DemoCamp 5!

I took a few notes at DemoCamp 5 last night, and thought I'ld throw them up on the web, in case anyone found them useful.

First, some notes on giving a good demo.
In no particular order:

  • Set your screensaver's timeout to something long, so that you aren't continually hitting the spacebar/moving the mouse.
  • Repeat the questions, so that people in the back can hear what was being asked.
  • Log on before connecting the video. I forget why, other than it looked a little more professional, perhaps. Maybe someone forgot their password, or mistyped their username.
  • Have someone type for you, so that you can concentrate on what you're saying, instead of trying to come up with fake data.
  • When the demo's run out of time, don't try to fit in just one more thing... Unless you have someone who can continue typing while you're answering questions. ;)

The next thing that struck me as sort of odd was that all the presentations were web-based. Isn't anyone working on a regular desktop program anymore?

Finally, I also had some specific comments for BlogMatrix, which I posted as a comment on David Janes' blog. (I've chatted with David over email a while ago, so I was paying particular attention to his demo.)

In other DemoCamp news, I got a shout-out from Greg Wilson, which was very gratifying, but I'm afraid I might have given him slightly the wrong impression. I suppose I do think that educators have a responsiblity to prepare students for the real world, but I don't think that it's the University-level educators who have that responsibility. I think that programming (by which I really mean logical thinking, but programming is one of the best ways I know of to teach it, since the results are very clearly right or wrong) should be one of the mandatory courses in high school. By the time you get to University, you should be learning stuff like Lisp/Scheme, or ML, or concurrency, or finite state machines. Stuff that won't help you get a job, but will hopefully help you do your job better, if only by expanding your mind, and giving you new approaches to solving problems, or new insights into what might be causing the problems in the first place. I think that Institutions of Higher Learning should be about Higher Learning, and leave the more vocational stuff to vocational schools. This is somewhat ironic, since I went to Waterloo for the co-op experience, one of the most vocational schools and programs out there.

It could be that I'm looking at this all wrong, and that universities are there to prepare you for a job, and then, once you're out in the Real World, you go to places like PyGTA, or DemoCamp, or even just watch some videos and join a mailing list about Scheme to do your real learning. Or maybe I just didn't follow the academic path far enough. When I left, I was really glad to get the hell out of there, but now that I've been in the workforce for a few years... Wait, 7 years? How did that happen? Anyways, now that I've been in the workforce, I'm thinking that I would like to go back and try to get my Masters, or even my PhD in Computer Science. At U of T, this time, since I far prefer living in Toronto to living in Waterloo.