Coworking in Toronto – Camaraderie

Yeah, independents, freelancers, emerging startups, web developers and others rejoice. You have a coworking option in Toronto again. After Indoor Playground “moved” in January 2008, Toronto has been lacking a general coworking space. (Yes I know about the Centre for Social Innovation, but it has mission-based selection criteria that helps create it’s ecosystem and not everyone qualifies). But today, Rachael and Wayne have announced the opening of Camaraderie. I provided some coverage over on StartupNorth, I’m hoping that we can again try to rally around a different office space model that is enabled by this emerging participatory culture.

Camarderie - Coworking in Toronto

Camaraderie is a located at 102 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ON. The doors are scheduled to open on Feb 15, 2010 and the space will be free until Feb 28, 2010. I’m hoping that many of the independents that are looking for a part-time, downtown coworking space will check out Camaraderie. The pictures of the space are still very raw.

The Building 102 Adelaide St E, Toronto, ONOpen WorkspaceKitchen AreaBoard Room

The Details

  • memberships will be $300/mo for unlimited use during business hours
  • we’ll work out keys later, but for now the space will be open 9:00am-6:00pm (or later)
  • free wifi, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate every day

Network Locked

mifi2372I keep wondering why carriers are stuck in a business model that is so anti-consumer? Is it because having to compete on price and customer demand is too scary? Or are customers so undesirable that it’s easiest to think about them as ARPU instead of real customers.

This all started with I would like to purchase a Novatel MiFi 2372 to use on a Canadian carrier. Currently the only provider with this device is Bell Canada. I am currently a Rogers subscriber, and I have been been for a long time (There was a brief period in June-September 2007 where I was a Bell customer because it was the network of choice by my employer). However, as soon as possible I transferred my account to Rogers, mainly because GSM was a better choice for me. I’ve finally had enough of not having a reliable, high speed network connection around the city. I was looking at buying a Rogers Rocket Stick, but I’ve seen the MiFi and damn it, it looks like a great portable solution (basically I can share my HSPA connection with a variety of device and colleagues). I’m happy to purchase the device outright, and I’m happy to agree to a network service term (30 days), but I want the option to move the device between carriers. It is after all, a thing that I own after I’ve purchased it.

It has brought up a lot of questions for me about consumer rights in Canada. Is this a provincial issue (Ministry of Consumer Services)? A federal issue (Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs)? What happens if I purchase a device and choose to unlock it? Is this prevented by copyright law?

“Section 41 of the Bill states that, subject to certain exceptions, it is illegal to to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or to otherwise avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate or a technological measure.” – CIPPIC

But this is only relevant if I choose to unlock the device, or pay someone else to unlock the device. It’s my device. I may not own the copyright, but I own the right to resell it to another individual. Why should the carrier be able to lock the device to their Network?

“Unlocking a Device may void the manufacturer’s warranty and Bell will not provide a warranty or any return policy for the unlocked Device.” – Bell Wireless terms of service

I’m assuming that this means that Bell has realized that they must provide unlocking, however charging a $250 fee (or is it a $75 unlocking fee for non-iPhones) this seems a little crazy. It feels like a cash grab, particularly on hardware that they have sold to customers. I don’t need to pay a service fee to unlock a book or DVD. Why should I be forced to pay a fee to correct something that a carrier is doing anyway? Is there a consumer manifesto for this? Who is representing the Canadian citizens?

No Rocket Stick. No MiFi. I’m waiting for a new phone. I’m left waiting and network locked.


Sidenote: I need to read more about Joe Clark’s The Cranky Copyright Book and his Comments submitted to copyright consultation. I respect Joe’s opinion, and I appreciate his contrarian viewpoint. And I’m truly interested in his opinion on copyright law, something I know very little about. And it’s nice to see an addition to the expected voices of Cory Doctorow, Michael Geist, and Lawrence Lessig. Two of whom I’ve supported by purchasing their books.

Canadians, Canadians, Canadians


Steve Ballmer is coming to Toronto.

He’s speaking at the Can>Win initiative presented by The Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The event is focused on helping to “define strategies to secure Canada’s global advantage”. The effort is publishing 16 one pagers from thought leaders (there 8 published as of Oct 15, 2009) in a dialogue on what Canada must do next. I’m waiting to see who is lined up to round out the remaining 8 dialogue pieces. I am a little underwhelmed as none of the published pieces are about telecommunications, technology, copyright, education or any of things that interest me. So I’m hoping based on the event participants that these topics will be covered. Speakers like:

  • Dr. Indira Samarasekera,
    President, University of Alberta
  • Parker Mitchell
    Co-CEO, Engineers without Borders
  • Trish Wheaton
    Chief Marketing Officer, Chairperson, Wunderman Canada

I’m hopeful that there will be some thought pieces on topics that interest me.

I wasn’t always a Steve Ballmer fan. He was that funny dancing man from Microsoft. But it was at Mix08 that I changed my mind. Sure, I had become an employee of Microsoft Canada and ultimately Steve is my boss. But it was his interview with Guy Kawasaki that forever changed my opinion of Steve. 

I was impressed with both the depth and breadth of his understanding of the Microsoft business. He was informed about strategy, about operations, about technology, about sales, about acquisitions. I was just blown away at the insight, honesty and the casualness of the conversation. It also helped me understand the “Developers, developers, developers”. Steve is a passionate guy. And he’s very, very intense.

If you get a chance, watch the full interview with Guy Kawasaki and Steve Ballmer. It changed my opinion.

Whiskey Stones

teroforma-whiskey-stones I was reading Monocle and noticed a recommendation for a set of 9 Whiskey Stones from Teroforma

“Based on an idea using granite that has been in existence in Scandinavia for centuries, we chose to work with natural soapstone due to its softness (won’t scratch the glass) and its unique ability to retain temperature for extended periods of time.

A few hours in the freezer and the stones are ready to complement your favorite tipple without imparting either flavor or odor.”

My challenge is that I like a couple of “rocks” in my bourbon, I find that the whiskey opens up (whatever the hell that means – I live the taste with a little ice) with some cold water. However, I’m willing to give these a try in my single malt.

Red Hot and Delicious Manhattan

Joey deVilla sent this to me. It’s a Red Hot Manhattan.

Red Hot Manhattan

Vidiot wrote about the details on Cocktailians.

Dave Arnold is the Director of Culinary Technology at the French Culinary Institute. More relevantly to this space, he’s also a mad scientist, with a strong mixological bent.

He’s invented a "Red Hot Poker" that’s electrically heated to over 1700°F, which he then plunges into drinks, caramelizing the sugars and adding a toasty note to their flavors.

Next up was the Red Hot Manhattan, which he made with Sazerac rye, Dolin vermouth, and Angostura bitters. This time the flames shot even higher, and the resulting toddy-like drink was very good — still recognizably a Manhattan, with noticeable sweet-vermouth notes, but with the feel of warm whiskey.

Unfortunately, the Red Hot Manhattan is made with Rye. My personal preference is for bourbon. I prefer the sweetness of the vanilla in bourbon.

Looks like a trip to Manhattan to the L’Ecole at the French Culinary Institute is in the future.

Questions for most promising startups

logo-tia BCTIA has published their criteria for the 2009 Technology Impact Awards. The submissions are due on March 13, 2009. As a start-up there are tradeoffs about participating in these award programs. Depending on the program there might be a cash prize, introductions to funding sources, press opportunities, etc. Or it could be a giant waste of time. You have to evaluate each program individually. I think the BCTIA program is a good balance of Recognition and Exposure. It is really about growing and supporting the local technology ecosystem.

My favourite part about the TIA awards is the submission criteria. I think every start-up should be able to answer these questions [PDF 48.9kb]. 

Summarize why this submission should be considered for Most Promising Start Up Award category and explain the relevancy of the business concept based on the following four equally weighted criteria and using the listed questions as a general guideline:

  1. Value proposition
    What problem are you solving?
    For whom?
    How will you make money?
  2. Competitive differentiator
    What differentiates your product, service or technology from alternative solutions?
    What is your sustainable competitive advantage?
  3. Market opportunity
    Please be specific as to the addressable segment of the market you are targeting.
    How large is your market?
    What is the nature of the competitive landscape?
  4. Management team
    Who are the key team members and board/advisors?
    Why does your team have the ability to execute on the business plan?

The questions are perfect for early-stage companies to identify the problem, how you’ll make money, the market opportunity and the differentiators. (The application puts a further limitation of 2000 words).

Why not give it a try?

If you’re a Canadian start-up write a blog post that is less than 2000 words that answers the above questions. Send me an email or a tweet, just @reply me, with a link containing your answers to the question. I’ll retweet the submissions and see if I can share some recognition and exposure.

Guilt-free Holiday Reading List 2008

On my way to the Velocity Project Exhibition in Waterloo, I stopped at the local Chapters mostly because it’s the only Starbucks I know enroute to the University of Waterloo (turns out there’s one at King & University too). There were a number of business books that caught my attention as possible reads when travelling this holiday season.

Anybody read or planning on reading any of these?

41ldLDf5PZL__SL110_ Ahead Of The Curve – Two Years at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton
41nirFmqcwL__SL110_ Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
21ACTgOnC L__SL110_ The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by George Soros
41F9XSr7S9L__SL110_ Remix Making Art And Commerce Thrive In the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig
51yei KRxEL__SL110_ The Real Price of Everything: Rediscovering the Six Classics of Economics edited by Michael Lewis
41ypZZFfouL__SL110_  Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft Plans to Stay Relevant in the Post-Gates Era by Mary Jo Foley
51PfGj5vTxL__SL110_ Reality Check – The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki
51QTzpyOCkL__SL110_ How To Be A Business Superhero by Sean Wise
41Xq6-RygzL__SL110_ Outliers: The Story of Success  by Malcolm Gladwell
51drpze7irL__SL110_ Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
41XakEaGHOL__SL110_ Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom

Ten New Gurus

The November 24, 2008 issue of Fortune has an article about the Ten New Gurus You Should Know.

  1. BJ Fogg, Founder and Director, Persuasive Technology Lab, Stanford University
  2. Patrick Lencioni, Founder, The Table Group
  3. Rakesh Khurana, Professor, Harvard Business School
  4. Valerie Casey, Leader, Digital Experiences Practice, IDEO
  5. Don Sull, Professor, London Business School
  6. Joel Podolny, Former dean, Yale School of Management/VP, Apple University
  7. Nouriel Roubini, Professor, NYU Stern School of Business
  8. Janine Benyus, Co-founder, Biomimicry Guild and Institute
  9. Dan Ariely, Professor, Duke University
  10. Niko Canner, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Katzenback Partners

Great list of leading thinkers about the changing world of business. They have also written a number of books that are worth spending a couple of flights or evenings reading. These are more inspirational reads than practical hands on advice for entrepreneurs. But they can begin to help entrepreneurs understand the literature that senior executives at companies are reading and how to frame their products and offerings.

Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature
Bailouts or Bail-Ins?: Responding to Financial Crises in Emerging Economies

Browsing the bookshelves

Stopped in the bookstore to browse the shelves and see if anything inspired me. I’d already stopped and bought Clay Shirky’s new book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations and it continues to be the most important book of 2008 IMHO.(If you’re looking for a pleasure read, pick up a copy of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, this book is Orwell’s 1984 for the Digital Generation, I found it worth the sleepless night).

I’m intrigued about the discussion of more in Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More. How people make decisions around needs and desires in North America is interesting. This is the basic studies of economics. For a long time, I had a hard time understanding the connection that Herb Simon made between economics, psychology, computer science and design. But this connection has lead to startups both successful ones and failures, but they have all been around understanding how people make decisions, assign value, and trying to design products and services to enable these decisions. I had a quick read of The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas which did a great job explaining real-world perceptions and misperceptions of the world based on human behaviours.

Toronto is now my home. Having settled in Toronto, I’ve been frustrated by the lack of community. I’m looking forward to reading Small is Possible: Life in the Local Economy, if only to better set a plan for events like DemoCamp and Founders & Funders to better enable our Local Software Economy in Toronto.

Is it me, or does Wired feel relevant again? Wired 16.07 had a couple of articles that were just inspiring to read. The Petabyte Age: Because More Isn’t Just More – More Is Different contains articles about the secondary effects and analysis of data that becomes possible one you embrace big data. Feeding the Masses: Data In, Crop Predictions Out shows the power of GIS and agricultural data developed by Lanworth, it provides the power to enable market predictions. Makes me think I need to find time to read Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers is the New Way to be Smart. Need proof that there’s power in numbers look at the processing by the Idee folks for TinEye or at the relational models of pixels in images for PhotoSynth.


The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas
by Robert Frank

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Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart
by Ian Ayres

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Small is Possible: Life in a Local Economy
by Lyle Estill

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Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright

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The Age Curve: How to Profit from the Demographic Storm
by Kenneth W. Gronbach

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Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads
by Joel Best

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Community: The Structure of Belonging
by Peter Block

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Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple)
by Jeffrey Kluger

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Enough: Breaking Free from the World of More
by John Naish

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The Empire of Mind: Digital Piracy and the Anti-Capitalist Movement (Digital Futures) (Digital Futures)
by Michael Strangelove

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Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
by Clay Shirky

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Communities Dominate Brands
by Tomi T. Ahonen, Alan Moore

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Generation Blend: Managing Across the Technology Age Gap (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series)
by R. Salkowitz

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