#FF ThirdOcean

If you ever want to attend a great panel discussion, make sure you add ThirdOcean to your follow list. They have been in business for a couple of years now and is headed by Carolyn Van and Karim Kanji. After attending my first event, FashionConnect that they put on under their brand XConnect, I found out that Carolyn and I both graduated from the same University, same faculty and probably within a day of each other. I like to think I graduated BEFORE her, but hey, what difference does a day make? ūüėČ

Burritos from GameConnect (#GCTO)

Burritos from GameConnect (#GCTO)

Since the first panel, I’ve continued to attend their events regardless of the topic because I always find it interesting. The point is to find the intersection between technology and another industry. The topics have ranged from Film, Gaming and Education and they always put out a good spread. It is thanks to their events that I was introduced to Rightsleeve and their wonderful services. Their latest one was HealthConnect (#HCTO) where the discussion was centred around health. Amazing discussions come out of their panels and it is never boring! I can’t wait to see what the 2013 season brings.

Both Karim and Carolyn have been extremely supportive of me in my endeavours and have welcomed me with open arms. It is thanks to Carolyn that I began learning about WordPress just over a year ago. Had it not been for her insight and suggestions, I would not be where I am today. To give you an idea, I presented at WordCamp Toronto 2012 last month with a success story. They don’t just limit themselves to their own business either! You can find them almost everywhere, including Venus Ventures and Lean Startups. Heck, they were event at TEDxToronto today! Please give them all a follow on this wonderful Friday and I hope to see you at the next one.

ThirdOcean

ThirdOcean

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#FF Nth Degree Entertainment and DJ Thomas Hall

The Retro Road Show is put on by¬†Nth Degree Entertainment¬†headed by DJ Thomas Hall. For those of you that went to The Joker on a regular basis in Toronto, you might remember him. Think of those video dance parties that your high school would put on from Much Music with the videos projected all over the walls with Retro Music from the 80’s (and now the 90’s) and throw in the alcohol. NOW you’ve got one hell of a party. They also do private and corporate parties and I’ve attended at least one wedding where they DJ’ed and they never disappoint. I’m sorry that I missed them during Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche last month, but they were at King & Bay all night and I’m sure were a great success.

I started going to the Retro Road Show about three years ago because a friend of mine from high school said it would be a blast. She’d been going for some time and invited me along. I had a blast! I’d told my brother about it, but I wanted to check it out before I brought him along. As some of you might know, my brother is Autistic and it’s difficult to find places where he feels comfortable and that are safe for him. IT WAS AWESOME!

Ravi and his first prom dates

Ravi and his first prom dates

The next time I went was New Year’s. I’d tried to find a place that my brother could go where we didn’t have to deal with the potential for violence (as is prone on such evenings) and where he would feel accepted. This was the first time my brother was able to go to a “club” and go out dancing on New Year’s Eve. We’ve been going ever since. I feel completely comfortable with my brother going even without me because I know that there are people there that know him, welcome him and will protect him if something goes wrong. My brother never went to his prom, but thanks to the Retro Road Show, he got it. It truly is an amazing feeling to find a place where he is welcomed.

Our friends and I have a great time every month and I make it a point to go whenever I can. I think I’ve missed five in the last three years and make it out for their Hallowe’een and New Year’s Parties every time. Tonight, we celebrate my brother’s birthday as well as DJ Thomas Hall’s at their new release, Retro Wave Fridays at the Dovercourt House at 9:30 p.m. ¬†The usual one is held the third Saturday of every month in the main floor space, except for October and December when they have their extra special events! You will have a dose of Retro every month to keep you going. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

This group of people put on a great show, but also have my undying thanks for having an inclusive atmosphere, safe and fun for all. Make sure you follow DJ Thomas Hall, Nth Degree Entertainment and Retro Road Show on Twitter, as well as join their Facebook Groups/Pages for chances to win tickets. Tune in on Friday afternoon to listen to Superstar DJ Thomas Hall on Boom 97.3 with their Retro Mix at 5 p.m.

Ravi and DJ Thomas Hall - The Terrible Twosome. ;)

Ravi and DJ Thomas Hall – The Terrible Twosome. ūüėČ Thanks to Diane for this photo.

#FF Jon Gauthier

Jon Gauthier and I meet at some pretty cool events. Sometimes, like last week, I get invited to some really awesome stuff because he’s on the list. He’s selfless in his invitations and is great company. He passed along an invitation for the Centre For Social Innovation‘s Grand Opening in Regent Parkand I took my brother along. It was a wonderful event and an amazing vibe throughout the room. Makes me want to know more about the organization and inspires me to do more.

Afterwards, Spacing was having their Fall Party and invited I and my friend along. We had a great time and I even got my photo taken with one of my Twitter idols, Shawn Micallef.

When he’s not being the social butterfly, he’s the co-founder of Good Foot Delivery Service, a messenger service that hires people with disabilities. My brother worked in a mail room at one time, so needless to say, this is a great social/business model that helps people who would not otherwise have a job earn a living.

I highly recommend today that you get on to Twitter and follow Jon Gauthier, who gives of his time and energy if nothing else for the good of those around him.

Taken from "Off On A Good Foot" story in the Toronto Star, August 20, 2010

Taken from “Off On A Good Foot” story in the Toronto Star, August 20, 2010

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far.

Near and Far - A High Five With Buddha

Near and Far – A High Five With Buddha

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary.

My pet Betta, PhilGor

My pet Betta, PhilGor

It’s Finally Cool To Read Comics

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a class at Sheridan College the other night. I knew the instructor and when he told me that part of the course was using comic books, I couldn’t wait to get in there! One of the big pieces of the discussion was around graphic novels. I was surprised how many of the students said, “I’ve never read a comic book in my life.” WHAT??? I spoke with some of the students after class and told them I had a bit of an edge: I used to work in a comic store. So, in answer to that, here are a few choice graphic novels that I would suggest that they at least look at, even if they don’t choose any of them.

Batman vs. Dracula

Batman vs. Dracula: Red Rain

Batman vs. Dracula: Red Rain

This is one of the first ones that came to my mind when the discussion first started. Luckily, one of the students asked about the “traditional” comic books and I could put this out there. DC Comics¬†produced this as one of their Elseworld series. They were hypothetical stories that took the heroes out of their usual environment and puts them into an alternate reality… or is it? Putting Batman against Dracula seems like an almost natural match. In this story, Batman is bitten and becomes part vampire himself. I’ll let you read the rest to find out what happens.

Watchmen

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Surprisingly, I didn’t read this one while working in the comic store. I waited until I took an English course at Ryerson University before picking this one up. I’m still not sure if I really liked it all that much compared to many of the others that I read. However, I appreciate that this is a groundbreaking piece of work and definitely one of, if not the most, recognized graphic novel of all time. The movie did it a great justice in my opinion, but I know of a number of others that have also done themselves well. The premise of the book is that superheroes that used to save the world are now outlaws. They are exiled and kept under cover. This was a commentary on the censorship of comic books that occurred in the 20th century, similar to the Black List in Hollywood. Even if you don’t pick this for the assignment, please pick it up at some point and read it, not just watch the movie.

The Vampire Lestat

The Vampire Lestat

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

I have to admit that I felt very old when I asked the young women after the class if they knew about The Vampire Lestat. No? Interview with the Vampire? No? Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt? Still nothing? How about Queen of the Damned? Aaliyah? AHH! Now I’ve got it. Phew! I couldn’t believe that they had never heard of this. This is what the world has come to with respect to vampires? All they know is about “Twilight” and “Vampire Diaries”. Sad. /rant

Anne Rice wrote this trilogy and Innovation comics put them into twelve high quality comics, glossy pages and all. Each one could probably have been considered a graphic novel unto themselves. But only The Vampire Lestat was made into a single volume. It was first produced as a hardcover edition and then as a soft cover. I bought the hardcover as soon as it came in. Cost me about $120, but it is truly one of my pride and joys. The softcover is available for about $30-$40 according to Indigo. If you really want to read a GOOD vampire story, this is a must. It is quite close to the book, so it’s pretty damn close to the written word version.

The Sandman

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

This is the story of Morpheus, the God of Dreams and the adventures he has. Every once in a while you might see an appearance of his sister, Death (who had a small series of her own) or one of the other Endless through his many adventures. For the God of Dreams, he is actually a very sad and lonely character and Death comes around to cheer him up occasionally. This is a series written by Neil Gaiman¬†who is more an author than a comic book writer. But it’s great stuff! A character like Dream can transcend time and space, and he does. There are some really light-hearted books, like the one that takes place in A¬†Midsummer¬†Night’s Dream, but don’t let that fool you. This series can get pretty dark. This was really the first of it’s kind that I read and I loved it. I even got a chance to meet Neil at Silver Snail in Toronto during my high school years. I tweeted him one of the photos that¬†I scanned¬†in years later and he even RT’d it and replied! Really cool stuff that you don’t even have to read start to finish. It helps, but if you have to pick just one, I recommend is Dream Country that has four unrelated stories, including the one of¬†A¬†Midsummer¬†Night’s Dream.

Me, Ann and Neil Gaiman

Me, Ann and Neil Gaiman

As I mentioned in the class, there are a number of choices and you don’t even have to go to the comic store anymore. Places like Chapters & Indigo have sections now dedicated to this genre. I highly recommend you go and find one that suites you. It’s finally cool to read comics. Happy reading!

What was your favorite class in college?

What was your favorite class in college?

When I went back to university, one of the courses I had to take to get entrance to the degree program was an English course. I never enjoyed it when I was in high school, mainly because of the essays and I wasn’t a big fan of reading. Needless to day, I enjoy writing blog posts not only because I get to choose the topic, but it doesn’t have to be that long.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

Watchmen by Alan Moore

The first one that I took was called the Hero’s Journey. This is the first time I really¬†learned how to properly write an essay. I actually read the books, including Dracula¬†and many of the mythologies, such as Hercules.¬†I enjoyed it so much that I took two more English classes during my degree and made it a point to take one whenever I could. I was actually ENJOYING English and reading!

The next one was Zap, Pow, Bang!: Popular Literature. How could I not take this course? We got to read comic books! Specifically, one of the best known graphic novels of all time: Watchmen. I knew that it was influential, but I never realized how deep it actually went. We also read¬†The Maltese Falcon and¬†From Russia With Love. Our group project: Comparing¬†The Maltese Falcon to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” as a film noir. We of course got top marks for that one. It was definitely one of my favourites.

During my last year, I took one more. However, it wasn’t my first choice, nor my second choice. They eliminated both of those, one of which included Eastern Literature and I ended up with Science Fiction. Now this may surprise many people who know me, since I am a big geek when it comes to Science Fiction. But I’ve never been a big fan of the writing or reading of it. Give me a screen any day and I’ll watch “Firefly“, “Battlestar Galactica” and of course “Doctor Who” any day, all day. I have to admit, I wasn’t very fond of most of the novels required for the class, including Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Octavia Butler’s Kindred¬†or H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine.¬†I appreciated them for what they were, but they weren’t a pleasant read for me. It felt more like high school all over again: reading stuff I didn’t want to read just to pass a class. But I am happy to say that this was the only piece in the course I didn’t like. There was plenty more!¬†We got to watch “Ghost in the Shell” and “Bladerunner” as part of our studies, so there was some video thrown in which made my day.

William Gibson's Neuromancer

William Gibson’s Neuromancer

I did enjoy reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, especially when I was told that it was what sparked the famous Role-Playing Game (RPG) “ShadowRun“. I actually found the audio book narrated by Gibson himself. Very interesting to say the least. One of the assignments was to do our own bit of creative writing (which I was terrible at in high school). But I actually enjoyed it too. Based on Neuromancer and a ShadowRun game that I used to play, I came up with the ending to a campaign that my GM never finished. And no, I never forgave him for that. At the time, he said that he figured everyone could do their own ending. So I did. It’s still not finished, but I completed the¬†assignment¬†and have actually created a blog on it. There I also describe the back ground to the story as well as a totally different storyline which I think I need to pick up again very soon. Check out ShadowShui here.

So thank you Ryerson University for renewing or rather starting my love of literature.

#FF Back To School Edition

For those that are starting out or returning to the Ted Rogers School of Management to study Business Technology Management (formerly known as Information Technology Management) at Ryerson University, make sure you follow these important people:

1. Women in ITM (WITM): This organization is dedicated to supporting women within the BTM program. They welcome both men and women to many of their events, but focus much on encouraging young women to not only enter the technology field but to remain in it, especially past first year. Some of their past events include Networking Bootcamps, Computer Hardware Workshops and panels on Breaking The Glass Ceiling

2. ITM Students’ Association (ITMSA): This group is dedicated to the BTM students at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. Like WITM, they have some great programs such as their networking night and the Apprentice program which looks great on a resume. Make sure you check out what they have planned this semester.

3. ITM: This is the official Twitter account for the School of ITM at Ryerson University. They are just getting started, so bear with them as they find their way around.

4. Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM): The twitter account for the Ted Rogers School of Management which houses not only the BTM program, but the Business Management, Retail Management and Hospitality and Tourism. They give information not only about the individual schools, but about goings on in the building itself, as well as the other organizations in the school such as RUBAA

5. RyersonU: The official twitter account for Ryerson University. Check here for information about the university, interviews, and events around the entire university. This is a must for every RU student and faculty.

Have a great school year!

Ryerson University

Ryerson University

 

Book #7 – I Want To Go Home

I fell behind on my challenge, so I wanted to go with something that I already knew, but needed to read again. And what better than one of my favourite authors of all time, Gordon Korman. This isn’t my favourite work of his, but certainly in my top three. I am still searching for a copy of No Coins, Please which is my all time favourite Korman book. This book, I Want To Go Home¬†is very similar, so just as funny.

I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman

I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman

This is an early teen book that shows the absolute absurdity of what can go wrong at camp. Camp Algonkian reminds me of camps that I attended, such as Camp Wahonowan on Lake Couchiching for band camp. When I read this book, I picture this place and can relate to some of it. I really enjoyed camp, but Rudy Miller doesn’t. His parents write to the camp Director, Arthur Warden out of concern. It has been recommended by the school’s guidance counsellors that Rudy attend camp to improve his interpersonal skills to essentially become a “normal” child. Arthur’s take is that all boys are just boys. There are no “problem” children. He hasn’t met Rudy Miller yet, and he’s no ordinary kid.

Rudy meets Mike who has been sent to camp as a reward from his parents for good grades. Mike hates camp as much as Rudy does and together they attempt to escape the island. First, they take a boat before dawn and get caught by the OPP and sent back because they don’t have a bailing bucket. The counsellors are none the wiser on this occasion, so they head out the next morning again, equipped with a bucket, but fall asleep and end up back on the island because the sailboat has gone around in a circle.

Rudy is an extremely intelligent child and comes up with a quip a minute. But he doesn’t do anything. It’s not that he cant as we soon find out, but he just doesn’t want to. As a matter of fact, he’s great at everything he does. Soccer, chess, swimming; so good in fact that he saves one of his counsellors from drowning.

I certainly don’t do this book any sort of justice, but suffice to say that this is not the only storyline occuring. There is a side story that comes around in the end and just puts the icing on the cake. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, because I still smile at this book even 20 years later. Enjoy.

#FF Silicon Halton

One of the best networks I’ve connected with since moving to Hamilton is Silicon Halton. I found them through another meetup that I attend regularly and have been very happy with not only their meetings, but with the community itself.

This is a grass roots organization founded by Chris Herbert and Rick Stomphorst¬†in 2009 dedicated to creating “a thriving community of people in technology that live and/or work in Halton region”. (Silicon Halton website) Couldn’t have stated it better myself.

Though they have a pretty sturdy rule about having their members live and work in Halton, they are extremely welcoming and do not let their friendly fence get in the way of making connections. In addition to their Peer-to-Peer groups, such as SEO, Big Data and CEO, they also have an open meetup every month which anyone can attend. The format is simple yet effective: One or two presentations, meet your member which are shorter presentations done by the members of Silicon Halton to let people know what they do, and then an open floor for anyone to tell the group about anything, including events or initiatives.

Last night, they had their inaugural Demo Night, so I’m sure we’ll see a post very soon to wrap that up. Their next monthly meeting is on September 11, 2012 and they are having a panel on¬†“SMB Business Disaster Planning – What’s Realistic?” and I highly recommend attending. ¬†Silicon Halton has been very good to me and I know that there are more good things coming. You can find them on Twitter @SiliconHalton¬†so follow along!

Silicon Halton

Silicon Halton