Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Re-cap on “Saving the World with User-centred-Design”

Kelly’s note: Huge thanks to new volunteer Amelia Stein, who was instrumental in the organization of this event, and wrote this event summary for us. Thanks again Amelia! 

This month’s Girl Geek Dinner, held at Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse, offered kim chi pork ribs, risotto cakes, and Hilary Little’s illustration of User Centred Design (UCD) as a clash between User-Centred-Design Girl and her arch enemy, Bad Design Dave. We heard cases in which Bad Design Dave prevailed, from innovative vehicle features to the layout of election ballots. She showed us that design is everywhere, and stressed the importance of implementing an iterative design method prior to casting an emergency UCD Girl signal in the sky.

The tricky part, explains Hilary, is that Bad Design Dave often goes unnoticed. He cloaks himself in misconceptions; user-centred design is too expensive, it takes too long, it’s irrelevant to knowledge of users, or that the users were given exactly what they asked for. It’s time we start to recognize the Bad Design Dave in our own work environments, and take the UCD girl identity as our own. When you apply the UCD techniques, the [return on investment] could certainly elevate you to hero status.

What you need to know in order to succeed is that good design requires high usability: meeting specific effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction metrics. Pledging to fight against Bad Design Dave requires that you stand true to the fact that, “you don’t know if it’s usable until it’s tested with users.” Keep strong to the process…

  1. Have an early focus on users and tasks: analyze the tasks, goals, environment
  2. Empirical testing with users: quantitative/behavioural testing (NOT asking what they want)
  3. Iterative Design process: design->evaluate->refine repeat!
  4. Rely on data for design decisions and not assumptions or best guesses.

Making progress with user-centred design in the workplace is still an ongoing battle. So dig out those leotards and capes, find out where UCD fits in your line of work and get everyone involved to strengthen the cause.

Special thanks to the guest speaker Hilary Little for her insightful presentation, and congratulations to our winners who left with fabulous gifts from our sponsors:

  • Laura Wesley & Helene Pauze- winners of homemade fudge provided by Fudge Face.
  • Mary Durning- winner of NAC show tickets.
  • Lina Bonapace- first-timer Girl Geek and winner of a gift certificate to Grounded Kitchen & Coffeehouse.

View Hilary’s slides…

For additional resources on user-centred-design contact:

And finally, Kelly created a storify–a round up of tweets from the event:


Event recap with Girl Develop It Ottawa

Last Wednesday, Serena Ngai of Girl Develop It Ottawa presented her case about the revolution of women in technology. From Mattel’s Barbie career innovations to five-year old girls dreaming of being astronauts, Serena pointed out the large social gap between girls and boys in the field of computer science and everything related.

When you Google search “computer scientist”, what’s the first image that appears? Is it a guy with glasses and a plaid shirt? Trust us, we’re not being biased. In fact, research has shown the number of women with bachelor degrees in computer sciences has decreased rapidly over the past 20 years from 37 per cent to less than 20 per cent. Today, less than one per cent of women would be interested in studying computer science as an elective in university. But, there is hope!

In 2010, Mattel posted a public survey asking girls which career they would like Barbie to pursue. To everyone’s surprise, the number one career was computer engineer. Are women beginning to see technology as a fun, innovative, career savvy form of income?  Let’s hope so!

To help regain the number of women in computer sciences, Serena and Gail Carmichael founded Girl Develop It Ottawa to bring back the flare and fun of building websites in a supportive environment. Serena taught us how technical skills can be valuable for your career and any career, why this “women in technology” thing really matters, and how their upcoming workshops can help you become the next Marissa Mayer. Well, in part.

Girl Develop It is hosting their next workshop Intro to HTML and CSS on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6, from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. They’re also looking for volunteers to help teach workshops and share technological skills with Ottawa women. If you or someone you know likes to teach and is tech savvy, contact Serena or Gail.

And lastly, congratulations to our Girl Geek prize winners who went home with fabulous gifts from our event sponsors – the National Arts Centre, Media Miser, and Ingrid Aesthetics.

To read more about this month’s event, check out the following reviews from our Girl Geek attendees:

Amy Campsall (blog post)@AmyCampsall

Alexandra Reid – @TechAlly

Mel Gallant – @MelGallant

Hana Abaza – @HanaAbaza


GGDOttawa Season Opener with Girl Develop It Ottawa

Have you heard of Girl Develop It Ottawa? It’s a new community meetup founded by Serena Ngai and Gail Carmichael designed to provide women in Ottawa the opportunity to learn programming, all with the goal to create a stronger female tech community in the Nation’s Capital.

For our 2011-2012 Girl Geek Dinner (GGD) Ottawa season opener, we’ve invited Serena to share the inspiration behind this new meetup for women. Whether you are a seasoned programmer, just starting out or have an avid interest in all things code-related, please join us Wednesday, November 16th to hear Serena share:

  • How technical skills can be valuable for your career
  • Why this “women in technology” thing really matters
  • What is Girl Develop It? And learn about upcoming workshops

Event Details:

When: Wednesday, November 16th at 6:00 p.m.
Where: The Black Tomato in the Market (get directions)

To Register: Please visit our event registration page.

Don’t forget to follow the #GGDOttawa hashtag on Twitter!

About Serena

Serena Ngai is a front-end developer and designer with a background in software development, currently working at Shopify. She is passionate about mentoring and inspiring young females to explore fields of technology and its many different applications.

The idea of starting a Girl Develop It chapter in Ottawa was born out of frustration from hearing a lot of talk about the lack of women in technology, but not seeing a lot of action being done to get more involved! Follow Serena (@serenangai) and Girl Develop It Ottawa (@gdiottawa) on Twitter.

Our Event Sponsors

Logistics and door prizes for our GGD Ottawa season opener  is made possible by the generous contribution of our sponsors – a big thank you to the following organizations.

naceng_blk | @CanadasNAC | @CNAduCanada |  @MediaMiser | @usedeverywhere

Introducing Lead to Win for Women

I first heard about the Lead to Win program while I was a graduate student at Carleton University.  Professor Tony Bailetti used the program as an example of what being a serial entrepreneur meant.  He talked about a group of people who had been part of lay offs during the burst of the tech bubble and who got tired of waiting around for their next job.  They took action and decided to create their own jobs.  The results were outstanding!  The first class of the Lead to Win program (2002) created over 50 business in the national capital region, raised over 90M in VC money and created over 300 full time technology jobs.
You can imagine my excitement when our friend Natasha D’Souza approached us with the news of Lead to Win for Women (LTW-W).

LTW-W provides women entrepreneurs with resources and expertise essential to business prosperity and success. LTW-W supports women founders at any stage of entrepreneurship who share a common goal to build a business with significant growth potential. There is an opportunity for women to learn, access critical resources, and network with like-minded entrepreneurs and successful business owners. LTW-W aim is to be a catalyst for growth for Canadian women entrepreneurs. LTW-W is unique and will have a positive impact on the success of women owned business in the National Capital Region and Canada.
Is Lead To Win for Women Right for You?

  • Do you have a great idea, but don’t know how to turn it into a business?
  • Do you already have a business, but growth is stagnating?
  • Are you interested in attending an intensive free bootcamp that will help you set business goals and achieve them? 
  • Want to help LTW-W reach their goal of making Canada the best place for women to launch and grow their businesses?  If this sounds like something you need to be a part of, you can start by attending the info session at the Code Factory on September 30, 2011 from 12:00pm-1:00pm.  Then you can apply at
    Good Luck!  And make sure to let us know how it goes.

    New Startup Accelerator in Ottawa

    Hope everyone is enjoying the awesome summer weather this year!

    Just a quick update to let you know about a new initiative by local entrepreneur Scott Annan, Mercury Launch is a new accelerator here in Ottawa. From the About page:

    The Mercury Accelerator supports Ottawa’s best entrepreneurs and accelerates future world-class web and mobile businesses through seed funding, mentorship, a powerful global network, & office space.

    We’re bringing together Ottawa’s brightest and most successful web and mobile executives to create a powerful network supporting new talent and world-changing ideas.

    Specifically, Mercury Launch provides entrepreneurs access to:

    • Up to $25,000 in seed funding
    • 3-4 months of intense programming
    • Office space
    • Access to a global network

    We’ll help you get your product to market and introductions to funding opportunities to launch your business.

    If you are thinking or in the process of starting your own business, please JUMP at this opportunity! If you’re experienced with startups and think you can offer value, please apply to be a mentor.

    Also don’t forget to forward this opportunity to other smart women in Ottawa! While we have a great budding startup scene, it could certainly use more women leaders and entrepreneurs.

    Go now!

    Open Data Event Recap

    From mobile apps to social media technology and from open data to public policy, women are continually influencing the way information is being shared across the world.

    On March 30, three women taught us that technology isn’t just an objective, it changes society and infrastructure as a whole.

    Mary Beth Baker, Emily Daniels and Tracey Lauriault, were part of a technological revolution known as Open Data Ottawa. A few months back, they organized Hackfest, an opportunity for technology lovers to come together to create unique and innovative mobile apps with the purpose of helping Ottawa citizens to enjoy and easily access recreation and services the city has to offer.

    Thanks to our wonderful speakers and guests, the event generated huge awareness on Twitter.  We highly encourage participation from everyone, male or female, and if you know someone that’s passionate about technology or has an idea for an event, please don’t hesitate to talk to us, we love questions and feedback!

    What can we take away from this event? From creative ideas for new apps to learning resources you can take home with you,  Mary Beth, Tracey and Emily enlightened us with their passion for the pursuit of open data :

    • If you’re not reading this, make sure to pick up The Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin and also check out
    • Remember Erin Brockovich? Well, she’s back in the spotlight and working on passing an open data bill about disease clusters being mapped and made public. Does this mean a sequel?!
    • Another great quote is from the lovely Jane Jacobs, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
    • If you loved the past Hackfest and want to take part again, Mary Beth is hoping to start a Mother’s Day Hackfest in May. Feel free to contact her for more information, maribethbaker <at> You can also check out photos from the last Hackfest on behalf of Edward  Ocampo-Gooding.
    • And last, but not least, open data is not about sharing personal information with the public.  In order to share public information we have the right to know and to answer public policy issues that affect us and our communities.

    Thanks again to our sponsors for their continued support.  We hope all the door prize winners enjoy their prizes!

    CIRA .CA

    Thornley Fallis

    Open Data Ottawa

    The Lemon Kitchen

    Media Miser

    The National Arts Centre

    Swing Dynamite

    From grassroots to governance: two worthy (and geeky) events coming up in Ottawa

    You’ll be delighted to know the next #GGDOttawa event is in the works and we’re hoping to announce details very soon…

    In the meantime, there are two events that are somewhat related to our next theme (Open Data Ottawa) that we thought you might be interested in:

    HackFest Ottawa

    #HackOTT will bring together the very best of Ottawa’s developers to spend the day developing web and mobile applications on top of some of the coolest public APIs.

    Working in teams, hackers have just nine hours to build a working application from scratch and present it to the group for the chance to win prizes and recognition from some of the top developers in the Ottawa community.

    WHAT: HackOTT, a full day of hacking

    WHEN: February 26th, 2011

    Event: 9am to 6pm
    App showcase and awards: 6pm – 7 pm

    WHERE: Shopify Offices – Ottawa

    Register and find out more

    The Canadian Internet Forum

    The second event is the Canadian Internet Forum hosted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)–a Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa sponsor. Here’s all the details:

    On February 25, 2011, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) will host a unique and important event about the future of the Internet in Canada. The Internet has become an integral part of the economic, political and social lives of Canadians, and the Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) will provide a space for Canadians to discuss its future.

    At the CIF, attendees will be engaged to provide their feedback and opinions about the results of the consultations. There will be opportunity to ask questions, debate and have their opinion heard about the direction the Internet should take in Canada. A panel of Canadian experts will discuss and debate the future of the Internet, including:

    • Jacob Glick, Canada Policy Counsel, Google
    • Dr. Gerri Sinclair, Executive Director, Masters of Digital Media Program at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media
    • Marc Blanchet, Network Engineer, Viagénie
    • Jim Roche, President and CEO, CANARIE

    Canadian technology visionary Leonard Brody will give the keynote address.

    Following the CIF, there will be a networking reception. For those unable to attend in person, the event will be webcast in English and French.

    Event details :

    February 25, 2011
    9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Reception to follow.
    Brookstreet Hotel, Ottawa, ON

    Registration is free and lunch and coffee will be served.

    Join us Jan 26 for a panel discussion on leadership!

    Join us Wednesday, January 26th at The Black Tomato for a panel discussion featuring three female business leaders, representing both the public and private sector. The panelists are:

    Our panelists will share their career journey to the top, including lessons learned in striving for work-life balance, setting career goals, mentorship and more. Please join us for an insightful and engaging discussion on leadership and coaching in the workplace!

    What: Panel discussion on career journey, leadership and coaching

    Where: The Black Tomato, 11 George Street at Sussex (get directions)

    When: 6 p.m.

    Register now: To register, please visit our event registration page.

    More About Our Speakers

    Sherry L. Noble

    A native of Waterloo, Ontario, Sherry Noble joined Export Development Canada (EDC) in 1977. Since joining EDC, Sherry has held positions of increasing responsibility in the Corporate Communications, Treasury and Business Development & Operations groups. Effective July 2003, she was appointed Senior Vice President, Business Solutions & Technology, a newly created group.

    With oversight of the information technology function at EDC, Sherry is responsible for ensuring alignment of the corporate IT strategy and architecture with business objectives; reliability of the technical and communications infrastructure for clients and employees; and effective project management and application development.  Her Group is also looked to for leadership in the areas of Business Process Management, and Enterprise Information Management.

    Ms. Noble has an undergraduate degree in Science in Language (French and Spanish) and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Ottawa. Travelling is something Sherry has always enjoyed, and working at EDC has given her the opportunity to visit interesting cities around the world.

    Jennifer MacKinnon Jennifer MacKinnon

    Jennifer is the founder and CEO of Fenix Solutions Inc. a web software development company specializing in online application development and the use of emerging technologies & trends.

    A previous Top Forty Under 40 win ner, Jennifer is a businesswoman who counts her role as mom the most rewarding.

    Janet Harris-Campbell

    Janet is CIO for The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI). Janet Harris-CampbellJanet joined this federal government agency, which is responsible for regulating Canada’s banks, insurance companies and federally regulated private pension funds, in 2009. As the organization’s first CIO, Janet established and is now leading a five-year information and technology renewal program that supports the agency’s ability to respond to the increasingly complex regulatory environment.

    Previously, Janet had been the CIO at the City of Ottawa for five years. Under her leadership, in 2008, the City’s IT Services team won four GTEC awards for technology innovation in the public sector. Janet focused her career on IM/IT ten years ago; before then her management experience with the municipal government had been in areas outside the IT field.

    Aside from work, Janet is mom to a competitive soccer playing daughter, and enjoys golf, yoga, skiing and volunteering.

    Our Event Sponsors

    Logistics and door prizes for our January GGD Ottawa event  is made possible by the generous contribution of our sponsors – a big thank you to the following organizations.


    Beyond Events

    Blend-Creations-Modern Jewellery

    Blend Creations


    The National Arts Centre

    Sara McConnell Photography

    Sara McConnell Photography


    The Lemon Kitchen



    Fab women, topics and recipe – Nov 29th event recap

    From the fabulous mix of women who attended, to the awesome venue – Lilac Lingerie – and the delicious food prepared by Kelly and Paul, our season opener was a fantastic evening.

    We received some wonderful topic suggestions for this year, including:

    • search engine optimization – organic versus paid, pay per click advertising – and the pros and cons of each
    • women in emerging technologies – seeking opportunities for tours and/or sourcing speakers at BIOTECanada, Plasco Energy Group, Cyrium Technologies and the National Research Council to name a few
    • online branding – how to use the web to promote your business
    • traditional versus online media – practical guidance
    • the Ins and Outs of starting a start up – legal and business tips

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Huge thanks to our May #GGDOttawa Supporters

    One of the things that sets Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa (#GGDOttawa) apart from other events that happen in the city is our awesome door prizes, and every event they seem to get better and better. We are so lucky to have an enthusiastic community of supporters both attending the events and contributing via sponsorships and door prizes.

    We usually include info about the door prizes and photos of the winners in our recap post for each event we hold, but since our May 25 event had so many amazing prizes we felt this month’s sponsors deserved their own acknowledgement.

    National Arts Centre

    The people of the National Arts Centre (NAC) have been great supporters of Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa. Not only do many of them come out to our events regularly, but they’ve donated NAC event tickets as a door prize to almost every single dinner we’ve held! This month the voucher for two tickets to Bronfman & Brahms performance went to Della Siemens. Congrats Della!

    Essence Catering

    A new supporter and one I am personally extremely excited about, Essence Catering, is a catering company based in the Hintonburg/Wellington West area of Ottawa. In October, the company I work for (MediaMiser) hosted an Open House event to celebrate our new office and it was catered by Essence Catering. The food was delicious, beautifully presented and received tons of compliments! I know winner Mar Warrender will not be disappointed, especially with an amazing $250 gift certificate!

    Shanti Consulting

    Dr. Hema Murty is a personal trainer and Yoga consultant who attended our December Open Mic event and has been a #GGDOttawa fan ever since! She runs Shanti Consulting–and donated a free personal training session valued at $90. Congratulations to prize winner Cameron Wilson!

    Swing Dynamite

    Yet another new supporter, Claudia from Swing Dynamite attended an event earlier this year and soon after offered to donate a prize.

    Claudia was generous enough to donate two gift certificates for a six-week swing dance course! I like to think that along with this dance company’s awesome skill, their generosity and good will helped them out a little at the Canadian Swing Championship where they took home tons of awards. Congrats!

    Hope to see some Girl Geeks (perhaps winners Brigitte Van Aert and Cassandra Wilson?) competing in future years!

    Randy Little

    Anyone in Ottawa on Twitter knows @littlerandy, a financial advisor who has quickly established himself as a pillar in the Ottawa  social media community.

    In fact, he’s even offered (on television) to help his Twitter friends get unstuck in a snowy driveway if needed! We’re also grateful of his support, donating rosewood wine boxes (with accessories) as door prizes for several of our events. Tanya Snook is this month’s lucky recipient!

    Thornley Fallis Communications

    We also need to offer our appreciation and thanks to Joseph Thornley and Thornley Fallis Communications, now our longest running sponsor! Each event, Thornley Fallis provides financial support that enables us to offer 5-10 students the opportunity to attend our Girl Geek dinners at no cost. We appreciate this support and know our student attendees do too. Thanks so much!

    Virtual Eye See

    And finally, a huge thanks to Natasha D’Souza of  Virtual Eye See for providing domain and hosting support for Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa blog!

    We are always appreciative of the support we receive from the Ottawa business community. If you’re interested in sponsoring or donating a prize for future Girl Geek Dinners, please contact us: