Events

DemoCamp Reveals Hamilton's Software Community

With DemoCamp, organizer Kevin Browne is working hard to organize and cultivate a community of software developers in Hamilton.

By Jeff Reid
Published March 03, 2011

There was standing-room only on Wednesday night, as around a hundred people filled the upper level of Slainte Irish Pub for the first Hamilton software DemoCamp.

The new Greater Hamilton Computing and Software Network (GHCSN) gave us a night of tech demonstrations, and brought together our local professionals, graduates and students for a fantastic evening downtown.

DemoCamp Presents...

Keynote speaker Ali Asaria of Well.ca started off the night with a glimpse of life inside the successful online retailer. When so many in the audience have dreams of growing their own company from scratch, the value of time spent listening to Ali is immeasurable. The details of the business itself are just minutia, compared to the unique leadership of a wildly open-minded innovator.

Justin Hogeterp and Fluid Media deserve special thanks for co-sponsoring the event, and giving us a demonstration of Coffeetablet, an iPad App for creating and sharing "Coffeetable" books from photos and video. A great album method using DropBox, certainly something I will pick-up from the App Store (and not just to support local software achievements - but that reason is always good enough!).

Mad Inventor Dan Zen offered up a neat tour of Opartica, an online "Op Art" tool that lets people create and fly through their op art in 3D. I hope Dan will be back for future DemoCamps with more from his imagination - in all fairness to other presenters, Dan could demo a sheet of blank paper and it would be brilliant fun.

The real stand-out to everyone I spoke with may be the least credentialed person to have confidence on stage for an audience of tech junkies. So it was all the more impressive when Hannah McKinnon, Mum-trepreneur to three boys and one brand new company introduced us to PoolingPeople.ca.

This veteran Human Resource Specialist has developed a system to bring overstaffed and understaffed companies together, enabling them to directly lend or borrow employees for a very low annual fee. Perfect for this crowd, not as a revolution in programing, but one offering practical solutions to those growing a business right now.

I don't want to miss mentioning AlboDigital, a Content Management System for end users and graphic designers that provides a solid custom CMS set-up and web hosting solution to clients.

To be honest, I didn't catch everything; I was enjoying the chance to meet-up with new friends, and bumping into people I had not worked with in years.

Community Leadership

I know why most will say Ms. McKinnon was the star of the night but, to me at least, it was Kevin Browne. The organizer of GHCSN.org, he's the one with the vision to recognize what we have here in Hamilton, and humbly works hard to further our Software Community development.

While most others, like myself, work more to foster the software in this city, Kevin is the one to care about the community part here. Like Hannah, my wife and I have have three boys, with dreams for them and our business. So what makes Kevin great is that his work goes directly towards where those kids will grow up.

The worst part of not having a Hamilton Software Community, which in turn underpins other industries and services well beyond the tech sector, is the brain-drain that has plagued this city.

Great schools like Mohawk College and McMaster University turn out brilliant graduates - some from Hamilton, others who have come to live and love it here for years - but the greatness of all this often ends in the reality of where the jobs reside: Markham, Kitchener, and of course that classic destination for our best and brightest, Toronto.

So I'm grateful (and not just as a nerd, but as a nerd and a Dad) for someone with Kevin's foresight. He's taking what he knows - not just the Mac Computer Science education, but the truth about what we already have in Hamilton - and helping us all get together. And you can be certain the next DemoCamp will be even bigger.

And that was what was going on in an old Irish Pub in downtown Hamilton Wednesday night... Great food and great hometown ideas for the future.

Jeff Reid attended Humber College for journalism before starting an internet development firm in the 90s. As a proud Ward 3 homeowner, Jeff lives, works and has three children in school on Wentworth St with his wife Heather, in the city of Hamilton, ON, Canada. In 2010, launched Hamilton-ON.ca to expand mobile news coverage.

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By JVRudnick (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 07:04:04

Would agree here with this post but like to add, that Innovation Factory, Hamilton's Regional Innovation Centre was also co-sponsor of this event, ably led by Ron Neumann their Executive Director. All of their staff was there including Peter Smith their EIR (Entrepeneur in Residence) and all were chatting and talking to most of the 100+ attendants. And while the beer was cold and the room's ambiance nice, it truly was the crowd there that reflected Hamilton's new foray into all things "DemoCamp!" Hat's off too, to Kevin whose passion drove the creation of our first event - and from what I saw last nite, not our last either! Congrats Kevin...very very well done!

Jim Rudnick www.kkti.com

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted March 03, 2011 at 08:44:41

Crap, how did I miss this? I used to work for Fluid Media, and we had talked about doing this years ago. I'm glad it finally got off the ground!

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By drpgq (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2011 at 13:40:31 in reply to Comment 60648

Wish I knew about this too.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 14:28:30 in reply to Comment 60674

Heh, it's half of /r/Hamilton in one thread. Where's Interestica?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 09:23:38 in reply to Comment 60648

Ditto. You folks did what now? I'm so happy to learn that Hamilton has a software community - I'm the only one of old dozen-odd software developer friends who stayed in the city to work - all the others either commute out or have moved away.

Is there a mailing list for this stuff?

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted March 03, 2011 at 09:52:26 in reply to Comment 60650

I (unfortunately) commute out now. Hopefully I'll be working in the city again in the next couple years.

I wonder how they got the word out. I like to think that I'm fairly in touch with the Hamilton goings-ons, and I'm surprised that this is the first I heard of it.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 09:58:55 in reply to Comment 60653

I got added on Twitter to their friends list, but I get so many twitter spammers adding me I tend to ignore those "add" notifications.

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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 11:39:18

It's great to know that things like this happen in Hamilton. I'm a developer who is moving to Hamilton in 2 months and this sounds like a great way to meet like minded people.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 13:36:57

Nice to see some good news about local business!

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted March 03, 2011 at 16:41:19

Maybe the next meeting could be posted under events here?

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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2011 at 20:48:36

It would definitely be great if this was posted on there before the event. I'll have to keep an eye on their site now to see when the next event is.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 00:03:29

Maybe the city should buy the Royal Connaught and turn it into an incubator for software firms.

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By Peter (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2011 at 23:58:05 in reply to Comment 60684

You're on the right track, though 100 King W might be a better choice in that regard.

Incidentally, it's nice to see these things happening in the Hammer, even though we're about 30 years late for the party. Here's hoping it continues to gain momentum and support from the community.

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2011 at 13:55:16

While I couldn't make it out (Wednesday night is all about the Cub Scouts in my life) I'm impressed that Kevin pulled it off -- getting anyone in Hamilton to notice you is pretty hard work.

Heck, think|haus held a hacker/maker conference in the fall of 2009 that had more people from outside of the GTA/KW region than it did Hamiltonians.

Any of the large buildings that sit languishing in this city would be great as a low/no rent zone -- not just the MIP / Innovation Factory type stuff, and not even the crazy hijinks we get to around think|haus -- but the real work of doing cool stuff. There's a lot of people who could benefit from moving out of "working at home" to "working near a group of people who do stuff similar to what I do".

Convert one of the downtown buildings, convert one of the giant red-brick factories, convert the old Westinghouse building on Barton (gotta know the view from up there is fantastic) -- and give people a desk/cube for $50-75 a month... it would be awesome and I'd love to do it, but I'm a little fried from getting think|haus to where it is.

Like I've been saying for a few years now - Hamilton was once known as "The Ambitious City" -- it's time to be ambitious again.

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