Oct 162014
 
I lamented in a previous post about how the Dallas-Fort Worth area lost out on an advanced manufacturing research center, and noted that there would be more such opportunities.  Many more.

Sure enough, the White House just announced the next step in the series:

As part of the effort to build on the progress made and highlight the need for continued investment in American manufacturing, the President is announcing today a new competition to award more than $200 million in public and private investment to create an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute, led by the Department of Defense, and the second of four new institute competitions to be launched this year.

Continue reading »

Oct 082014
 
I mentioned a couple of articles ago that our local maker foundation was dissolved and that I would share more later.  It’s later, so here’s the more.

If you’re looking for a steamy expose on what can go wrong when a bunch of creative strangers start an organization, I’ll have to disappoint you here.  But you might pry it out of me over a drink offline.

Instead I want to share the Big Gotchas that derailed us, in hopes that the knowledge can help someone else.  I’m sure much of it will sound familiar to other organizers and leaders. Continue reading »

Aug 282014
 
Ok, I’m getting slaughtered in the Helsinki photo contest, so it’s time to up the game. You’re going to want to read the whole post.

I’m going to pull YOU in as a potential prizewinner. That means a FREE TRIP TO HELSINKI, FINLAND for you if I win the contest (Facebook contest winner gets two tickets) and you get drawn from the list. Continue reading »

Aug 272014
 
Okay, I admit it: I screwed up.

Yesterday in my zeal to win a trip back to Helsinki, Finland I lost all common sense and spammed the crap out of  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few texting streams.

I know better.  I should have done better.  Impatience is no excuse, but it got the better of me. Continue reading »

Aug 262014
 
Today I’m spamming the Internet with yet another appeal, this time involving a possible opportunity for this unofficial ambassador to revisit one of my favorite cities: Helsinki, Finland.

There’s no funds or funny stuff required.  Visit Helsinki has arranged a contest where contestants’ photos are displayed in a Facebook media album and all you need to do is Like those of your favorite participant.  In this instance, me.

And in case you need further motivation, as I noted in the previous post here I’m working on a book about maker communities.  One of the coauthors, Jarkko Moilanen, works in Helsinki and I’d like a chance to get with him face-to-face for a bit.  I also hope to interview former Maemo/MeeGo community members (now with Jolla) to get their perspective on collaborative communities.

I have many friends in Finland and several of them have jumped in to help.  But so far it’s not nearly enough– I’m being beaten pretty soundly by another contestant and could use all the assistance I can muster. Continue reading »

Aug 242014
 
By now regular readers know I’m heavily involved in the maker world, particularly in evangelical activities.  One of my main goals for the past three years has been to learn more about the maker experiences around the world, connect makers to opportunities and inform the general public on the reality of makers, hackers, tinkerers or whatever creative types call themselves.

All of this has been a lot of work, especially in my very conservative locale.  Every time I hit some sort of social or functional wall, I think, someone should write a maker community how-to book.

And when a common political rant emerged on the hackerspaces.org general discussion list on that very subject, it all came together for me: *I* should write that book. Continue reading »

May 272014
 

Every serious fisherman has a One That Got Away tale, usually shared with wistful regret and a declaration to get back out there and overcome the loss.  Fishermen are a stubborn lot, rarely letting anything get in between them and the prize.  They will always make the effort.

Fort Worth is surrounded by many nice lakes and as a consequence we have more than our share of committed fish stalkers.  But I’m curious: why wouldn’t that sort of dedication translate to opportunities in technology?

That’s not just a rhetorical question.  As I wrote last time [“Cowboys and Culture“], we can be a laid-back bunch in these parts, exhibiting a skepticism over urgency that would make Show-Me-Staters proud.  And as I promised in that previous article, I will now share the perfect example of one that got away… and maybe shouldn’t have. Continue reading »

Aug 232013
 

I’m behind on publishing some content but an opportunity has come up that trumps just about everything else.  Except beer and pizza.  First the background.

Many of you know that for several years now I’ve been supporting creative communities, both on and offline.  If I really want to date myself then this activity goes back further than I’ll usually admit, to a stint as a writing forum moderator in the heyday of America Online.  Don’t judge: it meant free dial-up.  ;)

As you can see on LinkedIn, my more recent history has gone from Maemo to MeeGo to Windows Phone plus local Makers.  An interesting mix of communities that has helped me understand myriad arguments for and against various platforms and preferences, as well as learn to socialize with creative types from all walks of life.  This understanding has pushed my thinking above and away from the sort of religious dogma that can cripple a project, and in turn helped me (I think) be a really good all-around community leader.  And even as I’ve helped Nokia’s efforts to pull in Windows Phone developers, I’ve kept a watchful eye on Jolla and kept fairly current with Qt developments.  I even assisted Tuukka Ahoniemi with Qt outreach in Dallas (although other activities got in the way, something I would fix if I got this role).

Which leads me back to the opportunity.

Against all odds, I will be interviewing with Digia soon for an Online Community Manager position.  Exciting!  I think I’m the ideal candidate, and so do a few others who have already spoken on my behalf.  But landing this position will take some serious effort: they really want someone situated in Norway, Finland or Berlin.  I have to prove that I can do even better than someone in close proximity.

Now, I’ve done the remote working thing both voluntarily for the aforementioned communities and professionally for Nokia.  I know I can perform this role with the same success.   Heck, I’ve always said I can work from Antarctica as long as I had Internet.  I just need to convince Digia.

To that end, I’m looking to the communities I serve for advice.  What should I emphasize?  In what areas do I still require polish?  Feel free to add comments here.  Be critical if you feel led.  Or contact me privately, too.

I had a similar opportunity with Scarlet Motors at one point, and touched on that in an article about keeping a childlike aspect in communities, but unfortunately they lacked the means at the time to make it a paid position.  The Digia role will be full time, and involves work I love and have been preparing for.  I relish the opportunity to take lessons learned from other communities and see where it will support Qt’s desire for broader adoption.

I really, really want this job.  Your feedback will help, and perhaps so will lobbying Digia.  Make sure to hit Qt Project and Qt by Digia on twitter, as well as their Facebook page.  After all, a good online community manager should mobilize Internet citizens, right?  ;)

Thanks.

Jun 232013
 
WP_20130601_002

Gathering in the cool TECH Fort Worth foyer…

After months of exploring civic hacking possibilities for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a brainstorming session finally came together early this month.  Held at TECH Fort Worth on a breezy Saturday, the event sought to identify challenges and develop plans for future events that bring needful municipalities and contribution-minded citizens to the same table.

We decided to take a traditional brainstorming approach, throwing ideas on the board and carefully guiding them toward a refined, useful set of actionable items.  TECH Fort Worth is the right facility for it!  But first, I shared a presentation on the subject.  I’m sure I violated some unspoken rule by launching a Prezi from a PowerPoint deck, but at least it worked! Continue reading »

Mar 102013
 

SMU Hackathon

The last time I did a “Where I’m At” post was too long ago, so let’s get this thing going without much preamble.  And no, this isn’t about US college basketball playoffs.  Just feels like it sometimes.

Nokia Stuff

As many if not all of you know, I returned to Nokia on a part-time contract basis in late 2012.  I still have a full-time day job, and commit a large part of my other hours to sharing the Nokia Lumia story with current and hopeful developers in North Texas… with some virtual forays into neighboring states.

Here in DFW there’s been a steadily growing increase in interest, something I’ll blog in more detail about later.  But it’s still a mostly Apple world in these parts, at least from a user perspective, while the local developer community largely feeds on Android.  The Dallas-area Windows Phone developer crowd has reached a respectable size, though, to the point where this part-time gig feels more like full-time.

That last part has been mitigated through cultivation of additional community leaders.  For instance, Bary Nusz in Amarillo, Texas and Patrick Hefner of the Nashville, Tennessee area have been phenomenal in growing the Nokia developer and enthusiast base for their regions.  They’re being rewarded with Lumia phones and something maybe even more useful: Nokia Developer Champion nominations.  The Champions are volunteers recognized for some form of advanced leadership– technical, community-oriented or both.  The perks are very nice.  I have not heard yet if Bary and Patrick will have their nominations approved [update: both were], but they are both deserving in my opinion.  I’ll be spending a great deal of time this year on Champion development.  If you’re interested, contact me!

And if you haven’t checked out our DVLUP incentive program, what are you waiting for?  It’s out of private beta so no registration codes required now.  The challenges have been updated and cool new rewards added.  If you’re an existing Windows Phone developer and haven’t joined, you’re already cheating yourself out of some really cool stuff.  If you’re new to the experience, you’ll find helpful people there and at Nokia’s core developer community as well (our wiki is legendary).  So get engaged!  Some lucky DVLUP participant and Cowtown Code Camp attendee stands to win big– more on that in a following post.

The Maker Space

Being a founder and director of the new and rapidly-expanding Fort Worth Makerspace community keeps me pumping as well.  To minimize conflicts and make it easy on this old body, I’m focusing on areas where Makers can play in the Nokia product ecosystem.  This goes beyond simple app development into some really cool areas, like 3D printing.

As I shared over at post404, I helped kickstart Nokia’s involvement in crowdsourced 3D printing and have been assisting John Kneeland as he promotes this venture into even bigger proportions.  The project started with the sexy Lumia 820 and has recently been expanded to include the newer 520 model.  It remains to be seen if calls for supporting unibody devices like the 920 prove feasible.  I’ve formed a mobile technology special interest group at our local makerspace for those interested in participating.  See Nokia’s developer wiki for more details.

I’m trying to get some sort of contest developed around 3D printing of Lumia back covers, and hope to share something soon.  Meanwhile, Shapeways has announced a 3D printing API and I’m very excited about the possibilities it presents!  Check it out.

Before 3D printing took off in the consumer space, the Internet of Things was largely about mobile and embedded devices.  Sensors everywhere would feed data to the web, turning the Internet itself into a rich field of environmental I/O.  Arduino and Netduino devices are especially designed to participate in this space, and I plan to bring the latter into my Nokia outreach efforts.  Ideas welcomed!

Perceptual Computing

As if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve been asked by Intel’s awesome Bob Duffy to whip up local enthusiasm for their perceptual computing challenge.  How could I resist?

In a nutshell, Intel is promoting the development of novel interactve solutions built around Ultrabooks and Creative’s Interactive gesture camera.  Consider the latter as a laptop-scaled analog to Microsoft’s Kinect camera and you get the picture.

This article at Venture Beat provides an introduction to what Intel is trying to do:

The latest laptops, known as Ultrabooks, will have multiple ways to interact.  Nuance-based voice controls will let you talk to your computer to run Google  searches, start playing music, or share links on Twitter. Perlmutter, who is  from Israel, said the technology will eventually be able to understand even his  accent.

Intel is also working with SoftKinetic to bring 10-finger gesture recognition to the PC. With it, you can wave your fingers in front of the camera of a  computer, and it will recognize your gestures. [Intel executive vice president Dadi Perlmutter] showed how he could use his  fingers to control a catapult game demo and hold a crystal ball, by waving his  hands in front of a computer and not touching it.

I’ll be using my Maker channels to organize activity around this one, although I have also been informing the local Nokia outreach community of the opportunity.  I have developer devices available for loan and session work; I’ll have something more formal to announce soon for the next phase of the challenge, but feel free to hit me up via email if you’re at all interested in learning more.  First, however, get familiar with the program and tools.  Note that my direct support of this activity will be limited to the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Bob has an analysis of where the challenge is currently, and it’s worthwhile reading.

Getting Qt

Sadly, I have not had much time for Qt lately.  I do want to rectify that, but at the moment I don’t see how.  I’m still interested in the platform, especially where Jolla is concerned, and even in coding for my coveted N9… but overcommitment is a bad habit that I’m working hard to break.  I’ll still share Qt news, mostly on twitter, and continue trying to make time for learning it.  I’m thrilled at its prospects and assured by its recent advances.

!Spam

As noted before I have a lot of work to do with this site.  Most of it has been invisible: theme-searching, plugin-testing, etc.  The necessary grunt work that feels like time wasted.  I definitely need to add some resource pages, and that’s in the works.

One of my goals is to push content to your preferred channels so you don’t have to subscribe to MY preference(s).  So besides this site, here’s a list of outlets where you can expect updates:

Twitter

Texrat (general)
NokiaDevNorthTX (Nokia outreach specific)

Facebook

Texrat (general)
Nokia Developer Outreach North Texas page
Nokia Developer Outreach North Texas group
Mobile Monday Dallas

Google Plus

Nokia Developer Outreach North Texas community

Meetup.com

Windows Phone App Developer Group – DFW North Texas

LinkedIn

Develop with Nokia
Windows Phone Community
MobileMonday
IdeasProject
Windows App Developers
Developer Evangelists

Nokia Developer

Windows Phone App Developer Group – DFW Dallas Texas
3D Printing and Nokia Developer Outreach North Texas

Website(s)

Fort Worth Makerspace

Up Next

I’ll be attending a Board of Directors meeting for the Tarrant County Maker Community Foundation this week.  If you have anything you want me to raise there, let me know!

Here are some upcoming events:

Cowtown Code Camp 2013
Mobile Monday Usability/Accessibility Brainstorm DFW

Much more to come!

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