Category: Launch

OurPDX: Ensemble Portland blog relaunches under new management

But the great ensemble blogs with unique insights about Portland are few and far between. And that’s why I’m happy OurPDX is coming out of the mothballs

When it comes to blogging about Portland, there are well known individuals like Bojack and Dave knows Portland. And well know topic blogs like Food Carts Portland, Portland Food and Drink, and Bike Portland. And, of course, there are some great news sources in town that cover all the Portland happenings.

But the great ensemble blogs—the blogs that focus on the unique views of the writers and their insights about Portland—are few and far between. And that’s why I’m happy to report that one of those great group blogs—OurPDX—is coming out of the mothballs, rising from the ashes, and beginning anew. Read More

Black Tonic: The tonic for what ails shared online presentations and Web conferencing

HTML and Javascript? No Flash? No plugins? Black Tonic just works. And because it uses basic technology to work its magic that means it will even run on an iPhone.

Sometime, somwhere, you’ve tried to share a presentation with someone else. You know you have. And every time you have, you’ve wound up tearing your hair out, haven’t you? It’s okay. You’re among friends. You can be honest.

I know. You’ve tried that Web conferencing stuff. You’ve tried emailing them a PDF. You’ve tried simply calling them to review a hard copy. But it never ever works the way you expect that it should. If only there were a better way….

Well, now there is. Portland-based Black Tonic. Read More

Nozzl Media launches a widget that hints at future real-time products

One of the most cryptic and stealthy startups around here lately has been Nozzl. We knew it had something to do with controlling and managing the firehose of information on the Web in real-time.

[HTML4]One of the most cryptic and stealthy startups around here lately has been Nozzl Media. We knew some of the people who were working on it. Really smart people like Steve Woodward and Brian Hendrickson. And we knew it had something to do with controlling and managing the firehose of information on the Web—in real-time.

But beyond that, we had very little hint of exactly what the Nozzl folks were doing. That is, until today. Read More

Ontier Pixetell now available: Web conference attendees everywhere breathe a sigh of relief

But now, relief may be in sight. Because that whole communication via email thing is one problem that Portland-based Ontier hopes to fix with Pixetell.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t bemoan the state of email. Now granted, it’s usually me complaining that—even after 20 years of using the medium—I’m still unable to effectively manage the day-to-day onslaught.

But as you and I both know, that’s not the only thing that’s frustrating with email. What about communicating via email? Isn’t that frustrating too? For many, that’s a staggering understatement.

But now, relief may be in sight. Because that whole “communication via email” thing is one problem that Portland-based Ontier hopes to fix with Pixetell. Read More

REMINDER: Communit.as launch party, tonight

Communit.asIt’s always good to see new Silicon Forest based products being launched—especially when there’s a launch party involved. So, don’t forget that Communit.as will be unveiling their product, tonight.

What’s Communit.as? According to the founders, it’s an “open source web application that provides a foundation for building custom community and social network sites.”

That’s about all I’ve got, because I haven’t seen it yet, either.

Oh okay. Here are some other details:

There are certain core features any community or social network site needs: user accounts, access control, database abstraction, template rendering and a few other essentials. While you could certainly build these things from scratch every time you build a site, this seems like kind of a waste of effort to us. With that in mind we set out to create a reusable, upgradeable foundation that can shave the first few weeks of development off of any custom community site.

“Custom” is really the operative word there. Communit.as is generally intended for building sites with lots of custom functionality. Instead starting with the functionality we think you want and forcing you to hack the crap out of it, we take care of the tedious stuff and give you a great set of tools for adding your own features. If you want a generic blog or a social network that does everything out of the box, there are better solutions for those things.

This isn’t to say you don’t get a running application out of the box. You do. We provide a simple and robust installer that will have you up and running in minutes.

So if you’re intrigued, make sure to show up at CubeSpace, this evening from 6-8. There will be drinks, snacks, and demos galore.

For more information, visit the Communit.as launch party on Upcoming or Calagator.

iPhorest: New iPhone app launching at TED has Portland connection

iPhorestIf you’re in Portland and involved in a the Web and mobile startup scene, any mention of “iPhone” is usually immediately followed by a mention of “Raven Zachary.”

Portland isn’t alone in that regard, the iPhone consultant—who helped create iPhoneDevCamp before there was even such a thing as iPhone development—has seen more and more attention for his services as the burgeoning iPhone market has come into being.

And it’s thanks in no small part to his involvement in a little iPhone that played a role in putting Barack Obama in office. The other part is that he’s one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I know. And of course the final part is that he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll get the chance to meet.

Well, now Raven has his hand in another app that’s sure to increase the iPhone limelight for him. Meet iPhorest, a new iPhone app launching this week at TED, the premiere “cool leading edge technology thinking and stuff” conference.

Raven Zachary on iPhorest

And Raven isn’t the only one excited about it. There’s this guy you may have heard of named Kevin Rose who told his 98,700 (and counting) Twitter followers about it.

Kevin Rose on iPhorest

And then there’s Ashton Kutcher’s wife. She likes it, too.

Demi Moore on iPhorest

It’s clear that iPhorest is on to something.

What’s not so clear is exactly what iPhorest does—since it’s not yet available in the App Store. But it has something to do with planting trees. On the iPhone.

By downloading the app, the user activates a seedling both virtually and physically. As the seedling on their phone grows, users can also send seeds to other phones, starting a new forest.

For each virtual tree planted, The Conservation Fund will plant a native tree in real life – starting with restoration of vulnerable wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. They will work with the nation’s leading public natural resource agencies to ensure the long-term protection of each iPhorest.

iPhones and sustainability? What could be more Portland-y than that? [UPDATE] More Portland people of course! Raven adds:

The lead developer and designer, Andrew Pouliot @andpoul, is in Portland, as is the 3D modeler, Alex Jetter. Thanks to Bram Pitoyo for the recommendation for Alex.

It’s a very cool concept. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to test drive it—and help a few flowers bloom trees grow.

As soon as I know more, you’ll know more. But I wanted to congratulate Raven on iPhorest as soon as I could.

Internet Astronauts launches

I can’t say that Portland, Oregon, immediately jumps to mind when someone utters the word “astronaut.”

But if Darius Monsef—the creator of COLOURlovers, an incredibly popular community site centered on the discussion of (you guessed it) color—has his way, Portland will soon be known as the home of Internet Astronauts, his latest venture.

Internet Astronauts

Apart from a strangely compelling name, what is Internet Astronauts?

Internet Astronauts is a resource for bootstrapping startups and internet entrepreneurs who are ready to ignite their rockets and launch. The blog is the central resource in our initial launch of the IA site, but soon profiles, community tools and more resources will be added.

Yes, but why astronauts?

I use the astronaut theme because it implies the risk and dedication it takes to get a startup off the ground. It can take tons of hard work, early days and late nights… and laying it all on the line. Also, Astronauts are not in their careers only because it pays well… the high-risk isn’t worth the money. They do it because they love it. I’d like to think think I’m in this business for the chance to go somewhere new, more than the chance to make a lot of money. (Although that is a great possible benefit of being an internet entrepreneur.)

If you’ve had the chance to read the guest posts that Darius has written for Silicon Florist—“Community: The Secret Sauce of a Successful Internet Startup” and “Here’s the Deadliest Catch: Hiring an Agency to Build Your Startup“—you’re already familiar with his voice and some of his opinions.

He’s definitely a force with which to be reckoned.

And that’s why I recommend you take a few moments to swing by Internet Astronauts. Or just go ahead a dive right in by subscribing to the Internet Astronauts feed.

I’m looking forward to hearing Darius’ voice, opinions, and passion as he chimes in on the startup scene.

Shizzow knows Portland, Oregon. Now get to know Shizzow.

ShizzowSharing information about your current location with people you trust has always held this glimmer of potential. The glimmer of actually finding the time to meet face-to-face during our ever increasingly busy schedules. The glimmer of that impromptu meetup with people whom you would like to get to know better.

To date, that potential has always remained a glimmer.

The reality? That’s been slightly less beneficial. Reality has tended to be a useless stream of updates, declaring your friends are “in Portland, Oregon” or, worse yet, at some random address that holds little to no meaning.

Introducing Shizzow

And that’s why I’m so glad to see Portland-centric Shizzow opening its private beta, today.

What’s Shizzow?

Shizzow provides the technology for you to notify your friends of your location, with as little effort as possible, so you can spend more time hanging out with your peeps and less time trying to coordinate bringing them together through phone, email, SMS and IM.

I hear you. “Another one?” But hold your horses. I think Shizzow’s got a number of things going for it. And, as far as Portland goes? I think Shizzow has nailed it.

First and foremost, Shizzow is for Portland, Oregon. And only Portland, Oregon. Not the world. Not the Northwest. Portland. And that’s it. Shizzow isn’t about the video-game mentality of adding as many followers as possible—followers you may never ever meet in person. Shizzow is about knowing where your friends in Portland are. So that you can meet them, face-to-face, when those opportunities avail themselves.

Simple and local. By Portland, for Portland. And in my book, that’s huge.

Second, Shizzow is designed to understand where you are—and to tell people where you are—as simply and easily as possible. And I’ve been duly impressed by how hard they’ve worked to make sure that the database of locations is as deep and intuitive as possible.

Why is that important? Two reasons:

  1. No more (or far less) “Please enter the address of your location.” When you “shout” with Shizzow, you just need to know the name of the Portland place in which you’re currently standing. Not the address. Not the GPS coordinates. The name of the place. Easy.
  2. I know places better than addresses. When I’m reading the shouts of my Shizzow friends, it’s a lot (a lot!) easier for me to process “EcoTrust Building” than it is for me to process “721 NW 9th Avenue Portland, OR 97209.” That means, that I’m more likely to go meet my friends or plan my trips accordingly.

Sounds good, huh? I know! So let’s get you involved in this private beta.

Beta invites available

Dawn Foster has been helping Shizzow with its community, so if you’re in the Portland area and interested in an invite, she’s the best person to ping… but you better hurry:

Right now, the beta invites are limited to a couple hundred people living in Portland. I’ll be sending out invites today along with the rest of the team.

Even now, I’m already happily getting a flood of new friends (thank you!), so I know the Portland gang is getting involved. I can’t wait to see how this works once we get big group shouting.

A true side project to startup story

And the final reason that I’m so happy for these guys? They’ve truly made the leap from side project to startup:

Each member of the Shizzow crew has a full-time job outside of Shizzow, and it’s taken a ton of sweat equity and sleep-deprived nights to bring Shizzow to fruition. But because we’ve believed in our vision and believed in the idea of bringing friends and like-minded people together, the sacrifices we’ve made have not seemed like work but instead like… something we simply had to do. And now, 10 months and tens of thousands of lines of code later, we’re ready…

I can’t really put into words how proud I am of these guys. And how excited I am to get everyone in Portland on this service.

That said, what if you don’t happen to make the initial round of invites? Fear not, gentle reader. There’s still another way to get into shouting with Shizzow. As Dawn says:

If you want an invite, and don’t hear from me today, you can get one from me at Lunch 2.0 on Wednesday.

That’s right! Shizzow will be the guest of honor at the Silicon Florist’s Portland Lunch 2.0, this Wednesday. So come on down to CubeSpace, grab some lunch, meet some people face-to-face, and get signed up with Shizzow, so that you can continue those discussions—and continue getting to know your Portland peers.

Call me evil and conniving, but I’m seriously hoping you don’t get an invite. Because that way I get the chance to see you, in person.

In any case, I’m really, really looking forward to all the shouts from CubeSpace, this Wednesday. And to running into you in person—thanks to Shizzow—in the near future.

 

Shizzow is a location-driven social networking service that encourages quality relationships via face-to-face interaction. Dig in at http://shizzow.com . For more information on the launch and Shizzow’s story, see the Shizzow blog.

CallVerifID: Hi, it’s your OpenID account calling

CallVerifIDPortland-based JanRain, arguably the leading developer for OpenID solutions, is on a roll. It seems like they just released ID Selector, and now they’ve come forward with another OpenID solution: CallVerfID.

CallVerfID allows OpenID users who login with an *.myopenid.com identity to take an extra security precaution with their login: getting a phone call.

And here’s the best part: it’s on any phone. Well, okay, any phone with buttons.

Instantly receive a call when signing into myOpenID. Simply answer and press # to authenticate. No certificates or text messages. Use any phone.

My point was: it’s not SMS messaging. It’s an actual phone call.

I even tried it with Skype and it worked flawlessly.

Since I’m always one to try to shoehorn an analogy into any situation, I’d say that CallVerifID is akin to your credit card company calling you when a strange charge request is made. It’s simply an added precaution to ensure that your credentials are being used by you, and only you.

So, why the added precaution? Do I really want to get called every time I post a blog comment?

No, of course not. But as OpenID begins to take hold, and more and more personal and business applications become available, this type of multi-factor authentication is going to become necessary. Because, at some point, there’s going to be some fairly sensitive information and access rights tied to that OpenID. Banking, travel, and shopping just to name a few.

JanRain’s solution is quite simple and elegant. And it’s easy to adopt, no matter what your technical expertise. I, for one, think this is a step in the right direction.

For more, visit JanRain’s myOpenID to learn about CallVerifID.

Iterasi: Get your own personal Wayback Machine

[Full discloure: Iterasi is a client of mine. I worked with them a great deal on the initial announcement of their product in February, but aside from some ad hoc consultation, I did not participate in this launch.]

Vancouver-based Iterasi, the service that allows you to run your own personal Wayback Machine, has come out of private BETA and announced general availability for the Windows version of their browser toolbar. Using the toolbar, you gain the ability to capture an entire Web page, exactly as you see it—dynamic elements and all—and save it in that state, forever.

Sound interesting? Head over to the site to register and download your Iterasi toolbar.

The team has added some compelling features since the last time I wrote about the product back in February. Most notably the ability to embed captured pages within Web pages.

I’ve posted one of my favorite examples—the ability to save a Google search for future reference—below.

http://www.iterasi.net/embedded/?sqrlitid=_usQPoEYdU6mizC1xaJXOQ

As you’ll see from the embedded page, Iterasi saves the entire Web page as fully functional HTML, including any AJAX wackiness or completed form fields. In many ways, it’s the evolution of bookmarking. Moving from saving the location of a Web page to saving the Web page, itself.

But even that description might not give you a full feel for the potential of the product. So, if you’re a Windows user or have access to Windows on your Mac, I’d encourage you to download it and give it a shot.

The Mac version of Iterasi’s toolbar is still under development.

For more information, visit Iterasi.

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