Category Archives: democamp

Demo camp: Online grading and code review

The online grading and code review system demonstrated by Greg Wilson‘s students from the University of Toronto is really cool, and the kind of thing I’d love to see open-sourced and spread. I know my alma mater would find it handy!

Things I particularly like about it:

  • You can highlight a region and attach either a predefined comment or a new comment.
  • The support for rubrics makes grading much easier and more consistent.

Hmm, maybe the student view can be improved by making it easier for students to see all their projects.

Suggestions:

  • Per project views, etc.
  • Accessibility guidelines
  • Downloadable spreadsheets
  • Usable for code reviews for open source projects? Won’t be grading, of course, but interesting for annotation…

The developers said that Turbogears made development much easier. One of the biggest challenges that faced them was cross-browser Javascript. Another is that the school uses a different authentication system (Kerberos) than the one used by Turbogears.

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Random Emacs symbol: nnvirtual-find-group-art – Function: Return the real group and article for virtual GROUP and ARTICLE.

Excited about my DemoCamp presentation!

I’ve written a totally small-time presentation thingy that cues me thanks to Emacspeak. ;) Here’s the setup code:

(progn ;; Setup
  (defvar democamp/presentation-file "~/democamp.el")
  (defvar democamp/cue-buffer "*DemoCamp*")
  (defun democamp/next ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (forward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring-no-properties start (point))))
      (eval (read sexp))))

  (defun democamp/previous ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (backward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring-no-properties (point) start)))
      (eval (read sexp))))

  (defun democamp/repeat ()
    (interactive)
    (let (start sexp)
      (with-current-buffer (find-file-noselect democamp/presentation-file)
        (setq start (point))
        (backward-sexp)
        (setq sexp (buffer-substring (point) start))
        (forward-sexp))
      (eval (read sexp))))

  (defun democamp/say (text)
    (with-current-buffer (get-buffer-create democamp/cue-buffer)
      (erase-buffer)
      (insert text)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (call-interactively 'emacspeak-speak-buffer)))
  (global-set-key (kbd "") 'democamp/next)
  (global-set-key (kbd "S-") 'democamp/previous)
  (global-set-key (kbd "C-") 'democamp/repeat)
)

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Random Emacs symbol: gnus-multiple-choice – Function: Ask user a multiple choice question.

Emacs: Animation in presentations

… and because this is just so endearingly old-school and crazily
Emacs, here’s what’s going to be my title “slide” for DemoCamp10.

(progn
  (set-face-attribute 'default nil :height 700)
  (delete-other-windows)
  (sit-for 1)
  (animate-sequence (list "Livin' la Vida Emacs" "DemoCamp10" "Sacha Chua") 1))

I may end up writing a presentation mode if there isn’t one yet. I’ve
seen one before, but I don’t know if it accepts arbitrary Lisp
expressions. Maybe I can mess around with eev, too..

Comment from pll:

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s just SOOOOOO cool, and hysterical. I’ve got
to steal^H^H^H^H^Hborrow this hack. I’ve been toying with the idea
for a while of doing a “Life with Emacs” talk for my LUG. What a
perfect opening :)

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Signed up for a DemoCamp demo

David Crow made me promise to give a DemoCamp session, so I’m going to do one on Emacs as a way of life. ;) Watch out for DemoCampToronto10 sometime in September!

DemoCamp!

I love going to conferences and geek get-togethers because I always end up having the most interesting conversations. Even though my responsibilities at Toast I.T. Toastmasters meant that all I caught of DemoCampToronto8 was just David Crow ending it with, “That wraps up DemoCamp for the night,” it was so worth the mad scramble across town.

Here’s an incomplete list of highlights from DemoCamp:

  • Ari Caylakyan came along from Toast I.T. Toastmasters in order to see the geek events I go to.
  • Chatted with Olivier Yip Tong on the way in.
  • Carsten Knoch gave me the July 1 issue of the Guardian UK
    that I’d blogged about. A journalist interviewed a bunch of
    UK-based IBM bloggers and the IBMers mentioned me as an example of
    a blogging student, and the article came out online on July 1. I
    met Carsten at Enterprise 2.0 Camp on 2006.07.20, and he went back
    and read my blog. (Awwwwww!) When he read my entry about the
    Guardian, he realized that he had that issue and that it was
    sitting in his recycling bin. What an amazing coincidence! I’ll
    read through the entire thing later to see if I made it into print.
    If so, them my mom will be ridiculously happy to receive a paper
    copy of it for her scrapbook. =) Even if the article isn’t there –
    isn’t that just a nifty thing?
  • Jane Zhang made me promise to blog
    the Social Tech Brewing event this August. The event’s about women
    in technology, and it looks like it will be a very interesting
    discussion.
  • I apologized profusely to Greg Wilson for not following up
    on the introduction to Steve Easterbrook, who teaches a
    course that I absolutely must take next semester and who is
    interested in the social side of software engineering. Greg invited
    me to another meeting at 9:45 AM at the Starbucks at College and
    St. George. (Update: I was unavoidably late and ended up at the
    Starbucks at 10:00 instead of 9:45. Didn’t meet them. Argh! Now I
    look terrible. I hate being late!)
  • Hypothesis: Following Greg Wilson around leads to
    conversations with interesting people. Data point: Hugh Ranalli. I overheard Hugh talking to Greg about computer training in developing countries, so naturally I stepped right into the conversation. (Greg told me to be nice and share! ;) ) Hugh’s working with Digital Opportunity Trust on skill-oriented training (as opposed to tech-oriented; teaching presentation skills instead of Microsoft Powerpoint), and I think that’s just what is needed. I’m curious about the Teach Up, Skill Up, and Scale Up programs he described for teachers, at-risk youth, and entrepreneurs.
  • James Woods had a haircut, which is probably one of the reasons why I didn’t remember his name, but still… He remembered mine and he makes an effort to be good with names, but was good-natured enough to forgive my lapse. =) He told me how he scheduled himself onto a yet-unplanned DemoCamp just to make sure he’d get a slot, and of David Crow‘s funny reaction to that.
  • James Woods introduced me to Vlad Jebelev, who used to be a Toastmaster when he lived in Missassauga. His wife was one of the club founders for a bank-based club.
  • Jeremy talked to me about his work in scientific visualizations – mainly physics and chemistry. His wife’s doing her PhD in biotechnology, so he’s getting interested in that as well.
  • With a little more time this DemoCamp, I got to know Ian Irving through more than just his blog title. “Hi, I’m Ian Irving of falsepositives” wasn’t much to go on last time, especially as I didn’t feel like opening my computer then and there! ;) I noticed the Lotus Notes thing on his business card and we talked a bit about that. Then we ended up in a longer conversation about how to keep track of lots of blogs and the strategies we use, like following influencers, analyzing OPML… Ian has some pretty interesting OPML analysis tools that he should share. =) It would be good to see the intersection of blog subscriptions between your friends, for example… He’s thought a lot about this attention economy, and has come up with a few things to make it personally better.
  • Finally got to connect with Rick Mason. He had stumbled across my entry on networking with Moleskine notebooks. We nearly met at the Flash event on 2006.06.29, but for some reason or another he didn’t make it to that one. We were supposed to meet last week for coffee, but our schedules got full. DemoCamp did the trick!
  • It was good to see Rock Jethwa at DemoCamp. I met him at the TorCHI social the night before and thought he might enjoy the DemoCamp scene. He probably heard about it from other people, too. =)
  • Rock Jethwa introduced me to Goran Matic, who’s also really enthusiastic about storytelling and social computing. Awesome!
  • Simon Rowland actually managed to make it out to one of the DemoCamp parties! =)
  • Andrew Burke joked about his resemblance to Simon Rowland. I laughed and said I’d probably be able to tell them apart by now, all things considered. Andrew and I chatted about Emacs. He said that geek get-togethers in California tend to be Emacs-dominated, while Toronto’s more of a vi city than anything else. I really should have a dinner party just for Emacs geeks.
  • Joey de Villa talked about his recent experiences with AdSense and how Randy of KBCafe is making quite a living off targeted blogs.
  • Brent Ashley collected his requisite two hugs: one coming in, one going. <laugh>
  • Gabriel Mansour and Simon Rowland started talking about Asterisk. Gabriel mentioned the Asterisk + Drupal module. Simon laughed and told him the history of that particular piece – his company developed it. <grin> That was cute!
  • Jedediah Smith suggested that I introduce him as a former mustard factory safety inspector if Web advertising is considered evil.
  • Alan Hietala promised to check out Toastmasters. He’ll be graduating within a few weeks and is looking for a programming/software development job that can take advantage of his interests in visualization and other deep hacking stuff. He’s interested in doing software architecture eventually.
  • Apricots and a kooshy ball!

A very good evening indeed.

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Democamp

Damian Conway is t3h c00l, _totally._ What an awesome speaker!

I was going to videoblog showing my latest hacked T-shirt (FITC2006:
Technology and Design Festival, turned into a beaded halter/tube top
with a bolero-style thing), but I seem to have left my camera at No
Regrets. Oops. Well. Hope the restaurant lives up to its name! =)

I didn’t leave my Moleskine notebook (whew!), which would’ve been far
worse considering all the fun conversations. Here’s a brief list:

  • Floyd of InfoQ, faceted search and browsing
  • Cameron, technology design, NY
  • Joey, Wendy
  • Paul Baranowski: encouraging independent media in developing democracies. He wrote that tagline in my notebook himself! Way cool. Always good to meet people who can express their purpose.
  • Ian Irving, false positives. Err, not much detail otherwise. I don’t read
    his blog yet, so that introduction didn’t leave me with much to go
    on, and I saw someone I wanted to talk to.
  • Chris, intentional programming.
  • Olivier Yip Tong, Toastmasters: must tell about Toast I.T.
  • Michael Bodalski, Toastmasters: must tell about Toast I.T., also GTD inboxy things
  • Lionel Fogler, knowledge management (remember sewer technician story)
  • Quinn, data
  • Brent Ashley, Emacs
  • Malgosia Green, totally funky pair of glasses
  • and other conversations not written down for some reason or another

Did totally smalltime Emacs demo, too. =) Should do a proper Demo soon.

Random Japanese sentence: 振り袖で仕事はできぬ。 The cat in gloves catches no mice.