Software by Steven

Sometimes a square peg is a round hole

FSOSS 2010 – Terrific!

This past week was Open Source week in Toronto, the last two days of which held Seneca College’s 9th annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium. Always being bogged down with projects around reading week, this was my first in three years that I’d attended. Coming out of it I wish I had gone every year I could. Next year I won’t get the student discount 😦

Wednesday I hoped to attend the Level Up Game Jam, a day-long workshop on using WebGL, HTML5 Audio and JavaScript, but alas couldn’t attend. Though Thursday…

Thursday 9-12: Game Development using Processing.js

I attended a workshop by Game Jam speaker Andor Salga on Processing.js. Originally written using Java syntax as an MIT project in 2003, Processing was ported to JavaScript by jQuery inventor and web guru John Resig. Seneca has since been heavily involved with its development. An amazing platform, I found I picked it up incredibly easily and was able to whip up a game in 30 minutes, a game which would be later dubbed “Negative Pong”.

Single-player and mouse-driven, the object of the game is to keep the ball bouncing as long as possible without letting it go by your paddle. As there is no way to “win” your score counts down from 0 every time time you “drop the ball”. There was no time for audio, multi-player or keyboard controls, but this little tech demo was a great intro to the language. Inspired, I may have a new project (Processing, not Negative Pong) to spend some of my contribution time on. Then Friday hit.

Friday 11-12: Web Audio

This was one I was highly looking forward to. Having just learning some Processing (and thanks to discussions with Dave during class), I was eager to learn the other half of the coin. It’s unbelievable how far web audio has come in the last short bit. Intense visualizations, pure JavaScript text to speech, and a demo of Mozilla’s Flight of the Navigator js experience, tuned for FSOSS pictures and Twitter stream. While most of my work this last bit has been with <video>, Dave’ latest challenge has me exploring making my own visualizations. I’m working now on fine-tuning pitch-determined colours. Dave’s presentation can be found here.

Friday 1-2: WebGL Game Jam Results

The WebGL Game Jam Results. This was the followup to Wednesday’s day-long missed workshop. The results were great with quite a few innovative 2D and 3D games. Some, like mine, were little more than proof of concept games but others had had more time put into them and came out as great fully-functional WebGL-driven 3D games. Was great fun, and midway on a forum seemed to develop as the audience got involved. Watch the presentation here and watch out for 5:09 🙂

Friday 2-3: Federating the Social Web

Being involved with Mozilla, I wanted to attend at least one presentation from another standpoint. James Walker came from microblog producer to speak about OStatus, an open protocol developed to try and cull a few of the issues they’ve identified with microblogging and cross-site communication. Not having so much as a Twitter account, I felt the most out of my element going into this presentation, and fittingly learned the most coming out. Always an engaging speaker, you can watch “walkah” speak here.

Friday 3-4: Mozilla Drumbeat: open innovation for everyone

Mozilla Drumbeat: the project to make the web awesome. This was a great presentation as well. Matt Thompson came from Mozilla to discuss Drumbeat, they’re mission and what they’re doing to make things better. In true Open Source and Community fashion, the floor was then turned midway through into a Q&A and feedback session, generating discussion that I felt said more about the initiative, its strengths and its challenges than could have possibly been covered in a strict presenter-to-audience setting. Everyone in the room was an equal, with the audience answering each other’s questions, with Matt posing and answering his own into the mix. In a word I found it: collaborative. Watch it here.


The reception was great, I enjoyed every minute of it, and even had fun volunteering to take apart the demo room and bring computers back to CDOT. At the end of the day it didn’t matter who had spoken and who had heard, who was presenting or who had learned. It seemed we were all just there to share and broaden ourselves and have a great time with Open Source.


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