Month: July 2008

Reminder: Mobile Portland on the iPhone App Store

iPhoneEveryone is still all gaga over the newest release of the Apple iPhone 3G. We can’t seem to stop talking about it.

And while 3G battery life seems to be the biggest complaint, the biggest win—without a doubt—has been the release of iPhone Apps and the Apple App Store.

And tonight at Mobile Portland, long-time Apple proponent and founding organizer of iPhoneDevCamp, Raven Zachary, will be discussing the “iPhone App Store Opportunity,” providing his insights into this new vehicle for interacting with the Apple platform and its users:

In his talk, Raven will provide a basic overview of the process of developing and distributing software for the iPhone and iPod touch, and share some key findings and metrics gathered in the two weeks since the launch of the App Store. What does the App Store mean for third party mobile developers?

The event will be held at the AboutUs offices in Portland’s Olympic Mills Commerce Center, 107 SE Washington St., Suite 520. Things get started around 6:00 PM.

For more information on the event or to RSVP, visit Mobile Portland on Upcoming. For more on the organization behind these events, visit Mobile Portland.



Versionista: Track changes for any Web page, wiki-highlight style

Sometimes, I get scooped. I admit it. I’m not always on the “breaking news” ball. This is one of those occasions.

A few weeks back, I saw news on Versionista, a tool that allows you to track the changes that occur on publicly accessible Web pages. It seems that the McCain camp had used the product to track changes on the Obama site:

The McCain campaign web site recently published a link to a Versionista comparison that shows changes to Obama’s web page about the Iraq war. The link, which is captioned “Obama Refines His Iraq Page”, is posted alongside other links which point to off-site articles written by various political commentators who are critical of Obama. The aim is obviously to generate the perception that Obama’s position on the war is inconsistent.

While the technology was exceptionally cool—much like change trackers I used to use back in the dotcom days—there was one thing that piqued my interest even more than the technology. Versionista is from Portland, Oregon.

Versionista was inspired by the highlighting that occurs when wiki pages are edited:

A side-by-side comparison and multiple other views let you see “before and after” versions of every monitored page. We highlight what text has been added, deleted, or moved. Versionista will keep up to 25 versions per page. You can “rollback” in time to see older versions.

The Versionista service allows you to test drive the system with two URLs. Or you can subscribe to begin tracking multiple URLs.

The pricing is aggressive for hobbyists—the lowest-level subscription runs about $200 a year for 30 URLs—but for professionals who desperately need this type of “what changed when” functionality on a limited basis, the pricing shouldn’t be too terribly oppressive. Power users can track up to 2,500 URLs for $6,000 a year.

So what about exploiting the service? I knew you’d think about that, because you’re a smart cookie.

Versionista is pretty clear about what you can and can’t do in their EULA (which, incidentally, is the second URL I’m currently tracking, in addition to the Silicon Florist URL):


I know a number of breaking-news bloggers who have been begging for a service like this. You may be in the same boat. Given that you’re allowed to track two URLs for free, I’d suggest you try it out. And when you do, I’d love to hear how it works for you.

A few Portland techie podcasts for your Sunday afternoon or your Monday morning commute

Last Friday was podcast day for me. And for as nervous as I was, I think they turned out pretty well. No doubt thanks to the talented people actually managing the whole podcast thing and me just having to spout off every now and again.

So, I thought I’d share the links, in case you were interested in listening.

OPB Think Out Loud on open source

Jim Zemlin, Raven Zachary, Audrey Eschright, and I had the opportunity to chat about open source and the open source scene in Portland. Topics include OSCON, how we all use open source software and may not even know it, corporate adoption of open source, Portland’s culture as a complement to the open source community, open-source rockets, and NTEN.

Download the mp3 of OPB Think Out Loud: Open-source City

Strange Love Live Tech Edition with Rick Turoczy

Cami Kaos and Dr. Normal invited me over for a tech edition of Strange Love Live (if you’re not watching/listening, you should be). And we were lucky enough to command a live studio audience as well, featuring Michelle Anderson (mediachick), Amber Case (caseorganic), Bram Pitoyo, and Kelly Guimont (verso). Topics included the reasoning behind Silicon Florist, the Portland tech scene, Vidoop, Intrigo, OSCON, the Open Web Foundation, and more.

Download the mp3 of Strange Love Live Tech Edition with Rick Turoczy

[Update] If you’re interested in streaming the podcasts—instead of downloading them—Cami Kaos has posted the streaming audio files to her blog.

Strange Love Live with Rick Turoczy

Once the serious Strange Love stuff is done, the cameras keep rolling for the discussion. We continued talking about some of the tech topics, discussed my sleeping habits (or lack thereof), talked about and lightsaber-ed with the iPhone, made some tech predictions including hinting at Marshall Kirkpatrick‘s upcoming internet brain implant venture, thanked our luck stars for OurPDX, introduced folks to Planet PDX, talked about upcoming guest Melissa Lion, and got into a pretty serious bidding war for sponsoring Strange Love Live.

Download the mp3 of Strange Love Live with Rick Turoczy

So… what do you think?

Suffice it to say, this was a trial by fire for me and audio. So I’d love to hear feedback as to a) whether I was intelligible at all and b) if I was intelligible, if you’d be interested in more podcasts from yours truly.

Looking forward to your feedback.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for July 26

Scobleizer: The Silicon Valley VC Disease

Robert Scoble writes “What is the disease? That you must make bucketloads of money (or at least have a shot at doing that) in the first two years of business. If you have a plan to make just a reasonable amount of money, or if it will take decades to make a big amount of money, don’t come to Silicon Valley. Walmart would NEVER have gotten funded by Sand Hill Road. It took decades to make bucketloads of money. That kind of business plan would never fit in here.”

Attensa and Wikigate

Via the Attensa blog “Wikipedia is theoretically about respect for expertise, openness and integrity.Who knows more about the company, its technology, associated products and applications than the people who live and breathe it every day. The irony is that Attensa has its listings removed through the actions of one individual because we were transparent and telling the truth about the process.”

Google re-ups with OSU’s Open Source Lab

Mike Rogoway writes “Google is giving Oregon State’s Open Source Lab another $300,000, bringing Google’s total lab contribution to $750,000 over the past three years.”

The market for real journalism will continue to change; What’s coming will be better

Via the fifth+main blog “The Internet is in the process of giving rise to a new breed of journalist thanks to all these layoffs in mainstream media. This is an important shift, because it centers on the people who report the news, not the ego-bloggers and serial editorialists.”

Corporate-to-Startup Transition Checklist

Micah Elliott writes “So you’re finally ready to leave corporate life. Before you walk out the door, here are some things you should make sure to consider during your last couple months of employment.”

Jive Talks: Clearspace 2.5

Gia Lyons writes “Our software engineers have been diligently working on Jive Clearspace 2.5 (formerly known as 2.1) over the past several weeks, and we’ve been putting it through its paces inside Jive. Many have blogged and videoed (?) about it:”

Can Microblogs Just Talk To Each Other?

Via Louis Gray’s blog “Federation is the real answer. What does federation do and why is it different from Twitter creating a distributed architecture? A distributed architecture means you have various pieces of the application sitting on different servers…. Federation is different from distributed in one simple sense. Federation requires a full copy of the entire system. Federation is the cooperation between various systems to act as one.”

Seed Oregon Tournament, Round 1

Seed Oregon is a unique competition for Oregon and Southwest Washington seed-stage companies who are seeking capital within the range of $100,000 to $2,000,000. One winner from each preliminary round will move on to a championship round, where a finalist will earn a coveted presenting opportunity at OEN’s Angel Oregon 2009, the premier angel investing event in the Northwest. The 2009 conference will be held at the Governor Hotel in Portland on March 12th.

Venture Northwest 2008

It starts with a simple seed. But from that seed grows strong, vibrant and sustainable companies that are ripe for investment. Venture Northwest (formerly Venture Oregon) is the premier forum for new and emerging investment opportunities in exciting companies from Oregon, Washington, and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Couldn’t say it better myself

Jason Glaspey writes “I’ve always been pretty outspoken about the fact that I think DRM is from the devil, so when I saw a Prius with this license plate, I had to take a picture. It was outside of my favorite coffee joint Albina Press, and I was able to ask the owner of the car if this was a true vanity plate, or a chance coincidence… Turns out it was just the license the state gave him. He laughed as he watched me snap the photo though.”

Did You Know Seattle Has Lunch 2.0 Too?

seattle.gifAnd not Lunch 2.0.2, but rather Lunch 2.0 also.

Josh Maher started a chapter in Seattle a little over a year ago, and they’ve been very active at both large and small hosts. I contacted Josh early this year for any tips and advice he could share before starting a chapter.

If you travel up to Seattle a lot, or are headed there soon, check out their wiki and for details.

Josh and I spoke recently about our the Portland chapter, which apparently is one of the few that hosts regular events, along with the Silicon Valley/Bay Area orignial chapter and the Seattle one. He also invited any Portlanders/Vancouverites up to enjoy the Seattle flavor of Lunch 2.0. So, if you’re going to be up in the  Emerald City, check out their take on Lunch 2.0 and report back with your thoughts.

Otherwise, it’s a roadtrip. I guess if anyone’s up for that, you could carpool up there on a diplomatic mission. Of course, as Rick pointed out, the beauty of Lunch 2.0 is that it’s local and convenient, neither of which fits a trip up to Seattle.

Anyway, it’s an open invitation, and obviously, Josh is welcome to come down to do Portland Lunch 2.0, assuming I can convince someone to host one.

Lunch 2.0 Needs Hosts

Lunch 2.0 just finished its fifth iteration last week at souk. Let’s take a minute to look back at the five lunches and thank the hosts:

February 28, 2008: AboutUs
April 9, 2008: eROI
May 28, 2008: Vidoop
June 30, 2008: Wieden+Kennedy
July 16, 2008: souk

Ah, good times. Thanks for the memories.

So, now that we’re done basking in the afterglow of tasty eats and good conversation, let’s get back to business.

I have a few leads, but nothing solid for the next Lunch 2.0. So, gentle reader, I need your help.

Does your place of work have what it takes to host a Lunch 2.0? Not that it takes much, as Rick previously documented.

Do you know a great place that would love to host a Lunch 2.0?  Ideally, you have a contact there, so I don’t have to walk in like Michael Corleone.

If so, I’d love to hear your ideas. Find the comments and let me know, or tweet at me.

Think Out Loud about open source

OPBI got an interesting call this week from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB). Specifically from the Think Out Loud team. They knew that OSCON was in town this week and they were interested in doing a show on open source.

“Oh! No problem,” I said. “I can recommend plenty of really, really smart people to whom you can speak.” (Because I always try to use proper grammar, no matter how antiquated it may sound.)

So I did just that, recommending they talk to folks like Raven Zachary, Scott Kveton, and Audrey Eschright.

And sure enough, they talked to those folks. And I know that most of them—if not all of them—will be appearing on Think Out Loud live, this morning at 9 AM.

Do you buy the argument that if you want to make a living as a programmer in Portland, open source software is both a blessing and a curse?

Are you a part of the movement more broadly? What’s your take on where it came from, where it is now, and where it’s going? What lessons does the open source philosophy have for life outside the digital world—for research, or business, or democracy?

Great! Should be a really interesting show, right?

Well, yes. But with one slight hitch.

“We want you on there, too,” they said.

Um. People get to read me thinking out loud practically everyday. Do they really need to hear me thinking out loud, too?

Well, apparently, according to OPB, they do.

So, I’d appreciate your tuning in, this morning at 9 AM. To hear what these truly interesting proponents of open source have to say.

And maybe, just maybe, you could ask those intelligent guests some really interesting and detailed questions? I mean, I’d be willing to give you some of my time. In fact, why not head over to Think Out Loud—right now—to post your open source questions?

(Oh, so you think it’s humorous that I got roped into this gig? Then you’ll love this. I’m honored to be the guest on Strange Love Live, tonight, too. Let’s just call this freaky Friday.)

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for July 24

Vidoop supports the Open Web

Via the Vidoop blog “Over the coming months, Vidoop will be delivering new services that not only take advantage of these new specifications but also make them easy for users and companies to use. The reality is users shouldn’t need to know about these technologies but they will be the underpinnings of the Open Web.”

Cre8Camp Is For People Who Do It Because They Love It

Bram Pitoyo writes “I always thought that ‘Creative’ and ‘Tech’ were two different worlds: two landmasses that somehow needs to be bridged. I wrote about it. I talked about it to friends and people I met at various events: about how I wanted to ‘make creatives more open by introducing them to the vibrant, local tech community.’ It’s all good. But I was completely wrong.”

Open Source City

OPB Think Out Loud will be broadcasting live from OSCON. The premise? “Portland isn’t necessarily the capital of this revolution — one of the hallmarks of such a decentralized system is that the whole concept of a capital is anathema — but it’s certainly one of the most prominent nodes of community. Some people have argued that the aspects of Portland’s culture that make it such an ideal location for open source activity (i.e. a creative, collaborative, non-commercial mindset, speaking in broad generalizations) have also meant that fewer local OSS (Open Source Software) projects become commercially viable.”

IPhone DevCamp2 PDX: Being Held at JIVE

Doug Coleman writes “I am excited to announce that iPhone DevCamp 2 PDX has an new venue! Thanks to Jim Goings and the wonderful people at Jive Software, iPhone DevCamp 2 PDX will be held August 2nd and 3rd at Jive’s Stark St. offices in Downtown Portland.”

The Open Web Foundation

Chris Messina writes “During this morning’s keynote at OSCON, David Recordon announced the formation of the Open Web Foundation (his slides), an initiative with which I am involved, aimed at becoming something akin to a ‘Creative Commons for patents’, with the intention of lowering the costs and barriers to the development and adoption of open and free specifications like OpenID and OAuth.”

OSCON 2008 – Power to the users

Jay Lyman writes “Now OSCON is at the Portland Convention Center, and while the conference has a different feel, it is still the most unique tech conference with its developer focus, sandals and lack of ties. So while I still enjoy being able to wear shorts to a show and briefings, there have been some significant changes to OSCON in addition to the location move.”

Beer and Blog: Welcome people of OSCON!

Justin Kistner writes “Welcome OSCON attendees to the land of beer and honey known around the world as Portland. We’d like to invite all of you to enjoy a pint of delicious beer with us on Friday from 4-6 pm. Beer and Blog is Portland’s tech scene happy hour of choice and we usually help each other with our blogs. At least that’s what I keep repeating.”

OSCON 2008: Introducing the Open Web Foundation

Open Web FoundationToday at OSCON, David Recordon officially announced the formation of the Open Web Foundation.

The Open Web Foundation is an interesting step in the ever evolving world of technology “openness.” What started with open source code and moved to open data has now evolved to the open Web.

And that’s an important step.

What is the Open Web Foundation?

According to the Open Web Foundation site:

The Open Web Foundation is an attempt to create a home for community-driven specifications. Following the open source model similar to the Apache Software Foundation, the foundation is aimed at building a lightweight framework to help communities deal with the legal requirements necessary to create successful and widely adopted specification.

Take a moment to read that again. Because within that charge lies a very important distinction. A distinction that differentiates the Open Web Foundation from other organizations playing in this space: the Open Web Foundation is focused on the specifications that facilitate the sharing and transmission of data.

Not the data itself, the specifications.

“The Open Web Foundation is not a standards body,” said Scott Kveton. “The W3C, OASIS and others do that fantastically today. This is about helping speed the development and proliferation of open specifications so we can figure out if they make sense or not.”

My take? For the Open Web Foundation, it is more critical to understand and support how the data is being exchanged and how we build open systems that are interoperable. Because without interoperability and the ability to share, all the data in the world is useless.

So what organizations belong to this foundation? Well, you’ve hit upon another important difference. You see, the Open Web Foundation is an organization of individuals. The following folks are currently part of the foundation, but it’s a list that—obviously—is continuing to grow:

And as a foundation of individuals, the Open Web Foundation is open to you, as well. Simply join the Open Web Foundation Google Group to begin discussions with the organization and determine how you would like to participate.

But just because it’s an organization of individuals, that doesn’t mean it lacks community support by major players.

Who? A few folks you may have heard of:

  • BBC
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • MySpace
  • O’Reilly
  • Plaxo
  • Six Apart
  • Sourceforge
  • Vidoop
  • Yahoo!

The Open Web begins to take shape

David Recordon hinted at the shift to the Open Web perspective in June:

We truly are in an inflection point when it comes to the future of the web. Today I’m wearing my “I support the Open Web” wristband which Mozilla gave away at OSCON last year. So what are you doing to support the Open Web and bring about change?

And Scott Kveton echoed similar thoughts as he responded, in part, to the announcement that Portland-based Jive Software had decided to join the Data Portability project:

The Open Web is the key to the centralized me or citizen-centric web we hear so many people talking about. Without interoperable formats and protocols, all of this stuff will be a pipe dream.

Clearly, there was a different need brewing here. A need to facilitate the development of technologies in an open and accessible way.

And that need was not being met by organizations currently working toward those ends.

Pre-launch criticism

News of the Open Web Foundation’s pending launch started to leak earlier this week, prompting a largely speculative post on TechCrunchIT—one which was also promoted on TechCrunch, itself—on the “Open Data Foundation,” highlighting:

A long running problem in messaging and consistency from advocates of both open source and standards has been the duplicate and overlapping efforts. The best recent example was the split within the RSS camp that resulted in a new Atom syndication format, which in the long-term did not manage to displace RSS and instead divided evangelism efforts. While a similar split along technology lines does not exist in the case of the new Open Data [sic] Foundation and the Data Portability project, it would seem that a more united and single-branded front would be more appropriate considering the shared agenda of both camps.

Hopefully, today’s announcement and the resulting coverage will help clear up the story and clarify the focus and intent of this new group.

Portland’s response to the OSCON announcement

Marshall Kirkpatrick sees the Open Web Foundation as doing the roll-up-your-sleeves dirty work that will enable the Open Web:

The Open Web Foundation is positioning itself as a complimentary organization. DataPortability.org can handle the evangelism and the Open Web Foundation will do the behind the scenes work to help developers bring code to market. Not completely behind the scenes, but you know what they mean.

Dawn Foster, one of the founding members of the Open Web Foundation, clarifies the OWF focus:

The OWF is not trying to compete with existing standards bodies (IETF, W3C, OASIS, etc.). The communities we’re working with are currently coming together in a very ad-hoc fashion, and if we can help them have clean intellectual property, it makes it easier for a community to take their open specification to a standards body.

And that sounds eerily similar to another organization with whom Dawn is deeply involved, Portland’s Legion of Tech.

[Update] For additional insight into the reasoning behind the formation of the group, see Scott Kveton’s post on the Open Web Foundation announcement.

My first-blush impressions

Is the Open Web Foundation a competitor of the Data Portability project? In terms of mindshare? Absolutely. In terms of technology? Not really. Is that competition a bad thing? Not at all.

I’ve said it time and time again, competition—either real or perceived—defines a market. If you’re in a situation where you have no competition, you’re either so far ahead of the curve that no one can perceive the value you provide (and you may not survive long enough for anyone to catch up to your line of thinking) or you’re doing something in which no one will ever see any value.

Either way, a market without competition isn’t a market.

So as divisive as it seems right now, a little competition is a very good thing. Because it will push people to get things done. It will motivate people to keep things moving. It will force organizations to more tightly define their charters and to more stringently follow their own guidelines.

And—perhaps most importantly—it will give everyone a choice of where to spend their time and energy.

A monopoly doesn’t help anyone.

Okay, so what does the Open Web Foundation mean to me?

First and foremost, the Open Web Foundation will become the facilitator of open specifications. An umbrella resource that helps manage the continuing development of open specs and a means of ensuring consistency and compatibility among the variety of technologies currently in play.

As a developer, this means you gain a trusted resource—a partner in helping develop the open Web.

“We’re trying to create a nonprofit organization that will help these organizations work together,” said Recordon. “We need simplicity in these specifications.”

The thought? Instead of people having to create innumerable organizations to manage and support individual efforts, let’s just create one. One that supports all of the different projects.

The foundation is trying to break the trend of creating separate foundations for each specification, coming out of the realization that we could come together and generalize our efforts. The details regarding membership, governance, sponsorship, and intellectual property rights will be posted for public review and feedback in the following weeks.

No doubt, this foundation will have an effect on many efforts around the Silicon Forest. And with the Portland efforts around OpenID—and locals Dawn Foster and Scott Kveton among the founding individuals—the Open Web Foundation is sure to be part of our existence.

I, for one, am looking forward to the Open Web, and I applaud these folks taking this step forward.

OSCON 2008: Beerforge III

Wow. That just flew by, didn’t it?

OSCON 2008 will soon be wrapping up. And while there’s still a ton of good content to consume, there’s another important form of consumption that will be taking place on Thursday evening—and you’re encouraged to be there: Beerforge III.


Slated to begin immediately following the SourceForge Community Choice Awards (and open source tattoo unveiling extravaganza) at the Jupiter Hotel, Beerforge is designed to keep the festivities—and conversations—going.

According to Portland-based OpenSourcery’s Thomas King:

We’re coordinating with SourceForge to create a continuous party from immediately after the conference until the wee hours, at the Jupiter Hotel and Bossanova Ballroom, respectively. Transportation is free from the convention center, and it should be a blast.

A number of Silicon Forest open source types—Jive Software, Open Source Lab, OpenSourcery, and Vidoop—have pitched in to help organize and underwrite the event. Mozilla and Songbird are also sponsors.

It’s sure to be a memorable event. And in the spirit of open source, it’s open to anyone who would like to attend, OSCON participant or no.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information or to RSVP, please visit Beerforge III on Upcoming.