Category Archives: Community

deltaHacks signals big change

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deltaHacks (@deltaHacks) organized by HackItMac (@HackItMac) took place this weekend on McMaster campus. The event brought in 200+ students, not just from the McMaster community, but from around Southern Ontario – University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, University of Guelph, Mohawk College and others. The students formed teams and worked on building real-world applications for social change in a 24-hour time period.

I was a judge on the Sunday portion of the event and was able to walk around and check out the different projects. The projects ranged from web apps, to mobile apps to wearables. The nature of the event meant that many if not most projects were either medical or educational in nature. However there were a bunch of really cool non-profit and ‘social good’ ideas – for example applications to help foodbanks tell prospective donors what types of food exactly they are running short on, or applications to help people find items they have lost.

 

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The teams were filtered down to 5 finalists on the Sunday who gave presentations before the top 3 winners were selected. The top prize went to Project Julius, an app that detects and blocks seizure inducing content, and included a flight/hotel to a hackathon taking place in South Korea!

The fact that the hackathon included students from outside the McMaster community was excellent. Making it more than a McMaster event builds awareness and brings connections to McMaster. Some of the better projects were done by students from outside McMaster and that’s OK too – that’s inspiration and education for everyone. A lot of the teams seemed to include students from a mixture of institutions. A hackathon is taking place at Western soon. It’s great for the broader region to see this happening.

 

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deltaHacks really does signal a big change on McMaster campus. I’ve been at McMaster in one form or another since 2002. After the 2000 dotcom crash enrolment in computing programs plummeted for the early to mid 2000s. In terms of community activities, I think we had a bowling night or something, maybe a meet the profs night and a 40-person ‘programming challenge’ night? It was great fun, but nothing at this scale.

Around 2009 regular enrolment increases began (as did higher entrance averages). A hackathon at a scale like this would have been completely unthinkable 10 years ago… even 5 years ago. It was surreal walking around the student centre seeing table after table of students working on cool projects. Those enrolment increases have continued through to today and are, last I saw, expected to continue into the future.

deltaHacks signals a critical mass of talent has arrived on McMaster campus. A critical mass that could do some very great things in the years ahead. This was an amazing start.

Check out the top 5 finalists present at deltaHacks below:

 

Project Julius – 1st place

 

Android sWear – 2nd place

 

Chameleon – 3rd place

 

Intuit (honourable mention)

 

MyoBlinds (honourable mention)

 

#HamOntForever Digital Literacy Panel Discussion

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The #HamOntForever campaign is organizing a panel discussion, see the details below:

When technology moves faster than society, it’s either keep-up, or risk going the way of the floppy disk. Presented in partnership by Hamilton Community Foundation and KITESTRING, join us for a panel on Digital Literacy, our city and how a growing digital divide must be addressed.

The discussion will be moderated by Chris Farias (VP – Creative Development, KITESTRING) with panel participants Mark Chamberlain (President & CEO PV Labs), Terry Cooke (President & CEO Hamilton Community Foundation), Joey Coleman (Journalist and Crowdfunding Pioneer), and Paul Takala (Chief Librarian Hamilton Public Library).

When: January 28th, 2015 from 5–7pm, with the one-hour panel beginning at 5:30pm.

Where: First floor at The Seedworks Building, 126 Catharine Street North, Hamilton.

Register: facebook.com/events/1606343219597882

Online: Streaming at kitestring.ca or join the chat on the KITESTRING Facebook Page

 

Embrace UX conference

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EmbraceUX (@EmbraceUX) will bring together web and technology professionals in the Southern Ontario region to get excited and informed about user-centric design, share their experiences, and network with fellow practitioners. EmbraceUX is a two-day event with talks, discussions, and a UX masterclass on Saturday and a chance to flex your UX skills during the design charette on Sunday!

 

When: Saturday February 28th and Sunday March 1st

Where: The Pearl Company @ 16 Steven Street, Hamilton, Ontario

Organizers: Martin Kuplens-Ewart and Kevin Browne

Website: EmbraceUX.com

Cost: Only $60

A truly excellent value in comparison to other regional UX Conferences – e.g. Waterloo region’s Fluxible ($445 for 2 days), UX Day Toronto ($495 for 1 day). Any left over funds from event costs will be rolled over into next year’s conference.

Big thanks to sponsor Innovation Factory!

 

Speaker Line-up

 

Jon Lax

President and Co-Founder @ Teehan+Lax

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Jon (@jlax) is the President and Co-Founder of Teehan+Lax. He is responsible for the overall strategic direction and operation of the company. Since starting Teehan+Lax in 2002 Jon has worked with clients like Beatport, Corcoran, Medium, Google, and Bell. He is responsible for establishing TL Labs and making Teehan+Lax one of the most respected companies in the digital industry.

 

Verne Ho

Director of Design @ Shopify

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Verne Ho (@verneho) is the Director of Design at Shopify. Previously, he was the co-founder and Creative Director at Jet Cooper, a product design studio that was acquired by Shopify in 2013. Based in Toronto, Verne often writes and speaks about practical advice on building resilient design practices and teams.

 

Erin Dunham

CEO @ The Other Bird

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Erin Dunham (@erindunham22) was born in, lives in and bleeds Hamilton.

As an undergraduate, Erin studied English and writing at Western University in London, Ont., before returning to Hamilton to do her MBA at McMaster University.

A published author, Erin also teaches communication skills to media students at London’s Fanshawe College.

As the CEO of The Other Bird, Erin is one half of the creative team behind a group of restaurants designed to enthrall the tastebuds of diners seeking different and interesting culinary experiences. The Other Bird’s distinct family of Hamilton locations includes the acclaimed Rapscallion Rogue Eatery, Two Black Sheep cocktail and oyster bar, and the Black Sheep Snack Bar as well as The Alex in Burlington.

She is a painter, who loves to sit back with a big fat red wine and a cigar.

 

David Crow

Director of Business Development @ OMERS Ventures

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In his role as Director of Business Development at OMERS Ventures, David Crow (@davidcrow) is responsible for advocating OMERS Ventures within the technology community, assist in running OMERS Ventures related programs and initiatives, and participate in technical and business due diligence.

Prior to joining OMERS Ventures, David has held roles in product development and more recently in marketing & business development. David has extensive experience working with growth technology companies to acquire early customers, refine product designs and search for a scalable business model.

David is the Editor and Community Animator for StartupNorth, which he founded with Jonas Brandon and Jevon MacDonald. David currently serves on the board of Lymbix, and is an advisor to Hacker You, Bunch, PrintChomp and TribeHR.

David was named Toronto’s Best Web and Tech Evangelist in 2008. He has a Master’s degree, Human-Computer Interaction from the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Waterloo.

 

Matthew Milan

CEO and Co-founder @ Normative

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Matthew (@mmilan) is the CoFounder and CEO of Normative, a software design firm headquartered in Toronto. Matthew is a design leader with 15 years of experience in the domain of emerging technologies, specializing in software design, innovation and product development. A veteran of startups in the areas of knowledge management, geospatial visualization and machine learning, Matthew excels at helping collaborators turn complex ideas and information into compelling and engaging user experiences.

 

Chris Ferguson

CEO @ Bridgeable

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Chris (@chrisferg) leads strategy and design projects with some of the world’s largest and most innovative organizations. His work with the team at Bridgeable has been honored with numerous awards and he writes and presents regularly about the intersection between human-centered design and business strategy. He holds degrees in Biology and Entrepreneurship.

Chris will be joined by Spencer Beacock, Associate at Bridgeable.

 

Kevin Wong

Co-founder and COO @ Nulogy

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Kevin (@knwong) is the co-founder and COO of Nulogy. Kevin has over a decade of experience building disruptive products using lean strategies to take Nulogy from a living room to an award-winning company with exceptional annual growth and Fortune 500 customers around the world. Kevin provides the leadership for the Agile UX and Product Management activities at Nulogy.

 

Land a co-op job in 30 minutes with Beam

Editor’s Note: The below message is from the creators of Beam.

Finally a networking tool that gives you the ability to find recruiters in a room and more. Beam is the solution and all the questions will be answered Jan 22 at 5:30pm DSB 122A.

Beam is an Apple iOS application that make any event worth your time, it’s like Linkedin for Events. We make it super easy for people to exchange contact information instantly and show that its much for fun to talk about interests, as opposed of “What do you do”. Imagine being able to give your phone number or email to a new acquaintance without typing anything, that’s what Beam can do. All of this and much more will be revealed at the event. Did we mention that Beam is free, it really is.

Come down on Jan 22 to get the app on your iPhone, if you can’t make the meeting, don’t sweat it. Email us at student@webeam.co to get a copy of the app sent to your phone. If you’re an Android lover, don’t worry we have a surprise for you in the pipeline. Reach us at @webeam, or request an invite on WeBeamapp.com.

 

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First 2015 WordPress Hamilton meetup January 15th

wordpressWhen: Thursday January 15th 2015 from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Where: Studio 41 @ 41 King William St, Hamilton, Ontario

Register: meetup.com/WPHamOnt/events/218821871

Join us for the first WordPress Hamilton meetup of the new year! Come and meet other WordPress users, developers, bloggers and more in and around Hamilton.

Agenda:

7pm – doors open

7:30pm-8pm – news, presentation

8pm-8:45pm – networking, discussing WordPress, Q&A

8:45pm-? – Baltimore House (next door) for a drink and more discussion!

Grab a coffee, tea or soft drink before heading up at one of the nearby cafés, including: Homegrown Hamilton, 27 King William St

Mezza Cafe, 28 James St N

Sanctuary, 43 King William St PARKING For those driving in, there is free street parking after 6pm along King William and Hughson if you can find it, a parking lot on King William nearby, along with Jackson Square underground parking ($3 for the evening).

 

Code club pilot project to launch this winter

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For the last 3 months the Innovation & Technology committee of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has had a new “technology education” subcommittee work on getting pilot code clubs started in Hamilton-area elementary schools. I want to give a quick update as to what’s happened, and outline how you can become involved.

 

What’s happened

In September the new technology education subcommittee was formed around the idea of getting code clubs into Hamilton-area elementary schools. A code club will consist of a weekly gathering of children interested in coding at an elementary school, with a mentor going through educational material to teach the children how to code using freely available tools. The idea isn’t new – the UK runs a nation-wide network of coding clubs for example.

The subcommittee has had a few discussions about these code clubs and what they should look like, one discussion was done with about a dozen teachers from the HWDSB and HWCDSB who were interested in the concept. The idea isn’t to make the code club feel like a classroom, but instead like a communal extracurricular activity akin to a sport or hobby, where after some initial help getting the children started with the tools, they are free to create things that interest them individually (e.g. games, art, animation, stories, etc.). Online tools such as Scratch and Khan Academy allow students to fairly easily build projects, save them, work on them at home later, and show their parents and friends what they’ve done.

IEC Hamilton and specifically subcommittee chair Cesare DiDonato (@CesareDiDonato) have been critical to making the connections with the HWDSB and HWCDSB and facilitating this process. We now have about 14 schools across the two boards (and a few other independent schools) interested in hosting a code club. We are now in the process of finding additional mentors and assigning mentors to these clubs.

 

Getting involved

In order for this to work, we’re going to need to more mentors to volunteer. The expectation for mentors is that they are either a post-secondary student or industry professional who is interested in running a weekly coding club at an elementary school.

Details

– Clubs will be run for 1-2 hours a week, during the daytime, most likely during or around a lunch hour (i.e. not after school).

– Each code club will be started up and run by one mentor. Mentors will be matched to a classroom based on mutual availability and put in touch with a teacher. The grade range could be anywhere from grades 5-8.

– Mentors will initially attend the code club weekly for 4-6 weeks in a row in order to get the students up and running creating projects (i.e. showing them how to use the tool, explaining how different concepts like animation, looping, logic work within the tool).

– After this initial start-up period mentors should not need to attend the code club weekly, but instead at a reduced rate (e.g. monthly) to help keep the code club going (e.g. by showing them something new, checking in on what they’ve been working on, etc.). The concept is for the club to begin to operate semi-independently after the initial start-up period, with students creating projects on their own.

– The vast majority of teachers prefer that mentors use Scratch, at least to start with. But mentors will be free to show the students additional tools (e.g. Khan Academy), as long as they do so in coordination with the teacher.

– The subcommittee will provide the mentors with a “suggested curriculum” of what topics to go through each week using Scratch (e.g. Week 1 – Introduce the tool and how it works using one of x,y,z fun examples, Week 2 – Introduce looping using a,b,c fun examples, etc.).

– The boards are working on launching online forum tools that will allow mentors to communicate with teachers and answer student questions.

– Code clubs are expected to start-up in February-March. Ideally they will run through until June, with discussion about how to continue and expand the program into the next school term.

– The technology education subcommittee will continue to meet monthly as the code clubs launch, to discuss the progress of the clubs and how to proceed after the startup period.

– Mentors will be required to complete a police background check, the turnaround time is about a month and the cost is about $36 including taxes.

We’re trying something new here, which means the details aren’t set in stone and the bugs haven’t been worked out. So for example it may be that some clubs do not proceed after the start-up period and others do proceed through to June. That’s something we’ll be figuring out by trying it out. This pilot process is meant to identify what works and what doesn’t, so we can scale this project next year and into the future.

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, contact Cesare DiDonato to get the process started:

Cesare DiDonato
cesare.didonato@iechamilton.ca

After you have contacted Cesare to get that process started, you can contact me about the material that will be delivered in the classroom:

Kevin Browne
kevin@kevinbrowne.ca

 

Scratch

If you haven’t seen it before, Scratch is worth a quick poke around. It’s a tool developed by MIT researchers to teach children programming concepts.

 

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The new online version of the tool allows students to do everything in the browser, which is excellent for portability, share-ability, accessibility, and continuation of the work outside the classroom (i.e. home). The tool allows students to create animations, games, tell stories, etc – a diverse enough array of activities to provide for different interests. There is also a ton of online help for the tool to assist with in-class learning and help with self-learning – tutorials, videos, examples, etc.

 

Looking ahead

The subcommittee has talked about other ideas – for example running an “industry day” at McMaster Innovation Park aimed at motivating children to enter the field, with talks by professionals in different areas, where perhaps the students bring what projects they have been working on to show off to one another. The more mentors that engage in this process the more viable ideas like these become.

Another big topic of discussion was improving the official school curriculum. Right now the amount of software development education made available to students varies from school to school in Ontario, with the resources of the school and the background knowledge of the teachers being constraints. Obviously long term it’s critical to have more material integrated into the standard curriculum itself, but in the meantime extracurricular activities can help fill the gap. And to be honest, software development is a passion and a community as much as it is an academic discipline, so extra curricular activities may be as important or more important to getting more kids into coding.

Other discussions have been related to getting Hour of Code started in Hamilton for next year, or getting clubs started in high school.

These discussions are important, but we’re now at the point of moving forward with a pilot project. As a community builds around this subcommittee we can begin to tackle more problems, but it takes time to get things to the implementation stage.

This is not the first time that people have tried to get code clubs started in Hamilton-area schools. The process is difficult for bureaucratic and other reasons, but we have finally cleared enough hurdles to get these clubs started. We’ll hopefully make this process more streamlined in the future, for example by getting the police background checks covered by someone, by more clearly outlining the curriculum, sign-up forms, etc. But for this pilot project we’re going to need some willing people with a “can do” attitude to help us get these clubs off the ground.

I’m personally looking forward to running a code club in the new year, and I’ll be blogging about the experience as much as I can (in a general privacy-respecting sense) to let people know how it goes. I’m so excited!

 

REfficient CEO Appointed to Canadian National Committee of IEC

refficientlogoHamilton, Ontario – November 26, 2014 – REfficient CEO Stephanie McLarty has been appointed as a Member of the Canadian National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission (CANC/IEC). The committee works to safeguard Canadian interests, and identify priorities and emerging issues in the electrical and electronic (or “electrotechnical”) sector.

The CANC/IEC recently reorganized in order to better represent Canadian interests. Working under the auspices of Standards Council of Canada (SCC), the CANC/IEC has 19 Members. The group is comprised of business and industry leaders representing a variety of key stakeholders in the electrotechnical industry.

McLarty has been involved in standardization work for five years. During this time, she has been the Canadian Technical Expert for reuse and recycling on TC111, Environmental Standardization for Electrical and Electronic Products and Systems. McLarty has held Secretary positions in two TC111 working groups, most recently the ad hoc working group for the TC111 Strategic Business Plan. She was selected to represent Canada at the inaugural IEC Young Professionals Program in 2010, where she was chosen by her peers as one of three global leaders to represent the group. In 2014, McLarty received the inaugural SCC Young Leader Award, which recognizes a leader of tomorrow who has been an engaged and active participant of the standardization network and who is under the age of 40.

McLarty and other Members appointed to CANC/IEC will shape and influence standards development and conformity assessment activities in Canada’s economic and trade policies, deployment of new technologies, and the health and safety of Canadians. CANC/IEC will also support a coordinated approach between industry and Canadian governments as well as for Canada’s regulator portfolio. McLarty notes, “It is an honour to be appointed to such a prestigious body, and to play an important role in the health and safety of Canadians and the environment.” The first meeting of the newly appointed group is being held in Ottawa in November 2014.

About REfficient

REfficient’s transactional marketplace is built on a “triple-win” model, providing large telecom and AV companies a trusted and efficient solution for deriving value from surplus inventory, while offering buyers reliable, often new equipment at savings of 20-50% over traditional sources. This innovative new green model benefits everyone by reducing waste and increasing resource efficiency. You can follow REfficient at @REfficient and www.facebook.com/REfficient.

Contact
Bruno Venesia
905-544-5000 x5011
bruno.venesia@REfficient.com

HamOntForever digital literacy crowdfunding campaign

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A team of Hamiltonians has launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish a fund that can be used to create grants for local charities to work on digital literacy. Campaign donations will be matched by the Hamilton Community Foundation, and those who donate will have a chance to contribute to an “online time capsule” (e.g. pictures, videos) that will be opened in 2030.

Indiegogo Campaign: indiegogo.com/projects/hamontforever

Website: hamontforever.ca

 

 

Check out the details below:

Our Idea

In #HamOnt, we have a strong, vibrant online community. People in Hamilton use the internet and digital tools to enhance their personal and professional lives in lots of different ways. But not everyone is able to participate.

We want everyone – regardless of age, education, or income – to have the access and knowledge they need to participate online. #HamOntForever helps make that happen.

The campaign’s goal is to empower Hamilton’s passionate online community to turn social media into social action. Donations to the #HamOntForever Fund will be used to create grants that local charities can use to help improve the digital literacy of Hamiltonians. That means more Hamiltonians will have the skills and resources they need to be part of the online conversation and marketplace.

Our online time capsule makes the #HamOntForever campaign even cooler. As a donor, you get to contribute something to the capsule. Depending on your donation level, you can include a hashtag, tweet, post, or even a video. Leave a message or wish for future Hamiltonians. All those messages will be tucked away for 15 years. Then, at the Hamilton Community Foundation’s anniversary celebrations in the year 2030, the time capsule will be opened.

As part of the Hamilton Community Foundation’s commitment to the campaign’s success, they will match every dollar donated (up to $10,000). Your donation will help people in Hamilton even more!

 

TLDR

 

Orbital Studios food and toy drive

From Orbital Studios….

In the spirit of the giving season, we are now collecting toys and/or non-perishable food item donations, to be distributed to St. Matthew’s House and The Good Shepherd Hamilton.

Donations can be brought to the main floor of 22 Wilson Street, Downtown Hamilton (Sonic Unyon Records building), Mondays to Fridays until December 22nd, from 9am to 5pm.

Thank you in advance for your kind generosity!

 

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