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
 
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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!

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!

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What’s a meetup without pizza? Pizza Hut was fast and courteous, and the food was great.

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!

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Jorge Varela moderates. So glad to have him aboard!

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.

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Discussion results

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:

  1. New KXAS Studios
  2. AT&T
  3. 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.

Wrap-up

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Backpack winner Raj Daniels

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!

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!

Oct 302012
 

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.  ;)

Aug 282012
 

“I deal with the customers so the engineers don’t have to.”

As many of you know, I’ve been a Nokia Developer Champion for a couple of years now.  Technically I was one (in deed only) since 2006; Nokia just formalized that with a certificate and a few very nice perks starting in late 2010.

I was brought into the official fold not for coding prowess but rather for Maemo community development.  Which was cool, because that’s where I found the bulk of my volunteer efforts going; there were plenty of others fighting on the coding front and too few fretting over community growth and outreach processes.  And as I explained to some Nokia developer relations guys after a pre-Nokia World get-together last year, there are champion developers, and developer champions.

While I’ve certainly performed my share of miraculous programming feats, these days I’m more of the latter.

Coders have enough to occupy their time without concerning themselves with outreach and evangelism.  Many, I’ve found, have for whatever reason not fully developed the networking skills so necessary to project and product success.  I was a late-bloomer myself, so I understand.  But someone has to act as liaison between the more exceptional programers and the movers/shakers who can make things happen for their creations.

And as Tom Symkowski in the movie Office Space learned, the “go-between” is an often misunderstood and unappreciated role.

While Maemo looked to have a future, and then the same with its successor MeeGo, my form of “meddling” was at least tolerated and sometimes even embraced by the mostly-European community.  Even technical cynics will accept The Devil (aka Marketing) when it’s clear, honest, and useful.

And on that note…

Maemo is gone as a platform.  MeeGo survives in a Nokia-customized form on the N9 and N950, but has no future unless Jolla pulls off a miracle.  And there is nothing in the Nokia pipeline to replace them.

So I’m left with a choice: follow Symbian champions out of the program, or get behind Windows Phone.

While some of my well-meaning friends in Europe see the choice as easy, it isn’t for me.  For one, I’m not so antagonistic toward WP.  Would I prefer to keep supporting Maemo or MeeGo?  Oh HELL yes.  But I’ve been developing for the Windows desktop and server worlds for about two decades now and I’m comfortable there.  That said, Windows Phone development is not as open so I do admit to wrestling with that issue.  If I am patient enough to stick with MeeGo, then that will be in whatever community may develop around Jolla, and Nokia dev champ membership has no relevance.

But here in the US, there are three mobile platform choices: iOS, Android, or WP.

I don’t intend to get into the first two and I’m not going to get into the reasons here.  So that leaves the last (and last place) option.

I’ve helped organize a local (Dallas area) Windows Phone developer group and it’s been steadily growing… so there’s definitely interest.  Even if I don’t write a single line of WP code, I can still help this group with support and networking while I’m an active Nokia Developer Champion.  I’d love to do the same for Qt, but I’ve had no success with that effort so far.

My NDC term expires in October, and what’s announced at this year’s Nokia World event may well determine whether or not I pursue another one.  Of course acceptance is really up to Nokia anyway.

No matter what, my hope is that friends who are opposed to Windows Phone can read this and understand that, although I completely understand and respect their position, I’m hoping they can grit their teeth, hold their noses and at least tolerate mine.

I’m really not sure where I go from here with regards to the mobile landscape.  Maybe I’ll abandon it altogether and put volunteer work into 3D printing wholeheartedly.  Maybe I’ll see what I can do for friends involved with Scarlet Motors.  At this point I’m playing it by ear… and ideas are welcome.

Aug 272012
 

 

Devaamo Summit 2012 attendees (courtesy Jenifer Hanen)
Grinning geek at lower left along with friends. Image source: MsJen’s Flickr

Well, after some amount of begging, finagling, stock-selling and unusually good luck I managed to make it to Devaamo Summit 2012 in beautiful Tampere, Finland. And after some amount of procrastinating and blathering about other subjects, I’m finally managing to share the experience with you.

The Trip Out

Of course not all luck was good. A delay in getting the funds from the stock sale led to less-than-ideal air travel tickets. Which in turn led to being stranded on the DFW airport tarmac for an hour as a hail storm pelted the plane. Which finally resulted in an overall delay of three hours since my connecting flight out of Atlanta ran into equally aggravating weather. Then in Amsterdam my gift to good friend Timo (timoph/timorph) Härkönen of a bottle of Texas hot sauce was confiscated because their security didn’t trust ours. Finally, when I landed at Helsinki Vantaa airport, I realized my new travel guitar had not yet made the trip.

Sigh.

Ultimately it wasn’t all bad, though, as Timo (along with his gracious better half Niina and our mutual friend Carsten Munk) was kind enough to make a two hour trip by car to pick me up at Helsinki Vantaa airport. That was cool. It certainly beat a solo train or bus ride, and if I remember correctly I paid something like 8 euros less for refueling their car than I would have for a train ride. That’s, like, a whole beer.

Timo had taken time off of work, and Niina went off to visit friends and family, so we did the bachelor thing for a few days. Minus strippers and alcohol-induced stunts that is. In all seriousness, Timo is not only a great friend but a truly wonderful host. He made sure I got where I needed to go at all times. And his cool cat Rog kept me good company at night.

Friday

The first day we enjoyed a lazy breakfast during a beautiful morning. Then Timo and I trekked the short distance to New Factory to help set things up and then enjoy a Mer Project “birds of a feather (BoF)” talk conducted by Carsten (stskeeps) along with David (lbt) Greaves. It was a great way to begin as this sort of highly-interactive session loosens participants up and gives them an idea of event nature. A relative to Maemo, the Mer open source mobile device core project is a favorite of mine so it was good to see that it still plugs along (and as we later discovered, will be at the heart of Jolla‘s efforts).

Saturday

The next day was the event proper, and I got roped into session moderator duties by the hard-to-resist Carol (cybette) Chen for the first half. I was a bit nervous at first because I had never done that before and was concerned about what I would say. Those who know I rarely shut up are surely surprised to read that, but it’s true: if I’m not prepared I tend to stutter or blank. Fortunately I made it through without catastrophe.

At lunch time several of us went out to enjoy some delicious Italian fare at the Bella Roma restaurant in the complex. I have to say that the food and service here have been excellent all three times I have been. I really recommend the monster calzones.

I had my own session to conduct after lunch. Intro to 3D Parametric Design had been rejected at first but they managed to find room for me at the last minute. Which meant that I had neglected to put anything together until just before I flew out. That turned out to be an issue; as one reviewer noted, I didn’t cover enough material. We had 30 minutes and I actually wrapped up in 20, unwittingly skipping a few parts of the demo I had planned. I had hoped the audience would ask more questions then the one from the illustrious Henri (bergie) Bergius; what I should have done when none were forthcoming was go back to the demo and play around some more. Ah well… point learned the hard way.

I don’t really need to go into more detail about the event itself, because the reviewer who (rightfully) panned my talk does a really good job of sharing what he experienced.  So does Timur Kristóf.

Party!

After the event wrapped up the traditional party commenced. There was plenty of beer and a local comedian regaled us with some pretty decent jokes. He started in English for the sake of the multinational audience but had to beg off into Finnish after a just a few jokes. Judging from the native response, he did fairly well. Meanwhile I had some great conversations with Lucian (ltomuta) Tomuta, Timur (venemo), Jenifer (msjen) Hanen, Thomas (tbr23) Rucker and others.  See some pictures here.

Henri spent the bulk of the evening trying to get me drunk it seemed. He came close but did not quite succeed. Better luck next time, Bergie!  I just hope your motives are pure.  ;)

Once the party wound down and we had to leave the facility, a good number of us headed off to a park along the river where we battled advancing inebriation and tough Finnish mosquitoes. By this time my travel guitar had completed its traveling and we were reunited. I had brought it solely for songwriting purposes since I’m actually a crappy player, but as it turned out some guy named Sakari (shyoty) Hyöty was highly skilled and entertained a few of us with his playing. I was impressed that he was able to pick up some of my original songs so quickly. He seemed like someone I would love to work with.

Timo and I both tired before most of the crowd so we headed back to his apartment to watch Iron Sky. It was a bit campier than I had thought it would be, but overall I’m impressed with what the low budget production team managed to accomplish with this partially-crowdsourced effort.

Sunday

I had nothing personally scheduled for Sunday so Timo and I took it easy again in the morning. That afternoon we headed back to New Factory for post-event cleanup and a delicious Thank You dinner at Plevna Bewery and Restaurant. Afterward Matti (smoinen) Saastamoinen was kind enough to take me by Timo’s to collect my things and then drop Carol, Timur and I off at the train station. The latter two saw me off as I headed to Helsinki, where I planned to catch a few hours’ nap at Jens (jnwi) Wiik’s apartment before catching a plan out of HEL at the ungodly hour of 6:30 AM. But Jens and I were too wired so we chatted about music, games and Maemo memories before I walked the several blocks to the bus station.

I was sad at the shortness of my stay and how swiftly departure time came, but so glad for the opportunity. Thanks so much to Carol Chen for tirelessly soliciting travel funds for me (I promise I’ll start paying people back soon!) and of course to Timo and Jens for their hospitality. My appreciation also to Timur, Henri, Attila, Jenifer, Thomas, Carsten, David, Lucian, Jukka and other friends for making me feel so welcome! I want to bring you all over here! During cooler weather of course.

There and Back Again

Once back at home and settled into my usual groove, I immediately began missing the Devaamo experience. Here in Texas I’ve attended numerous events of a related nature, but none with quite the same spirit. So I’ve been on a mission the past few years to share that spirit everywhere I go in the hope that it will catch fire here. Texas has lost quite a bit of industry to outsourcing and employees to hotbeds of innovation like Silicon valley; we need to get creative if we are to recapture any of that and take advantage of exploding opportunities like 3D printing.

One of those efforts involving transplanting New Factory itself. To that end, I’ve proposed a local “pre start-up” hackerspace (i.e., collaboration center) as part of a Fort Worth improvement project called Plan 2023. So far it’s been very well-received. But I’m not stopping there: this venue may not turn into anything so if we can’t make this happen via Plan 2023, I’m open to any other means of accomplishing this goal for the Fort Worth area. And I’m looking for help! We held a recent meetup to brainstorm possibilities and that was a good start– let’s keep the momentum going!

There’s no reason the “Devaamo experience” should be limited to Tampere. But I’m looking forward to returning next year!