I have been abducted by aliens for the past couple of weeks and they allowed me to go back to earth for the DemoCamp and to write this blog post. DemoCamp 9 has been yet another awesome outing. Lots of regulars and new people as well, and amazingly cool demos. Today, we’ve had folks driving 3 hours all the way from Sudbury, talk about dedication!
That’s [H]ard man, and they had an awesome app as well, but we’ll get on that later. This week, our Phys. Ed. graduate cum technologist David Crow finally turned up with the Barcamp T-shirts! They were actually stored in a warehouse in the alien complex I’ve been in and the abductors thought it would be nice to release us all at once.
Ahh DemoCamp… it’s been 2 months. We had BarcampEarth last month (for which I still have draft articles yet to post! >.< ) as documented by Ryan Coleman, Peter Dawson, Ryan McKegney amongst others. In any case, here is my transcription of DemoCamp which took place today:
Dictabrain is a venture founded by James Wood, and having Vlad Jebelev on board, both ex-Cows from Tucows. The webapp targets the people that tend to vocalize their thoughts more than they can write. These people usually record whatever they’re saying and need to somehow transcribe that to a written format to store or to share with other people.
The app, using a telephone, matches the calling number with a predefined setting, requires a PIN and allows the user to talk his/her heart out. Then the brain behind Dictabrain (a female brain I should say) transcribes this voice to text rapidly and posts it for the user’s convienience on the web. (EDIT: The beer must have been having a conversation with me at that time cause I didn’t catch it, but apparently, the transcription is human-based. Hmmm… not as cool as I thought).
The duo wanted to show off their baby and need alpha testers to see how much their Dic-Ta-Brain stretches. They are proud RoR developers and run Asterisk, the open source PBX. They plan to be live in a month to a month and a half.
The dude behind TheServerSide.com (An enterprise Java news site/community and more), Floyd Marinescu, is at it again with InfoQ. A very impressive demo with thoughtful uses of AJAX. It is a news/article website geared towards the enterprise software development community, with exclusive news reporters and column editors.
Completely and thoughtfully Ajaxified, the website allows you to tailor your news depending on the “community” of your choice. Funny enough, Ruby is one of the choices, and although I think Ruby is cool at all, I hardly consider it “enterprise” in its current state. The developers at InfoQ push the envelope even more by allow a user to have a personalized RSS feed. How cool is that?!
As well as posting filterable News posts, InfoQ proposes exclusive articles, white papers as well as videos of conferences. They plan to release videos every couple of weeks or so. When viewing videos, get this, they use the concept of widgets to turn a side-bar used for navigation into a content-container in case you’re in the boring part of the vid. How COOL is that?!
In addition, they offer tagging, internationalization (Chinese soon to come), AJAX mouse-over comment-thread reading (try it!). They have 1500 unique visitors everyday, which for a June launch is pretty good. Implemented using Spring and Jackrabbit, they are [E]nterprise to the bone. This is a keeper, definitely check it out.
After seeing such a cool demo, we didn’t expect to be wowed again by another one. Enter ConceptShare. These are the 2 people that came all the way from Sudbury, a.k.a. the boonies. It is a web collaboration tool for basically everything that has some visual element to it.
ANOTHER collaboration tool you might say, NOT SO they say. Rather than calling it an online collaboration tool, Scott Brooks prefers to describe it as a tool to get feedback and to share ideas with people working on the same project. A very humble description, as I think it ‘s FRIGGIN AWESOME.
It allows users to annotate, comment and draw on pictures. Of course, you can add people from your group or choose people that have made themselves available for consultation as “experts”. The users can circle things, point at things and write little comment bubbles, read what other people said, chat live, and read chat logs.
This is AWESOME for working with customers, as it cuts down on the MOUNTAIN of lost email, pdf’s and *shudder* FRICKIN Word documents all over the place. (!! PLEASE NOTE: Word or any MS fileformats are NOT exchange formats!!). For technologists this is awesome, considering the lack of people skills we have, to discuss UI with other people.
They’ve also got an impressive and fast image scaling feature with little resolution loss which has to be seen to be fully appreciated. They have RSS feeds for comments and support all kinds of files for upload. They are currently going into private beta and are pondering what the pricing is going to be. THE NEWS: It might go from free trial services, $12 small company accounts, $59 for slightly larger ones up to $99. SOLD!.
the eMail Company
You’d think the eMail Company is one that offers hosted email or something. Maybe not, but at least I would. What they do in fact is email marketing. What they propose is a web app with 3 distinct components:
- Forms, the stuff users fill out on the internet with checkboxes, input fields, radio buttons, numbered, bulletted. The kind of stuff you’d find at tickle and the like, or applicant screeners for job applications like Taleo.
- A form creation tool, for creating those annoying to fill pages. There are extensive controls, from HTML input types to CSS styles.
- A dataview section with statistics collected from the forms, with bar charts, histograms and pie charts.
They propose a service that can create extensive and complex forms with branching capabilities out of the box, complete with data viewing. I can see the value in building such an application, but I think it could use some AJAXifying goodness. It works as of now, but it could be made prettier as well. In any case, they came for feedback, and I’m sure they came to the right place to get some.
Pursudo is the craft of love of the guys at Unspace. Rabid RoR fans, they go as far as saying that nothing they do could’ve been done without Rails. That’s a very strong statement! Although I believe Rails is amazing, I also believe some other people are trying hard and are actually coming very close, check out TurboGears, and Django. Anyhow, this project has been made in a total of 3 days of design work and 10 days of development. Not Bad!
This project has absolutely no profit motive and has been made out of fun. With the aim of better matching people than regular matchmaking websites, Pursudo aims to make people meet by doing things together. Selecting people by City, Gender and Age, the list of people can be filtered to a user’s preference. One thing to note is that the list of people can become longer as you’re scrolling down, something a computer geek might smile at because it could hypothetically allow a bored user to scroll down infinitely.
I guess a good way to describe this website would be: “An ode to Ruby on Rails”.
It was nice to be at DemoCamp again. The exchange of ideas, the conversations, people you meet every month with this common interest for anything new on the computer horizon. I had a good time chatting with Scott, Brian, Sutha, Jay, Colin, Slava, Alan and briefly with Ian. Although I couldn’t stay very long, I realized again how events like these are breeding grounds for innovation. No wonder all kinds of *Camp are springing up; like CaseCamp for marketers and CopyCamp regrouping musicians, artists and lawyers for discussions on the topic of internet-age copyright.