Find something good to measure

I’m doing a sandwich thesis for my PhD at McMaster. It involves to a collection of related papers rather than a more traditionally structured thesis. Part of the appeal of taking this approach was that I could measure progress, albeit in big chunks.

When a problem can be broken down into known subproblems, you can calculate a rough approximation of the work involved. It might be a science that involves some heuristics, this year I keep hearing good things about using story points, but generally speaking you can do it.

But what about work that, 1) can’t be broken down into a known number of subproblems, and/or 2) includes subproblems that involve non-trivial unknowns (things that either you or your team haven’t done before, or haven’t been done by anyone before). How do you calculate the work involved in situations like this?



Old meme is old, requires this reference


A lot of the time you can still “ballpark guesstimate” the work involved with a reasonable amount of accuracy. But with certain problems, especially problems with an unclear end point, it’s hard to even make guesstimates.

The best solution I’ve found is to give up on trying to estimate in the short term, and start measuring something good. The reason you want to measure is so that you can tell if you’re making progress, and have some idea ‘how much’ progress. Once you have a measure of progress, you can reward yourself for making progress, hold yourself to a specific rate of progress, or adapt your approach if you are not. In the case of problems with an unclear endpoint, once you can measure something, whatever that is, it may allow you to make a better guesstimate of what is possible at all in the maximum time you do have available.

And you need to make sure it’s something good you are measuring, otherwise you could be measuring the wrong kind of progress. In my experience it only needs to be something reasonably good that you are measuring.

So with paper writing for example, you don’t really know the exact end point of the paper when you start. And while words written might not be the best measure of progress, it’s good enough in most cases.

With the app I’m working on now, I would like to fill it with a certain amount of content. I can break the content down into a total number of pieces, and then measure the number of pieces I create each week. The rate varies depending on the piece of content, but I can measure that. And if I find I’m exceeding the maximum time I have to complete the task at the rate I am going, then I may have to adjust my end goals (either the maximum time or the total pieces of content).


HSR Real-Time Data Hackathon Announced!



Calling all designers, programmers, city staff, and other civic-minded problem-solvers looking for a challenge!

Join us on July 26 to hack the HSR real-time data into slick apps.


Hamiltonians will be able to know where their bus is starting on July 31st and Open Hamilton is planning a hackathon to build the apps to make it possible.

Our hackathon is schedule for July 26th and you can register here.


Real-Time HSR Open Data now in Alpha

The Hamilton Street Railway is releasing real-time public transit open data to the public on July 31.

Open Hamilton members Joey Coleman, Matt Grande, and Anand Sinha met with the City Manager’s Office during the past few months to work with City staff and Council to negotiate access.

Anand and Matt lead Open Hamilton’s efforts, presenting to City Council on April 2, 2014.

Their delegation secured clear Council support for open data development, and funding to ensure the release of HSR real-time data.

Councillors Brad Clark and Brian McHattie worked with us to encourage the HSR to release the data, and lead efforts to ensure support from all of City Council for this release.


Limited Developer Access to Alpha Test

Open Hamilton has limited access to real-time open data for development and testing of apps prior to the public launch.

Developers are invited to work with this data to build applications for public release on July 31st.

The only conditions the HSR is attaching to our use of the data is that it be used solely for development (they do not yet have the capacity or stability for public consumption) and developers provide feedback to improve the data.


Development Goals

It is our hope to see apps developed and released for all major mobile platforms in time for the public launch. We also wish to see developers able to build applications for businesses along public transit routes. In other cities, businesses have promoted specials to transit users based upon the amount of time until the next bus.

Imagine, the next time your bus is running 10 minutes late, having the opportunity to grab a quick bite to eat (with a special for transit riders) while staying out of the elements instead of standing outside wondering what’s happened to your bus.


Hackathon Day – July 26, 2014

Open Hamilton will host a hackathon day (Free Food!) on July 26 to create applications and submit them to various app stores for public use.

We’re working to organize the event, and will announce the venue in the coming week. We’re budgetting $5,000 to the event to ensure all participants are well-fed and have prizes available to be won.

Visit our Eventbrite page to register, and help us determine our number as we confirm the event venue.


Why should I join a Hackathon?

This Creative-Commons Licensed Infographic by Code for America will help you decide if you wish to attend:


Poster: Why should I go to a hackathon?

Four new firms added to the directory



Skip the line at your favourite restaurants & cafes with the Hangry App! Order and Pay for food & drinks in advance.
Hamilton, Ontario

Nexas Networks
Nexas Networks has been focused on Computer Integrated Manufacturing since 1992, specializing in the area of machine tool connectivity and optimization/
627 Main Street East (Suite L09) Hamilton, Ontario

QReserve is an online platform for discovering and cataloging research equipment, resources and services. QReserve enables researchers and students to find and access the tools they need within their own campus or across the globe.
Hamilton, Ontario

Special Appucations
Making learning fun, mobile and cost effective for kids with autism, developmental and language delays by creating apps using Applied Behaviour Analysis.
Hamilton, Ontario

HackIt Mac planning Hackathon



HackIt Mac is a new community of hackers and makers at McMaster University that is focused on both participating in hackathons and planning their own hackathon. The group is seeking feedback from hackathon attendees about what they’ve like and disliked about previous hackathons. The group is also seeking to fill positions related to planning their future hackathon. You can check out the below links and information if this sounds like something you’d like to get involved in!

HackIt Mac Facebook Group:

HackIt MAC Hackathon Survey:

HackIt MAC Hackathon Hackathon Open Positions:


Also, check out the below about us text from the HackIt Mac Facebook group for more information on the group…



Welcome to HackItMac. We are McMaster’s official community of makers and hackers. We participate in hackathons in the American and Canadian circuits. Best of all we will be hosting our very own hackathon this year!

Excited? You want to be a part of the hacker culture?

But what is a hackathon?

Thinking of cracking into NASA data? Sorry we don’t do that. But do we do cool stuff? Hell Yeah! Hackathons are events where a bunch of ‘hackers’ come together in teams with the intention of creating a ‘hack’ in a certain period of time, usually 24-48 hours. Hackers can be developers, designers, makers (hardware side), business-minded people and just people with ideas. The more diverse the teams, the better. But what are these hacks? They can take shape in the form of a website, a mobile app, and hardware using microcontrollers or things like Google Glass, Parrot AR Drones or anything creative you can think of.

So why go to hackathons?

People go to hackathons for many reasons. It’s one of the best ways to learn. People love the chance to build something real. Hackathons have provided a really powerful vehicle for getting new people into the tech world. They provide the perfect opportunity to dive in and learn a ton. It doesn’t matter how basic or advanced your skills are, hackathon will be a great place to learn something new. Hacks are team collaboration, so you aren’t stressing about finishing a project on your own. Some people go as they have ideas they want to work on. Companies send representatives so it’s a good chance to learn about the APIs and service while getting some swag. Some people go for a chance to win prizes. Workplaces throw them as a way to promote new product innovation. For example, Facebook’s Like button was conceived as part of a hackathon. Not to mention it’s a great way to network and look for potential job opportunities.

I can’t hack / can’t code / I’m nervous

Students of all levels are welcome! Hacking is as much about learning as it is doing. If you have an interest in technology and a desire to learn, we welcome you. Stayed tuned, one of our members is working on an easy to use resource –type website that will guide you to build anything you

Great, so when can I hack?

You can find an event calendar here that that we maintain.

There are some other great websites such as HackerLeague, and ChallengePost.

But I don’t even go here!

No problem, we are about creating a great McMaster, Hamilton and surrounding areas community. Still send us an email ( of how you can participate and join the mailing list.



Hacker Saturdays on Locke this weekend



When: Saturday July 5th 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Where: Brown Dog Cafe – 211 Locke Street South – Hamilton, Ontario


A casual hack event hosted by Alex Pineda and Derek Braid.

TL;DR; casual 3 hour ‘hackathon’ @ Brown Dog cafe :)

Come work on your hobby project or form new ones with other students & professionals in one transit friendly location, Brown Dog cafe. We’re here every other Saturday, 1pm to 4pm and then beers occasionally.

We recommend that you come with an idea or project already in mind that you would like to try and implement.

ps. please come with a fully charged laptop as outlets are limited.


StartupDrinks34 on July 9th with Michael Salvatori

When: Wednesday July 9th, 2014 @ 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: The Pheasant Plucker (2nd floor) @ 20 Augusta Street – Hamilton, Ontario

What: StartupDrinks Hamilton is a monthly networking event for Hamilton’s startup community to make connections over drinks and relax a little! Feel free to talk about projects, ideas, funding, technology… or just shoot the breeze! Starting in 2014 we’re going to experiment with a featured talk by a local startup and a tighter runtime.



Featured Talk


Michael Salvatori


Michael Salvatori is the president and director of business development at Imagination Plus. Imagination Plus is an award-winning premium service Internet consulting company specializing in custom solution development for e-business. Local clients include the Hamilton-Halton Construction Association, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, McMaster University, Hamilton Food Share, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. Imagination Plus offers website design and development, Internet strategy consulting, custom application and database development, web hosting, multimedia development.



Rough Agenda

6:30pm – 7:00pm – Networking
7:00pm – 7:30pm – Talk by Michael Salvatori
7:30pm – 9:00pm – Networking


#HamOnt Wins: Innovation Night Summer Showdown!

Originally posted on


IF_showdownersYes, it’s our third annual Innovation Factory Summer Showdown Pitch contest and held last nite, it was once again a great reminder that our #HamOnt city is in a total renewal phase!

It was my pleasure to accept one of the 3 Judges seats for same and our chore as in other years, was to listen to the 12 pitches from the contestants, then help with our own queries to name the final 2 finalists who’d go “head-to-head” in a 2 minute Pitch-off and the crowd would decide on the overall winner.

Judges for last nites great event were myself, Kevin Browne one of the city’s true leaders in that he’s the guy who created, developed and runs our SoftwareHamilton events like DemoCamp, StartUpWeekends and StartupDrinks too. Tim Richard was our third Judge and Tim is also no stranger to the city as he’s one of the founders over at WeeverApps and has been a past Lion too for our big Lion’s Lair Gala as well.

Between the three of us Judges lies about 75 years of business startup experience and we’ve all “been there – done that” when it comes to pitching so we sat and listened with a real degree of knowledge…and let me tell you, the pitches were for the most part, great!

IF_crowdsAnd the Atrium at MIPs was packed too…with many ‘new’ faces that I’d not seen ever before…seems like the word has spread that if you’re thinking about any kind of innovation in #HamOnt, then MIPs is the place to be!

All kinds of ideas, all degrees of passion, all types of runways lead off for the 12 of the contestants. Some actually have their ideas further along than others, and for some it’s still just an idea. But one thing really stood out…the passion that each brought to their pitch.

We listened….we digested….we talked and worked out our own Judges Finalists and they were the two for us that seemed to be the superior ideas.

One was Helping Hands from Janelle Hinds, a pitch for an online tool for any school to use to monitor their students Community Hours securely, which would prevent any “missing” hours before graduation. Good idea. Nicely pitched. And yes….well worth the finalist short list.

The other was The DogHouse from Jonathan Leszko, a fellow who acknowledged he was using the term as it’s most used by husbands in that when they mess up in their marital relationship we end up “in the doghouse” and his idea was a cellphone app that would help any husband (or wife too for that matter) monitor all of the details of their relationship so they’d never ever forget things like birthdays, anniversaries etc. etc.

And after the second round of pitches and the crowd voting, The Doghouse was the winner and won a brand new digital camera and case! Well done!

Kudos on the whole night to our Innovation Factory, to Dave Carter who MC’d the event, to Emily Kinread their Marketing Mgr who ran the show beautifully and most of all to the 12 contestants who came, presented and obviously enjoyed their whole experience! What a great win for them…and of course for our own #HamOnt too!

Inaugural WordPress Brant meetup tonight



When: Thursday June 26th 2014 7:00pm

Where: The Piston Broke – Harmony Square – 93 Dalhousie Street, Brantford, ON


WordPress Brant is a fun loving, community oriented group dedicated exclusively to WordPress. This group includes both beginners and advanced users. We’ll share tips on the platform, review themes, frameworks, discuss plugins, some how to’s and more.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT This is a WordPress meetup, so you can expect we’ll be talking/discussing WordPress and related WordPress issues. Some other topics may appear such as SEO, internet marketing/strategies because of how we use WordPress. However the primary focus is WordPress. When we meet well have time for networking, opportunities to learn about WordPress, and some Q&A. Hopefully we will have some good people that can make informative presentations from time to time. Whether a complete newbie or experienced pro – if you are looking to learn more about WordPress, you’ve come to the right place.


« Older Entries Recent Entries »