Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Most Trafficked Blog Posts 2008

It has been another year of posts for me here at Living and Working in a Virtual World. The number I have posted has dropped a bit for this year, down from 117 posts in 2007 to a total of 101 posts for 2008. I have been pretty busy though, including classes at night, the South Sound Technology Conference and several shows not to mention the four kids. I will try to reverse the trend in the coming year.

This blog focuses on the question, "How do internet systems, the world wide web, online social networks, databases and client server technologies serve relationships and the arts?". However, like last year, some of the most popular posts came from totally different subject matter. Total number of visits doubled, which would be a trend I would like to keep on track.

Of course, the earlier posts have the advantage in the most trafficked post contest, but given that two posts were from 2007, I figure any late but popular posts for 2008 have a chance next year.

Aside from the home page, the ranking order of posts is as follows.

1) Some Origami Notes

and

2) Origami Lesson Plan for Kids

Yes, in a site about virtual things, folding paper was the most interesting topic to the public at large and the two top posts were origami related. So much so that I have continued to post on the topic and created its own label to search on. I also attempted a separate blog for origami, but I don't post frequently enough and the last thing I need to do is maintain yet another blog. I've also seen some of my photos, such as the compound origami roses and dahlias show up elsewhere.

3) Tom Tom vs. Mapquest Printout
In an attempt to be humorous, I wrote about my adventure using Mapquest and Tom Tom to get to a meeting in Bremerton. The blog post was picked up by a couple of GPS user group members and the article was linked to from the different news groups. I still see them trickling in.

4) South Sound Technology Conference 2008
Hurray! Interest in the conference drove traffic to the site. I promise that next years conference will have more coverage and advance notice and information. It is already taking shape for next year and could have a couple of very interesting additions.

5) Robot Fish and Carpet Cleaning
This is an interesting one, as it was a popular destination post based some what on the images in the post. Multiple visits from Korea drove the number up, so I am not sure it would have come in as high otherwise. I have subsequently purchased a iRobot Roomba as detailed in two posts prior to this one.

6) An Epic Predictions about Newpapers
The current conditions of the newspaper industry and the local interest in the Tribune drove traffic to this post. Lots of FeedTacoma referrals as well. The Tribune and Mark Briggs have been popular blog post topics in the past as well.

7) Do the Fair Comparison
One of my favorites, this is not only the second post from 2007 on this years countdown, but the same post was also in the top ten last year. There are plenty of posts about "Doing the Puyallup" that come each year, but I believe mine is the only one that provides all the lyrics to the song "Do the Puyallup".

8)Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Guidelines
Proposed by Lew McMurran, VP, Government and External Affairs of the WTIA, it didn't hurt that I made it a class assignment to read and comment on these proposed guidelines.

9)Hotel Murano Featured in CNN Money
A short post simply pointing to another, and yet interest in the hotel and a FeedTacoma link drove folks through.

10)When Bloggers are Neighbors: Guest Blogger Erik Handberg
This was a great post with some good comments that followed. Erik had spoke to my class and then approached me with the idea of a guest blogger. It was a good idea. I don't know why I haven't done it again, as it turned out nicely.

I hope that you all have a great new year. See you in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The "Great Aussie Firewall" Debate


In Jurassic Park, there is an attempt to keep the dinosaurs from breeding by creating only female of the species. However, the female dinosaurs produce offspring through parthenogenesis, for as Doctor Malcolm states, “Nature finds a way."

So does the Internet. There will be many attempts to control and filter the Web and the Internet, but I doubt that there will ever be a successful project that controls distribution of files and media. It is constantly evolving and there are many different ways in which transactions and transfers can occur.

That doesn't mean that there won't be any attempts.

According to Wikipedia, "Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China is conducted under a wide variety of laws and administrative regulations.... The apparatus of the PRC's Internet repression is considered more extensive and more advanced than in any other country in the world....Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world.”

Another example includes conversations I had with young men and women who were visiting as part of the "Dubai Future Leaders" program. Among them were a few bloggers who talked a bit about what it was like to blog in the United Arab Emirates. They did not encounter difficulties themselves, but they mentioned that blogger friends from other restrictive countries faced imprisonment for dissenting viewpoints.

But the uproar today and over the last week has been over Australia's plans to implement the "Great Aussie Firewall". In an (I believe) admirable attempt to curtail exploitative web sites and practices such as child pornography and criminally instructive sites advocating drugs and ultra violence, the filter is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.. Admirable or not, it may not be technologically feasible to do so, and therefore a waste of crime fighting funds.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy states, "This is not an argument about free speech," in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the Internet is no different. Currently, some material is banned and we are simply seeking to use technology to ensure those bans are working."

Douglas Schweitzer puts the counterpoint nicely on his Computerworld blog,

You can’t fault them for trying to make the Internet a safer place to traverse, but they’ll have to fine-tune their methods. Filtering peer-to-peer networks would seem promising, but blocking key words is still unreliable. ...Democracies are struggling with Internet filters across the globe, but in many countries filtering is voluntary. Until they can improve their method, Australia’s going to have a hard time "selling" this proposed firewall.

Technology is a tool and not as stand alone solution. We have laws and organizations that maintain and uphold them in the real world, and though they are unable to halt criminal activity, they are societies means by which we keep criminal activity in check. Will that be the same in cyberspace? And if we do build out new laws and organizations to maintain and uphold the online laws, how will they stratify.

If an online community is inherently global, will those laws eventually need to be as well?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I Bought My First Robot - Finally


I have looked longingly at robots for some time now, knowing that they likely wouldn't be allowed in the house. However, I finally bought one for myself as an upcoming birthday present. I was doing some online Christmas shopping and one of those banner ads that targets your personal psyche got to me. It was a sale that knocked 20% off the already low price to a model that was being replaced by a newer version.

Nothing overly complex or sophisticated mind you. No "Danger, Will Robinson." with arms flailing about. Not yet.

It was simply a Roomba. The Roomba "cleans routinely so you don't have to. With the touch of a button, Roomba automatically vacuums carpets and hard floors on its own!"

Sweet.

It is from iRobot! Not the nine science fiction short story collection by Isaac Asimov, but by the $249 million public company that employs more than 400 of the robot industry’s top professionals.

From their website:

iRobot was founded in 1990 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists Colin Angle and Helen Greiner teamed up with their professor Dr. Rodney Brooks with the vision of making practical robots a reality.

They are a profitable company coming off of a strong third quarter.

Of course, this is just a first step for me. Who knows, some day I may have a use for one of their Government or Industrial robots. Not to mention keeping an eye on some of the robots coming out of Japan. Baby steps though. Metaphorically, not literally.

Likely the next bot will be a Scooba, or the iRobot ConnectR (the virtual visiting robot). Of course, that all depends on how the Roomba works out for me. After excitedly ordering one for myself and getting confirmation of the order, I received this email...

"Thank you for shopping at iRobot.com. We have received your order number #############.

This order includes backordered item(s) that are unavailable
for immediate shipment. If you ordered other items they will ship as scheduled."


Oh well, in a few weeks maybe.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Crane Wing Down But Much to Do


This is an updated photo with the cranes now attached.

I laid out one of the crane wings last night. There are over 200 cranes in place but when completed there are going to be approximately 300 cranes per wing, with the neck, head, tail and back taking on the 400 or so left over to make 1,000. The picture is from my phone so not much detail, but the wing is over five feet across which will mean approximately an eleven foot wingspan.

However, I am not sure about the support yet to hold it's shape. I have the ceiling tile wire on the underside, but that has to be moved to the top, as I would prefer not to see it from the bottom. But that means I will have difficulty attaching the cranes to the wire frame. This is intended to be hung from a high ceiling in the UWT library, so care in lifting and setting will be necessary.

Most importantly, it still does not have the rigidity I wanted, which means there will need to be more support wires to attach when it is hung. I will be gluing overlapping wings together which helps, but also means one mistake could cost me time in crane replacement.



You should be able to see the outline of the wing from the positioning of the black cranes.

If anyone has additional ideas let me know. Thanks to Pete and Judy for earlier help.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"You've Got Mail" Morphs to "You've Got a Court Order"

The private/public settings on your Facebook account may see quite a few flipped switches from public to private in the near future. In Australia, the courts have given permission for people to be served via e-mail and text messages when it was not possible to serve them in person. Of course the Associated Press picked this up, and now there are about 500 articles on it via Google news. I on the other hand learned about it from Erik Hanberg who continues to be a great source for me.

Some of the headlines:

"Lawsuits sent via Facebook" Courier Mail
"Facebook first as lawyers use site to track debt-dodgers" Independent
"Court's use of Facebook to serve documents a world first" Daily Telegraph

and a favorite of mine

"You've been poked - now you're homeless." Times Online, UK

That one just strikes me as unseemly.

Of course the couple who have been dodging the front doorbell and not answering the phone thereby thwarting attempts to serve still haven't been served. Why? Because they heard about the ruling that Facebook could be used and removed their profiles from public view.

The lawyers in the case are still OK with this because they say it further proves that they have tried all means necessary to contact the couple.

Of course reporters for the AP had no trouble finding the couple in default at home in order to obtain quotes in their report.

What it does seem to say in a nutshell is that physical mail is no longer considered the only reliable, secure and private medium for communication.

A Facebook spokesman spun this nugget out of it as well as described in Rod McGuirk's report:

"The ruling is also an interesting indication of the increasing role that Facebook is playing in people's lives," Schnitt added. The company said it believed this was the first time it has been used to serve a foreclosure notice.

So, if this holds for Facebook, how about MySpace or Konnects or LinkedIn? For that matter, how about our hyperlocal communities like FeedTacoma or Exit133? What if you are a citizen blogger for the Tribune and you are served through the comments section? I would imagine it depends on the communication infrastructure associated with the service, as it is mostly social networks that allow for the private communication between members.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Presentations and Some Book Recommendations

Another quarter came to an end last Friday and it was a busy week with finals and grading. However I wanted to mention to the students, who were an excellent bunch, that I enjoyed their presentations. Some were a bit shy, some appeared to have done the minimum, but most of them seemed interested in and eager to share what they had read and reported on.

Among the books that the groups shared in reading I wanted to recommend as well.

"World Without Secrets: Business, Crime, and Privacy in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing." by Richard Hunter. Written in 2002 it still reads well and describes the impact that emerging technologies have on our lives. Two groups ended up covering this book, but no one ran out of things to talk about.

"Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet" by Michael Wolff. I have always liked this book because it captures the craziness of the Dot.com bust pretty well, and many of the places he goes and people he talks to were familiar to me. I wouldn't have been surprised to have been in the same room as him on occasion. Michael does not come off as a very nice person in this book, but he is the author so more power to him.

"Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution" by Howard Rheingold. I am a big fan of Howard and enjoyed reading "The Virtual Community" in the 90's. This presentation accounted for quite a bit of interaction from the students, which is also high praise.

I am not going to mention all the presentations but these books struck my interest in passing on.

Their was another book that a presentation was done on. "Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Social Mob" by Lee Seigal. However it does not come recommended. The students on this team were all great and did well in class. They also did not have much to say for Lee and his ideas. His arguments are incredibly anti-Web and Social Networks without providing much of substance to back up his opinions. He comes across on subject of the Internet like Anne Coulter does on the subject of Democrats, so he may be amusing to some.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Phantom Tollbooth and the Mathemagician

Starting the weekend of January 10th and running for two weeks with shows on Saturday and Sunday, the Tacoma Children's Theater will be presenting Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth". There are also two weekday shows that have been arranged especially for school children.

Rehearsals have just started, and I will be playing the Mathemagician, ruler of Digitopolis. The book for the show does an excellent job of keeping much of what makes the children's book so wonderful. Lots of word play and a lesson that is engaging for children and adults.

This is one of my all time favorite books, so I was thrilled and grateful when I was cast in the show. I have a paperback copy from when I was a kid, and bought hard back copies for all four of mine. I read it to each of them before they could read themselves, and the older ones encountered it again in school.

A boy, Milo, arrives in the Land of Wisdom through the tollbooth, and finds it in disarray. The two Kings, brothers and rulers of the cities of “Dictionopolis” and “Digitopolis” have argued their whole lives as to whether words or numbers were more important. When the princesses “Rhyme” and “Reason” were asked to decide the question, the answer was unsatifactory to either brother and the two are banished from the kingdom, and are now being held prisoner beyond the Mountains of Ignorance.

Realizing their error, they wish Milo well as he goes forth to rescue them aided by a trusty time-keeping dog who goes tick, and whose name is Tock. The journey is treacherous and the two meet many demons along the way, such as the Trivium and the Senses Taker.

I am looking forward to wearing my robe of numbers with my Number Two pencil as a staff and singing "Subtraction Stew". I will no doubt post pictures when they are available. Could the upcoming show and the recent gains in Math reported for U.S. students be mere coincidence. I think not.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Voices in Wartime: A Social Network



Not long ago I went up to Seattle to listen to a panel discussion of torture and its effects on the individuals who have endured it, as well as its consequences for the nation that allows it to take place. Though the trip up was part of a class I have been taking, I did ask someone along to the event. Though sympathetic, she did not want to attend because it would be too hard for her to listen to the stories being told. In fact, they were heartbreaking and upsetting.

But there are times when stories have to be told, no matter how difficult to hear. At times they are heartbreaking, but they can also be life affirming, uplifting and even therapeutic for the storyteller and well as for the audience. Such is the case with a new social network site being launched this week by Voices In Wartime.

Andrew Himes came by the same class mentioned above here at the UWT and talked about the new project just recently launched with the addition of a social network component.

The mission and vision of the site are as follows.

Mission
Voices helps people understand the roots of war and violence by hearing the voices of witnesses and helps communities take compassionate action.


Vision
Acknowledging that conflict is inevitable, we envision a world in which nations, communities, and individuals move beyond polarization and destruction, instead viewing conflict as an opportunity to create understanding, empathy and positive change. Through education, the arts, and self-expression, Voices aims to transform how we respond to, engage in, and recover from conflict. By working directly with instructors and students we strive to model pedagogical methods and social processes that challenge and enrich the arts, humanities and social science curricula.

If you are interested you can check them out at http://voiceseducation.org/

Saturday, November 29, 2008

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday

I participated in the first time (that I can recall) in the adventure called Black Friday. Ominous as it may sound, it is my understanding that the name refers to a designation that retailers need this day and the Saturday and Sunday that combine to make up the full post-Thanksgiving weekend in order for their companies to make it into the black for the year.

I encountered pretty good crowds at the Nike outlet store in Bend, Oregon, though the density of shoppers milling about in the Old Mill District was light enough to keep the experience from being unpleasant. The big deal of the day was a 50% off deal with another 25% taken off of that. WhooooHoooo!!!!

Of course that really doesn't mean anything without the context of the starting price or the item, but know that I did my very small part in saving the country from economic collapse.

Which brings me to Cyber Monday, the only just recently christened excuse to encourage consumerism. This is supposedly the launch of the online shopping season and much will be made of the volume of sales conducted this December 1st.

One potential wrinkle: My sister has informed me that she got her Cyber Monday shopping done on Black Friday which is truly going to mess with the heads of those in charge of coining names for dates meant to encourage our consumption.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How About a 54 Hour Startup Festival?



Quite a few years ago, I sat with Eric Hanberg and Noreen Hobson at the coffee shop next to the Grand Cinema (don't know if it was the One Heart Cafe back then) talking about Film in Tacoma. We wanted to know where all the filmmakers, cinematographers and screenwriters were in our section of the Puget Sound and how they might all get together and make some movies. Eric ran with the idea and the next thing you know there was a 72 hour film festival in town. I have only been able to participate in that first one, but have enjoyed watching the festival grow and the quality of those films rise each year.

Recently I read about another event, that not only falls in line with some projects that some of us have been kicking around, but would be very interesting to have here in Tacoma (or at least a facsimile of). Andrew Hyde founded a conference that focuses on learning by creating in the technology business space. Called the Startup Weekend, it brings together start up enthusiasts, marketing folks, developers and business managers who decide on a Friday what they want to tackle over the weekend, then come out of the event two days later with several developed companies or products. CNN covered the Atlanta, Georgia event on Monday of this week with a piece called "How to Start a Tech Company in One Weekend". TechCrunch also has a piece from 2007 that covers one of the results from that weekend, a product called Skribit. They describe the event as such.

Andrew Hyde’s Startup Weekend, born out of the TechStarts event this last summer, has been busy. The company goes from city to city, organizes developers to spend a long weekend deciding on a new business idea and then building it. Everyone who shows up is a founder, and everyone has equal equity in the new thing, whatever it ends up being.

Of course here in Tacoma we have just completed another successful South Sound Technology Conference, which focused this year on innovation and the Pierce County area. Many of the presenters offered advice on moving creative solutions to marketed products.

In fact, I have been engaged in numerous conversations about fostering innovation and technology with several folks over the last year, with panel moderator Senator Jim Kastama being one of this topics major drivers and proponents. Additionally, there has been discussion on ways in which we can pull people together to germinate ideas and provide an audience and feedback to those who have the desire to invent. Suggested formats have included conference breakouts, contests, awards and even a television show.

And I suppose that given that last suggested format I should leave this with a "stay tuned".

So what do you think?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Virtual Scavenger Hunt Fall 2008



Today is the day for the virtual scavenger hunt in my class. 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 two hour contest. These cannot simply be items that a search engine will pick up, though that is usually a good first step in tracking down the information. To provide the examples I have given in the past.

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.


For those in my Living and Working in a Virtual World class who read this blog, you have just been given a head start. Here are two items that do not appear on the list given out in class, but are worth one point each in the total items found scores.

List the five founding blog members of FeedTacoma and their URL addresses.

The number of days that have past since a GritCity or OpenHouse blog post has been made. (this is my new pet peeve so let's see some changes)

The above picture is from the classic "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)" which was about a scavenger hunt, and will help with one of the items on the list.

If you care to hunt yourself, I will post the list around class time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

South Sound Technology Conference 2008



Please come to the 9th Annual South Sound Technology Conference this Friday November 21st at William W. Philip Hall on the University of Washington, Tacoma campus.

Registration begins at 8:30am and the conference kicks off at 9:00am with a welcome from Congressman Adam Smith. The conference is free, but an RSVP to zaidec@u.washington.edu is highly recommended.


South Sound Technology Conference 2008

Agenda:
8:30am to 9:00am Registration

9:00am Opening Address
Welcome by Andrew Fry, University of Washington, Tacoma.
Remarks by Chancellor Pat Spakes, University of Washington, Tacoma.
Remarks by Congressman Adam Smith.
Remarks on behalf of Congressman Norm Dicks.
Remarks by Dr. Orlando Baiocchi, Director of the Institute of Technology, University of Washington, Tacoma.

9:15 to 10:15 Panel -- “Fostering Innovation"
Moderated by Senator Jim Kastama

Panel Members:
John Dimmer - Tacoma Angel Network
Lee Cheatham - Washington Technology Center
Egils Milbergs – Exec. Dir. Economic Development Commission of Washington State

10:15 to 10:45 Focus Topic -- "Cloud Computing: The Next Technology Revolution"
Aaron Kimbell – Spinnaker

10:45 to 11:15 Dual Perspectives Panel -- "Cloud Computing in the South Sound"
Moderated by Aaron Kimbell

Panel Members:
Mike Marzano, Topia Technologies – Cloud Computing in Software
Dr. Ankur Teredesai –Institute of Technology, UWT – Cloud Computing in Education

11:15 to 11:25 Break

11:25 to 12:00 Focus Topic – “Facial Recognition Solutions”
Eric Hess – Biometric Product Manager, Sagem Morpho

12:00 to 1:00 Panel - "Technology Industry Sampler: Sound Sound Companies"
Moderated by Andrew Fry, Institute of Technology, UWT

Panel Members:
Mike Brown - Prepared Response
Mark Briggs – Serra Media
Dan Creamer - Avue Technology
Jennifer Leaf - NewTech
Chris Richardson – Internet Identity

Here is a link to map and directions to the campus.

Cross Posted at Tacoma Tech Connect

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SST Update



The South Sound Technology Conference is a week from tomorrow November 21st.

Just recently John Dimmer of the Tacoma Angel Network was added to the panel on fostering innovation and several members of the community and technical college community will be joining the days event. Lew McMurran posted info about the event on his Government Affairs blog as well.

Also joining the innovation panel will be Egils Milbergs, director of the Economic Development Commission for Washington State.

Egils Milbergs is founder and president of the Center for Accelerating Innovation. The Center conducts research on the changing nature of the innovation process and consults with start-ups, corporations, associations and governments on growth acceleration strategies. Milbergs played a principal role in the National Innovation Initiative (NII) and the Innovation Vital Signs project of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It is going to be a busy day. At one point, the UWT CTC Joint CS Faculty Meeting was scheduled that same day, but they kindly moved it to a later part of the day so that they could both attend the conference AND are providing a break room for presenters.

Julie Jacobs, SBCTC Liaison to UWT-CTC Partnership Project, has allowed for Cherry Parkes 206C to serve as a “hospitality room” for conference attendees from 8:30 until 11:30 a.m. That way UWT-CTC participants can drop by for coffee/refreshments during the conference and to meet with colleagues and conference presenters.

The event is free but please remember to RSVP to Zaide Chavez if you think you can attend. zaidec@u.washington.edu

Earlier SST 2008 posts:

What is Cloud Computing and Should the South Sound Care?
South Sound Technology Conference Agenda Update 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Folding 1000 Cranes to Make 1



After November 21st, which is the South Sound Technology Conference, I am going to get to work finishing another project that has been in the works for awhile. Some time ago I began to fold a thousand cranes on my own, just to satisfy one of those things you set out to do before you die. The cranes piled up and I boxed them away, with an idea of what I hoped to do with them.

The idea is to hang them, in formation, in the creation of one very large crane This would would represent the 1,001st crane. However, one big question left was where I would hang it. My wife would not allow it to take up to much space in the living room, and why even have it in the ceiling space of the garage if no one could see it.

After conducting a few origami classes at the UWT library, an idea was formed in conjunction with the origami displays that we put together there. The crane could hang as a display from the rafters of the Graduate Library reading area. At least for a while. To read more about it, check out this article from the University of Washington, Tacoma's student newspaper The Ledger.

Two challenges remain. Both you can help me with.

The first is that although I folded over 1,000 cranes as part of my mission, over time I have given away hundreds back to children and used many others to create my "Escaping Cranes" displays. I need to replenish the flock.

Uwajimaya, a wonderful Asian supermarket and bookstore, was kind enough to donate 100 sheets of black origami paper for the project. Thank you to Anna Sayler for making the ask. I will use these to accentuate the outline.

The second one is critical and I need your advice. I don't want to attempt to hang them mobile style so that the move in circles or with any breeze. I have the oval frame and fabric to run the lines through if I wanted to use this technique, but I am hoping to create more rigidity.

I am thinking of a thin metal wire frame to run them along and hang in the center of to create bulk, but don't have the expertise to create it.

If you have worked with wire frames or welding thin pieces, I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

FeedTacoma and a Visit From Kevin



Kevin Freitas came and talked to the class this week and as per usual kept the students enthralled. He was one of the areas earliest bloggers back when it was just an online journaling excercise. With entries back to 1998, he has no hesitation in putting his likes, dislikes, ideas and interests online. His dedication to his personal blog includes many important events in his life and he even has a section with pictures of himself through the years started as a baby. When asked by a student why he would lay so much of his life out there for everyone to see, he answered in part that it was like writing your memoirs in real time. It is a history of his life and moments throughout that life lay bare.

He also spent time discussing FeedTacoma.

I have always thought of FeedTacoma as the United Press International (UPI) or Associated Press (AP) of Tacoma news and feature articles. As such it would be known as Associated Tacoma Bloggers (APB) or something like that. The site itself describes its origins a little differently.

What's with the name?
Currently, the site's content is based on snippets or "feeds" from contributing websites. These feeds are pulling Tacoma-related stuff only and, while we were messing around testing, was a working title that stuck. It also represents the action of "feeding" folks info about this area and why it's a vibrant and comfortable place to live, work, and play.and how it started, then grew, in the South Sound Area.


In order to be part of the home page, you need to ask to be a part of FeedTacoma. Kevin will probably say yes, if in fact your blog talks with some frequency about Tacoma related things. When you do become part of the feed, you have to attach a Tacoma tag to any post that you wish included. The site automatically runs a scan every fifteen minutes or so, and polls the contributing blogs to see if any Tacoma tags exist and if they do, then publishes them into the feed.

As of now there are close to 40 blogs that feed into the system from outside sources.

But FeedTacoma did not stop there. It also offers anyone an opportunity to start their own blog on the site itself, which has resulted in an increase to the number of qualified blogs by a factor of three. Though there are suspicions that some are alter egos of some of bloggers themselves. Suspicions only, of course.

This currently allows for twenty or so posts on weekdays, and around one hundred a week. That would be highly unlikely from any single blogger and even paid writers muster a lesser amount on a weekly basis.



FeedTacoma is more than just the blog snippets it pulls in or the blogs that it hosts. It also provides areas for discussion, calendar listings, photos, videos and even shops. All about Tacoma and all free for the use.

It is one great big Tacoma community, open source, social network, organically grown, technology garden of South Sound goodness.

A wiki and templates for the blogs are being discussed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Serra Media and Newsgarden



There has been a lot of speculation and interest in how newspapers will survive and evolve in the new world of potentially global distribution, as well as an increasingly hyper-local participation of it's readership through the World Wide Web. Business models are changing and competition is sharpening their local focus, not only through other media outlets, but also through blogs, feeds and exclusively online competitors.

In order to change and survive, newspapers are going to need to adjust and embrace new technologies and features that their readership can benefit from and they can leverage their strengths with. Serra Media is a software and web solutions company that has positioned itself to support that initiative.

Founded by Glenn Thomas, Samuel Wan and Mark Briggs (former online editor for the News Tribune), Serra Media serves as a "digital innovation platform for local online publishers".

Between the three of them, with Mark acting as CEO since September 2008, they have a great deal of experience building interactive projects for news sites and creating software solutions for rich media companies as well. Glenn has start up credentials and has worked for many years in rich media. Samuel wears the badge of having been a Microsoft Program Manager and seen through a full software solution from inception to release.

With one round of funding under their belts, this impressive trio is now launching the first beta solution developed under their collaboration.

Newsgarden is their first product and is a "map-based web application that filters the location of recent news items, blog posts and other information available on the web." One of the promises of the product, along with it being a community builder, is that it allow a news publisher to cover more news with less resources and serves as another market for advertising revenue. Hmmm, less resources. Sounds like a common thread among our regional papers.

The product is in use now at three Washington city newspapers, the Bellingham Herald,
the Olympian and the Peninsula Gateway.

If you want to see it in action, they have links to it on their site.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mark Briggs Countdown at the Tribune



Mark Briggs talked today about the changing newspaper industry, hyperlocal information resources, the pro-am journalism concept and what he is up to with his next venture. I will post on that latter point in a day or so, but for now I'll start with the good and the bad news.

The bad news is that Mark's last day at the Tribune is Friday. They will be losing an excellent resource for technology, editing, reporting and training when he is gone. The good news is that the Online Editor position is important enough that they will be hiring someone into the position he is vacating, and Mark is part of the selection process. He assures me that they have excellent candidates and that, I am glad to hear.

What is too bad is that when he leaves, the Online in the South Sound blog will close down, and the new person will blog post directly into the Inside the Newsroom blog. Apparently there will be some consolidation of blogs to account for the fewer number of contributors available to post. I understand that the Online blog had a pretty narrow niche, but it was my niche and I will miss it.

There are almost 30 blogs on the The News Tribune site, and they are the number two trafficked section of the online News Tribune site. That is pretty amazing. Which section is number one and the only higher trafficked area? Why the front page of course. That should speak to the value of blogging in the news process, and I hope that they continue to be prominent on the site, whether or not the same number of reporters are providing content there.

I want to mention two trends he pointed out among the many examples he gave of the changing newsscape. One was the web site www.momseattle.com. This is a community driven, editorially controlled web site targeted toward Seattle Moms and owned and operated by the Seattle PI. My questions are, is it profitable for them? Can it be sustained? Is it helping the newspaper as a whole? If the answer to these questions are all yes, or on there way to yes, I would like to make an introduction.

TacomaMama - New Tribune, NewTribune - TacomaMama

Actually, I know that introduction has been made, but I just thought I would do so again.

Secondly, I was surprised out how newspapers have adopted Twitter for a variety of uses. For examples check out the following resource and select a few of the papers listed. Not just headlines being sent, but an active news source being utilized.

Next up for Mark are speaking engagements in Barcelona and Lisbon. Luckily, he will only be visiting and has no plans to leave the Tacoma area.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging Scholarship and an Exit133 Visit



Derek Young of the South Sound blog Exit133 came by the class, and during his presentation he mentioned that he was also an alumnus of the school. He had earned his MBA from the Milgard School of Business here on the University of Washington, Tacoma campus, and now sits on the advisory board of the Urban Studies program.

At one point he mentioned how in caparison to 2005, when there were only a handful of bloggers in the South Sound, there are now more than a hundred that are active in the area (and no doubt more that are not as active or on the radar as yet.)

I know many of them, and quite a few are, or have been, students. Therefore, I would like to point out an opportunity spotted through a link on www.erikemery.com’s side bar.

The web site College Scholarships.org is offering their first Blogging Scholarship from the organization of 10,000 dollars to a student who maintains a web log.

Paraphrasing their site content, College Scholarships was created to serve people who are interested in college funding. Their unique claim is that they list a broad array of funding opportunities without asking for information from you. You do not have to fill out long forms in order to access their resources.

If you maintain and attend college and are interested in applying for $10,000 to help pay for books, tuition, or other living costs then you may want to submit an application. The deadline for submissions is Oct 30th so if you would have to act before the Thursday after next.

Here is what they have listed as their requirements.


• Your blog must contain unique and interesting information about you and/or things you are passionate about. No spam bloggers please!!!
• U.S. citizen or permanent resident
• Currently attending full-time in post-secondary education in the United States
• If you win, you must be willing to allow us to list your name and blog on this page. We want to be able to say we knew you before you became a well educated, rich, and famous blogging legend.

As for Exit133, they have grown and changed over the last several years into a go-to site for events, advice, arts and civic discussion of Tacoma and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Separating blog posts and features on their front page, an archive of over 9,000 articles and columns such as Imagine Tacoma and Ask Sassy have given the site the feel of a targeted publication.

There are also an excellent example of how advertisement supported web sites can allow for ongoing revenue and funding without invading the pages to a point of distraction.

Friday, October 17, 2008

PeekABoo I See You. But You Can't See Me.

I have always found the “vanity search” assignment in my class a fun and enlightening one. Over the last several years there has been a drastic change in the utilization of technology and search, so that it is not a foreign topic and the students have a greater degree of familiarity with the idea of searching for information about your own self online.

Even so, with a larger number of students, there are still a few who don’t believe there is any information about them online. There almost always is. Each year there is charged conversation around the idea of privacy in one form or another and each year another company surfaces that is in the business of collecting and providing information on individuals without their knowledge and through the aggregation of public records.

Intellius was once again a topic of conversation for those who found it a bit disconcerting that along with the name, there was often an association of family members and the listing of age as an identifier.

They are not alone in the people search game by a long shot, with companies like Spock and Wink providing even more information.

Spock collects data from the expanse of the web and focuses on areas such as wikipedia, photo sites, blogs and social networks. Now we are talking about likes, dislikes, affiliates and notes.

However, this year, the biggest shock for the class came from a web company that not only helps you to find a person and information about them, but also allows for you to anonymously follow their online information and activity.

PeekYou, which also lists places you have lived and your age offers a feature that once you find a person you want information on you can select “track me”

As PeekYou explains this feature:

PeekYou now allows you to "track" anyone on the web. Whenever we discover a new link, tag, or information, or if someone posts a new message to Andrew Fry's PeekYou profile, we'll send you an email so you can be the first to know. In order to track Andrew Fry, input your contact information on the left. Once you have finished entering your information, click the "Track Them" button. We will send you an email with a confirmation link.

But check out the tag lines following that.

"Track Me" is 100% anonymous. PeekYou will never display or publicly disclose who you are tracking.

It is those last two sentences that are the creepiest. How many circumstances are there that someone feels a need to simultaneously follow around someone online, yet remain anonymous about it. Sounds like a better name for the feature would be “Stalk Me”.

Mind you it is all drawn from publicly accessible information and in my opinion is a product of technology use as a society we need to discuss further. In particular, the extent to which information about individuals is aggregated and then disseminated.

The students, and myself, find it a little unsettling. No telling what will be available next year.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is Cloud Computing and Should the South Sound Care?


“The cloud represents a major technology shift that creates an entirely new business and technology ecosystem with new players, new models and new market leaders.”

Whoa. Then I guess we better pay attention.

That is at least what they are saying at the Cloud Summit Executive conference today held at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley, California. As Information Week reported, “HP is betting big on cloud computing. Its $12 billion purchase of EDS shows that the company is serious about infrastructure as a service. So too does the HP, Intel, and Yahoo Cloud Computing Test Bed, announced in July, not to mention its recently formed Scalable Computing & Infrastructure Organization.”

But what is it?

BusinessWeek announced in an article about a year ago that “Computing Heads for the Clouds” and that IBM, Yahoo!, and Google were all putting the power of cloud computing to work. They included a primer but still….

What is it?

Of course you can turn to Wikipedia but I think that there description was written for people who already know what it is and understand its importance.

Luckily, I had the pleasure of hearing Aaron Kimball, Founder of Spinnaker Labs, give a talk about Cloud Computing; how it worked, why it was important and who was deploying it, at a WTIA board meeting. Aaron wrote an academic paper with Google on it as well, but primarily I liked the Powerpoint presentation because it was so accessible.

Well, Aaron is going to give a 30 minute presentation on Cloud Computing at the South Sound Technology Conference and then we are going to hear from folks in the area who are using it and where opportunities for innovation will be derived from.

If you are in the area of the South Sound and have a particular story you wish to tell, contact me and I will see if we can work it into the program.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) Guidlines


WARNING: ACRONYMS AHEAD:

WTIA (Washington Technology Industry Association)
PII (personally identifiable information)
IT (information technology)
SSN (Social Security Numbers)
RFID (Radio-frequency identification)

(You have been warned)

I am a member of the WTIA (Washington Technology Industry Association) task force on privacy. Recently, Lew McMurran, VP, Government and External Affairs and chair of the task force, sent out a set of principles developed to guide WTIA members and the technology industry of Washington state when using personally identifiable information (PII) in the course of business.

As he pointed out in his email, the loss, misuse and stealing of PII is a national problem, and if businesses don't respond to the problem seriously and effectively, then a government body likely will. Already many state legislatures are proposing and passing laws requiring a number of protective measures from encryption to limitations on target marketing.

In the long run, businesses need to take the lead in adopting standards and guidelines to protect individuals and consumers from threats both real and imagined. With that, Lew drafted and sent out for review some guidelines, which I am posting here. Take a look and offer opinion if you are so inclined. This is a draft only, and will be subject to discussion and review. I would like to open that review to you all as well.

PII is information about people. Any misuse, loss or stealing of PII affects the lives of people. This must be kept foremost in the minds of WTIA members and the technology industry.

PII is critical data for business. It must be understood that way from the top of an organization to the bottom. Loss, misuse or stealing of PII should not be tolerated and policies to protect PII must be developed that apply to everyone in an organization.

Access to PII within an organization should be limited to those who have a critical need for it. For those within an organization that need access to PII, personal financial information should be segregated from other PII to lessen the opportunity for misuse or stealing of personal financial information.

Organizations must be transparent to consumers and individuals about what PII they collect, how they use it, with whom it is shared, what protective measures are in place and options consumers have to limit disclosure of PII. Privacy policies can serve this purpose but should be written in plain English, be more prominent and must be developed with the input of legal, marketing, IT and others who will have access to PII.

Consumers may or may not be aware that companies are using behavioral targeting as a means to develop and market products and services. The use of behavioral targeting tools, such as cookies, web bugs, web beacons and others must be disclosed prominently, either within privacy policies or separately.

Organizations must closely monitor third party vendors for access to and use of PII. Access to personal financial information and SSNs should be limited only to those where it is necessary. Third party vendors’ use of PII should be restricted to only what is contracted and be prohibited from transferring PII to anyone else.

New information gathering technologies, such as RFID, must be carefully monitored when deployed. When using new technologies, PII should be collected with a consumer’s or individual’s knowledge with a convenient means to opt out.


This is the start of an important discussion and not an exhaustive list. The WTIA is taking the lead in advocating for the market adoption of these principles, and though the organization lobbies for market based, industry self regulation, they still may support legislative measures that make sense.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

An EPIC Prediction about Newspapers?

In an editorial on October 5th, The News Tribune of Tacoma bid farewell to five of their veteran staff. This was part of a buy out offer that was made to 189 of its staffers nearly a month earlier on September 8th as part of a belt tightening move. This was a big enough announcement to get Associated Press notice and distribution, and the story was even picked up by Forbes.

That same day, another McClatchy held paper, the Olympian, cut the newsroom staff and their workers' hours, shifting to a 37.5 hour work week. The Publisher, John Winn Miller, announced the cutbacks in an email to staff, and referenced the cutbacks that the papers had done since June of this year.

Certainly the economy is worsening and we have heard many stories from other economic sectors that echo this, whether it is the Weyerhaeuser layoffs that followed the decoupling from its other companies, or the seemingly ever present succession of financial crises.

And the question that follows is, where will we get the services of that company now, and what quality can we expect from that service? From the financial sector, the availability (or non-availability) of credit is wreaking havoc, freezing up these institutions to a point where a run on a bank is a possibility.

What about our information sources? What does the marked downturn in the fortunes of newspapers, whose revenue from advertising has been hit hard, and whose revenue from subscriptions has been on a long slow decline mean for our news?

There has been a transition to the web for many newspapers, and in that transition they have had to respond to how advertising is done and is paid for. The subscription model is practically nonexistent and the classifieds must compete with the likes of Craigslist.

Newspapers like the Tribune have adjusted in some fashion, employing blogging as an immediate information source and editorial venue and even creating positions such as the Online Editor. The News Tribune has been lucky to have Mark Briggs in that role. Mark, as has been mentioned here before, is one of his industry’s area experts in the use of online tools and applications by journalists, having authored Journalism 2.0 as an example.

But when Devona Wells left the Tribune, her blog, Open House, seemed to stop regularly posting. The blog was still prominent on the home page and one of the recent posts made stayed on as a link from the equivalent of the web site’s front page for more than two weeks. It was like finding a major bug in your software. Every time I went to the web site, it was there. Certainly other content was changing with frequency, but to leave a blog post up front for so long felt wrong. Yes, I know I haven’t posted myself in a few days, but I am not a newspaper. Besides, I am making up for it in length of post.

So where do we turn for real time news and information? Erik B, who has a blog on FeedTacoma, created a discussion on this topic. For a good back and forth on whether the blogosphere can pick up some of the slack, read the comments from that post.

In order to instigate discussion as to where things are headed, take a look at this now old flash based video called EPIC 2015 by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. Originally created as EPIC 2014, so many of the predictions came true or near true that it was spooky. It also ended as a bit of a downer in its original form, and when the podcasting and blogging phenomenon grew, things looked a little more optimistic. They then revised as the current 2015. It is about the newspaper wars of 2010 and the demise of the printed paper.

As for what is happening in the real world of news, Mark Briggs will be visiting my class on the 29th of October and we can ask about it then.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

South Pacific at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse

We have dress rehearsal for South Pacific tonight at the Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

It is a classic musical with some exceptionally strong leads and voices. If you like "There is Nothing Like a Dame", "Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair", "Some Enchanted Evening" or any number of the Rodgers & Hammerstein's musical numbers then here is your chance to hear a 24 piece orchestra play the score and these actors sing the songs.

I was just able to squeak this show into my schedule so I was able to take on the role of Captain Bracket.

My dad, who past away a long while back, was in the military for 22 years. When I put on the costume I immediately freaked myself out by how much I looked like what I remember him to have looked like when I was a kid. I snapped a phone photo and sent it out to my sisters who in turn were given a bit of a jolt.

The show opens this Friday and runs four weeks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SST 2008 Update



Things are moving forward with the South Sound Technology Conference to be held on November 21st, though many elements of the program still need to be solidified.

As of yesterday I received confirmation that we will be holding the conference for the first time in the new William W. Philip Hall, which will accommodate in the configuration requested up to 300 attendees. Now of course we have to fill it.

Current program notes.

Welcome:
Various community and educational leaders.

Presentation:
Right now this may cover "cloud computing" but may in fact be a local tech company presentation as well.

Panel: "Funding Innovation"
The intent is to have someone from the Tacoma Angel Network, the Washington Technology Center, A local financial institution and the small business association on the panel to talk about funding for projects.

break:

Presentation:
Sagem Morpho is lined up to showcase their new facial recognition solution.

Panel: "Fostering Innovation"
The afternoon panel will be on Fostering Technological Innovation and will be moderated by Senator Jim Kastama of Puyallup.

There is at least one birds of a feather discussion following to cover reestablishing connections between our South Puget Sound technology companies as part of the South Sound Chapter of the WTIA.

As this is a work in progress, everything is subject to tweaking from week to week. However, when word comes in on the location, the program will be firmed up and the communication to potential attendees will heat up.

If you are interested in driving your own particular birds of a feather discussion let me know and I will post.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Digital Document Drama

There is a danger in our reliance on digital documents. Storage and retrieval of information from documents and media that are created entirely by computer and in digital format is a task that library sciences and application developers are constantly pushing to make progress on.

Think about this. If you create a document that embeds resources and information from other locations and sources, what happens to that document if those resources and locations are unavailable?

A very simple example would be if you created a blog post that used an image from another web site. If that other web site was busy, down or moved, your blog post can no longer carry that image. More complex would be an internal company document which draws data and figures from other servers on its network system in order to provide formulaic information real time.

How do you archive a document like that? Save it as static and version control it? And how much documentation really needs to be saved or archived.

Of course you never think too often about these things until you encounter a problem. My problem was that I assigned to my class for reading an overview paper I delivered as part of a panel at the 2nd Annual World Wide Web Conference in Boston in October of 1994. All they would need to do to access it would be to search for it on Google or find it in the archival servers of the W3C.org web site.

The problem came up when the only thing Google returned for a search on it were citations from other papers. One web page listed out all the presentations from the conference with links to the papers, but the links encountered the deadly “404 file not found” error when clicked on. The web site from the NCSA no longer had the information from that conference, which, quite frankly, shocked me.

Not only had I assigned a reading that was not accessible, but I was upset that it was no longer publicly available. No problem, right. I would obviously have an online version myself from when I created it in the first place. Sure, 14 years ago. My current computer is not that old thank you. So, I went home and looked first to see if I had diligently copied it from one computer to the next as they replaced each other on the home office front. It was not in my documents folder. It was not in my old documents folder and it was not in my old documents from old computers folder.

So I went out to the garage and opened up the storage box of keepsakes from the days of Free Range Media. In a plastic disk holder box I found a 3.5 inch disk that had conference documents listed on the paper label.

I crossed my fingers that it was a disk format that would be easily read, and I held my breadth that I had written it in a word processor format that could be opened by my current office application.

Thank goodness I sent it to the conference organizers in HTML format. Primitive, clunky HTML format mind you, which was probably manually inserted before saving as a text file.

It opened.

The bio is from the first year of Free Range before I took over as President but I am not going to update anything. I did check spelling and grammar to make an edit or two, but I have republished "Publishing in the New Mass Medium: Creating Content on the Internet" to the web, where it can now be accessed by the students through the generous online document storage and access capabilities provided by Google.

For more information on protecting and storage documents for the long haul, here is a nice article from Storage Magazine.

image from Offsite Data Depot

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Algae as a Biofuel

Yesterday I was able to attend a roundtable discussion on algae based technology for performing wastewater treatment and bio-fuel production. This is a process that is currently being explored in Virginia with the anticipation that the whole of the process would:


Provide a renewable biodiesel fuel that would be produced locally and economically competitive with fossil fuels

Provide a fuel that would result in carbon emissions lower than those for fossil fuels, with the aim of producing a zero-net-carbon-emissions-fuel

Become a catalyst for cleaner coastal waters

Be a producer of marketable credits for removal of nutrients and carbon dioxide from discharges and emissions.


The above are paraphrased from the invitation to the discussion, and a very interesting one it was.

As is a common situation I find myself in, just about everyone around the table knew more about the topic than I did. Whether it was the research scientists from WSU, the UWT and North Dakota State, the businesspersons who had already created functioning processes to extract biofuel, the community leaders looking for green solutions or the folks who help to articulate solutions from IP to product they were formidable in their knowledge.

What I enjoyed, was seeing how each mind set and area of expertise fit into the bigger picture of an executable solution at a larger scale. It is the essence of a strong team to bring area experts together for a common goal.

Yesterday was only a discussion but I hope that a project comes from it.

This might be an excellent birds of a feather conversation following the South Sound Technology Conference in November.

The above image was taken from the National Museum of Natural History.

Friday, September 12, 2008

"50 Cent Words" from Quillpill



Quillpill continues to evolve as an enjoyable, micro-blogging writers application. More features are being added on an ongoing basis including mark up language addition and the ability to export your writing to email. The latter was added to provide support for the brave souls who are not only jumping into the NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) novel writing initiative this year, but are going to do so 140 characters at a time.

How might that get done? According to information gathered from one of their users on the site:


What does it take to write a NaNoWriMo novel on Quillpill? Here are some calculations from Aden Penn, who was our first user to express interest in using Quillpill for her NaNoWriMo participation:

50,000 words=339,115 characters
339,115 characters divided by 140 = 2422 characters
2422 characters divided by 30 days =81

So you would have to make generally 81 posts or more a day.

Another milestone for founders Derek Maune and Elissa Rose is that they have published the first quarterly literary magazine from submissions created from the site itself. "Quillpill Quarterly" hit the stands on September 9th and carries short stories, excerpts and poems from several of it's early users.

Quillpill announced the occasion on their blog and explained in part:

Quillpill has released the September issue of the Quillpill Quarterly Literary Magazine, “50-Cent Words.” We’ve hand picked some of the most interesting and highest quality work on Quillpill to showcase the mobile and micro fiction genre. The fully illustrated 24 page magazine comes to you with work by E.T. Chevalier, Aden Penn, Eric Rice, Andrew Fry, Freeman Powell, and Dennis Loney, Science Fiction author Ken Brady’s article, “Redefining Literature 140 Characters at a time,” and an interview with Quillpill author Nikolas Bates.

Included in the issue is the piece I did on the Chalk Off Challenge, so that is just one more milestone for the art slam happening at Frost Park of chalk to pavement.

Magcloud has a short review of it plus several page samples as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Micro Nano Breakthrough Conference

I am attending the second day of the Micro Nano Coference and it
continues to enthrall. Right now I am attending the session on
Biological System Interactions with Stacy Harper from OSU among
others.

Thank goodness yesterday I went to the Nanotechnology 101 session by
Paul Burrows. If I hadn't I would never have understood the ISO
conference conversation I had with John Martin this morning.

This is also my excuse to try posting this via the email to blog
feature available through Blogger.com.

If this works, check out the "How do I post via email" Section of the site.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Living and Working Filling Up



Once or twice during the year I teach a course called "Living and Working in a Virtual World". When I first introduced the course, about 11 students signed up and it went through its inaugural quarter. Some students thought it was too technical and some thought it was not technical enough.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to support the course. Activity here picks up whenever it is being taught. Among the reasons that the activity increase occurs is that I am more active in discussing the topics that would best be posted here.

Easily the most active day on this blog is during our virtual scavenger hunt.

As of today, there are 30 students enrolled in the class and I have opened up some additional spots. This could be interesting.

For those students who have stumbled across this blog before the quarter has begun, you may want to scan back through the posts (excluding the origami and theater ones) to get a feel for some of the things we will be discussing.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Riding, Rafting, Floating, Hiking



Got off the horse around two hours ago after a morning ride through the trails down by the river. I've been down the river twice so far and likely to hit it again very soon. The first was in a canoe with a young'n the second was solo in a kayak. Been up to Tumalo Falls for a hike and on many bike rides.

The deer are out in force with a family of six cutting through by the cabin nearly daily. Last night the coyote's howled it up at around 3:00am and I've spotted a few blue heron's down by the river.

This morning is the first time I've touched a keyboard in a week, and it will be a few days more before I type again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

End of Quarter Colloquium Today

Photo credit to the UWT's rotating display of images from the campus.

Today is the last Friday of the Summer quarter 2008 here at the University of Washington, Tacoma, and for the Institute of Technology, that means student presentations on research, readings, internships and graduate capstone projects. End of quarter colloquiums occur four times during the year on the Friday prior to finals week.

There is a lighter number of presentations than usual today, which is surprising to me because there is so much going on within the CSE and CSS programs. However, to be eligible for course credit in our program you have to complete a set of core courses which in effect means you are of senior status. A number of juniors were looking to intern this Summer, and though many were unable to gain course credit (which means no end of quarter presentation), many they still were able to gain experience and no doubt earn some money.

This morning, an alumni sent word of twenty programmer positions opening in Issaquah and a week doesn't go by that I am contacted by a company or organization looking for Bachelor of Science graduates or seniors who can intern or apply.

Which is why I am pleased that this Fall quarter for 2008 looks to be the largest enrollment of students for the Institute since its inception. The counts are not official and there is still a month to go before school begins, but it looks like we will be enrolling around 200 or so future software developers, database architects and computer engineers come October.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Husky Escaping Cranes and Display



Not too long ago I held a small workshop at the UWT library on floral origami. Since that time the library hosted librarians from all the campuses over the weekend. As one of the many preparations for the event, they wanted to change over some of the displays and asked if I would be willing to showcase some origami, with contributions from the workshop.

The workshop was fun, and as part of it we made some simple tulips, the traditional origami lily and some compound roses. You can see the tulips on the bulletin board that was created from the workshop and you can catch some of the lily's in the floral display case. The folks who were there were fun to create with and were gracious in letting some of the end models be used.



Additionally, I assembled one of my favorite projects which I call "escaping cranes". You may have seen them on this blog before. This time I went with the host colors and created a "Husky Escaping Cranes". For some reason I had a difficult time focusing the darn camera, so I don't have a good long shot as yet. I have included a poorly shot version just to give you an idea.



If you would like to make some cranes as part of a larger project, save Oct 9th and come by the UWT library for another workshop.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fun at Showcase Tacoma



My family and I had an excellent time at Showcase Tacoma last weekend. We came out on a Saturday in the early afternoon and walked around in the sporadic rain. It was not very crowded at the time, which I would expect, as we came through at a quiet time of the day. Still we ran into many friends.

One thing I saw that was interesting was a group of students who were fund raising with some origami. The folks they were working with made packages of paper balloons sized to fit over holiday lights so that they created a festive feel.

Another thing that I thought was very cool, along with the Lava Tube, the various glass art booths, the bands and the chalk art was the wonderful putting course put together by the Fulcrum Gallery.

From a distance you might mistake it for a topical map of the South Sound, but when you approached it their was unmistakably a putter and golf ball in the exhibit ready to put to use.

Both my son and youngest daughter walked across the spongy islands and covered concrete inlets to try their hand at it, both enjoying the challenge. Hard to believe, but apparently a gentleman had earlier made a hole in one all the way from Vashon Island.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

DDOS Before Georgia Invasion?

The technology section of the New York Times carries an interesting piece by John Markoff on cyberattacks on the infrastructure of Georgian government sites, including Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili's web site prior to the Russian invasion.

DDOS, distributed denial of service attacks with messages containing "win+love+in+Rusia" were sent in the millions in what he characterizes as a dress rehearsal to an all out cyber attack.

Cybersecurity and cyberwarfare exercises have been conducted here in the US and locally as part of defensive training and military preparedness, but this is the first time I am aware of a cyberattack preceding a true military assault.

Check the article out here.

UPDATE: It looks like the attacks are not abating.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Move Over Web 2.0, Here comes Web 3.0



Forget trying to pin down what Web 2.0 is...er, was. Just give a flip of the hand in a dismissive way and say it was about social networks and web services. There, done with. Like the old phrase used to define the threshold of obscenity, you can say, “I know it when I see it”.

My favorite "go to" explanation is still this great video by Mike Wesch, Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us. You might still be one of the people who has watched from the over 6 million views of it so far. Also, catch his anthropological discussion of YouTube off of his main page there.

More importantly, we now must discuss what Web 3.0 is. How can we talk about 3.0 when we haven’t nailed down 2.0 as either marketing or venture fundraising lingo fastened to some general concepts? (insert dismissive hand gesture here).

OK, back to 3.0.

In a Trendwatch post today titled Mozilla Labs and Aurora: Envisioning a Web 3.0 browser it states off the top:

Mozilla, developer of the Firefox web browser, is asking people from around the world to participate in the creation of what could become a next-generation browser. The first ideas posted on the website include AdaptivePath’s Aurora idea, which is - to our knowledge - the first concept to describe Web 3.0 capability in a web browser.

Sweet. The first descriptions of 3.0 capabilities, though it turns out that they are looking at the Semantic Web as being the next versioning of online interaction. Tim Berners-Lee has been stating the Semantic Web as the next major iteration of the web experience for some time now.

If you would like an animated presentation of what that experience might be like, here is Aurora’s take.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Compound Origami and a Workshop



I like to fold with a single sheet of paper. No cuts, no glue. That being said, I will be gluing and in one small exception, cutting, origami models in order to create modular origami flowers and arrangements this Thursday.

Modular origami can be rewarding in the detail of the model and is also interesting and challenging. There are some great books on the subject, such as "Unit Origami: Multidimensional Transformations" by Tomoko Fuse.

As defined by Wikipedia, modular origami, or unit origami, "is a paperfolding technique which uses multiple sheets of paper to create a larger and more complex structure than would be feasible using single-piece origami techniques. Each individual sheet of paper is folded into a module, or unit, and then modules are assembled into an integrated flat shape or three-dimensional structure by inserting flaps into pockets created by the folding process. These insertions create tension or friction that holds the model together."

I have created a few Kusadama's in the past with the largest using 175 sheets of paper. Kusadama's are paper models "that is usually (although not always) created by sewing multiple identical pyramidal units (usually stylized flowers folded from square paper) together through their points to form a spherical shape."

This Thursday I will be giving a workshop on ornamental floral origami at the University of Washington, Tacoma's Library from 10am - Noon in the upstairs conference room LIB 222A.

At this time my plans are to talk about single sheet origami and compound origami. Though I would like to fold the traditional Lily, I think we will start with a simple two piece tulip. From there we will create the six piece rose from Hiromi Hayashi's Origami Flowers: Popular Blossoms and Creative Bouquets and if there is time, back to the lily.

I would also like to do the Dahlia from Hiromi's book, but it has one collapse that I don't think a novice or early origami folder can do themselves.

If you are in the area and would like to join in, please do.