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 is highly recommended.

South Sound Technology Conference 2008

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.

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.

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