Claudia de Rham to present on dark matter and dark energy

With Perimeter Institute right here in town, it’s taken far too long to arrange a physics-centric Dinner. The time has come, however!

Join us on Tuesday, May 27th to hear Dr. Claudia de Rham, Visiting Fellow at PI, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University, who will be joining us to talk about cosmology, and more specifically dark matter and dark energy – not yet well understood (or seen), but seeming to make up a large part of our universe.

This presentation will be science-centric, but interesting to all geeks with an interest in space – no PhDs necessary.

We’ll be back at Centre in the Square in the Members’ Lounge. As usual, we’ll be kicking things off at 6pm, with catering by one of their excellent purveyors.

Get your ticket now – and why not bring a friend?

For those who haven’t been to the Members’ Lounge at Centre in the Square, here are instructions on how to get down there:

Parking is available in the Centre in the Square’s private lot on Ellen Street (at the back of the building).

Turn onto Ellen Street from Queen Street, drive past Centre In The Square and just before the street turns into a one-way you will see the private lot on your right. Parking arm will be raised (map shows entrance to the parking lot on the right).

Walk back around to the Stage Door entrance which is located just past the loading dock (map shows loading dock on left, entrance on right).

We’ll have signage to get you down to the Members’ Lounge, too. Hope we’ll see you then!


CANCELLATION: Sheila Colla will not be presenting at the April Dinner

Update: This Dinner has been cancelled. We will re-book both Dr. Colla and our startup-themed Dinner for the fall. Stay tuned for the announcement shortly about our May Dinner! We’re heading to space…

Unfortunately, due to a conflict that has arisen, Dr. Colla will not be able to join us for the Dinner on April 22nd. We are currently working with her to re-book her presentation on bumblebee conservation for the fall.

We’re really sorry for the late notice. However! We’ve moved up another speaker/topic in our lineup, and our own co-organizer, Pj, and her husband Dan will be presenting on “Startup 2.0″. Tickets are still available!

Pj and Dan are local startup veterans, having founded tinyHippos, Nom Nom Treats, and bitHound, among other projects, ventures, groups, and mentorship. They’re also instrumental in our own Girl Geek Dinners, MoBeers, Startup Drinks Waterloo, and FIRST LEGO League. In short, they have some serious tech cred.

They’ll be talking the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of startup life, from basically being a couple folks in someone’s basement, to successful acquisition and exit, to “what’s next?”

Date, time, and location for the Dinner will all remain the same: 6pm, April 22nd, Centre in the Square Members’ Lounge. And again, our apologies for the late notice. This one’s gonna be great stuff, too.

For anyone who bought a ticket but can’t make it or isn’t interested in the new topic, feel free to let us know and we’ll refund your ticket. Hope to see you there, though, and in the fall when we do get Dr. Colla to join us!


Ladies Learning Code is coming to KW April 12th!

This is a guest post from Kelly McGregor, who is spearheading the local LLC chapter.

Ladies Learning Code is coming to Kitchener-Waterloo! We’re thrilled to be launching our latest chapter in Canada’s technology triangle, and personally I’m even more thrilled to be launching a chapter in the hometown of my alma mater. (Register now!)

Having attended the University of Waterloo (many, many years ago!) I’ve watched the KW community transform from a sleepy university town to a bustling technology and entrepreneurship hub. As technology enthusiasts we all know that coding is a valuable life skill and can add value to our professional and personal live. But many women and men don’t have the time and resources required to learn fundamental coding skills, or don’t have access to programming that is welcoming, collaborative, and taught at a pace that they can follow. It’s time to change this approach to learning to code!

That’s what Ladies Learning Code is all about, and why I’m so proud to be a part of this organization. Our open, collaborative workshops encourage men and women to sit on an equal playing field while learning beginner-friendly coding skills. Whether you’ve never seen a line of code before in your life, or you’re interested in brushing up your existing skills, our workshops offer a fun way to learn the fundamentals of running a website, writing a blog, and publishing content to the internet.

Our first event in KW is April 12, and we’ll be learning Introductory HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are the backbone of the Internet, and learning basic HTML/CSS provides you with a strong foundation to manage a website, or to move on to learning other languages and more advanced techniques. Find out more details and sign up for this workshop.

If you already know how to code, and perhaps are involved with coding on a regular basis, we still hope you’ll join us! We’re also looking for volunteer mentors who are interested in working one-on-one with students to learn these fundamental coding skills. Our standard mentor ratio is 4 students to every 1 mentor, so there’s lots of time for hands-on learning and teaching opportunities. If you’re interested, head over to our registration page and sign up as a mentor.

If you have any questions or comments about our Kitchener-Waterloo chapter you can reach out to me directly at any time. I can be reached at

Thanks, and I hope to see you soon!


Sheila Colla to present on bumblebee conservation

Update: Dr. Colla will NOT be able to join us for this Dinner. It has been cancelled, and we will do our best to re-book her for the fall.

Perhaps we can’t make it stop snowing, but we can think of spring – with bees and butterflies! We’re moving away from software again for our April Dinner, heading outdoors into the realm of entomology and ecology.

On Tuesday, April 22nd, we’ll be back at Centre in the Square in their fabulous and funky Members’ Lounge. As usual, we’ll be kicking things off at 6pm, and not sure who our caterer will be this time, but have we ever fed you anything that wasn’t delicious? Of course not. :) Tickets are available now! Bet you’ve got a bee in your bonnet already…

Our April speaker is Dr. Sheila Colla, who recently finished her PhD on bumblebee conservation at York University and is now a post doctoral fellow with Wildlife Preservation Canada. She has been studying bee ecology, conservation and behaviour for 10 years. She is the author of The Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide and currently serves on COSEWIC and COSSARO, committees that assess the status of at-risk plants and animals federally and provincially.

The plight of bees, particularly, has been big in the news over the last few years, and we wanted to learn more about just what is going on, how bad things are, and what we as environment-friendly geeks can do. Sheila will be telling us about Wildlife Preservation Canada’s new at-risk pollinator project, which aims to help native pollinators like bumble bees and butterflies on the brink of extinction.

We’ll learn about the status of Canadian bumblebees and what we can do to help wild populations of these important native pollinators. Sheila will also tell us about tools to learn more about local bee biodiversity, and how we can join a new Citizen Science project. And of course we’ll have Q&A for all your questions.

Tickets are available now, so don’t wait! This one’s gonna be popular.

And for those who haven’t been to the Members’ Lounge at Centre in the Square, here are instructions on how to get down there:

  • Parking is available in the Centre in the Square’s private lot on Ellen Street (at the back of the building).
  • Turn onto Ellen Street from Queen Street, drive past Centre In The Square and just before the street turns into a one-way you will see the private lot on your right. Parking arm will be raised (map shows entrance to the parking lot on the right).
  • Walk back around to the Stage Door entrance which is located just past the loading dock (map shows loading dock on left, entrance on right).

We’ll have signage to get you down to the Members’ Lounge, too.


Would you like to fly – for free? Join the Women in Aviation next week!

Hey, Girl Geeks – next week is Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, and the ladies out at Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, along with partners Breslau Flyers/COPA 26, have organized Women Fly in K-W!

On opening day, Monday, March 3rd, they are offering free flights to local Girl Geeks and women in media and tech. There are 36 seats available, and they’ll get snapped up fast. So head over to their website and register now for your flight!

There’s more going on, too. Check out the Women in Aviation Talk Show on Tuesday, March 4th, at 7pm. That’s also out at Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre in the main hangar. And there’s Fly Day and the Aviation Expo taking place next Saturday, March 8th.

As mentioned, the flights on Monday are free, as are the Talk Show and Expo. Spread the word, take a friend – head out to the airport, check it out, and soar in the skies! :)


Jad Saliba to present on on data recovery and digital forensics

Is it spring yet? Getting there… In the mean time, we’ll be keeping our brains humming and warm learning about the secrets contained in that phone or laptop of yours. You may think that we’re a bit obsessed with forensics around here (guilty), but this one will be quite different from our forensic biology and police investigation presentations. Not least because this is about data and we’re showcasing a local startup, which we love doing.

On Tuesday, March 18th, we’re back at the Communitech Hub, kicking things off at 6pm as usual. Our speaker is Jad Saliba, Founder and CTO of Magnet Forensics. And since I think it’s adorable how excited folks get when we tell them about the food, Taco Farm is on deck for dinner again. Get your tickets now!

Magnet Forensics has also very kindly provided sponsorship, for which we are always most grateful and welcoming. Thank you!

So who is this not-quite-masked crusader in our midst? Officially…

Jad Saliba is a former digital forensics investigator who left policing in 2011 to devote all of his time to developing software solutions that dramatically improve the process of recovering and analyzing Internet evidence left behind. He has since dedicated his efforts to building Magnet Forensics and developing Internet Evidence Finder (IEF) into a thorough and easy-to-use software solution that recovers Internet-related artifacts from computers, smartphones and tablets. As Magnet Forensics’ CTO, Jad is focused on researching new methods of recovering and analyzing all types of evidence for digital forensics investigations. His goal remains to create the best Internet forensics tools possible—helping those in the trenches make a difference in their communities.

Jad is a recognized digital forensics speaker at industry events including: CEIC, Crimes Against Children Conference, EuroForensics, F3, HTCIA, ICDDF, SANS, and the Canadian Police College. Jad served as a police officer for the Waterloo Regional Police Service for seven years and holds a Diploma in Computer Science and Network Security from Mohawk College (Hamilton, Canada).

In his presentation he’ll get into:

  • the founding of Magnet Forensics and why
  • what digital forensics is all about
  • why digital forensics is increasingly important to law enforcement
  • what Magnet Forensics specifically does in the space
  • some of the groups and organizations their work supports
  • some examples of what the software does
  • a live demo of the software in action.
    • And of course we’ll have Q&A, which I expect will be rather probing.

      I suspect you’ll never look at your laptop the same way again…

      Tickets are available now. Come on out, bring a friend – we love new faces!


Family Hack Jam this Monday, Feb. 17th, Family Day

It’s coming up fast, but this coming Monday, Family Day, Hive Waterloo is presenting Family Hack Jam 3 at the Communitech Hub!

This is a fantastic event for parents and kids age 8 and up (kids have to be accompanied by a parent or other guardian), and lunch is included from Little Mushroom Catering.

Check out the electronics workshop. There’s one in the morning and one in the afternoon, depending on your schedule. Everything is provided – just bring your curiosity!

Tickets are available now, and they’ll go fast!

They’re also looking for volunteers, so if you’re interested, head over to this page and let them know.


Christina Moulton to present on the business of apps

As we storm into February, we’re going to get back to the business of software a bit, welcoming local developer and Girl Geek Dinner regular, Christina Moulton. We’re going to head back to Centre in the Square‘s awesome Members’ Lounge for this one on Tuesday, February 18th, at 6pm. Tickets are available now!

If you’re not familiar with our speaker, Christina develops custom iPhone and iPad apps as Teak Mobile Inc., based on Kitchener-Waterloo. She does every part of the process: starting with initial concepts, then designing the interface, writing code, and submitting apps to the App Store.

Christina is deeply engaged in the local tech community, constantly learning and sharing new technology and upcoming developments. She’s organizes and frequently speaks at the local iOS developer meetup group, covering topics including beta testing frameworks, in-app purchases, and how developers can use new iOS features.

At Ignite Waterloo, she shared how the iPad has helped her autistic younger brother to communicate. She spoke at the FITC Screens 2013 Conference in Toronto on Should We Have an App For That? The Value of Apps for Businesses in October 2013.

In November, Christina added developer training to her offerings with workshops on Beginning Professional iPhone App Development for software developers looking to add iOS to their skill set, as well as co-teaching Hackademy’s Intro to HTML and CSS workshop. Christina holds B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. degrees in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo, focused on data analysis and data mining.

So, yeah, she knows a bit about what she’s going to be presenting. :) And exactly what is that? Well, thanks for asking. In Christina’s words:

Why Are All the Apps Free? Mobile apps seem to be mostly free these days, especially on iOS and Android. Why has this move to free apps happened? How do the companies making the apps stay in business, especially when apps cost as much as a car to develop? Can an independent app developer still make a living?

From upselling to ads to just plain hoping someone will buy them, apps make money (or don’t) in lots of different ways. You’ll find it interesting if you’re trying decide whether to build an app or just want to know how far someone will go to sell you a burrito.

I love it when we have speakers who delve into topics that are relevant to us every day, but which we may not ever have thought deeply about. Last month’s presentation was certainly one of those, and I’m sure Christina’s will be, too. Who hasn’t waffled over paying $2.99 for an app, or downloaded a bunch that never get used, but they were free? What does all that mean to the people whose livelihoods are behind creating them? Can’t wait!

Get your tickets asap! We also recommend bringing a friend. We love to see new faces.

For those who haven’t been to one of our Dinners at the Members’ Lounge, directions for parking and where to go. There will be signs from the entrance, too.

Parking is available in the Centre in the Square’s private lot on Ellen Street (at the back of the building).

Turn onto Ellen Street from Queen Street, drive past Centre In The Square and just before the street turns into a one-way you will see the private lot on your right. Parking arm will be raised (map shows entrance to the parking lot on the right).

Walk back around to the Stage Door entrance which is located just past the loading dock (map shows loading dock on left, entrance on right).


Cari Rastas Howard to present on waste management technologies

Wait, what? We’re kicking off 2014 with… garbage? No, we’re kicking off 2014 with LASERS. (Among other things.)

We’ll be getting together on January 21st at the Communitech Hub again for this one, starting at 6pm as usual. We haven’t decided what to eat just yet, so that will be a surprise. :) Get your tickets now!

So, yep, there’s a whole lot more going on with the stuff you throw out and what happens to it than you think, and Cari is just the person to pew! pew! pew! the knowledge into our post-holiday brains. Basically, just dumping stuff in landfills and burying it isn’t going to work forever, or even for very much longer. And Cari is one of the people involved in determining what our ever-growing Region is going to do with waste in coming years. The developing technologies — some already in use elsewhere — are pretty cool.

Who is this lady and why does she give epic trash talk? Well, Cari’s a Project Manager with the Region of Waterloo’s Waste Management Programs. She’s worked in Environmental Services for nearly 12 years now.

From her fancy and official bio:

Cari spends her time developing and promoting waste diversion programs to extend the life of the Region’s only landfill, and dreaming of the day when every home in Waterloo Region will have a blue box AND green bin at the curb on garbage day. With a degree in English Rhetoric from the University of Waterloo, she’s a bit of an anomaly in Waste Management circles, but feels her communications background makes her stand out in a team of engineers when discussing waste programs and technology with residents. She knows how important it is for everyone to understand what happens with their waste after they put it to the curb.

Her most recent project was community engagement for the Waste Management Master Plan, and encouraging residents to provide input. Cari enjoys speaking with residents to get feedback on the curbside collection and diversion programs, and discussing possible future technology options. When she’s not geeking out over garbage, Cari spends her time reading, writing, running, and ferrying two small boys about town. You can follow her on Twitter: @ariesamazon.

If you’ve attended past Ignite Waterloo events, you have have seen Cari as a speaker. For a sneak peek of some of what she’ll address in her talk:

Garbage, Nothing Out: It Doesn’t Go Away!

Don’t Waste Another Day

We’re excited to kick off the second half of our Girl Geek Dinner season, and to get all the dirt (and recycling, and compost…) from Cari. Tickets are available now. See you there!


Detective Sharon Lloyd to present on WRPS Forensic Indentification

Our last Dinner of 2013, and we’re taking another look at one of our most popular topics: solving crimes!

This time we head out into the field a bit more with Detective Sharon Lloyd from Waterloo Regional Police Service. She’s a member of the Forensic Identification Unit, and will be presenting on the work they do and how they do it. There will even be a hands-on portion!

We’re hosting this Dinner a little earlier in the month since December gets pretty crazy for everyone. Our last forensics talk was incredibly popular, so we shall do our best to accommodate all interested Girl Geeks (and other geeks) this time around. We’ll be getting together at the Communitech Hub again, starting at 6pm as usual.

Since we’ll have a larger group this time, Google has generously agreed to let us take over their office for the evening. Thanks, Google! So when you get to the Hub, follow the signs and head upstairs to the second floor. Take the door on the right. :)

To get you even more excited for this one, we did let slip that our dinner this time around will be provided by the fabulous and delicious Taco Farm. Mmm… tacos…

Forensic Identification is part of the Investigative Services branch, as their work is intended to strengthen police criminal investigations. Their work can include:

  • fingerprinting offenders
  • attending crime scenes
  • collecting and processing physical evidence
  • identity investigation (fingerprints, footwear, tire tracks)
  • writing reports (lots of reports)
  • testifying in court

Their work may not be quite like CSI or Dexter (but that’s a good thing) and there’s plenty of pretty cool stuff to learn about. :)

So who is this intrepid crime fighter coming to enlighten us? Some more info about Detective Lloyd…

Detective Sharon Lloyd is a 23-year veteran of the Waterloo Regional Police Service and currently assigned to the Forensic Identification Branch. She has worked as a patrol officer, coach officer and detective in the Central, Rural and North Divisions until her transfer in 2004. As a forensic officer, she is trained in the examination of various crime scenes. This includes the collection and preservation of DNA and other physical evidence such as fingerprint, footwear and tire impressions. She was the lead investigator for a Coroner’s inquest and has testified as an expert witness in court.

She is an active member of the Canadian Identification Society (CIS) and the (IAI) International Association for Identification.

She remains dedicated to policing and to the community as a volunteer site coordinator for the annual “Ride for Dad” event for cancer.

Kids are most welcome at this event, and we’ve created a special ticket just for them. Guys are welcome, too.

Tickets are available now. This one will sell out fast, so get yours ASAP!