Lots of things to catch up on...
BarCamp Vancouver 2009
BarCamp was this weekend - I was so-so on it last year, it was still fun, but not many sessions really did it for me, so I came in with relatively low expectations, thinking that maybe I'd just been to too many Camps and Cons now for them to still inspire and interest me... I am happy to report that I actually had a superb time, and am not too old and jaded to enjoy these events. :-) The organizers did a great job (thanks a bunch, you are all awesome) and everything went off flawlessly. Enjoyed the sessions I went to, and there were many more I wish I could have made it to (most sessions are listed here, some have notes/slides).
I loved Stephanie's Design Charette session, where we did a brainstorming session to design something that would help solve the problem of pedestrians (especially those who are homeless and for whatever reason lacking caution when crossing) being hit in the DTES. Our group decided to focus on visibility and proposed armbands with reflective/LED strips that activate when in the roadway to make people visible. I thought it would be good to also provide an incentive to wear (and not lose) the armband by having local companies sponsor some services for those wearing it - ie. free coffee, food, etc. for people with them. (We couldn't present the full idea because of time constraints.) (In case you're wondering what a "wicked problem" is, from the photo, see wikipedia)
The discussion session led by Boris about potential new coworking space/hackspace ventures was good too, as the community is still feeling the loss of Workspace. Looks like there are some interesting times ahead as W2 opens in the near future, Irwin filled us all in on what to expect. A new face in the community, Nick Molnar, also talked about the possibility of a larger hackspace. And of course, there's the ongoing discussion about Bootup Entrepreneurial Society opening up some kind of space that includes a cafe/coworking space. Notes (taken by Nick) for this session are here.
Boris and Mark Busse's session on Balancing Frustration and Passion (notes taken by Jenny Lee Silver) was one of my favourites - I don't know how I've managed to go this long without properly meeting Mark, but he definitely had some enlightening opinions and experiences to share. Boris encouraged me to talk about some of the struggles I've been having with the local Drupal user group, which because of Drupal being an open-source project and working on a do-ocracy type of structure (ie. there is no real leader, basically whoever wants to organize/contribute is free to take initiative to do so). I think partly because it's such an unfamiliar type of organizational structure for most people, there weren't a lot of solutions suggested, but some of the experiences people shared from different types of organizations definitely gave me some food for thought. It was the first time I'd spoken publicly about it, and that's a bit nerve wracking, but hopefully it will serve to open the door to more discussions about how to make the group awesome, and figure out how to get people to take the initiative to go for it and get more involved.
(As a sidenote, I discovered this video of David Strauss' great session at DrupalCamp Dallas on how to contribute to Drupal - it's a must watch for anyone who wants to get more involved in contributing to the Drupal project/community, and reviews a lot of etiquette and how-to's for using IRC, patch queues, etc.)
The pre-party Friday night was also fun and a great excuse to hang out with all those wonderful people I don't see nearly enough. All in all, things were interesting enough that I didn't end up in the hallway track until about 4:30pm when I got too pooped to be a good listener, so I consider that a success! There were lots of other great things going on, like Roland's bike/icecream out trip, a remote session about the impact of being in a choir, Rick's session on Vinyl, and Haig's session on design vs. code, so poke around the session list and hopefully some of the other stuff has been documented elsewhere (if you have links to blog posts on any of the other sessions please post in comments!)
My awesome coworkers surprised me with Ariane Appreciation Day last week, and boy did I feel appreciated (sorry for thwarting the first attempt, you did a great job of catching me off guard!) - they are rad, and I thank my lucky stars every day to be able to work on projects that excite and inspire me, with such fabulous and even more inspiring people.
The little bits of the week that were not work/tech related gave me time to appreciate beautiful sunsets...
Beautiful flowers - this rose might have well been the best smelling one I've ever encountered, reminding me of rose-flavoured Turkish delights...
And the beauty of a pile of freshly washed and folded laundry after putting it off way too long.
ps. As if laundry couldn't get any better, I discovered during it that in addition to finally supporting an official podcast, the CBC's got a complete archive of seasons 1-6 of Wiretap posted now for your streaming pleasure (and any pods that weren't fully licensed to be released on podcast are streamable in their entirety). I listened to about 6 or 7 episodes over the course of the afternoon while folding laundry, snacking, and basking in the glorious sunbeam that I get in the late afternoon on my couch in the winter.