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.
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.
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.