The MegaMaker Burrito

Hello Vernon / Okaganan friends,

The MegaMaker burrito is coming to Vernon, BC on January 22nd.

The story:

This week I’m doing a collaboration with Station BBQ for my new podcast (MegaMaker). The goal of the podcast is to explore people who make stuff and the stories behind what they make.

So this week Eric (the chef) and I set out to make the world’s best BBQ burrito. You can watch us building the prototype here.

I got immersed in the whole process: working in the kitchen at Station, coming up with a prototype with Eric, testing it, discussing costs, and marketing it.

The burrito:

The MegaMaker Burrito is filled with BBQ pulled pork (the meat is the star of this dish, sauced with our custom sauce), baked beans, wild rice, and cheddar cheese.

Served on a bed of slaw and lettuce leaf. Topped with maple-peach salsa and cheese. Comes with a side of fries and a beverage.

Come for lunch!

We’re going to serve it as the lunch special at Station BBQ this Friday (Jan 22). Want to come?

Here’s a list of who’s coming →

Let me know if you’re in!

Justin Jackson

PS: Geek Beers is next Thursday (Jan 28th) at the Marten Brewery!


Next Geek Beers: Nov 26 at Marten Brewery!

The new Marten Brewery is open!

We’re all going: tomorrow’s Geek Beers is in the private Brewmaster Room at Marten Brewery. Just go in the main doors, and the room is on the bottom floor near the back corner.

Stefan and Pearl (the owners of the Pig) are doing some Geek Beers specials:

  • 1/2 rack of baby back ribs & mash for $ 13.00 or
  • full rack & mash for $17.
  • Mugs of MBC (Marten Brewing Co.) beer for $4.75!

The 411:

Who: entrepreneurs, IT people, developers, designers, and creatives who want to make Vernon awesome

What: Beer, BBQ, and good conversation (everything from design, to hardware hacking, to business, to programming in VIM)

When: Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015, 5pm-8pm (and even later sometimes!)

Where: Marten Brewing (beside Naked Pig), 2933 – 30th Ave, Vernon, BC

You can find us in the Brewmaster Room, lower level near the back corner.

Hoping to see you there!

Justin Jackson


Vernon BC tech survey

Care about the future of tech in Vernon? You can give your input on the local technology scene (and Startup Vernon) here:

I was just looking through my records, and it’s been 3 years since our last poll. A lot has happened since then – those were the days where only 5-6 people would show up for Geek Beers. Definitely time for an update. 😉

There’s a lot of interest in Vernon’s tech scene from community leaders, governments, and outside investors. If you can give me an idea what you want, I can refer that to them.

Justin Jackson

PS: feel free to share the poll with others too.


Dear Vernon City Council: don’t kill cycling

Dear Vernon City Council,

If Vernon’s economy is going to thrive, we need to attract young families, professionals, and skilled technology workers to our city.

People relocating to the Okanagan are coming from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. They’re moving here for the lifestyle: beautiful lakes and mountains, great weather, and outdoor activities.

However, they’re also looking for a city with a progressive outlook towards urban design.

Entrepreneur Jeff Judge just relocated his company’s HQ to Chicago because of their cycling paths:

Skilled technology workers [have] employment options in many parts of the country. World-class bicycle infrastructure can be a powerful lure.

Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops are already making concerted efforts to attract tech workers and professionals. For people moving to the Okanagan, how does Vernon stack up?

The City Council in Kelowna is investing significant resources into cycling infrastructure (most notably the Lakeshore Avenue Active Transportation Corridor, which will have separate bike paths between DeHart Road and McClure Road).

Bike friendliness can be a factor in where an individual decides to live and work. In Portland, Ore., where nine percent of downtown workers bike to work, the city surveyed recent transplants to the city who bike in 2009, and 62 percent of respondents said the city’s bike friendliness was a factor in their decision to move there.

If Vernon wants to attract world-class talent, what’s our plan?

I moved to Vernon 3 years ago (from Edmonton) so that I could ride my bicycle to work. I live in East Hill, and rent an office on 30th Ave downtown. When choosing Vernon, I was impressed by the initial investment you’d made into cycling paths. I was hoping to see continued investment in cycling and walking infrastructure.

Vernon could be a leader in good city planning. Let’s make it happen!

Justin Jackson, Vernon, BCRegards,
Justin Jackson

PS: if you care about cycling in Vernon, there’s a meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 (at the Library). It’s being hosted by the Greater Vernon Cycling Advisory Committee.

Here is a statement by one of committee members regarding the purpose for this upcoming meeting:

Over the years we have been instrumental in bringing about some of the changes in bicycle infrastructure we have had in Vernon. The Committee has been more or less inactive for a couple of years now. However, there will be a meeting onNovember 4 to determine the level of interest in resurrecting the committee, or changing it to better fit our current needs. Should we continue to be an ad-hoc advisory committee? Should we strive for better integration with City staff? Should we take a more active advocacy role, perhaps as a cycling coalition, or as a member organization of the BC Cycling Coalition? How do we integrate with other groups such as Ribbons of Green and North Okanagan Cycling Society? We need your opinions!


Next Geek Beers: October 29th, 2015

Geek Beers is tomorrow at the Naked Pig!

Who: entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and creatives who want to make Vernon awesome

What: Beer, BBQ, and good conversation (everything from design, to hardware hacking, to business, to programming in VIM)

When: Thursday, October 29th, 2015, 5pm-8pm (and even later sometimes!)

Where: The Naked Pig, 2933-30TH Ave, Vernon, BC

You can find us at the big long tables on the elevated platform just to the left of the bar.

Hoping to see you there!

Justin Jackson


Dear Vernon City Council: about your website

There are a great number of people who don’t navigate a mobile device. Option A has a broader appeal.

Coun. Scott Anderson

The challenge with building a new website is that every stakeholder has an opinion. We all have ideas on what makes a website good.

Recently, the Vernon Morning Star reported on council’s review of the city’s new website: City uploads new design.

Naturally, each councillor had an opinion about the two design options.

I’d like to suggest a better way.

Look at the data

Those of us who design websites, web applications, and mobile apps have learned a truth about human behavior. There’s a big difference between what people say they want and how they actually act.

You have to be aware that people make confident but false predictions about their future behavior, especially when presented with a new and unfamiliar design. There’s a huge difference between imagining using something and actually using it. In addition, human preferences are rather unstable.

The only way to truly know what people want is to observe what they actually do. The great thing about the web is that we have tools to do this!

Google Analytics

Start with Google Analytics. It’s installed as a default by almost every web development firm. Viewing the source code on Vernon’s current website, I can see that it’s installed.

First, the city should see which pages are currently the most popular. You can do that by going to the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages menu. It will look something like this:

Google Analytics for a city website

In this example, we can see the homepage is the most popular (naturally). Next is the Employment page, followed by Pay a Fine. In this case, the city may want to highlight those pages on the homepage so that people can find them faster. This exactly what Chatanooga did with their website:

Chatanooga website: good municipal website design

Next, let’s address that statement made by Coun. Scott Anderson above. How many of Vernon’s residents are browsing the site on a mobile device?

To find out, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview in Google Analytics. Here’s an example:

How many people are browsing the city website on their phone?

Here, nearly 53% of website sessions happen on a mobile device (phone, iPod touch) or a tablet (iPad). I’m guessing that the City of Vernon’s stats are similar. PC sales are down, and smartphone usage continues to climb. For many people, their smartphone is their primary computing device.

How to test a design before you launch

There are also tools you can use to gather data on new website designs before you launch.

If the designs are in mockup stage (image files not yet turned into code) you can use a tool like Usability Hub to test how well each design helps users accomplish different tasks. Verify is another tool that does this well.

Another place to get data is to test how users interact with the current website. A tool like Peek User Testing will have anonymous users visit your site, and record their experience. This would allow the City to watch where people currently get stuck, or frustrated.

Test two variations

If there’s too much writing, you get discouraged.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal

Statements like this need data to back them up. This could be true, but we won’t know until we run a test.

One way to test these assumptions is by using an A/B test. These tests split a website’s traffic into two groups, and allow you to compare the results. For example, you might find that more text on the page improves engagement, and helps people achieve their desired result.

For example, when 37signals ran a split test for Highrise, they found that the homepage with more text resulted in more people signing up for the service:

Highrise a/b test on homepage

A tool like Optimizely will help you run A/B tests.

Don’t make decisions based on assumptions

I hope the City of Vernon doesn’t make website decisions based on opinions, feelings, or assumptions.

My advice? Form a hypothesis and then test it. See how people are actually using the website, and make decisions based on that.

For more reading on this, check out Gizmodo’s article.

Justin Jackson is the author of Marketing for Developers, and writes at


Next Geek Beers: Sept 24, 2015

Geek Beers is next week at the Naked Pig. The challenge? Bring someone new!

Who: Anyone who’s interested in technology, making stuff, geek stuff, blogging, etc…

What: Beer, BBQ, and good conversation (everything from design, to hardware hacking, to business, to programming in VIM)

When: Thursday, September 24th, 2015, 5pm-8pm (and even later sometimes!)

Where: The Naked Pig,  2933-30TH Ave, Vernon, BC

Once again, Pearl and Stefan (the owners) are giving us some special “geek only” deals:

We will do all available Marten beers for $4.50 😉 and we will do a pulled pork sandwich and fries for $10 🙂 it’s always bourbon night too so we have $2 off all bourbon products too!

You can find us at the big long tables on the elevated platform just to the left of the bar.

Hoping to see you there!

Justin Jackson


Next Geek Beers: June 25, 2015

One year ago we held Geek Beers at Morgan’s place…

This Thursday (June 25th, 2015) we’re going back!

It’s a regular Geek Beers, just not at the pub. Join us from 6pm-9pm, hang out, eat some snacks, and drink some good beer.

Morgan says: “I’ll make pulled pork, and there will be enough beer for everyone, but we encourage folks to introduce the group to their favorite beer”. So if you have a favorite beer, bring it along to share. 😉

If you want to come, you need to RSVP!

(similar to the pub, this is an adults only event)


Photos: May 2015 Geek Beers


Geek Beers: May 28th, 2015

This Thursday (May 28th) is Geek Beers!

Important note: we were unable to get Okanagan Spirits for this month, so it’s a regular Geek Beers.

So this week we’ll be going back to a crowd favorite: The Naked Pig (2933 30th Ave, Vernon BC. The corner of 30th St and 30th Ave).

Pearl and Stefan (the owners) have reserved two long tables for us, and are also offering this special (just for #geekbeers):

  • Beer special: Russell Wee Angry Scotch Ale, $4.75
  • $2 off: their new menu option – nachos!

Hope to see you!

Justin Jackson

PS: Next month’s Geek Beers (June 25th) will be at Morgan Roney’s place! You can RSVP here.