Monday, July 21, 2008

Democamp7 Review

Writen by Colin Smillie

DemoCamp7 was last night at a quite crowed No Regret restaurant in West King West. It's a fairly small venue so space was at a premium and the demos were a little harder to understand without the lights, sounds and magic that is Mars. The presentations broke down as follows:

1/ Portal Prophet Platform by Kristan Uccello from Domainer

My initial expectation from this demo was to see a DNS management system. Instead they presented a fairly visual CMS type application to create web pages for multiple domains. The interface was pretty neat and involved creating blocks based on code snippets and connections to other services ( RSS feeds etc.. ). The blocks could then be visually position on the webpage to create the final webpage. The resulting webpage could then be style with multiple CSS skins. Overall it was fairly simple but looked easy to use. I did not see any sort of staging or pre-production system so I'm not sure how well it scale for larger deployments.

2/ by Josh Blinick

I was pretty impressed with the interface around FeelingBullish but I'm not clear on their business model. From what I understand of their product its a system for analysts to recommend stocks and for anyone to review those recommendations. The definition of an analyst was a little unclear but they could recommend stocks, leave comments on stocks or other analysts and use many of the now standard Web 2.0 feature set. As a consumer you can then view all the analyst rankings and see how they compared to historical stock performance. All recommendations are tracked and analysts are not allowed to delete their historical recommendations. By having a fairly large group of analysts and more tracking on their recommendations the goal is to have an accurate algorithm to track analyst performance. I'm not analysts will be too excited about this level of tracking and may make it difficult for the site to reach a critical mass.

3/ by Teehan+Lax evolved out of Teehan's holiday card last year. They sent out cards to all their customers with links to their website of holiday gift ideas. The site has evolved a lot and now allows anyone to create a 'wish list' of items from a variety of e-commerce sites. The interface is very clean and easy to use. I was impressed with the process to tagging third-party ecommerce items which are often in variety of different formats. The site allows you to quickly sort through all images on a target URL and quickly select the items picture. Users can then create sub-lists for special occasions and even form a basic wedding registry ( without the ability to track duplicate purchases ). Overall a very neat and clear site.

4/ The Glove by Cameron Browning

Cameron has developed a system to represent visual a file structure and its associated relationship, oh and he also uses a glove to control the interface. In reality the glove was fairly basic, it consisted a re-purposed skate boarding glove with a large yellow square and a modified wireless keyboard inside. The yellow square allows a small camera to track the gloves position and control the visual interface. In my opinion the visual interface was most interesting part, I would have been happy controlling it with a mouse. I would be a little worried about the visual interface scaling as it would become very cluttered with a large number of objects to represent. Cameron also mention that he could tweak in real-time some of the display constants like spacing and object sizes. He felt this would allow the interface to scale to large number of objects.

5/ Perl 6 by Damian Conway

Wow, someone is still using Perl. In reality it's still a great scripting language and Damian did a great job trying to demo a programming language. Anyone that has ever tried to demo a programming language knows the challenges here. Perl 6 has some interesting features but many of them have been eclipsed by new languages like PHP or Ruby. I thought the most interesting part was using the VIM interface to act as a presentation tool.

The after part at No Regrets was great and most of the presents stuck around to interact with the crowd. Its remarkable how far the reach of the event has grown. I ended up talking to a variety of people including a developer still working on Lotus Notes Domino, just when I thought Perl was old...

Colin Smillie has extensive technical experience gained at several leading Internet, wireless and security providers in Canada and Asia-Pacific. He studied Electrical/Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ottawa and Computer Electronics in Ontario, and has been able to translate this technical expertise into the classified media industry for Trader Media Corporation. His current role as Product Manager of Automotive Products involves product development, competitor analysis and advertising performance tracking and search engine optimization, as well as alliance-building with third parties. He speaks fluent French, good Japanese and enjoys designing computer games in his spare time.

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