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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
Instead of the traditional lecture presentation style, I prefer a more inclusive, audience-friendly approach. It can take a little longer to get through, but I find the attendees come away more informed and engaged. This technique also better sets the stage for true brainstorming afterward.
We were extremely fortunate to have Pete Anderson and Brian Chatman from the city of Fort Worth and Karen Siddall of Irving Public Works. The strongest civic hacking events enjoy a high degree of municipal involvement, as demonstrated by Palo Alto seeing around 5000 participants in their Hack for Change event this year.
It’s very doubtful DFW will see such numbers in 2014, but we feel a year’s worth of planning and preparation will lead to a successful event for us. We are targeting a participant level of 75 but it could go even higher. It comes down to the support we get!
Discussion continued over lunch, although we lost Cone Johnson and George Battle III beforehand. They had a good reason to leave, though: as it turned out, small Hack for Change events sprang up in south Dallas and Red Oak, and the two of them went to check on progress at both. Even though the core goal of this committee is to put together a metro-scale event for 2014, smaller surrounding events are of course welcome and we will support them any way we can.
Oh, and thanks to the Microsoft Tech Affiliate program for buying the meal!
We were every fortunate to gain the participation of Jorge Varela, assistant director of TECH Fort Worth. Jorge was invaluable in leading the discussion from the storming to forming portion and development of specific action items.
As brainstorming discussions do, this one wandered over vast territory before reaching critical paths. I had originally proposed CentrePort business park as the ideal general location, and was pleasantly surprised to see our talk end up there. As I blogged previously, it really is a great spot; we just need to identify a site host. We narrowed top three candidates down to:
- New KXAS Studios
- American Airlines
I drove out there after the session to reacquaint myself with the property. I could not find the AT&T site; even an internet search was no help, which I found to be very odd. I’ll have to do a little more digging to find it. They would make an ideal partner for this sort of event… however, I got nowhere with them this year so I’m not very optimistic for next year.
The under-construction KXAS news studio was number one on our list so I made sure to check it out. The building looks nice, but smaller than I expected. KXAS would be a perfect partner for the event, but I’m not sure their facility will work as an event site. We’ll see.
The American Airlines campus is huge, and given their high level of community involvement and social media awareness I believe they would be able to support us. We will definitely pursue them.
There are other possibilities to explore as well. Bottom line, CentrePort is the place to hold a DFW event. New bus lines will be added to CentrePort Station soon, which just increases its attractiveness for our planned use.
As a thank-you for participation in the brainstorming session, I conducted a random drawing among participants for a sharp Nokia DVLUP-branded Wenger backpack. Karen Siddall was kind enough to bring various useful items promoting water conservation.
For future communications purposes, we have a Google group set up, and have taken out the domain DataLibreDFW.org. Nothing on the site yet, but that’s coming! We’re going to be holding periodic meetups, and welcome anyone wanting to attend. Follow this blog and the Twitter account MakeDFW for future developments.
Amidst all the successes, there remain some challenges. I was disappointed that the following cities neglected to respond to requests for involvement: Keller, Southlake, Grapevine and Coppell. It’s critical that between now and next year we get every local municipality to understand the huge benefits of civic hacking [note: the linked article is a must read for team members!]. Of course, we can pull an event off with backing by Fort Worth and Irving, but we don’t want to leave anyone out!
I want to encourage anyone reading this to get involved in civic hacking for your locality, or even on a larger scale. For North America, start with the Hack for Change organization, which puts an incredibly big effort behind the activity in general and specifically the National Day of Civic Hacking events. Here in DFW we’re going to need a lot of help making this happen here. The growing Maker community stands ready. If you’re interested, contact me to see how you can contribute, or just join the Data Libre DFW Google group. I guarantee you there’s a way you can help!
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!
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.
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.
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:
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:
Much more to come!
Yesterday I received an email from a Dallas entrepreneur who wondered why he kept seeing my name pop up a lot. Then today I got a call from a former Nokia colleague following up on a LinkedIn update, wondering what I’ve been up to lately. So it’s no doubt time for Yet Another Boring Update.
Only it hasn’t been boring for me. Far from it! Here’s why, explained by what I am and will be doing, in order of priority:
- Full time job and family. Hard to say which really comes first, since I could only go without a full-time job if I had no family. But I’m stuck with both, and regardless of pecking order they come before all else. I love working for BNSF Railway and hope that continues as long as I need it to!
- Nokia developer outreach. As many already know, since 2005 I have supported Nokia’s business in some form or fashion, and it just got real again. I am now officially working part-time for my former favorite employer, as a project coordinator with the cooler-sounding label of Nokia Developer Ambassador. The goal is to get developers cranking on Windows Phone. I’m currently working on getting my embassy in order. That would be home office (corner of our bedroom and a tiny spot on a living room table), this website, twitter account, a local meetup site, and various coffee shops around town.
- Qt. I can’t give up on this platform, even though I sadly retreated late last year and set it aside. I’ve been asked by Digia to help with Dallas-area meetups and I believe I can fit that in. I just hope there’s enough interest! I’m also eager to find out what’s brewing at Jolla; the new mobile phone manufacturer may offer renewed hope to mobile Qt developers.
- Tarrant County maker community. Since returning from the Devaamo Summit in Finland some months ago, full of fire and foolishness, I have been trying to pull together a local maker community. There’s no shortage of talent and interest in my home county; just little in the way of Big Picture Organization. That hurdle appears to have been crossed, thanks in large part to Sherry Huss of O’Reilly Media and the visionaries at http://DFWI.org. A makerspace website has been constructed by the hardworking Robert Bradbury, and the community is taking shape! There’s synergy with Qt and Windows Phone efforts, which will help minimize my time.
- Hildon Foundation Board. This is a new organization chartered to find a future for Nokia’s Maemo assets and community.
I’ve also been helping Scarlet Motors on community-building. But you’ll notice no specific mention of 3D printing or Tribal Method in that list.
Where the former is concerned, I’m not stopping activity– just reducing it. 3D printing will be a large part of maker community activities, and I’ll still putter with my inventions as I find time. But it won’t be as high a priority as it has been… unless something changes in the list above.
As for my ventures, aka Tribal Method, I’m putting that on a distant back-burner. I still have big ideas, and strongly believe one or more of them could create many millionaires, but I continue to struggle in selling my business ideas and building the teams necessary to bring them to life. Yes, for those in the know that includes Kintegrity, Conkin, unfolo, Resuflex, Cocoa Labs and others. Maybe at some point I’ll be able to get something going on one or more of them, but it isn’t now.
I’m busy enough.
I’ll have big announcements very soon. Windows Phone, Make and Qt stuff. The site will be revamped accordingly. I’ll also become more active here.
(FYI: you will likely see a lot of theme changes as I experiment. Feel free to suggest themes!)