What should a BC Developer’s Exchange look like?

When DataBC asked for my help in reaching Vancouver’s local open data, development and startup community to host the first BC Developer’s Exchange information session, I was thrilled to have the Open Data Society of BC host this events and bringing a great group of people together to provide input on this new program.

The BC Developer’s Exchange is focused on creating an “exchange” between BC’s public and tech sectors – creating a path for entrepreneurs to use BC public sector digital resources and to have their tech innovations adopted back by government.

How to commercialize and build services products from open data (or other publicly available resources) is a complex topic with varying opinions – and it needs the ideas, experience and input of the BC’s tech and startup communities more than ever.

Not all open data will hold commercial value from a business context – many data sets’ greatest value are in addressing social issues and providing opportunities to improve transparency, efficiency and data-driven decision making. But where there may be commercial value and new business models that come through access to public sector data, lets explore thoroughly!

The OpenDataBC BCDev event in Vancouver at the Hive was held in April and over 100 members of the local Vancouver open data, developers and startup community came out and provided their ideas on what’s needed to make this Developer’s Exchange work. Among the panel that started the discussion, was Mischa Steiner-Jovic, founder and CEO of Awesense and Adam LaFrance, co-founder & CEO of Knomos, who shared their insight as startups using public sector data.

The new BC Developer’s Exchange and Province of BC GitHub accounts, and the opportunities the Github methodology offers for public sector resources generated a considerable amount of interest, with many participants agreeing that the BC Developer’s Exchange GitHub is a good place to provide input.

Events were also held by Accelerate Okanagan, BCTIA, Viatech at Forttectoria.ca and the new Code for Canada (Vancouver Community).

The BC Developer’s Exchange needs the local tech and startup community to test out the “exchange” and provide ideas and feedback on how this program can work. There’s a variety of ways you can provide your input and see what’s already happening:

Whether you are skeptical, uncertain, curious or already using some of the resources, I hope you’ll take the time to learn a little more and provide your input on what a BC Developer’s Exchange should include.

Should I build an app?

United Nations of smartphone operating systemsHaving helped develop an iPhone app and having my “techie-in-a-skirt” rep amongst my colleagues and friends, I often get asked “Should I build an app?” Last  week I was asked just that.

My answer always starts with “It depends”.

Delivering a mobile friendly service is not the question here. ComScore recently revealed that  75% of Canadians own a smartphone in their 2014 Canada Digital Future in Focus report which means you need a mobile friendly solution if you want to be relevant. The question is, which mobile solution is right for you?

Generally, you have three main mobile options: Web Apps, Native Apps, and Hybrid Apps. But before you get into these options, you need to determine what exactly you are endeavoring to do before weighing your mobile options. Continue reading Should I build an app?

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While this book spiked my interest enough to pick it up from Book Warehouse, a small independent   bookstore in Vancouver on Main street, it never quite lived up to its potential. A historical fiction novel set in 1940 and focusing on  WWII on the home front, and in particular the evolving role of women during the period, it simply lacked the depth of character to seem even remotely realistic -I was disappointed. I found heroine Maggie Hope confusing with her inner dialog not always aligning with her actions, and often inconsistent altogether.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary does include does include cryptography, spies, murder, and intrigue, and of course a depiction of Winston Churchill himself, however you may find this is not quite enough to make this a memorable read without a greater depth of character development.

 

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Walls of Wind

Walls of WindWalls of Wind by J.A. McLachlan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What if males and females were completely different species from each other… Walls of Wind captivates you with a civilization where this is the exactly the case.

Bria Ghen, and the challenges they face as an evolving community, are masterfully illustrated through a series of relatable, and at times heartbreaking characters that speak to conflicts between security and truth.

The Goldfinch

The GoldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Donna Tartt writes in raw but artistically detailed style that allows you to easily enter Theo’s conscious an experience his loss first hand.

This book is written beautifully. Its depiction of how grief and guilt play out following tragedy is one of the most realistic I have read in a modern setting. Theo’s life takes a dramatic turn when a tragic event leaves him utterly alone.

Donna Tartt’s narration of the years that follow is a very realistic illustration of Survivor’s Guilt, which is recognized as a form of post traumatic stress disorder. While some may find Theo’s decision making outrageous, frustrating and inexcusable,  looking deeper you see that it is born out of deep sadness and a profound sense of guilt for both his parents deaths that drastically impacts his mental health.

Those, like myself, who experience Survivor’s Guilt, know that it often prevents you from believing you deserve to heal or deserve to be happy. I see this is Theo as well.

What is unfortunate is that Theo cannot bring himself to be honest with Pippa, who was injured in the same bombing and lost her grandfather “Welty”. She is one of the few who could have the capacity to understand. But Theo holds back.

I hope The Goldfinch can remind us to cherish those close to us. I hope it can prompt us to empathize with those who struggle to work through their grief. I hope it can make us look deeper into those we cannot understand.
View all my reviews on Goodreads

Shades of blue

A serene hue eases into the room. The morning layer of cloud pushes the blue tinge through the window slits.  The apartment is full of these cool tones, a reflection of last year’s grey painting frenzy.  She smiles at the awkward leftover painting taunting her from across the room. Why is it still there? It pleads pitifully from across the room while she daydreams all the ways she can mutilate it. Punishing it, but for what? Losing her affection?
Continue reading Shades of blue

Sharepoint Branding

Microsoft SharePoint branding is one of those things that front-end developers love to hate and love to master. It is the inspiration for many blogs like SharePoint Makes Me Cry (which helps validate our frustration) and  Randy Drisgill’s blog which proves him to be no less than a SharePoint branding god.

When I first gained access to a SharePoint 2010 site a few months before its official release within the BC Government, I decided to challenge myself and test out the purportedly much improved branding capabilities by creating an a-typical sharepoint site.


Continue reading Sharepoint Branding

BC Health Service Locator iPhone App

Need to find a health service in BC? Use the BC Health Service Locator!

This is with out a doubt one of the best and most meaningful projects I’ve worked on as a public servant.

The BC Health Service Locator is an iPhone app that helps citizens find walk in clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, immunization locations, and after-hours pharmacies near you. You can search for health services by city or keyword.

This video demos its functionality. It’s also my first debut as a hand model 😉


Continue reading BC Health Service Locator iPhone App

Hitchhike

Her porch light flicks off, and he trudges down the snow packed walk to the avenue. Enough she thinks. She’s had enough of him. She wonders if he’ll try to hitchhike again. Remembers that night: driving Katie from her dance class to Sarah’s house for a sleepover; she was on her way home when she saw him. He stood near the curb facing oncoming traffic, far enough away not to get splashed by the spray of tires, but close enough for drivers to see his upturned thumb. A ribbed shirt clung to his body highlighting the curves of dampened muscles. His skin is darkened from the re-occurring spray of road water. She pulls the Corolla over to the side of the road and watches him slowly start to make his way toward her car; his large strides purposefully avoid the water filled potholes. Why was she doing this? She could easily merge back onto the road and drive away. He reaches the door and looks through the glass at her. His eyes are solid gray, like the stones circling the path to the back porch. She unlockes the door.
Continue reading Hitchhike