Archive for the 'Development' Category

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Discover and become a part of your local tech community with DemoCamp

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I’m often asked for advice from people who are just starting to work in technology or who want to take their career to the next level and prepare to become an independent contractor or consultant.

Invariably my number one recommendation is that they begin to build a network of contacts in their local technology community. More often than not, they have no idea how to get started.

In the Toronto area, we’re fortunate to have a vibrant tech community. It wasn’t always so – it has grown significantly in the past couple of years largely due to David Crow’s importation of the BarCamp unconference, an event held a few times a year, generally over a weekend, where people interested in internet technology get together to collaborate.

Even more significant to the growth of Toronto’s tech community was the Toronto birth of DemoCamp, a more lightweight gathering featuring demonstrations from players in the local (and sometimes wider) tech community. Since it takes place in a single evening and is preceded and followed by informal mixing and discussion, it has become a fantastic venue to come out and observe the electricity and creativity of the community and even insert yourself into the fray.

Bootstrapped by the community and now gaining limited corporate support, DemoCamp is growing but still maintains its most important feature – an atmosphere where everyone has the opportunity to contribute and participate.

If there isn’t already a DemoCamp in your community, I strongly encourage you to take the initiative to start one. If you’re in the Toronto area, I hope to see you at Toronto DemoCamp 14 on September 17th, 2007.

My first DemoCamp was DemoCampToronto3, where I demoed BlogChat, an Ajax chat app I developed in early 2002. I have been to almost every subsequent DemoCamp and have witnessed its phenominal growth, as well as the various BarCamp offshoots such as DrupalCamp, EnterpriseCamp and a host of others. I’ve even participated at Geeks and Guitars, playing drums and bass with Joey DeVilla and James Walker.

It has been my pleasure to meet literally hundreds of local people who are passionate about technology, and to collaborate with some of the core people who continue to make DemoCamp a success. This month, I’ve personally pledged $200 to help towards the venue and I encourage others to find ways to lend their support.

The Toronto community also has a “Toronto Global Swarm” Skype channel that is open 24/7 and allows people to come and go and communicate with one another. You can get an invitation from anyone who is already in the chat.

So now you know the not-so-well-kept secret of how to get involved in your local tech community. Spread it around!

Update: David Crow has some details of the presentations lined up for DemoCampToronto14

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Ajax Evolution

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Not only are the tools and techniques surrounding Ajax development maturing, the very scope of the Ajax meme continues to expand even now, two years since Jesse spake those immortal words back in 2005.

The latest class of techniques to come under the umbrella of Ajax is offline browser applications. At the Ajax Experience conference in SFO last week, there were a few presentations about the Dojo Offline Toolkit, which provides offline application and synchronization abstractions on top of the Google Gears local storage engine. I spent quite a bit of time with Brad Neuberg and his work on DOT is impressive.

Another topic that got much more coverage this time around was Performance Analysis and the tools you can use. Ryan Breen had a great talk that described some very useful tools and Steve Souders presented his new tool YSlow.

I had a chance to hang around with lots of other great folk while I was there – Douglas, Brendan, Sean, Dylan, the charming but unlinkable Stephanie Trimble, John, Pete and Dori to name a few. And of course, Ben and Dion, congenial hosts as always.

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Why you won’t see me at Ajax World

Friday, July 13th, 2007

Although you will indeed see me at the Ajax Experience show in SFO at the end of the month, I’m afraid you won’t find me in Santa Clara in September.

Today I received yet another in a series of communications asking me to be a sponsor for the Ajax World conference hosted by Sys-Con Media.

I first had contact with Sys-Con when Jeremy Geelan asked me to participate in an expert survey in 2005 [addendum: Jeremy is no longer with Sys-Con, having left to found Social Computing Magazine][addendum2: Jeremy is back with Sys-Con - whether he actually left or not is unknown, but it's clear he's not been entirely frank with me]. I freely gave a bit of my time to come up with a series of responses which were quoted and which apparently were helpful in making it a successful article, ostensibly generating interest or revenue for them.

Based on the success of that interaction, Jeremy invited me to speak at Ajax World in Santa Clara, but it soon became clear I was expected to pay my own travel and accomodation and displace 3+travel=4 days of client business, altogether a significant cost to me – greater than $5000. I said that as an independent with no product to pitch, I would require travel, accomodation and compensation. I was told that expenses were my responsibility and all I could expect in return for speaking would be to get into the conference – a $1595 “value” to me.

Some time after declining this “generous” offer, I started receiving emails and even couriered packages filled with glossies and CD media from Carmen Gonzales, Sr. VP of Sales & Marketing, entreating me to pay big bucks to sponsor the show and get myself a speaking slot.

Jeremy later sent me an email inviting me to submit my presentation for the NYC show last fall. I did so, and reminded him of my requirements, wondering aloud whether his position had changed since he was asking me again. I never received a response.

After receiving further unsolicited emails [from Carmen] about sponsorship, I wrote to Carmen, copying Jeremy, to make it clear that not only had I no such interest, but that their continued efforts were beginning to wear on me.

Since that time I have received numerous messages and even packages via courier, entreating me to spend up to multiple tens of thousands of dollars to become a sponsor. It’s apparent that your business model consists of charging people to attend conferences to hear vendor representatives who have bought keynote and speaking slots and other speakers who have paid their own way and given their time for free, all sponsored by other companies who pay you handsomely for the privilege. It’s abundantly clear that any disinclination to budget for speakers has nothing to do with a lack of available funds.

Obviously there are many speakers whose situations differ from mine, and I salute you for your ability to maintain a cash cow with such a lopsided balance sheet, however, I’m not the least bit inclined to spend any of my own time and effort to further enrich your gain with no recompense to me, and your continued misdirected effort is doing nothing but alienating me from any desire to be supportive of your organization in any way.

For what it’s worth, I presented and participated on panels at both of the Ajax Experience shows last year with no such issues and was made to feel that my time and contribution were very much appreciated.

I was nearly knocked over when in response to my email direct to Carmen a customer service rep contacted me and I was offered a Gold Pass Badge to the NYC show.

Brent,

Our apologies for the oversight and mixup. We would love to invite you to AJAXWorld as our guest with a complimentary Gold Pass badge.

SYS-CON Events Customer Services Team

P.S. Jeremy and/or Carmen will reply to your email. Our apologies again!

In order to use this “complimentary” pass of course, I would have to fly from Toronto to NYC, pay for a hotel, taxi, etc, and of course jerk around my clients on short notice to realign my schedule.

I never received an email from either Carmen or Jeremy as promised by the Customer Service rep. I figured whatever, that’s the end of that.

So, today I start receiving the sponsorship emails [from Carmen] again.

Platinum Sponsorship: $30,000:
10×20 Exhibit Space & 50 minute vendor presentation

Gold Sponsorship: $20,000:
10×10 Exhibit Space & 30 minute vendor presentation

Silver Sponsorship: $15,000 8×10 Exhibit Space & power panel spot

Exhibitor Packages: Plus package $10,000 / standard $5,500

The entrance fee for the conference ranges from $1500 to $1900 depending on when you sign up.

It’s too bad they can’t afford to compensate their speakers or even pay their expenses.

It’s also a shame that their disinterest in stopping the mailings and their lack of response (even when promised) would lead me to moan publicly about it.

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Jazz Programmer

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

I like to think that Ron has me pegged when he describes what he calls a Jazz Programmer.

His post is all the more relevant to me since Jazz plays a not insignificant part in who I am, and the photo he uses is of one of my Jazz heroes, Jimmy Smith

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One practical real-world solution to Secure Mashups

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Dion Almaer points us to a recently released paper [pdf] from Collin Jackson and Helen Wang introducing their research into a new method of Secure Cross-Domain Communication for Web Mashups.

The method is designed to provide secure cross-domain scripting using the tools that are available now, so we don’t have to wait for the next generation of browsers to provide purpose-built mechanisms.

Collin and Helen, along with some other Microsoft colleagues, have also authored another paper entitled MashupOS: Operating System Abstractions for Client Mashups [pdf] that is worth reading.

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Don’t tell me what you did yesterday…

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Recently my friend and business associate Noel was tired of meeting people that day who were content to rest on their laurels but had no vision or drive to do new things. His frustrated cry was:

Don’t tell me what you did yesterday!

I modified his mantra and we both liked the result:

Don’t tell me what you did yesterday unless it was at least two days ahead of its time!

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New Ajax Mashups article, Ajax Experience 2007

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

IBM Developerworks has just published my new article “Shaping the Future of Ajax Mashups”, wherein I explain that browsers are still not well equipped to enable mashups that integrate input from multiple sources without falling prey to serious security and/or scaling issues. I then discuss some of the potential solutions to the problem and call for the development community to get involved.

I’m also interviewed by IBM’s Scott Laningham in a short podcast promoting the article.

One good way to get involved is to mix with the top people in the Ajax world – the browser manufacturers, the folks who create the libraries and APIs we use to build our Ajax apps, the big players in the industry. Ben and Dion at Ajaxian have just made a call for speakers for their Ajax Experience 2007 show slated for July 25-27 in San Francisco. Having established some great contacts and communication at the two previous Ajaxian shows, I can tell you without doubt that this is the one Ajax show of the year not to miss. It’s an opportunity to spend a couple of days rubbing shoulders with the people in the industry who can actually influence the future of the tools we use to build and use the interactive net.

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Enterprise Ajax Book

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Dave Johnson has posted a sample chapter from the upcoming book called Enterprise Ajax, written by Dave and his Nitobi colleagues Alexei White and Andre Charland.

I did the tech review on this book and I can tell you it’s filled with high quality writing and insight taken from some pretty serious experience – Andre and Dave started up EBusinessApps (which became Nitobi last year) at least 5 years ago doing Ajaxy stuff well before it was de rigeur.

The book should come out in early summer – you can pre-order a copy now.