Category Archives: Open News

Open News

CodeHS Teaches Code in Schools

CodeHS recently caught my eye. The site offers a curriculum and trained tutors that can help students learn code rapidly, adapting a program for teachers in schools across North America so that it’s easy for them to teach code to their students. 

It’s a concept that introduces code to a whole lot more people, something that’s really cool to see in action. 

As they put it, “the goal of CodeHS is to spread the knowledge of computer science by offering well-crafted instructional materials supported continuously by the quality, personal attention of our enthusiastic tutors. We believe that everyone has the ability to learn computer science, and we want to help them do so.” 

They have a free interactive code lesson users can access at  http://codehs.com/signup_start once they’ve signed up for a free account. 

As they describe it,”[CodeHS and our] free module teach Programming with Karel. Karel is a dog that only knows how to move, turn left, and place tennis balls in his world. We use Karel to show you what it means to program, and allow you to focus on problem solving without getting bogged down with syntax. By the end of the first module, students will have a good foundation on the fundamentals of programming and concepts such as loops, conditionals, and comments.” 
Class in a box

Class in a box with CodeHS and code(love)

It looks nifty, and it’s something that lives up to the promise of a “class in a box”, making it easy for even struggling schools to get more code in front of their students. Here’s to hoping for more initiatives like this! 

 

Open News

Kongossa Hosts Social Innovation Event in Montreal

This is a sponsored post highlighting great social innovation in action. If you have a story like this, pitch us at info@code-love.com!

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“Kongossa on Social Innovation” (#KOSI) is an event created by Kongossa Technology to promote social innovation and the intersection between technology and social good.

Pierre Blanchet, the CEO of idénergie,  will be giving a talk about social innovation. He embodies it: he created a mobile hydro turbine that is easily portable and can be used to power homes even if they’re far off the grid. 

#KOSI will put the spotlight on music as a tool for social action, with a concert happening after the talk with Canadian artist Sarah MK, and DJ MAD. 

Free passes are available, though seats are limited. It’s happening this Thursday, June 19th, at the ECTO space. 

Kongossa with code(love)

Kongossa with code(love)


A $10 donation is suggested to support the further mobilization of technology for social good. 

Event Agenda (subject to change)
5-5:15pm: Networking
5:15 – 5:45 pm: Opening Franck NLEMBA – Marc Ouimet
5:45-6:15 pm: Conférence Pierre Blanchet – CEO IDENERGIE
6:15 -7:00 pm: SARAH MK & Dr Mad concert

This event should not be missed. Register here.

Open News

How to build a mobile application, through hell and high water.

This is an open story submitted by the founder of Padel Tennis Pro. We’re always looking for stories like this: ping us at info@code-love.com if you have them.

Join our mailing list to learn how to build as he has.

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Padel Tennis Pro was intended to be a cheap, three-month endeavor to build a new mobile game.  With gameplay mechanics not totally dissimilar to the early 2000s classic ‘Curveball’ – how hard could it be?

Padel Tennis Pro with code(love)

Padel Tennis Pro with code(love)

Nineteen months, five fired developers, one rushed Kickstarter campaign, one AppStore rejection, many sleepless nights and an international political crisis later…. and… it’s finally ready.

For the growing number of people who are planning to outsource the development of an app to a freelancer, let this be a warning. It is not as easy as it seems. Companies on freelancing websites such as elance and oDesk regularly tout example portfolios, which in reality they had nothing to do with. They make promises which they certainly don’t intend to keep. My first set of developers did precisely this; laying shoddy foundations that would continue to plague the project almost two years later.

Don’t be put off though. Plan your project carefully and with the right team, it could well become that huge success that you were hoping for. Here are some lessons that should help you along that dangerous path to achieving your grand vision, lessons I have learned the hard way:

#1: Fixed Price Contracts

A fixed price project is not anywhere near as safe as it may seem. In principle this seems like a great deal: you put funds in escrow and only release them when the code reaches certain milestones.

However, there is serious information asymmetry at work here and developers will frequently refuse to continue until you release early milestones. They will insist that they have done work “behind the scenes” that you can’t see yet. They will assure you that it is hidden in existing code. Obviously, the disputed work hasn’t been done, but by the time you find out, it is too late!

As the project continues to progress the power balance swings in their favour as your committed investment increases and their knowledge of the code becomes a unique asset. Developers are aware of this and some will leverage this fact. They will refuse to continue on a fixed price basis, and request that you switch to a pay per hour project— this happened to me three times with three separate developers throughout the course of this project. At this stage, you need to decide if the cost of paying someone else to get up to speed with your existing source code will be less than the additional likely cost of an hourly job. Not an easy decision to make.

#2: Sub-outsourcing

A company says it is based in a certain location, or even has an office in that location, but beware: it does not mean that your work will actually be carried out in that location. Twice during the course of this project, the company that I was paying to complete the app were little more than middlemen. They subsequently outsource the work of actually building your mobile application to freelancers that they don’t actually employ, usually based in other countries where the cost is lower. They take their slice of the fee, the outsourcing website takes a fee and you are left unsure who is actually doing your work, their level of skill and even in what legal jurisdiction they are operating in.

Without delving into exact detail, being subjected to several layers of outsourcing meant that my project crossed the Russian/Ukrainian border at a time of extreme political tension between the two countries. It was an interesting scenario and not one I would wish upon anyone else.

Maidan with code(love)

Maidan with code(love)

#3: Aim for a MVP

A common theme for those planning to outsource an app is to plan out a grand end-product. This is time consuming and expensive. Instead, I would recommend starting out with a clear vision of your minimum viable product (MVP) and aiming for that. This will allow you to get it out to market faster and cheaper, ultimately checking whether this mobile application is something that the market actually wants. If there is demand, you can add features at a later date.

#4: Learn some code

Having already released many apps, some of which I had made entirely myself, I was in a position where I knew about the technical process behind creating a mobile game. With that said, my knowledge of the game engine being used to create Padel Tennis Pro was next to zero. At one point, one freelancer spent three days, at $35/hr, adding a simple animated shark fin to the background of one of the levels. Had I known more code, I would have noticed he was ripping me off. Had I known more, I also would have been able to point out to him that the shark fin would also be moving in the wrong direction without having to wait three days to test the build to find that out.

Learn code with code(love)

Learn code with code(love)

 

There is no protection offered by the freelancing websites for outsourcers using an hourly pay method. If the developer spends his time badly building your mobile application, that is your problem and you need to foot the bill. You will note that the backwards shark fin did not end up making it into Padel Tennis Pro v1.0 🙂

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Overall, while the project clearly had its up and downs and was a great learning experience, it also took a lot more time and resources than I had expected. A rule of thumb that I now advocate is to triple your initial cost expectations and timeline and then halve the number of features that you want when you want to build a mobile application. That will provide a more accurate picture of how the project will likely pan out!

You can find the game here: www.georiot.co/padel

Open News

PrinttoPeer connects 3D Printing to the Web

This is an interview with PrinttoPeer co-founder Tom Bielecki. Support them on Indiegogo! Learn to build like they have by joining our mailing list.

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What is the ultimate long-term vision behind PrinttoPeer, the moment where you begin to dominate your field? 

It’s really about accessibility: making it easy for a consumer to use 3D printers, and building the vehicle for software developers to ship objects instantly from their app to any 3D printer.

Can you walk me through what the experience would be like of an average user using PrintToPeer? Do you have any particularly good use cases you’d like to bring up?

I was taking the train home from work one day and forgot my cufflinks, so I pulled out my phone and pressed print. It was sitting on the 3D printer when I got there.

My friend wanted to send me a surprise gift, so I let him share my account, and he started printing something on my 3D printer right away. It was like skype, or teleportation! I couldn’t tell what it was until the print was almost finished, it was an upgraded part for the 3D printer.

Why did the founding team choose this particular project, and what particular insights do they have that they think everybody else is missing?

We have been building 3D printers for three years and the print process has always been challenging. People were building hardware solutions to software problems, like using SD cards to transfer files. Because we’re software developers we knew that 3D printers needed networking ability because then you could print remotely, even from other apps.

What are some of the interesting developments with regards to traction?

People see this as the missing piece of the puzzle for 3D printing, so we’re really excited by all of the support from the community. On Indiegogo we launched a crowdfunding campaign on May 2nd, and we just passed our target of $15,000. Everyone has been asking if we will open source the software so we’ve decided to add this as a stretch goal for continued support.

Sum up why PrintToPeer is so cool—in one line.
 

It’s magic…science fiction in real life.

Print to Peer with code(love)

Open News

A Million Meals Free for Children

The following is an interview with I Can Go Without‘s Paul Rowland on their collaboration with OnexOne for the Million Meals Campaign.

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I can go without with code(love)

I can go without with code(love)

1-Give me a short summary of Million Meals Campaign and the OneXOne Foundation.

The Million Meals Campaign has been created to raise awareness about food insecurity in North America—there’s a lot of kids going to school without the necessary nutrition for them to start the day. In the Northern Territories of Canada, food prices are ridiculously high: bottled water can cost around $88 and a cabbage comes in at $28.

Onexone managed to create a solution to help solve this problem. They pulled together various sponsors that supply food and logistics, the money they raise goes towards this, so the actual cost to deliver a healthy breakfast to one child is one dollar

2-What I Can Go Without do, and how are you helping with the campaign? What sort of impact do you see yourselves making?

I Can Go Without has been chosen as the official partner and fund-raising platform for the event and subsequent fundraising after the event.

We are the only organization that gives 100% of donations to the charity, no strings , no gimmicks.

We believe in projecting positive messages of success stories via our mobile application and web platform. We provide transparency and explain how your dollars are spent, keeping donors informed with updates. We strive to monitor and share open source knowledge about charities’ fundraising activities so we can gauge how efficiently they spend their money.

Our key message is that you can make a difference with tiny acts, like skipping a coffee or sharing a lunch. That small act can actually provide around one week of health breakfasts for a school kid who needs it most.

Our network amplifies the message via friends and colleagues, so that a solitary act of charity suddenly gets pushed by the micro-donation (butterfly) effect.

We hope to build positive habits into the every day lives of conscious consumers who wish to make a difference in the world, but had previously struggled to feel that their efforts made a difference.

I Can Go Without App with code(love)

I Can Go Without App with code(love)

3-What sort of engagement have you already gotten? How did you get Simple Plan and Kardinal to sign on?

Onexone have had support from major stars at their shows over the years including the likes of Larren HIll and Bono. Kardinal is a regular supporter of Onexone and their great causes.

For Simple Plan, we just reached out to friends and family around the music industry to search for possible acts and since I used to be in the music industry for many years, I was able to contact Simple Plan and pitch the Million Meals concept. So far we have had great support from Kardinal and Simple Plan, they are really doing their bit to talk about the cause. They have reached out to their fan bases and the excitement is building, tickets are getting few and far between, but we do have some special tickets available for your readers who are from Ontario. They can claim some at www.icgw.io/millionmeals.

Simple Plan with code(love)

Simple Plan with code(love)

4-Is this something you’re looking to replicate—any future plans along a similar vein?

Yes, we are currently in talks and actively working on some big concepts that are planned for 2014 and 2015, these shows will be major scale shows with crowds of up to 200,000 people. The main thing is you wont be able to attend the party unless you’re giving back or helping in some way—we’ll keep you posted on that.

5-Leave me with why I must read about this campaign.

You must read about this because the future of giving is evolving, and there will come a time when giving back is like doing recycling—it’s gonna be in our daily habits. We will be informed, empowered, and connected, these types of communities will be mobilized to solved problems via various forms of actions like advocacy, donations or volunteering.

We can no longer rely on governments or massive NGO’s to take on the challenge themselves, its our turn to all take responsibility, and I Can Go Without is the new wave of that conscious consumer action!

Open News

O’Reilly Solid discusses building the future with 3D printing

O’Reilly Solid hosted a discussion on 3D printing as part of its IoTChat, an informative sometimes quirky, and always hilarious discussion on where technology is going, and what it means for all of us.

One of the first topics was how 3D printers were able to print ever more-complicated forms. The following figurines were printed: the level of detail on all of these is stunning, and representative of a 3D printing movement that is embracing art as much as it is embracing science.

3D figurines from @polysculpture with code(love)

3D figurines from @polysculpture with code(love)

The entire conversation resonated with potential. Applications ranging as wide as printing out houses, to the possibility of printing out biological organs, were discussed.

The intersection between technology and society, ever more potent, was facing one of its most challenging clashes, with the concept of intellectual property holding quite a bit of time in the discussion.  With templates for many basic products already circulating around the Internet,, there was a sense that the future of 3D printing would be based on openness, though some pointed out digital rights management systems that could rein the potential of 3D printing back for the sake of monetization.

This discussion sparked for me a vision of a 3D printing economy that worked similarly to the economy revolving around web components: great, free open-source templates, but you would have to pay a bit if you weren’t able to build things yourself: you’d pay for somebody else to ease the process for you or to build something perfectly tailored for your needs instead of the general open-source templates.

Ideas bounced around freely in this vein. There were a lot of really cool 3D printing applications, including a father who had 3D printed out a hand for his son without fingers, to custom-printed tracheas (windpipes) that were CT-scanned and could be used for customized medicine.

A new 3D printed hand with code(love)

A new 3D printed hand with code(love)

It gave me some inspiration to envision a Skype-like platform where instead of just sending emoticons, one could click a button and send a friend a gift printed out of their 3D printer: a future way to share on the Internet.

The next IoTChat is going to be May 15th, at 1 PM PST/4 PM EST with a live stream of O’Reilly Solid’s keynote livestream, and it promises to be as inspiring as this one was. Check the tag #IoTChat for the full conversation.

Open News

reSRC: So Many Free Learning Resources for Code

Hats off to the people behind reSRC for striving to organize basically every free learning resource about programming—in a way that makes these resources accessible for all.

The organization not only embraces free knowledge, but is built on a foundation of open-source: those that are so inclined can contribute to the list of free programming books, list of free resources on Javascript frameworks, and the list of free interactive resources one can play around with to learn code.

There’s a wonderful consonance to the whole thing. reSRC represents a project that can very quickly have impact at no monetary cost. It feels a bit like what the future of learning could be: an organized mosaic of resources inspired learners drive themselves to, held in an area where people who are intrinsically motivated to learn can build out paths for others to follow them.

Let’s hope to find more initiatives in this vein.

Spring 2012 Student Hackathon Coding. 3. Newer Older. Photo by @matylda

Programming resources with code(love)/Photo by @matylda

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For more about reSRC, click here.

To contribute to reSRC, click here.

reSRC is being developed by victor felder and martin maillard. Backend is Django, frontend is Zurb Foundation.

Open News

JoatU: A novel currency system

This is an interview that was conducted with the founder of JoatU, a novel currency system.

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JOATU – The Online Community Marketplace

Novel currency with code(love)

What is the ultimate long-term vision behind your startup, the moment where you begin to dominate your field? What is the guiding vision for your startup?

Our ultimate vision is to mix instant gratification with job opportunities.  And to transform the idea of a “job” into “play”.

In detail: You have skills in carpentry and want to teach people how to build a basic shelf, so you fill out a form, set up a class, and get currency for doing it.  You’ve created your own job with a few clicks and it’s something that you want to be offering.

Can you walk me through what the experience would be like of an average user using your product? Do you have any particularly good use cases you’d like to bring up?

We have several types of use-cases that would be entirely distinct in JoatU.

I would say the average user would be a casual user, one that has filled out their profile with details of their offerings (e.g. social marketing skills) and that logs in periodically to see what types of new offers or events have popped up in their local community.

So I login, I check out my local events to see if there are any events that suit my interest, maybe I’ll attend the woodworking class next week (the course is free of charge as it is a community offer, material costs are extra), so I mark it down on my calendar.  I have some time in the next week, so I respond to a request to help Mrs. Johnson paint her house in exchange for a large batch of her lasagna that I can request anytime with a few days of notice.

After the exchange, I receive a positive review for painting her house.  After the event, I leave a positive review for the woodworking class.

The usefulness of the application is to make quick exchanges with locals, learn about and promote free events that benefit the community, and to leave references for neighbors so they can gain feedback within the system for their skills.

Taken into the near future, you can mix JoatU with couchsurfing and you’ll be able to exist nomadically and work abroad learning about job opportunities on the fly and having your work experience already laid out for the local community that you move into.

Why did the founding team choose this particular project, and what particular expertise, and insights do they have?

The founding team have been crowdsourced almost entirely through my individual outreach efforts.  Everyone has been volunteering for this project (70+ people have lent a hand and yes, nobody is getting paid or holds any equity) because they believe that JoatU is an incredibly strong idea with legs.

Everybody who has contributed to the project has left their mark in one way or another.  Whether it comes to the design work, marketing efforts, communications, or fundamental architecture of ‘how JoatU will function’ in one of hundreds of long conversations about JoatU’s structure.

I would say our strongest collective attributes are design and systems building.  Every theoretical ‘problem’ (most specifically in regards to economic function or security) that has been presented to our team as a future issue for the development of JoatU has been effectively solved.

The team is fluid and expanding on a continual basis and we are always looking for more interested and dedicated individuals who believe in altruistic apps.

What are some of the interesting developments with regards to traction?

What’s different about local community projects aren’t its online reach, but their offline reach.  In the Montreal community, anybody who is in the know about alternative economy projects is following JoatU’s developments.  I presented to a group of people about Exchange based economies in the last month and am recognized in the startup community for my dedication to this project after less than a year.

We have a list of 400 people’s emails who are following closely, but I’d say the fact that we’ve gotten 70 people to donate their time for nothing at all in exchange speaks best to our credentials.  Our animated video(in my biased opinion) is brilliant and was offered to be done after I posted about JoatU on reddit.  Our website was completely redone thanks to a conversation I sparked after sitting down and speaking with a stranger at Concordia University.

I would also like to mention that the crowdfunding campaign is dual purpose, to increase the awareness of JoatU to find the right talent to have it built and to raise the money to pay for that talent.  I am incredibly grateful for all of the volunteer work and aspire to make retroactive community requests to pay for it with JoatU Units.  But until that day, cold hard cash is our currency and I can acknowledge that.

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JoatU is crowdfunding in order to get started.  Support them here!

Open News

Freeboard: A dashboard for IoT and Web

Freeboard is a trending open-source project that looks to have some promise. It describes itself as “a damn-sexy, open source real-time dashboard builder for IOT and other web mashups. A free open-source alternative to Geckoboard.”

In an age where data is critical, the means for displaying it intuitively will come at a premium. Luckily, the open-source bug has caught dashboards as well. Now, if you want to display the data that you collect, you can do so easily, and you can collaborate with others to ensure that it will always be this way.

Weather

Freeboard dashboard https://github.com/Freeboard/freeboard

Freeboard is HTML-based, and is simple enough to run as a stand-alone web application. This is why it is ideal for Internet of Things devices  that have a limited ability to be able to serve up complex, dynamic pages. It can be run from a local server or hard drive by downloading or cloning the index.html page from Github.

Freeboard is one component of the Internet of Things chain that was missing: a sexy, open-source dashboard that could compile all of the information interconnected devices are passing amongst one another, and display it in an alluring format for human eyes.

You may well see it being used the next time you turn on that smart watch you’ve always wanted.

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Freeboard’s source code. You can contribute there.

Freeboard’s creator Jim Heising, and Bug Labs.

Open News

Hemingway Strengthens Writing

This is an Open News article for technology that is making the world simpler to deal with without millions of dollar signs attached. If you’re doing something similar, contact us at info@code-love.com.
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Hemingway Strengthens Writing

Writing can be difficult. It can be hard to convey exactly the right message in a way that is simple and enjoyable enough for your audience to play with. At its’ core writing is about making a message resonate with people: for that there are some tools that can help.

One of the niftiest out there may be the Hemingway App, a single-page application that draws on the simplicity Hemingway embodied. Through a set of algorithms that evaluate readability, the Application is a constant reminder to keep things as simple as they can be.

Hemingway App with code(love)

Hemingway App with code(love)

Crafted by a pair of brothers (Ben and Adam Long), the application is something that was created by writers for writers. When the application was founded, Adam was working in marketing, and Ben was working as a copywriter in an ad agency.

They created it because they wanted some objective distance between a writer and their craft. What writers used to achieve by asking others to read their works, Ben and Adam want to make possible through the power of algorithms.

This is important because the Internet opens up countless outlets of expression to everybody, which has enabled content to be shared effortlessly. The amount of writing has exploded. Ben and Adam want to ensure that the quality of what is available matches the quantity.

They’ve made a lot of progress already, without dedicating too much effort.

They’ve made a lot of progress already, without dedicating too much effort. Traction has come from posting in a few writing-focused sub-Reddits, and seeing their app go to the top of Hacker News.

They have a hypothesis that if you solve a real pain, you won’t need to tell your story: others will tell it for you. That has been borne out, time and again, with many people using the application to simplify their story giving Hemingway the plaudits it deserves.

Time and again, the algorithms that power the application itself crank out rules that help simplify writing. The application uses the Automated Readability Index to gauge the clarity of the prose.  Using some detection rules, the application can also point out when you are using too many adverbs, when you are using words that have simpler synonyms, and when you are writing in the passive voice. It seeks to encourage reflection about writing that leads to strong, clear prose that can convey any message effectively.

What the Long brothers have built works, and it works well. They’ve seen it used by a high school special education teacher to help their students, and by somebody who was not a native English speaker to clean up their CV. Writers everywhere swear by it, and already, both Adam and Ben are working on a desktop version, driven by the demand and success they have seen.

It’s an exciting prospect: two talented writers using technology to help improve the calibre of writing online.

It’s an exciting prospect: two talented writers using technology to help improve the calibre of writing online. It’s a daunting goal, but one for which the brothers say they have big plans for. They’re excited. Judging by what they have built so far, everybody else should be as well.