In our first conversation, Charlene the editor she asked me something about iPhones and the conversation went
Me: I wouldn’t know; I use a Windows Phone
Charlene: Oh, I’m sorry
So many ways to go with that… but suffice to say that from my perspective it proves how much more convincing a distortion field can be than reality. I’m in no way impugning Charlene– she’s definitely sharp or I wouldn’t have started following her in the first place. But Apple and others have done a spectacular job at misinforming even the discerning public.
Microsoft is included in that others category.
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.
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.
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?
In the last community update I included one upcoming hackathon and omitted some promotions. Time to rectify the latter and expand on the former!
Unity has a new contest going for Windows platforms. Big prizes involved! From their website:
Unity and Microsoft are inviting Unity developers to enter a new contest by submitting beautifully crafted, high-quality new or existing games or content for the upcoming Windows Store Apps and Windows Phone 8 platforms. Over $100,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to a number of talented and lucky winners.
Deadline is September 30, 2013. Get your game on now!
Finally, I missed that Microsoft Tech Affiliate had restarted the great APPortunity sweepstakes. Submit your apps for August ASAP.
Nothing to report yet– let me know if you discover any! In addition to online events, those in any region I cover will be promoted here.
Here’s more info on what’s coming (I will not attend all events and/or all times; more on that as details firm up):
UTD-Microsoft Windows 8 app dev workshop
August 20 9 AM to August 23 5 PM 2013
800 West Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas (University of Texas at Dallas, ECSS 2.412)
UNT Startup Primer
September 6 6:00 PM to September 8 6:00 PM, 2013
Sycamore Hall 119, University of North Texas
307 Ave. B, Denton, TX 76201
UNT Music Hackathon
September 13 6:30 PM to September 15 8:30 PM 2013
1155 Union Circle #305189 Denton, TX (Innovation Greenhouse)
20 over 20 Hackathon
September 19 12:00 PM to September 22 4:00 PM 2013 (team announcement September 18)
315 S. Cesar Chavez Blvd, 2nd Floor, Dallas, TX 75201 (Dialexa)
AIGA DFW Hackathon with Open Dallas
September 21 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM 2013
2919 Commerce St, Dallas , TX,
HackerNest DFW September Tech Social
September 30 8:00 PM 2013
(No location yet)
October 25 7 PM (optional meetup) to October 27 5 PM 2013
650 Griffin Street, Dallas, TX (Convention Center)
HackerNest DFW November Tech Social
November 25 8:00 PM 2013
(No location yet)
Others with no firm dates (more details to follow):
Nokia DVLUP Day DFW
August? September? 2013
UNT Aged Well Hackathon
Mobile Monday DFW – Windows Phone App Showcase
October? November? 2013
UNT Energy Hackathon
Hope to see some of you at one or more of these events! Again, send me any I may have missed.
I’ve decided it makes much more sense to do all updates on this blog and email the link rather than send it all via email. That way the content gets greater exposure and you have shorter emails.
Now onto business… topics are:
- Nokia Promotions
- Lumia 800s
- Dallas-Fort Worth
I was about to launch a Windows Phone promotion tied to my local Civic hacking activities, but another need has come up and I’ll focus on that first.
The Nokia Developer Ambassadors are working hard to make sure we’re serving you in the best way possible. That means having the most recent contact and program data for you. I’ve already spoken with some of you individually, and others have responded to Rich Dunbar’s appeals, but consider this a broadcast to my community:
I’m doing a simple drawing and giving away some cool Nokia prizes for those meeting the criteria below. You can win JBL Power Up Speakers, Wireless Charging Plate, or Nokia Purity Headset with Monster technology.
All you need to do is the following:
- Live in North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska or South Dakota (see NOTE below if you live in USA or Canada but not in my region)
- Have a published Windows Phone app
- Send me the following (via email or blog comments) by midnight July 31, CST:
- Full Name
- Email address
- Microsoft Dev Center name (not GUID)
- DVLUP name (register ASAP if you’re not!)
- Twitter name if you have one (not required)
If you’re out of my area, see http://richarddunbar.blogspot.com/2013/07/developer-registration-drive.html.
Note that I’ll launch the Civic Hacking promotion soon after this and will post a special announcement for it.
As for others that had been running, I’m sorry to say that the Microsoft Windows Phone Keep the Cash and APPortunity promotions have ended. At this time I have no idea if anything else is coming from Microsoft (or other sponsors), but I will let you know once I do.
I’m happy to announce I’m almost out of Lumia 800s for app incentives. Why happy? This means you’ve all been busy!
But if you have not yet released a Windows Phone 7 or 8 app, make sure you get published ASAP to qualify for one of the remaining phones! People tell me they make excellent reserve and test devices.
Many of you have already registered for the Mailchimp email list, and I appreciate it. But I’m wondering now if it’s even necessary. Since I’ll be using this blog more, maybe it makes sense to fully use its subscription and group communications abilities. What do you think? Let me know in comments.
Oh, and to get a view into what we Ambassadors do at big events, check out my recent write-up on //build/ 2013.
Finally, please share this article and related info about Nokia’s outreach to anyone you feel may be interested. I am especially looking to connect with more schools in the DFW area.
Dallas – Fort Worth
I’m still planning to put together DVLUP-specific meetups for the DFW area, called DVLUP Days. The idea will be to get developers through a DVLUP challenge and an app ready for publishing in one day (if possible). Should be fun! Make sure you’re registered– if not, you’re missing out on benefits!
I’m also working on a Mobile Monday WP App Showcase for DFW, with some local powerhouse development firms. I’m looking for developers to submit one of their apps for consideration. If you’re selected, you’ll be presenting your app at an upcoming event. The goal will be to get you more downloads, reviews and notice. I will also do a special twitter push for the apps selected. So start submitting! Use email or this comments section.
Finally, we need to hold more general meetups as well. I haven’t seen any scheduled recently by corporate or community leaders so I’ll be filling the gap as I can.
This fall is going to be busy in DFW! The University of North Texas is planning three hackathons (September, October and November). No details yet, but I’ll post when I have them!
There’s also the 20Over20 hackathon coming in a couple of months, running from September 19 through September 22. It looks very interesting so far; check it out.
As for the planned Nokiathon, that’s still under discussion. I’m excited at the possibility and hope to be able to schedule mine before too long.
Thanks everyone, and as always: call, tweet or email me at any time with any question, concern or proposal. I will do my best to address your needs promptly!
Randall (Randy) Arnold
Nokia Developer Ambassador
In 2012 I “attended” Microsoft’s //build/ developer-focused event virtually, envious of friends with the good fortune to attend. Thanks to my Nokia Developer Ambassador gig, this summer I got to enjoy the excitement first hand. Instead of a lot of text, though, I’ll share some highlights with the focus on photos (all taken with a Nokia Lumia 920):
Here’s a little gift I had made up for fellow Ambassadors: a 3D printed, DVLUP-branded SIM key for unibody Nokia Lumia phones. It replaces the stock key that can stab delicate areas. Thanks to Shapeways for printing them up, and Rich Dunbar for approving the expense!
SoCal Ambassador George Salcedo waits for the rest of the gang on Day 1.
Nokia Developer Champion lead Antoine Naaman shoots the cool Wall of Windows Phones.
Boston area Ambassador Lance shares his thoughts with team member Jan (northwest region).
I helped a little by designing a custom part for the project…
…and here’s the design in progress on SolidWorks. Amazing that it runs on a Surface Pro!
I decided to print up two of the parts. Here Jan enjoys watching one get underway on an UP Plus.
Closer shot of the part in process.
Meanwhile, the Nokia booth got really busy after we put out word about DVLUP tee shirts…
The 3D Systems team kindly printed up another part for us with one of their Cube devices. It was extremely helpful to have this resource at the event! There were 3D printers everywhere, cranking away on all sorts of things.
The two completed parts. Each took about 2 hours to print. I hand-colored the red apple.
The end result. Lance had the novel idea to combine a Netduino with a pressure transducer and replicate the “test your strength” carnival games on a smaller scale. The parts I created were pads. Unfortunately, the pad wore down the pressure transducer, putting the entry at risk, but Radio Shack saved the day with conductor repair compound.
Look who tops the iSmack leader board!
Of course, there was a lot more going on, but these photos essentially cover where I was. Hope to make it next year!
For those who have been active in the Dallas-Fort Worth Windows Phone developer scene for some time, the headline here may seem odd. After all, the Meetup.com group has been gathering on occasion since this time last year.
But what’s been missing, according to the most common feedback I receive, are semi-social gatherings with a focus on Getting Stuff Done. Attendees have had enough consumption; they’re ready to create.
With that in mind, I have spent the past few months scouring DFW for good venues for this activity. I put together the following criteria for sites:
- Should be free (or at least low-cost)
- Should have easy facility access (preferrably no security hurdles)
- Must have decent, dependable WiFi
- Must have easy access to power
- Must have comfortable seating for at least 15 attendees for 3+ hours
- Should have easy access to food and drink (including catering)
- Must be available weekends and/or evenings
This is not an easy bill to fill. I encountered many potential venues that had one or more of the must-have items but lacking something critical (usually weekend/eveing access). To increase our prospects, I asked community members to aid in the search. Pointing out a possible location wasn’t enough– I needed these foot soldiers to compare sites against the requirement list, talk to managers, and even take pictures.
It may come as a surprise to readers that grocery stores turned out to be generally good locations. Specifically, the Tom Thumb flagship stores, which meet every Must and Should. The only drawbacks I’ve run into were man-made… such as the strange reluctance of one store manager (who was worried about us displacing customers, when I saw only 3 people occupying a 35-seat area) and human mistakes. Mostly mine.
I had scheduled a meetup for May 25 at a Tom Thumb store in Arlington after one member, Dallas .NET’s Omar Villarreal, got clearance from the manager. Unfortunately I misread Omar’s instructions and secured the wrong store. When the group arrived, we discovered that there was no WiFi or Starbucks.
We waited for stragglers to show before moving to another Tom Thumb a few miles north. This cost us an hour and a half of valuable time. Lesson learned: read the fine print.
The second store turned out to be acceptable. WiFi was mostly reliable (I had a couple of brief drops) and the deli sandwiches were excellent (I recommend the pulled pork). The 5 other attendees seemed fairly pleased. However, the late start combined with another error on my part got in the way of getting any work done.
I had set aside the beginning of the meetup for introductions and announcements, which would be okay for social meetups but took way too much productive time from this one. Socializing is certainly useful, but we’ll hold separate events for that.
I would like to think that the attendees at least benefitted one way or another, but I welcome constructive criticism to help shape future get-togethers. I definitely need to arrive early to get things set up.
The good news is that this somewhat-rough experience was useful in certain contexts, especially since we had new members attend, and allowed me to get a good idea of what works and doesn’t work. Going forward, I will put together a handout for updates and trim the initial verbal presentation down to about 5 to 10 minutes. Less time of me chatting, more time Getting Stuff Done.
Ideally, we will see a good mix of skill levels and experience at these sessions. I really want to pair mentors and experienced app publishers with beginners, for one. Same with bringing in more data modelers and UI designers. To motivate members in that regard, I am offering a recruting incentive: bring in any new member with any useful skills for app creation, and get a $10 gift card. Bring in any new member with at least one published app, and that amount goes up to $20. Stipulation: new members must agree to sign up at DVLUP and also provide me full contact information before I award the gift cards. This promotion runs until I am broke or we have too many members.
Speaking of DVLUP, I’m also considering holding specific “DVLUP Days” events with the goal of just tackling DVLUP challenges at the event. XP building opportunities, if you will. I’m also working on partnering with various companies and instructors for educational meetups– stay tuned!
My intent is to “bounce around” the metroplex and hold these sessions in various parts of the area, with a preference for central locations. If you know of any, let me know! By all means, ask the managers about the items on my list, and pictures of the venue are very helpful. And ask your employers about hosting!
We’ll probably hold another such event in North Dallas next, at an office near highway 35E and Beltline Road. Registration will be at the Meetup.com website, and I will announce in the usual social channels.
Ultimately, we’ll get into a rhythm that will benefit everyone involved. I can’t wait to see the results!
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!