Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech scene (Week of Monday, July 31, 2017)

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, and tech entrepreneurs in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, July 31

Tuesday, August 1

Wednesday, August 2

Thursday, August 3

Friday, August 4

Saturday, August 5

Sunday, August 6


Sourcetoad is looking for a full-stack developer!

Do you live here or nearby? (Photo of Tampa wall mural.)

Do you know these? (Icons for PHP, Python, JavaScript, ReactJS, SQL.)

Do you want to work on interesting projects like these? (Photos of a cruise ship, anime, a medical worker with an iPad, children using computers as school, a scientist testing water quality in a pond, a smartphone in a hand.)

Would you like to work with gear and swag like this? (Photo of my Sourcetoad-assigned MacBook pro, dual monitors, and more.)

Are you comfy with a non-corporate dress code? (Photo of CEO Greg Ross-Munro in a Sourcetoad t-shirt and utilikilt.)

Would you be able to work with this guy? (Photo of Joey deVilla on accordion performing in front of a room full of developers.)

Have you always wanted to work someplace with a 5-star Glassdoor rating? (Screenshot of Glassdoor’s page for Sourcetoad.)

We’re looking for a full-stack developer! (Picture of Sourcetoad logo.)

That’s right, we’re looking for a full-stack developer with strong problem-solving skills, solid javaScript chops, experience with Python or PHP and a track record of building applications with large user bases. You can find out more about the position — and if interested, apply for it — at Stack Overflow Jobs.


Details about Tampa Bay’s upcoming “Hack Hospitality” hackathon (Aug 25 – 27)

Last night, the upcoming Hack Hospitality hackathon (taking place in St. Pete at Station House and The Iron Yard from Friday, August 25 through Sunday, August 27) held an info session where they covered the details. For the benefit of those of you who couldn’t make it, here are the slides that organizer Trey Steinhoff put together.

Hack Hospitality is organized by Startup Tampa Bay, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Ryan Sullivan, Gracie Stemmer, and Trey Steinhoff and whose mission is to empower entrepreneurs and inspire the next generation of leaders in Tampa Bay. They help organize a number of events here in Tampa Bay, including Startup Weekend, Startup Week, and Startup Social.

Why hack hospitality?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Leisure and Hospitality category accounts for 154,000 jobs in Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwater, which is about 12% of total non-farm wage and salary employment in the area. Tourism in the area — buoyed by having two of the best beaches in the U.S. (Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach) — helps drive our local hospitality industry, as does Tampa Bay being the home of hospitality powerhouses including national ones like Bloomin’ Brands (Outback Steakhouse) and local ones like Ciccio Restaurant Group.

The hospitality industry doesn’t always make use of the latest technology, and the technology they use often comes from a mish-mash of vendors and often doesn’t connect well. They also don’t have much exposure to the tech industry, and Hack Hospitality aims to fix that by bringing the two groups together to create practical, useful, and usable solutions for hospitality.

The hackathon will feature people from the hospitality industry, who’ll present challenges that teams can try to solve. They’ll also be available during the hackathon so that participants can ask the questions and make use of their domain expertise.

This is a developer-focused hackathon. The goal isn’t to come up with the best pitch or most viable business idea or business model; it’s to create code that people working in some part of the hospitality industry will find useful.

The schedule, rules, and code of conduct

The hackathon will take place over the weekend starting Friday, August 25th. Here’s the schedule:

Friday, August 25
  • 6:00 p.m.: Registration
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dinner and networking
  • 7:00 p.m.: Introduction, keynote, and overview of challenges
  • 7:30 p.m.: Teams form and choose a challenge
  • 7:45 p.m.: Breakout sessions with individual companies
  • 8:15 p.m.: Teams start working on solutions
Saturday, August 26
  • 8:00 a.m.: Doors open
  • 9:00 a.m.: Breakfast provided by Ciccios
  • 11:00 a.m.: Company reps arrive
  • 1:00 p.m.: Lunch provided by Ciccios
  • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner (details TBA)
  • 11:00 p.m.: Videogame and dessert hour
Sunday, August 27
  • 8:00 a.m.: Doors open
  • 9:00 a.m.: Breakfast provided by SaltBlock
  • 11:00 a.m.: Company reps arrive
  • 1:00 p.m.: Lunch
  • 3:00 p.m.: Official presentation practice and tech check
  • 5:00 p.m.: Closing keynote
  • 5:30 p.m.: Team presentations
  • 6:30 p.m.: Dinner provided by SaltBlock
  • 7:15 p.m.: Sourcetoad prize
  • 8:00 p.m. Afterparty!

Here are Hack Hospitality’s rules:

  1. There is no maximum or minimum team size.
  2. All team members should be present at the event. Leaving the venue for some time to hack elsewhere is fine.
  3. Teams can get advice from organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and others.
  4. All work on a project should be done at the hackathon.
  5. Teams can use an idea they had before the event, but they can’t work on its implementation before the event.
  6. Teams can work on ideas that have already been done. Hacks do not have to be original. You will be judged on the quality of that hack.
  7. Teams can work on an idea that they have worked on before (as long as they do not re-use code).
  8. Teams can use libraries, frameworks, or open-source code in their projects. Working on a project before the event and open-sourcing it for the sole purpose of using the code during the event is against the spirit of the rules and is not allowed.
  9. Adding new features to existing projects is allowed. Judges will only consider new functionality added during the hackathon.
  10. Teams must stop hacking once the time is up. However, teams are allowed to debug and make small fixes to their programs after time is up. Making large changes or adding new features is not allowed.
  11. All projects remain the intellectual property of individuals or teams that created them.
  12. By participating in the hackathon, you represent and warrant that you are the sole author and copyright owner of the project, and that the project is an original work of the team, or if the project is a work based on an existing code, that the you have acquired sufficient rights to use and to authorize others; and that the project does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other third party rights of which you are aware, and that the project is free of malware.
  13. Projects that violate the Code of Conduct are not allowed.
  14. Teams can be disqualified from the competition at the organizers’ discretion. Reasons might include but are not limited to breaking the Competition Rules, breaking the Code of Conduct, or other unsporting behavior.

And here are the judging criteria:

  1. Demo > Pitch. You are not judged on the quality of your pitch or the quality of your idea. You are judged on the quality of your hack.
  2. Technology: How technically impressive was the hack? Was the technical problem the team tackled difficult? Did it use a particularly clever technique or did it use many different components? Did the technology involved make you go “Wow”?
  3. Design: Did the team put thought into the user experience? How well designed is the interface? For a website, this might be about how beautiful the CSS or graphics are. For a hardware project, it might be more about how good the human-computer interaction is (e.g. is it easy to use or does it use a cool interface?).
  4. Completion: Does the hack work? Did the team achieve everything they wanted?

And finally, there’s a code of conduct, which is best summarized as “Don’t be a jerk”:

  • Harassment-free experience for everyone. We do not tolerate harassment of hackathon participants in any form.
  • Hackathon participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the hackathon without a refund (if applicable) at the discretion of the hackathon organizers.
  • Full details will be at


There will be a number of prizes for the solutions that are judged to be the best, including gift cards for local businesses, swag, and more to be announced as the hackathon draws closer.

Sourcetoad will provide the grand prize for the overall first place solution: $3,000 in cash! Not bad for a weekend’s work.

Sponsor organizations

Hack Hospitality is made possible through these sponsors:

Sourcetoad! They’re a great company with great people, and that’s why I now work there. We’re a tech consulting and software engineering company with offices in Tampa, Florida and Perth, Western Australia. One of our specialties is building software solutions for the cruise industry, for whom we make web, mobile, desktop, kiosk, and smart TV applications for a number of uses, ranging from in-cabin movies and TV to hotel, activity, excursion bookings — basically a lot of the behind-the-scenes software that makes a cruise-goer’s trip even better.

We’ll be there to provide our knowledge of the cruise and hotel industries, as well as access to data sets and APIs that participants might find useful for building their hospitality solutions.

Ciccio Restaurant Group are the people behind some of my favorite Tampa Bay Restaurants, including Green Lemon and Daily Eats. Among other things, they’ll provide breakfast and lunch on the Saturday.

SaltBlock Hospitality Group specialize in both catering/event production and hospitality management, and they’ll supply the meals on Sunday.

The Station House is a St. Pete institution. Part coworking space, part café/restaturant, part lounge, part yoga studio, part event space, it’s five floors of awesome in a beautiful brick building located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. They’re providing a beautiful, comfortable space in which to have the hackathon.

Also participating is The Iron Yard Tampa Bay, who occupy the Station House’s third floor. The Iron Yard is more than just a “bootcamp”-style coding school; it’s the social heart and soul of the St. Pete tech scene, thanks their opening their space in the evenings to the tech community for meetups and get-togethers, and their involvement in tech and civic events.

How to register for Hack Hospitality

It’s simple — go to to find out more, or if you like, you can go straight to the registration page.

There’s a $20-per-person registration fee, but attendees will be provided with food, drink, and more.


Next week’s Tampa iOS Meetup: Let’s build a checklist app (and meet at our new location, Sourcetoad)!

This month’s project: A checklist app

Checklist apps are a mainstay — they’re popular enough for there to be a healthy number of them in the App Store, including these seven big players. At the next Tampa iOS Meetup, we’ll build a simple version that lets users add or remove items from a “to-do” style list, mark or unmark them as complete, and edit the details of any item in the list. Along the way, we’ll cover such items as:

  •  Table Views, the UI elements that provide viewers with a visual list
  • Segues, which move the user from one “screen” to another
  • Classes, and how to use them in object-oriented programming

Bring your MacBook, because this is a hands-on programming exercise! You’ll get provide a “starter” project that you’ll work on as Joey walks you through the process of building a basic checklist app. By the end of this session, you’ll have a working checklist/to-do list app that you can use as a jumping-off point to create your own list-style applications for the iPhone or iPad.

New location

Tampa iOS Meetup had a new location: the offices of Joey’s new employer, Sourcetoad, who are located in Carrollwood on Busch just east of Dale Mabry. It’ll be the home of Tampa iOS Meetup from now on. It’s located in Twin Lakes Office Park, and the map below should make it a little easier to find Sourcetoad in the complex (we’re in unit #1018):


There will be food and drink — I’m aiming for pizza, for both carnivores and vegetarians.

As we move to our new location, we’d like to thank Wolters Kluwer and John Wang for being Tampa iOS Meetup’s home for the past year. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated!

The details, and how to register for this meetup

So what’s Tampa iOS Meetup about, anyway?

Tampa iOS Meetup is the Tampa Bay area’s meetup for beginning programmers and developers new to iOS development. We take a hands-on approach because it’s our answer to a question that I’ve been asked again and again, and it goes something like this:

“I’ve been studying iOS development for some time, and I’m still having a problem writing apps. I know how to program specific features in iOS, but I don’t know how to turn a bunch of features into an app.”

It’s one thing to go through tutorials that show you how to program a specific feature. It’s a completely different thing to take the knowledge from those tutorials and then write an app. My goal for Tampa iOS Meetup in 2017 is to show you how to make that leap by walking you through the process of making apps.

If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and you’ve always wanted to learn iOS development but needed some help getting started, Tampa iOS Meetup is for you! It’s a regular gathering aimed at people new to iOS development or software development in general where we cover all sorts of programming topics as we build applications together in a casual, fun, hands-on setting. Find out more at the Tampa iOS Meetup page.

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

Join us for drinks and learn about the upcoming “Hack Hospitality” hackathon at tonight’s info session!

I’ll be at tonight’s info session for Tampa’s upcoming Hack Hospitality hackathon at The Attic (500 East Kennedy Blvd., 4th floor), and you should be there too!

What is “Hack Hospitality”?

Hack Hospitality is a hackathon where participants come up with solutions to the problems that leading companies in Tampa Bay’s hospitality industry are trying to solve. The plan is to bring together the best builders and problem solvers in Tampa Bay’s emerging technology community with select companies in hospitality and come up with ideas, strategies, applications, and technologies to solve real problems that our local hospitality industry is facing.

In case you were wondering, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of June 2017, Leisure and Hospitality accounts for 154,000 jobs in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, which is about 12% of total non-farm wage and salary employment in the area.

Hack Hospitality will take place from Friday, August 25 through Sunday, August 27 at The Iron Yard in St. Petersburg.

What’s in it for participants? What’s in it for the hospitality industry?

For participants, Hack Hospitality is an opportunity to solve real problems and build useful technology in an innovative environment with reputable collaborators. Our coders and problem solvers will be supplied with all of the food, drinks, swag, and resources they could want so that they are not only productive, but also happy. At the end of the hackathon, participants could walk away as owners of valuable products which can be leveraged with our partner companies. Most importantly, winners go home with huge prizes, both cash and otherwise.

For hospitality companies, Hack Hospitality is a chance to crowdsource revolutionary ideas, strategies, and technology from our community while engaging with top developer and business talent. Companies could walk away with new technology, partners, employees and public recognition for being an innovative leader in the region who embraces technology and supports the individuals and nonprofits that create positive change.

What’s happening at tonight’s info session?

Tonight’s info session is a change for people interested in participating in Hack Hospitality to learn more about:

  • the hackathon
  • the prizes offered
  • the hackathon’s partner companies, which includes Sourcetoad, where I work
  • details about the real business challenges that will be presented at the hackathon so that you can prepare

The Hack Hospitality info session takes place tonight (Wednesday, July 26) at 6:00 p.m. at The Attic (500 East Kennedy Blvd., 4th floor, one floor above Tampa Bay WaVE). The café will be serving drink specials and there will be light snacks.

Who’s behind Hack Hospitality?

Hack Hospitality is a part of Tampa Bay Hackathon, an event series run by Startup Tampa Bay. They host events designed to empower and inspire our community, namely, Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, Startup Weekend Youth, Tampa Bay Startup Week, Tampa Bay Hackathon, Startup Socials, and various workshops. They’re entirely volunteer driven and community backed, and are always looking for sponsors, partners, and collaborators of all kinds who share the belief that empowering entrepreneurs and connecting the business community will shape the future of Tampa Bay.

Sourcetoad is where I work, and it’s also sponsoring Hack Hospitality. When we’re not doing custom enterprise development, making customizable middleware, or creating digital business models for our clients, we’re active in helping build up and support the Tampa Bay tech community.

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

Toronto and Vancouver have the best tech talent for the buck; Tampa and 4 other Florida cities show promise

Click the graph to see it at full size.

CBRE’s Tech Talent Quality vs. Cost Analysis graph (shown above) is getting a lot of discussion among my Canadian techie friends and fellow Canadian techie expats living in the U.S. because it shows something we’ve been telling everyone for years: for the best bang for your labor buck, you really want to go with a Canadian techie (especially if you’re spending US dollars; at the time of writing, $1CAD = $0.80USD).

It also shows that Florida is showing some promise: out of 47 metro areas in the graph, 5 of them are in the Sunshine state. Listed by increasing x, where the x-axis is labor quality, which in turn is defined in the graph as “concentration of software engineers/developers with 3+ years experience that have earned degrees from the top 25 Computer Information Science programing in the U.S. and Canada as rated by U.S. News*, 2017”, these places are:

  1. Jacksonville
  2. Tampa
  3. Orlando
  4. Miami
  5. Fort Lauderdale

* Take the precise positions of areas on the graph with a grain of salt. There are some oddities on both axes. For starters, I find it hard to believe that the average tech salary in much pricier Miami is lower than in Tampa (or Madison!). As for “labor quality”, that’s derived from U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges Guide, whose rankings can be bought and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Toronto and Vancouver also place in North America’s largest tech talent pools. At 4th place, Toronto is just behind Washington, D.C., which in turn is beaten only by the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Toronto has considerably more tech talent than the next three cities to metros after it: Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, and surprisingly, Seattle (home of both Microsoft and Amazon):

All this comes from CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent in North America 2017 report, which they describe as “a comprehensive analysis of labor market conditions, cost and quality for highly skilled tech workers in the U.S. and Canada.” It takes the 50 largest markets and ranks them using several criteria, including “competitive advantages and appeal to tech employers and tech talent”, and “provides insight into the quality of tech talent, their demographics and how tech talent growth patterns are impacting cities and real estate markets”.

I found out about the report via my friend, startup/marketing/operations expert April Dunford, who posted the graph and table above on her Facebook account. You can find the report here, but it’s available only to people with a CBRE account.

If you were wondering why you haven’t heard of a technology organization called CBRE, it’s because they’re not in tech. CBRE Group is a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate company — in fact, after acquiring part of ING in 2011, they’re the largest real estate investment manager in the world. Knowing that, it becomes clear why a real estate company would research tech talent and where to find it: they make money from office space, and a good market for that product is well-paid white collar workers who gravitate towards perks like premium office space.

Toronto and Vancouver skylines, as seen from the water.

I’ll leave it to other people, especially my techie friends, to discuss the meaning of Toronto’s and Vancouver’s rankings discuss CBRE’s Scoring Tech Talent in North America 2017 report at length. I’ll just say that I cut my professional software development teeth in Toronto, and during my time at Microsoft and Shopify, spent a fair bit of time in Vancouver’s tech scene. Having seen both these cities, I can attest to their techie bang for the buck, and I’ve watched how they’ve grown from relative software backwaters to overlooked gems to software powerhouses…and I took notes (a number of which you’ll see in my blogs, Global Nerdy and The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century).

University of Tampa’s distinctive minarets, as seen from across the river in Curtis Hixon Park.

I’m now in Tampa, and I want to take the lessons of Toronto and Vancouver and apply them to my new home. Tampa has its own advantages, such as a sub-tropical climate, low cost of living, and a “brain gain” resulting from hundreds of thousands of people moving to the Orlando-Tampa corridor every year. Tampa also has its challenges, including geographical fragmentation thanks to Tampa Bay, the deadly combo of automobile overdependence and a lot of bad urban design decisions, and a significant chunk of the population that just wants a big lawn, a nearby mall with big box stores and chain restaurants, and a nap.

The strong Tampa/Florida presence on the Tech Talent Quality vs. Cost Analysis is an indicator is that something’s happening here in the Sunshine State. We can choose to maintain this momentum, make the best use of our brainpower and location and move ourselves farther right (and hey, up) on the graph, or we can choose to do the safe, lazy thing and rely solely on tourism. I’m choosing the former, and plan to take what I learned from being in Toronto and Vncouver to work with local like-minded people to help bring it about.


Scenes from day one at Sourcetoad

Yours Truly, dressed for software product management success!

Day one of the new job at Sourcetoad started with me going to the gym, heading home, showering, and then getting appropriately dressed, as pictured above.

Then it was off to the new office, whose exterior looks like this:

The view from near Sourcetoad’s future front door (we’re expanding into another office).

The side of Sourcetoad’s building.

The view from near Sourcetoad’s front door (soon to be its back door, as we’re expanding the office).

The office is biking distance from home, but I’ll be driving to work for the next little while. That’s because from June to September, Tampa gets afternoon tropical storms with lots of lightning (Tampa’s the lightning capital of North America), and during those times, a bike a basically a lightning rod that you sit on.

In addition to being my first day at Sourcetoad, it was also the first day for our new mural. Local artists Rebekah Lazaridis and Meaghan Scalise came by in the morning to paint the work.

I got only a momentary glimpse of the artists in action, as I was busy wrangling my new provisions:

Click the photo to see it at full size.

As is tradition when one is on their first day at a workplace with a more startup-like feel, I’m posting a photo of the stuff that’s been assigned to me by Sourcetoad. Among them are:

  • 15-inch Macbook Pro. It’s my first new-school Macbook with the Touch Bar and incompatible-with-everything-I-own USB-C ports. But it is a delightfully lean, mean, senior product management machine! The company-provided spare power adapter is a nice bonus.
  • Not one, but two additional monitors! This is the first workplace to provide such a perk.
  • Sourcetoad water bottle. I’m a regular gym-goer and cyclist (I plan to bike to work when it’s not thunderstorm season), so I can never have too many good water bottles.
  • Sourcetoad-branded “Field Notes”-style notebook and mechanical pencil. Because there are times when electronics will fail you.

I spent the morning getting my laptop and various accounts set up, followed by lunch with CEO Greg Ross-Munro and Director of Operations Deborah Neff, most of the afternoon getting briefed on software projects by Director of Projects Nick DeMelas, and the end of the day having a beer with the Sourcetoad crew in the break room. I’m pretty pleased with how Day One went.