Taap.it at NYTM

Taap.it is the geographically aware classified  buying app that I first saw at TechCrunch.

On Tuesday, the Taap.it crew were on the big stage at New York Tech Meetup.

I wasn’t there, but fortunately the video of their presentation is now on YouTube.  Take a look.Continue reading

Readability: Micro-pay the Writer

I missed yesterday’s New York Tech Meetup. I’ll be fine.

However, I would have liked to have seen the Readability demo and learned more about this company’s plans.

Their FireFox plug-in de-clutters a typical web page, removing graphics, Flash, and other visual ephemera leaving you with just the nutritious text.

The software was reviewed by David Pogue in November 2009.  And it ended that year with a coveted Pogie Award.

Since the Pogie, Readability added some new features to boost the original text-centric idea. And then in a move that as far as I’m concerned nailed their dedication to the written word, they’ve installed a micro-payment system for authors. Continue reading

New York Tech Meetup 1/10/11: The Nobility of Failure

With a case of post-holiday ennui setting in, I decided to forgo a visit to Skirball and instead tuned into last night’s NYTM video stream from my couch.

It was great entertainment and far more edifying than what’s transmitted over my archaic bronze-age remote vision box. I may go so far as to claim that it was the most interesting and, in a way, uplifting set of demos I’ve seen since I started attending NYTM nine or so months ago.

Before I run down my list of favorites, something that Nate Westheimer said captured the spirit of tech in New York and, I think,  just about any other town where there’s a startup scene:

“If you’re working on a startup, you’re gonna fail. Seriously, if you don’t think that’s true, you’re delusional.”

Nate’s larger point was that we’re all part of a community who want to change the world, and while our own efforts may not achieve success in a narrowly defined way, we may just inspire someone who will.

Here’s my quick rundown of inspiring demos: Continue reading

New York Tech Meetup: Holiday Extravaganza

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And there is no other place I’d rather be than New York City in December— chestnuts roasting, falafels cooking, and Food52 giving a demo at New York Tech Meetup.

Of course, this is also the season of NJ Transit delays, so thanks to mechanical problems at Sunnyside Yards yesterday, I missed most of 52’s presentation. As I walked into NYTM’s temporary digs at New World Stages on 50th street, I heard some questions being asked about “FoodPickle.” FoodPickle? More on that later.

My favorites from the evening: WanderFly, Food52, and Marco. In the interesting, but problematic category: ClearGears.Continue reading

And the winner last night was …

At New York Tech Meetup’s election day event, a bunch of young college-age upstarts stole the show from some of the slightly older incumbents.  I’m referring to student projects and hackathon winners who were up on stage at Skirball demoing their software efforts.

The evening’s theme was set by host Evan Korth, assistant professor of computer science at NYU and one of the co-founders of HackNY. Korth laid out his vision of New York City as an East Coast tech hub with NYU, Columbia, Parsons, and Rutgers acting as an educational seedbed for startup activity in this area—i.e., the Stanford University model.

And based on the demos I saw and the various entrepreneurial opportunities and programs around town, I’m becoming more of a believer.

Continue reading

Introspectr: Organizing Ambient Infomacy

I’m in a neologistic, word-coining mood this morning.  Like you, I have one eye on my Tweetdeck, half-consciously absorbing facts, information, memes, and other synaptic nourishment that’s flowing around me. At some point in my day, I’m inevitably walking an idea back to its source, which involves unproductively scrolling through streams of posts.

Tipping my cap to early descriptions of Twitter and microblogging, I’m calling this phenomenon ambient infomacy. Well …  maybe this new word won’t happen, but you get the idea.

This is all to explain why introspectr, which demoed their Twitter and Facebook search tool at New York Tech Meetup on Tuesday, received my complete attention.

Continue reading

Open Gov in NYC Gets a Big Boost

I couldn’t make last night’s New York Tech Meetup in person, so I grabbed my laptop, settled into my sofa chair (after removing the cat), and watched the Livestream broadcast.  Besides liking introspectr (more on them in a later post), for me the most significant part of the evening’s entertainment was the official launch of NYC BigApps 2.0 contest.

As with last year’s first-ever competition, developers work with New York City’s open-gov data sets to create applications. The “most creative, best implemented, and impactful applications”, as judged by a panel of industry experts and leaders, will compete for $20,000  in prizes. The submission period ends January 12.

So what data sets are available to developers?
Continue reading

Kodingen: Free, Easy Web Development Environment

I missed this month’s New York Tech Meetup due to a previous engagement that was scheduled over 5000 years ago. By the way, Matt Merriam has a nice summary of September’s NYTM demos. One of the startups, Kodingen, caught my attention. It is a free web development environment that encourages a community to provide support and cheering. I filed this away.

I was intrigued by the recent release of the FCC’s open APIs for accessing competitive ISP data. I had already hacked out—I am not a developer by any means— tools for graphically displaying the FCC’s “477” data on Google Maps (see references below). Could I somehow combine this all into a single project and perhaps use the amazing Google Maps Data infrastructure for sharing my results?

A tall order.  That’s when I brought Kodingen back to the head of my to-do list, and so I registered on the site to see what I’d be up against.  In fact, this is a delightfully simple open-source environment to work in.

Nothing against my current hosting service, Bluehost, but I was able to start working almost immediately in Kodingen without any of the usual obstacles and annoyances.Continue reading

Frontal: Flash for Free

I was looking for a no-sweat way to introduce Flash presentations into my blog for all the usual reasons: richer interactions without web server intervention, more space efficient way to present photos and videos, and just the plain fun of embedding multi-media into my text-centric blog. When I saw Frontal’s presentation at New York Tech Meetup last month,  I was inclined to be very receptive to a free development environment, simple scripting language, and easy deployment scenario (also, free) for creating and rendering SWFs. Did I mention the whole thing is free?

There are other shareware Flash tools out there, and  so I wanted to take a quick peek at the competition before making my commitment to Frontal.  It didn’t take long during my survey to realize Frontal’s advantages.  Most of my issues with the likes of MiniBuilder, FlashDevelop, and a few others involved having to learn Adobe’s ActionScript, deal with compilers, or overcome my severe allergic reaction to integrated development environments.

I was sold.  On page two you can see an embedded Frontal photo slideshow I put together in under 15 minutes.Continue reading

NYTM 8/3/10: Shirky Rebutted, Social Shopping, and Semantic Web

My ears are still ringing from a rant by Sam Lessin, Drop.io founder, as he went about trying to disprove intrinsic altruism and trust, and reclaim the commanding heights with neo-classical economics. More on this later, but it is a curious position for a tech entrepreneur whose site is based on people uploading and sharing content for a cost of bupkis.

A few of the high points for me at last night’s New York Tech Meetup: TurnTo, which lets online shoppers find out what friends have purchased; Twilio (which I’ve written about before) had a nice telephony demo for this data-centric audience, and Indaba is a great site for helping musicians monetize their craft.

Oh, and there was a startup, I think called Microsoft, showing off their Bink, or maybe it’s Bing(?) search engine. And Willow Garage, a robotics startup, gave us a glimpse into a future where we stay at home and let our mechanical avatars roam the corridors and aisles of faraway office suites.Continue reading

Building Castles in the Virtual Air with Atmosphir

It’s been a slow Friday afternoon at the end of a four day heatwave—it’s now a chilly 84° in NJ.  When my beta invitation to Atmosphir, the do-it-yourself virtual world startup, appeared in my mailbox, I decided to take the bait and escape reality for an hour or two

I’m not really that interested in multi-player games, but after seeing what a 12-year-old boy  did with Amosphir during a what-kids-are-doing-with-the-Internet interlude at a recent New York Tech Meetup, I was impressed. At his age I was making paper-mache volcanoes.

What’s unique about Atmosphir is that it gives users a well-developed tool kit to create their own multi-level games on a 100×100 grid.   While it looked easy when demoed by that tech-savvy child, this adult was having his share of design challenges.

As Groucho said, “it’s so easy a four-year old could do it, quick someone get me a four-year old.”

After the jump, you can see a few virtual worlds built by members of the Atmosphir community.Continue reading

Summer in the City: Shirky, Kind Strangers, and Neat Startups

Last night was my fourth NYC Tech Meetup, and I think the first time I’ve been in Manhattan in recent memory during a major heat wave. Thankfully, the electro-mechanical HVAC at Skirball worked flawlessly, far better than this new venue’s Internet access.

One of the highpoints for me was listening to Clay Shirky talk about his new book, Cognitive Surplus. Shirky is a gifted narrator and explainer, and the TED videos I’ve seen of him only hint at the powerful thought waves he radiates during a live presentation.

He is an optimist, a true believer on the Internet’s ability to beneficially channel otherwise wasted human CPU cycles devoted to legacy TV watching into crowdsourced content creation: Wikipedia, Amazon book reviews, Aardvark experts on tap, tweets, and as you’ll see after the jump, food photography.Continue reading

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

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