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My new home is at The Network Hub! November 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, link love, Vancouver, working spaces.
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2 comments

Remember how a few months ago I raved about The Network Hub and praised their open office concept, their strong support of young entrepreneurs and the awesome series of events that they’ve been host to? And remember how I called it “my home away from home“?

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
The Network Hub open office concept

Well, as of this week, my home IS at The Network Hub. I now have a working space in the third floor.

As indicated by their mission statements, they care more much about the idea than the entrepreneur’s age or resume.

The Network Hub was established 2006 after observations of first time entrepreneurs struggling to find fundings from angel investors and venture capital companies. The Network Hub is a special kind of venture capital firm and incubator that care more about your idea than your age, resume and your business plan. [The Network Hub]

The Network Hub has been incredibly kind and supportive with the social media/PR/tech community for a long while now. They’ve been our gracious hosts and location sponsors at numerous events: Third Tuesday with Joe Solomon, the RMD Studio/JenTekk Solutions/PeerGlobe Solutions/Tazzu-organized, first ever WordCamp Vancouver, and several other Third Tuesdays, as a matter of fact.

The Network Hub provides a variety of support services for entrepreneurs, including office space, meeting rooms, and a variety of packages that suit the various needs of different kinds of entrepreneurs.

Moreover, The Network Hub are the awesome hosts and location sponsors of the Vancouver Entrepreneur Meetup every third Thursday of the month, which Pete Quily (ADD Adult Coach) kindly made me realize earlier this month, collides with my proposed date for the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup. I’ll have to deal with that overlap sometime in the next few months! I am pretty sure that I can work something out, since I definitely don’t want to hinder the attendance of entrepreneurs to VBM and viceversa!

If you are an entrepreneur who needs to get your idea off the ground, you should seriously consider coming over and talking to Minna or John. Particularly now that they have expanded! The Network Hub now occupies both the first AND third floors of 422 Richards (between West Hastings and Pender). You can also contact them via email.

I can already tell that my productivity skyrocketed. Just as an example, in less than 2 hours that I was at the office yesterday, I did much more than I had done in the past two weeks! Furthermore, the tenants are great. It’s fantastic to be surrounded by that much brainpower and positive energy! And what can I tell you about Minna and John and the whole team at The Network Hub? They’re simply AMAZING.

So, if you’re in the neighbourhood (downtown Vancouver) maybe we can meet up for coffee or lunch sometime and I can also show you the new digs!

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Restaurant review – Goldfish Pacific Kitchen July 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in dining out, Downtown, seafood, sustainability, sustainable restaurants, Vancouver, Yaletown.
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I had always been curious about Goldfish Pacific Kitchen, more and more recently since I have been spending more time in Yaletown (and I have noticed the increase in eye candy!). Also, I rarely consume seafood as I am more of a meat eater (and somewhat vegetarian, I’d say I’m like 40% meat eater and 60% vegetarian). I was recently invited as a guest to GoldFish Pacific Kitchen and couldn’t resist the temptation. An invitation to such a good restaurant is not something you can pass on, so I decided to take one of my closest friends with me.

JT is usually one of my most frequent dining companions and therefore, it was just appropriate that he shared this experience with me. I didn’t read any restaurant reviews nor listen to any commentary about Goldfish so that I could go and have a unique experience on my own. We both decided to go for the Prixe Fixe (what Goldfish calls ‘Le Sharp Deal’), a three-course meal that is served from 5:00pm to 5:55pm (and yes, you can order at 5:54pm for sure!). For $ 25.00, this is one great value for your meal, since the mains are usually about that price. My photos don’t really do justice to the meal, so you’ll have to forgive the quality. But the food is simply great.

Goldfish

Goldfish

We both ordered the mustard greens for starters, then I chose a salmon dish and JT ordered the ling cod. We complemented our meal with some bacon rice. The salmon was most definitely to die for, delicate and flavorful. The bacon fried rice blew me away, as it seems like such a simple dish yet I found it delicious. Finally, for dessert JT ordered the creme brule (of which I had to have the caramel crust) and I ordered the gelato.The dessert was extraordinary. I have to say that Goldfish’s creme brule is definitely my favorite, so far.

I had a chance to go back a second time as Steve Jagger invited Rebecca Bollwitt and myself to come join him for lunch. Same great experience, prompt service, great food (and awesome company, of course). This time, I ordered the maple soy chicken (really, really good) and also a side of fried bacon rice. Really good (although I think I ate a tad too much, hehe).

Without a doubt, these two have to be some of the best experiences I’ve had with customer service. Our server (in both cases, lunch and dinner) was simply outstanding, very knowledgeable, prompt, friendly and not pushy at all. Albert was also paying attention to every detail. Given my recent string of bad luck with restaurants’ customer service, I was quite happy to find Goldfish’s high level of service.

Another element that I really liked was finding out that Goldfish Pacific Kitchen is so interested in issues of sustainability. Goldfish is an associate of the OceanWise program AND the Green Table network. As I have mentioned before on my blog, I’m always interested in issues of greening restaurants.

Would I go back to Goldfish? Absolutely. While they are very different concepts, I would be willing to substitute my beloved Water Street Cafe for Goldfish for a celebration. This has to speak volumes to how much I liked Goldfish, because the Water Street Cafe is the location where I have celebrated Valentine’s Day and my birthday for the past few years (with JT, no less!). I am sure we’ll be celebrating either his birthday or mine at Goldfish in the near future. And to Goldfish, keep up the good work, you guys!

Goldfish Pacific Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Homelessness in Vancouver: A very complex issue July 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, homelessness, public policy issues, social change, Vancouver.
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Last week, I had a conversation with Nancy Zimmerman on her post regarding the ticketing of homeless people who were sleeping in Oppenheimer Park (at 4:30am on Thursday I think), in the Downtown East Side. As I have mentioned before, the realities of the Downtown East Side (DTES) are very complex, and homelessness is not an easy issue to tackle. If it were, Vancouver wouldn’t have any problems of homelessness.

One of the most debilitating and dis-empowering feelings I have ever had in my life is the feeling of not having where to sleep. The most recent time I moved to Canada, I simply didn’t have a place to stay nor had I secured housing at the university. Therefore, for like three weeks, I *had* to stay at a friends’ place. While her apartment was very nice, living out of a set of luggage bags is NOT really nice.

Now, I have adapted to Canada and to Vancouver, but those feelings of disempowerment are not easy to let go. I hope I never get to experience them, ever again.

I am also keenly aware of how much Nancy loves her neighbourhood and how committed she is to social change. I think that we ought to take a holistic view to the homelessness issue and more than anything, be compassionate. We never know when we can end up there. Fate has a way of turning out in unexpected ways.

Bar review – The Kingston (Downtown) July 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, drinks.
2 comments

So, last Friday was quite the social, off-line gathering of online geeks. I started off meeting Rebecca for a beer at Delicados, where we were joined by Beth Snow. We then parted ways and Beth and I ran around downtown trying to find the free 7-11 Slurpees. No luck. At that point, we headed to the Kingston to meet up with Duane, a couple of his friends, John and Rebecca.

I had never done a review of the Kingston even though we had been there a few times already, but the real reason was that I had never actually eaten there. This time, we ordered nachos (are you surprised?) The nachos were really good but I had to remind the waitress to actually add meat. The service was pretty minor, I wouldn’t say it was good. But nothing compared to Jimmy’s, whose service is REALLY BAD. And Tanya was saying that Dix’s service was just equally bad (I got to witness how their waitress treated them – I would have just called the shots there, but…)

Anyway, the Kingston is reliable for having a nice patio and it’s a destination I would go to just for the fun of hanging out with my friends. As I mentioned, the nachos are good and the service can be sometimes great, sometimes kinda so-so. This past Friday it was just ok, nothing to write home about. As it often happens with these places, it’s all about the good friends who join you rather than the actual place itself.

Review of Jimmy’s forthcoming.

Restaurant review – Delicados (Downtown) June 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in cheap eats, Downtown, drinks, friends.
2 comments

To continue with our Mexican food rampage, Rebecca and I went to Delicados for dinner just before attending Third Tuesday. I headed down there early, and since we both were starving we figured we’d order right away. I ordered enchiladas, but committed the mistake of going SUPER HOT. She ordered a wrap.

Third Tuesday Vancouver Jun 17 2008

I was slightly surprised with the sunflower sprouts, but they were very tasty. The food is good for what it is (e.g. comfort food for lunch/early dinner). We were shocked to find out that Delicados closes at 6pm but I’m somehow not too surprised since it seems to cater to the lunch business crowd. The food is tasty and not all that expensive.

We had the pleasure of having Colleen and Ianiv join us for a bit, and afterwards we had a quick pint at Century. Which reminds me that I should have asked Ianiv and Arieanna to guest-blog-post their dinner experience at Century. The staff at Century have always been super, super nice, so I would figure that maybe the food is just as good.

Overall, Delicados is quick, inexpensive, Tex-Mex, filling and sort of a cheap bite. Not bad for what it is, definitely. But closing at 6pm? Not good in my books! 🙂

Delicado's (Vancouver) on Urbanspoon

Out and about with Raul on a Friday June 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, drinks, Gastown, geekifying myself, link love, local events, social networking, Vancouver Blogger Meetup.
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Fridays are usually busy but this Friday was just a tad over the top. I think I spent more time with people in the tech/social media industry than I ever had in one single sitting. First, as usual, I put in a few hours of work, but also tried to do some blogging on the side, and chatted with my friend JT who is totally geeky and tekkie. However, my laptop screen was not behaving well, so I had to basically shut down at noon, which wasn’t all that bad since I had to go anyways.

I was invited by David Gratton to come by and visit The Donat Group. I had met Rochelle Grayson at a Tweetup and I read both David’s and Rochelle’s personal blogs, so it was a great chance to come by and see the kind of work that they do. I was shown a number of fun tools they develop, including SnipDev (for someone who is geekifying himself, there is no better fun than finding new ways to use technology to bring people together, which is one of the things that David, Rochelle and their group do). Good times.

Rebecca and I have been on a Mexican food roll, so we agreed to meet for lunch at La Casita in Gastown. Restaurant review forthcoming. I did miss a chance to hang out with Karen as our schedules didn’t match up, but I’m sure we’ll hang out soon enough. Since Rebecca and I were both invited to the Strutta party we ended up going there for a couple of beers (free booze – who can refuse that?). I had a chance to bug Jordan Behan about not following me on Twitter (jokingly), but now Boris Mann has created a mantra for me. See photo below (if you can’t read what the plastic glass says, it says “Follow Me on Twitter – hummingbird604). I took the joke in jest. As usual, I have LOTS of photos of the evening on my Flickr. It was good to see a lot of my fellow bloggers/twitterers/friends from the tech community.

Strutta Friday!

Unfortunately I had to leave early as I was meeting with AF, NM and RO for Rock Band. I am in love with this thing. Hat tips and thanks to Tanya for those Rock Band invites with a bunch of friends, because I am now totally hooked. Usually when I hang out with Tanya and friends, I do a lot of vocals but I’ve begun to be more comfortable with bass (although I only play as high as medium). I got home at 4 am. Great times! NM and RO are always really fun to hang out with.

And to close off, here is one of my favorite songs from the many that we played last night: Wave of Mutilation. Hope you guys are having a great weekend, because mine is really busy (as always!). Darn. And I thought I was going to be non-booked. OOOPS.

What I’m up to today: LaunchParty, TechVibes job fair, Green Drinks, VIDFEST 2008 May 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, drinks, False Creek, Green Drinks, local events, Third Tuesday, VIDFEST 2008, Web 2.0.
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I am awake at an absurdly early hour, so I might as well just arrange my calendar and try to see if I can squeeze all the events I am supposed to attend this week (and TODAY), along with doing some of my own work, interviewing Al Pasternak (aka Bokashiman) for my blog, attending a very close friend’s PhD defense AND still doing some of my usual socializing. Will I manage to remain sane? We’ll see. I attended two social media events last night: Third Tuesday AND Vancouver MetBlogs drinks at Library Square and I managed to survive, so let’s see if I don’t end up social-media’d out by Saturday night 🙂

So… in the interest of keeping myself sane, let’s see what I am up to today.

Launch Party IV – Republic, 5:30 – 9:00 pm. Can’t wait to meet Maura and Jordan and all the other folks at Strutta.com. Besides, good chance for a beer with Duane, Ianiv and Arieanna, John and Rebecca, Jenn, Nadia, and I’m pretty sure there will be many other of my social media peeps there.

Green Drinks – Steamworks – 5:45 – 10:00 pm. This is going to be a tough one. I *really* want to go, particularly since I committed myself to be a Green Greeter (one of those folks who will come to you with a name tag and if I see that you are too shy, I’ll come and introduce you to other people I myself may not even know, but still – create social circles on the spot). But, as you will see, I also have other events the same night. You snooze, you lose. I *may* make an appearance, particularly since I’m on the job market in the environmental field, I kind of have to ;).

TechVibes Job Fair – Republic 3:00 – 5:00 pm. I also may show up to this, although this seems to be more directed towards web designers, software engineers, etc. But who knows, there might be something for me. And since I’ve already said that my next job will meld social media with sustainability and social change, this may be a good opportunity. More information on the Career Fair and the schedule of speakers is here.

VIDFEST and VIGS Opening Reception – Vancouver Art Gallery – 6:00 – 8:00 pm. Well, not sure if I’m going to make it to this (I need to talk to the organizers of VIDFEST, on the one hand, and on the other – I am already double-booked). But it would be nice to make an appearance, particularly since Rochelle Grayson is covering VIGS and I’d love to see her.

Ok, after seeing my schedule, it looks as though the majority of my commitments are after 3pm, which gives me a solid morning to do actual work. That’s kind of awesome, come to think about it. Although I have NO clue where I’m going to sneak in a nap, because I mean, being awake at 6.00am after going to bed at 1.30am doesn’t really jive with me.

Upcoming event – Vancouver MetBlogs Meetup May 20, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, local events, upcoming events, Vancouver Blogger Meetup.
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Given that I’ve read Vancouver Metblogs for quite sometime, that they have some of my blogo-friends writing for them (including Rebecca, Ryan, Barbara and Stephen), and the fact that they did invite me to contribute last year (I sort-of declined, because at the time I was really focused both on trying to learn more about blogging AND I had a lot of day-job work), I thought that maybe I should attend the upcoming Vancouver MetBlogs Meetup at Library Square at 7.30pm on Tuesday May 21st, 2008. I am also attending Third Tuesday, so not sure how I’m going to balance both. I’ll see. Now that I do have a cell phone, maybe I can coordinate with Rebecca and/or other bloggers to sort of try and do both events at the same time. It will be challenging, but most certainly will be fun.

Third Tuesday Vancouver May 2008: Darren Barefoot May 17, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, local events, social networking, Third Tuesday, upcoming events, Vancouver, Web 2.0.
5 comments

The Vancouver social media crowd can hardly wait to hear Darren Barefoot, one of Canada’s blog-fathers speak on May 20th on “Getting the Attention of the Web’s influencers“. This promises to be a really good Third Tuesday (all of the ones I have attended have been simply outstanding, and this one is co-organized as I understand by Monica Hamburg, Tanya Davis and Tod Maffin).

I have heard Darren speak before, at one of the NetTuesday events (which I live-blogged) and I like his work. I comment on his blog frequently and have chatted with him and exchanged emails a couple of times, although I wouldn’t say by any measure that I know him really well. But I do know his work and I really like his Web 2.0 savvy and knowledge. Plus, he has a really particular style of presenting his work. So, it should be interesting to learn more from one of the top bloggers. Besides, it does give me a great opportunity to meet in person other bloggers and readers of my own blog, and hang out with many great friends I’ve made through my blogging.

Miss604.com (Rebecca Bollwitt) will be providing excellent coverage of the event, AND she is also a media partner Rebecca will provide either live-blogging or recapping. Better yet, she will be giving prizes away!!! I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll live-blog or not, but I will also be most definitely posting a recap. Other local bloggers who are disseminating the news about Darren’s next speaking gig include Philip Jeffrey (aka tyfn, from Fade to Play fame), TechVibes and of course the Public Relations Meetup.com site.

When? Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 7:00 PM
Where? Century House Restaurant & Bar
432 Richards Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 3L5
604.633.2700

About 94 people have RSVP’d so I suggest that if you haven’t done your RSVP you do so REALLY SOON. I will be attending, and to make it easy for you to spot me, I’ll be wearing a name tag with my name and my blog’s address 🙂 No, I haven’t made business cards yet. Not sure if I want to 😉 But for sure, if you read my blog and we haven’t met in person, by all means come and say “hi“. I don’t bite (unless asked to, of course, hehehehe).

Restaurant review: India Bistro (Davie Street, West End) May 13, 2008

Posted by Raul in Davie Street, dining out, Downtown, friends, Vancouver, West End.
5 comments


india bistro

Photo credit: youngdoo on Flickr.

The only thing I really absolutely enjoyed about India Bistro was the people I went with. After an evening of Delhi2Dublin, JH, HZ and myself met up with BS for a drink and dinner. One of the reasons why I feel so incredibly blessed is that my friends (and particularly this set of friends) are always very conscious of my dietary restrictions. We rarely eat pizza, Chinese food or sushi. That being said, we all enjoy Indian food and thus we figured India Bistro would be the best place, as it is near by to BS’s place.

While the menu is broad, and it’s not really all that expensive, I was pretty taken aback by the fact that we had to order (and pay for) naan/roti and rice. Given that I eat out a lot, and that Indian food is close to my favorite food, I know A LOT of places and this is the first one where I’ve had to deal with this issue. The food is great, don’t get me wrong. But my dish wasn’t particularly tasty. Maybe I just chose wrong.

If confronted with the question of where to go for Indian food (dinner) on Davie Street I wouldn’t place my first bet on India Bistro. Not a bad restaurant, it’s tasty, but not very abundant and definitely I would go for Swagaat Tandoori before I went to IB. I’d say maybe 2.5 or 3 stars out of 5. This should not discourage potential customers, though. I just may have been there on an off day.

India Bistro on Urbanspoon

A home away from home… The Network Hub May 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, entrepreneurship, Vancouver, working spaces.
9 comments

The first time I came to The Network Hub was at my first Third Tuesday event. I was positively impressed. The place is simply outstanding. Ever since I’ve wanted to become a consultant I’ve wanted to have a workspace that provides me with freedom and also positive entrepreneurial energy around me. The Network Hub answers those needs.

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
A view of The Network Hub’s open space office concept. Photo credit: Raul on Flickr.

So, what is exactly The Network Hub and why does it play an important role in Vancouver’s burgeoning entrepreneurial sphere?

The Network Hub was established 2006 after observations of first time entrepreneurs struggling to find fundings from angel investors and venture capital companies. The Network Hub is a special kind of venture capital firm and incubator that care more about your idea than your age, resume and your business plan.[The Network Hub website]

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
Another view of The Network Hub. Photo credit: Raul on Flickr

So how *exactly* does The Network Hub help entrepreneurs?

Ideas are important but we also look for motivation, passion and brains. The ideal companies we are looking for usually has two or more founders. We provide micro-loans and resources to help you get started on your ideas in exchange for 5%-10% equity.

We provide to all our startups:
* “Micro” capital
* Infrastructure (office space, legal, accounting, human resources, etc.)
* Product development, management, sales and marketing resources
* Connecting you to potential investors
* Expertise through business partners
[The Network Hub benefits page]

When the time comes for me to start up my business, I will seriously consider coming down to The Network Hub. The concept is somewhat similar to that of WorkSpace, and I think that there should be more of these “shared office space” concepts. I also plan to write a featurette of WorkSpace soon. Stay tuned!

In the mean time, I’d like to thank The Network Hub and their team (especially Minna and Robert) for all their support with the Third Tuesdays, Net Tuesdays AND with last night’s WordCamp.

Tazzu’s WordCamp 2008 Vancouver – A total success May 1, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, Gastown, social networking, tazzu, tazzuwordpresscamp, Vancouver, WordCamp, wordpress.
29 comments

First of all, kudos to the Tazzu creators, Rastin, Jenny and Ash (and Teresa) for a phenomenal first WordCamp Vancouver.

Secondly, a big shout out and standing ovation to Rebecca (aka Miss604) for live-blogging (I would’ve live-blogged your segment, just so that you know, hehehe). I’ve inserted my notes on her talk here, she’ll update her liveblog with this quick summary of Rebecca’s presentation. I wouldn’t want to go into a full recap of the evening, and instead would just like to point out my overall assessment of the WordCamp.

Summary of Rebecca’s presentation: INSERTING PHOTOS INTO WORDPRESS.

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
Rebecca’s presentation (Photo credit: Raul on Flickr)
Two main elements of Rebecca’s presentation.

First, the insertion of photos into WordPress, when it is self-hosted (e.g. WordPress.org). There is a very neat plug-in from TanTan Noodles (linked here) that allows you to insert photos into your WordPress post. The advantage of using PhotoAlbum is that you can use it in a synchronous mode with WP-AddQuickTags (also linked here). If you use them both simultaneously, you can quickly select from your Flickr account any photo you want to insert and using the QuickTags, you can easily insert the caption AND link back to Flickr.

However, for those of us who aren’t hosting our own blogs, Rebecca did also a demo of how to insert photos into Flickr. You can see a teaser of the screencast here on her Blip.tv stream and also the full screencast that she did as a response of one of my requests on how to insert the photos.

Rebecca also showed the Flickr RSS feed that showcases a certain number of your recent photos on the sidebar (or as a widget). I am not 100% sure if this is just WordPress.org or my WordPress.com version can also do it, haven’t tried it yet.

Flux
Photo credit: Retrocactus on Flickr.

[As you can see, I inserted the photo location using the IMG button, and then I linked back to John Biehler’s photograph, using exactly the method described by Rebecca]

Finally, Rebecca pointed out to the concept of Creative Commons and indicated several suggestions on how to credit (and/or ask the photographers). This is a pretty important pet-peeve of mine, as I am the son of two lawyers (one of them who actually has a very strong understanding of intellectual property law), so I seriously dislike when people don’t link back to a certain Flickr photo, and don’t provide attribution.

Rebecca’s photos (like mine) are licensed under Creative Commons as Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike (which means, if you want to use one of my Flickr photos, you should link back to me, DON’T download the photo AND DON’T insert it in your server, instead copy the photo location AND link back to it using the codes for link). In the screencasts (and while she did her presentation) Rebecca showed how to find the photo location AND how to link back using the Link button on WordPress.

This part of the WordCamp was very lively because everyone wanted to ask questions related to copyright AND photo attribution. Kudos to Rebecca for opening up the discussion, and to everyone who presented. All of you guys did a WONDERFUL job.

WHY WAS IT A SUCCESS?

WordCamp 2008 Vancouver
Some of the crowd at The Network Hub. (Photo credit: Raul on Flickr)

I attribute it to several factors:

a). Social media interconnectedness – Even though I’m not on Facebook, I *am* on Twitter (@hummingbird604). Therefore, I knew about WordPress Camp Vancouver almost the day that it was conceived as an idea. Facebook helped spread the word, and many other bloggers took it upon themselves to invite more people and/or just disseminate information related to WordCamp 2008.

b). Superb organization skills – I got to The Network Hub (on which I’m writing a featurette, upcoming later tomorrow) very early, close to 4.30pm. Rastin, Jenny, Ash, Teresa and the folks at The Network Hub were already setting up, and fixing things, organizing the audiovisual and getting the coffee and donuts. They were SO synchronized it was almost unbelievable. If I were to hire these folks to organize an event for me, I’d do it in a second. They were right on the money, seriously.

c). Excellent location – Again, I’ll be writing about The Network Hub later, but even though the space was reduced for >80 people who actually ended up showing up, it *is* an amazing concept. People work at The Network Hub because it provides a one-stop-shop for everything they need. I took a few photographs of the offices and open spaces and I was positively impressed. Besides, it’s so close to so many transit routes AND Skytrain.

d). Outstanding list of speakers – Everyone who spoke knew their topic inside-out. It was clear that they were very prepared. Nobody could find any gaps in the presenters’ slide shows. The most important thing – they kept a really strict time-keeping register. And the presenters didn’t go over their time limit. That was, simply outstanding. I’ve been to so many academic conferences and *this* kind of excellent time-keeping, free-flowing conference doesn’t happen often.

e). Phenomenal bunch of attendees – Everyone who went there was hungry for knowledge. The questions were very good (even though a couple were slightly offensive, in my own personal view) and I would say that the interactions between presenters and listeners were very pleasant.

f). Great outline of presenters’ design – The break in the middle of the presentations was excellent. Gave an opportunity for people to socialize, get to know each other and exchange ideas and tips, seek clarification, etc.

g). Outstanding choice of bar for afterwards drinks – Flux is *the* bar where we should all go and get a drink. Spacious, nice staff, great drinks. I think this was excellent. And thanks to Automattic for sponsoring the one round of drinks afterwards! UPDATE – Andy (who works for Automattic) was there too, socializing and handing out WordPress stickers.

h). Unparalleled list of sponsors, both financial, location, food and media sponsors. I don’t have the whole list with me, but I could recognize Phillip Jeffrey, Lisa Bettany and of course, Rebecca Bollwitt. I was also a media sponsor (last minute kinda thing, but hey here is my analysis of the evening!). Some outstanding photographers, including Amanda Abrams and Ianiv (from Ianiv and Arieanna). And of course, it was great to see Stephen Rees, John Biehler, Erika Rathje, and a lot whom I probably will miss!

WHAT WOULD I DO DIFFERENT NEXT TIME

As I told Rastin, this is an excellent precursor to what can be the next series of Vancouver WordCamp’s. These are my suggestions for the next WordCamp (or series thereof).

1). Divide in tiers – There are the recreational bloggers, the self-hosted WordPress.org and the non-self-hosted WordPress.com kind of users. It was hard for some of us who are not coders to keep our eyes on some of the presentations. For the people who code, it was kind of difficult to remain focused when talks were discussing basics.

2). Charge, even if it is a nominal amount – Hello? This was a three-hour, totally free event where people got coffee, donuts, even a free drink AND lots of good insights from fellow bloggers and developers. Even if there was a minimal cover charge (say $ 3.00) it would help offset some of the costs. I am just saying (if you’ve got anything to say against this, that’s where the comments section comes).

3). Make it a series of events – Maybe one monthly. It would be great. The format is excellent as it leaves time for socialization.

Big shout-outs to everyone who was there, I could attempt and wave hi to everyone whom I saw, but honestly, it’s late, I’m past my degree of consciousness here and I’d like to get some sleep, maybe grab a sandwich. I can comment tomorrow on how nice it was to see everyone, and to meet some of the folks I had just met through their blogs (like Lisa, or Phillip Jeffrey, or Ianiv and Arieanna). But that’ll come tomorrow. For now, I leave you with this. And of course, lots of pretty pictures. Just ’cause.

Liveblogging “An Evening of Green Web 2.0” March 25, 2008

Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Downtown, environment, Gastown, social networking, sustainability, upcoming events, urbanization, Vancouver.
6 comments

After a short chat with Rebecca (aka Miss604), I decided that I was going to liveblog the event. She is also liveblogging, so mosey over to her blog for another perspective.

I was quite excited about the prospect, since I hadn’t met Darren Barefoot in person, nor the other two speakers. There is a bonus guest speaker. UPDATE – Food sponsored by WriteImage, additional sponsorship by Communicopia and location sponsorship by WorkSpace.

5.58pm – Rebecca has suggested that I live-blog and I accept, and surprisingly (and happily) my laptop is not having issues. I manage to get Wi-Fi and here I go!

6:10pm Owen works for a recent start-up in West Vancouver. They are organizing an event for Earth Hour (turn off all unnecessary power and lights). He mentioned that the biggest event will be in Toronto, but there are others here in Vancouver. Owen’s company does energy information management. Currently, they are working on a project that will monitor the energy savings that will be gained from Vancouver people participating in Earth Hour. Owen’s firm is also helping UBC measure opportunities for greenhouse gas reduction (if I understood correctly).

Ron Williams @ HappyFrog.

6:15pm Ron is “the token non-geek” of the evening. He’s going to talk about “Why HappyFrog?”. Live for about 5 months. What brought Ron to do what he did? He described the larger perspective that brought him to do this. He first looked at his Ecological Footprint (a concept developed by UBC professor William Rees and his PhD student, now professor Mathis Wackernagel, that measures how much land would we need to use per capita – so you’d need a few planet Earths to sustain a world-wide North American life-style). By the way, if you want to calculate your own ecological footprint, you can do so here.

RAUL’S NOTE – I was quite impressed at the degree to which Ron understands the whole issue around the problems with non-sustainable consumption, with the fact that the planet has a limited carrying capacity, and that our consumption patterns are unsustainable.

6.23 pm – Ron’s speech continues. These non-sustainable mega-trends should make us look at the level of dislocation and disruption – when will we realize how much impact we have? So, this is how Ron understood the world, and he wanted to create an independent media project – that’s how HappyFrog came to exist.

HappyFrog is harnessing social media, creating a resource that is locally-based, it is a hyper local directory of about 2000 businesses and non-for-profit that are British-Columbia-based. It’s based on Drupal. Basically a parallel to the 100-mile diet (“the 100-mile economic diet”) – socially responsible businesses with emerging commitments to sustainability. Everything is in your own backyard, the scale is different. He also commented about Epic – the Sustainable Living Show. They’ll going to put up a team of social media.

RAUL’S COMMENTS – Ron did a great presentation that was (surprisingly) non-geeky and without a laptop. Great behind-the-scenes description of how he came to be inspired to create HappyFrog. I am glad I now know more about HappyFrog.

Rex Turgano @ The Green Pages.

6.35 pm Rex is the Creator of The Green Pages website. In a nutshell, it is an environmental, Canadian website dedicated to sharing stories and information. They’ve been operating for about 10 years now. (RAUL’S NOTE – Love the layout!). In 1996, Rex started off at Univ of Waterloo, and apparently this idea came to fruition at the U Waterloo dorm. From their website:

thegreenpages.ca is a grassroots web phenomenon that started in the dorm room of an environmental studies student at the University of Waterloo. It began with a large collection of links and then grew into an interactive portal highlighting the latest social-economic, environment-related news, events, and stories from across Canada. The site acted as what is known today as a “blog” and created opportunities for students, organisations, and community groups to voice their opinions and share information. Today, the web site is a virtual “library” of ideas, success stories, snap-shots from the past, and inspiration.

RAUL’S COMMENT – At The Green Pages, you can browse by category and by region (e.g. if you want to check out British Columbia stuff you can check it out using a pull-down menu. I insist, I love the design. It was also nice to see him describe the actual evolutionary process (e.g. how he went from composing HTML on Netscape Communicator to adding discussion groups on Yahoo! and experimenting with logos, and animated GIFs – Rex is really funny, I have to say. Very good presenter.

Rex was frustrated and tired of forwarding stuff to people who were asking him the inevitable question “hey where do I find this environmentally-related stuff?“. He commented about a website that he used to go back through time, Archive.org. Holy smokes, you can go back SO many years! In 2004, his website evolved into a portal (similar to Google).

Over the years, The Green Pages has supported a LOT of organizations (and catalogued them, with the help of a few volunteers). The site kept growing and growing, and people started sending books (Rex, can I get a few of those? hehehehe). Apparently people thought that he was this huge organization (hopefully one day, Random Thoughts of a Student of the Environment gets me some free books!).

RAUL’S NOTE – It’s kind of nice to see that there are other people who have studied graduate programs in Environmental Studies (although at a different university – I confess that would *love* to be a professor at Rex’s alma mater – the Faculty of Environmental Studies at University of Waterloo). If I get a tenure-track position with FES, that’d be a dream job! Anyhow… I digress… back to Rex’s talk.

In 2003-2005 he became frustrated with information overload and partner frustration. So by then he realized that he could blog and that the social interaction was already built in. Thus began the “Greater Conversion” as Rex called it. He wanted a fluid site (RAUL’S NOTE – It is fluid, Rex, don’t change it!)

Numbers: 15 blogs, 10331 entries, 3000 links, 11,000 visits per month, circa 500 per day, 45+ volunteers across Canada. This is a part-time gig, with no funding. GreenPages as a media outlet, enviro-buddy, etc. They’re focusing on the latest technology (WordPress, Drupal, etc.), breaking down content, some social media technology (Upcoming.org, and Facebook – RAUL’S NOTE – I *hate* Facebook but *love* Upcoming.org – it links to my Google Calendar!)

Darren Barefoot – Associated with DeSmogBlog

6.51pm – It’s Darren Barefoot’s turn! Man, does he *ever* have a great voice! He should be a radio anchor, because his voice just filled this room. Very excited about the prospect of seeing him speak and meet with him in person for the first time!

Capulet (the company that Darren is a partner of) started to work with DeSmogBlog – he is NOT using PowerPoint (I’m very impressed) – using a very unusual but cool . Widgets – a widget is a “little bit of functionality on a website”. They made a desktop widget. Folks at DeSmogBlog – display the carbon footprint of the planet. Capulet helped DeSmogBlog create apparently the first carbon footprint widget out there.

Darren talked about Digg (ok, so I’m a non-geek blogger and yes I was excited to hear about Digg). It’s kind of a bookmarking service. DeSmogBlog is strongly and aggressively tackling bad climate-change skeptic PR.

They (DeSmogBlog and Capulet) have also engaged blogger outreach (I admit that I didn’t want to get involved with DeSmogBlog for a long time due to my work commitments, but now as they are shifting, I might want to get involved with them – even if climate change isn’t like full-on my research area, but I’ve studied the literature long enough). They also created a newsletter (old-school).

So it seems that DeSmogBlog also tried to do YouTube videos (but apparently didn’t really take off very much – the ones that worked, very few). According to DB, Facebook and MySpace bad for advertising (RAUL’S COMMENT – YAY Me! I don’t have to sign on to FB nor MS either – no source of revenue!!).

Question from the audience – Did you consider podcasting? – DB – Not really… they wanted to do some videos, but it is a lot more work that a blog post. 5 blog posts take less time than one podcast (RAUL’S NOTE – I agree. I love podcasts, though – but I am not sure they’d work that well at propagating climate-change stuff).

Question from the audience – what were the metrics of success of the site? – DB – Simple: more links, more visits, etc. Google Analytics, Technorati (which doesn’t seem to be all that great right now).

7.10 pm – The event is basically over. I think I’m going to stay for a bit and/or join DB at Steamworks (head over there if you feel like it!)

UPDATE – In a previous post I had already suggested that I would attend this event, but I can’t stop giving myself pats in the back for doing it because it was REALLY fun, and I got to chat to a number of people (which I’ll mention in my next post).

Upcoming environmental events in Vancouver (March/April) March 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in climate change, Downtown, drinks, environment, Gastown, sustainability, upcoming events, Vancouver.
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I usually advertise numerous environmental events, but I rarely have the time to attend all of them (not because I don’t want to, but recently I haven’t attended because I have been sick). Anyhow, there are a number of events you might want to check out in the next few weeks.

(WordPress question – how do I create a bulleted list?)

Green Drinks Vancouver March 2008 is happening tomorrow night (March 19th, 2008 – after 5.45pm @ Steamworks). I am almost betting that they’ll have the Green Drink tomorrow. Meet environmentally-minded folks in a relaxed environment. Brought to you by Green Drinks and Connecting Environmental Professionals. I *might* attend this one, but just for about an hour and very early (e.g. around 6 pm) because I am still sick and I am not really in the mood to socialize.

Metro Vancouver wants your input on their Solid and Liquid Waste Strategy. As those are two areas of specialty of mine, this is one meeting I will not be missing (I shouldn’t have missed those Eco-Density ones nor the Regional Planning Breakfasts and stuff, but hey my dance card is extremely full!). Brought to you by MetroVancouver, who seemingly still use the GVRD server. Don’t ask ME why, go and ask THEM!

Next month’s Sustainability Breakfast will be on Living Buildings (aka Green Buildings taken to the extreme), April 10th, 2008. Even though these events have free food and are organized by someone who is an actual real life friend of mine, for the life of me I’m almost *never* able to make it to these. I will really try to show up to this one, though.

Once I find out how to create the “bulleted list” I might update this post. If you know of any environmentally-related events coming up and you want them advertised, let me know.

Bar review – Library Square Public House March 9, 2008

Posted by Raul in dancing, Downtown, drinks, Vancouver.
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Admittedly, ever since I finished my MBA (a few, not too many moons ago), I feel like I’m out of the loop with the trendy and chic. My friends would probably disagree, but would you believe I had never set foot in the Library Square Public House, despite having a Vancouver Public Library card and being a frequent visitor?

Come on, even Mark Wahlberg has visited the LSPH! So when MM invited me to her birthday party, I jumped with excitement. Not only is she one of the nicest girls I’ve ever hung out with, she is also a key element of my volleyball team. So after having had dinner with C, B, L and J last weekend, I ended up hanging out with MM and her friends (some were unbelievably cute, but I digress).

The LSPH is indeed chic, even though it still has a hint of a sports bar. But what distinguishes this bar is the dance floor. It was overall a really nice evening, and even though I had to be in line for a little bit (something I am not used to doing ever since I stopped going to the Roxy or Republic or any of those clubs) I ended up having a great time. The drinks aren’t all that expensive (about 7 for an amaretto and soda) and the ambiance and music were nice.

I’d definitely come back if another friend organized his/her birthday party here, although truth be told, I probably wouldn’t venture this far from my usual stomping grounds in the case of my own birthday or a relevant celebration.  It’s a great pub and I’ll come back whenever my friends organize another outing.

Coffee shop review – Cafe Artigiano February 22, 2008

Posted by Raul in coffee, Downtown, local business, Vancouver.
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There are few things I love more than coffee. Real coffee. The stuff that makes you smile when you wake up in the morning to the smell of a dark, freshly brewed concoction. Unfortunately, my tummy has begun to be slightly sensitive (please replace that with VERY sensitive) to irritants, and therefore coffee is now more or less off grounds.

The problem with this is that my daily routine does involve coffee. Even if I work from home for about one or two hours before heading to the office, that’s the first thing I do: I wake up, barely conscious, stagger until I reach my coffee maker and turn it on. However, I’ve recently had several episodes of stomach ache that are associated with dairy consumption (cheese, of all things!) and caffeine consumption.

Therefore, what I did today (as an innovation) was to make a pot of English breakfast tea, and start working. The kick wasn’t enough, I got to tell you. So, when KP said that she wanted to meet for coffee downtown, I jumped at the possibility. Particularly since we haven’t seen each other (and I totally missed her birthday!) and so she suggested Café Artigiano.

Now, to the uninitiated, this could be just any other coffee shop. But no, don’t be fooled. This is Café Artigiano. The one and only. This is gourmet coffee, even the Americano is amazing. The atmosphere is extremely warm. And the staff… not only are they beautiful (physically speaking), they are so incredibly sweet. *swoons*

I have been to Café Artigiano many a time, but had never actually had the time to sit down and write a coffee shop review, so now that I’m waiting for KP to show up, it’s the perfect occasion.

As I write this review, I’m looking at the baristas (both male and female) and they keep smiling. How do they do that, particularly after a really long day at work? I don’t know, but those smiles are beautiful and I feel so welcome at this place, it’s going to be kind of hard to leave. Of course, the incentive to get out of here is that I’m heading down to CBC Studios to see a live performance of Delhi2Dublin. I’ll tell you all about it afterwards.

Small inconvenients of Café Artigiano:

  • If you’re a blogger or need a wireless connection, you are pretty much SOL. This place doesn’t provide wifi. But on the plus side, if you actually want to work on a paper or read stuff, you can do it without the added distraction of having an internet connection.
  • The people coming here (and working here) are pretty damn hot. That may be a bit of a distraction if you’re trying to concentrate on a project. I have a very, very short attention span and can easily be swayed away from an assignment with a beautiful smile [ that being said, I’ve also been blamed for charming people away from their work by using my eye-lash batting powers and my mega-watt smile… ooops :o) ]
  • Not enough power outlets to connect your laptop. So, make sure you got a nice battery before heading down here to do work. I managed to sweet-talk my neighbours into letting me connect to the power outlet and run my cord undernearth their legs, but it’s slightly embarrassing.
  • The atmosphere is quite animated, so if you’re trying to concentrate on something that requires attention, you may be SOL. I am wearing my headphones and listening to Miguel Migs on my iPod and still can hear my neighbour’s conversations.

Overall, I still would come to CA (Hornby and almost Robson, near the Vancouver Art Gallery). Just accompanied with a nice book though 😉

No recap of Green Drinks :( February 21, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, environment, sustainability, Vancouver.
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Sorry guys, but as it turns out, in my intent to be as “non-specific” and “protecting everyone’s privacy”, my photographs turned out horribly and thus I don’t want to post a detailed, non-pictorial recap of Green Drinks. Suffice it to say, it was fun and I had a really delightful time. I think I actually need to bring my business cards next time. And perhaps ask people in advance if they mind photographs, because the ones I got are hideous and really don’t show anybody’s face.

Upcoming event – Green Drinks (Vancouver) Wednesday Feb 20th February 15, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, environment, sustainability, upcoming events, Vancouver.
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I have been so insanely busy that I have missed many of the most recent Green Drinks events. However, this coming Wednesday I am NOT busy and thus will definitely be going to Green Drinks. This is a gathering of enviro-minded folks from ENGOs, academia, industry, etc. Yes, there are actually ‘green drinks’ on tap.

From the Green Drinks Vancouver website:

There’s no agenda or other formality – it’s just a chance to meet regularly to chat, debate, socialize and connect with others in Vancouver who are passionate about environmental and sustainability issues. Whether you’re keen on green building & design, sustainable energy, organic gardening, or something else entirely, you’ll find like-minded people. Please feel free to bring your business cards, brochures, info sheets, magazines and newsletters to put on a table for people to take away with them. Do make sure to take whatever you left on the table with you when you leave.

I suggest that you check it out. I am not generally a fan of Steamworks, but it’s a great pub for this kind of gathering. Plus, I always end up bumping into lots of friends of mine from the environmental field (kind of the point, isn’t it?). Plus, if you end up going, you’ll get to see my megawatt smile 🙂

Eatery review – Sushi Sky (West End) January 30, 2008

Posted by Raul in cheap eats, dining out, Downtown, West End.
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Given that my budget for dining out has shrunk considerably, and that my friends and I are trying to be more conscious about that (I’m glad they are, because I am pretty broke right now!), it was nice to find yet another place with good sushi for less than what I would have paid at Tanpopo or one of those other restaurants.

Sushi Sky is a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place on Bute Street, near Davie. If you know the Jupiter Cafe, it’s pretty much right beside it. I have to say that it’s such a strategic location. Three of my closest friends live within three blocks of this place. I went there with J for a quick dinner before watching “Brothers and Sisters” at his place a couple of Sundays ago.

The sushi is really good, and for less than $ 6.00 you got yourself dinner. I think the total for two with tip was $ 15.00. I mean, there are times when I pay that much at brunch! So, I’m pretty happy with this little place. Inexpensive and tasty. I’ll be coming back again, for sure.

Restaurant review – Mosaic at Burrard November 24, 2007

Posted by Raul in brunch, dining out, Downtown, Vancouver.
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Having brunch with close friends is always awesome, particularly after having had a somewhat sad Friday. My great friend LF suggested that we try Mosaic at Burrard, which is the hotel restaurant for the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. I’d never been and neither had she, so we settled for brunch/lunch here.

Naturally, the prices are higher than at a normal restaurant, but bear in mind that this is a top-notch hotel and thus you pay a premium. That being said, this is definitely top notch breakfast. I ordered a frittata and LF requested a chicken sandwich (I couldn’t find the menu online, so I can’t really offer you that).

There were several things that made it outstanding. The waiter was looking after our very need (although coffee refills weren’t as fast as I expected them, but the service was phenomenal nonetheless). We started off with coffee and orange juice (freshly squeezed) and we received a complimentary smoothie, which was kind of funny considering that my mental association looks something like this:

(Smoothie)=(Only Possibly Tolerable Food Item after Horrible Hungover)

And since I had a smoothie last time I had been hungover before meeting LF, this brought good and bad memories (bad because of the hangover). Anyhow, on to the restaurant review. The frittata was great, although I was a bit taken aback by the salad on top of the frittata. However, the bread, the potatoes and the frittata itself were amazing. LF seemed to enjoy her sandwich. She praised the dressing, which luckily was served on the side.

Would I recommend Mosaic to potential customers? Absolutely. This is a great experience if you come with someone you really like or it is a business brunch. I know that they have brunch buffet but I doubt I could eat that much food in one sitting. One word of warning: it is fairly expensive, but definitely worth the money, particularly if it is (as it was the case) a pre-Christmas dinner.

Since I am leaving Vancouver way too early this year, we had to meet for brunch much earlier than we expected. Nevertheless, it was great fun, and luckily a great place to eat with a very good friends. LF and I have been excellent friends since over a decade, so it’s fun to really talk very openly and about everything with her. Good times indeed 🙂

Mosaic in Vancouver