Month: April 2008

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for April 30

Beer & Roll-Up-Your-Sleeves: Help out Legion of Tech set up for BarCamp

Justin Kistner writes “This Friday will be the awesomely fun Portland BarCamp. Most of the Beer and Bloggers will be attending this event, which starts at 6pm. So, rather than try to sprint to BarCamp from the Green Dragon, we’re going to roll up some sleeves and help the Legion of Tech crew get set up.”

The Weekly Source Code 25 – OpenID Edition

Scott Hanselman writes “One of the things that is slowing OpenID adoption is that many people don’t realize that they may already have one. That’s what this little Javascript is trying to do by showing folks sites that they recognize. This way my Dad could login using Yahoo and it would make sense to him. It’s a little busy, but it’s a start. I’ve added an http://www.idselector.com/ to my blog for comments.”

Don’t Miss BarCampPortland May 2, 3, & 4

Dawn Foster writes “But I’m not technical enough to attend… Bulls**t! All you need to attend BarCampPortland is a passion for technology in some form: as a user of technologies, as a Twitter addict, as a blogger, as a programmer, as a food geek, as a sys admin, as a…”

Walker Tracker & Ann Arbor create walking community

From the Walker Tracker blog “Walker Tracker has teamed up with getDowntown, a program of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, to create a private walking community on Walker Tracker for Ann Arbor, Michigan residents. The private level will be used to celebrate and promote Curb Your Car Month! We’re overjoyed to be part of such a great program. “

BarCampPortland and Twitter

From the Legion of Tech blog “Portland has a huge Twitter community, and we will be using Twitter for updates during the event. Please follow BarCampPortland on Twitter to get real-time updates during the event. We will also have a space on your badge for your twitter name, so if you haven’t yet joined Twitter, now would be a great time!”

Do what ever it takes to get to the top.

Miss Burrows writes “I’m on top, babies. Well, I’m on Alltop. It is a ‘digital magazine rack’ created in part by Guy Kawasaki. I could go on and on about how wonderful he is but I’d rather just gaze at his eyes for a bit.”

Updating WP-OpenID to support ID Selector

Bill Sodeman writes “WP-OpenID doesn’t support [JanRain’s] ID Selectors yet, so I modified the code myself. The code is available in this ZIP file as interface.php. Installation is easy. Simply download my zipped file, extract the php file, edit it to include the ID Selection script that can be generated here, and upload the modified php file to your WordPress server at wp-content/plugins/openid/”

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One OpenID gets you 30+ different Silicon Forest sites

Last week, after reading Aaron Hockley’s call to implement OpenID, it got me to thinking: How many sites in Portland—arguably the de facto leader in OpenID development—and the Silicon Forest have actually implemented OpenID?

Well, thanks to Kevin Fox at Vidoop/ConfIdent and a number of other folks chiming in, we were able to gather the following list of 23 30+ velvet ropes behind which your OpenID will let you.

(NOTE: The list is by no means exhaustive. So if your site is missing, please comment, and I’ll add it.)

AboutUs
“We connect businesses and websites with each other and their customers using a wiki-based resource of millions of editable pages of information.”

GreenRenter
“Find a green place to live or work. Discover green buildings in your neighborhood. Get recognized for your sustainability efforts.”

ICANNWiki
“ICANNWiki is a wiki whose goal is to create a free, valuable and ‘community’ neutral, global Internet resource containing information for all aspects of the ICANN ‘community.'”

Jyte
“Claim anything! Yes, anything. If you have something to say, then make a claim and let the community vote on it. Make claims about yourself, friends, and family. Put your stake in the ground and see where the votes go.”

Kumquat
“It’s your career. You need to take responsibility for it. That’s why we built Kumquat. To help make it easier to get the feedback you deserve. Whenever and however often you want it.”

Pibb
“Pibb combines the best features of instant messenger, chat, email, and bulletin boards.”

Portland Small Business
“PortlandSmallBusiness.com is a collaborative website, where members of the Portland small business community can go for peer advice and networking.”

Portland Web Innovators
“Portland Web Innovators is a technology-agnostic group where you can meet like-minded web people without the excuse of a networking-only event.”

Treasurelicious
“WTF is Treasurelicious? It’s a widget to show off what you treasure.”

Tweetpeek
“Using Twitter followers, Tweetpeek is designed to help anyone build a pulse-of-anything widget in a few easy steps.”

twurl
“So what is twurl designed to do? Well, at the very most basic level, twurl is a URL shortener that allows you to track clicks.”

Velog
“Velog is a simple place to log your bicycle rides and connect with others in the cycling community.”

Blogs supporting OpenID for comments

Need an OpenID?

If you haven’t had a chance to use your OpenID (it’s highly likely that you already have one) or aren’t quite sure how to get started, you might want to visit Portland’s own myVidoop or MyOpenID to get going. A few short steps and you’ll have access to all of the sites above.

Just like that.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for April 30

Raw Mobile Browser Data Released

Via the Cloud Four blog “We’ve been asked by a few people if we can release the preliminary data that we’re gathering in our Mobile Browser Concurrency Test. So here you go: raw data from the mobile concurrency test.”

mr. diggles – commuter feed + you

Portland mutual admiration society. Mr. Diggles writes of Commuter Feed “i thought this was a nice use of an online social tool. the site was designed by josh pyles of pixelmatrixdesign. i got josh’s card at a social media function months ago and i finally decided to check out his site. he definitely one of the most talent web designers in portland. i am pumped since i finally have someone i can refer projects to that i know will kill it.”

Good times keep rollin’ along at Vidoop’s Portland Office | The Vidoop Blog

From the Vidoop blog “After a fun filled week in San Francisco getting learn-ed on the Web 2.0 we are back in the Silicon Forest aka Portland. So far (other than the weather) this week is shaping up nicely.”

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Let’s start finding the right VCs for Portland and the Silicon Forest

Talk to enough startups and the conversation eventually turns to that of funding. And the search for that seemingly elusive operating capital.

Ultimately, this discussion devolves into a lament about the frustrations of the VC dance, the cross-purposes, the potential loss of control of which entrepreneurs live in fear, and, ultimately, some inherent evil in the whole process.

We live with this folklore. And we continually repeat it. And reinforce it.

A series of horror stories about what could happen. Stories that we continue to spin, time and time again, until we begin to see them as universal truths.

And then we begin to believe that the concept of VC investment and the culture of the Silicon Forest are at odds with one another.

That we can’t get there from here.

And that’s why I’m glad to see posts like this one from early stage investor Jeff Pulver.

Because these types of stories counteract the folklore. Because the kinds of things he’s seeking don’t seem to be cold-blooded or mercenary. Because Pulver seems to be the type of investor who is right in line with Portland’s startup culture.

When meeting with an early-stage startup looking for funding, if I am interested in the company, I look to connect with the founders and find out the inspiration behind the company they are creating. I try to understand the problem they are solving and the opportunity they are seeing. I also look to see how as a team they get along, work off each other and I try to get a feel of their creative energies. I look for teams where each member is watching each other’s back and a core team whom I feel will be together for the long term. I look for people who are both smart and creative who can be focused when necessary and whose personality allow themselves to be open to change directions and re-map themselves when needed.

If there’s one thing of which we have loads in Portland, it’s creativity. Whether that creativity manifests itself in traditional ways like art and music, or in less traditional ways like crafts, cooking, brewing, vintner-ing, designing… or coding interesting Web apps.

We tend to wield technology like a brush or a pen. Using it as an outlet for our creativity. And then, we tend to relish partaking in others’ creativity, be it culinary or brewery.

And there are VCs out there who get that. Who aren’t big scary monsters. Who are interested in the same types of things you are interested in doing.

We need to remember that. We need to start wooing the right kind of VCs. For you. And for the Silicon Forest.

Investors who, like Jeff Pulver, “invest in people first and ideas second.”

Let’s get started with that, shall we?

YottaByte Group: The future for Oregon tech education

When I first sat down with Derek Brandow and Jason Gallic of Eugene-based (but hopefully making the move to Portland) YottaByte Group, I didn’t know quite what to expect. And by the time we said our good-byes, I was shaking my head in disbelief.

And since that time I’ve been struggling to get this post written. Struggling because of that—literally jaw-dropping—disbelief.

Disbelief that something so obviously right, necessary, and critical for our community—and the future of our communities—hasn’t already been done. Disbelief that these guys would have any difficulty finding funding for something that promises to change the future of technology in Oregon and, likely, the rest of the world. Disbelief that educators everywhere wouldn’t be clamoring for this model to help students.

To put it bluntly, the conversation was quite the “Well… duh!” moment for me. Why wouldn’t everyone be behind this thing? Why aren’t we doing this already?

So what’s this exceedingly obvious—yet heretofore untapped—idea that makes YotttaByte such a winner in my book?

Well, to put it simply, they’re rethinking the educational system—especially as it relates to innovation and technology—in today’s K-12 environment:

The current model for both public and private schools has not changed significantly in the last 100 years. The longevity of that model is a testament to the greatness of its 20th century design. However, the design is beginning to crumble….

The time is now to create the schools we are going to need for our children to thrive (not merely survive) in the 21st century.

And the YottaByte team has a compelling vision for how this might occur.

From my admittedly ignorant standpoint, I see it falling somewhere between the concept of alternative schools and the traditional gifted and talented programs.

Like an art student focusing on painting or a musical student focusing on an instrument, YottaByte students would work in an environment that allows them to focus on technology and innovation.

Once up and running, YottaByte promises to create intensive and collaborative schools that help these students exercise their artistic talent—in this case an artistic talent that manifests itself as problem solving and technical discovery—with students around the world.

In their own words, YottaByte will be:

Preparing children for collaboration, innovation, and contribution in a global marketplace.

Hearing them tell it, it’s a compelling vision for how technology could—and arguably should—be approached if today’s students are to get the kind of technical grounding they’re going to need to manage the sheer bulk of digital information and power at their feet. And to wring every last ounce of potential out of the collaborative technologies we have at our disposal. To get the right people fixing the problems. Not just the people who happen to be there.

It’s a pretty powerful concept, and one in whose Kool-Aid I have deeply imbibed. Because what YottaByte is proposing is not only a brilliant idea, it’s just the right thing to do.

I’m looking forward to continuing my coverage of YottaByte’s progress as they continue pitching this story and building out their proof-of-concept schools.

It’s going to be an interesting ride.

For more information on the YottaByte Group and their vision for technology education, visit YottaByte Group.

Strands announces Expensr acquisition, expanded recommending

moneyStrandsCorvallis-based Strands, the service that recommends things you might like based on your behavior, has announced the acquisition of Expensr, a move that takes its recommendation services beyond the realm of entertainment to personal finance.

Expensr will be brought into the Strands fold as moneyStrands, a personal money management solution based on Strands recommendation technology.

moneyStrands is an online money management solution that allows users to aggregate their online financial information in one place, providing them with an instant snapshot of all their finances. With moneyStrands, users can anonymously compare themselves to others with similar traits, such as demographics.

The move also allows Strands to more clearly define the areas into which they’re planning to introduce recommendations, like business recommendation solutions that help people find content on sites, social media recommendation solutions that use online behavior to make recommendations, and personal finance recommendation solutions that helps individuals take more control of personal finance decisions.

Rest assured, there are also some other interesting undercurrents here—that I’m not yet at liberty to disclose—that promise to cause some interesting ripples here in the Silicon Forest startup scene.

To register for an invitation to the private BETA, visit moneyStrands. For more information on the plans for the product, see the Strands blog post on the Expensr acquisition. For more on the company, I’d recommend (get it?) visiting Strands.

GreenRenter: Put your green where your home (or office) is

Green RenterIf there are two things that have a firm foothold in Portland, they’re technology and sustainability. Well, and a crazy housing market.

Okay, so that’s three things.

So what happens when you combine tech, green living, and housing? You get GreenRenter, a new resource that helps you search for your own green living (or office) space in the Portland area.

Currently serving Portland, Oregon, GreenRenter aims to show total inventory – all green rental property, regardless of whether it is currently available. So even though a property is listed here, it may not have space available right now.

What do they mean by green?

GreenRenter is very inclusive when it comes to “greenness.” We want to showcase the efforts of all owners who are trying to improve the sustainability of their properties, regardless of whether they’ve sought out certification or awards.

As long as the building includes at least one feature in any of the seven “green” areas (energy, water, building materials, operations, building surroundings, certifications and awards, other innovative green features) it can be listed with GreenRenter.

So, the next time you’re seeking a new humble abode or some new digs for your new gig, you might want to saunter over to GreenRenter to do the proper Portland thing by going green.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for April 28

Interop Founder Dan Lynch Invests in Hot Security Startups

Via Darkreading. “He has also invested in a [Vancouver, WA] startup called Iterasi, which is beta-testing its product that ‘notarizes’ live Web pages to preserve and save them as-is and securely stores them. ‘It’s for compliance stuff… and for proving you read and saw something,’ Lynch says. ‘It’s a special kind of bookmark.'”

WordCamp Portland to be Held at BarCamp

Aaron Hockley writes “Last week a few of us decided that a WordCamp in Portland would be lovely. I did a bit of legwork and made some contacts. I’m still thinking we may do a big standalone event sometime in the fall, but Raven suggested that we hold a WordCamp as part of BarCampPortland this coming weekend.”

My Other Things

Selena Deckelmann writes “Audrey listed out her projects the other day, and I decided to follow suit.”

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Editorial: Is Oregon Reddit being used to its full potential?

Oregon RedditAs is probably exceedingly obvious, there’s one thing I try to do everyday: Get Oregon’s Web-startup scene the recognition it deserves.

Granted, mine is a small voice, but I do what I can.

One of the ways I’ve found to help get some of this cool stuff out in front of a wider audience has been working with OregonLive Oregon Reddit, as both a submitter and an active participant.

To date, I’ve found the service a valuable means of helping put what you’re doing on the virtual front page of The Oregonian, if only for a brief time. And, undoubtedly, garner exposure from a much wider and diverse audience than the existing Silicon Florist reader base.

But, this morning, I noticed the image above. No stories. And it got me to thinking. Either the staff was working to tweak the algorithm or—worse yet—there were actually no stories submitted.

Which, as much as I like the potential of the service, brings me to the drawbacks to Oregon Reddit:

  1. Participation is exceptionally low for a social media service
  2. Due to low participation, political stumpers tend to downvote other stories in favor of getting the latest Merkley or Novick post on the front page
  3. Even though it should be a vehicle to get other publications on the site, the stories that tend to get the most attention are stories that are from The Oregonian or OregonLive staff, already

That said, Oregon Reddit isn’t by any means broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as it should. The majority of the users vote down stories they don’t want to see and vote up stories that appeal to them.

The problem is that the user base of Oregon Reddit is too small, not very diverse, and generally working with an ulterior—if not paid—motive. And that makes those votes largely irrelevant.

So, here’s what I’m asking you to do: participate.

I would much rather receive 100 downvotes that help me understand what kind of content readers are seeking. Or split of 50 up and 50 down that help me determine when a story is appropriate to submit to Oregon Reddit.

Some may say that Oregon Reddit isn’t the answer at all. That another locally focused news service would help garner this kind of feedback. I’d love to come around to that argument—if the potential for Oregon startups getting the recognition they deserve from a wider audience is just as high as it is with Oregon Reddit.

Long story short, I’d rather get completely negative feedback, than little to no response on the stories I submit.

Maybe the stuff I write isn’t interesting at all. Maybe it’s only interesting to an incredibly small subset of the population.

But I would like to know that. I simply don’t have the data points to make that determination.

I mean, other than the fact that the Merkley and Novick folks hate my writing.

Use the mobile Web? Cloud Four needs your help

Cloud FourPortland-based Cloud Four, a burgeoning startup that has found more and more of its time dedicated to mobile development, could use some of your help.

We need your help for a research project. If you have a phone that have web access, please go to http://cloudfour.com/mobile/ to test the number of concurrent connections your phone makes. Your phone’s browser will need to display images for the test to work.

We’ve also set up a SMS keyword to make it easier to get to the test url. You can simply text MOBILETEST to 41411 on your phone, and you will receive back instructions on how to test your phone.

For those of you who haven’t dabbled in mobile Web development, it’s very much akin to Web development in mid to late ’90s. Lots of desire to develop, but not much in the way of data to guide that development.

With mobile devices, the speed of web pages is even more important given bandwidth, processor and memory constraints. Yet, for those trying to take advantage of the techniques promoted by Yahoo’s Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site, it is nearly impossible to find how mobile browsers differ from desktop browsers.

For more information on the test and the thinking behind it, visit Cloud Four.

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