Tech City

I took a quick peek at the Internet Week NY headquarters on 18th street in Manhattan while on the way to New York Tech Meetup’s “action packed” June event. I had just enough time to see some of the booths, grok the social media aspects of the planned discussion topics, and take a picture of Brooklyn-based MakerBot Industries’ CupCake CNC machine (also known as a 3-D printer) before I left for the Skirball Center.

My take away from IWNY: engaged communities swarming around focused content and, thanks to startups like MakerBot, custom hardware will rule the future. And it’s happening here in NYC!

Then I went to the NYTM and watched a man smash an iPad with a sledge hammer.Continue reading

Soluto: The Windows Whisperer

I had allocated a small slice of my attention span to keeping tabs on the TechCrunch Disrupt startup battlefield earlier this week.  I was wowed by UJAM, and thought  they would surely come away with first place.

The judges instead chose Soluto, a company that sells  “anti-frustration” software for Windows owners.

Curiousity got the better of me, and I downloaded Soluto onto my aging Dell Dimension Tower to see what got the judges excited.

Disclosure: I recently purchased an Apple MacBook Pro because my long standing aggravation with Windows had reached a breaking point.  I had made a vow to not spend another dollar on upgrading my Microsoft-Dell productivity killer.

Soluto is a slickly designed utility that analyzes your bootup sequence— I had initially 47 apps in mine—and visually explains what processes are needed and what can be removed.

Bottom line:  After letting Soluto tame my unruly Windows bootup, I’m willing to spend more quality time with Windows XP.Continue reading

Last Night’s NYC Tech Meetup

I was lucky to get one of the few seats that suddenly became available for what I had thought was a sold-out  New York City Tech Meetup. I assume Spring fever infected a few early RSVPers. Anyway, I grabbed the opportunity, and took the train into Manhattan.

It was worth it. These events—it is my second— are a little bit of a grab bag. In my mind, the theme last night could be described as  quirky.  My impressions were  heavily colored by RandomDorm, the college video chat service, and stickybits, the bar-code-the-world company.  I think both will find their markets, but I just have to process them a little more before I can say anything else.

There’s one that stood out and was familiar as the sound of a batter swatting a ball. The start-up is  GameChanger, and they have a free iPhone app (Android and Blackberry planned ) that lets the zillions of school coaches score their team statistics in real-time.

Continue reading

Tropo Puts Unified Communications in the Cloud

About a year ago, VoiceXML pioneer Voxeo started a cloud-based unified communications service called Tropo.  It’s a tempting free development environment in which you craft unified communications apps in your favorite web programming language without having to wade too deeply into VoXML tags and voice grammars. The words “free”, “development environment”, and “VoiceXML” struck the right note with me.Continue reading

Civilization Gets More Organized

An internet pundit wrote a much linked to piece of punditry about how complexity overwhelmed the administrative powers of a few past civilizations, thereby leading to their eventual demise. Last night at a NY Tech Meetup I was feeling incredibly optimistic about the prospects of our own  society.

What’s one of the most vexing problem faced by many Manhattanites? Finding a cab would probably come in pretty close to the top—finding a cab in the rain, a little higher.

So I was starry eyed at a demo of a new iPhone app (which has received media attention recently) called CabSense.

Using GPS data collected by the  New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, AI-machine learning researchers were able to discern patterns in what I  always thought was a random walk.  The result was a mobile  app  that taps into this dataset  and reports back a nearby street corner where you are likeliest to get a cab.

CabsSense (brought to you by start-up Sense Networks) was one of several demos I witnessed last night that in my mind were all connected by a deeper theme.Continue reading

A Little More Fun With Twilio

I’m been trying to keep up with multiple stories (Sprint-Clearwire “4G”,  Harbinger Capital’s nationwide LTE network , iPad) while running around tending other assignments.  No, I don’t have much of a smartphone,  more of a Bronze-age artifact that came with my Verizon plan.  So how do I monitor my RSS feeds  using my basic cell phone when I’m away from desk?

My only requirement was that I won’t compromise my core philosophy of  applying minimal programming effort to the task at hand. I’m thankful to be living in the right era to help me stay true to my beliefs: they’re so many great software components and productivity  tools available that it’s possible to glue together off-the-shelf parts to produce a useful digital time-saver with minimal perspiration.

As you know from a previous post, I’m excited about Twilio’s VoiceXML-lite hosting service. I will also reveal for the first time my love for a visual-oriented RSS mashup tool from Yahoo, called Pipes.

I just needed to glue a simple Pipes workflow to a little bit of PHP that calls Twilio’s SMS service and I’d have a poor man’s news notifier. Continue reading