Browsing articles in "new technologies"
Aug
8

Pale Blue Dot

I recently attended HugNation where Halcyon discusses the most recent NASA Mars landing. Discussing the small cost associated with space exploration (the recent Mars mission is to have said to cost $7/per American tax payer) and its worthiness of an investment. Citing what space exploration does for changing the viewpoint of humanity. This discussion has actually shifted my viewpoint of space exploration or reasons for us to invest in such.

I, myself, thought the notion of space exploration was of little consequence to man and more of a sideways step at trying to protect what we do have. My past mode of thinking was that space and the exploration of, was a testament to “ultimate manifest destiny” or a “we’re going to trash this one, so lets start the next one” escape plan. But Halcyon makes some great points and cites an amazing body of work to back up and inspire change of opinion and view via Carl Sagan’s, Pale Blue Dot.

The Pale Blue Dot really speaks to me, because of Carl Sagan’s poignance of current and past world situations, that all of this greatness and ego sits on a tiny speck in the vastness of the universe. With this thought a sense of awe comes forth, everything we know is but a speck in the mass of chaos. Some would progress into, “well than why does it matter?” Shifting the perspective to a notion of how amazing all that we have is. The Earth is extremely unique, and it would be a shame for us to spoil this magnificent space.  Taking care of each other, commrades in a little spaceship floating in the universe, persay. I thought it was worth sharing, hope you enjoy it. :)

 

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Nov
25

Growing Smarter Not Harder

First, a disclaimer, I’m not an economics guru or a politics whiz, so what I’m about to put out here is simply and observation from an American Gen-Y female in the technology and advertising industry. That said, feel free to read on if you’re interested in my perspective.

I was recently reading an article called The Smart Growth Manifesto posted on the Harvard Business blog and I thought it had some great points about smart growth and how we may be able to dig ourselves out of this economic hole we seem to find ourselves in today.

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about making mistakes it’s that there are VALUABLE lessons hidden inside each one that help us grow if only we can understand how we made the mistake in the first place. History repeats itself, and if you don’t understand HOW history happened you can’t evolve your process to avoid those mistakes again.

The Smart Growth Manifesto considers the 20th Century Economy to be based on a poor growth model that was unsustainable, unfair, and brittle. Using what we’ve learned in this 20th Century growth model, the article suggests we move to a smarter growth model that provides sustainability, equality and resilience.

This new “Smart Growth” would be based on four pillars, each of which I really agree with and see happening in many successful start-ups these days. These four pillars are:

  1. Outcomes, not income. We no longer base our net worth on how much money or product we make, but how much BETTER our lives really are. We need to create meaningful, authentic value that really makes a difference in peoples lives not just how much money we line our pockets with.
  2. Connections, not transactions. We don’t look at transaction volume alone but dissect how each transaction is connected and how to increase the overall value of the entire system from supplier to manufacturer to consumer by co-creating and collaborating together instead of fighting over “our market share”. We should know that globally our economies are connected and to rise above competition and create relationships for the good of the whole world.
  3. People, not product. We quit focusing on what makes a cheap product and start focusing on the people who make great products. While you may save money going with the lowest bidder, you also get what you pay for. The people behind great work is what really makes all the difference. We should empower people to learn, create, invent and innovate to help stimulate growth and provide new arenas to build better goods and services.
  4. Creativity, not productivity. We need to base success measurements on creativity instead of just productivity. Creativity would measure how much NEW value is actually being created as opposed to simply shifting old value around to different markets.  This would bolster creation of new ideas, shake up the “status quo” and push businesses and economies to become more resourceful and efficient.

These pillars aren’t only found in economies but in businesses, many new “revolutionaries” are already tossing out the old ways of business for these smart growth ideals. Myself, being in the advertising, internet and technology industries are seeing a lot of new businesses turning the tides of the economic climate that are based on these four pillars. The article states several and I have to seriously agree that when I’m reading these principles I can clearly see them in businesses such as Apple, Etsy, Threadless, Google, and others.

I’d love to hear your point of view on what you think of this article and if this really is a full economic movement to “smart growth”. What do you think?

Feb
6

Refresh Recap: Demo Night

By april.holle  //  new technologies, speaker reviews, things to do  //  3 Comments

Great Refresh meeting last night over at Inza Coffee. There were about 10 to 15 5 minute demos of new and exciting web projects coming out of Phoenix. Some of the highlights were:

Show in a Box – If you’re interested in starting a video blog, but you’re not technically savvy, check out Show in a Box, a wordpress based starter kit that comes with everything you need to start your very own vlog.

Square Mile Web – Ever want to see a square mile of interesting user generated photographs? Look no further than Square Mile Web, where you can broadcast your images, tag and rate them.

DurtBagz – If you need a new satchel and you have an affinity for street signs check out DurtBagz.

My Community Board – Want to get to know your neighbors, using My Community Board you can. You can also post classifieds to get rid of that old barbecue, post the new HOA regulations documents, and more.

Crowd Box – Ever wish you could revisit that great presentation you saw at that last conference? Crowd box offers conferences the ability to create social networks for their attendees and to make videos of the presentations.

Read Phoenix – Want to know what Phoenix is all about? look no further than the blogs of Phoenix. Showcasing blogs from all over the metro area you can find someone you’re bound to get along with.

XID Card – Wish you knew all the social networking sites your friends are involved in? Now you can get the skinny on where your people are at and what they’re into using XID card.

Neh :( Meh :| Yeh :) – Ever wonder if you’re just having a bad day or if your life is perpetually unhappy? Now you can track your moods on Neh Meh Yeh! Each day you can select one of three happiness faces and track whether or not you’re really in a bad mood all the time. Now if only they could track it by hour…

Twitter Sign – Ever twitter when you see an awesome sign? Now start your post with sign: and it will show up on Twitter Sign.

After HalloweenSteam Crow Press is at it again! Amazing illustrator Daniel Davis graces the world with his third book, After Halloween. What’s it about? Why.. it’s about what monsters do for careers… after Halloween! Also, if you’re an illustrator, check out the new illustrators group Daniel Davis is starting called, Tiny Army.

Feb
1

Links of the Week Vol. 5

A collection of user interface design patterns and trends that are becoming “standard”.

A standard design gallery featuring your not so standard oriental designs.

The perfect carrying case for your new Mac Air.

Great article on selling customers on emotion rather than technology and process.

Scientists create robots that lie to save themselves.

Stickk, a new service real financial motivations for meeting your own goals.

Domino’s BFD builder makes building your favorite pizza a creative experience.

Jan
14

Tweet Up AZ!

By april.holle  //  new technologies, things to do  //  No Comments

Had a great time this weekend at a tweetupAZ meetup. Basically a lot of us twitter addicted peoples get together in one common area to interface offline and in more than 140 characters. This was the second TweetUpAZ meeting I believe, the first at a coffee house, and this one at Tempe Marketplace. It’s so interesting the different types of people who use the same types of technologies. While there were a fair amount of webbies there, there were also business folk, video bloggers, startup gurus, and a billion other personas. I made a lot of great connections there and really got to put a face with a screenname of some of the local people I’ve been following.

However, there is a bit of weirdness to it all, I’ve always been a pretty transparent person, I like letting everyone know what I’m up to so they can join the fun. But I’ll admit it was weird to have complete strangers come up and congradulate me on my recent engagement. How did they know? Because I twittered it. But does it bother me? Not in the slightest.

I often wonder if I should ever censor myself, but when I honestly think about it, why would I want to? I’ll always remember my 12th grade English instructor, “If you write, you obviously want someone to read it, either subconsciously or consciously. So if there really was anything I wanted to hide from everyone, I would just keep it to myself. If I feel like sharing, I evidently want to have some one pay attention to it.

So if you’re interested in hearing what others are tweeting about in AZ, feel free to follow me and all my friends. If you want to participate in the next TweetUpAZ check out tweetupaz.com.

Dec
8

Letters from Bar Camp…

I had a GREAT TIME at the 2008 Phoenix BarCamp today! I was a little… OK maybe more like VERY nervous about having to stand up in front of people and tell them about things that I might have some expertise in. But once I saw that everyone else was just as informal, I got into the grove of things. All the discussions were very informative, some of them so much so they were over my head, but thats ok!

I’ll just go over some of the great points some of the speakers had regarding their topics and discussions. Anyone that was there, feel free to pipe in regarding what you thought was interesting, points I missed, etc.

……………………………………………………………………

Pam Slim author of Escape Cubical Nation started off the day speaking about how growing start up companies can avoid becoming the cubical corporate environments that the entrepreneurs came from to begin with. There was a fairly voiced concern from the business owners in the room regarding how to avoid becoming that which they didn’t want to employed by to begin with.

Pam offered a simple common sense approach to really keeping the soul to your company, meet and get to know your employees. That a business owner should know what his/her employees really want to get out of their time with the company, and to realize there really isn’t any binding contract for these employees to be invested in your company if you don’t return their investment by investing in your employees. She mentions that open, honest communication is key to this relationship between employee and employer.

To really spend the time to know what each of your employees is interested in and their personal investment and interest in your company. She says to build on what your employees want to learn and do, this will enforce trust in you and foster a real value of your company to your employees instead of merely being a “job”. This will help take the pulse of your company’s true interests and values from the ground up.

Understand that perhaps some of your current employees final goals in their career may mean starting their own business, or moving away from your company in some other way. Foster this growth in your employees, perhaps once they have broke out on their own they’ll send business back your way, or other potential employees that will be a great fit for your company. Make sure you aren’t buying into the mafia mentality of you’re either with us or against us, and if you leave you’re against us for sure.

Open, honest communication allows for huge growth potential in your company when your employees are allowed to honestly express their ideas and true feelings on company projects and directions. Instead of wasting six months on a dumb idea, Fred over in development, will simply be able to express… “you know that’s not the brightest idea, but I’ve been toying around with this other thing and I think it might work…”. Don’t make yourself or your employees “check their soul in at the door”, make sure everyone is in agreement that all your companies practices align with your company’s overall goals and values.

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Derek Neighbors from Integrum Technologies spoke regarding rapid business growth and how your company can live through culture changes from creative culture to command culture and back again.

Derek started out with a recap of Integrum’s rapid growth due to new projects and contracts that they were taking on at a very rapid pace at the very beginning, and that when you loose sight of your company’s core values things can get messy VERY fast.  They had become a beast of command and control with sour employees.

So, once they finally realized that they had become the beast that they tried to run away from, they revisited their core company goals and values. Then they took the pulse of their employees, finding out what really motivated them every day to get out of bed and drive to work, and how those motivators aligned with the company’s goals and values. Aligning your employees goals and the company goals will make each teammate personally responsible for their part within the company, allowing for self-motivation and interest in the company as a whole. Making you less responsible to your immediate manager and more responsible to the company as a whole. Derek says, “Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s the boss when they visit the office.”

Derek sighted that these key communication between employee and employer was an extremely important part of really getting back to their creative, coordinated company that they had originally envisioned. Today, Integrum is a team of eleven VERY talented, VERY driven close-nit people that get things done and done right. But, without that reassessment of their goals and how their employees fit within those goals was key to that success.

I asked Derek, as part of a fast-growing company, what can I do as an employee to help foster that feeling of a creative culture instead of a command culture. Derek’s advice was to share my opinions and ideas candidly, build team activities that bring us closer together as a whole, and become entrepreneurial within my own company (build activities to promote and foster teams and the company within itself).

Dec
3

I too bought an iPhone

As an early Christmas gift to myself I went ahead and bought an iPhone. I’ve been debating for quite a while about plunking down the change for one, but eh, there just really isn’t a better phone out there right now, and there isn’t going to be for a while. So, why not.

I LOVED the fact that I didn’t have to spend a ton of time in the AT&T store to set it up, I just bought the phone, and left. That’s right… no questions, no paperwork, no signatures, no plan upsale, no blah blah blah. It was nice, since I’m a geek and social interactions are difficult for me to manage sometimes. ;)

I come home, unwrap it, plug it in, and AWAY WE GO! My pro version of Vista didn’t seem to have a hard time shaking hands with the Apple device, and iTunes recognized what I was trying to do RIGHT away. I went through the really simple steps of selecting a plan, transferring my existing Verizon number (waaay easier than I thought it was going to be), and synced up with all my music. DONE!

The only smug thoughts I had were the fact that it doesn’t sync with my Firefox or Thunderbird. :(

After using it during the weekend I noticed the headphone jack flaw that everyone was griping about, but after a quick trip to Best Buy to pick up a headphone adapter for $7 I was back in business with my audio connection in my car and my Sony earbuds I love so much.

I have since handed over my 30GB iPod to Kaleb to use in his new car and I use my iPhone for all my music needs now.

I LOVE the map feature, I can quickly search for businesses, get directions, and all that with a couple of clicks. So I don’t have to call Kaleb asking where the nearest PetSmart is from Rural and Broadway. ;)

The only issue I’m having with the iPhone right now at all really has little to do with the phone itself. AT&T coverage seems to be spotty in the valley, especially in front of my computer in my home office. :| What gives?

I think it’s interesting that AT&T and Cingular’s whole advertising campaign is “More bars in more places” and I can’t even get a good signal in my house in a super urban area. :( BOO!

But besides the coverage, everything is going great, I’ll keep you posted as I use it more and get used to some of the features it offers. :)

Dec
1

Lots to Do This Week

I just wanted to make sure you were invited to all the awesome web and design happenings this week in Phoenix!

Tues, Dec 4th – Refresh Phoenix

Refresh Phoenix meets every first Tuesday of the month to discuss current internet issues and trends. The topics range from becoming your own boss to css frameworks to make your work more efficient. This month the topic is results from the 2007 Web Design Survey that was put out by A List Apart. This should be a very interesting conversation since there really has never been a survey of the internet industry.

When: Tuesday, December 4th 6:30 – 9:30 pm (come early to get some networking in)

Where:
Inza Coffee
8658 East Shea Blvd, Scottsdale

Fri, Dec 7th – 16th Annual AIGA Art Auction

AIGA Arizona is holding it’s annual Art Auction event in Downtown Phoenix at MonOrchid Studios during December First Friday! AIGA Arizona is pleased to present over 100 original works of art (paintings, mixed media, photography, digital art, sculpture, jewelry, and more) displayed on sale in live and silent auction formats. Plus bid on a selection of special packages that include dining, entertainment and recreation. This year’s art auction will also feature the Mohawk Show.

When: Friday, December 7th 6-10 pm

Where:
MonOrchid Studios
214 E. Roosevelt Street, Phoenix

Sat, Dec 8th – BarCamp Phoenix

BarCamp is an ad-hoc un-conference born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. All attendees must give a demo, a session, or help with one. This is great because you can both speak and be an audience member.

When: Friday, December 8th 9 am – 5 pm

Where:
University of Advancing Technology (UAT)
2625 W. Baseline Road, Tempe

Nov
27

Geeky Christmas Gifts

Alright so what do all those geeks out there want?

I’ve rounded up a sweet list of the things I have been hearing around the office… and around the web.

For the Apple Geek: If they don’t already have one, I’d say the iPhone or the new Touch would be right down their alley..

For the Designer Geek: What’s says designer geek more than a documentary about type!? Buy them the Helvetica DVD set, or if they already have that, maybe some other designer swag from Veer.

For the Gamer Geek: I’d recommend picking up one of the three most talked about games of the year, Halo 3, Orange Box or BioShock. If you want to go big time, pick them up a Wii or an XBox 360, which ever one they don’t have already.

For the Dirty Geek: Know that geek who is so busy gaming or building applications he has no time to clean? Check out the Scooba from the iRobot, the same people who make the roomba vaccum robot.

For the Green, Birkenstock-Wearing, Social Cause Geek: One Laptop per Child XO Laptop is a GREAT gift for this geek, not only do they get a nifty laptop, but a child in need gets one as well.

Nov
17

Facebook Developers Garage Recap

I keep forgetting my notebook at work, so eventually you’ll have some good quotes and stats to go along with this post, but I wanted to get it up here before the content became stale.

I attended the Facebook Developers Garage in Phoenix, AZ on Wednesday. Overall it was extremely informative. We’ve been on a big facebook app kick at work lately, so the timing couldn’t be better.

It was great to hear Dave Morin speak, it’s not often you get to meet a driving force behind a cultural phenomenon. The amazing growth that Facebook has encountered in the last year is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is the amount of return traffic they continue to receive, about 50% of their user base return. Also, the user base isn’t a set target market, it seems everyone is getting value out of the social graph. Dave stated that the 25+ population is seeing rapid growth. And there isn’t an age limit to Facebook users, Dave mentioned that in international terms 50-70 year old users are booming user base as well. Over 50% of the Facebook social graph is international users, and is the top social network in England. The facebook developers platform is a remarkable way to continue the interactivity of the website, making sure there’s always something new to do, add and get value from each time the user visits.

Dave was clear in the honest reason why Facebook was created in the first place. To be able to share and communicate information through a one to many conversation platform. Being able to share information to a large group of people in your networks at the same time, allowing for communications to be timely and all inclusive to your network base. It’s interesting how the new platform and applications have twisted this exchange of information into all kinds of venues, from comparing your friends to sharing your interests and photos.

The real power of Facebook is the social graph, how people are connected through friends, locations, similar interests and other social networks. To make an amazing application it has to really link in and harness the power of that social graph, both in virility and  in activity. Users need to be able to easily share the application with friends and the more you have activity with friends the more chances you have to introduce the application for install. Chris Johnson cited in his presentation that for an application to exponentially become more popular you need to have AT LEAST a 1:1.1 install ratio. That means for every install you have one or two installs of the application. Facebook gives you many many opportunities to become viral, your application appears in the applications list, user profiles (in two different locations, the quick bar and the profile view), invite friend controls, notifications sent to friends when interactivity is created, mini feeds when the user uses the app, and news items if the application becomes a large enough force within the community. However, having these entry points doesn’t spell success alone.

You have to build virility into  your application, brainstorm ways your user base can connect with their social graph through your application. Share photos, tag friends, send gifts, link them together and create value through their communications. Give users a chance to share, compare and talk to their friends about the information your application provides. Again, this all comes back to communication, make sure you give your users a chance to communicate with their social network why this information is important to them. Not only is it important to be able to allow your base user to communicate to their network, it’s equally if not more so to support communication from their network BACK to the base user. Dave cited that to when a user receives feedback from their network on an application use, they’re TWICE as likely to reuse the application.

Reuse is extremely important!  Chris Johnson cited attrition by uninstall as the number one killer of application success. You must create your application with value to the user that is ever-lasting, something that they will want to continue to use not just install once and forget about it. Because when that other application comes around that DOES provide that value, yours will be uninstalled or hidden to make room on their profile for the other application. An uninstalled or hidden application isn’t very viral is it? So make sure you add continued value for your users.

Nate from Red Bull candidly showcased the Roshambull application during the his presentation. It was a great presentation that reminded us to not just make an application and forget about it. Do testing, ask users opinions, they’ll tell you how to make your application even better. It was great to be able to hear from someone about what they did WRONG about and application and how they made it better, instead of just praising how amazing it was. Your application should be constantly evolving to continue to add additional value to your user base. Also, the facebook platform is far from being finally evolved, so keep in the know about the new stuff that’s coming out, maybe you can leverage some of the new additions to the platform to make your application more successful.

In addition to the keynote, marketing, technology and case study presentations there were also five minute presentations from developers in the Phoenix community to showcase their upcoming applications and brand new ideas for applications still in the brainstorming phase. These were very interesting and I really liked the energy challenge application idea. It was an idea for an application that would allow you to enter in your monthly energy consumption and challenge your friends and neighbors to competitions to decrease your energy consumption. I think applications like this are a great idea and really allow for more important information to be spread throughout the social graph and really make a difference in the world, not that fluffy friends don’t make the world a better place.

Social networking has given the web an additional depth of value in communication in our every day lives. Connecting and communicating with your family, friends and new contacts couldn’t be easier these days. With the facebook platform and applications the sky is the limit of how communication can rapidly expand the knowledge base of the entire world.

So hop on and become part of my social graph by visiting my Facebook profile. ;)

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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