It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another Coffee and Code here in Accordion City! Today’s Coffee and Code is happening at the new branch of the Dark Horse Cafe (215 Spadina, at Sullivan, which is south of Dundas and north of Queen) between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m..
What is Coffee and Code, Anyway?
It goes back to 1998, when I first tried out “cafe coding”. I shared a consultancy with my friend Adam, where we did a pretty good business writing custom software for small- and medium-sized companies. I was going a little stir-crazy working out of either Adam’s spare room or my home office and just for kicks decided to try working for a day at the Tequila Bookworm cafe on Queen Street West.
Here’s a photo of me at “The ‘Worm” from back then, with my Windows 98-equipped 233 MHz Toshiba Portege laptop sporting a then-respectable 96 megs of RAM. That green box in the foreground is a Jaz Drive, which held 1-gig hard drive cartridges:
Me at Tequila Bookworm, November 1998.
It worked out so well that I started working there at least twice a week. I also found that as a “regular” at the cafe, I started meeting of all sorts of people – not just friends, but potential customers, colleagues, collaborators and business contacts. We exchanged ideas, traded stories, made suggestions on each other’s projects and formed friendships. I’m still in touch with a lot of these people today,
My job at Microsoft Canada – Developer Evangelist – is a “mobile worker” position, since our job is to make connections with software developers wherever they are. Sometimes it’s at our home offices, sometimes it’s at the Microsoft offices, sometimes it’s on the road. As long as the job gets done, where we are is where we work.
So I thought “Why not re-create the situation at Tequila Bookworm?” It might work out even better than last time, since I now had some reasonably widely-read blogs to announce my presence, and since the Toronto tech scene is now considerably more vibrant than it was ten years ago (thanks largely to things like DemoCamp and HackLabTO).
I’ve had about a half-dozen Coffee and Codes so far, and I think the endeavour has proved to be worthwhile. I’ve made connections -- new and old -- with all sorts of techies, answered questions and taken suggestions, hooked up people with software and other nerds, learned a lot and even given a human face to The Empire. We’ve talked about all sorts of things: the expected “shop talk”, but all sorts of non-techie stuff as well. It’s sort of like the salons of old.
Coffee and Code has grown beyond just me holding them:
- The Microsoft Developer Evangelism team has held these events across the country as part of the EnergizeIT tour,
- David Janes holds “Coffee and iPhone” events here in Toronto,
- Cory Fowler has his regular Coffee and Code nights in Guelph,
- and Denny Cherry wins the long-distance award for holding one in Irvine, California.
The internet is a great and scalable communications medium, but there’s something about meeting face-to-face that it can’t provide; that’s why the saying “You had to be there” exists. That’s what Coffee and Code is all about.
Come to chat, come for coffee, come to hang out and even get some work done. Whatever you come to do, I hope to see you there!
The Wifi Situation at Dark Horse
The Dark Horse opened on Tuesday, and word is that they haven’t got their wifi up and running yet. If you need to catch up on your email and Twitter, I suggest you bring a 3G phone. I hope it doesn’t deter you from dropping in, but I thought you should know.