July 29, 2009 in Writing
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July 29, 2009 · Writing

DemoCamp21: Evil Lair edition

Toronto’s favourite tech show-and-tell was back for another iteration but instead of being held in one of the quirkiest bars in Toronto, it took place in the basement of the Rogers Headquarters.

Democamp 21

Toronto’s favourite tech show-and-tell was back for another iteration but instead of being held in one of the quirkiest bars in Toronto, it took place in the basement of the Rogers Headquarters. We didn’t uncover the hatching of any gouging plans but we did get to see the Rogers corporate Internet experience first-hand. More on that later.

Huh? What’s the deal with Rogers?

But first, why were our Canadian overlords of the airwaves, the cloggers of the tubes of the internet, and the reducers of television choice interested in hosting a scrappy tech gathering? Lately, they’ve taken a particularly non-evil interest in the startup world, incubating several in Toronto. One of them is the real estate site, Zoocasa.

Democamp 21

Pictured above is Saul Colt whose job title is “head of magic” — or as Joey DeVilla says, “the Elvis of our local web 2.0 scene.” He shared his dream of purchasing his childhood home and showed how Zoocasa was making this possible. The company gathers data from “all available public information” and presents layers on top of its map interface.

Art Anywhere

Christine Renaud hails from a Montreal — Joey awarded her the “Phileas Fog Award for Travelling” — and was here to talk about a new site launching in September: ArtAnywhere. It’s a new platform that lends out art pieces

A lot of open questions though: who delivers? What happens if the artwork gets damaged?

Democamp 21

Homestars: Teaching social media to contractors

HomeStars is a Toronto startup that offers a platform for sharing and reading reviews about home contractors. It doesn’t sound too sexy but apparently its shaking up the renovation world.

Democamp 21

Here’s Brian Sharwood sharing some characteristics of the contractor crowd. The traditional marketing vehicle has been YellowPages — one contractor spent almost half a million dollars on advertisements. HomeStars is introducing this group of people to the power of social media tools for the first time.

Ben Vinegar unveils Guestlistapp.com

Democamp 21

Fellow UofT computer science graduate, Ben Vinegar, presented his side project and it was one of the best demos I’ve ever seen, even up there
with the legendary DabbleDB demo from ages ago.

Guestlist is a slick new way to host event registration pages. The next DemoCamp will use it for the signup and after seeing the demo we’re considering using it for CUSEC registration as well.

“But doesn’t Eventbrite do the same thing?”, someone in the audience asked. Ben offered the following distinction: if Eventbrite is the swiss army knife of event management, then Guestlist is the chef knife.

Bonus: check out the lovely IE6 icon that Ben had on his desktop (IE6 will come up again. Read on).

Jason Roks presents guiGoog

“Jason Roks” eh? Seems like there are some easy jokes in there. Joey DeVilla took the bait: “You might as well change your last name to sucks because Jason Roks,” he intro’d.

At this point, the projector stopped playing nice with other laptops and organizers were forced to use the Rogers corporate computer that it was attached to. What we witness can only be described as horrifying. Jason looked in vain for a modern browser but only IE6 was installed. Always quick with the money quotes, Joey quipped: “If you got a cat when IE6 came out, it’s dead now.”

But with no other options, Jason double clicked on the icon. What came next was a red-alert style warning about the dangers of the Internet (it was even bilingual!).

Democamp 21

Be sure to see this one in full size. Who knew that pop-ups could even contain that much text? As a bonus, we got a sneak peak at their corporate intranet. Congrats on the Q2 results, Rogers!

Jason’s site was clearly not tested in IE6 — can we blame him? — but he managed to demonstrate the gist of it. guiGoog is a wrapper around Google that lets users tweak the type of results that are returned. Hold on a second. Doesn’t Google already offer advanced search options? Yes but “they’re a disgusting awful mess,” said Jason.

Give it a whirl. It even turns out guiGoog is great for finding torrents with but — the Rogers jokes never really got old — “if you’re on a Rogers connection, you can’t actually download the files,” someone yelled out.

More coverage

Geoffrey Wiseman took some photos, Josh Sookman took notes, and the twittersphere made pithy observatons. Update. Greg took notes.

The full set of photos


This entry was written by Andrew Louis on July 29, 2009 and posted in Writing. It's tagged with , , , , .