Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Getting back in Sync

I'm a big fan of Nike+.  I'd do a post on how great it is, but it's been done before (like here -> http://www.cabel.name/2006/08/multiplayer-game-of-year.html).  Many times over.  For Christmas I got a pair of Puma Faas 300's, which are great lightweight running shoes.  Sadly since they are not made by Nike they do not have the special compartment for the Nike+ sensor.  For about a month I was able to make due by strategically placing the sensor under my laces, until one day at the beginning of my run it fell out.  I went looking for it, but it was gone.  I picked up a new one from a running store near my house and an Amphipod Micro Pocket to keep this one safe.  Linking it back to my iPod was easy, sadly it took me some time to figure out how to get it to resync with the Nike+ website.  It seems that you have to "approve" each new sensor to post to the website.  Makes me wonder if multiple sensors can publish to the site at the same time, but that's another story.  Anyway here are some links I used to get my sensor resyncing to the Nike+ website.

Follow these directions to get your iPod syncing again.


Follow these to get your workouts missed workouts pushed to the Nike+ site.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Create Baltimore 2

Create Baltimore 2

This past weekend I was able to participate in Create Baltimore 2.  Create Baltimore is like a one day conference for creative types who live,work, and study in Baltimore.  The basic idea behind the conference to bring together people who live and love the city in an effort to enhance and improve the city.  I found out about this conference from a friend a week before so I did not know what to expect.  

Topics of the day were creative by nature and included entrepreneurship, food, maintaining a green community, women in technology, 3d printing and manufacturing, getting your project funded socially, education, news and journalism in the city, and many many more.  I think there were 25 topics and 15 session slots.

The conference had a  very organic feel to it.  It seemed like everything was organized to promote conversation and creative thinking.  If follows the "unconference" model.  The day was divided up into sessions and the people in the sessions were allowed to handle it as they saw fit.  As if that wasn’t organic enough the conference schedule was decided during the opening session.  This was unlike any conference I’ve ever been to.  Before the conference people submitted topic ideas online via twitter and in person on little note cards.  The moderator then took these topic ideas and read them out loud to the entire audience.  The topics were then grouped into related categories.  The crowd then voted on which topics they wanted to have and then rooms were chosen for them.   I thought this went really well for the size of the crowd that was present.  

The breakout sessions were pretty much a group of people sitting in a room talking.  This gave us the freedom to structure the session as we saw fit.  In the first session I went to based on education, half of the session was spent talking about education and Baltimore.  What it means, what problems there are, and what fixing them would look like.  The second half of the session people presented projects they were working on in 60 second pitches.  This allowed everyone to get their ideas and contact information out in the open for everyone to take down.  I found this method very rewarding.  I got to learn about many of the wonderful projects people are working on to improve teachers, students, and the use of technology in schools.  There is a lot of cool and interesting projects going on in the city.  I’m sure many people don’t know about them, and this is an issue.  How do we get the word out?  How do we share with the world some of these wonderful things that are going on?

The afternoon sessions I went to were social entrepreneurship and youth entrepreneurship.  The social entrepreneurship was focused around finding alternative sources of funding for your project and/or business.  We talked about using sites like kickstarter and indiegogo to raise capital.  We also discussed the differences between for profit and non profit businesses.  What I learned and found most interested was Maryland was the first state to offer a hybrid category, where you can be a for profit with a goal for social change.  It’s something that’s really new, but very exciting in that it opens the possibilities for what businesses can do.  Baltimore has lots of resources for raising capital. The problem is that there are over 1700 non-profits in the city fighting to get a piece of that money.  How can we raise money through alternate sources?  How do we change the system so that there are more and newer opportunities for business in the city?  Due to some unexpected car trouble I had to leave the entrepreneurship session early, so I wasn’t able to get much out of that one.  

My only grip about the conference was, although diverse, I think it represented only a small sample of what Baltimore is.  What people think of Baltimore is not what was present at the conference.  To me it’s a good and bad thing.  It shows that there are people in the city who want to change it, who want to improve it.  On the flip-side, it shows that either the word is not being spread about this conference, or people are not interested, which would be sad.  There were lots of representatives from University of Baltimore, Maryland Institute College of Art, and Towson University.  Where were the students from Coppin State and Morgan State, two other Universities in the Baltimore city area?  I think it’s great to see a lot of community members come out and support this event, but I think there is “community” that can and should participate in the future. How do we involved the greater Baltimore community in this wonderful event?

One thing I could see was really apparent about Create Baltimore was that the focus of it was finding creative ways to break traditional models.  We need to come up with newer, better, and more creative ways to improve the city.  Changing the way people think about the city, changing the way education is done, changing the way manufacturing is handled, changing the way news and media are handled, and changing the way we live in the city.  Baltimore is a great city that has come upon tough times and an even tougher reputation that most people get from a TV show (albeit a great one).  Events like Create Baltimore look to improve the city from the inside out, and I see it as being a start to bringing big change in the city and others all over the country.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Black in America 4

Tonight the latest edition of Black in America premiered.  This edition told the story of the NewMe Accelerator and it’s participant’s 9 week journey to seek funding in Silicon Valley.  I was one of about 200 people who were able to attend a special viewing of the show, as well as participate in a post-program discussion.  The event was hosted by Mario Armstrong at UMBC.

The Show
This edition of Black in America focused on the 9 week journey of 8 entrepreneurs into Silicon valley to get funding for their startups.  All 8 startups were lead by black founders and 2 of the startups had black female founders.  The show not only talked about the struggles of fundraising in the valley, but the added complexity being a minority added to the equation.  It covers a lot of interesting ground and sheds a lot of light on what goes on when founders try to raise money for their ventures.  Right now minorities are underrepresented in Silicon Valley for a number of reasons.  The best way to change this is to get jobs there, and create successfully businesses there.  One of the issues is that to be accepted there you have to be successful elsewhere first.  So it’s up to us to “create” a way into the valley.

I think everyone should watch the show, not only those interested in technology.  There are a lo of relevant points made that can apply to a variety of different industries.

The post program discussion consisted of a 6 panelists discussing some of the questions brought up by the show.  The panelists talked and brought up some good points.  Here are my big takeaways from their discussion.
  • Build your network
  • Find a mentor
  • Be comfortable, being uncomfortable
  • Take on step towards your goal each day
  • Solve a problem
  • Make sure your product is newsworthy
  • Be passionate

Discussion topics briefly covered during the discussion.
  • The role of education
  • Expanding the educational influence of technology
  • Funding practices in the Valley
  • Defining a new Silicon Valley
  • Whether or not funding is needed
  • Disruption and Innovation
  • What’s getting funded
  • Technology centers outside of Silicon Valley
  • Government programs aiming to support entrepreneurs

I think overall this was a wonderful event, especially for a budding software developer/future entrepreneur as myself.  It was good to see people who have similar interests gathering together to discuss how we can bring about change and create a new future for those coming after us.  We need more events like this. There are lot of us out there, we just need a way to find each other. We have the power to create our own tech centers, with our own innovations. We don't always have to be the top consumers, we can create. As Mr. Terry Jones said, "The promised land is wherever you want it to be."

EDIT: The webcast is available here.  If you want to check out some of the twitter conversation check out #biaLIVE...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Photographing Caribana 2011

This past weekend my friends and I took a trip to Toronto for Caribana.  Caribana is largest caribbean carnival in North American and outside of the Caribbean.  It is a 2 week long celebration of Caribbean culture highlighted by a huge parade attended to by over 1 million people.  During the parade bands mad up of people in costumes “playing mas” march down the road to music played on the back of huge flatbed trucks with stacks of speakers on them.  

The music is loud and energetic.  The people are many and enjoyable.  Everyone is out there to dance in the street and have a good time.  The costumes worn are elaborate and colorful.  Each band has a different them which goes a long with the design of the costumes.  The amount of work that goes into these costumes is incredible and what comes out is amazing.  It’s truely a sight to see.  

While this year (and probably many years to come) I didn’t particpate in the band wearing a costume, I was able to find my way into the media area, and shoot with the professional photographers.  It was a good experience.  Here are some things I thought of while out there, to help me and anyone else who can use them.

1. Bring water and snacks.  It was really hot out there.  The parade goes from 10-6, and there isn’t a lot of shade in the middle of the street.  From what I could tell the media section did not get any special treatment with regard to water or snacks.  I didn’t stay with the media the full time, but for the 3.5 hours I was out there shooting, I got drained quickly.  I had a camelback which I neglected to fill before i got there thinking I’d be able to fill it there.  I do believe they are a big help to anyone out there though.

2. Have at least one extra battery for each camera you bring.  At the minimum one extra battery.  Some people have two cameras with different lenses, I only have one.  Even worse I only had one battery too.  After over 500 shots in 3 hours, I had made it about half way through the bands, and my battery started limping.  I almost missed getting shots of my friends who were in band 6 of 12.  My camera died shortly after they showed up.  I wish I had an extra battery or two.  I got a lot, but I think I missed out on a lot as well.  One thing I didn’t realize until after, is that the parade is kinda in two parts.  There is the first section where they band puts on a small performance in front of some judges and then is judged, and there is the part where everyone is dancing in the street having a good time, for the next 2.5 miles.  I missed out on a lot of action shots during the second part, because my battery had died.  

3. Have a lens that can shoot really close up and one that can shoot medium range, or one that can do both.  I took my 55-200 and my 35-70.  I used the 55-200 most of the time, but there were moments where it would have been nice to have an 18-55 so I could get really good shots of people’s faces.  Where I placed myself I was in the middle of the band as they came off the stage area.  the 55-200 was good for when they were on the stage area, not so good when they are standing 2 feet in front of me.  Some of the media people there had 2 cameras, sadly i’m not one of them, but next time I hope to be more prepared.

4. Always be on the lookout for good shots.  All around us there was action going on.  Sometimes it would be people in the band dancing together, others it would be people in the crowd dancing with people in the band.  There were little kids in cute costumes, there were grown men in fully painted costumes.  Not only the costumes, the range of colors was amazing.  Finding ways to capture all of them only makes the experience that much more fun and challenging.

5. Have fun.  I noticed several times when people in the band would walk up to a security guard and start dancing on them.  Everyone is out there to have fun and a good time.  So put on a smile and have a good time.  No one wants to be out there in the head angry or bored.  Enjoy yourself and the culture and have fun taking pictures at the same time.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One Season Ends And Another begins

Today marked the end of my 2011 Spring Softball season.  I think I had a pretty good season.  I hit 2 out of the park homeruns, I had a base hit in almost every game, and I found a permanent position in the outfield.  On the flip-side, technically my team didn't win any games.  I say technically because we won one game by forefit, which I totally count as a win.  My confidence improved, my fielding improved, and I became a more vocal teammate.  Being more vocal on the team is probably what I see as my biggest victory this year.  I was always there to encourage my team each step of the way.

I've played on a lot of losing teams.  Losing isn't painful for me anymore.  So I began focusing on having fun and making progress each game.  Any time a ball was caught, a throw was made, contact between the ball and the bat, a ball was stopped on its way to the outfield, etc.  I was always there to encourage my team.  Each game we got better.  We made strides, we scored more runs, we allowed fewer runs to be scored.  We came closer and closer to winning.  We got to the point where it actually hurt to lose.  We were making such progress that we went ahead in a couple of games, and then we fell apart.  Those games hurt the most because we could almost see ourselves winning.  We could see we had a change to turn things around and then we'd get too confident, and start making mistakes.  No worries though, it showed we were making progress.  It showed we weren't the team we started the season as.  Progressing was most important.  Losing is never fun, but having a good time and making forward progress makes it interesting.

Now that softball season is over, I turn to soccer.  I've started practicing with my team before the season starts and our team looks promising.  I do have a lot of work to do before I'm ready.  I'm setting goals for myself this year, so I can monitor myself and make progress.  I want to truly improve.  I want to get better.  I always talk about being a good soccer player, but rarely do I do anything about it.  This year that changes.  I also want a new pair of boots, but that's another story.

My goals for my 2011 Soccer Season
 - Score 4 goals
 - Be able to play one game without being subbed out
 - Beat a defender with a step-over
 - Kick 4 corner kicks
 - Score a goal via header

I'm trying to be more of a playmaker, and move from playing on the outside to holding down the middle of the field.  I need to be able to run.  I like running, I also need to be able to control the ball.  This year I'm going to make strides towards doing just those things.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My friends and I like music.  We like to make mixes for different occasions.  My one friend has a good number of cd’s on the back of his car.  Each time we get together we discuss new music, they are always introducing me to new artists, mixtapes, and cd’s.  

We’ve always tried to discover new methods of discovering and sharing music between us.  Years ago we’d make playlists via imeem, and share them via Facebook and more recently twitter.  Sadly these days were limited and imeem was eventually bought by Myspace who killed it off.  Since then we’ve been searching for a new, easy, and legit way to share music online.  Today I may have found the solution to our problem.  It’s a little site called 8tracks.  

8tracks is a music discovery service that allows you to discover new music via playlists from other users.  The idea behind 8tracks is that people can come up with better music mixes than algorithms and computers.  8tracks reminds me of a Pandora, but with the songs chosen by the creator of the playlist.  It allows you to upload any track you own to the service to be shared.  

The site is awesome for anyone who is trying to share mixes.  You can create a “Monday Morning” mix of your favorite beginning of the week tracks, then add it to your blog or website, or share the link via twitter or facebook so that you friends can listen to it.  One feature I really like is the fact that you can see similarly tagged playlists and discover new music via other users.  

One minor thing I that discovered that may another some users is the fact that if you try to listen to the same list more than once in a row, it shuffles the song order.  This can ruin some playlists, but it also  could be nothing more than a minor inconvenience.  The site also doesn’t want you to add multiple songs from one artist on the same playlist.

8Tracks is a pretty cool site.  If you are getting bored of Pandora and want something similar with a different variety of music, check it out...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Palm Dev Day NYC - Day #2

Day 2 was awesome.  The day started off with Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer talking about how far the web has come, and how HTML5 and mobile are changing things.  Followed by an Oprah moment, we all got Palm Pre 2s!  Phil McKinney spoke next giving HP's position on the mobile field and webOS.  He seemed really excited about the possibilities.  This only encouraged the crowd.  He gave a bunch of good ideas.  I really enjoyed his ideas about education and how we are currently raising test takers and not creative minds.  There are plenty of opportunities for apps out there.

Next i went to talks on the PDK and how I can leverage my C/C++ abilities within the webOS framework.  I also learned about the apps currently out there that utilize both JavaScript and the PDK.  The PDK presents a unique opportunity.  After that I attended Greg Simon's talk about optimizing performance of webOS.  He had a few tips on things not to do, but mostly he was talking about the webkit browser and JavaScript engine.

Lunch was after and it was awesome.  There were shrimp po boi sliders, jambalya rice, corn and bean salad, and cornbread with jalapenos.  They also served sweet tea of the mint, raspberry, and lemon varieties.  For desert there was ice cream and bourbon bread pudding.  Everything tasted so great.

Following lunch there were lightning talks.  In these talks webOS developers gave 5 minute presentations on how they overcame a problem they had with webOS.  It was a good lessons learned teaching experience.  There was a Cross-Platform Apps panel, developers of different frameworks talked about how they came about and how they are used to develop web apps across multiple platforms.  Really cool stuff, especially since you can develop a single app that works on webOS, IOS, Android, Symbian devices and more.  This gives developers a wider market to spread their app to.

The last couple talks I attended were about using HTML5 to spruce up your apps and the different JavaScript frameworks out there for us to take advantage of.  The last talk of the day, focused on the next generation webOS framework, Enyo.  Enyo take a lot from Ares to build a webapp.  They are trying to abstract some of the JavaScript setup work from building a webapp.  They are also working to make the process more stream lined and object oriented.  They demo'd an email app that was really slick.  It adjusted to different size windows very well, and looks promising.