The Code Factory

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Ian Graham had identified the need for a community office in Ottawa and he took his vision and turned it into reality. The Code Factory is Ottawa’s first co-working space. The Code Factory has been in the works for a while and to learn more about the trials and tribulations follow the “The Code Factory” tags on Blogmatic.

The idea was first presented at DemoCamp 4 and was very well received. There were numerous forms of public consultation to get input from the customers, always a great idea no matter what your product or service is. Then came the point of no return or the Leap of Faith. There were many challenges along the way, identifying the right location, ideal pricing structure, signing of the lease and finally finding the right services to get it off the ground. Ian persevered and the dream has now become a reality.

The location is above the Green Papaya in a space that used to be occupied by the Afghan Embassy. The work space takes up two floors (the second and fourth), the fourth floor is private office space for small teams while the second floor is a collaborative workspace.

In addition to this there is an

  • On site Cafe
  • Meeting Rooms
  • Co-Working Space
  • Start-up Office Space
  • Community Based Events
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The doors will be opening for business today and the official opening will be on May 27th. So stop by and check it out, 246 Queen Street, between Bank and Kent on the South side of Queen.

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Psst they have a La Cimbali coffee machine from Francesco’s, for those of you who have not had the Francesco’s coffee, you are definitely missing out.

Extreme colloboration

I had a really good time at the Ottawa Web Weekend (OWW). When I first signed up I was very intrigued by the concept, having a prototype in 28 hours. I really liked the vibe of some of the Camps that I had attended in the past. DemoCamp, CaseCamp, BarCamp. My expectations was that the OWW would have a similar vibe.I was looking forward to meeting new people and facing the challenge ahead.

4 hours to pitch, debate, vote and end up with one idea. Was that really possible? The answer is yes. All the ideas were really great, they were all unique, filled a need and did have a niche market associated with it. The success of this task due to the 30 or so people in the room all reaching consensus!!! The interesting part was that not one person dominated the conversation or had a hidden agenda. Everyone gave their input based on their expertise, why an idea was good/bad technically and from a customer point of view. It was very democratic and there was a basic framework to the weekend however there was enough flexibility so that the guidelines could be changed to streamline the process.

12 hours to pick a name, branding, requirements, use cases. This process usually takes many months is a real world scenario but we were able to achieve all of this in 12 hours!!!

There was no hierarchy and flexibility for people to change teams if they wished. There was no one to take care of the media so I moved over from business to take care of that. A java developer decided that he did not want to learn yet another programming language and opted to join the business team.

At the end of the weekend we had a working product so to speak. There were missing bits and the product needed to be integrated together, i.e. the UI with the actual use of the system. The business case was missing some financial information.

Everyone else was committed to continuing to work on this project. It was suggested that we meet before the long weekend in order to not loose momentum. Well that’s when all the schedule conflicts came to play. is it possible to get everyone in the same room again? Probably not but thanks to technology that is not necessarily the only way for a team to work together.

We do have a wiki that we used for the weekend to share information. So we can continue to use this to share our ideas and have a combination of Skype conference calls and in person meetings to get this web application or product off the ground.

Did we succeed? Does extreme collaboration work? Yes, I certainly think so. I will provide you with periodic updates on this Social Experiment.

Ottawa Web Weekend – Day 3

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Day 3 was off to a bit of an early start, 9am, 12 hours to have a prototype ready. Were we going to be able to get something out. Keep reading.

Rob did a human exercise, attitude vs skills. This was followed by the business team doing some role playing to really nail down how the users would use the web application. This was communicated to the developers.

The team revealed.

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The mood was more subdued as all the teams we working on their different tasks.

The UI started work on the visual elements of the site using the name that was picked the day before. Kim worked on the relevant documents needed for the future company. Business, business plan and Marketing on the messaging.

Here is a podcast by Mark Blevis about working on teams. More visuals by Mark and Natasha.
I switched roles today and worked on the media plan and media pitch. I still continued to take photos.

We were now heading towards the final stretch and the energy levels were going up as the teams were working to finish their tasks. Finally at 9:30pm it was time for the big show and tell from all the teams.

We started with the software developers. The user login and use of the system. The UI team then demonstrated the visual aspects of the web application. Legal went through what was ready and what needed to be completed. The same for the business plan, some vendors needed to be contacted during the week to finalize some pricing. Marketing had the copy writing for the website ready to go. All in all all the pieces of the puzzle were mostly completed and needed a few days to finish the bits.

The question at the end of the night was, who wants to continue working on this project. Everyone was in excluding the person that took this photo.

The Ottawa Web Weekend – Day 2

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Everyone was back at 10am on Sat. morning to get working on project A. We all gathered in the same space as the previous night however there were many conversations taking place at one time and hard to focus. The software developers moved out of the cafe area and into the meeting rooms. The marketing, business, legal and UI team worked together. The challenge was to define the requirements and develop the use cases. This would give the developers a place to start.

Here is a sneak peak at the team.

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Mark Blevis was the official podcaster for the event and here’s podcast 1.

I was on the business team and also did double duty trying to capture the goings on visually.Who would use the system and how they would use it had to be defined. We found all sorts of great target markets but we realized that the ones that had a long procurement cycle or heavy regulated were not our initial customers. Also the users had to have a fast internet connection and use computers in their daily business operations.

After lunch the requirements and use cases were presented to the developers. They provided an update on what programming languages and databases they would use. Here is a podcast of the developers.
While the developers created their development environment etc… the other group had to come up with a company name and branding. This was essential for the UI team so that they could get started on the design. This was quite a lot of fun and some of the names could have been taken out of context.

The general group dynamics were interesting. The people in the cafe area were loud and spent a lot of time talking. The developers were very quiet. Well this is a typical scenario in the real world.

The day ended with a lot of the basic product definitions, work flow, name and branding defined. Another podcast.

Stay tuned for updated on day 3.

Winterlude 2008

I went to Winterlude, in Ottawa, last weekend. It was the first time that I had attended Winterlude on opening day. This gave me the chance to see the different artists hard at work creating their sculptures. They took big blocks of ice and used various tools to carve out the different shapes. Getting the blocks of ice to stay together is quite the art as it involves scraping the ice block until it’s even, heating a piece of aluminum and putting this on the block to melt it a little. The other block is placed on top, thus becoming “glued” together.

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The person in the photo is one of the ice carvers and has been coming to Ottawa from the U.S.A for the past three years. He teaches culinary arts and enjoys coming to Ottawa for Winterlude. His creation ……

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