Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between

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Trail Riding at Wildwood Manor Ranch

horseback_riding_wildwood_manor_ranch_april_2015_2What better way to spend a springy Sunday afternoon than with animals in the sun? Technology is wonderful, but every now and then it is so wonderful to switch off the devices and enjoy the quiet country air. This weekend was the warmest weekend in Ontario so far, so we took advantage of the sunshine and took a day trip to go trail riding at the beautiful Wildwood Manor Ranch.
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I love Wildwood because it’s so well kept and the whole staff is so clearly passionate about what they do. I used to ride more frequently when I took English riding lessons (that’s why I’m wearing English gear despite the western saddle), and I’ve ridden at a number of places that are simply not as nice. Wildwood has 100 acres upon which they rescue, raise, train and board horses. All the animals are well taken care of and loved, and are so gentle with riders of all experience levels. They also provide lessons and camps and are open for trail rides 364 days a year (every day except for Christmas Day)!

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breeches: Kerrits (similar here) / top: Joules (similar) / boots: Vivaldi / purse: Coach / sunglasses: Charming Charlie


Learn to Code with a New CODExist Course Live on Microsoft Virtual Academy

Did you learn to code with CODExist: The Birth of Bot taught by me and my fellow Technical Evangelist Susan Ibach? Or, are you interested in learning how to code but don’t know where to begin? Well, I’m happy to announce that there is a second TouchDevelop course ready for you – CODExist 2: Bot Levels Up is now live and available on Microsoft Virtual Academy!


In CODExist: The Birth of Bot, we taught you all the core concepts of programming, demonstrated through building a sidescroller game. These concepts included events, conditional statements, collision detection, object oriented fundamentals, and publishing your game locally within TouchDevelop. Susan and I made awesome games (at least we think so!), and you can play them by clicking on the links below:


In CODExist 2: Bot Levels Up, we take our completed Jetpack Jumper game (the same one you completed if you participated in Hour of Code!) and add some extra pizzazz with graphic effects, animations, power ups, game instructions, and two types of leaderboards using cloud data. We also show you how to get started with publishing your app to an app store – did you know that you can build Android, iOS, web and Windows apps with TouchDevelop? CODExist 2 is the course you need to take your game to the next level. You can access it by logging in to Microsoft Virtual Academy, or by clicking the following image:

codexist_2_bot_levels_up_touchdevelop_course_by_susan_ibach_sage_franchWe always love seeing the games people have created using TouchDevelop! If you participate in any of our courses, if you have any questions, or if you just want to say hi, please feel free to share your games with us on Twitter. My handle is @theTrendyTechie, and Susan’s is @HockeyGeekGirl. And hey, we’ve been known to retweet! ;)

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Startup Spotlight: Feel the Beat, Literally, with Soundbrenner Pulse

Soundbrenner Pulse is the world’s first wearable metronome, designed to help musicians keep time through haptic feedback that lets you literally feel the music. Its powerful companion app allows you to synchronize your Pulse with other musicians so you’re all playing on the same time, and even includes rhythm exercises to help you perfect your timing. Unlike classic metronomes, the Soundbrenner Pulse makes no noise, so it is completely unobtrusive – you can use it anytime, anywhere, even in a performance.

Soundbrenner Pulse is currently funding on Indiegogo, and has an expected delivery date of November 2015. The device will retail for USD $149 and will be compatible with Android and iOS, though – a rarity in today’s world – it doesn’t require a smartphone to be used. The device is designed to be controlled with or without a phone, via the BPM wheel and BPM tap functionality, driven by the touch sensor inside. This means you can tap out the tempo you want to play to, and the Pulse will adopt that tempo. The device also has four LEDs that can combine into hundreds of shades for colour customization, and one battery charge lasts 4-5 hours.

The Soundbrenner Pulse is designed to be worn on any limb to accommodate the needs and playing styles of different musicians. As a drummer and guitar player myself, I can definitely appreciate this functionality. Soundbrenner Pulse has the potential to change the live music scene and enable the self-taught musician to go farther with music, whether that be alone or with others. What do you think? Would you use it?

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Photo Diary: Seattle


Seattle is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s a hub of business and technology, home to global giants including Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft, and it’s right on the west coast so it’s home to incredible seafood and gorgeous coastal views. Maybe I’m just lucky, but every time I’ve gone to Seattle the weather has been beautiful, and consistently warmer than back home in Toronto. When I was there in the first week of March, it was +13 degrees celsius, and -10 back home. Here’s a look at my latest trip to Seattle, a small pre-tour I took before my stay in Redmond to film my latest Microsoft Virtual Academy video.

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One of Seattle’s best quirks is the plethora of weird little details found throughout the city. Missing narwhals, a nasty gum wall, people dancing in the streets…

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And then there’s the food. The breakfast buffet at the Fairmont Olympic has an amazing spread of delicate pastries as well as delicious fresh entrees. The macarons in the picture below were coloured blue and yellow in honor of “The Dress” that plagued the internet with its confusing question of blue and black or white and gold.


It’s safe to say I’m pretty infatuated with Seattle. I’m happy to have been able to share this city with my mum and my boyfriend, who joined me on my little pre-trip. Traveling for work is an amazing experience, but it was so refreshing to be able to have two of the most important people in my life join me in this beautiful city.

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I learn something new about makeup every day, and I still don’t own a blending brush. I’ve perfected the ten-minute “this’ll have to do” look, which generally consists of winged eyeliner, a swath of lip something-or-other, and a hasty attempt at contouring blended with a kabuki brush. Until recently I didn’t own either compact in these images – so if you came here for a makeup tutorial, you’re on the wrong blog.


It was during my last stay in Seattle when my old Clinique compact fell to the floor and what was left of my perfect eyebrow shader shattered across the tile. In that moment I realized that I hadn’t actually purchased an eyeshadow or contouring palette for myself in at least four years, and I was simultaneously invigorated with shopping energy and grossed out by the fact that the same stuff touched my face for god knows how many days in a row. There and then I decided to buy new makeup, mainly a palette of neutral eyeshadows and an all-in-one kit that could maybe hopefully teach me how to contour my face and make my already high cheekbones like Angelina Jolie’s (she is forever my favourite Hollywood face). So I went out and bought these nice neutrals from Clinique and Pixi and, while I am far from perfecting the art of face shaping, I’m quite happy with the increase in options in my daily routine.

So why “opalescence”? Well, ever since my boyfriend bought me this large fire opal ring for my 21st birthday (opal is my birthstone and we just happened upon it while walking on Queen street on my birthday!), I’ve been on a bit of an opal binge. I bought these two more delicate ones from a stall in Pike Place Market, and since I started wearing the more rosy shades of these eyeshadows I’ve had a lot more comments on my eyes, some people asking me if they were contact lenses and telling me they looked like opals.

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Bonus shot: the nail polish I’m wearing here is “Swan Street” by Nails Inc. It’s a pale, icy blue with a teeny hint of warmth and I am totally in love with it.


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Photo Diary: Things Around Vancouver


Wealth, health and culture. Those are the three words that come to mind when I think of Vancouver. It’s a beautiful coastal city booming with chic people who walk quickly between the skyscrapers to get to their next appointments. Walking downtown you get the feeling that it was once a quaint place in which, one day, sharp glass buildings suddenly sprouted out of the ground, bringing with them an invigorating and youthful energy. Throughout the city there are surprising pockets of the quaintness that remains; a little church here, a steam-powered clock there, and hole-in-the-wall shops that serve espresso in tin cups and banana bread made from recipes older than the people baking it. Then there are shops that curate the latest high fashion from around the world, where you can’t touch the merchandise unless it’s handed to you by the glove-handed design consultant. There’s Japadog – one of many Asian fusion food spots that blend Asian and North American cuisines – that sells hot dogs influenced by classic Japanese flavour combinations with ingredients like teriyaki, tempura, and shichimi. And there’s a neverending supply of stunning views: mountains, waterfront, and cityscapes that morph into more beautiful shapes with every change in the weather. In short, Vancouver is breathtaking. Take a look.

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Cartems Donuterie


On my last day in Vancouver my 1pm flight was cancelled and I was put on the next flight, leaving at 4:55. That gave me a few more precious hours to discover some more of the city and, remembering a TV show I’d seen about cool donut places a few years ago, I discovered the wonderful gem that is Cartems Donuterie.

Cartems makes specialty donuts with unique, high-end flavours like Lavender Cream and Honey Parmesan. The Earl Grey donut – which is Cartem’s most popular – is surprisingly light and fragrant, with a distinct but not overpowering taste of tea. Being a tea lover myself, I indulged in the most heavenly creation: a cream-filled London Fog donut. I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a half-dozen donuts to bring back to my friends, and I’m happy to say that, though carrying a large box of donuts through the airport proved to be much more burdensome than expected, all the precious cargo made it safely to Toronto, soft and fluffy dough intact.

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So, yes, this post was dedicated entirely to donuts. Next time you’re in Vancouver, be sure to stop by Cartems for a delicious treat.


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