Saved by the Bird


A month or so ago, I attended my first Girl Geek Ottawa dinner. Good food, great company, inspiring speakers; what more could a girl (and geek) ask for? Except that when I got there and looked around, I didn’t recognize anybody.

Some might be unphased by this. But I’m sure at least some of you can relate: The sinking stomach. The rising panic.

Etiquette gurus may beg to differ, but the advantage of a geek-gathering is that whipping out your smart phone is completely acceptable behaviour. So I did. And started at it intently. Tapped purposefully. And wondered how to make a mournful “Hellooo? Anybody here?” sound less lame. Because nonchalance is a lot easier in 140 characters.

But it was completley unnecessary: there, at the top of my stream, was

Did I just see @sasharambles at #ggdottawa ?

<cue angel chorus>

Hallelujah! Saved by the bird. I immediately whipped around, and spotted Sara. And made the first faux-pas of the evening by abandoning a table full of potential new friends for a one that didn’t even have an empty seat.

Especially amongst strangers, but even amongst friends, I frequently feel… awkward. And any brief moments of relaxation are swiftly followed by raging self doubt: what did I say? Did it come out right? Did I interrupt anybody? I’m a terrible interrupter. And while I can crank up the bluster on Twitter, in real life I can’t even fully relax at a spa tweet-up.

Although I’m willing to put in a little extra practice for that one.

But back to dinner. I ended up at a table with some very interesting women. And I couldn’t have done too badly, right? Because afterwards I got a very nice email from one of my table-mates. She said it was a pleasure meeting me, she hoped I enjoyed myself, and I skipped out on the bill so could I please send her 20 dollars?

Related Links

  • Twitter and Cliques. I loved this post. It came at a time when I was new to Twitter and still finding my way around. Lara, who is definitely a cool kid (and don’t let her tell you otherwise), reassures that “Even the cool kids feel like losers some times.”
  • Brie from Capital Mom has invited everyone to share their Monday Moments. And Sara (yes, that Sara), recently shared a moment that resonates here.
  • Party Mummy posted this guide to mingling online & off, just before YMC Winterlude. It came in handy then, I think I may read it again.

So what about Facebook?


Facebook was my first introduction to social media. But now that I’m tweeting and blogging (and oh so much more social-media savvy), I suddenly don’t know what to do with it.

At first, Facebook was what I used to keep in touch with real-life friends (and get updates, like it or not, from I-met-you-once-why-did-you-friend-me friends, not to mention the I-last-saw-you-in-grade-3-and-you-didn’t-like-me-then friends). Twitter and blogs were where I hung out with this cool gang of smart, sassy, bloggy-peeps.

(Nothing like buttering-up your audience, eh? Give a girl a comment?)

But it didn’t take long for these worlds to start colliding. I started meeting other bloggers and tweeters in real life. I started wanting to connect to places like the Fishbowl and Losing it in Ottawa via Facebook.

When I started blogging, I thought a lot about privacy. About whether I would use my name – first? Last? A believable pseudonym? An obvious screen name? And what about my kids?  I had to deal with more than my share of bullying as a kid and, quite frankly, the thought of cyberbullying scares the bejeezus outta me. So even though I try not to say anything about my kids that might embarrass them later, I also try to make sure that nothing I say online could ever be linked to them. Especially when I start blogging about my underwear.

But back to Facebook. I figure I have 3 choices. I could:

  1. Just relax already, use my real name everywhere, and stop worrying about it. Stop worrying? Not likely.
  2. Change my name on my Facebook. I hear that’s what the kids are doing these days, to avoid having employers base hiring decisions on something stupid they did in a bar once.
  3. Create another FB account, for my ‘online life’. Kinda leaning this way, but worried will just complicate things.

Do you keep your online & offline lives separate? How many facebook accounts do you have?


Zemanta Fail


Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...

When I started this post, it didn’t look anything like it does now.

It usually takes me several days to work through a post, from first draft to complete rewrites to editing, editing, and more editing. And when your writing time is carved out of stolen moments (sleeping baby? quick! type!) and fraught with interruptions (“cookie pweeze. COOKIE pweeze. COOKIEEEEE!!!”), it can take a very long time indeed.

Which is why a tool like Zemanta, which promised to take care of some of the niggly details – like finding relevant pictures and links for me while I focus on content – looked so very promising.

It is also why, when I installed it and my next Losing It in Ottawa post suddenly disappeared, it was very, very frustrating. Kick-and-scream-and-cry frustrating.

Days worth of stolen moments, gone. And on a post with a deadline.

As is my wont, from time to time (ok, pretty frequently), I vented on Twitter. I didn’t send my tweet to Zemanta, but they noticed it anyhow. And replied. Impressive, no?


Here is the conversation:

I had to do a double take. Surely I must have mis-read their comment. Surely they were saying something about their next version, not mine.

Seriously Zemanta? A chuck on the shoulder and a “you’ll do better next time”? No mea culpa, no link to where I could report a bug, no placatory freebie? I didn’t expect a freebie. I didn’t expect anything. I sure as hell didn’t expect this.

My first impression of Zemanta was really rather positive. It installed easily. It was free. I could see that it was going to save me time with the finishing touches. But rule number 1 in software development: do not lose the user’s data!

Rule number 2: if you do, don’t try to tell them you did them a favour.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Ottawa Factoids? Cool Ottawa Facts?


I need your help with something.

I keep coming across cool little factoids about this city – some that I knew, some that I didn’t – and I’m creating a twitter stream with random Ottawa trivia.  But I can’t decide on a name.

Am I over-thinking this? You bet.

Do I expect the same turnout as for a poll on toilet paper etiquette? Not a chance.

But if you could help me out, I’d be much obliged.

Seven Milliseconds of Fame


One night, the night of March 6 to be exact, I achieved a hitherto unheard-of level of fame and adulation:

My favourite was, of course, the hero worship. I mean, who doesn’t need a little hero-worship now and then? But I politely declined.

But that was not my first brush with twitter-fame. Oh no. I once made The #SlowCooker Daily on

[Ooooooo. Ahhhhhh.]

If you haven’t seen, there’s a good summary here.  It’s basically a web site that combs twitter for keywords etc. and auto-generates a ‘newspaper’ page with ‘top links’.

Accolades indeed.

Now, I started this post in a mindset somewhere between poking fun at my 7 milliseconds of fame and pondering the potential of tweet-agglomeration. For example, in the article above, @spydergrrl uses it as a way to summarize her Twitter feed at the end of a day when she didn’t have time to follow it.

Hm. I can see that being useful.

Oh, and in putting together this post, I went looking for the press clipping for my 7 milliseconds – and instead found a recipe for Crockpot Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal.

Score one for

You can also use twitter lists as the basis for a page. While my days as an art thief may be over, I still like to know what’s going on at the museums.  So I have a list of Ottawa Museums, but it’s still easy to miss their tweets in the general conversation (and I never remember to look at my ‘other’ Hootsuite page). A daily summary page would be perfect.

Or, well, I’m hoping it’s perfect. I’ve decided to try it out. You can check it out too, if you like:

We’ll see how it goes. For starters, I expected to add it to my RSS reader, but I can’t seem to subscribe except by email.

You brought me Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal,, but the jury is still out.