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Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between


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Happy Halloween!

 

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This is the first time in ages I’ve been home to give candy out on Halloween, and it is so lovely to see all the little faces light up as I drop pop rocks and Famous Amos cookies in their bags. We’ve got a motion-activated ghoul on our door, and when they knock the ghoul starts moving and making noise, which has given the littler trick-or-treaters quite a fright! It warms my heart to see the innocence and sweetness all dressed up and excited for the night.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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World MasterCard Fashion Week Day 1 Highlights

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Welcome to Day 1 of World MasterCard Fashion Week SS15! Held in Toronto every season, WMCFW is the Canadian complement to the internationally-renowned season of fashion weeks that take place throughout fall and spring and display the next season’s collections from the world’s most influential designers. This year I had the pleasure of attending my first WMCFW as an official media member and get the first-hand view of what Canadians will be wearing on the beaches and boardwalks in Spring/Summer 2015 (SS!5). I have hundreds of photos of the pieces, from the beautiful and the dapper to the quirky and the unconventional. But first, let’s set the scene with a look at the World Mastercard Lounge, the space I called home between shows all throughout the week.

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With the mood set by upbeat remixes of top charts, guests were welcome to demos and samples from major sponsors including Maybelline and Sony while waiting for the runway doors to open. The beautiful EAT and DRINK bars from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel featured gourmet hot chocolates and specialty cocktails, as well as macarons and paninis.

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WMCFW kicked off with three shows: Sid Neigum, Pink Tartan, and the Mercedes-Benz Startup designers. Sid Neigum, recipient of the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels Award in 2012, let the incredibly detailed textures of his pieces shine by styling entirely monochrome outfits in a grayscale spectrum. Inspired by packaging design, the structure and geometry of the entire collection displayed Sid’s impeccable handiwork and craftsmanship. His collection was so loved that, at the end of the night, he won the Mercedes-Benz competition!

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Next to grace the runway was Torontonian favourite Pink Tartan, a label known for its elegant, flirty, timeless pieces. To Pink Tartan, SS15 is about all the good parts of 1970s fashion, with the daring sheer materials and cutout textiles of today’s trends. The most amazing piece in the collection was a fur halter jumpsuit made of a beautiful square-patterned textile. The audience’s appreciation was audible as a gasp filled the room when the model walked out!

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Pink Tartan was definitely one of my favourite collections. I’ll be doing a detailed feature on it soon!

Since fashion week brought together dozens of designers and events, I will be distilling the photos and stories into many posts and weaving them in to my regular posting cadence. There’s just too many beautiful details to confine it to a few posts! More details and professional photography coming soon, and some special collaborations too! Stay tuned and, as always, join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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Join My World MasterCard Fashion Week Adventures!

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Hey techies! You may have noticed it’s been quieter than usual here on TrendyTechie.ca this week…that’s because I’m at World MasterCard Fashion Week, curating the best content for you straight from the collections of Spring/Summer 2015. And though it’s been quiet here it certainly hasn’t been on social media! I’ve been documenting the whole week on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook – so pick your poison and get a first look at next year’s styles!

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Startup Spotlight: MeU, a Versatile Wearable Display

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This is the information age. We as a society consume information at a faster rate than at any other time in known history, and it’s become kind of a chicken-or-egg scenario: which came first, the demand for information or the supply? Either way, devices that deliver information quickly, easily and in bite-sized packets are seizing the markets by storm, especially when they serve a dual purpose as a public statement. One such device is MeU, a wearable LED display that attaches to fabric and displays your custom information through your clothes. I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Tu, founder of MeU, at his office in Toronto, where he demoed MeU and gave me the inside scoop.

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Beginning as a graphic design project at OCAD University, MeU was originally conceptualized as a way to distribute urban informatics in a social way by displaying real time data about the world around the wearer to those in the immediate vicinity. Inspired by the popular transit apps that tell users when the next vehicle is scheduled to arrive, one of MeU’s early applications was to display that information in real time on the back of the wearer’s shirt.

As you can see, the original LEDs were sewn directly into the fabric, limiting the versatility of MeU. After further iterations and tech tweaks the product has evolved into a full panel that can be inserted into most pieces of clothing with a velcro strip. Protected by sweat-wicking cloth on one side and clear plastic on the other, the panels and hidden lilypad Arduino (the brain of the device) are safe from moisture and the elements.

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MeU is fully programmable through the partner iOS and Android apps, and is appropriate for many uses, including fashion,

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I asked Robert to make me a shirt with my logo on it, and the results are pretty awesome! It was very quick too, the whole process took five minutes. He downloaded the image, converted it to the 16×16 pixel size and uploaded it via the app to the shirt!

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Today marks the official launch of MeU’s Indiegogo campaign, crowdfunding and providing makers/arduino fans/DIYers with the first chance to buy the MeU Square and dev kit! Robert and his team are calling all makers, developers, hackers, Arduino fans, and DIYer’s, to join the MeU community by contributing to the campaign and sharing their creations online at the hashtag #meuleds. You can also follow their crowdfunding and creation journey on the MeU Facebook page or by following @the_MeU_LED on Twitter!

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Swimming in the Desert

Techies off duty!

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What would a trip to the desert be without a good swim? Once Sarah arrived in Phoenix and joined me in our lovely suite in the Crowne Plaza airport hotel, we started off our trip with a dip in the pool. It was incredibly warm in Phoenix, 30+ degrees celsius every day, and because Canada is freezing by comparison we made an effort to swim as much as possible, winding down after long conference days with drinks by the poolside.

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The Crowne Plaza hotel does a great job of creating a private oasis in the middle of Phoenix’s sprawling outskirts. It’s like stepping into a pocket of the tropics, complete with palm trees and all.

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OUTFIT:

my bikini: La Perla

Sarah’s bikini: Body Glove

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GHC14 Day 2 – Megan Smith, Maria Klawe and Satya Nadella take the Stage

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Summing up the morning keynotes in one emotion: awe. The surprise speaker that GHC had kept a secret until she walked out on stage was, as I expected, the new CTO of the United States of America, Megan Smith. What an inspiring and well-spoken woman! And though Satya Nadella’s interview stirred up quite a bit of controversy on the net, I was impressed by his support and bravery in being the first major tech CEO to speak out in support of women in tech on such a broad scale. Yes, he said what he said, but the internet seems to have forgotten all the other great, positive things he said in his interview, including his feelings that he enjoys working with women, that “working hard is something that is worth doing,” and “each one of us has a few superpowers.” But I’ve written a whole other post on that issue, so check that out and let me know if you agree!

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This is probably the only tech conference in the world to have a long line for the women’s bathroom and none for the men’s. How refreshing!

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Until now I haven’t really shared much from the sessions I went to. These pictures are from one of my favourite sessions, lessons in graphics from a Disney engineer! She showed us a lot of behind-the-scenes images and before and after stills from Disney’s Frozen.

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When not in sessions, Sarah and I spent a lot of time in the Google lounge, charging our phones at the charging stations and taking advantage of the comfy chairs and lego block stools for those necessary feet-up moments. Being on your feet all day at a conference is no easy feat – notice that I ditched my Day 1 heels and wore flats on Day 2.

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And then of course there was the ever-enticing career fair, which somehow managed to hold new surprises and more companies every time we visited. Below are some of the most entertaining booths we found on Day 2: HBO’s virtual reality Game of Thrones experience using Oculus Rift, Pinterest’s beautiful DIY-inspired booth, and an unexpected temporary tattoo booth hosted by Simple, a digital bank. Yes, that’s why I tweeted about getting a tattoo from a bank that day.

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PS: My trip to Phoenix for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing has been sponsored by Dalhousie University and Syncfusion, my official corporate partner! A HUGE thanks to both, I am so grateful.

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Syncfusion is the enterprise technology partner of choice for Windows development, delivering a broad range of software frameworks and tools. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, Syncfusion has more than 10,000 customers, including large financial institutions, Fortune 100 companies, and global IT consultancies. Find out more in my announcement post about our partnership, and find me at Grace Hopper to get your FREE software license!


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How Women in Computing may be Debilitating their own Movement

I dream of a day when we no longer need events for women in computing. My experience at Grace Hopper was wonderfully positive but, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for some of the male attendees and speakers.

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It’s an unfortunate and sad fact that, when gathered, a large number of minority representatives will automatically antagonize the other side. Simply tracking the #ghcmanwatch tag on Twitter throughout the conference showed that the Grace Hopper Celebration was most definitely a women celebration, not an equality celebration. And while the event was certainly a time and a place to celebrate all the amazing things that make women in computing powerful, being a proud woman and an advocate for women in tech is not a reason to be anti-men and to turn every thing our male allies say into a perceived attack on women.

The goal is equality. At least, it should be. 

What are we really fighting for, as women? We’ve seen that in the past, when men were (and in some cases, still are) dominating the boardrooms and offices, and women were confined to the lesser roles. That clearly did not work, and we are slowly but surely working towards a world where that is no longer the norm. But then why does the feminist movement sometimes feel like it wants to be a movement towards total female domination? We know that having one sex in power does not work: it should not be about pushing the men out, but rather getting more women in and moving towards a more equal, neutral society.

 

The above tweet shows a BINGO card handed out prior to the male allies panel, which encouraged women to find the flaws in what the men were saying. Clearly, whoever made these cards was not going in to the allies session with an open mind, and wanted to encourage the women in the audience to look for the negatives instead of listen to the positives and see the positive intentions. Images like this were not uncommon on #ghcmanwatch and, speaking to some of the male attendees, I saw the effect that the antagonizing comments, posts and tweets had. One man said, “this is precisely why men don’t want to be part of the conversation,” speaking to the fact that his words were twisted when he tried to show support. This may make our male allies feel that, no matter what they say, it will be taken poorly or twisted out of context. At the male allies panel on Day 1 of GHC, the men on stage were visibly uncomfortable, and you could tell by the slow, careful way in which they spoke that they were making a conscious effort not to offend or say anything that could be taken out of context. Yet their words still were twisted, and their intentions even more so.

 

And now let’s address the big controversy that apparently has the whole world up in arms. Though Satya Nadella’s interview stirred up quite a bit of controversy on the net, I was impressed by his support and bravery in being the first major tech CEO to speak out in support of women in tech on such a broad scale. Yes, he said what he said, but the internet seems to have forgotten all the other great, positive things he said in his interview, including his feelings that he enjoys working with women, that “working hard is something that is worth doing,” and “each one of us has a few superpowers.” When Satya Nadella said you shouldn’t have to ask for a raise and told us to trust the system, he meant that, when the system is working correctly, the employer appreciates and the employee feels appreciated and you can move up the ladder without having the conflict of asking for a raise. I think he forgot that not every company works the same way Microsoft does, and was speaking as though the 8,000 attendees were his own employees. Because that’s the way it is at Microsoft: open, honest and fluid. People change roles often and move around the company based on what they and their managers feel is best suited to the unique situation, and the result is a very positive, natural approach to promotions and the raises that accompany them.

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But of course, unfortunately for Satya, he wasn’t speaking to a room of Microsoft employees, he was talking to thousands of people, both in person and online, many of whom were waiting for him to slip up, simply because he’s a man. After the event he apologized publicly and in an internal email to employees, saying that he answered the question wrong and really did not mean that women shouldn’t take charge of their careers. Good, right? The situation should end there, maybe fizzle into the history books and be remembered as a small blip. But no, there are still petitions out their rallying for his resignation, tweets saying he hates women, and articles being written that paint him in a privileged light, as though he didn’t work hard to get where he is today.

The antagonizing, mean and downright deflating comments shared during GHC built up a negative wall between women and men, and though some people, myself included, shared our thoughts about the backwards nature of these interactions, many men still said that they would not be coming back to the conference next year. So, in trying to be inclusive and promote women in computing, we must make a conscious effort not to reverse our progress through unwarranted controversy and attacks. In balancing the scales of gender in technology, we must strive for a positive, uplifting environment for all those involved.

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