Category: Portland_OR

BarCamp Portland: The Weekend that was

BarCampPortland 2008Another (dare I say “wildly successful”?) BarCamp Portland is in the books, thanks to the efforts of the Legion of Tech, the hosts, the sponsors, and—of course—the attendees and session leaders.

I could easily prattle on for pages about the wide range of interesting topics, the community building and strengthening, the learning opportunities both inside sessions and out, and the general just, well, geeky fun of the whole thing.

But, I always find roundups to be the best way to provide the most coherent and well-rounded picture of these kinds of events. There’s no possible way of covering the entire thing from one perspective, so only many perspectives will do.

That’s what I’ve seen so far.

No doubt, many people are still recovering and gathering their thoughts.

If I’ve missed you or if you’ve just posted your thoughts, please by all means, comment below with a link to your post or resource, and I’ll be happy to add it to the list.

BREAKING: Ignite Portland 3 throws out the first spark

I just received word that we now have an official date for Ignite Portland 3. The next Ignite Portland—a wildly popular event that features 5-minute presentations on just about anything—will be held June 18, 2008, in the same location as Ignite Portland 2, the Bagdad Theater.

While the site is still getting tuned up, the Ignite Portland 3 Upcoming page is available, so let the RSVPing begin!

For those of you who might not be familiar with the Ignite format:

What is Ignite Portland? A bunch of fast-paced, interesting presentations – 20 slides for 15 seconds each. Our mantra is “share burning ideas” – just about any topic will do, as long as it’s interesting. From tech to crafts to business to just plain fun! There will be time to network and chat after each series of presentations.

(One of these days, I’m going to run out of fire analogies, but man, do I love writing about Ignite Portland.)

More news as it becomes available.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

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.

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.

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.

Portland Octopus launches with new skin

Portland OctopusLooking for more news on what’s happening on the Portland scene? Who isn’t?

Luckily Portland Octopus—now with a brand new look and feel—is hoping to help.

No, not that Portland Octopus.

Unlike the more well-known octopus that tends to hang atop Greek restaurants, this Portland Octopus serves as a group blog focused on Portland cultural happenings:

We absolutely love Portland but have never quite been satisfied with the community networking websites available. We thought we could do a better job of providing this service ourselves. And so, Portland Octopus was born. Music, food, art, architecture, hiking, biking, sports, festivals, local beer, wine and spirits—we are here to celebrate all that Portland has to offer!

Originally launched in December 2007, Portland Octopus is a side project of Selliken Systems, LLC. (Yet another Portland-based mapping application I need to add to my next Portland map app round up.)

(Hat tip Nino Marchetti)

toonlet phones it in

Portland-based toonlet, the only Silicon Forest based service I’ve found that holds the promise of turning you into the next Jim Davis Scott Adams Matt Groening, has released a couple of recent updates that have made the joy of creating toonlets more, well, joyful.

Much like Bruce Banner gaining superpowers after being accidentally irradiated, the toonlet team has discovered that a series of recent Safari-focused improvements have imbued toonlet with superpowers of its own. And you reap the benefit.

So—wait—maybe it’s you that has the superpowers and toonlet is more like the radiation giving you those powers?

I don’t know. My analogy kind of fell apart there.

Anyway. Suffice it to say that, thanks to these Safari improvements on toonlet, you gain the ability to create, compose, and edit toonlets from your Apple iPhone (or someone else’s iPhone if you wish).

In fact, I created the toonlet below from my iPhone. (Yes, I agree. It’s unfortunate that they have yet to fix the “lacking humor” problem. Baby steps.)
http://toonlet.com/embed/strip?i=9156

Second, and easily more important, toonlet has added an “edit” feature for its strips. So now, when you make typos, pick the wrong character, or write something unfunny… Not that that happens to you. I mean, you’re always funny. But if someone less talented than you were to make that sort of mistake, now they can go back and make the toonlet better.

As always, toonlet remains the conversational comic strip service, allowing you to comment on other’s toonlets with toonlets of your own. So please, by all means, head on over and tell me how unfunny that strip above is by creating your own toonlet.

WebWare 100 loves Sandy

SandyEveryone’s favorite anthropomorphic digital assistant, Sandy—the smartest hire Portland-based Values of n has ever made—is now even more popular, given that she’s been named as one of the WebWare 100.

I hope she’ll still take my tweets.

While much of Sandy’s personality has fallen by the wayside in the WebWare write-up, I’m including it for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of meeting Sandy:

[S]imply add “her” as an e-mail contact to get started. Sending Sandy an e-mail with a small message will have the system scan what you wrote and convert into an e-mail reminder or calendar appointment that will be sent back to you at whatever time you note. It also has been designed to work with the popular microblogging service Twitter, letting users remotely set reminders while away from their regular e-mail.

At first blush, Sandy appears to the only Portland type to get a nod, although Vimeo, whose Dalas Verdugo lives here in Portland, also received the honor of being named to the list.

If you happen to see a Silicon Forest based on company on the WebWare 100 winners list that I overlooked, please let me know.

Yes, yes. I’m asking you to help me out. I’d really appreciate another set of eyes. Go to it, cub reporter!

OpenID ID Selector promises to make OpenID less geeky

This week, Portland-based JanRain will be unveiling their latest contribution to the OpenID community: a compelling means of simplifying OpenID logins for the everyday user called ID Selector. With ID Selector, JanRain has managed to reduce the complexity—and, well, geekiness—of the OpenID login process in the same way that products like AddThis have simplified the social-media-submission process.

JanRain OpenID ID Selector

Long story short, the ID Selector reduces your OpenID login to clicking an icon and providing a username. It’s a shrewd move, given that every OpenID provider has a standard structure for its URLs, a structure that allows JanRain to reduce the amount of user input to a traditional “username.”

JanRain has always done a great deal of the heavy lifting when it comes to working on OpenID and being open with the libraries they’ve developed. So they understand how to work for the greater good when implementing OpenID solutions.

Their take on the OpenID ID Selector is no different. It allows the folks who implement it to customize the providers that show and the order in which they are listed—even if that means JanRain’s MyOpenID doesn’t make the list.

This is yet another step forward for OpenID and its burgeoning user base. And, truly, one of the first ways I’ve seen that highlights to everyday Web users—millions of people who use services like AOL, Yahoo!, and Blogger—that they already have live OpenIDs which they could be using to manage services.

It’s great for users, but it could also mean some exciting developments for the companies who choose to become OpenID providers. Rafe Needleman of WebWare, for example, sees a simplified OpenID moving into the realm of loyalty programs:

Major sites, like portals, could still do a much better job pushing the OpenID concept. That would be good for them, not just because it’d make OpenID more accessible to users, but because there’s a lot of brand affinity that sites can win by having users authenticate against their sites even when they’re using some other company’s service. Think of OpenID branding as the affinity credit card of the Web: Every time a user logs on to a service they’d get the authenticator’s brand popped up in front of them — just like Harley-Davidson does when its Visa affinity card users make purchases.

JanRain, not surprisingly, gets this, and will provide a complete white-label OpenID technology infrastructure for companies or brands that want to become authenticators. So if you want to log on to Web sites with an ID from your alma mater or local Rotary club, JanRain will make that possible.

But we still have a ways to go, before we get there. Allen Stern of CenterNetworks is wondering if part of the problem might be the marketing of the “OpenID” name itself:

From my side, I am starting to believe that we don’t need to market the term ‘OpenID’ to consumers. No one cares about the technology, they only want to login to their favorite service using their AOL or Google id. It’s like TCP/IP, no one cares how it works, just that our email shows up in the inbox and Twitter loads when we want to tell our friends we just saw Britney at CVS.

Clearly, we’re not out of the geek forest yet. But JanRain is making significant strides to see that we’re on our way.

For more information, visit JanRain.

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