a week"
to
"geeky goodness with a side of nerd" And I immediately…

Kewl Design Alert: Game of Thrones USB Flash Drives

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I've got Game of Thrones on the brain this morning, after watching this week's episode last night. I'm pretty much traumatized by the whole thing, really. I mean, without spoiling anything for those of you who haven't seen it yet, I'll just say: "yuck". (Biggest understatement in history, that.)

Anyway, given that I'm trying to get Game of Thrones out of head, I'm seeing it everywhere. LOL. Thankfully, what I spotted on ThinkGeek isn't nearly as traumatizing, in fact it's perfectly nerdy.


Yes, those are USB drives with your favourite GoT sigils.

Here's an action shot:


With their slick design and lack of blood, I think these are fantastic. But I'm going to need a bit of time to get over the grotesque happenings this week before I can get comfortable looking at one of these for too long. The horror is just too fresh, too raw right now. Whether you want to channel your inner Stark or Lannister (you monster!) you can pick up one of the…

How To Live-Tweet an Event: Part 5 - Outcomes and Measurement

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This is part 5 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 4 - Showtime!. Or see the bottom of this post for the full 5-part series.

Your event is over.

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You did it! As a frequent event organizer, myself, I know what you just went through and you should take a moment and relish your success.

Ok, now there's still some work to do. Here's a look at some post-event activities and some insight into how to measure the success of live-tweeting events.

Post-Event Activities Now that your event is over, there are some logistical/ archival activities that will help you keep track of all the conversation and engagement that happened during your event:

Capture your event tweetstream in a Storify: this is essentially a list of all the tweets that happened on your event hashtag during the event. You can select your start time and dates and save all the tweets as a collection. There are several settings that will allow you to sort and remove twe…