Nov 132013
 

For a while now I’ve been limiting articles here to various community outreach items, but today I’m going to ramble a bit about personal stuff.  Don’t worry: no drama.

As I’m sure most of you do, I tend to reflect a bit towards the end of any year… what’s been accomplished, what was missed, where corrections are needed… the usual crap an aging soul indulges.  More and more the subject becomes what sort of life I want right now, as my sons venture into adulthood, and age discrimination (yes, it’s real) tries hard to reduce my career prospects.

Ultimately, like many, I want do Do My Own Thing.  When I can manage spare time in the course of working two jobs, I’ve been hacking away at projects designed to get me there.  Starting slow and simple with plans to progress to bigger, better things.

It’s when I sit down to code, often struggling to get into The Zone, that I’m struck by the main thing occupying my mind lately: the need to simplify.  I’m surrounded by artifacts collected over a lifetime, a maintenance nightmare bordering on hoarding proportions.

While I’ve always had a tendency to hang onto books and certain knickknacks, it wasn’t until marriage/fatherhood that this took on a life of its own.  Suddenly my collection combines with those of other household members, and a critical mass is reached.  A point far beyond any one garage sale’s salvation.  I need to get rid of it.  I need time to get rid of it.

In younger years I was highly mobile.  Without my own family trappings, I was free to wander at will.  I just neglected to take enough advantage at the time.  Now, burdened by familial anchors, I yearn for that twenty-something space-time agility.  Too much house in the way though.

I’d love to dump the house, along with the bulk of its contents, and move into a motor home.  Then drive/park where ever needed, wanted or interested.  I’m just not sure if my wife is as ready for that as I am, despite occasional claims along those lines.  She’s starting up her own thing, and it depends on shipping/receiving handmade goods.  The shipping part is no problem, but what about receiving raw materials?  We need a mail service that can follow mobile people.

Hmm… I smell another project…

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.

Of course defining a dream job is very personal, and for me there were some distinct, key elements that inspired me to literally race to work most mornings and hate leaving some times:

  • Management trust.  My boss made it clear she trusted everyone on her team to have the necessary skills and do the right thing on every occasion.  She never hovered over us, never micromanaged.  And when I doubted myself on a tough, critical project, her faith in me got me past a brief approaching-deadline panic and on to a satisfying solution.
  • Clear goals and communications.  I was never caught off guard with ad hoc expectations.  I always knew what I was supporting.  In fact a large part of my role was to improve the team’s data mining and reporting solutions so that we ALL knew.
  • Ideal work environment.  On the first day my boss was embarrassed, she said, that I would have to sit near the edge of a mezzanine overlooking the factory floor.  I thought she was kidding– for a Maker, that was workplace heaven!  Not only that, but cube walls were almost non-existent– so low that I could actually see my colleagues at any moment.  That may bother others, but I loved it.  Out of the maze and right over the frying pan!  Not to mention that I got to spend a lot of time in a test lab.
  • Travel opportunities.  When I was told I would be going to Finland sooner or later, I was terrified.  I had never left the states and did not know how I would handle a foreign country.  A trip to Mexico was not really a big deal; it was just southern Texas with different laws.  But not only did overseas travel turn out to be tolerable, I actually enjoyed it.  I’ve been to Finland 13 times now and eagerly look forward to getting back as soon as I can.
  • Beneficial training.  Oh, the training I received!  Useful.  Interesting.  Not the usual rote lecture stuff but engaging sessions where I came away a much better employee and person.  Nokia had training down to a fine science.
  • Opportunities.  For a while, the sky was the limit in Nokia.  I have a feeling it will be again before too long.
  • Enjoyable culture.  I’ve worked for many companies but only found myself truly at home in two: Texas Instruments and Nokia.  A large part of that was culture.  The previous bullet points are reflections of rich, rewarding corporate culture.  Where employees feel empowered and even encouraged to contribute, and not just treated as cogs in a cube farm.  True, no company is perfect and even TI and Nokia had some cultural failings, but they were still far above many of their peers.

Of course those attributes work for me but may not for everyone.  They thing to take away though is that a dream job is one that easily fits your aptitude and interests.  One you might even do for free, for fun.  I think we can all agree on that sort of definition.

But I’m eager to hear from others: what defines your dream job?  Please add to comments.

Jun 242013
 

Well, here I go again: my current day job contract is ending prematurely, apparently due to budget constraints.  This happened earlier in the year but I was saved by a last-second extension.  This time there seems to be no such rescue.  I did pleasantly interview today for a different role with the same employer, but as with most things, there’s no guarantee.

Many of you might be surprised to learn that my Nokia work these days is part-time.  I say that based on the reaction of locals when they learn of it.  I have spent a lot of time around Dallas-Fort Worth at various meetups and events so I can understand the amazement.  It’s the most full part-time gig I’ve ever had.  ;)

But, part-time doesn’t pay the bills, and being the sole breadwinner of this bunch, I need to find something new ASAP.  What usually follows that statement is the traditional query from interested parties: “So, what are you looking for?”.

Good question.

What I’m really looking for is to make the Nokia thing go full-time.  I have thoroughly enjoyed whipping up the enthusiasm of mobile developers.  But there are no hints of that possibility so I’m not banking on it happening.

Even more, I’d love to get my own business going.  I’ve shared some thoughts on that previously.  Technically, only time and some skill shortcomings have gotten in the way.  That said, I have been steadily working on a number of potentially big projects as I find time, and at some point hope to take advantage of BizSpark or AppCampus offerings and get something launched.

But, right now I have to think short-term.  Very short-term.  While I have not had a true vacation in four years, and one would be really nice right now, renewing my tan between sips of margarita doesn’t pay any bills.  Well, not for me, anyway.

You can see my raw skills here, but specifically, I’ve been working with SharePoint lately.  I’m 95% self-taught– not sure if that’s good or bad.  I wouldn’t mind continuing on that path, as painful as SharePoint development can often be, but I’m open to possibilities in the engineering, manufacturing or information management fields.  Heck, I’ve been dusting off solid modeling skills the past year or so and could happily plug back into that world as well– especially with 3D printing catching on.  Fun stuff.

Anyway, just thought I would inform everyone where I’m at.  If you don’t hear from me, I might just be on that unpaid vacation.  Mentally, anyway…

Update: found a new gig within days of losing the other one.  Whew!

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!

May 222013
 

I wrote a DFW-specific piece on civic coding in the area a while back and more recently followed up with a more general article on preparing cities for civic coding events.  Now I want to double-back to DFW in particular again and drill down into one aspect of the first article.

First, a lamentation familiar to just about every resident of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex: traffic.  As this area has exploded, practical tranportation options have lagged.  Sure, new highway segments like 161 have popped up here and there, relieving some congestion, but massive construction such as that on 114 and North Loop 820 shows that our ability to get from point A to B is woefully inadequate.

This point was especially driven home today as I received responses to an invitation for a social mixer at the TECH Fort Worth business incubator.  In this regard, Fort Worth is well behind other areas, such as Plano and North Dallas.  One of my goals has been to support increased tech event and meetup opportunities west of Highway 360.  But anyone living in and around Dallas quickly experiences the pain that we Westies have been enduring for years: it can be near impossible to attend cross-town events, especially in the early evening.

The ultimate answer in my opinion is a drastically reduced emphasis on automobile-oriented solutions and more rail.  A LOT more rail.  That can be a hard sell in Texas, but we’re getting better at entertaining the notion.  We just still have a long way to go.

Meanwhile, DART and the TRE do serve major parts of the metroplex fairly well; the closer to Dallas the better that service gets.  And there are plenty of stops in well-planned locations.

When I visit other countries and even some other states in the US, I see city centers have developed around rail hubs.  Government services, shopping, entertainment and other amenities tend to naturally sprout around these stations.  Even without nearby rail, the city center concept has been gaining great popularity in the US in recent years.  It’s easy to see why: the alternative, malls, proved in many cases to be an unsustainable premise.  There are many reasons why and that’s out of the scope of this article.  But one aspect of failure was how indoor malls isolated people from their environment.

In outdoor city centers, you tend to see far fewer cars and much, much more foot and bicycle traffic… especially if they are fed by public transport.  The oppressive atmosphere of cavernous malls is gone.  Along with these features, you see higher degrees of social engagement.

Which gets me back to the social coding premise.  While trying to launch a DFW-wide civic hackathon, I focused centrally in the hope of helping to create that civic center experience where it doesn’t quite yet exist.  But we DO have a strong candidate in DFW: the CentrePort business park.  I was just unable to convince anyone that the time was right to start adding another layer of usefulness to the campus.  And perhaps the time is not right, just yet.  Still, it would be a shame to completely ignore the potential.

CentrePort

CentrePort is the home to many high-contributing companies, such as American Airlines.  It’s also an important logistics hub to others like Whirlpool, Johnson & Johnson, et al.  Combine that with convenient hotels such as Marriott, plenty of eateries, proximity to DFW Airport, a rail/bus stop and accessible highway connections, and you have the starting point for a truly dynamic civic gateway.  And a great future site for events like hackathons.  We just need a few more additions, starting perhaps with a true intermodal center at the CentrePort DART/TRE station.

So my plea to DFW municipal leaders is simple: let’s take a long look at other civic centers, and get to work enhancing CentrePort in similar fashion.  Yes, Dallas has a nice DART gateway near the American Airlines Center, and Fort Worth has two downtown with potential, we still need that central nexus with fairly easy access for anyone and everyone.  A civic center for all of us, regardless of where we live and work.

Let’s get that on the agenda.

May 052013
 

DataLibre_logo-1

As some of you know, I’ve been working the past two months to bring a Hack for Change event to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  There have been moments of triumph, such as when Pepsi and Frito Lay kindly agreed to donate snacks, and there have been periods of epic frustration.  Following is a letter I reluctantly just sent to those who had been helping me with this:

Greetings Data Liberators,

After struggling to get widespread DFW buy-in for the Data Libre DFW Hackathon 2013, I have had to accept that it isn’t going to happen this year, at least not for the Hack for Change time period of June 1 to 2.  We don’t yet have the awareness and interest in DFW at large for civic coding events.  More on that in a bit.

After discussing this with Karen Siddall of Irving Public Works, I decided to scale down to a brainstorming workshop specific to the City of Irving.  To their credit, Irving is the only city out of several directly contacted that stepped up with solid interest in this sort of activity.  Fort Worth is also interested but not quite ready (they may audit the Irving workshop to get a better understanding of what this entails, for a later event).  Expected total participant limit has been reduced to about 30.

On one hand I am highly disappointed.  Other cities, including Austin and Houston, are fully onboard for the June event.  DFW is just a bit behind the curve on this sort of civic engagement.  I encountered a lack of understanding that cities generally take the lead on these events, and most don’t really need the activities explained at this point.  We have an educational challenge (opportunity) in front of us: get DFW informed and engaged for the 2014 event.  If Dallas and/or Fort Worth get behind it, other municipalities will follow suit.

To that end, I have established a Data Libre Meetup Everywhere group.  The idea is to hold meetups over the next several months geared specifically toward whipping up local enthusiasm for this movement.  I will conduct as many meetups in as many locales as I can, focusing for now on Irving since they are stepping up.  But I will need help; feel free to create a meetup listing for your area and join me in cultivating interest!  And spread the word!

Of course, kudos to Irving for taking the lead here.  I was thrilled that Karen called me back after my query.  It’s just unfortunate that several other cities blew it off.  However, we will make the most of the opportunity we have, and hopefully other cities will realize they missed out on something cool.

I have updated event listings and will refine the scope further soon.  Input welcome.

Note: we are still looking for a venue in Irving.

Thanks all!

While I’m still disappointed with the outcome of my efforts, I remain optimistic that sooner or later the Dallas-Fort Worth coding and enthusiast communities can make a large-scale civic coding event happen here.  It will take a broad coalition of people from all backgrounds, with the common interest of improving city services, public access, and lifestyle opportunities.

Let’s do it.

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!

Feb 192013
 

I’ve been focusing on building various channels for pushing community content, since I don’t want to force people into one that doesn’t suit them.  I’ll post more on that later.  But what’s kept me from developing this site as I want is a frustrating inability to find a theme that fits my goals.

This needs to be a community-oriented site, supporting the three areas in which I’m involved (Make, Windows Phone, and Qt in no particular order).  But I’m unable to find a ready-made WordPress theme, free or premium, that works.  I’ve tried several dozen with varying degrees of dissatisfaction.

I don’t have time or skill to develop anything, nor can I afford to pay for custom development, so that limits the possibilities.

Essentially I’ll need management of events, developer resources, contests and communications.  I’ve found plugins I believe will support those but I still need a site framework that does.

So… suggestions?

Jan 022013
 

Late last year as many of you know I rejoined Nokia in a part-time capacity, supporting developer outreach.  I neglected this blog a bit because I was focusing most of my attention on our local Windows Phone meetup site, but that’s about to change.

Going forward, I wil transition the bulk of my community support activity to this blog, as well as two twitter accounts: @NokiaDevNorthTX (was @DFW_WPDEV) and my old generic account, @texrat.  The latter is blessed with the most followers, but they’re so diverse (and include many people disinterested in Windows Phone) that I will use @NokiaDevNorthTX for highly-focused Windows Phone activity.  Still, expect at least few retweets on the @texrat side!

Last year I sponsored and otherwise supported some fun meetups and events, and 2013 will be no different.  January starts off with the North Texas Smartphone App Competition 2013, followed closely by a local instance of the 2013 Global Game Challenge.  Both events will also have preliminary meetups.  We’ll also be holding regular group meetups at Nokia’s Irving site starting in January.  The first meeting will cover many topics, and my hope afterwards is to have one major topic for each meetup.  We’ll have a really exciting one for April oriented around usability and accessibility, and I’m also putting one together (probably for March) with the theme of creating compelling apps.  I’ll be bringing in guest speakers from various companies and organizations, and looking for volunteers!

Speaking of meetups, the DFW meetup group grew fairly well in 2012, finishing the year at 107 members.  Out of that number, there were about 20 or so really active participants, some of whom have flirted with the Nokia DVLUP Leaderboard (must be registered to view; ask me about that if you aren’t) and quite a few winning prizes and awards for their work.

One thing to note: for reasons unclear to me, I have lost co-organizer status at the DFW meetup group.  This means I can no longer organize meetups or events on that site, or even update resource pages I created.  I will therefore be exploring other options… possibly Eventbrite.

I was also a little discouraged at low participation in certain community challenges, so I’m looking for feedback on how to do better this year.  Let me know any ideas you have for incentives and contests.

As for DVLUP… it’s still a Canada/USA program only for now and I know that frustrates those of you outside those countries.  Nokia of course recognizes the need to expand this opportunity so I hope you’ll be ready to jump in when it’s available to you.  It’s become quite popular and the development team has been hard at work fixing bugs and implementing new features.  Participant feedback is key!

Of course, while Windows Phone consumes the bulk of my community work these days, I’m still involved in other initiatives.  I’m on the board of directors for a local Make organization, still interested in 3D printing, and helping Digia as I can with local Qt meetups.  But I did drop some other activities due to time constraints.  I can only be stretched so thin, unfortunately.

Anyway, there’s going to be a lot going on this year and I have my work cut out for me.  Soon I hope to beef this site up a bit and make it a truly useful resource for you.

Thanks everyone for your support!

Mar 022012
 

Ok, so I last wrote about a little venture I am starting called Tribal Method, and already the questions are rolling in (just not here for some reason).  So I’ll explain a bit more.

First, I need a gathering place for my own ideas and projects.  Just to manage them if nothing else.  So I’m going to incorporate as Tribal Method first to start organizing my own efforts.  The initial website will host them and provide links to services that support what I’m about to describe.

As I mentally explored ideas on project organization, I realized the if I could solve MY needs I could solve ANYone’s.   Just… unconventionally.

See, I deal with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).  I refuse to say “suffer from” because although the syndrome can be a major pain in the butt, it’s also ironically responsible for my success in many areas.  ADD is a common cause of unboxed creative thinking and I would not trade this curse for any gift.  But– constantly generating countless revolutionary ideas is rather useless if there’s no mechanism for moving them forward.  In my career I have often had to depend on others for that.  I’d rather not.

Project management tools have not helped, because they don’t work the way I do.  Too often they demand too much labor in setup and maintenance, and lack natural connectivity to my other systems and data stores.  This makes project management extremely inefficient.

Everyone with ADD or ADHD right now is nodding in sympathetic horror.  We HATE inefficiencies– even our own.

My idea count has just been mounting with no end or solution in sight.  Pulling together teams has been frustrating because the people I know well enough to trust have their own things going.  Part of the solution has been getting out more and getting involved on the business side, but even that has made me realize there’s still a need out there for herding ideas through the development process and into actual products and services.

So I’m going to bite the bullet and focus foremost on crafting a solution.  I need something immersive.  Where my often-erratic workflow automatically incorporates the actual management part.  Something that Just Works.  Seamlessly.  Invisibly.

As I said last time, technology should be an enabler.  It should support solutions that work the way users want to work rather than forcing us into awkward, counterproductive corners.  And while not everyone has to deal with ADD or ADHD, other constraints impose on them the same problems I experience.

It’s time to create something to address that.