Back to Camp

After missing a few democamps to put in time on my own software I managed to make it to DemoCamp15 held at UofT's Hart House.

The Great Hall is a fabulous room though not necessarily the best for presentations due to it's length and hard reflective surfaces making it a bit of an echo chamber. The projectors weren't co-operating but David grabbed a beer, Joey grabbed an accordion and we were patiently placated whilst the presenters and techs worked to get the systems back online. Thanks to Greg for venue and bar set-up. Always a welcome addition.

Pete Forde wins the award for best demo as he had a straight-forward overview, got right to the meat of his product and skilfully handled the follow-up questions. If you're doing web development check out Jester for client side code with Rails like ActiveRecord conventions. It works with Rails out of the box but supports JSON and XML.

The demos went a bit downhill after that. If I may offer constructive criticism because I really do want everyone to make more successful products and demos.

Aceora: I didn't understand why I would pay $19.95 for a currency converter or $9.95 for a tax calculator that doesn't round to two decimal places when I can fire up my mobile web browser and use something as simple as Google or use the calculator that I've had on my last three cell phones. That aside, the demo should be more concise by going directly to the "what's the pain" or "why I made this" and "what's the solution" or "check out why this is cool". Also, set your resolution lower when using a cell phone emulator. I don't think most of the audience could see what you were demoing.

OMESH Networks: Powerpoint presentations aren't allowed. Thanks to Pete for speaking up. I know the room felt bad for telling Liang to stop the Powerpoint and move on to the demo but we really wanted to look at all the flashing lights and see the promise of true wireless Mesh networking. I'd really like to see a more rehearsed demo that demonstrates the value of good mesh networking which overcomes the inherent latency and bandwidth problems. Conceptually I understood what was going on but in its current forms it's not compelling.

Ogrant: I wasn't as captivated by the demo but I'm clearly not in the target market. The product looks good and the audience was intrigued based on the questions afterwards. Perhaps focus on the efficiency of the process from the applicants point of view or one particular cool feature that sets you apart from the competition. I wanted to be more engaged.

ConceptShare: I love ConceptShare's product, I just wanted a more rehearsed walkthough of the new product features. It seemed a bit off the cuff walking through what appeared to be a random selection of features from the new product. 50% of the room was new as well so quickly reviewing the process from the first demo might have helped. That said I'm sold enough to check out the product again. Can you work Beta into the demo next time?

After the break we had the Ignite presentations. I haven't seen an Ignite presentation before but I was impressed and entertained. I think I'll give the win to Michael Bolton for his incredible energy but I have to give a tie for second place to Andy Walker and Rick Segal. John MacRitchie comes in a very close third as he lost a few points for all the excessive text on the slides but he really stayed on track managing to delivery an incredible amount of information. My biggest pet peeve with slide based presentations is overuse of text. Andy really drove home the fact that the slides should be there to deliver the overall message but not re-state what you're saying. He told the story while the slides made me think about the ramifications.

In the end it's easy to be an armchair quarterback and so I would like to thank the presenters for their courage to show their work and look forward to being on stage in the hopefully near future. Thanks to all the organizers and sponsors for doing such a great job as usual!

David is asking for feedback.

My submitted suggestions:
- test laptop projector compatibility ahead of time
- device demos should have a proper macro camera set-up or a clearly visible emulator
- can we vet presentations to ensure there will actually be a demo and that the presentation will be of a high quality?