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# Semantic fanconcert = unfoo?

I hit a bit of a thought roadblock with fanconcert so I decided to pull the editing parts out of it and make a generalized version, which I'd like to release soon so people can bash on it.

In a way, it's a bit of an idealized system as well. fanconcert has been refactored so many times and has enough data already that it's losing its agility. It's interesting to get to that point and examine why and use those lessons to not get there the next time, but I digress.

Problems with fanconcert

Problem: After almost a year of deployed use, fanconcert's limitations are showing. In some cases these limitations are intentional simplicities, in other cases they are just inimplemented features.

A glaring example is how labour-intensive inputting data is. People just don't like to do this. After posting over 4000 concerts myself I don't have much of a problem seeing why. It's just boring -- it's a lot like work!

Solution? Let computers submit information. How? Let my users create bots that crawl the Internet, parse the pages to extract the data and submit the data to fanconcert. This strategy has a few benefits:

  1. People love hacking up tools, if you open up your software to let them do it.
  2. The data entered by bots can still be corrected and added to by humans but a majority of the grunt work will be done.
  3. If bots are refreshing regularly from sources, data will be updated faster than if done by a human, in some cases.
All of these things are good for fanconcert but bots can bring their own problems. Expect to see a future blog post on that topic.

Problem: fanconcert is not simple enough!

Solution? Users fall into two major camps: people that just want to be updated with information and those that are also willing to submit and correct information. The great websites out there do a good job of separating viewing from submitting in order to make plain viewing easier. I really like this strategy and I'm going to try harder to do this with fanconcert.

Problem: fanconcert doesn't have enough users.

Solution? This is a chicken and egg kind of problem: more users will come when there's more information to read, there will be more information to read when there are more users. Bots could help this situation by increasing the amount of information without needing more users to enter the information. That's why I'm heading in that direction...

Who? unfoo

That's right, another domain for another project: unfoo.com. It probably will not work for a few days. This is where I'm hosting that generalized version of fanconcert I mentioned above. Why the name unfoo? Why not? It was available, it's short and makes about as much sense as calling something a wiki.

But ahhh, it actually is like a wiki in a way. unfoo will be a general framework to hold objects that can be edited collaboratively by a whole lot of people. Wiki's work this way, except the data on a wiki is prose.

Prose is not very useful to a computer because it's hard for computers to understand a piece of prose's semantics. Computers can index prose by keeping track of where certain keywords are and that's what search engines do. If the information were more organized, computers would be able to do a lot more with it.

That's what I want to do with unfoo (and eventually fanconcert): let users (and bots) enter information in a structured manner. The structure will be familiar to programmers: objects with types (classes), attributes and relationships with other objects. unfoo will be a human usable website and an API to add and modify these objects and their attributes and store them so the objects can be used by other websites (like fanconcert).

It would also be interesting to release unfoo into the wild like wikis, get other people to set up other unfoos for specific types of information (domains) and then link several unfoos together over the Internet to form a sort of collective intelligence. When I hear the phrase "Semantic Web" this is what comes to mind ... why hasn't someone built it?

posted at April 24, 2006 at 09:23 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 10: 0 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: Conclusion

BarCamp Ottawa banner

Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

Have a regular DemoCamp meeting?
-- people can demo their applications
-- the majority say it's a good idea

There's going to be a Google Group for Ottawa
-- watch on wiki

My Thoughts After the Fact

I really enjoyed BarCamp Ottawa and I hope we can do something regularly in Ottawa again. It's a shame that Ottawa doesn't have more events like this, especially given the size of the tech community here.

I had some good discussions before and after sessions as well, including Scott and Tobi from JadedPixel/Shopify, Pat and Mark from Axionic, James from PrimeMinister.ca, David from Phoenixrealm and others.

Hopefully this will gain some steam. Kudos to all of the organizers!

posted at April 22, 2006 at 05:29 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps

BarCamp Ottawa banner

Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

"My 2 cents"
Craig Fitzpatrick

What's great about Javascript?
Devshop is pixel for pixel in IE and Mozilla

Q: Is the time for that worth it?
A: yes, it's worth it ... makes the app more 'slick'

Super easy to learn the basics of Javascript
- a lot of people don't get more advanced

Adoption on lots of devices
Swiss army of web development
-- rich behaviour, flash, etc

Unlike CSS, Javascript supports User Agent abstraction
-- made his own DOM API to abstract it between browser
-- made his own widget library

Source code is available for the world to see and learn from
-- double edged sword: stealing

Q: licensing?
A: none yet
-- doesn't mind giving away widgets
-- but doesn't want to expose business logic

Interpreted code is always going to be slower
-- he's spent a lot of time optimizing custom GUI widgets

Q: did the code get more complex when you optimized?
A: often yes
-- complexity is also a deterrent for copying
-- but "localized" complex code to make them easier to use

Mutable objects are more trouble than they are worth
-- flexibility: too much rope to hang yourself with
-- no mandatory type declarations: problems with typos, etc
[ed. I don't think he's talking about mutable objects but dynamically typed objects]

Lack of mandatory typing "hamstrings" tool vendors
-- every variable is a variant
-- can't use Intellisense-like features (ie. Visual Studio) and he doesn't like that

Lack of commonly accepted libraries hinders re-use
-- exceptions: moo, prototype aren't common yet

A lot of people don't make the effort to be cross-browser
-- browser loyalty tends to cloud judgement
-- the business person in him says that's terrible
-- Firefox's increasing percentage gets his attention
-- to him, it's economics
-- doesn't pay attention to browsers with less than 10% (ie. Safari, Opera)

Q: do you use Firefox debugger
A: yes, a lot ... better than IE's

Created a collection of collections
-- list, sorted dictionary, etc

Created private libraries for low-level behaviour
-- drag/drop, inline editing

Created public libraries for page code to use
-- user controls: table, boxes, separator bar, etc

Created a thread object to manage asynchronous operations
-- like animations, that improve usability

Created a Page object that manages the entire page lifecycle
-- like a "root" object for all of the page objects
-- another abstraction over the DOM [ed. nice!]
-- easier to deal with page objects without having to deal with (XML) "elements"
-- window events are disparched to other libraries by Page

Cracked nut: pixel by pixel between browsers (IE and Firefox)

Stages of enlightenment (7 of them...)
-- see slides?

#6 plug and play for libraries in the framework
-- so libraries can co-exist
-- namespaces?

#7 framework and dev studio are integrated
-- to support intellisense-like features
-- again, doesn't like dynamic typing

A neat open source project would have challenges:
-- requires an extreme knowledge of javascript
-- patience to make it cross-platform
-- performance!
-- strong leadership

Speed improvements take "obscure" knowledge
-- [ed. not so sure about that ... just a knowledge of O notation and how dynamic languages work]
-- lazy instantiation: don't create boxes until the user mouses over
-- then when clicked, it opens

my notes:
-- advanced javascript is the exception rather than the rule; a lot of badly hacked code out there

posted at April 22, 2006 at 05:29 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: DevShop Afternoon Demo

BarCamp Ottawa banner

Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

Craig Fitzpatrick talked about Devshop

Delivering a project on time
tried to make a web app that behaves like a desktop tool

could dog food two weeks ago after a year and a half of development
-- but it's not truly dog fooding yet: was just for testing

scheduling in the app:
-- am I on schedule?
-- is the project on schedule?

lists have edit in place
blinks on edit accepted by the server [ed. nice!]

task list with integrated Gantt chart
task list shows
-- red bars for tasks behind the pace
-- green bars if ahead
-- blue for completed %

in place editing for % finished
-- ed. that's great for speed of editing, allows people to keep %'ages up to date

tips and help at the bottom of the page in a collapsed div

views of project: by component, person, "my schedule"

assertion (ed. assumption): you can only be booked on one task at a time

actions on left depends on what type of task is selected

"experience of veterans has been built into the project"
created new project with a wizard
-- "killer factors"
-- start by hardening the project plan
-- estimate vacation time, etc
-- estimate distraction time
-- team's time estimation error %
-- estimate the time of the Quality Assurance phase
This creates an empty project shell with no tasks...

Question by me: based on XP? no
-- more based on general software practices, not for a specific process/methodology
-- product is PM-centric right now
-- is going to get advice to make developer screens

Some projects organize weekly on paper...
-- what's new since I last logged in? kind of like an inbox
-- there's a log for the last 30 days
-- notifications if any of your tasks change

Project Summary
-- nice bar with %'s for: complete, schedule hardening index, estimation error, distraction rate
-- each of these can be broken down...
-- time estimation: graph of trend for estimation numbers, to see if it's getting better
-- bar graphs for: time against the clock, # of requirements filled

Feature detail dialog (popup)
-- edit all of the feature properties
-- tabs for details for the feature: notes, requirements, designs, approval, dependencies, history
-- tips again on this dialog when you click on a specific field/property
-- tips also contain the user's time estimation error so they can make better estimates!
-- ed. that's pretty sweet

Question: when can people start using it?
A: he's hoping around September

Usually requirements and schedule are separate, Devshop integrates them
-- so changes in requirements can lead to changes in schedule
-- it's easier to keep requirements and schedule in sync
-- approval steps: requirements, design, time estimation
-- then you can answer "how sure are you about the schedule?", which is the schedule hardening index
-- schedule hardening is pinning down specific estimates for tasks
-- history: every change for that task

My tasks: summary for the user that's logged in for that project
My stats: complete, time estimation error, distraction rate for me
below that: more specific data on these, how they are calculated
The Team: how's the team progressing?
-- lots of different tables of information, including data in relation to other projects (ie. conflicts)

Q: how do you watch different projects from different departments? compare common attributes between projects? (Portfolio management)
A: that's beyond the scope so far

Q: is there an easy way for developers to update their status on tasks?
A: it's very PM-centric now, but he'll be working on that
-- doesn't like tools that send tons of email
-- not talking about hour counting, so the developers wouldn't have to update very often

Q: can it be hosted locally?
A: he does plan to offer a downloadable version
-- a lot of people are concerned about security over the 'net
-- questioner example: sensitive government contracts

Q: cost?
A: monthly and per seat
-- right now it's for PM's
-- free trial period
-- cheaper for the developers (later)
-- you can put in a lot of users (for scheduling), but they can't log in until you pay for their accounts

Q: what about data lock-in?
A: intention is to have "rich export"
-- probably XML and CSV
-- would like to do MS Project files

Q: downloadable version structure? (for local hosting)
A: setup new server in IIS, copy the folder and setup the database schema
-- database? doesn't know if there's anything written a specific database type right now, thinks it should work

Q: how long has it taken?
A: idea is 2 years and 2 months old
-- started coding after 6 months
-- got mad with Microsoft Project
-- wanted to fix a few things he felt were wrong with it
-- idea that "all you need is a Gantt chart" is flawed
-- first six months: looked at the market, validated the idea
-- did some initial data prototyping tool in Excel
-- tried out ideas, went back to his audience regularly
-- working full time plus more
-- really concerned about scalability up front

my notes:
-- very dialog based ... unusual for a webapp.
-- Are they modal? sometimes there are several layers of dialogs on top of each other [ed. not a fan]
-- lots of collapsing divs with titles [ed. I like these]
-- conflict: importance on time estimation rate, yet the minimum task length is 1 day
-- so a 1 day overage is 50% error ... the granularity makes the error rate less reliable?

posted at April 22, 2006 at 05:29 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: IPR

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Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

Mitch B.
Kent Ledwell from Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP

pringles vs. lays stacks

it took 30 years to get a competitor for pringles because of patents
pringles patent is "neat", check it out

patent: there is a problem and you came up with a solution
pringles problem: "chips come in many different sizes"
-- solution: mash, shape potato and every chip is perfect

forget all of that stuff about enterprises and a patent portfolio
how to leverage patents for "2.0"
IPR you can use for 0 dollars, or 25k

Mitch is an inventor: startups, Nortel
creating innovation management strategy
IPR: intellectual property rights, all types: patents, trademarks, copyrights
every country has separate patent systems, you must file in every country you sell in

10 ideas:

1. don't fear the reaper
- don't be afraid of frivolous patents, give it a shot
- 2000's: fear and loathing ... don't "do it blindly or avoid the whole thing"
- get to know it
- patents exist to share innovation
- others can take your patent, extend it and file their own patents

2. cuz my VC said so
- think what your VC is thinking of: EXIT
- patents are tangible and transferrable: something for others to BUY, aka value
- if you have patents to support your products, may convince a buyer
- customer confidence from patents (RIM counterexample)
- valuation may go up (every patent adds $1M?)

3. adopt the PROCESS
- 12 steps...
- real world problem
- existing solutions, their benefits and solutions
- state your solution and why it's better
- make sure it's unobvious! (esp. software)
- teach people how to build it
- identify related innovations (idea w/ satellite ideas, claims) ... expand idea with more claims
- what other patents are out there?
- patent office needs the process for how you got the innovation
-- they need a trail to prove how you got your idea, they may challenge you
-- document all of your notes, date and initial every page
-- patent agents may ask you for that stuff
sidebar: problem with patent system is that patent agents aren't keeping up with state of the art (esp. software) ie. Amazon's one-click patent ... but things are getting better

4. think CLUSTER
- don't just think one patent
- gather a whole bunch of related patents for a niche
- if you want to be bought, find their missing patents

5. use SEARCH
nations have websites for patents, trademarks
companies apply for trademarks well before they use them and you can search for them

6. get sIriuS about trademarks
- not just the name, how it's used
- companies can have the same name, if for different businesses
- "statement of use"
- some words are too obvious (Apple for an orchard)

7. prove you're sIriuS about IPR
- register your copyrights
- don't lie: don't use TM or R ... it's not illegal, it's just bad practise
- don't need to protect company name if it's not a product
- don't overuse it
- don't be evil
- file provisionals - beware public demos!
- enlist your patent law firm as a partner, put them on your website, etc (hype them up a bit)

8. HYPE it up: demonstrate that you know IPR
- to customers and investors
- talk about past patents and on websites
- showcase referred patents and their companies: patents that refer to your patents
-- referrals equate to "good ideas"
- can find this on the patent database website
- patent agent can notify you too

9. play POKER
- you don't need the best hand to win, you just need cards (patents)
- strategy: how you play the game

10 it's a darwin THING
- keep up with it
- a lot more ideas out there

- you can infringe, it's like going 105 kph
- big companies probably won't care about a small fish
-- [ed. affects selling price?] no
- patents are important for small players, startups

algorithms can't be patented
-- patent systems and methods, not algorithms
-- pretty much the same thing
-- people don't run into problems filing what are in effect algorithms

-- copyright protection don't have to file anything, but document
-- trademarks should be registered, few thousand is a bargain
-- documentation is important
-- informal patent application: no formal legal language, cheaper
-- they buy you 12 months, then you need to file a formal application or clean it up a bit
-- Canadian patent office doesn't mind inventors, but he recommends legal help
-- "paper around" an idea: with nonobvious improvements: where the market is going
-- they'll have to cross-license
-- white papers, publish them somewhere because it's obvious
-- it's first to file!

Make sure you file before you disclose (ie. demos)
-- Canada has 12 months grace period?
-- US doesn't?

copyright will protect the code, a patent protects the idea

posted at April 22, 2006 at 12:30 PM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms

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Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

Mike Milinkovich
Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation

Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms

Slides in PPT and PDF

based on a talk at Adobe dev conference
how do you create a community around a platform?

great technology
architecture of participation
being hijacked by a fanatical community

why is it number 1?
-- not the features, because it's a great platform
-- invites participation (on many levels)

best thing you can do for an open source project? write a great bug report

(talked about Eclipse...)
if you use Java, keep up with OSGi
IDE is the most complicated rich user desktop app
-- [ed. tech users can handle that much, most can't]

switch to EPL was hell
-- emailed everyone, no matter how small the contribution

Borland and BEA are moving to Eclipse/RCP

Architecture of Participation
-- low barriers for newcomers
-- proposals for new ideas, community decides
-- Eclipse got it right... close to 1000 plugins
-- caveat emptor: some plugins suck!
-- you need the Cathedral to enable the Bazaar
-- add-ons are first class citizens: plugins use the same frameworks as the IDE (and core team)
   -- empowering for individuals

Eclipse is very laissez-faire (same with Apache)
-- failure proves the community standards are high
-- seeds for a broad ecosystem
-- open source plugins compete with commercial plugins
   -- commercial has to be extra good

Unique to Eclipse
-- open source community that wants to have commercial adoption
   -- hit their delivery dates: predictability fosters adoption
   -- ship ten different open source projects on the same day
-- quality matters and enables the ecosystem

Eclipse uses it's membership dues to pay for massive bandwidth costs
The community doesn't use BitTorrent as much as they say they will
-- [ed. why not integrate BitTorrent transparently into Eclipse update?]

"Brand Hijack" is a book (Alex Wipperfurth)
-- "win by letting go", key message
-- let the community define what your brand is
-- another book to read: "the culting of brands", really cynical
-- created the foundation so that all companies are on the same playing field
-- counter ie. manager that wants to know where all of your time goes
-- embracing uncertainty

Anatomy of a Community
-- role-based: users, platform committers, plug-in developers (leverage arch. of participation)
-- need all three of these
-- users will want to extend the platform in ways you can never imagine
-- tech-based: rich client, java devs, modeling, embedded (v. big), report devs, php devs
-- Metcalfs Law: value of network is equal to the square of the nodes in the network
   -- applies to communities as well
   -- value of community: number of links between members, not the number of people

Is it fanatical?
-- newsgroup, mailing list, bugzilla activities, page views
-- lots of communication between participants: monitor this

How to get there?
-- first: get rid of the marketers
-- second: admit we're all marketers
   -- regular people have the ability to be a marketer [ed. Internet enabled this?]
-- blog: Creating Passionate Users
-- it's all about community conversation
-- can't fool people any more with mass market techniques (ie. Scoble)
-- can't create an open source community without code
-- embrace "others" as leaders: community leaders, bloggers (ie. Ed Burnette)
-- be transparent, say thank you

How not to do it?
-- no one reads press releases, they do not create a conversation

The next generation of platforms do not have to be open source but it sure helps
-- ie. Microsoft has lost the ability to ship code [ed. not so sure about that]

posted at April 22, 2006 at 11:18 AM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: Iotum DEMO'06

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Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

What Makes a Great Demo?

Alec Saunders
Howard Thaw
DEMOgod winner (DEMO 2006 in Phoenix)

venue: DEMO'06
running for 16 years

100's of company audition
60-70 companies actually get in

first ever canadian demo god winner (10 winners total)
25% vc's, 25% press, rest business development people

lots of cell phones for the demo
no slides allowed
only 6 minutes!

lots of things vying for your attention
telephone interrupts
iotum prioritizes your phonecalls

(takes call from wife)
average office worker is interrupted every three minutes

sets instant message status to busy
(next call from wife goes right to voice mail)

iotum also works through Outlook calendar
warren buffet calls in the middle of interview with walt mossberg
-- call to office phone goes to cell because he's out
-- interrupts interview because he's a VIP

work, home, in between numbers
contacts: organize by category, group
avoiding interruptions: certain times
some calls are more important than others: ie. co-workers

conference calls (ie. while driving)
bridge number, PIN number problems
waiting for other people to get on
setup conference call through Outlook (iotum plugin?)
then the phone knows the bridge number, etc automatically

"power of relevance and communications"

-- end of demo --

architecture of a great demo
- hook (problem), positioning statement, prove (many), close

hook: state the problem (concise), engage the audience quickly
positioning statement: "my product does this for customer X", "it helps you..."
it's about the product: show as much as you can ... 0:30 to 5:15 in time (majority)
-- obv. show the product as much as you can
methodology: "awesome, awesome, doesn't suck"
-- good stuff with no drawbacks
-- can change the order to get a wow effect at the end
closing statement: memorable
-- "that really is the power of relevance in communications"

what can go wrong? pitfalls
trying to be too funny (terrorist sketch... yikes)
-- it can distract your audience from your message
-- don't overpower your presentation
it's not about you or your company, it's all about the product
-- car audio equipment: talked about the market too much before the wow factor
timing is critical: short period to position, pick up after a stumble,
-- practise should be less than the max time, spoke slower on stage; nerves
listen to your advisors (demo advisors)
-- crafting the hook is difficult (speed to cool: how quickly can you get to the cool stuff?)
-- a networked guy lead to demo experts

practice, practice, practice
-- 30 days, 3-5 times a day for iotum
-- even then, was still making mistakes and fine-tuning up to the day before

nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
-- beaver trapped by his own tree

for DEMO06: had to write a script
-- audio and video crew needed to know the cues
-- 90 minutes for a technical walkthrough before
-- one can't underestimate how difficult

wore shirts with big logos
-- felt: you were being judged the moment they arrived, not just the demo
-- met people at the booth afterwards: judges, press, vc's
-- hook people to talk to you after the demo

-- Questions --
Q: how much did it cost?
A: 20k to enter, 50k total from start to finish
-- unanticipated expenses: advisors, extra cell phones
-- monitors for your booth
-- bought monitors and returned them to save money :)
-- probably the best spent money for a startup
-- critical mass of important people in one place

Q: What would you do differently?
A: coordinate marketing releases after the demo
-- broader takeup of the product afterwards
-- wanted to give everyone access to a sample iotum account

Q: Where did you get the idea to go to the conference?
A: Some VC people they knew pushed it as a maximum exposure venue
VC won them over: convinced them it was worth the expensive price
Better exposure than typical conferences
-- it's hard to stand out there, especially over companies with huge budgets
-- competing on a level playing field
Press attention is important
DEMO: shroud of secrecy over the conference
-- only emerging technologies
-- stuff that's never been demo'd

Q: What's the qualification process?
A: Applications in October for Feb conference
-- auditions in November
-- you pay when you are accepted
-- audition the product, not necessarily the script
-- iotum: business plan and live meeting session
-- iotum built new things just for the demo (stuff they hadn't

judges looking for: cool technology, well executed demo, clear pitch

Q: how would DEMO experience help typical demos?
A: don't show slides
-- move demo up early
-- hook them early
-- make sure demo is kickass, positions (awesome, awesome, doesn't suck), prove

Q: going to email?
A: no, iotum is concentrating on cell
-- email is a different problem

posted at April 22, 2006 at 11:15 AM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# BarCamp Ottawa: Introduction

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Blog Posts in this Series
Iotum's demo from DEMO'06 by Alec Saunders, Howard Thaw
Creating Open Source Communities and Platforms by Mike Milinkovich
Intellectual Property Rights by Mitch B, Kent Ledwell
Devshop Afternoon Demo by Craig Fitzpatrick
Advanced Javascript for Rich Web Apps by Craig Fitzpatrick

Today I'm at BarCamp Ottawa, my first conference let alone my first unconference. I like the relaxed informality and the venue is great (BitHeads on Carling). This post will be a collection of my notes and thoughts from the presentations I attend and the people I talk to.

There are four "tracks" in four different rooms, so I can only attend 1/4th of the sessions. But that's OK, there's a good amount of choice for each time slot. Other bloggers will fill in the blanks from the other sessions.

Notes on Notes

I took these notes during the presentations. Hopefully they make sense to other people! If I made any factual errors, please correct me in the comments.

The notes themselves came mostly from the audio of the presentation rather than the slides (since they will probably be available as well). I've made some personal comments within the notes, and they are marked with the word "ed." and in brackets.

posted at April 22, 2006 at 11:07 AM EST
last updated December 5-, 2006 at 07: 1 AM EST

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# Canadian Idol is Bad for Canadian Music?

The media has held onto this story for two rounds, so I thought I'd comment on it: Broken Social Scene member Kevin Drew criticised Canadian Idol at the Junos to which Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm responded.

Not that I'm about to disagree with Drew's premise. Canadian Idol epitomizes a lot of the things I don't like about pop music today but that's my opinion, just like Drew and Malcolm have theirs.

What I think is most funny is that Drew would go after Canadian Idol in such a public forum (on CTV of all places) and with such disdain, especially after winning the Juno for best alternative album.

Nevermind that the "alternative" genre has been stretched over time to include just about any modern rock. Indie bands aren't supposed to give a shit about their surroundings. They are supposed to be a beautiful flower (sometimes to very few people) in an apparently baren wasteland, not bitch about the fact that no one is watering them while they suffer to be noticed. Indie bands exist despite the fact that they shouldn't. Indie bands are hard-working survivors -- and it makes the music that much sweeter to their fans.

That begs the question: why would BSS be so concerned about Canadian Idol? Do they actually think they'll break into the mainstream? I don't and as an indie music fan, I'm glad they won't. The mainstream and indie music audiences are divergent -- and that's a good thing for both of them.

It certainly doesn't mean that either audiences have bad taste, they just have different desires from the music they listen to. Some people just don't like music that much. Rather than listen to the musical equivalent of (what some people would consider to be) a filet mignon, they'd rather have a cheeseburger and get on with their lives. What the heck is wrong with that?

posted at April 12, 2006 at 03:01 AM EST
last updated December 4-, 2006 at 11: 0 PM EST

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# Positive Reviews are Boring

I like to use this blog to occassionally rip into companies that are doing bad, stupid, unnecessary and/or impolite things. It's hardly surprising that there's so much blog negativity but it's interesting. Why is that?

Maybe it's because we expect companies to behave. When they do not behave, it's interesting. When they do behave, it's not -- right? I guess. If you looked at the sum total of the blogosphere, you might assume that all companies are pretty much screwing the pooch in the 22nd century.

The truth is that people just have more fun bitching about things they can't control (in this case, large corporations). It's like one-way online therapy. You get it all out in the open and you feel better. I'm all for blog bitch sessions (though I rarely read them). But blog readers should at least be aware of the skew and why it exists.

How about a positive review?

I have Rogers digital cable and a personal video recorder (PVR), specifically the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 8300. A PVR is a digital VCR with a hard drive in it -- TiVo is a very popular brand of PVR in the US.

Last week my PVR started skipping every five seconds or so. This affects even live TV because the PVR records whatever program you are currently watching (so you can replay live TV). It started very suddenly and got very annoying, so I called Rogers support.

They put me through the regular "restart the PVR" spiel I had done a half dozen times already just to sanity check me, I explained the PVR was skipping and they told me I could exchange it at a local Rogers Video store.

I did the exchange this morning with absolutely no fuss, got it hooked back up and re-authorized and I'm cooking with gas again. All told, it was very quick. It would have been even quicker if it didn't happen over a weekend that I was away.

Well done Rogers Cable, I'm one happy customer. If you could just cut your prices in half I'd be even happier.

posted at April 10, 2006 at 05:09 PM EST
last updated December 4-, 2006 at 05: 0 PM EST

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