Not quite photo-blogging at events yet…

April 2, 2008 – by An-Min

Since my attendance at various *camps in the Ottawa area last year, I really enjoy meeting the various entrepreneurs and developers at these events. They are a great resource for people in technology.

Part of the purpose for this blog is to share my experiences at these events. One thing unique that I would like to bring is to take photos of these events and share them — to bring the readers a closer experience.

I started by taking photoes with my little point-and-shoot Canon A630. Low-light and general snap performance was not up to par, so I went out and bought an entry-level SLR, the Canon Rebel XT. It’s a great camera, but again, taking pictures at indoor events at night with the stock 18-55mm lens did not cut it either — the performance was better, but images are still blurry. I took quite a few pics at the Refresh Ottawa event, and luckily, a couple of pictures came out ok. (The write-up for that event is on StartupOttawa.com.)

Thinking it is caused of the small aperture and the hand-share, I thought maybe the 50mm lens with f/1.8 (much cheaper than a decent image stabilized lens, which is what really should work), would do the trick. The results are better, but, no cigar… The focus length provides too much zoom and does not work well for crowded indoor events.

So… at the next event, I’ll try to use the stock lens again, but jack up the ISO to the max; the pictures will be noisy, but might be good enough. Sorry to all the folks that let me take their pictures to be posted, but the pictures just don’t look nice (so I don’t end up posting them)…

Another note, in case you’re wondering… It takes a bit of time to upload pictures, process them, crop, resize and upload them to a blog… just a bit too cumbersome for an occasional blogger like me. Sigh…


A contact for IRAP research grant

April 2, 2008 – by An-Min

Bob Reichert from the NRC (National Research Council) announced in DemoCamp Ottawa 8 that, if your startup is seeking research grants and/or general questions regarding IRAP, you can contact him at 613.993.7890 or Bob.Reichert at nrc.gc.ca.


Some Ottawa startups are hiring

April 2, 2008 – by An-Min

These companies has announced at DemoCamp Ottawa 8 on Monday that they are looking for staff, software developers and others, to join their team:

Thornley Fallis / 76 Design

Real Decoy

FavQuest (part-time, sweat-equity? for now)


My recap of Ottawa DemoCamp 8

April 2, 2008 – by An-Min

The latest DemoCamp a couple of nights ago was interesting. A few observations:

  • no dominant technology platform used across the board (asp.net, java , php, etc.)
  • a professional emcee (David Schellenberg of LiVE 88.5) really helps makes it a better event

In addition to the wiki for this event, there’s a pretty good over-all recap of the event on StartupOttawa.com if you’re interested for a better coverage.


Google Sites is pretty neat!

February 28, 2008 – by An-Min

Google Sites just came out. It’s quite well put-together, and much nicer than other Wiki’s. However, I don’t think it will get main-stream adoption yet. (Btw: it’s the re-worked JotSpot Wiki engine after they bought it at the end of 2006.)

See it in action at http://sites.google.com/ or watch this video:


Star chef Gordon Ramsey understands the importance of innovation

January 2, 2008 – by An-Min

Innovation is the key to success everywhere you look. It even applies beautifully in low-tech environments like restaurants.

I’m a big fan of the show Kitchen Nightmares. In today’s episode, Mixing Bowl, the eye opener for the despaired owners is that the number of local restaurants has grown 10 times in the last 10 years, but they haven’t changed a bit. So, how to win inĀ  this situaion?

Gordon’s solution? It is not to simply improve or extend their menu offerings (something we tech companies do so often without thinking about the bigger picture). It is “innovation” as applied in their local context: offer something “nobody else” has, but obviously lacking, in that geographic area: a healthy menu.

The result? Innovation is the key that, together with the new efforts by the staff, helps the restaurant back on a profitable course.


Some Ottawa startups review

December 19, 2007 – by An-Min

The Ottawa Business Journal has posted an article on the latest status of some Ottawa startups:

    Startup Checkup 2007

The tech companies mentioned in the article:

    Avoca Semiconductor, voice-interface solutions, hardware & software

    Distil Interactive, web education and training, software

    Gridpoint Systems, carrier ethernet solutions, hardware

    ImaSight, digital radiography solutions, hardware

    Jaded Pixel, ecommerce solution, software

    Kakiloc (closed), location-based social networking service, software

    Liponex, biopharmaceutical research, medicine

    Mercury Grove, group collaboration software, software

    MODA Solutions, alternative payments and e-commerce, software

    Sidense, memory cores, hardware


Ecommerce complexity for Canadians

December 8, 2007 – by An-Min

Scott
Scott
Craig
Craig

On the subject of how to receive Ecommerce payments on websites, I sat over a cup of coffee with Scott Lake of Shopify and Craig Fitzpatrick of DevShop. They provided some great information.

Scott’s company is a hosted Ecommerce service provider for online merchants. Craig’s company provides hosted software development project management application and accepts payments on his website.

Essentially, the main issues are cost and control. Let’s take Paypal and similar services as an example. Cost: easier to setup, but the transaction fees are higher, making it suitable for small or micro businesses. Control: either direct your customers to their site during payment, or use their limited built-in web hosting features.

Otherwise, jump through the banking hoops will get you lower cost and full-control. Some of the “hoops” include signing up a credit card processor, getting a bank account with an US bank, get an US address and phone number, get an IRS EID number, etc. etc.

Yep, you have to deal with a lot of “US” issues, because payment processors do not like dealing with Canadian corporations. And, btw, despite some extra work, accepting payment from American Express cards right off the bat is a good idea.

Long story short, when it comes to receiving payment on your website, expect some planning and research. Side note: don’t forget to factor in taxes, inventory management, account management, invoicing, etc. etc.


Ecommerce payment processing options for your website

December 4, 2007 – by An-Min

To receive payments from your website, which option should you choose? One of the best ways to find out is to learn from others with experience.

I am planning to do a series of ecommerce interviews with various local businesses. If you have a business that accepts payments on your website and would like to share your experience, I’d love to hear from you.


Amazon’s Kindle was sold out in 5.5 hours — praise for the design team?

November 25, 2007 – by An-Min

Amazon Kindle
(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader sold out in 5.5 hours, yet it has received absolutely abysmal product reviews from the blogosphere. What do you think: Should Amazon continue to praise its design anyways?

This is a tough management issue to deal with. To be exceptional, Amazon needs to be honest with itself and make the necessary corrections immediately.

On an more practical note, Robert Scoble has just posted this excellent video rant on what’s wrong with it. I think it’s one of his best critics/blogs yet. If you care about usability, design, product launch execution, etc., it is an great critique along with suggestions on how to fix the problems.