DemoCamp11 – Hmm….


I’d have to say that was largely my impression of DemoCamp11, held last night at the MaRS Discovery District. Other folks have been a bit more passionate thought. Overall the past couple of DemoCamps have been a bit spotty, but still entirely worthwhile and enjoyable. That said, it was mentioned a couple of times during the evening that the plan was to re jig the format slightly for DemoCamp’s january return. I’ve got some thoughts on that but I want to think them through a bit more before posting them. In the meantime, my take on last night.

Certainly one of the more painful demos of the night. I never really quite grasped exactly what their product is aside from some sort of SSL certificate provisioning system for consumer-oriented hardware with an embedded web server (webcams / routers etc.). A noble cause I’m sure but in a world where people are barely setting up their routers properly from an encryption POV, I just can’t see this being something that the consumers take up on their own. My impression is the only chance they’ve got is to convince the manufacturers to embed the system right in the camera’s etc. – but at that point I’m not really sure what’s stopping someone like Linksys or Logitech from just stomping all over them and doing it themselves.

My biggest problem with this particular “demo” though was it was overly marketing oriented. Sure it was technically a “slide show of visual images” but for all intents and purposes it was a PowerPoint presentation and there was only one slide that actually added anything to the demo. I can understand the pain of trying to demo something complex without the benefit of an illustration (it’s something I’m struggling with myself figuring out how to best Demo our product) – they probably could have gotten away with it if it had just been that slide, but what we got was 10 minutes of still images, 3 minutes of a demo (that didn’t work) and 2 minutes of “What the heck is it?” questions. Disappointing to say the least – kudos to them though for gracefully working through their technical difficulties.

Selenium (presented by Andrew Reynolds)
I’ve seen a couple of places slag on this demo a bit because he was showing software that he uses, rather than software that he developed. I personally found it interesting and completely in line with what I expect of a DemoCamp. I don’t think that a presenter as to expect to receive anything back from the community in order to do a Demo – in this case he was willing to take some of his time and share a technology with the community that he found useful and hoped others would to. I’d personally like to see a few more of these demos at future camps – a similar type of session evolved at the last BarCamp and it was one of the best things I participated in all day.

Selenium is a testing suite for web applications and from what I saw certainly worth deeper investigation for anyone building a web-based application.

My Studio Assistant
Basically it’s a low-tech WCMS for the artist community. Technically there was nothing “wow” but I don’t think the presenter ever intended it to be. It’s an interesting niche and it’s clear his goal was to try and find some people to help him out with this project (he’s admittedly non-technical).

I feel for Tom and Jevon, I think they got caught between a rock and a hard place with this demo. They’ve been promising to demo for almost a year now and I think the friendly jibes of “when are we going to see this thing?” were starting to sting a bit more. There was certainly some interesting promise and with the little bit they did show my mind immediately started going down some “It would be cool if…” paths. I talked with Tom after the demo and he certainly gave me the “there’s more then meets the eye” impression – I think they just got a little gunshy about how much they really wanted to put out there just yet. I’m glad they finally did the demo but hopefully they come back later when they’re really ready to take all the blankets off the thing. They also did a pretty good job of fending off a couple of the more negative reactions/comments from the crowd after.

Design Bibliography
Not having been a real school-crazy guy I didn’t feel a lot of the pain this presentation was trying to solve. What I took away was it was a Wiki-based tool for creating and managing book & paper references for students and researchers who. It seemed pretty interesting but I never really got a crystal clear image of what exactly it’s benefits etc. were. That said the bookworms in the crowd seemed quite keen on it. So if you’re a reaswarcher/bookworm, check it out.

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