Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between


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ClassPass Review – One Membership, Hundreds of Fitness Classes

When I started university, I thought working out was “only for meatheads and gym rats,” and I really couldn’t stand going to the gym only to be leered at while standing in a stanky room filled mostly with guys. This image of the gym deterred me from working out for a long time, but when I started dancing again I realized that taking fitness classes is a way to avoid the unpleasantness of the gym but still get that regimented workout experience. The problem is finding a class you can take frequently enough that you get the results you want, but that is not so repetitive that it only targets certain muscle groups. ClassPass has a unique answer to this problem: one membership that gets you into hundreds of studios in your city.

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To celebrate the launch of ClassPass in Toronto, they gave me a one-month subscription to ClassPass so I could get a feel for the service and try out some studios around the city. Here’s how it works. For C$99 a month, ClassPass members get unlimited classes to studios in the ClassPass network. Members can take as many classes as they want in a month, but can only visit each studio up to 3 times per monthly membership cycle. ClassPass is not so great for people who get attached to a studio or one particular workout, but it is fantastic for those of us who enjoy variety and want to try weird classes – like “Twerkout,” which is apparently a thing at Brass Vixens studio in Toronto.

During my free month I went to a couple of classes, and I found the experience went a lot smoother than I expected. The ClassPass website is extraordinarily well designed, with all the information you could want about the studios available before you even realize you need it. You can search for classes by date, time, location, or activity, and maps of each studio are conveniently populated with each result. Once you select a class it appears in your dashboard, where you can manage your reservations and keep track of your favourite studios.

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It really is a smooth user experience, and I was pleased to find that the ease of use carried over to the actual classes as well. Each time I went to a studio the instructor was expecting me and welcomed me into class without any awkwardness or confusion, even when everyone else in the class was clearly a regular. In most cases the studios emailed ahead of time as well. Overall I was very happy with my month of ClassPass and, if I wasn’t going back to Halifax this week, I would strongly consider renewing my subscription.

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Officially Bicoastal – An Exciting Announcement!

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I am so excited to announce that, as of next week, I will be starting my new position as a Content Developer at Microsoft! I have had an incredible year and a half as a Technical Evangelist, working with talented people to bring Microsoft’s technologies out to thousands of developers, professional and aspiring, across the world. As my internship comes to an end, I am thrilled to make this transition to a full time employee at Microsoft, reporting directly to a great manager in Redmond, Washington. In my new role I will be working in LeX, Microsoft’s Learning Experience, the team behind developing deep technical training for Microsoft technologies.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the Developer Experience and Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada during my internships. Over the last year and a half this team has had such a positive impact on my life, and has really been there for me through some tough times. I’ve found mentors, friends, workout buddies, teachers and more, and I feel so fortunate to have learned and laughed with this family of incredible people.

I’ve always recognized the importance of choosing a company that feels right, that you wholeheartedly believe in, and that you can be proud to build a career at; and for me, Microsoft is absolutely that place. I am honoured to be accepting this position while I am still in school, and over the next year I will be working remotely from Halifax, Nova Scotia as I finish my degree at Dalhousie University. It will be quite an adventure to work on the west coast while living on the east coast, and you can be sure I’ll continue writing about my experiences here on Trendy Techie!

Thank you to all of you who have supported me during my adventures and who have been with me since the beginning – I hope you continue to share these experiences with me as I open this new chapter of my career.

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Fashion is my Chill Pill

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I was once given the advice to shut off all devices on Friday nights and make each Saturday technology-free. No emails, no Reddit, no I-know-it’s-the-weekend-but-I’ll-just-finish-this-slide-deck-for-work. I’m starting to think that’s a good idea, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to commit to that. For now I’m using fashion to help me get my chill on.

Sometimes I feel like I live three lives. I’m simultaneously a student at Dalhousie University, a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, and a writer/blogger here at Trendy Techie (which takes up a lot more time than you may expect). And since all three of these are rooted in technology and somewhat intertwined, there is seldom a waking moment when I’m not thinking about something related to these three facets of my life. Like many bloggers, I treat my blog like a job and invest dozens of hours a week in it, usually on the weekends. Trendy Techie is much bigger than what you see here online, there’s a lot of planning, photography, editing, meeting, testing and emailing – lots of emailing – that goes on behind the scenes, as well as some plans that I am very excited to share with you in the coming months! But all this work doesn’t leave much time for mental emptying, and this weekend I came to the realization that I’ve forgotten how to chill.

I’ve always found that what I’m wearing has a strong influence on my mood, but lately I’ve been so busy that my default outfit on any given day is high-waisted structured trousers and a blouse (definitely NOT chill-in-able). So I’ve adopted the habit of wearing clothes that make me feel like a bro and taking what I’m now calling “enforced days off” – days when I can use my devices, but only for things that are strictly NOT work/school/blog admin related. This outfit is my best bro outfit, the most chill-in-able clothes I have that I can still feel okay about going outside in (I still have yet to find a pair of sweats I look good in, suggestions are welcome). Just like the way a pair of heels can instantly make you feel sexy and confident, a snapback can make you feel like all that matters is the ice cream in your hand and the sunshine on your face, and sometimes that’s just what you need.

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top: H&M / jeans: Guess / hat: Lids / shoes: city walk / glasses: Charming Charlie

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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


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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!

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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:

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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

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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.

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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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