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.

Various community and educational leaders.

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.


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

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.

Hopefully you have seen the press release from the EDB about Infoblox renewing its lease in Tacoma for another six years. Growing from sixty...