On Thursday, November 28, a group of more than a dozen Bitmakers headed over to the offices of the Working Group after class to attend #nerdlearn demo night. After filling up on pizza and conversation, we sat down to watch demos of 11 different projects, including the two winners of the past weekend's Startup Weekend in Toronto. (As an aside, three Bitmakers from the current cohort, Spen, Anson, and Caleb, participated in Startup Weekend and their project, WaveRider, was featured on the Canadian Business website.) Although many of the presenters might have been happy to spend their full 4 minutes talking about ideas, each presentation was required to include showing some code, which was particularly interesting for those of us in the process of learning to code.
First up was Pawly, a robot for people who feel guilty about leaving their pets alone at home all day. The device allows you to interact with your pet through your smartphone - Pawly's camera, microphone, and speaker let you see, hear, and talk to your pet, and it can even dispense treats. Other demos included Forever.fm, a site (also available on iOS and Android) that constantly streams the most popular new music from SoundCloud, and AllergyBites, a site that displays local restaurants based on specific food allergies (gluten, peanuts, dairy, and more). The final presentation was from Griflens, the first place finishers at Startup Weekend, who have created storytelling beads for children.
As the top two finishers at Toronto's Startup Weekend, Pawly and Griflens are now competing against the winners of other Startup Weekend events in cities around the world, so both teams were keen for #nerdlearn attendees to support them by voting online. Last year a team from Toronto won the worldwide competition, and it would be great to see that happen again this time.
I chatted briefly with the moderator for the evening, Dessy, who is also CTO and co-founder of Greengage and a developer advocate at the Working Group. She was already quite familiar with Bitmaker, commenting that a number of the program's alum have been hired at TWG. Dessy said she is always looking to hire good people, which is encouraging for those of us who will be on the job hunt soon.
The evening was a great opportunity to see some real life code and to meet some talented local developers. I'm sure the Bitmaker community will continue to participate in #nerdlearn events in the future.
By Graham Lavender