Hacker Saturdays with special guest Vikas Gosain of Maluuba

hackersaturdays

 

From Alex Pineda (@AlexPineda77) in the Hacker Saturdays newsletter…

This Saturday will mark the 20th Hacker Saturdays! [Insert something sentimental]. Thanks guys for making every other Saturday techy.

Recently Vikas Gosain, of Maluuba, asked to come down from Waterloo to showcase their voice technology and associated APIs. He’s very interested in finding talent in fields of NLP/ML, Android development as well as Java web development. I figured, we don’t really offer NLP jobs here in Hamilton so why not? They have great technology, about 50 staff, and a growing customer base full of awesome technology companies looking to leverage their tech. Spend the first hour chatting with Vikas if you please and the remaining two hours will be work as normal. Welcome Vikas!

Remember we’re at Brown Dog Cafe, 211 Locke Street S. Come fully charged.

When: Saturday September 13th from 1:00pm – 4:00pm

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

Register: eventbrite.ca/e/hacker-saturdays-on-locke-tickets-9758364531

 

Learn about Bitcoin with entrepreneur Lorne Lantz

September 10th @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm | Free
Innovation Factory

bitcoinLorne Lantz, who buys his lunch everyday with Bitcoin, is a Bitcoin Entrepreneur who has built multiple financial technology startups that were recognized by PayPal and Swift, will share with you the revolutionary technology behind Bitcoin and how it is forcing the world to rethink the way we exchange value.

Lorne’s current startup, CherryPie, is an all in one solution to help merchants accept Bitcoin with limited impact on operational process or staff training.

Lorne is a McMaster DeGroote MBA and a former Lion’s Lair top ten finalist. He’s since been working for companies down in Silicon Valley.

We are very excited to host him on September 10th! Please come out and join us for this noon-time lunch about Bitcoins!

Email intake@innovationfactory.ca to attend!

More on Lorne:

“Lorne gave a nice talk to us here at CA that covered the basics for the uninitiated, and he described his product — a terminal that takes Bitcoin in addition to regular cards, which you can actually use to buy lunch at the Plug and Play center in Sunnyvale… Folks enjoyed it and were considerably enlightened.” (Testimonial from Geoffrey Hird)

Lorne was also featured in a CBC news article.

 

Design for introversion

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate TED talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

 

Introversion vs extroversion is a major difference between people. Some people tend to become bored when they are alone and tend to become energized from being around people (extroverts), and others are energized from reflection and drained by being around people (introverts). Introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum or line rather than a binary one or the other.

I’ll never forget when my friend described coming home from a day of working in the office alone, and how he was anxiously waiting for his room mate to come home so he could talk to him and “get his energy up again”. Say what now? I can’t even imagine what that’s like, so that must make me an introvert. That said, I love talking to interesting people, especially 1-on-1, about ideas and things they are working on, instead of doing small talk or talking about boring stuff like other people doing people-ish things, so I think for an introvert I must be closer to the extrovert end of the spectrum.

The above talk by Susan Cain is worth checking out (interestingly, it received a million views faster than any other TED Talk – and a standing ovation). Susan talks about how introversion tends to be looked down upon, starting with teachers who describe extroverts as the more ideal students. Susan brings up the downfalls of a world that favours extroversion, and suggests accommodating introversion.

I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. The biggest drawback of extroversion is that while it’s great at selling courses of action and generating agreement between people, the ability to generate agreement between people might not support the ‘objectively best’ course of action or decision. Of course, it’s a two way street.

So that’s not to knock extroversion or extroverts, if you ask me extroverts tend to get unfairly pegged as somehow “shallower” people relative to introverts, when that’s not really the case. It’s more about recognizing different modes of behaviour that can be more effective depending on the role one is trying to conduct at a given time. In the case of introversion, that means recognizing that it is sometimes worth accommodating, rather than expecting individuals to overcome introversion.

 

introvert

 

In many situations, there is a lot of value derived from accommodating introversion. It can allow the better ideas can float to the top, rather than the ideas coming from the most charismatic individual(s). Sometimes it may just not be worth it or realistic, some situations just necessarily require extroverted behaviours, e.g. some forms of sales. But in more technical situations in particular, accommodating introversion can bear worthwhile fruit.

  • If you want to gather opinions for a course of action, use surveys or written feedback that give introverts time to process, instead of a discussion.
  • If you are going to have a discussion, provide written information ahead of time, introduce pauses in the discussion, and some sort of formal way to order who speaks when, giving everyone a relatively equal opportunity to speak.
  • Provide closed workspaces in addition to open workspaces.
  • Allow people to work individually unless group work is truly necessary.
  • Don’t wait for people to offer ideas, ask for them.
  • Don’t interrupt people when they are speaking.

And again, I’d emphasize it’s a two way street. I’m focusing on designing for introversion because our industry is notoriously introverted. If you’re an introvert, you might need to let an extrovert know you need time to think before responding. If you’re the ‘boss’ in a situation you might need to provide opportunities for extroverts to have more free form discussion and to think out loud, etc. Essentially taking the recommendations above and flipping them 180 degrees.

 

StartupDrinksHamilton36 on September 10th

startupdrinksThis month’s event will mark 3 years of StartupDrinks taking place in Hamilton. The event concept was founded by Raymond Luk. It spread from Montreal to Toronto to cities all across Canada. The events are intended for anyone founding, working with, working in, or interested in tech and startups in their local community.

The first ever StartupDrinks in Hamilton took place in the basement of the Kelsey’s by McMaster Innovation Park. It was actually done as a pre-event to the first Startup Weekend Hamilton that we were trying to get off the ground. The value of the event is primarily connective – it’s a chance to meet interesting people and have great conversations. I remember the first StartupDrinks whittled down to a single table of people towards the official end of the night, and the conversation at that table went on for hours after the event end.

There’s another key value to StartupDrinks – relaxation! People that keep themselves busy doing interesting things can find themselves wound up, and StartupDrinks is a night off.

 

When: Wednesday September 10th, 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!

 

 

Two kinds of truth

I’ll get back to posting some neat stuff about the tech and startup scene, once and awhile I like to do an ‘ideas’ post, I’ve had a few in my head lately, and this is one of them…

 

Truth is a tough concept to the define and fully hash out. I know the theories. But when you boil it down there’s roughly speaking two kinds of truth – social truth and scientific truth.

Social truth is all about agreement between people. We agree about driving on the right-hand side of the road in North America. We agree that stealing is wrong. We agree about Justin Biber lacking talent!

Social truths persist when they create value to groups or to broader societies at large, or sometimes even when they seem to create value. By agreeing which side of the road to drive on, we avoid collisions.

The social truths that only seem to create value tend to get shaken out of favour over time, replaced with better truths. So for example while racism unfortunately still exists, it’s an example of a ‘social truth’ that has been in a process of being shaken out of society (hopefully out of existence entirely). It was once much more accepted as truth than it is now.

Other social truths remain controversial over longer periods of time, and limited to certain groups. People will never stop arguing about about tax rates. Some things are beyond the reach of science to discover truth. We can’t measure, compute and/or reason about everything.

scienceSocial truths are created and spread socially. Powerful members of groups can sometimes use that influence to shape social truths. There’s limits to that though, especially overtime.

Scientific truth is the ‘deeper’ truth in the sense that it’s more testable, repeatable, and detached from what people think about it. It’s the type of truth that evidence supports, or that can be formally proven (mathematically). People can disagree with the force of gravity all they want, but it’ll still be there.

Scientific truth also has huge value to society – think MRI scans, automobiles and instant pizza pies!

A once believed scientific truth can turn out to be false sometimes, usually requiring a revision to some theory about reality, but that doesn’t devalue scientific truths or the value they provide as a whole. It is however a reason to give pause when using science as a tool – science discovers scientific truth, but because it’s a process conducted by people, mistakes can be made.

There’s a huge amount of crossover between scientific truth and social truth. Scientific truths tend to become social truths overtime, because they provide value to society. There are hybrid truths – so for example whether we choose to drive on the left or right hand side of the road is a social truth, but the fact that driving on one hand side of the road works better for everyone is a scientific truth.

The social truths that persist overtime tend to have roots in scientific truths. This is partially why people tend to argue a lot about ‘what the evidence says’ about some matter.

The world is full of social truths battling it out. Social media has enabled anyone to try to create social truths. People tend to congregate in groups that agree on controversial social truths, and bash other groups of people that don’t agree.

I’m biased towards scientific truth. I like the order, objectivity and cleanliness of it all. You can’t spin it into being, it’s already there, you’re just trying to find it and dig it out of the hole.

I’m not crazy about social truth – too often it’s just people trying to dominate each other over some stupid stuff. South Park totally nailed this idea. It’s social animal behaviour that has roots in our ‘monkey ancestry’ let’s say.

 

truth

 

But you need both. Scientific truth without social truth is irrelevant, and social truth without scientific truth is at best unproductive, and at worst very dangerous.

It’s really too bad that some of the best practitioners of scientific truths are the worst practitioners of social truth, and vice versa. I think that’s part of why a lot of bad politicians succeed, why a lot of good ideas go unheeded, and why startups need ‘both sides of the brain’ to succeed.

But on the flip side, to end on a more positive note… when both truths are combined, some pretty amazing stuff can happen.

 

McMaster startup QReserve awarded $25k from OCE

QHamilton, Ontario, September 2, 2014 — McMaster University startup, QReserve Inc., is excited to be awarded $24,896 through Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) SmartStart program to introduce its publicly available research equipment database platform to universities and colleges across Canada.

“Every year, the federal and provincial governments invest millions of dollars in research tools and resources”, says QReserve Inc.’s CEO, Brandon Aubie. “This funding from OCE will help us help researchers and industry better utilize these resources. The QReserve platform works as a search engine for research equipment and we plan to bring it into university and college campuses across Ontario and the rest of Canada starting this fall.”

QReserve was founded in March of this year by McMaster University PhD graduate, Dr. Brandon Aubie, and McMaster University professors Dr. Fred Capretta and Dr. John Brennan. Their service provides universities and colleges with a turn-key research equipment database platform that is automatically connected with other institutions. This enables students, researchers and industrial users to discover and access resources across campuses and research institutions.

Dr. Capretta explains the impact QReserve’s resource database will have on Canadian researchers: “Obtaining funding for research gets harder and harder every year. So when a university purchases new equipment it’s more important than ever that it gets utilized to its full potential. With QReserve we’re helping people to find this equipment and encouraging collaborative use of existing resources. Bottom line is we’re trying to help research get done and save money at the same time.”

Their proof-of-concept platform was launched this summer at McMaster University containing nearly 300 pieces of equipment and research services and is quickly gaining traction. Aubie adds, “We’ve demonstrated a clear need for this service and are excited to add thousands of new resources for students, researchers and industrial users across the country to discover”.

QReserve is free to access at www.qreserve.com.

 

About QReserve Inc.

QReserve Inc. was founded in 2014 at McMaster University with the aim of making research equipment and resources more accessible to students, faculty and industry. The company provides an open-access online platform for cataloguing and searching research equipment and services across university and college campuses and industrial research service providers. QReserve’s search platform integrates with existing university technology infrastructures to provide a turn-key internal institutional resource database that automatically integrates with other institutional databases. QReserve currently operates out of the McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ontario.

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (www.oce-ontario.org)

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario’s global competitiveness. OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario’s industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices, innovation, entrepreneurship and research, OCE invests in such areas as advanced health, information and communications technology, digital media, advanced materials and manufacturing, agri-food, aerospace, transportation, energy, and the environment including water and mining. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario’s Innovation Agenda as a member of the province’s Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), which helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industry rapidly grow their company and create jobs. Learn more at www.onebusiness.ca.

DemoCampHamilton18 with Malgosia Green of Top Hat on September 29th

 

When: Monday September 29th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm.

Where: Twelve Eighty Pub @ McMaster University – 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

Keynote Speaker


 

 

Malgosia Green

 

 

 

Chief Product Officer at Top Hat

 

 

 

Malgosia Green (@HeyGosia) is the Chief Product Officer at Top Hat (@TopHat). Malgosia has over 10 years experience working in the consumer internet and education industries. Her most recent positions held include CEO of Savvica Inc. and Director of Product at Affinity Labs (acq. by Monster Worldwide). Malgosia has been featured in Canadian Business Magazine’s “20 Young Women in Power”, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, and Toronto Life. Malgosia holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in System Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo.

 

Sponsors


 

 

background          background
 

          

 

Demos


 

TBD

 

Submission of Demos


 

Demos for DemoCampHamilton can be submitted to: democamp@softwarehamilton.com. You will have an internet connection, a power outlet and a VGA input to a projector. You will have 5 minutes to demo your software, and 5 minutes for Q&A.

 

Making of AMazeBot Animations Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea


Guest post by Ken K. Wong – originally posted on kenkyw.com. Ken is a graduate of the Animation program at Mohawk, currently working for iDeaWORKS.

 

AMazeBot was a programming competition held at Mohawk College. In 2011 I joined iDeaWORKS and I developed three animations with multiple characters, several posters, consulted on the t-shirts, and ran the marketing campaign to promote the annual event. It has since completed after 10 years, but there are rumours it may start up again!

I thought I’d share some of my process for the making of two of the animations, Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea. I’ve broken this post into small sections:

Background

The Amazebot competition was created by Mark Yendt of Mohawk College, ran by Aravin Duraikannan, and was to teach students a programming language that challenged them to design a ‘bot’ to efficiently navigate a maze. The event is sponsored by local software companies with cash prizes to top ‘bots’.

AMazeBot User Inteface

a maze interface for bots to navigate

The AMazeBot team believed that while the programming competition was cool to programming students, outside of that world, most people didn’t know what AMazeBot was really about and therefore wouldn’t attend the competition. When I joined I saw the potential of developing small stories to be used as promos on the campus tvs, alongside posters to promote the event. The emphasis on characters would drive interest, much like that little luchador does for Koodoo. Using Aravin’s bot Vinny as inspiration, I developed Tina, Bob, and Baron Von Koggenweil.

Characters

Tina

For the first animation, Vinny’s Decision, to develop Tina, I started with a rough drawing with a simple turnaround, and then began modelling her in 3ds Max. There wasn’t a lot of time, so I just had to go with what I had. I also knew that she wouldn’t need to be rigged for the animation I had in mind, so skipped that step as well. This was Spring 2011.

process drawings of Tina for Amazebot 2011

The following spring, a couple months before that years competition, I wanted to amp up her design, so I re-modelled her and added a custom rig. This would allow me to create more emotive animations, which is what I wanted to do with Bright Idea. She is probably my favourite character I’ve made yet.

process drawings of Tina for Amazebot 2012

The Baron!

For Baron Von Koggenweil, I basically used Snidely Whiplash as my main inspiration (alongside some help from Aaron Ross and Aravin). Man I love Snidely. Anyway, I just merged Snidely with a segway. He came together pretty quickly, but I only really needed to rig his torso and arms. I had no intention of rigging his hands. Once again this was due to time.

process drawings of baron for amazebot

Bob

Bob was developed for the first animation in 2011. He was my idea of jet engine combined with a semi-truck with a stereotypical trucker moustache. He is not a happy bot so I gave him a grill face.

process drawings of bob for amazebot

Vinny

Vinny was built by Aravin way back in the early days of the competition. When I first saw the bot I thought, man this is pretty slick. Simple design, straight forward – nice. I immediately saw that he was the perfect everyman for the first animation I wanted to do. I did some basic redesigns for him, and then in 2012, I re-visited him to add more of a Victorian Steampunk aesthetic that was going to drive the theme for that years campaign.

process images of vinny for amazebot

Storyboard

For the first promo animation (2011), Vinny’s Decision, I just had in mind that the robots interact in the maze, and then it pans out to reveal a birds-eye view of the maze. The bots then transform into arrows, which is what they will actually look like at the competition. I made the storyboard in a half hour and just went with it.

storyboard for amazebot vinnys decision

For Bright Idea (2012), I wanted to do a vaudevillian story. Because of the tight deadline and what I wanted to do, this story format served several functions: the camera was locked so it saved me from building a ‘world’, I didn’t have to animate the bots wheels in motion, and I could focus strictly on expressions. The storyboard for this was also simple and clean, with my main character moving very little, but expressing a whole lot.

amazebot bright idea storyboard rough

AMazeBot Bright Idea Storyboard

Animatic

The animatics came together fairly easily. For Vinny’s Decision I used Adobe Premiere and just cut together the shots that I quickly drew in Photoshop. For Bright Idea, I scanned in my original storyboard, and just began to cut the animation into the required key poses I wanted to hit. I then also used Premiere to put it all together. Finally, using the animatic for timing, I created a shot-list that dictated how may frames were needed for each pose. The shot-list for Bright Idea is a bit chaotic, but it served it’s purpose. For my animation Downtown (which I did immediately after Bright Idea), my shot-list was a 100 times better, but I owe that to the learning experience of this shot-list.



shot list

Animation

For both Vinny’s Decision and Bright Idea, I used pose-to-pose based off of animatics and shot-list. Vinny’s Decision is all about movement, so I just had to capture that as best I could. For Bright Idea, it’s all about expressions and emotion, so Tina’s face and body language was the real driver of the animation. Looking at the animations now I see the benefit of pose-to-pose animation in that it helps to provide structure, but I do think in my case, the pose-to-pose animation is a bit mechanical. For Downtown I used straight-ahead animation, and the results were a lot more vibrant.

scenes from bright idea


Lighting & Rendering

Rendering is always a challenge. After I had configured the lights to how I felt looked best, the question always was: do we have enough time to render?! Most often, the answer is no. So to adapt I’d either scale back the quality, or render in layers.

For Vinny’s Decision we were fortunate to have some idle machines, so with Aravin’s help we set-up a render farm. Because of this we were able to render the animation over the weekend, all the while keeping mental ray lighting, chrome materials, and reflective qualities we wanted to achieve. It was pretty cool to do it this way.

For Bright Idea, we didn’t have idle machines, so we couldn’t set up the render farm. This forced me to accelerate my animation so that I could allow at least a week to render. While it did not take a week, I needed that time just to be safe. It was rendered all in one go, no layers, mental ray. This one layer approach created some problems, but I’ll get into that below.

Post-work

Once the frames were rendered, it was just a matter of bringing them into Premiere, compiling them as a sequence, adding sound, and encoding it. Because I had rendered the frames as one layered images, anything that went wrong required a re-rendering. In both years, there were little things that were wrong in the final frame, so instead or rendering the whole sequence of frames where the problem was, I just rendered that section, and layered it overtop in Premiere. No fuss, no muss. For Bright Idea I added an animated filter of an 8mm dirty film projection. I think it adds to the vaudevillian look, but it might be a bit thick as it obscures some of the details of the characters.

amazebot bright idea fix

Summary

Overall these promo animations were tough and challenging, but I was very happy with the results. Our attendance for both competitions went up and included guests from not just the programming world, but also the graphics and animation world. So I’ll take that as a win. Take a look at other works I did to promote the event in 2011 and 2012. Thanks for reading!

Tina and Vinny out walking their dog – maybe they’ll go see a show?! – by myself and Aravin

vinny and tina are walking their robot dog

A quick snap of some of the posters made for 2012

amazebot graphic header image

Amazebot posters

A promo poster used for generic purposes

amazebot eye exam poster

The 2011 show opening slide was Tron-homage. I think Tron Legacy had just come out beforehand. Not a great movie, but great design! This was a collaborative piece between me, Aravin, and Jory.

tron version of Amazebot

The opening slide for the 2012 competition

vinny and baron hide behind tina as she faces down the maze monster

And here’s the third animation I made for AMazeBot. It’s a tutorial. I used After Effects, 3ds Max, Premiere, and Photoshop. I really enjoyed the different look I was able to achieve by adding a different material to the bots.

Read more about my AMazeBot Campaign and about the other volunteers who helped make this a cool event.

And I would be remiss to not mention how I learned all this: I took the Animation program at Mohawk College. They teaches good!

3StyleAvenue rounds out mobile app development offering with Weever Apps

3sHamilton, Canada — (ReleaseWire) — 08/25/2014 – 3StyleAvenue Bespoke Digital Agency is now utilizing Weever Apps’ patented application framework to round out their digital solutions offering. With offices in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan, and with clients including Samsung and LG, 3StyleAvenue wanted to build out their end-to-end digital services by enhancing their focus on mobile solutions.

“Going Mobile is not an option anymore,” says Calvin Cai, Founder 3StyleAvenue, “and we want to be the best at translating digital experiences to the mobile landscape.” Currently over 50% of time spent on the Internet is through mobile devices and this is expected to increase to over 90% by 2017, according to Statista.com.

The Weever Apps framework helps agencies go from Concept-to-Demo-to-App in less time, so they can spend more time thinking about the solution and less time building it. The framework is used to develop apps in 65 countries and a total of 11 languages to date around the world.

“We love the flexibility of the Weever Apps solution,” explains Calvin. “We can develop and deploy web-based and published applications with very little effort. The functionality is all there, so we can spend our time more on strategy, design and shaping the user experience.”

The worldwide partnership will include expansion of Weever Apps’ platform into Asia through 3StyleAvenue’s client network. 3StyleAvenue will maintain the client relationship, including consultation and front-end design, while Weever Apps will provide back-end consultation, development and direct technical support.

With a focus on mobile use cases and architecture, 3StyleAvenue thrives on delivering seamless experience to help their client’s brands stand above others. Mobile development is another way 3StyleAvenue boosts client’s digital marketing presence. 3StyleAvenue works through a consultative process to understand client challenges and design mobile solutions that work to solve them.

“Our clients are realizing the power of mobile solutions,” concludes Calvin, “It’s helping them be more productive and efficient – and they’re seeing immediate results.”

 

About 3StyleAvenue

3StyleAvenue is a full service digital agency. Think strategy, innovation, marketing and media, but solely focused around online and the digital world. We believe that digital is at the forefront of commercial marketing and requires experts in the field to guide business’ forward.

Rather than just treat ‘online’ as an extension of your traditional marketing approach, 3StyleAvenue will help your business work for you with an approach specifically targeted towards online. The digital world is continuously evolving; 3StyleAvenue will ensure that your brand is at the forefront of this evolution and help you to drive leadership within your industry.

Rather than choose an agency that treats digital as a second priority, choose an agency where digital business is their core objective. True to our motto, “We build businesses, not just websites”.

Weever Apps: To learn more go to weeverapps.com email hello@weeverapps.com or call 800-299-0623.

Contact:
Andy Pritchard
Marketing Manager
andy@weeverapps.com
906-630-7939 or 800-299-0623

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/3styleavenue-bespoke-digital-agency-rounds-out-their-mobile-application-development-offering-with-weever-apps-540500.htm

Media Relations Contact
Andy Pritchard
Marketing Manager
Weever Apps
Telephone: 906-630-7939
Email: Click to Email Andy Pritchard
Web: http://Weeverapps.com/

Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/pr/2142405#ixzz3BkE4b97O

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