Friday, November 30, 2007

Tacoma Musical Playhouse Update

Back in July construction was being done at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse over on 6th Avenue . You may recall this exterior view.

Phase One of a reconstruction of the entire facility is now complete. Added adjacent to the old theater were a green room, bathrooms and dressing area for the actors (much better than having to change in the aisles backstage). For that the actors are grateful. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures.

However, at last nights dress preview of Meet Me in Saint Louis, Julie was able to snap a few photos of some of the other improvements.

The entry to the the theater has shifted to the left of the entrance where formerly a different facility existed and has added to the size of the lobby substantially.



As you enter, new floor tiling might catch your eye.



The concession stand is now on the other side of the longer lobby with far more room to serve patrons.



Now gone are the overhead tiling squares and dingy lighting. In there place a higher ceiling and beautiful lights with accents and recessed lighting surrounding room.





To do it justice you have to see it, but here are the artist conceptualizations that represent the larger view.




But in the end, the single greatest improvements to the theater going experience were to ...........

.... the bathrooms.

Anyone, especially if you are a woman who had to deal with a line during intermission created by the grand total of two stalls, can appreciate these changes.



And there is a SECOND line of them on the other side.



I suppose that it is fitting that the next show I will be in at the theater is Urinetown. More on that at another time.

These improvements benefit greatly the experience of the actors and patrons of the theater. In the next phase, an orchestra pit for the fine musicians who make live accompaniment a hallmark of the shows performed at this musical theater.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Notable Blogs


I have all of fifteen minutes today to give a tour of what we are calling "Some Notable Blogs".

Given that this will be done at a local South Puget Sound conference it makes sense to include some local blogs. After all, this is an active blogging community and there are in fact many blogs that would be considered notable. But in order to give those in attendance a broad sense of the huge selection of blogs that there are to choose from, it will be necessary to reach out into the vast blogosphere as well. Not to mention we are covering quite a few with our panels: newspaper based blogs, parentally focused blogs and civic and community minded blogs to be exact.

I know it is impossible to give a good overview when there is such a eclectic mix of sites to choose from, but that also means that I am swimming in choices to use as examples.

Therefore: I am going to hit as many as I can under a number of categories.

First, since they we are talking blogs, how about blogs about blogs.
Since I use Google's Blogger tool, I thought I would include Blogger Buzz.

And from a technical point of view there is the CNET blog.

Because some of my favorite blogs are in their hearts simply personal journals, I thought I would feature two that I frequent online.

Erik Emery Hanbergs blog which often has an art focus (check out that great martini glass). Erik will be leading a birds of a feather group later today.

Someone who I encountered after he posted on my site who I only know as "noisms". I have never met him but feel like I know a bit about him and enjoy reading his blog. We are different in age, location and political viewpoint, but I relate to his style of writing and perspective.

Some bloggers are in the employ of a business which they blog about.

Our favorite bell captain from the Hotel Murano for instance.

This isn't strictly speaking a permanent employee but you might like this gentleman's enthusiasm for Tacoma and his adventures as an intern.

Rather than hit too many blogs in so few minutes I thought I would feature some local blogrolls. Blogrolls are, according to Wikipedia, "a collection of links to other weblogs. When present, blogrolls are often found on the front page sidebar of most weblogs."

FeedTacoma contributors
The News Tribunes blog list plus local blogs
A large selection of links from the TacomaMama site

Anthro professor Mike Wesch has an excellent video on YouTube called The Machine is Us(ing) US. In it, there is a statement that a new blog is being created every half second. With that many blogs at work, sites that provide value be aggregating information and activity from them have been created.

Tracking interactions between bloggers:
Technorati, BlogPulse, Tailrank, PubSub and BlogScope.

I invite you to provide a category and some examples as well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i-SAFE From Harassment and Blackmail


Two examples of online social harassment and criminal activity came up in conversations I had last week.

First. The story of Megan Meier, a 13 girl who hanged herself Oct. 16, 2006, after becoming upset over messages she received from a boy she had met online. First he befriended her, and then six weeks later began attacking her personally with harassing messages, not only posted by him, but from other "friends" as well.

It has been in the news recently because it turned out the person who created the MySpace account was not a 16 year old boy named Josh at all, but in fact a neighbor and an adult. It was a woman posing as the boy to find out what Megan may have been saying about her daughter. When the harassing messages and the true identity of the sender were discovered, police notified the parents that although the actions were vile, they were not illegal.

Secondly. The story of Amy Polumbo. Amy Polumbo is Miss New Jersey and a 22-year old student at Wagner University. She was the subject of an attempted blackmail scheme in July of 2007 when someone threatened to send compromising photos from her Facebook account to the Miss America Pageant. The account was password protected and the photos were meant to be private, but instead ended up being mailed to the pageant board by a group calling itself "The Committee to Save Miss America."

Pretty negative stuff, but some recent positive action has resulted.

Last week, Dardenne Prairie, where Megan lived, became the first city to pass a measure outlawing Internet harassment. She wasn't from Florissant, Missouri, but the incident inspired the Florissant's city council to unanimously pass an internet harassment ordinance yesterday as well. It is now a misdemeanor.

In the second story, Amy went public with the photos. The speculation was far more scandalous than the photos, which could have been of any college age student horsing around with friends. No nudity, no underage drinking, just out with friends and partying some. (like I have said, be careful when drinking with friends carrying digital cameras).

As a result, Amy is now a national spokesperson for i-SAFE, a leader in Internet safety education. She is hoping to raise awareness about victimization of children on the Internet.

Their mission as self stated: "i-SAFE Inc. is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to safely and responsibly take control of their Internet experiences."

"i-SAFE provides age-appropriate K-12 curriculum to schools in all 50 states free of charge. The curriculum is a dynamic interactive program designed to educate and empower the student. Each lesson includes Activity Pages and Discussion for the class. The high school curriculum is a video Webcast hosted by teens on either VHS or DVD format. Some of the lessons taught by i-SAFE are:

* Cyber Citizenship
* Personal Safety
* Cyber Security
* Intellectual Property
* Cyber Bullying
* Predator Identification"

As parents and as citizens in the virtual world, we need to be aware of how rapidly technology is changing our children's social activities. Ethics, laws and behavior change when you go online. The feeling of anonymity and the disguise of an alias provide all the cover that some folks need to do things we wouldn't approve of or legally allow in the real world. Adjustments will come, but in the meantime, education and awareness from child to adult will have to do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Just Another Manic Cyber Monday

If you believe, as I do, that almost everything we do societally eventually ends up with a virtual counterpart, then you are not surprised nor unfamiliar with Cyber Monday. As of Sunday night there were over 1,500 Google news articles on it with a variety of hooks covering the topic. It will be on television, all over the web of course and in the newspapers.

What is it?

Why, it is The Online After-Holiday Super Sale!!
Step back, cyber bystanders loitering around the online worlds shopping doors or you will get run over. Get ready to circle the download parking lot looking for the best spot. Watch out unsuspecting shopper, for just as you reach for that iWiiPS360 50" flat screen hard to find item, someone is likely to use a "Blade of Eternal Justice" upside your head to take it from you.

At least that's what I am reading.

Business Week reports of potential productivity losses predicted from a "Challenge, Gray and Christmas" report.

There are also growth and sales forecasts from a variety of stores, comparisons of shopping online to shopping in the flesh, pointers for online shoppers and ((you better watch out) for goodness sake) even a list of Oprah's favorite things for Cyber Monday.

Some of the retailers are even bending reality. According to one report, Best Buy is starting Cyber Monday ..... a day early. Which I would imagine makes it Cyber Sunday, or the day before Cyber Monday day.

But whether manufactured or not, as the red suited gentleman tossing candy from the last float of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade can attest, yes Virginia, there is a Cyber Monday. (This last sentence brought to you by The Magic of Macy’s: Cyber Monday Exclusive Web-Busters!)

At least according to Shop.org, which is part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation, and the originator of the term in 2005.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Exit133 and Virtual Community

One of the books that inspired me early on in my World Wide Web work was written in 1993 by Howard Rheingold and was called The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. In it he helped to define for me what a "virtual community'' might be. Both like minded and diverse people gather online, collaborate, argue, problem-solve and form lasted emotional relationships.

There is a sense of place and boundary without any real physical counterpart and frequently little or no physical contact. The community he discussed most often was his own, “The Well” which was a BBS system in 1985. He describes how communities can bond over personal matters, with the example catalyst being his son’s contracting leukemia. Interestingly, an illness in the family and the need to share information and request insight from family and friends has been the catalyst for several blogs I know, some local, and is also the subject of a previous blog entry about CaringBridge and a little girl named Jayna Bean.

Online communities have come a long way in just a bit more than a decade. Fully formed virtual worlds like Second Life exist and continue to provide examples of how it is possible to move real world systems like real estate, guided tours and job interviewing into a universe of bits and bytes.

But what makes a community? A feeling of place, a selection of individuals with a broad common interest but diverse experiences and opinions, venues for sharing, discussing a collaborating, rules and laws, an opportunity to contribute and even stake a claim for some of the land (virtual of course).

These attributes are part of several strong communities on the web such as Triggerstreet (which even has a Hall of Justice and citizen rankings), MousePlanet (which also plans physical meet ups) and our own Exit133.

Derek Young and Erik Hanberg stopped in to give a tour of the site and to discuss its inception and growth, as well as the strong local community of readers and contributors.

Exit133.com is about Tacoma, Washington, (and sometimes the surrounding Pierce County) so it has a definite sense of place. Derek launched the blog in its current form in May 2005 and it has grown into a valuable local resource for information, conversation (both in the comments section and the forum) community (whether it be bocce or otherwise).

Size of a community matters and the citizens who frequent Exit133 have grown in number to a degree that the site is treated on occasion as a media outlet. Not only have the number of readers/viewers grown, but so have the number of those commenting on the blog posts and the forums. As noted by Derek, the people who comment are often experts in their fields, making their insights all the more valuable to those participating in the discussions or utilizing those discussions as an information resource. This Consumer Generated Media (CGM) is the fuel that fires up the community engine. Civil participation without value is a mob; valuable participation with civility is society. (Does that sound like something the Sphinx from Mystery Men would say?).

Other attributes of the site include an events calendar, managed by the site operators and videos of events, artists and activities downtown, all with a Tacoma focus.

Exit133 works because it maintains a common topical interest with contributions metered by a small dose of editorial control and a strong community standard. When someone gets out of line online, they are generally reeled in by other patrons of the site.

That area of interest can expand however, as is the case with Exit133b. Erik Hanberg, who also blogs at www.erikemery.com, is helping to grow this off ramp to arts and entertainment discussion with an intent to provide a resource similar to the main exit but for the arts community. I have written some theater reviews myself for this portion of the site. Known as the lighter side of the web site, Erik has attributed the “B” designation as not only an extension of the freeway sign metaphor, but also the “B” side of a single or even “B” for Beta, as they are still tinkering with the concept.

Perhaps when the "C" side launches, it will stand for community, something that already exists within the virtual boundaries just off of this exit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kindling My Interest

I am stuck.

What do I want for Christmas? What do I want to give for Christmas? What will be the device of the holidays?

One of my kids wants an iPod Nano. I like the new design and size. The grey version goes for 149.00 but then jumps 50 bucks for a different color. Really? For a color change? If I go this direction then I would just as soon by her the grey version and a skin of her choice.

Interestingly, there is substantial jump to the iPod classic in terms of space for files. Four Gig to Forty Gig with a 100 dollar change in price. How do you use up 40 Gig of space, or 80 Gig for that matter? Does the space fill up fast?

What about the Zune? I just read that it is the best selling music player on Amazon. Is 2.0 much better than the 1.0?

Another of my children would like a Nintendo DS, as there are two others in the household who already own and are using them to play games. It is distracting enough listening to just those two playing against each other in the family room, even with their headsets on. There will be complete silence for several minutes and out of nowhere, one or the other will jump off the couch yelling in victory or defeat. These sudden outbursts scare the heck out of me sometimes. Three would be worse no doubt.

Sudden jolts to the heart aside; this is probably safer than when we had a toddler crossing back and forth in front of two people playing the Wii sports package. Whether it be boxing, bowling or Wii tennis, I was certain the little boy was going to just get smacked as he continued to weave his way back and forth between the flailing arms of the oblivious players.

And the PS3 just got a substantial price cut.

Another device just introduced is the Kindle, which is featured on the Amazon home page. It is the latest attempt at a readable, easily portable and usable e-book (which I believe poses no physical threat). I really want one. At least I want the idea of one. Forbes and the New York Times have both exclaimed the virtues of Kindle 2.0. Too bad this is only version 1.0. All the talk is of what it could be, and not so much what it is.

I think it is fascinating that when you check out the product from the Amazon link on the home page, and drop to the product page that Amazon’s own strength is its weakness. Out of the 182 customer reviews on the page, 72 of them rated the product a 1 (lowest rating). Out of five stars it received two a one half stars.

My question is this. How many of them even have the product? Many were condemning it by virtue of the product specifications as opposed to experience.

In the meantime another family member is searching for a new laptop but I don’t want to think about that just yet.

At this point, I am leaning toward Play-Doh and sweaters for Christmas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

BoF Sessions and SST 8 Program Update



Here is an update to some of the program for the Eighth South Sound Technology Conference. Let us know what questions within these topics provoke your interest.

Opening Address - Welcome by Congressman Adam Smith (and others)

Panel One - "How Blogging has Transformed the News" Mark Briggs and selected company.

Focus Topic - "A Basic Introductory Tour Through Notable Blogs" Andrew Fry

Panel Two - "How ParentBloggers are Transforming Community" www.TacomaMama.com and "Life of Elle" (and others)

Focus Topic - "Blog Tech: Connecting, Reading and Feeding" Kevin Freitas from FeedTacoma

Panel Three - "Civic Blogging: Public Discourse and Participation Through Blogs" Paul Ellis from BIA, Derek Young from Exit133 (and others)

Close and Invite to Birds of a Feather

I would like to highlight for a moment the Birds of a Feather.

This year we are keeping the conference shorter, running only until 1:00pm. Along with some scheduling concerns, the reason for this is the very large number of sub topics that can be discussed.

Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions provide face to face exposure to those interested in the same projects and concepts. BoFs can be organized for individual projects or broader topics (best practices, building community, managing forums). BoFs are entirely up to the attendees and participants of the conference. We can post your topic ideas online and on the conference site, with some space suggestions as well. At the end of the regular conference time has been set aside for these groups to meet. You provide the engaging topic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Watching the PC

Is there such thing as a PC dinner? Or a PC guide? How about a PC tray for your PC dinner?

I just watched the NBC show Chuck the other night on my computer. I had missed an episode and forgot to set the DVR to record it, and I kinda like the show.

So anyway, I was sitting there next to my wife watching the computer thinking that this was something new and different. Well, for me it was, but not in Europe.

In the recently released European Interactive Advertising Association report, "SHIFTING TRADITIONS: INTERNET RIVALLING TV IN MEDIA CONSUMPTION STAKES" all sorts of online habits and their adoption are outlined.

The one I found fascinating for the moment was that this:

For the first time ever, 16-24 year olds are now accessing the internet more frequently than they are watching TV – 82% of this younger demographic use the internet between 5 and 7 days each week while only 77% watch TV as regularly (a decrease of 5% since last year). 16-24 year olds also spend 10% more time surfing the internet than sat in front of the television and almost half (48%) claim their TV consumption has dropped off as a direct result of the internet.

So here is my question. What if they are spending 15% of their time on the internet watching "Chuck"? Doesn't that tip the balance back in the favor of TV even if you count that time on both? Come on TV, you can hang in there as the entertainment venue of choice! At least for a while.

Now here is another thought. Oh wait, I think "The Bionic Woman" is on the PC. I'll have to get back to that.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

South Sound Technology Conference 2007



The Blogging Boom:
How News, Private Enterprise, Parenting and Civic Action have Changed Through Online Journaling.

Please save the date to join us on Thursday, November 29th, 9:00am to 1:00pm (8:30am registration) in the Carwein Auditorium of the Keystone Building on the University of Tacoma campus, for a conference on how blogging is changing the way we communicate, socialize and take action.

After the event we hope to organize several "birds of a feather" break out groups to head out to lunch and carry on further with the conversations.

Speakers and panelists will explore who is doing blogging, how it's being done and how you can participate. Come join the conversation on how blogging is transforming the exchange of information, and the influence on journalism, business, civic leadership and the public at large.

Many members of the local South Sound blogging community will be there and I hope you will be as well.

More information to follow as the program firms up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Online Scavenger Hunt Fall 2007: WRAP UP!!!

UPDATE: THE DAY AFTER

Congrats to Jan and Wendy for first, Bryant and Allysha for second, Eric and Lamond for third and Nancy C for first out of non class participants.

Until next time.

---------------------------------------------

Collect as many items as you can by 1:45 PM Pacific Time. You can provide the items in two ways. Find the item and copy and paste the URL into an email or a document. When you have collected as many items as possible email me the results with the subject line TINST207 FALL 2007 HUNT. Some items are not URLs but can still be copy and pasted into a document. Provide as many as you can.

NUMBER EACH URL WITH THE CORRESPONDING ITEM NUMBER.

Note: If you need to physically write down any information you can turn them in to the front desk in the Pinkerton reception area. This should not be the case.


1) The URL address for the HTTP specification.

2) A shopping cart with total price plus delivery of “Screenplay” the book, a Panasonic AG DVX100A camcorder and a Roomba robot vacuum.

3) Travel itinerary for Disneyland for 2 adults and 2 kids at the Grand Californian hotel.

4) A list of the Tacoma Gnomes favorite movies.

5) The names of three matchmaking websites that are NOT eHarmony.com.

6) A web page (or address) featuring Andrew Fry as a panelist for Digital Hollywood. Bonus if you can list one other person on the panel.

7) A home valued at between 300,000 and 400,000, three bedrooms in NE Tacoma from both Zillow and Redfin.

8) The names of three general search engines sites that are NOT, Google, Yahoo or MSN Search.

9) Email me when you have created a blog entry on the results so far of your online scavenger hunt linking back to your blog address.

a. A bonus for a link within the page to www.livingandworkingvirtually.com

10) Financial information for Oracle. URL address please not any pdf.

11) A message posted on a message board since the beginning of the hunt. A BONUS if it is in RESPONSE to a comment you have made.

12) Find an ad for a Tacoma tourist attraction in a publication or blog not based in WA

13) Two definitions of what a cookie.txt file is from two different reference sources.

14) Six of the cast members from the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’.

15) A Tag Cloud for www.exit133.com

Monday, November 5, 2007

Online Scavenger Hunt Fall 2007

Tomorrow will be the second virtual scavenger hunt I will hold in 2007. Last May I posted about the upcoming assignment and I received some good suggestions as to items I should consider adding to the hunt. Recurring since 2005, it involves a variety of search techniques and refinements that teams of three must employ in order to beat out the competition in a three hour contest.

For those in my Living and Working in a Virtual World class who read this blog: Yes you will be graded and there will be prizes for first, second and third. You have just been given a head start. Prepare your strategy and form your team so you can be ready tomorrow.

As previously instructed in class and in this blog, "It might be a shopping cart full of three very different and hard to find items, or the total box office receipts of a movie with Peter Sellers in it with the only information provided being three supporting characters or an email response from your local government official. It might be."

One of the items on this Hunt's list came from the comments section of the May hunt. I will also require the teams find an item from comments posted on THIS blog entry. So anyone out there wanting to provide a suggestion please do.

The above picture is from the classic "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)"

Friday, November 2, 2007

It's Getting Easier Being Green

Though Kermit may have said otherwise, times are changing and it is much easier being Green. Goodness, everyone seems to be talking about going green these days. There are Green buildings, Green Halloween, Green Campuses and many others. In fact, if you Google on “Green Initiatives” it will return 464,000 entries and counting.

Just recently I was pointed toward three different Green Search initiatives.



The first was from one of the students in class who posted about Google Greenback Search.

GREENBACK SEARCH

"Greenback Search is powered by Google, so you'll get the same high quality results, but Greenback Search gives back to the environment by purchasing carbon offsets with the revenue it earns”

They do so by donating 50% of their revenues to, and I am paraphrasing, organizations that are dedicated to making it easy and affordable to eliminate climate impact as well as moving more quickly to a clean energy future.

They then informed me that my search benefits would be directed toward CarbonFund.org.

Next up, if you want to simply search for Green information, Green companies and Green architects, then you can try Green Maven.



Green Maven is your gateway to the Green Web. We're a search engine that focuses on green, conscious, and sustainable websites. Use the search box above to search the green web!”

Powered by sustainablehosting.com and noting kudos from the likes of Times top ten lists, they provide three tools (just to start with) in order to go Green. These tools are a Green search engine, a Green newsreader and a Green directory. There mission is to “grow the green economy by leveraging the power of the collective internet.”

Which brings me to my third example and probably my favorite from a thinking out of the box front. It also is the least likely, in my mind, to catch on as it requires us to darken our outlook, or at least out output.

However, for those who believe in basic black, and want to do their part one starter home page at a time, check out Blackle.

Thank you to tacomachickadee, for bringing this site to my attention.



Blackle believes that “Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black”, which in turn makes it Green.

This is supported with the notation that "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002

Blackle was created by Heap Media, which purports to be committed to “developing and growing leading online services with global reach”, as a reminder to us all that even baby steps in our everyday lives can save energy.

They are currently in Beta and are intent on being a Green products and services search.