Congratulations Michelle & Steven!

Yesterday my friends Michelle and Steven got married here in Vancouver. They had a relatively short ceremony in the early afternoon, followed by a reception in the evening at Fortune House Seafood Restaurant. They both looked so happy yesterday, it was great to be a part of the festivities!

Group shot!

Yesterday was also a great excuse for a large group of my friends to get together again. It was just like old times with most of the gang here in Vancouver for the weekend! The wedding was the main event, of course, but we also took some time for lunch and to catch Tropic Thunder. It seems like forever since the last time we took up almost an entire row in a movie theatre. Good times!

Congratulations Michelle and Steven! Enjoy the honeymoon 🙂

Vancouver Day 1

When we got back to the hotel tonight, both Sharon and I were just exhausted. I remarked that we didn’t walk much further that we might have on a normal weekend in Edmonton, and she said yes, but we usually do so with a purpose. Today we did a lot of wandering, which while enjoyable, probably made us feel a bit more tired than normal.

We started by getting coffee and then trying to get an Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s, only to find out that they stop serving breakfast at 10:30am. Is that the case for all of them? I thought it used to be 11am. I suppose it was probably best that we didn’t get the greasy food after all. We made our way downtown, stopping for lunch at a salad place before walking to Stanley Park.

Sharon & MackWe spent a little bit of time in Stanley Park, but mostly headed right for the Vancouver Aquarium. Sharon was a little surprised to find it smaller than she expected, but she had lots of fun watching the sea otters (her favorite). The Aquarium was mostly as I remember it, except that the Beluga shows are all canceled on account of the new baby girl.

Our next stop was the Bentall 5 Cactus Club Cafe on Burrard and Dunsmuir, and it turned out to the highlight of the day for both of us. Similar to an Earl’s or a Moxie’s with something a bit extra, I really enjoyed the restaurant and the food. And I was especially happy to find that the restaurant had free wifi! Sharon will be posting a complete review on her blog once we return.

We did some wandering, at the Pacific Centre Mall and on Robson, before heading over to Chinatown for the Chinese Night Market. It was kinda neat to see, but man was there ever a lot of junk! I’m not much of a trinkets guy I guess. On our way back downtown Sharon found a dollar store and couldn’t resist making a stop. Again, not my thing, but she bought me chopsticks! Heh.

Tomorrow is the wedding and reception, so it’ll be a long day in fancy clothes and shoes. Should be fun though, and I’m happy that I’ll be able to help Steven & Michelle celebrate!

My photos are still uploading – you can find them here.

Northern Voice 2008: My Post-Mortem Post

nv08 A week ago I was in Vancouver with Megan, getting ready for MooseCamp2008 which is the “unconference” part of Northern Voice. I’ve attended the conference ever since it began back in 2005, and I have enjoyed myself each time. I usually learn something new too (this year I learned that I am a WikiGnome). Attendance keeps going up, and the organizing committee is continuing to organize the conference, so it must be going well. It’s bigger and better each year!

Despite this, I find myself wondering why I should be attending Northern Voice. It just doesn’t feel like the “must attend” event that it was in 2005 and 2006. Yes, even last year felt a little different.

I don’t know why this is exactly, but here are some thoughts:

  • It’s less exciting. When NV started, blogging was still relatively new to most people. It was exciting. Lots of people were experimenting. Maybe it’s a bit tired now? Too many people doing it?
  • A related point: blogging is no longer enough. Just look at the website – NV is now a “blogging and social media” conference. Yet NV is still a two day event, which inevitably means that you can’t get as in-depth as in the past. There’s simply too much to cover.
  • It’s not downtown. The UBC campus is great, but it has a completely different feel. It’s further away from hotels and restaurants and people and general buzz. I think NV was better downtown.
  • The schedule sucks. Seriously, it has gone downhill in the last two years. Take a look at the schedules from 2005 and 2006, and compare that to 2007 and 2008. I don’t know about you, but I’d take the early two any day of the week. At least you can sort of make out what the sessions are about by reading the titles. This year the NV schedule had some really whacky session titles.
  • NV has become too Vancouver-specific. I love Vancouver, and I fully appreciate that it has been home to Northern Voice for four years now. I don’t think that justifies “Inhospitable Climate: Dating in Vancouver’s Techno-Mediated Scene” from this year’s schedule, however. MooseCamp is also getting fairly Vancouver-specific, with a couple Vancouver TransitCamp sessions in the last two years.
  • The website is stale. Aside from the fact that there are two websites (the main one and the wiki), I think simply changing the color scheme each year is bad. For long-time attendees like myself, it gives the impression that the organizers didn’t care enough to make it better. I know they’re all busy people and they truly do care about NV (and I do like all of them!), but that’s the impression it gives. Gnomedex gets a visual refresh each year, and I think that makes a difference.
  • It lacks polish. Kind of related to the website and schedule points. When it was just getting started, I loved that NV was a little rough around the edges. Four years in? I expect more. For instance, I expect the nametag to fit inside the nametag holder.
  • The wireless was spotty. Okay, this one is strictly related to this year, but lots of people were having connectivity problems all weekend. Too many live streams going maybe?

You should also have a look at the Post-Mortem page on the wiki for more comments.

All of that aside, there are still some awesome reasons to attend NV. There are some incredibly creative and smart people who do, like Duane Storey who created this amazing poster:

Northern Voice 2008

Some other positives:

  • Lunch is now included! This makes a huge difference, as I said last week.
  • Somehow, the organizers have managed to maintain a very diverse group of attendees. There are lots of women (somewhat unusual for a tech event), and people with varying levels of technical knowledge.
  • You will learn something new.
  • You will make new friends.
  • I like that I get to see some familiar faces in meatspace.
  • I also like meeting new people who I may have only communicated with online. There aren’t many opportunities for this.
  • It’s a personal conference. Unlike some other events, you’re not inundated with logos and slogans and pitches and buttons and stickers and such.

One other thing I wanted to mention is that James Sherrett should get the “top moose” award for 2008! Yeah I just made that award up, but seriously, he was everywhere. I have a feeling he put in more than his fair share of hours to make NV08 a success. His session entitled “Is advertising killing blogging?” was pretty good too.

So there you have it – my Northern Voice 2008 post-mortem post. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too negative! I look forward to seeing what NV09 is like.

burgoo – food for comfort

Last night after the conference, Megan and I met up with Kelsey for some dinner and drinks. I think the girls were hoping for sushi, but I put the kibosh on those plans! Not such a fan of the raw fish. So we asked Kelsey what kinds of restaurants were nearby, and she suggested burgoo bistro.

Mac and Cheese - $8

As you can tell from the picture above, I had to use the flash. That’s because like most little bistros, burgoo is really dark, with a single candle on each table providing most of the light. It was also quite small, with maybe a dozen tables and a tiny bar. We only had to wait about ten minutes for a table, however.

They more than make up for their lack of physical size with the menu! Even their harvest takeout menu is really impressive. Burgoo offers a wide range of dishes, from Mac and Cheese (which is what I had, for $8) to Ratatouille and Laksah and Pacific Chowder. Megan had a really hard time deciding what to order, eventually deciding on the Kentucky Burgoo for $14 (slow cooked meats with lima beans, corn, tomatoes, cabbage and okra served over garlic mashed potatoes).

We had White Sangria to drink. The $16 pitcher was impressively gigantic, though it did include quite a bit of ice. Kelsey enjoyed the oversized spoon they gave us for stirring!

When the waitress brought my Mac and Cheese out I was both surprised and a little worried. Surprised because I really liked the presentation – tiny white pot on a wooden plate – and worried because it didn’t look very big. It turned out to be quite filling though, so my worry was thankfully unnecessary!

It may not be the fanciest restaurant in the world, but I really liked burgoo. It would take you quite a while to get bored with the menu, and with the reasonable prices you wouldn’t break the bank trying everything either. Give it a shot if you’re in the area!

Another Northern Voice in the books

nv08over

I don’t think this was my favorite edition of Northern Voice, but it wasn’t bad either. I’ll elaborate on that when I do a wrap-up post in a few days, but a few things have already been captured on the Post-Mortem wiki page.

I think Northern Voice is still a great event for people interesting in blogging and social media, and I admit I enjoyed it. If you’ve never experienced the conference, consider attending next year (yes it sounds like the organizers are definitely planning to hold NV again in 2009).

See you in twelve months!

In Vancouver

Megan and I arrived safely this afternoon here in Vancouver. The flight was really short, I think we were almost 20 minutes early! Our accommodations are the same as last year (Triumf House) and once again the room is great. The place is so empty though, I don’t know why more Northern Voicers haven’t caught on. It’s about a five minute walk from the Forestry building where the conference is held.

We went to Vera’s Burger Shack for dinner tonight, a place I went last year too. It was yummy! We also made a stop at Starbucks, which was pretty nice of Megan considering she gave up coffee for lent. I guess she knows just how addicted I am 🙂

I thought I was quite prepared for the trip, but it turns out I forgot my toothbrush and also a wireless router (I usually travel with one). No big deal though, I’ll get a toothbrush tomorrow.

Looking forward to MooseCamp tomorrow!

Off to Vancouver for Northern Voice

nv2008 It’s that time of year again! Later this afternoon Megan and I are flying to Vancouver for the fourth edition of Northern Voice, Canada’s blogging and social media conference. And as usual, I’ve left far too many things until the last minute. Ah well.

Lots of people have asked me this, so I figured I should blog about it: I am not doing any recording this year (I did some recording in 2005 and again last year). I’m just going to enjoy the conference as an attendee. That said, I am bringing some recording devices. And a webcam…maybe we’ll have some live streaming!

There are lots of ways to follow along this weekend. Keep an eye on the nv08 and northernvoice tags at Flickr, and also on the NorthernVoiceBloggers channel on Jaiku. And of course, I’ll be twittering and blogging here.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see all you Northern Voicers shortly.

Going to Northern Voice 2008

Post ImageMegan and I just registered for Northern Voice 2008, once again taking place at the Forestry Sciences Centre on UBC’s main campus in Vancouver. This is the fourth year the conference has taken place, and its the fourth year in a row we’ve attended. Dickson has joined us twice, but I don’t think he’ll be coming this year. Sharon came with us last year, and I think it scared her off. I asked if she wanted to come this year, and she just laughed at me! Ah well, it’s not for everyone I guess.

Here are my "I’m registered" posts from 2007, 2006, and 2005. Each year I’ve done a little more than just attend (was a panel member once, did recording twice) but this year that changes. I’m looking forward to a less stressful experience, and I know Megan is too 🙂

If you’d like to register, you can do so here.

Read: Northern Voice

Vancouver Trip Day 1

I’m pretty tired – we had a packed day! Sharon, Dickson and I arrived here in Vancouver fairly early, landing just after 10:30 AM. After getting sorted out at Triumf House (which is where we are staying on the UBC campus) we went downtown and only just got back. We went for lunch, then Dickson and I had a few business meetings, and then we walked around a bit before we met Kim and her friends for dinner. We went to a greek restaurant on Robson and Burrard (I can’t remember the name) and while not very greek, it was pretty good!

We took a taxi from the airport this morning, but other than that, we have relied on public transit (and we walked a lot). It’s actually fairly easy to use, and similar to Edmonton’s transit system in a lot of ways.

The weather was very nice today, and it only drizzled for a few minutes this evening. Hopefully it stays like this! You can see a few photos I took today here, including one of the Olympic countdown clock!

Northern Voice 2007

Post ImageFebruary is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s short, classes stop for an entire week, and in Vancouver there’s a great little event called Northern Voice. The 2007 edition of the conference was announced a while ago, and today I see that registration is officially open:

Frankly, all of us Northern Voice organizers have gotten behind the eight-ball a bit on this years conference. We all keep getting busier-we’re approaching some kind of busyness event horizon where we’ll just cease to exist. Regardless, our ducks are back in a row.

Such an honest group! In addition to opening registration, they have extended the speaker submission to Friday, December 1st. If you’d like to register for Northern Voice, you can do so here.

Read: Northern Voice