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 »

Jun 032014
 

My apologies: this article was accidentally scheduled for publication before it was completed.  It is now updated.

Okay, enough griping about Cowtown’s obstacles in attaining some degree of technological leadership– what are some resources currently available to improve the situation?  Today I’ll go over some that are key, focusing on communities rather than places.  Not all listed are exclusively oriented around technology, but it is at least included in their scope.

I’ve mentioned these organizations in previous articles, but it’s worth gathering them together and highlighting. 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 »

May 232014
 
Yesterday I wrote about tech events in Fort Worth, Texas [“Cowtown and Code“] so it’s only fitting I expound on that theme with another alliterative article.  Today I’ll dare to get politically incorrect and lay bare one aspect of Cowtown culture that is simultaneously brag-worthy and yet fiendishly aggravating as well:

Folks are laid back here.

Stereotypical cowboy talk includes words like “mosey“, a colloquial verb describing walking much like glacial describes progress.  Like their trail-dusting forebears, Fort Worthians are usually in no hurry.  Whatever it is, it’ll wait.

This is at once endearing and maddening.  Sometimes it can’t wait, and that’s especially true with technology. Continue reading »

May 222014
 
June is looming and I’m excited: the second-ever Cowtown Code Camp is being held on the 14th and I hope to make it.

Last year it was thrilling enough that we even had this sort of event in Fort Worth; everyone in tech in DFW knows Addison, Irving, Frisco, Plano, Richardson and North Dallas are where you go for software and related events.  It’s a circle of cities that has held tightly to this honor for years, and facilitated a self-fulfilling situation.  Developers go because that’s where the events are, and the events are held there because developers go.  Breaking into that cycle, even for a single occasion, was special in and of itself. Continue reading »

May 202014
 
Last week I blathered a bit about where I’m at and hope to go.  For those interested, I’m gonna share more details today.

In case it doesn’t come across in other contexts, I’m ultimately a maker at heart.  Nothing pleases me more than to be designing, writing or building.  Something.  Anything.  I’m even happy with repairing stuff– assuming the designers put reasonable thought into that aspect of their product.  I’m convinced though that pointy-haired bosses excel at ensuring all products leaving their domain are as repair-unfriendly as possible.

For most of my adult life, I’ve made things at the direction of others.  At Texas Instruments, as a (now-reformed) defense worker, I contributed to radar and guidance system design.  At Stanley, I worked on ways of improving existing mechanics’ tools as well as inventing great new things that Marketing feared to approve.  At Medtronic, I mainly supported development and testing of surgical tools designed to cut into your skull and spine.  At Nokia, I designed quality-monitoring software solutions and supply chain processes.

All of that was wonderful. Continue reading »

Jan 102014
 
I‘ve been working with various developer communities for several years, and there’s a common question I encounter regardless of the platform:

Q: “What should I work on?”

This isn’t always easy to answer specifically, because a great deal depends on the skills and interests of the person asking.  But there is an easy general response:

A: “Solve a problem for yourself.”

I’ve found that the developers not asking that question tend to do exactly that.  They have a need, see no available solution, and jump right into solving it for themselves.  Often enough, that tends to work for others as well. Continue reading »

Dec 062013
 
Greetings all!  It’s time to dive back into Windows Phone developer community land.  In this post I’ll be sharing the good and not-so-good news for WP development in my region, which is physically centered in the Dallas-Fort Worth area but also includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota.  I’ll summarize the year and share some ongoing/upcoming stuff too.

Continue reading »

Oct 222013
 

appsweepstakes-216x100I’ve urged the Windows Developers in my outreach areas to enter their apps into Microsoft’s Tech Affiliate Sweepstakes on numerous occasions… but I haven’t really gone into just what that is.

The contest of course rewards a few randomly-selected developers and their community leaders each month for app submissions.  There’s a lot more to Tech Affiliate, however, than monthly cash prizes. Continue reading »

Oct 032013
 
I recently wrote about a long shot opportunity I thought I had to attain a “dream job”.  In the aftermath of failure, a friend mentioned that we don’t always land our dream jobs.  I had to reply that I did have one, once, in a quality assurance role in a former Nokia factory from 2005 to 2007. Continue reading »

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