Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

On Having a Google TV

Thu, 08/09/2012 - 01:17 -- rprice

I am an Android guy. After owning a Nokia N96 and an iPod touch at the same time, upgrading to the HTC EVO was like the best of both worlds. Always-on connection plus awesome music and podcasting client. In order to test out web pages I also purchased a Toshiba Thrive 10". Last but not least, since I develop web pages to be viewed on televisions, I thought a Sony Google TV box would round out my Android collection nicely. At this point, I don't really use the Google Play Books or Movies all that much. The music service is pretty useful when my NAS is not working, but still leaves something to be desired.

One of the biggest problems with owning a Google TV is the NETWORKS. While many Cable or over-the-air TV networks have caught on with the smartphone, set-top-box (some would say under-set-box, or set-side-box) revolution, for some reason they don't want to let Google TV users play stuff directly through their box. Some of their websites will let you use them on Google TV. Most won't. Many blog posts have been written quoting the message about how Hulu is "working hard" to bring their content to Google TV. I call shenanigans.

Then today, I see this tweet, and leave the following reply:

If TV is one of the next great battlegrounds, then it seems like Apple, even with their crippled little hockey puck, is still beating Google. Can they figure this out already? What with the Google Fiber TV service and all the content deals on the mobile devices, the one that's plugged into the wall is still a second-class citizen. I don't get it.

EDIT:

Don't believe me that TV is (one of) the next battleground(s)? Look at some of these kickstarter projects that plug in to a TV:

EDIT: Phil left this in the comments: http://androidtvbox.us/ proving my point further. Also on Amazon: G-Box HD Android Box

That's just on Kickstarter. The TV makes sense because the cost of adoption (not just monetarily) is incredibly low. We all upgraded our sets, built rooms around TVs and entertainment systems, and are starting to make sure the TV can connect to the home network. Now the innovators step in, after all the hard stuff is done. It would have been so hard to put together an open source gaming console in a pre-Android, pre-Raspberry Pi and pre-smart-tv world.

Has the Google TV brought new content into my living room? Undoubtedly. A few apps like Crunchyroll, Clicker and NFB Films have definitely helped, and the built-in directory of TV-friendly websites, Spotlight, is always a great place to browse. The fact that this thing has a full web browser and Flash player is a huge boon, although it has also been a bane in the past.

Lately, however, certain apps have been reporting that their latest updated versions won't work on my Google TV, like Google's official Play Music app, and the aforementioned Crunchyroll. It brings a tear to my eye.

One unexpected benefit of the box is that it makes a great phone charger. The USB port on the front is nice to have - one less charger to keep track of, and if I really want to show someone a few photos or videos from a memory card, I can plug the reader in there.

Presumably the newer Google TV "buddy boxes" like the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player have gotten an updated interface, at least in the remote control department. Having used the keyboard control of the Logitech Revue, I found that I much preferred my game-controller style keyboard, but the latest offering from Sony (and Vizio as well) is more old-school-tevelision-remote-like. If you get tired of the controllers you can always use the remote app for your Android or iPhone. It works really well, especially if you're already used to typing on your phone.

After saying all that, would I still recommend a Roku or Apple TV? Not instead of a laptop with an HDMI port. That is still the king of all home media devices, and probably will remain so until Microsoft cripples the HDMI port or the TV networks figure out how to in existing operating systems.

What sort of a "buddy box" or other Home Theatre PC setup have you been using? Were you able to watch any Olympics on it? HBO? Hulu? Enjoyable Games? Not on a Google TV.

We know they all do Netflix, but there are few other common denominators. This post would have been very different a few months ago, before YouTube movie rentals. Now they are on pretty even footing.

On the other hand... What about Web pages? Installable apps? Amazon Instant Video? Pandora? Google TV shines for these. And I use several off these features every day.

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Taking a turn for the Better

Wed, 06/20/2012 - 09:15 -- rprice

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about what was shakin' in the Orlando tech scene. One of the things I mentioned was the looming appearance of Hilary Mason at Urban ReThink. If you did not get a chance to check out her talk that day, here you go:

If you ask me, this was about 20% of the whole experience. Urban ReThink's core of Resident Creatives, as well as sponsors of the event, like our friends at Tawlk and DrupalEasy were treated to locally-sourced hamburgers at Pine22, one of my favorite places in Orlando, and I hope it's one of Hilary's favorites as well.

One of my favorite moments of that day was when I was given the opportunity to drive Ms. Mason back to the airport on her way out of town and just as she was about to leave the car, I said, in a very matter of fact way, "so how did you guys raise all that money for HackNY?" that required another loop around OIA's circle. :)

She said, "we got on the phone with the Kaufmann Foundation and didn't hang up until they agreed to give us the money". It was more complex than that, of course, but with that seed funding and their foot in the door, raising the second year's funding was that much easier. In fact, the students were charged with organizing a lot of the future fundraising because it became that much more possible, I guess.

I don't know how greatly I can emphasize the importance of the events of the past few years. All the groundwork has been laid. All the right people are here. The wind may even be blowing in the right direction. When I see people like Kathryn Neel, Dave Casey, and Lance Vick showing up on the scene, and so many others like my old friends Darren McDaniel and Jud French seeing their dreams of the past years crystalize and spark new growth, it just convinces me that now is the right time.

Who or what is interesting to you right now? I am gearing up to start pushing out some new podcasts, and I'd love to know who to talk to next.

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Stop on a Dime, Pivot, Take a Deep Breath, Keep Moving

Sat, 05/05/2012 - 01:31 -- rprice

Hilary Mason will be giving a talk at Urban ReThink tomorrow.

This is definitely a defining moment in the history of Orlando's creative / tech / entrepreneurial scene. This is something I've been working on personally, along with hundreds of others, for what feels like forever now. That, or 7 years, whichever comes first.

Interlude:

A few years ago, I was in the right place at the right time to be able to hold an unconference during the Create Chaos event. (Big thanks to Katrina Diamond and Dana Delapi for the opportunity.)

I bring up BarCamp Chaos because it was capitalizing on a huge opportunity we have in Orlando - it is such an awesome destination - 50+ million visitors come here every year for pleasure, conventions, training, or to escape the snow. Major publications' travel columns have been picking up on the better qualities of the rest of Orlando (the part outside of Touristan) for some time now, like this week in New York Magazine. The locals know about all the cool culture in Orlando, and the rest of the world is starting to learn about it too. Now it's time for the Creatives to gain awareness in the wide world alongside the neighborhoods.

Today two people visited Urban ReThink from Kitchener/Waterloo in Canada - it's a well-known technology hub, but these two folks (one of whom works at an incubator with 50+ startup companies) thought they had something to learn from us. I fully intend to follow up on that meeting and keep the relationship alive. We have also had reporters from Brazil, Japan, Australia and other parts of the country ask us questions about Urban ReThink and what is going on here. While they are asking about UR, they are just asking because that's one of the few things they can see through the pin-prick-sized aperture they have to look at Orlando's creative scene.

When I say "this is going to be a turning point", I don't just mean Hilary's talk, but I also do mean Hilary's talk.

Not to put an undue amount of pressure on her, but I'm going to use her as an example.

For example, Hilary is on a technology advisory board for Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York. She has also given keynote presentations in front of thousands of people, or in front of a few people who can afford a more intimate setting. If she has something nice to say about Orlando, it will be hard to measure the exact impact of her report, but I promise you it will have an impact. One theme that comes up over and over in my life is that the world is a very small place and technology is making ii smaller by the minute.

Should I be writing this? It sounds like we are trying to use someone who we are having as a guest to get something we want. That's not how I see it. This is more of a "you get out what you put in" or "if you make yourself available" or something like that. I have nothing directly to gain from this event other than getting to meet someone I admire and respect. Beyond that I'm happy to know everyone else is having a good time, and last but not least that we have raised a few dollars for the Urban Think Foundation.

I could just as easily write about my excitement in discovering Lance Vick at BarCampMiami - "this guy is going to put Orlando on the map", I said to myself at some point. Hopefully he will help open the aperture the rest of the world has to see Orlando in the process.

Yet another reason why tomorrow's event is kind of a big deal has to do with the idea of making events like this recurring - maybe we bring Hilary back, maybe other special guests, maybe we start up the Creative Summit after the idea has been laying on the back burner for so long. There are lots of paths to take from this point, which is no different from most of the rest of life. Except this time there is an amazing group of people helping out.

Curtis, Steve, Puja, Ken, Elizabeth, Darren, Dina, Pat, Kathryn and so many others have all been pulling together to make Sunday's event and the ongoing Tech Thursdays at Urban ReThink really special. This simply would not have been possible in the old days. At some point in the last month I realized that we had crossed some major milestones in the health of our community when we were able to pull together events like this and Florida Drupal Camp in our free time, while raising money from sponsors, bringing in awesome speakers from out of town like Jason Pamental, skyping in creators from all over the world and our own backyard, and creating new events like Drupal Coworking Fridays here in Orlando that have spread across the globe.

Are there other things I would like to see? Sure. But that's always the case. The moment I have everything I ever wanted for the community, then my vision must have stopped growing. Not that I have all the answers - we steal from the best.

Then today I was talking to Tony from Kitchener and I realized something that made events like Startup Weekend and the Orlando Fringe Festival so very important to me - they both honor and encourage the same kind of collaboration and experimentation. Startup Weekend is, by defenition, fleeting. You don't really have enough time to do anything but generate a great pitch for your startup, and all of the prerequisites, which are numerous. Similarly, at Fringe, after 7 performances, no matter what, you are done with that show.

  • The investment is small - more of your time than anything, and revisions are cheap.
  • The audience knows what they are getting in to - early adopters, patrons, peers, and true fans.
  • The friendships you make, particularly with other teams, can make a long-lasting change in your life, and in this way you can grow a global network.
  • As a creative, you get to see what is on the cutting edge in your community, or where the local talent pool is rooted.
  • There is just enough potential for fame and fortune to make it glamourous.
  • The creme-de-la-creme will go on to be real jobs and new careers. The others are awesome learning experiences.
  • You get to work outside your comfort zone, if that's what you want. (trust me, you want it)
  • I could go on...

This is certainly a rant-heavy blog post, so wrapping up will be a bit challenging. Here's a shot:

At BarCamp Orlando last month, I encouraged Urban ReThink's Resident Wizard, Kathryn Neel, to give a talk called "Not the next Silicon Valley, the first Orlando". She actually did an amazing job, and far exeeded what I could have done with it. She also got a lot of great feedback and well-deserved adulation after the talk. The point is that all the ingredients for making Orlando a first-class city are out there, we just need to tap into them - our number one problem is likely more cultural than one of infrastructure, although the infrastructure can be made to support a culture if one exists.

I'd like to keep the discussion going about how to make both culture and infrastructure strong. Sunday is a great chance to start that discussion. So is Monday, May 21st under the Fringe Festival Beer Tent, and tons of other times in the next few months.

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Make like a Startup

Sat, 03/10/2012 - 16:48 -- rprice

Yes. I know some people will not agree with everything in this slideshow. They're wrong. Thanks to Leisa for writing this.

my talk from the LBi ’What’s Next in Experience Design’ in which I talk about why skunk works style internal start ups are prone to failure and the characteristics of successful start

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Coding for a Cause and Florida DrupalCamp in the Orlando Sentinel

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 19:58 -- rprice

Our charity Drupal coding event, Coding for a Cause, made it to the local paper earlier this month. It's always nice to be worthy of a picture in the paper.


Credit: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel

"Sometimes 'hacking' gets misconstrued as being something bad," said Ryan Price, a 29-year-old consultant and trainer for Drupal, a content-management system that can be used to build websites and blogs. "But it literally means tinkering, and there are all sorts of different hacking events. … We wanted to set aside a day and work with nonprofits."

I have to say, for the handful of times I've been mentioned or quoted in the press, this is probably my favorite. Kate Santich writes about social services and volunteerism for the Orlando Sentinel, so she was a great person to help us get the story out about our 3rd annual Coding for a Cause event at Florida DrupalCamp 2012. This year, Lisa Thorell and Diane Court have been assisting us with some marketing, publicity and programming tasks in the camp, and they are certainly responsible for getting us in touch with the Sentinel. All I had to do was answer a few questions.

the Drupal community — united by the idea of sharing computer code for free — believes in helping people to help themselves, rather than charging even a small fee.

"All you have to do is show up and put on your thinking cap. You have to want to be there," Price said. "The No. 1 thing for us is actually to be able to get inexperienced people in an environment where they can sit down and work next to someone who is very experienced and work on the same project."

It's not just knowledge for knowledge's sake either. Mike Anello, principal partner at Anello Consulting and one of the camp organizers, said he hopes volunteers who want to learn how to use Drupal — employed on websites from WhiteHouse.gov to Sony — might be able to pick up job skills from it. Already, the Merritt Island resident has trained laid-off aerospace workers looking for a new career path. So far, 14 of the 18 students in his recently completed 10-week course have landed internships.

"With unemployment so high," Price said, "we're just trying to create opportunities for people."

For me, this event is really about growing the pool of talented Drupal developers, and the people who see Drupal (or any open source project) as a viable option for solving their problems. It's a bit of a catch 22, though, you kind of need one to get the other, hence the game-changing nature of Coding for a Cause.

Some organizations see websites like the ones we're building as prohibitively expensive - that's money they could be spending on other things. Then there are the developers saying "I need to eat". This way, everybody wins. We also hope that experienced people working along side inexperienced people creates all kinds of new opportunities and experiences we can't even predict. New best practices get shared, partnerships get formed, whatever.

It's a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to the challenge, and hopefully launching three sites in the next month or two.

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Where is the video crew in this film?

Mon, 01/02/2012 - 09:43 -- rprice

The Kogeto is an exciting piece of hardware for any video geeks our there: It films in a full 360ª panorama, and comes with special software to be able to upload and view the video. They also have an iPhone version. Watching this video just now, I see that there are a ton of new tricks that can be employed when filming "in the round". However, I have a similar thought every time I watch one of Disney's 360 films at Epcot: where is the film crew? Unless they are laying on the ground under the camera. Where is the director? I'm guessing there was a fair amount of rehearsal and playback at the shoot. Could he be laying on the ground? Luckily, they did not need to record sound for this video, but that would be a great challenge to solve.

People have said to me a few times: "You know there are people who have shot and edited entire films on their iPhone?"

To them I say: "So what? That was inevitable." Making a "normal" film is just a feature. This Kogeto is a true innovation. The iPhone enabled it, so that makes it a platform. I can appreciate that.

The Tummeler in me also wonders how a camera like this could be used to immerse people in a video conference. I would like to see Kogeto make a projector or other display that can immerse you as completely as the camera captures.

Alan Wilkis - "Come and Go (feat. The KickDrums)" from David Sosnow on Vimeo.

This video was created using a single-point capture 360º panoramic camera, courtesy Kogeto of NYC - http://kogeto.com

Download the MP3 for free here: http://bit.ly/Wilkis_CAG

----

Co-directed & edited by: David Sosnow and Alan Wilkis

Produced by: David Sosnow, Alan Wilkis and Tavit Geudelekian

Starring: Caralyn Stone, Alex Fitts, Alexis Oliver, Kim Skadan, Katy Parnello, Lisa Harper, Caitlin Biskup, and Jamie Berg

Special Thanks: Michael Prall, Caroline Duncan'

As seen in PAPERMAG (http://bit.ly/v7uXbF) and The Atlantic (http://bit.ly/shVX8N)

Made in NYC.

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Tummeling via hacked conference badges

Thu, 12/29/2011 - 13:02 -- rprice

We will be hosting our 4th annual Florida DrupalCamp on February 11th and 12th in the coming year. For the first few years of the unconference, I was in charge of printing out the name badges for attendees. We started out using EventBrite because it was dead simple, but we switched to a Drupal-based Conference Organizing Distribution site last year. At a DrupalCamp (or just about any conference) there are always people looking to hire developers, and developers looking for work. The third category of attendees are those who are new to Drupal, and inevitably have questions. The problem with most attendees of these conferences is that they don't go to monthly meetups, so they aren't acquainted with who else is new, and who is a veteran. In my constant effort to get people talking, I tried hacking our DrupalCamp badges by getting some colored garage-sale stickers and printing "Ask Me", "Hire Me", "I'm Hiring" on them.

    

"Ask Me" was a popular badge hack among red-shirted volunteers.

It's pretty challenging to collect hard metrics on any social hack, but the reactions from people at the registration table were pretty positive. Since then, South Florida DrupalCamp employed a similar technique, and I have told a few other DrupalCamp organizers the idea. They all love the concept, and I hope they can encourage people to participate and spread this meme.

This year when we were planning the badges, we decided to go for something bigger and better, and I saw this as the opportunity to take the badge hacks to the next level as well. Instead of stickers, why not give everyone the tools, making it that much easier to participate? Our designer, Erik Baldwin (flash warning), pointed me to the Noun Project, which may have been the final straw at the stack of this heap. Now instead of words or colors to decipher, we have professionally designed icons (in SVG format, no less). I picked out three I thought fit the scenario and posted them back to our OpenAtrium message board. Erik incorporated the icons into his next round of revisions, and the result you see below:

My idea is to have highlighters available at the registration table, to encourage people to highlight the icon releavant to them. Your choices are:

  1. Ask Me
  2. Hire Me
  3. I'm Hiring

Curious what the effects of this are? If nothing else, it's a conversation starter: "Why did they put these icons on my badge?" "Do you know what they're for?"

I know the job seekers and hiring managers will be making the most use of them, if past experience tells me anything. We've identified the long-term effects on an attendees career as part of our mission for DrupalCamp and our Coding for a Cause event, and this is one way I'm trying to support that mission.

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Two Tablets: Kindle Fire and Toshiba Thrive

Fri, 09/30/2011 - 17:04 -- rprice

With the release of the Kindle Fire this week, I thought I would see what the competition was like. If I'm going to spend $200 on a tablet, what about spending a little more, to get something more geek-friendly?

I know that as of Android 3.1, there is now support for Android devices to act as a USB host, for connecting to devices or hacking on the Arduino. In my search, I came across the Toshiba Thrive, which has full-sized USB ports, and more. Then I started to write this post, and I realized Toshiba is getting ready to release a 7-inch version that is less geek-friendly, so I decided to include that in my comparison to have a more head-to-head feel with the Amazon tablet.

Comparison... go!

Kindle Fire Toshiba Thrive 10.1 Toshiba Thrive 7"
$199 $350 (or so) $380 (or so)
7" IPS screen 10.1" Toshiba Adaptive Display 7" AutoBrite Display
1024x600 resolution 1280x800 resolution
169ppi 149 ppi 215 ppi
Dual-core 1.2GHz Dual-core 1.0GHz
512MB RAM 1GB RAM
8GB 8GB, 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB
Small and light Big and Bulky Thin and light
8hr battery life 8hr battery life, replaceable battery ??? not replacable
Custom Android Interface Stock Android 3.1
Amazon AppStore Any Android App Store
Amazon Silk Browser Any Android Browser
micro-USB (out) and 3.5mm headphone Full-size USB (host), mini USB (in/out?), 3.5mm headphone, Full-size HDMI mini USB, 3.5mm headphone, microHDMI
no expansion slot, free cloud drive Full-size SD card up to 128GB microSD card
no camera 5mp rear and 2mp front cameras 5mp rear and 2mp front cameras with LED Flash
no microphone microphone
Wi-Fi G and N, no 3G
no GPS GPS
no bluetooth bluetooth

My Choice

In short, the Thrive is a geek's tablet, and I'm a geek. ...and no iPad for me, so don't even mention it.

For someone else, I would take a look at the Kindle, mostly because of the price. If you want to connect to a television, or have more storage, then I would take a good look at the Toshiba. If it's a gift for a non-techie family member, then I think there is no doubt which one to get, unless you are worried about Amazon selling out of the Fire.

On Keyboards

My search today began by looking at the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, since their keyboard dock adds a full-sized SD slot and two full-sized USB ports, but the price turned me off. One plus there is the long battery life after you add the dock, but that was not a big enough selling point (considering the replaceable Toshiba Thrive Battery). You can also grab a Tablet Keyboard to fill in the gap, and the USB issue can be solved by the Toshiba Thrive Multi-Dock to add an HDMI port and two more full-sized USB ports. Pretty nice.

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Apartment Building Designed by Tummlers

Fri, 09/30/2011 - 09:31 -- rprice

In my Pecha Kucha Orlando talk, and the one I did at last week's ReThinking the City, I included a slide of a suburb of Copenhagen with a circular layout, which I said was probably designed by a Tummler, whether they labeled themselves as such or not.

Today I have another example of Tummeling in architecture, this time I believe in Barcelona, explicitly with social interaction in mind. So many homes are sold on the view from the outside of the building - your front window - but this building takes the rear window into account as well.

From *faircompanies: Rear Window living: density + small homes = crossed glances

I currently live in a single family home near downtown, but if there were buildings like this, perhaps I wouldn't mind the transit up and down to get to my home so much. Living on the ground floor is a luxury I'd be hard-pressed to give up.

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