Author Archive: Kevin Browne

Founder of Software Hamilton.

Coding Bootcamp opens doors

Mohawk College and IEC Hamilton partnered on a new Coding Bootcamp program this Fall. The program involved about 30 adult learners at the Hamilton Public Library downtown and The Eva Rothwell Centre learning HTML/CSS and JavaScript.

The program was inspired by coding bootcamp innovations taking place in the private education sector that teach coding skills in short timeframes, for example HackerYou. These programs tend to be very hands-on, immersive and industry-focused. They’ve been gaining media attention and industry respect for turning students into web developers in as little as a few months.

The innovative approach to learning is excellent, but these programs also tend to be high-tuition and inaccessible for a lot of learners. The Coding Bootcamp program was free, and though not the same pace as private sector bootcamps with different objectives, the program borrowed the concept of hands-on immersion in coding.

The Coding Bootcamp program took place across 12 weeks, and by the end had students that had never written a line of code before creating web apps by the end of the program (e.g. Robert Ling’s Hamilton Quiz).

Congratulations to the first ever Coding Bootcamp participants!

 

HamOnt ML builds machine learning community

 

Hamilton’s first ever machine learning conference took place this weekend. The event was excellent for a bunch of reasons.

Strong mix of industry, government and academia talks. We had leaders from industry, government, academia represented in the talk and panel line-up, and it manifested itself in some great connections, between industry and academia in particular!

It sold out, completely. We’ve been doing conferences on topics that we knew there was a local market for, in the case of topics like JavaScript and User Experience. But for a topic that’s a little more “emerging” in terms of prevalence in local industry, we were blown away by the response for this one.

40% of the attendees were McMaster students. McMaster students can be a very tough audience to pull out to off-campus, Hamilton-branded events. Students call it the “McMaster bubble” (there’s even a Pop the Bubble initiative). But they showed up in large numbers, I guess if you built it right they will come. I was talking to a bunch students afterwards that were very happy to see this type of a topic and talk line-up in Hamilton.

The mayor showed up! Yes, that’s him in the photo! Fred Eisenberger (@fredeisenberger) came by and said a few words at the start in support of the community, and recognizing the willingness of Hamiltonians to collaborate as a community strength. It was great to see support from the mayor for something in the community at the grassroots level.

Andrew Holden at Weever Apps and myself started up this conference series last year, with different leaders in the community organizing each topic (@dpetican, @megthesmith, @eimaj, @kensills). It’ll be continuing next year, details on event dates posted early next year.

 

 

Jason Hofing talks success during chaos at HamOnt UX

Jason Hofing (@RelayCoffee) (Owner, Relay Coffee) was added to the line-up at this Saturday’s HamOnt UX conference!

 

Jason Hofing (@RelayCoffee)

Owner, Relay Coffee

Talk: UX Always: Succeeding in Chaotic Times

For most of 2014, the entire street in front of RELAY’s Concession St. coffee bar was ripped up limiting access to its front door. In this talk, Jason will share his team’s story of abandoning panic and instead see it as an opportunity to engage their audience and customers with creativity, positivity, and hospitality.

Bio: Jason Hofing is the owner of RELAY Coffee Roasters, a craft coffee roaster of with two coffee bars and roasting for the best restaurants in Hamilton. Jason is the recipient of the First Ontario and Hamilton Spectator 1AWARD in 2012, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Small Business Award in 2013 and a 40 Under 40 Award in 2014. Jason believes in a human-centric approach to taking your business to where your customers are and serving their needs.

 

HamOnt UX

 

When: Saturday October 28th 2017 from 10:00am to 5:00pm

Where: CoMotion On King – 115 King Street East (3rd floor), Hamilton, ON

 

 

The HamOnt conference series continues with HamOnt UX on Saturday October 28th!

HamOnt UX is filling in for Embrace UX this year… low cost and kick ass, featuring experts from within and abroad for a full day of talks… we would love for you to join us!

Check out the schedule of talks on the event ticket page! HamOnt UX attendees can also expect morning coffee & snacks, lunch, afternoon drinks & snacks, and an after party!

Tickets are just $20 regular, and $10 for students.

 

Opportunity to help new Coding Bootcamp program

 

This Fall IEC Hamilton and Mohawk College have been running a new pilot Coding Bootcamp program for 30 adults. Over 12-weeks the participants learn HTML/CSS/JavaScript, the goal is to create opportunities for individuals that may not typically have access to knowledge economy jobs. These types of Coding Bootcamp programs have been popular with private sector for-profit educational organizations, but this is the first of its kind to my knowledge that is non-profit run and targeting this demographic.

Preliminary results have been fantastic, adults who didn’t know about text editors 5 weeks ago are now creating fairly complicated web front-ends! Each Wednesday participants hear “community talks” representing different career and educational pathways (e.g college vs. university, UX, social media manager, etc.). For example, here’s Suzanne Zandbergen at The Generator with some of the students in the program!

IEC Hamilton is applying for another Future Fund grant (due tomorrow) from the City of Hamilton to continue the program. If you would be willing to sign-up here today to say “yes, I’m interested in giving a talk at next year’s Coding Bootcamp”, we would be very grateful! It’d be an excellent show of interest/support, next year we’d reach out to make sure it works out for everyone scheduling-wise!

Thank you so much! Previous “calls to action” I’ve blasted out like this have resulted in *major* support, and we have reason to believe that support from the Hamilton tech community has made a critical difference in obtaining these grants. We really appreciate it, and will be organizing an event I’ll be sending details about in the near future to explain how companies can get involved in these exciting and growing “learn to code” programs!

 

KiCad EDA night at electronics meetup tomorrow

 

When: Wednesday September 27th 2017 at 7:00pm

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King St East, Hamilton, ON

Organizer: Electronics Meetup

Register: meetup.com/Electronics-Hamilton-Meetup/events/242678442

Details:

Have you ever wanted to design an electronic PCB but not known how? Join us for another Hardware night.

For this meetup I thought it’d be interesting to run an EDA (Electronic Design Automation) night. Basically we get together and learn how to design a simple PCB from scratch. We’re going to be using KiCad (as its free and open source) but the basic principles are transferrable to pretty much any EDA software you might use. The circuit we’ll design isn’t overly complicated but is a great start for those who want to learn how to design PCB’s. If you already know how to use EDA software come along and help me explain how! 🙂

I’ll be walking through KiCad on the projector (I’m no expert but I have designed many PCB’s in KiCad). You’re more than welcome to download the latest version of KiCad on your laptop and bring it with you to follow along.

Looking forward to what should be a great night as we return to Co-Motion for our 5th, yes 5th meetup. That’s gone quick!

 

Justin left a major positive mark

I’m very sorry to write that Justin Policarpio passed away last night, having lived graciously and courageously with cancer.

Justin was a key community builder, entrepreneur and leader in the Hamilton startup community.

I first met Justin when he was running Women Entrepreneurship, an event series focused on celebrating female entrepreneurship, and working on his Campus Helper education company. He next co-founded and led edtech robotics startup Roboteurs as CEO.

His work with Women Entrepreneurship and his startups was already impressive enough, but where I feel he left a major positive mark on our community was his work with Spectrum / The Forge.

It wasn’t very long ago at all that people talked about a divide between the McMaster community and the Hamilton startup community. There was a “gap” in the pipeline between innovative McMaster students and the business community in Hamilton. There was also a “gap” in terms of support for student entrepreneurs on campus… there was no Velocity or Ryerson DMZ equivalent, and the existing efforts were more informal, sporadic, grassroots.

Justin was the manager of the new Spectrum program that started in 2014, intended to foster and encourage entrepreneurship on campus, and to act as a pipe into a formal incubator program (“The Forge”). This was a very important job, at a critical time. If the Spectrum program flopped, which was a real possibility given the state of things at the time, I don’t think we’d have the energy and number of startups that you see further up the pipeline today. Justin was the perfect person for this role, and he hit it out of the park. A slew of great events and regular programming, much of it done in partnership with others, made his work a complete success in terms of fostering entrepreneurship on campus and building a bridge from McMaster to the broader Hamilton community.

He was a great community builder in that way. He had an infectious positive energy, was wise beyond his years, kind and always eager to help other people, was a great listener, and knew how to make great things happen fast. I met with him before he took on the Spectrum role, and you could tell he really “got it” in terms of the bigger picture. He was really keen on partnering and working together with everyone. Beyond the programming he developed that supported startups, he would always find time to support various other initiatives happening around the city, whether it was a Startup Weekend or a new healthtech meetup group.

People from other communities have noted a collaborative spirit in Hamilton, they’ll say things like, “in Hamilton, you guys really work together compared to X”. Justin played a major role in creating that spirit and culture. His good work and good spirit will live on.

This is the second time I’ve written an article like this in the last year. I’m upset because Justin was so young. It’s really not fair at all. We should use the time we’ve got to make a positive impact the way Justin was able to do so.

 

And speaking of the time we’ve got, I was reading over some of Justin’s old posts, and I came across this video of life tips he gave to graduating McMaster students. I’ve posted the text of his life advice below, it feels like advice that’s relevant for everyone.

 


I’d like to take this time to talk about just that, time. It’s something we all have a limited amount of, we never get any more of, so in reality it’s our most valuable asset. That said, why would we ever want to waste it?

A lot of you are going to be graduating from McMaster or have graduated, and you’re starting to think, “you know, what do I spend my time on? Do my masters, my PhD? Do I get a job or travel the world?”.

And in reality you got to do whatever you want to do because it’s something that you want to do, and not something that you feel like you ought to do. And you’re going to get a lot of pressures from your friends, your family, your parents and society as a whole.

I look at the time I spend on my stuff, on my startup company, on this new initiative at McMaster that I’m spearheading called Spectrum for McMaster entrepreneurs and startups. I look at the countless hours I put into this stuff, and you know what? I love it.

It’s time that I feel is well spent because it literally makes me happy, and I see all the value I get out of it. So when I think about the time I spent I think of three main things, and I guess these can be my two minute tips for you.

One is have no regrets. Have no regrets on the time that you’re spending on the things that you want to do.

Two, you know, in a nutshell: be fearless. You’re going to come across a lot of obstacles, not just in your school, and not just in work, but also in life. And they’re going to hit you, but you’re going to have to get through them. So be fearless, be strong.

And three, you really just have to start. You have to start doing what you want to do, and that said you also have to finish it and get it done.


 

Local tech and startup inclusivity initiatives

 

The issue of inclusivity in the tech sector has been a focus in the news lately, as well as a focus of discussions locally. It’s too bad the reasons it’s coming up are sad, but the reasons aren’t surprising (which makes it even more sad…).   I wanted to write this article going over existing initiatives around inclusivity that are already happening in the city around tech and startups, including ways to get involved and help them. I want to write some more articles on this topic, including one highlighting some cool things that women in the local tech sector are doing that maybe some people don’t know about but would find interesting to learn about.

 

Hamilton tech and startup inclusivity initiatives

 

Hamilton Code Clubs (@hamontcodeclub) is a program by IEC Hamilton, led by Beth Gibson (@bethkgibson), to teach elementary school students how to code through lunch-hour and after-school clubs run by community mentors.  The program is focused on priority neighbourhoods and female students, especially in grades 6-8 which are particularly critical years for encouraging career paths, and has reached over 1,600 students in the Hamilton-area at roughly 40 schools.  The program has recently expanded into some weekend workshop and summer activities.  Right now you can help out by volunteering to mentor, helping to promote workshops, and in the future I’ll be posting more opportunities for involvement such as sponsorship.

 

It’s also worth noting that Hamilton Code Clubs is organizing a small working group to provide advice on ensuring the program is inclusive and welcoming to everyone.  As the group evolves over the next year, the intention is that it can also look at sharing best practices to help local firms with inclusivity.  For example, several firms partnered with the program have noticed specific changes they can make to their job postings to appeal to more women applicants; these types of best practices can be packaged together and shared with the community.  When that happens, I’ll be sure to post the results.

 

Ladies Learning Code (@LLCHamOnt) is a non-profit regularly occurring series of workshops where women (and men) learn technologies like HTML/CSS, WordPress, JavaScript, and Python.  They also run occasional workshops for children.  The organization has chapters all over Canada, and the Hamilton chapter is led by Meg Smith (@megthesmith), Abena Asomaning (@wyldbloom), and Erin O’Neil (@erinlauraoneil).  You can help out by volunteering to help facilitate or lead workshops, by sponsoring, and by helping to promote the upcoming Hamilton Chapter events.

 

Black Boys Code (@blackboyscode) is a program founded by Bryan Johnson that introduces boys of colour between the ages of 8 to 17 to computer science through one and two-day; workshops, after-school events and mentoring programs.  The program has recently started running workshops in Hamilton on McMaster University campus.  You can help out by volunteering to mentor and helping to promote their upcoming workshops.

 

Women in Computing Society (WiCS) McMaster is a McMaster University group that runs events for women in the various computing programs on McMaster campus, founded by Alyssia Jovellanos (@alyssiacodes) [who is a rockstar leader in general too].

 

Coding Bootcamp is a new joint project by Mohawk College and IEC Hamilton.  A 12-week free Coding Bootcamp will introduce basic web programming to adults 19+ who are not currently enrolled in post-secondary.  The program will operate out of Hamilton Public Library, and a female only version of the same program will operate out of the Eva Rothwell Centre.  Over the summer some introductory workshops are running as a “try and see if you like it before you commit to 12 weeks”.  You can help out by spreading the word about these upcoming workshops!

 

McMaster Computing and Software Outreach (@maccasoutreach) is a program led by Christopher Anand, focused on computer science outreach, through creating educational software, delivering workshops and other activities such as summer programming.  The program is particularly innovative in its curriculum development, covering computer science and computational thinking rather than the imperative style computer programming covered by most outreach activities.  For example with concepts such as functional programming with the Elm Language.  The program has also had a focus on women and other underrepresented groups in its curriculum development and program delivery.

 

Women Entrepreneurship (@women_ent) is a local event series founded by Justin Policarpio (@Justin_Polic) covering the success of women entrepreneurs (not just tech/startup), and supporting those small businesses in the region.

 

Hamilton Fempreneurs (@hamfempreneurs) is a monthly meetup group for women entrepreneurs and leaders (not just tech/startup), with a talk or discussion at each meeting, founded by Suzanne Zandbergen (@thegeneratorca) [also, if I’m missing other founders, please let me know].

 

Internet of Things conference on Saturday June 24th

 

When: Saturday June 24th

Where: CoMotion on King at 115 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario

Cost: $20 regular, $10 for students

Register: eventbrite.ca/e/hamont-iot-conference-2017-tickets-33104444284

Details:

9:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.

Arrival and registration!  We’ll have coffee and snacks available!

10:00 a.m — 12:00 p.m.

Colin Gagich (@colingagich)

Owner, NVC Software Solutions

Talk: HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot (@HitchBOT)

Bio: Colin Gagich operates NVC Software Solutions, a software company which performs contract design and development work based in Hamilton, Ontario. Through NVC, Colin has worked with clients in the Aircraft Deicing Industry, HVAC Industry and Restaurant Point of Sales Industry. Colin specializes in embedded system design, mobile application development and web application development. Colin has been operating NVC Software Solutions since 2013.

Ian Pilon

Ambient Intelligence Specialist

Talk: Ambient Intelligence: Human-Computer Interaction Design & Smart Environments

Bio: Ian Pilon is an IoT product designer from Kitchener Waterloo Ontario. He studies the relationships between humans and computers and how to interact with physical objects that are evolving into the digital domain. Ian is the Founder and Managing Director of IoT Waterloo Region and IoT GTA, a peer to peer network group of over 2,000+ members who meet-up quarterly for professional networking and learning from industry speakers. He’s also the founder of the “Ambient Intelligence Conference” held annually in the Waterloo Region.

Nick Tomkin

Director of Orbital Studios

Lightning Talk: Creating Carina

Carina is a lightweight, portable structure that takes photos of guests at various public or private events and locations, and uploads them directly to Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram, complete with captions, photo frames, as well as the event hashtag and branding.

Lightning talks – 10–15m each!

  • Adrian Duyzer of Parallel on Taking Advantage Of The IoT Opportunity

12:00 p.m. — 1:00 p.m.

Fantastic lunch! Gluten free and vegetarian option will be available.

1:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m.

James Arlen (@myrcurial)

Director of Risk and Advisory Services at Leviathan Security Group

Talk: Avoiding common security issues in novel IoT products

Bio: James Arlen is Leviathan’s Director of Risk and Advisory Services. Over the past twenty plus years, James has been delivering information security solutions to Fortune 500, TSE 100, and major public-sector organizations. James is involved in information security policy, process, and procedure improvements for internationally known manufacturing and financial organizations and has held key contributor roles as CISO of a publicly traded financial institution and as Information Security Coordinator at a large scale power utility.

Best described as: “Infosec geek, hacker, social activist, author, speaker, and parent”, James’ areas of interest include organizational change, social engineering, blinky lights and shiny things. James founded Hamilton’s first makerspace think|haus before the Internet had Things. He is also a contributing analyst with Securosis and has a recurring column on Liquidmatrix Security Digest. James is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and is a prolific contributor to standards bodies and media.

Sam Reid (ioTcan)

Director of Business Development for ioTcan

Talk: Launching a nationwide loRaWAN M2M (machine-to-machine) IoT network

Bio: IoTCAN is a next generation wide area network designed specifically for IoT solutions. Sam’s talk will cover ioTcan’s work to deliver a robust, carrier grade network to enable the reliable bi-directional communication of connected devices and machines. Initially launching in the GTA IoTCAN will quickly expand their network to offer service in other major cities nationally and then full nationwide coverage. This network is being built on a recognized global standard for low power wide area coverage established by the LoRa Alliance. LoRaWAN™ is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) specification intended for wireless battery operated Things. For more information on LoRa please refer to the following sites: www.lora-alliance.org and Semtech.

Meg Smith (@megthesmith)

Ladies Learning Code Hamilton Chapter Co-Lead

Talk: Opportunities and Challenges for Women in Technology

Bio: Meg Smith is a Senior Designer at Parallel, the Ladies Learning Code Hamilton Chapter Co-Lead, and loves all things DIY. Her work with LLC was featured in Hamilton Business article.

Lightning talks – 10–15m each!

  • Terry George and team on their “FITWIZ” ECE capstone project (McMaster University)

3:00 p.m. — 3:15 p.m. (ish)

Break time with drinks and snacks!

3:15 p.m. — 5:00 p.m.

John Gerryts

IT telecom analyst by day, uber blockchain hacker by night

Talk: Project Oaken – The intersection of blockchain and IoT

Bio: John Gerryts is a Technologist that has been involved in the cryptocurrency space since 2013. Beginning as an active miner, John is the organizer for the Niagara Bitcoin Meetup Group, and has led a few projects surrounding IoT + Blockchain technology (mostly related to Ethereum.org as early as PoC3). For the last 23 years, John has been involved at different levels of technology, with roles such as Network Administrator, Telecommunications Specialist, and Senior Network & Electronics Integrator. His Project Airlock placed 3rd at the “In Crypto We Trust” Hackathon which has since been mentioned in the Canadian Senate and on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast by Andreas Antonopolous.

Lightning talks – 10–15m each!

  • Lightning talk: Blake Laufer, award-winning investor and entrepreneur on his new IoT parking counter project
  • More speakers to be announced soon!

Q&A Panel: Succeeding as an IoT entpreneur

Ask whatever you like – this is your opportunity to learn from successful entrepreneurs and investors in person!

Panel participants:

  • Blake Laufer: Invester, entrepreneur, and board member of Angel One Investor Network
  • Colin Gagich: McMaster graduate, entrepreneur, hardware and software developer, and creative genius
  • Alex Ross: Lawyer and partner at Gowling WLG in Hamilton specializing in intellectual propert law

5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.

Beer and pizza! Make connections, ask more questions of the presenters, and start great conversations about IoT!

 

Interview with Electronics meetup leader Marc Hickling

 

Check out the interview below with Marc Hickling (@marchickling) who is leading up the new Hamilton Electronics meetup group!

The first Hamilton Electronics meetup will take place at CoMotion on King (115 King Street East, Hamilton) on Wednesday April 19th at 7:00pm – sign-up to attend today!

Side note: Marc is looking for developers who may be interested in working with him on an open source Python project – “PCB is an open source package for semiautomated and manual PCB reverse engineering”.

 

Tell me about yourself.

I’ve been doing electronics since I was 10 years old when I wanted to electrify a project for a school science fair. My grandad (who was a Radio Engineer during the war) had some spare parts lying around his house which he passed on to me and taught me to solder, taught me ohms law and got me started on my first radio project. Since then I studied electronics at school and graduated university with a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering. Outside of work I love to make projects for in around the house, problem is I have so many that I never seem to get around to finishing them!

 

Why are you starting the Electronics meetup?

The electronics meetup came about after realizing the serious shortage of people passionate about electronics in the Hamilton + Niagara region. My boss has interviewed hundreds of applicants for jobs and there are so few people that applied who have a love for electronics. Many just see a job as a way to make some money – I see it as a passion and going to work is a pleasure.

 

Who will be speaking at the first meetup?

Our first speaker at the Electronics Hamilton Meetup will be Pierre Demers who is the Technical Manager for Marsh Instrumentation in Burlington. (The largest 3rd party instrumentation service company in Southern Ontario). He’s going to present on Electronic Reverse Engineering which is a little known about topic. He’ll be bringing some previous work and showing why and how reverse engineering works.

 

 

Why do people reverse engineer electronics? How does that work?

Reverse Engineering is the process of disassembling + analyzing a circuit for the purpose of generating documentation and/or re-manufacture as well as determining how it was designed and how it operates. Often the documentation even allows a customer to improve their product to surpass competitors. A big part of the process is knowing when and when it’s not allowed to do this – for instance one of the key attributes for copying/cloning PCB’s is that the product is obsolete and unsupported by the OEM.

 

What is the state of the electronics industry in Hamilton, and Ontario more broadly speaking?

In Hamilton there are a handful of electronics companies and particularly companies working in industrial/commercial space. To my knowledge the company I work for ENA Electronics is one of the only electronics companies in the city with most of the other electronics companies working in the consumer market. In Ontario there’s obviously the Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge area who are a hot bed for innovation in electronics however with the decline of stocks at Blackberry the once power house of the region is faltering and we need to innovate!

 

 

Do you see room for growth? If so, why?

There is plenty of room for growth in the Electronics space in Hamilton, there’s a ever growing software scene but very few electronics companies. The advantage of growth in the area is synergies between companies allowing for shared resources and collaboration.

 

If someone is “technical” in terms of knowing how to code, are there any good ways you can suggest for them to dive into the hardware and electronics side of technology?

Electronics these days need not be all about discrete components (although knowing basic electronics principles is a huge advantage), but embedded electronics bridges the software hardware gap with firmware development being critical in many electronic products. Aside from the obvious programming of Arduino + Raspberry Pi, a great way to really learn electronics is to get them connected to the real world – adding sensors, timers and output devices allows the interface of software to the physical world.

 

Do you see any possible collaborations between electronics professionals and others in the technology community – health tech, gaming, etc.?

Absolutely – there are so many possibilities, take health for example, how do you monitor a heartbeat without electronics? Just the software alone is one thing but the complete product is at the intersection of electronics hardware and software. Its often very easy to come up with some electronics for a project but the real skill is when an electronics professional gets involved and turn a hobby project into a proper product with noise suppression and protection, its only then that a project should be turned into a product for market.

 

 

What about a young person that’s interested in electronics, how would you recommend they get started?

One of the best ways to get involved in electronics is to join us at the electronics meetup! – shameless plug (https://www.meetup.com/Electronics-Hamilton-Meetup/) not only here will you find experience but you’ll be able to learn with people from the same starting point. Outside of the meetup I’d recommend making some kind of project – theory makes no sense without a project! One of the best circuits I know for starting electronics is the good old 555 timer circuit, it gives a real flavor of how electronics works it’s how I started learning electronics and love that integrated circuit to this day!

 

What are you hoping to accomplish with the meetup group going forward?’

When I was growing up and even through my degree I struggled with finding people that had a practical view of electronics with a passion for wielding a soldering iron and getting down to the board level. I’m hoping that by starting Electronics Hamilton that we can forge a community of electronic hobbyists in the Hamilton, Niagara and Burlington region with a passion for electronics, from this I hope that networking and collaboration occurs at all levels of the market place, from startups to established companies.

 

Jim had everybody’s back

I’m very sorry to say that Jim Rudnick passed away last week.

Jim was an important community builder in Hamilton’s startup community. Back in 2010-11 when institutions like Innovation Factory were first getting off the ground, Jim was the number one networker and community cheerleader in this area. They gave him the first DiFizen award for making a difference in the community. Jim had everybody’s back, and people loved him for it.

Some of us will be getting together this Friday March 10th from 5pm-7pm at SERVE Ping Pong bar to have a pint in honour of Jim and tell some of our favourite stories.

Corrected update: this article was briefly updated to mention that Jim’s memorial service had been made public. This was a miscommunication. That memorial service will need to remain private for his family, due to space restrictions it may not be able to accommodate everyone. The Friday drinks will go on as planned though.

 

I’m not sure it’s my place, I’m not so good at these things, but I’ll tell a quick story.

DemoCampHamilton1 was the first big community event I had ever planned. Until then my life was a more like a typical computer science grad student… sitting behind a desk, working away on math problems that had nothing to do with people.

I was way out of my element at the time doing something social and business oriented, and to be honest totally scared out of mind. I was worried sick things would go off the rails. The day of that first DemoCamp I actually hadn’t slept a wink for the prior two nights.

But this guy Jim Rudnick who had been e-mailing me since announcing the event really wanted to go out to lunch the day of the DemoCamp. He listened, gave advice, shared his own experiences, and put me at ease. You kinda had to know him, but he had a way of delivering advice that was fine-tuned to his listener in a way that let them know what they needed to know without causing them to put their guard up. I think it’s because you got the sense he really wanted you to succeed.

When we were done our lunch he made a small gesture that I’ll never forget. As we were about to leave the restaurant he turned to me and said, “I’m behind you” and patted me on the back, and then let me walk ahead of him. I know it’s such a little thing, but it meant a lot.

 

I think that’s what Jim did for a lot of people too – he had their backs. There was a bunch of us that were young and/or new to Hamilton. Maybe not as secure in themselves or their abilities just yet, let alone secure in their careers, or startup, or family life. And at the same time all these people were “trying really hard to make it in life”. They were stressed out from running the rat race, working long hours, and dealing with competition. And though a lot of these people were learners and hard workers with goals they wanted to achieve, due to their stage of life and career, they were understandably tense, anxious and unsure.

Where as Jim was our Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had the wisdom of seeing it before, and coming at things from the end of his career, he could be more relaxed and detached than the rest of us. He modelled a lot of behaviours that the rest of us followed… like the importance of “opening up the rolodex”, supporting people, leadership, sharing good ideas even if it meant others would implement them instead of you, and seeing the best in others (I’ve never met anyone better than him at that in particular).

 

Over the years Jim kinda became an informal mentor for me. We would meetup for lunch and beers every so often and talk about business, life and family. He retired not very long ago and wrote a lot of SciFi books, which was great to see him get to do something he loved. He had the best sense of humour, and always expressed love for his family and friends.

I’ll miss you buddy.