As I write this, my Toronto Windows Phone “Coffee and Code” event is drawing to a close. Held at the big communal table in the back corner of the Starbucks at Toronto’s busy Yonge/King intersection, I announced it a mere two days prior, first on Twitter, and then on the Canadian Developer Connection and Global Nerdy blogs, so I was prepared for only a handful of people to show up. I was pleased by the outcome: in the end, we got about three dozen people to show, with twenty people crowding around our table at peak, and not counting the half-dozen people who wandered over saying “Did I hear you had a new Windows Phone?”
As a mobile worker, I’m not tied down to an office. As a product of late 1980s/early 1990s computer labs, I’m actually quite comfortable working in a noisy, busy environment like a café, and in the late ‘90s, when I ran my own consulting shop, I cranked out VB applications for a mid-sized company in Chicago out of a hip little café on Toronto’s Queen Street West. During that time, I met a number of interesting people, including folks from the local tech scene, which I enjoyed. So when I landed the job with Microsoft and returned to the mobile life, I thought, why not bring a little of that back?
So I started a little event I called “Coffee and Code” back in early 2009. The idea was simple: work out of a café, announce that I’ll be there and will be happy to take visitors, see who shows up. It worked out pretty well, and I hold them whenever my schedule allows. The attendance usually ranges from 6 to two dozen or so, and we talk about all sorts of things, from programming (.NET, open source and everything in between), the local tech scene, the industry in general and just about every other topic – the conversations aren’t always technical. It’s a great way for people to meet up with me, and a great way for me to know what’s on developers’ minds.
The idea has spread beyond Toronto; my coworkers and I have held Coffee and Code events in cities across Canada, Denny Cherry has held a couple in southern California and Cory Fowler holds them regularly in Guelph.
Luckily, I didn’t run this alone. I was backed up by a couple of great people:
Among the people in attendance were:
In response to my quick announcements about this Coffee and Code, I got a number of questions via email, Twitter and Facebook asking me if I’m holding Coffee and Codes elsewhere in Canada (particularly from people in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa). The answer is, I’d love to, and I’m working on ways to make that happen.
Firstly, I’m taking advantage of the fact that I’m already flying across the country to help run TechDays. I’ll be in six of the eight cities:
…and I plan to be in those cities not just for TechDays, but a couple of days before and after the event as well. I’ll hold Coffee and Codes in those cities when I’m there, with a chance for you to see Windows Phone 7 devices up close and personal, try deploying an app to them, and ask questions.
Secondly, I’d like to see if Windows Phone Coffee and Code events can take place all over Canada, whether or not I’m there. I know it’s possible; Cory Fowler has held way more Coffee and Codes than I have in Guelph, and I’m sure that more of you would be interested in holding get-togethers would like to hold similar events in your area. If we made some kind of Coffee and Code “starter kit” to help you start a Coffee and Code in your town, would you do it? Let me know – email me if you’d be up for it!
This article also appears in Global Nerdy.
When will you be in Montreal for coffee and code?
I'll be in Montreal for a Coffee and Code sometime around TechDays Montreal, which takes place November 23 - 24.