Amazing launch party cake

Alfred App: 0.7 launch cake

It would be an understatement to say we’ve got great friends – they’re downright awesome! For our end-of-summer BBQ, which was also a bit of a deadline/launch party for the Alfred Powerpack, Lee made us an Alfred bowler hat shaped cake!

What better way to celebrate having been recluse shut-ins for months, working away, than by having a great day with friends? Even the rain stayed away for most of the day.

More photos coming soon, I’m sure, but I had to share this one!

[Photo credit: Michael Dales on Ember]

Five Years of Blogging: Giveaway Winners!

Earlier this month, I announced that I was giving away five fun gifts to celebrate my blog’s five years. Each of the gifts represents an aspect of my personality and what I’ve been blogging over the years; Geeky, funky, practical, foodie and artsy. (No, they’re not five of the Seven Dwarves, before you ask)

It’s taken me a bit longer than expected to pick winners. Who knew cats would be so adverse to making choices! (Seriously, they either fell asleep on the papers or tried to eat them…)

So with no further delays, here are the winners:

Geeky:
The ticket to the FOWA UK Tour was won by Kat of Safety Goat fame.

Funky:
The three sets of Spin Collective vinyl wall stickers were won by William, Neil and Terence.

Practical:
Eric and Dan won the two SpinVox voice-to-text voicemail accounts.

Foodie:
Adam won the opportunity to have a recipe of his choice immortalised by Niall Harbison on Look & Taste.

Artsy:
And finally, Angela has won the Blurb book gift certificate!

Congratulations to you all, I will be in touch soon to put you in contact with the provider of your goodie 🙂

SocialMediaCamp London 09: A Few Lessons Learned

New mothers apparently say that after they hold their newborn in their arms, they forget almost all the pain of the laborious process (literally!) that preceded. I think this week, I can see what they mean.

On Saturday, April 25th, the second SocialMediaCamp London was held at Wallacespace St Pancras after a long gestation period. The event itself is fairly simple; BarCamps are “unconferences” and therefore there are no speakers to book and manage. smcstart-1The venue is fabulous and the team there make my life incredibly easy by being such a well-oiled machine. The only pain was the sponsorship issues I encountered, which was resolved by making the event a single day instead of the original intended two days.

In general, the event was fantastic; there were some stellar presentations, on topics ranging from “What to do with a corporate Twitter account?” to “Porn & social media: A practical guide to working with ‘adult’ content” and a discussion on LARP to one on how to help PR agencies collaborate better with bloggers (“PR agencies want your soul”). The weirdness of presentations can pretty much be summed up in a single photo by Neil Crosby.

The day was topped off by what I hear was a comedy Scavenger Photo Hunt, organised by Kat Neville. “I hear” because by that point, my knees had turned to Jell-O and so had my brain, so I had to skip on the photohunt, as brilliant as it seemed.

A few days from the event now, and I’m still basking in the glow of a great day, filled with new and known faces, creative ideas & suggestions. I’ve pretty much forgotten about the faff of the weeks leading up to the event and am already thinking about doing it again.

As  far as the homepage of my blog is concerned, this is where the post ends. If you’re interested in a few contentious aspects of the event, then read on.

Read More

Events Galore: SMCLondon & Cambridge Geek Nights

Since organising the first SocialMediaCamp London in October, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t have the event planning bug. No no no, I don’t need to spend time organising events. Must focus on running my new business. Right?

Well… it’s not working, I’m finding myself daydreaming about hearing more people’s views on the weird and wonderful industry we spend our days (and nights, and weekends) immersed in. And somehow, I’ve found myself leading two upcoming events:

First, a second SocialMediaCamp London, which we’ll be holding at the same gorgeous Wallacespace St-Pancras venue as last time on 25-26th April. The first round of tickets went out on Thursday morning, disappearing in all of 9 minutes. I feel like a mother who has to choose between her children, being contacted left, right and centre by people who didn’t manage to get a ticket but want in! Thankfully, there’s another round of tickets on Monday. I simply can’t wait for our two-day event, as last time, not only were presentations great, but the people I met were also brilliant. The challenge is to survive two days!

The second event is only just beginning to take shape; Cambridge Geek Nights. There have been Geek Nights in Oxford for some years now, and replicating the evening gathering concept here in Cambridge seems to have some potential. No venue or date has been decided yet, but it will hopefully become an opportunity for geeks, entrepreneurs and freelancers to get together to exchange ideas, meet potential new connections and people to work with. I view it as an opportunity to get together, without suits or sales pitches. Plus it involves drinking beer. Geeks are always up for beer.

In fact, if you’re interested in CGN, leave a comment or @vero me and I’ll ensure we keep you updated when we pick a date for the first one!

I suppose it’s a bug I can’t fight – I love getting people together, whether it’s for dinner parties or social events, so hopefully you’ll join me at either of the above. But for now, I need some sleep!

Cute Red Ford Ka 07 Needs a New Home

My little red Ford Ka

Yep, you read right. I’m selling my gorgeous little red Ford Ka.

Wondering why? I’m just upgrading to something slightly bigger (a 5-door Fiesta) and rather than part-exchange it, I want to first try to find a new home for it. It’s still in absolutely pristine condition inside and out as I’ve taken great care of it so here’s the spec:

  • Ford Ka 1.3 Petrol, Zetec Climate model (with all the extras!)
  • April 07 registration so it’s not even 2 years old yet
  • 14,200 miles on the clock (driven by me, so it’s always been gently driven)
  • Bright Colorado red paint, unblemished paintwork – professionally detailed
  • Air conditioning
  • Heated front windscreen (brilliant when it’s frosty in the morning)
  • Electric windows
  • CD Player
  • Alloy wheels
  • Roof spoiler
  • over 1 year to go before it’s due its first MOT

As it’s under 2 years old, it still has over a year’s manufacturer warranty, which means that in the unlikely event of a crash, the exits can be located here, here and here any problems, they will be fixed for free by any Ford dealer.

It’s such a cheap car to insure, and it’s been absolutely faultless so I have no doubt it’ll be a great car for whoever buys it. Now, what you wanted to know… How much? Well, looking at the other Ka’s advertised, this one is better spec and newer than pretty much any on sale. However, I won’t price it any higher than the others, so I’m looking for £4990 for it.

I’m based near Cambridge so I hope to find a buyer who’s able to come pick it up from mine. Ideally, I’d be looking to hand it over at the end of March, since that’s when my Fiesta should arrive, but we can work something out if you need it sooner.

Drop me a line on vero@thatcanadiangirl.co.uk or give me a call on 07875 540 945 if you’re interested.

It's the little things that make me happy

The past few weeks have been a bit surreal, with much of my life seemingly happening with the Sky+ fast forward button stuck on 12x speed. Tonight, however, I’m taking a moment to step back and appreciate how many cool little things are happening…

Little Peps grows up

Last week, Pepsmedia became Pepsmedia Ltd. Sure, in practice, it’s just a piece of paper and a few quid less in my pocket, but in my mind, it’s the beginning of great things to come. By no means is everything going to change overnight, but I’ve realised how passionate I am about blogging and about giving a step-up to those around me who would benefit from blogs or social media as a tool to promote whatever their passion is. My dad was a high school teacher, and I suppose this is the teacher in me coming out. I love seeing others succeed, like a proud parent wiping a tear during their daughter’s first school play.

For this reason, I’ve started offering my services more actively as social media consultant. If you or your company need to find your bearings in social media, a week-long crash course or a day spent sprucing up some stunning ideas you’ve had might be the step-up you need.

Hello?? I’m on the phone!!!

I’m always surprised anyone still wants to hear me talk, since they usually can’t shut me up, but last week, it’s with great pride that I accepted a spot as speaker at Future of Mobile, a Carsonified conference, in November. I’ll be there alongside some fantastic speakers and fascinating people so if you work in or are interested in mobile, I hope to see you there.

Gobsmacking stats

Following last month’s letter in the pond going a bit viral and stepping on PR people’s toes with my open letter to public relations agencies amongst other things, my stats have gone through the roof.

That canadian girl stats

A little bird tells me that my Wikio rating isn’t so bad next month either. So whether you’ve just popped your head in for the first time, or have been a long time reader, thank you for being here. 🙂

Guest writing at Enterprise Nation

Nothing excites me like talking about watching budding ideas turn into real life projects, and I shared a few thoughts on working with remote teams on Enterprise Nation, a site filled with valuable resources for those planning their first personal business.

The home office takes shape

A few weekends ago, we attacked a mountain of build-it-yourself shelves and desks from IKEA, making sense of some of the space we have in the house. To complete my newly refreshed office, I bought a fabulous poster from Tim Walker at the Design Museum Shop, which I thought was just gorgeous! The perfect girly touch now that I’ve kicked Andrew out of the room.

Four years of marriage

On July 8th, Andrew and I celebrated 4 years of great times together! I’m blessed to have found such a great life partner, who also makes a great business partner. Every day I think of how lucky I am, and hope we can be as happy as both his parents and mine are after many more years!

What now?

Ok, I’m getting unbearably gushy, so I’ll stop here. But one final thought… As a child, I used to think that if you got too happy on the inside, it was possible to explode. I guess I’ll be finding out soon whether you do blow up from enjoying your life too much over the next few weeks, if things continue at this rate. Even the weather’s been playing along these days, what more could a girl ask for!?

Phew, time for a breather and a mandarin cocktail

The past few weeks have been pretty hectic at Pepperrell Mansion, and I realise personal updates have been few and far between (as my mom regularly reminds me).

About three weeks ago, we had Tommy, Trisha and little nearly-3-year-old Emma over for a week from deepest darkest Scotland (not really, somewhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh. They even have electricity there.) We went to Colchester Zoo, Andrew’s parents’ house in Kent, and had numerous BBQs to take advantage of the good weather.

Somewhere during that week, I attended Fuel Conference, organised by the fab team at Carsonified where I met a whole new bunch of new people, saw some great friends and got many new ideas I need to start acting upon.

Then last weekend, we popped down to the inlaws’ house to see our adorable new niece Evie, who’s a few weeks old yet kicks like Beckham in his prime.

On Wednesday night, I hastily packed my suitcase for a whirlwind visit to Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday, attending the Mobile Social Networks & UGC Conference with a few work colleagues. And yes, we walked by the red light districts and saw “coffee shops”, and no, it’s not really much to see so don’t get over-excited.

On Friday night, I dropped my suitcase and swapped my stuff around to head off to London early on Saturday morning (by which point Andrew has started greeting me with “hi, do I know you?”) I attended MediaCamp London, an event organised by Chris Hambly at the SAE Institute.

If you’re wondering what happens at BarCamp-style unconferences, Nic Butler aka Loudmouthman (and yes, he lives up to his name) Qik’ed a few videos (including Steve Lamb’s presentation on social media in the entreprise) so have a look. Here are all the photos taken by Chris as well.

Met some great people there, Ben, Vicky, Jof, Judith, Melinda, Nic (and many more, I need to dig out the biz cards we swapped).

SpinVox sponsored the event, and made quite an impression, with many people asking existing users (such as myself) to show off the rather awesome service.

So today has been a braindead, chill out and tidy up spend time with Andrew day. A simple BBQ for dinner, and now, time to watch Juno on the Apple TV while sipping a mandarin and mango cocktail.

Ciao!

Themeword: Exploration

In early January, Chris Messina and many others kicked off the new year with “theme words”, ideas that should help them focus their efforts.

themeword explorationI thought I’d share the #themeword I picked a month ago and have been following since. It’s “exploration”, in every sense of the word.

Exploration in the travel sense. I want to see more of Europe. I’ve been in the UK for some years now but haven’t had a varied holiday track records, going mainly to Canada to see the family and Menorca for a touch of sun. I want to see the Italian countryside, check out the Scandinavian winter to compare to the Canadian one, see more of France, especially the South. I unquestionably want to fly out to New Zealand to see my sister during her stay there, and I want to give some parts of the US another go, even though I’m not so fond of Maricans.

Exploration of business opportunities. Last night, while invoicing a few older pepsmedia clients who have ongoing hosting contracts with us, I realised how far I’d come in confidence, knowledge and general business sense since we started. Every year, every month, I can see that we’re producing better projects, making clients happier and feeling more in control of our business. It’s hard work, but it’s genuinely enjoyable and rewarding. I look forward to another year of growth and new ideas, pushing myself further than before.

Exploration of skills and abilities that are currently nascent or unused. I know too well that it’s easy to sit within your existing comfort zone and use exclusively the skills you already master. It allows you to look good, always in control, but it doesn’t take much to fall into a much-dreaded routine. As my inspirational and downright wonderful grandfather always showed me, you stay young by continuing to learn. There’s a world of possibilities out there, and I don’t see a reason to stop now.

Exploration of my friendships and relationships. There are so many great people in my life with whom I don’t spend enough time, I want to take advantage of our soon-to-be new house’s dining room and back garden to have as many dinner parties, bbqs and social get-togethers as possible, enjoying life and good company.

While exploring – and my life in general – seems to be about more, more, more, faster, faster, faster, I also want to think in terms of less and slower. Taking me-time to breathe and think and focus myself. Eating better, at the dining table and without the tv on. Having evenings where both Andrew and I can relax without worrying about work to be done.

So far, it’s looking like it’ll be a good year… What’s your themeword?