Interview with Chris Lange creator of Scratch This

Check out the interview below with Chris Lange, creator of the new Scratch This app!


chris-langeTell me about yourself.

I am a fourth year Mechatronics engineering student. My favorite hobbies include fishing skateboarding and kiteboarding but in my free time I’m always coming up with new ideas to try and make some money.


What is Scratch This?

Scratch This! Is an android application that rates Ontario scratch card lotteries in order to allow users to choose the lottery that would give them the best bang for their buck. The lotteries are ranked by an algorithm that incorporates publicly available data such as current prizes remaining and expected number of printed tickets.


Why did you decide to develop Scratch This?

I’ve always done my research before making any kind of purchase and I realized that many scratch card players don’t realize that many of the prizes they are hoping to win have already been claimed. I wanted to create an easy and convenient way to show users which lotteries had the most prizes available, the most money available and the least amount of tickets printed per dollar spent.


Who do you expect to use Scratch This?

I expect everyone that buys scratch cards and who know about my app to use it. Right now there’s a $4 cash for life with a top prize of $500! I think the price of my app is very reasonable if it helps users avoid lotteries like this that do not have many prizes left.




What is your plan to get the word out about Scratch This?

I am still figuring out how to advertise this app. Normally you can show popular blogs and reach a large audience but in my case I need to market Ontario specifically. Im hoping to find some popular local blogs and maybe even get featured on a local news network.


How can people get Scratch This? Is there a free and/or paid version? What does the premium version include? How do you plan to monetize the app?

There is a free and paid version available on the Google Play Store. The free version limits users to five non consecutive days of use. The paid version is $4 but allows unlimited use.


Where do you seeing Scratch This going in the future?

I’m using Ontario as a test market. If this app takes off I plan to incorporate other provinces and possibly an iOS application too.


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



Special Appucations releases Street Smarts

streetsmartAs announced today by Sarah Kupferschmidt in the Special Appucations newsletter


This app is all about teaching children with autism and other special needs what to do if they become separated from their parents in a store. By navigating through Street Smarts, children are presented with 3 simple steps to follow if lost, watch videos of what to do, and with Morton the Monkey as their guide, kids can learn these steps in a fun and interactive way! Plus, it is the only safety skills app that includes a parent/teacher component to help practice the three steps in the real world. Street Smarts may work best for children who can follow 2 or 3 step instructions, imitate actions, answer simple who, what, and where questions.

As a BCBA in the field, I’ve seen how children with autism and other specials needs can learn incredible skills if they are given the opportunity to access the right strategies for them. That’s what Street Smarts is all about, giving children, parents, and educators the opportunity to access clinically validated strategies at an affordable cost (only $1.99).  If you are so inclined I’d love it if you would spread the word and help us reach even more kids, you may not know this but 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism and half of those children may wander and end up lost…you never know this might really help someone!

Here’s the link to Street Smarts for the Apple store:

Here’s the link to Street Smarts for Google Play:

Here’s the link to Street Smarts for Blackberry:



Sarah Kupferschmidt, M.A., BCBA

CEO and Co-Founder

Special Appucations, Inc.


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.


CoderCamp22 on July 16th

CoderCamp is an unconference born from the spirit of BarCamp, and has evolved into a monthly mini-conference. CoderCamp is for local software developers to learn tools, techniques, and technologies from one another in a casual and friendly setting. We meet to talk about coding and software development to learn from each other and get better at what we do in the process.

We have a projector and screen setup for people to give presentations. We try to have a few speakers lined up in advance to give the event structure, but there is usually room for “open mic” presentations if you’re interested. You don’t have to give a talk to attend, but we welcome you to come, talk, discuss and share, or just sit quietly and listen.

Where: The Pheasant Plucker @ 20 Augusta Street
(2nd floor)

Date: July 16, 2014


Rough Agenda:

6:30pm – 7:00pm – meetup, grab a drink, talk shop
7:00pm – 9:30pm – series of 5-20 min. talks

Scheduled Talks:

AJ Bovaird will tell us a little bit about the new features coming in vNext.

Rob Prouse will talk about contributing to open source using GitHub and distributed version control with Git, or his new watch.

Matt Grande is going to come tell us more about the HSR Real Time Data Hackathon on July 26th.

Bryan will also providing a brief update on the Coderetreat Evening being planned for July 23rd.


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

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