Category Archives: Community

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!




#HamTech hastag

A suggestion on r/SoftwareHamilton was to have a hashtag for informal meetups. That’s not a bad idea, more generally speaking a hashtag of some kind would be useful.

For a brief period there was a #HamTech hashtag for Hamilton tech community related posts. I’ve added a #HamTech Twitter widget back to the sidebar, and I’ll start tagging @hamiltonsw tweets with #HamTech again. Feel free to use #HamTech to meet up with others, share news, etc.




YWCA Hamilton Women in IT program seeking work placements

YWCA logoYWCA Hamilton offers the Women in IT (Information Technology) program designed to enable women to further training obtain certification and secure employment in the IT industry. The program will prepare women for well-paying employment in the information technology sector, and employers will be able to recruit and retain more skilled workers. It also includes training and certification towards an industry recognized certificate for IT related jobs and work placement. This initiative gives women the practical skills and knowledge as well as gender-sensitive in-class training to prepare them for on the job training and employment in the IT sector.

In this regard, we are asking you to consider supporting this program by providing a work placement (paid or unpaid) to one or more of the program participants for the role of web developers/designers or other IT related roles. The placement should start in October 2014 and could run between 4 -12 weeks. Program participants have completed the Webmaster Certificate program with Mohawk College and developed the technical skills including but not limited to HTML, CSS, Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop.

Please contact Jupiter Deveau @ if you can accommodate placement/s.


There’s always room



There’s always room for Jell-O…

Innovation Night, DemoCamp, Startup Weekend, AppsForHealth, McMaster Computer Science Club, Mohawk College AI Club, Open Hamilton, Startup Drinks, HackIt Mac, McMaster Game Development Club, Hammertown GDD, CoderCamp, Ladies Learning Code, Hammertown CoderDojo, Coderetreat… and the list keeps going. And the amount of activity seems to grow a little more every month.

Can having ‘too much stuff going on’ be a bad thing for a community? Somebody asked me once “why can’t it all just be one group?”. Some people and communities try to attempt that. There’s a view that different groups and events compete with one another, and of course at the level of each individual sometimes people have to make decisions with their limited time. But if you look at a community as a whole, one of the most important goals has to be engaging the highest number of people possible.

If you have a “purely social tech pub night”, how many people is that going to engage? Maybe 20-40 in a city like Hamilton? Maybe 100+ in a larger city? So let’s say you’ve got 30 people engaged. If somebody spins off a web development group out of that, a web development group can focus in on things that are specifically interesting to web developers. The tech pub night might lose a few regulars, but the new web developers group will appeal to new people who were never previously engaged. And if that web development group spins off a PHP group? The same logic applies, and on and on. As the ‘original events’ become free to specialize on more specific topics themselves, they are able to engage new people too.

It’s not about putting more wood behind fewer arrows, it’s about putting more wood on the fire to make it bigger!

I know this is a point that a lot of people get intuitively, but because the comparison between tech and startup community building and more formal professional organizations with chairs and subcommittees is often made, it’s a point that’s lost sometimes too. Don’t worry about ‘too much stuff going on’. Right now a very small percentage of the total 500,000+ community in Hamilton is engaged in the tech and startup community, and the important thing to measure is how many of these 500,000+ total people in Hamilton (and beyond) become engaged in the years ahead.

A few years ago I published a list of events Hamilton didn’t have yet. Since that time we’ve added many more, and other types of events have become popular in communities all over. I’ll publish a new list soon in case anyone out there is interested in stepping up to continue to build the community but isn’t sure where to start.


New Hamilton WordPress meetup group



A new WordPress Hamilton meetup group is getting together for a meetup at Studio 41 in September, check out the details below!

We’re a group of local WordPress developers, designers, and publishers who get together to share our knowledge and experience, and to meet other WordPress users in the area. The WordPress meetup is open to all who love WordPress — join us!

When: Thursday September 11th 2014 @ 7:00 PM

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



Interview with Bryan Poetz about Coderetreat

Check out the interview with Bryan Poetz (@bpoetz) below about bringing Coderetreat to Hamilton!



Tell me about yourself.

I’m a freelance software developer originally from the Brantford area.  After bouncing around Guelph and Toronto, I settled in Hamilton with an eye towards a simpler life.  I’ve been attending Software Hamilton events for the past year. Lately I’ve been helping to organize the monthly CoderCamp meetups, where developers, engineers and the code curious come to talk about the craft and learn from peers in a relaxed, informal setting.


What first got you into programming? How has your career been since?

My path to programming started as a 9 year old, playing with the 286 PC my parents bought secondhand. The machine came with MS-DOS. I liked that I could talk to the computer by learning commands.  As I grew up I spent a lot of time playing computer games, but the computer programming classes taught in my small high school didn’t really excite me.

I ended up at an IT job after college @ Mohawk.  I got back into programming by writing Perl and Python scripts to help automate menial tasks for myself and my colleagues.  From there I progressed to doing ETL consulting. Lately I’ve been doing freelance web application development and trying to bridge the gap between my ETL consulting work and my current work as a freelance developer.


You recently attended PyCon – how was that experience?

PyCon was a blast! It’s a great way to meet other developers and learn about interesting projects people are working on. Some talks that I enjoyed were Gary Bernhardt’s excellent Birth and Death of Javascript, Erik Rose’s Designing Poetic APIs, Julie Pagano’s talk on Imposter Syndrome and David Beasley’s Discovering Python, which is about being hired to analyze 1.5 TB of source code in a locked vault for a patent lawsuit. If you’re planning to go to PyCon 2015 in Montreal, I recommend attending the tutorials in the days leading up to the conference as well.




What is Coderetreat all about?

“Coderetreat is a day-long, intensive practice event, focusing on the fundamentals of software development and design. By providing developers the opportunity to take part in focused practice, away from the pressures of ‘getting things done’, the coderetreat format has proven itself to be a highly effective means of skill improvement. Practicing the basic principles of modular and object-oriented design, developers can improve their ability to write code that minimizes the cost of change over time.”

This is the description from Coderetreat Community Network, but for the event on July 23rd at Innovation Factory, we’ll start with an evening event to gauge interest in doing longer and more focused practice meetups.


What can attendees expect?

We’ll break into pairs and work on implementing Conway’s Game of Life. There will be three 45 minute sessions.  At the end of each session, we will delete our code.  After the first session, we will impose constraints to see how those constraints influence the design.




How did you find out about Coderetreat? 

I learned about Coderetreat from a friend at PyCon Canada in Toronto.   He told me that Coderetreat helped him with his imposter syndrome.  The idea that someone who I really respected could feel like a fraud really surprised me.  It made me wonder how many of the friends who I respect also suffer through feelings of intense self doubt.


Why are you bringing Coderetreat to Hamilton?

I went to an Evening of Coderetreat in Toronto in May to check it out, and left feeling reasonably confident that I could replicate the event in Hamilton.  I felt energized after attending, and I hope that I can help bring that energy to Hamilton.

I don’t want to see any more of my friends have to get on the Go bus at 5 AM to get to their jobs. Coderetreat itself won’t solve that problem, but a vibrant software development community will hopefully contribute to creating more opportunities for us to work in Hamilton.




When and where will Coderetreat take place and how can attendees register?

Coderetreat will take place on Wednesday, July 23rd from 6 to 9 pm, at Innovation Factory. You can register at


What can attendees expect to gain from attending Coderetreat?

I hope attendees will leave with a better understanding of the craft of software design and will connect with other programmers who are interested in improving their own skills. I think many local developers could benefit from learning about the problem solving process with those who come to software development from a different background.

As an example, at the Coderetreat evening event I attended I learned a novel way to refactor complex conditional statements in Python and gained some insights into how people from functional programming backgrounds approach software design.




What are your future plans for Coderetreat in Hamilton?

I’d like to gauge interest in doing a global day of Coderetreat later in the year and turn it into a monthly meetup group.


Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank Innovation Factory for hosting and Sinha Consulting Group for sponsoring us and offering to foot the bill for refreshments and snacks. If you are interested in learning more about coderetreat come out to CoderCamp on the 16th and we can chat about it.



Community is about collections of people with something in common (geography, interests, etc) and the connections between them, where as culture is about the beliefs, values and behaviours of a collection of people. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the former, but not nearly as much considering the latter. It’s probably natural, there’s no culture to think about without community.

But I think some of that’s because the idea of even talking about “culture” makes me think of stereotypical upper management in large firms, and those motivational posters that are popular in cubicle farms.




Culture is so important. Bad culture can lead to negative outcomes and good culture can lead to positive outcomes.

Nepotism is a characteristic of bad culture in the long term – generally speaking you’re going to get suboptimal returns as the wrong people are in the wrong places for the wrong reasons. The same goes for favouritism and cronyism.

Honesty is a characteristic of good culture in the long term – generally speaking you’re going to optimize returns as people have better information with which to reason and make decisions.

For me, good culture is about improving outcomes through win-win scenarios and non-zero sum games, and values are the more situational and fluid rules that promote this goal.

Some values, like rejecting nepotism in favour of meritocracy, aren’t as deep as others, and are more fluid, in that they aren’t always necessary to improve outcomes for everyone (e.g. handing down the family restaurant to the new generation – who really loses with that form of nepotism?).

Other values like honesty are much more deep and less fluid than others, in that they are almost always necessary to improve outcomes.

What are the goals and values that guide a community? What about the tech community more broadly speaking? What about the local tech community?

How are those goals and values formed? Are the goals and values out there already, and we only discover them? Or do people get to form goals and values? If so, who gets to form these goals and values? Is there a right set of goals and values to form? What should they be? Why? What makes them the right?


Large discussion about MaRS Discovery District taking place

marsMaRSS Discovery District is a non-profit located in Toronto that “works with an extensive network of partners to help entrepreneurs launch and grow the innovative companies that are building our future”. The non-profit has come up in the provincial election:

MaRS bailout could cost up to $477 million – Toronto Star

Startup North is one of the most well read tech startup blogs in the country, and the Startup North Facebook group contains a lengthy discussion (over 200 comments) about the role of MaRS in the Toronto and Ontario ecosystem. There is a lot of interesting commentary and counter-points from a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs and others in the ecosystem, not just about MaRS, but also about how to create supportive startup ecosystems in general. Check out the discussion here:


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