Category Archives: Off Topic

An Entrepreneurial Weekend–Nov 9th


South Bend’s 2nd Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is for you.
Have a dream? One you thought of long ago or one you thought of last week?
Have an idea? For South Bend or for the world stage?
Have a skill? Doesn’t relate to the web or business – no problem, bring it- it’ll be useful.
Startup Weekend is about community, fun, and learning. Filling a room with open-minded people who have the passion and drive to attend, who have a desire to help and engage our community, and who love what they do culminates in a safe environment for experimentation. Once the weekend is over many startup weekenders walk away with some great new friendships, shared experiences, and an extra pep in their step. Some will walk away with a new venture to work on; they may even have a team to work with. Either way, Startup Weekend is about connection, learning, and production – all of which you’ll only have a chance to experience if you attend.
Registration is only $25 for the entire weekend, Friday at 6pm through Sunday at 6pm – Come and go as you please. The event is free for spectators and children under 13. Snacks, drinks, and some meals will be provided.
The energetic mayor Pete will jumpstart the weekend Friday night, our facilitator – David is traveling to South Bend from Seattle for the event, and the President and COO of the first business at Ignition Park, Rich Carlton of Data Realty is one of our judges – ladies/gentleman, South Bend has a tech scene…get connected!

Register now, more information at


Creativity, Entrepreneurship, StartupWeekend, Garages and Warehouses

What percentage of recent startups began in a garage? How long do you work out of your garage before you can afford a regular office or manufacturing facility? If you had VC investors, should you accept their money and move out of the garage? Advantages of staying in your garage?


  • YouTube. Started in a garage.
  • Google. 1998. Started in a garage.
  • Apple. 1976. Started in a garage.
  • HP. 1939. Started in a garage.
  • Mattel. 1940’s. Started in a garage.
  • Amazon. 1994. Started in a garage.
  • MagLite. 1970’s.
  • Yankee Candle Company. 1990’s.
  • Harley Davidson. 1901.

See? It’s all about the garage. The metaphor for American ingenuity and innovation. So…

If you live in or near South Bend, Indiana you’re in for a treat the weekend of Nov. 9-11th.  Oh, and the event is being held, not exactly in a garage, but we think a warehouse comes close. For more information or to register:


[ does set designs, but I’ve seen real garages like this!]

Our SouthBend StartupWeekend “warehouse” is the former AJ Wright building in this short window of availability before new tenants move in to newly named: Interstate 80 Commerce Center, another innovative re-purposing!


Data, Research, Education and … Hunches

A national gas station chain opens a neighborhood store, adds a customer loyalty program, puts up a website to collect registration data, gets people to swipe the card at the pump whenever buying gas, while inside asks again for the card and/or zip code, pays out their incentives: coffee, frozen drinks, snack packs, cookies, crackers, 2-liter pops. A video camera records it all.

Another day, a researcher working on a project to determine the snacking habits of obese people versus non-obese people has just struck a gold mine if they can agree to responsibly treat this data in the aggregate only. (Didn’t the gas station promise not to share the data when they collected it? Maybe. Or maybe just not to sell it to companies looking for more consumers ). Canvassing begins, more data gathered, and correlation theories processed.

A couple months ago, in an entrepreneurial startup weekend, publically available data was called upon to inform or power a new phone app with predictive capabilities for determining the rise or fall of stock prices. That one’ll be hot. Publically available data …

Try this idea: Find existing data useful for research, and then create the questions which could be answered by its careful analysis.

Call it “Backward Research.” Start with a data set first. Ask questions later. Find data in existence, not just to be mined, but to be curated, aggregated, built-upon, re-defined, and continually expanded to provide answers to new questions, questions we weren’t capable of even dreaming until we’d gathered the data.

In the years ahead more and more data constructs will be created which are ‘living,’ persist over time, and therefore will be useful for ongoing research.

Education data is such data. Who owns that data? Who should own that data? We’re calling this burgeoning field learning analytics, but do we know what we’re really talking about?

K-12 students will be tested via computer in most of the United states starting 2014. Those results, mapped to the Common Core standards, will over time form a ginormous data repository. What rules will govern access to that repository? Should the state governments own it? Federal?

To what purposes could we put a repository of testing information for each child’s educational career ? I remember the Twitter backchannel asking those same questions during the Educause Midwest 2009 Keynote. Nancy Zimpher, then of University of Cincinnati, was telling us about a “virtual backpack” of student data which travels with the person from cradle through career. Nope, not science fiction.

While the future which the Tweeters in the room that day were cynically pronouncing was one of categorization and the creation of societal strata based on past performance such as late reading, or non-social kindergarten behaviors, which then solidified the students’ role in society forever, I would sound the alarm that now is the time to develop policy around such education data, policy which prescribes its appropriate and inappropriate use, policy which gives it an accountable owner, one beyond reproach, one with the best interests of the individual in mind. This is not the government, my friend. The government’s mission is to have the best interest of society in mind.

That data is here now. It will be aggregated. It will be researched. It should be researched. How and by whom are the questions…

There are dots to be connected. I would feel most comfortable if they were connected by researchers and educators at responsible higher ed institutions. Over at Music for Deckchairs, in the context of creating and curating educational content, Kate Bowles is making this connection, “The sudden partnership between venture-funded educational startups and traditional elite universities has thrown down a big challenge to less flexible models of higher education, especially outside the U.S. And the fact that we’ve typically bundled content, learning and accreditation under the broad heading “education” doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to keep them all contained in this way indefinitely.”

Michael Feldstein, commenting on Blackboard strategy via Ray Henderson, says, “…there are huge potential benefits to a true SaaS [Software as a Service]platform in terms of the value of the data that can be gathered. With analytics and adaptive learning being the huge buzzwords that they are, the future success of learning technology companies will largely depend on their ability to capture the data exhaust from students’ and teachers’ interactions on the platform and harness it to produce better learning outcomes.”

In all of this, who will speak for the student?

More Reading:

Researchers Digitize AIDS Quilt to Make it a Research Tool,” July 9, 2012.

Blackboard’s New Platform Strategy,” Annotated Link Here – Feldstein Quote. August 19, 2012.

The revolution might be televised,” July 22, 2012. Kate Bowles.

It’s a media, media media world.

If you’re doing academic research, you can now cite a Tweet.

From the MLA:


If you do project management, make it visual. In my workplace we’re seeing these “SCRUM boards” on every available wall. Some even include “buns in the oven” (the photo of the ultrasound is an example of media embedding):


If you want to make a point, use an Infographic (fancy name for a collage that’s informative, right?) :


Marketers always use media, your technology project might want to use it to help spin the change:


Why the Startup Weekend at Notre Dame’s Innovation Park Excites Me

54 hours. Friday April 13th at 6pm until Sunday April 15th at 3pm. Go home to sleep when/if they kick us out or you just can’t think another thought.

What we hope to accomplish: Lay the groundwork to start one or more new businesses in South Bend. Period.

What participants get paid: Nada. In fact, tickets to the event are $99.

Who will be the participants?

People like me. Really. People who care about our community and want to give back of our talents and creativity. People who can envision their satisfaction when driving by that new area business and being able to say, “I helped do that. I had a hand in designing their business model.” (Or coding their product, or designing their user experience or marketing their business).

People not like me. Some younger. Those testing their wings as entrepreneurs during their college careers at IU South Bend, Notre Dame, IU Purdue, and Bethel, all local area colleges. (Students only $50). Some older. Community Leaders. Businessmen who’ve done it already. Captains of Industry, if you will.

If you catch what I mean, click and register. See you there!

Metaphors for Sakai Community

As a participant observer at the Sakai Foundation conference in Los Angeles in June, I noted the conference itself…

  • Was held at a world class hotel (The Bonaventure)
  • Was a ‘budget’ affair for which neither the hotel nor a 3rd party AV vendor was contracted other than basic “comes with” conference venue room sound, wifi, and room lights (the podium was dark, sort of a ‘witness protection’ feel to the speakers)
  • Efforts to stream sessions were ad hoc
  • Presenters used free tools  (I saw Ustream,, and etherpad).
  • Presenters tended to overspeak their geek to audiences that appeared to me to often be less weighted toward fellow developers and technology folk and just as likely to be faculty and administrators
  • Session topics were often misleading, I ended up in several which turned out to be nothing like their titles
  • Everyone I spoke to was very informal, very jovial, and glad to be there
  • It was hard to spot the ‘leaders’ – not by apparel, swag, name badges, showmanship, or technology. Very egalitarian.
  • I’d say roughly 85% of the participants were carrying iPads.
  • There were no big name keynote speakers, no one to stamp “green” or “bold” or “innovative” on Sakai by virtue of their cool presence.

How did it feel?

The Sakai community is like a farmer’s co-op. Everybody tils the soil, grows the vegetables, sets up a booth, pays the rent and votes about next year. Edamame sells better than broccoli.

The Sakai community is like a Mennonite barn raising. When one calls for help, the rest may grouse about the time lost, the inconvenient season, the proposed style, the materials and tools chosen… but still they show up, roll up their sleeves and pitch in anyway. (I don’t think they get fed well for their participation, and it will take longer to finish but the job does get done!)

The Sakai community is like histoplasmosis or DED (Dutch elm disease)  … unwitting people carry the ethos around from place to place and it spreads organically like bat guano droppings on ones boots or that firewood carried in ones minivan halfway cross the state. There’s probably an air born version as well. It’s contagious.

Odious to IT

Multi-tasking craziness setting in.

Resulting from dead-ends that force me into a new task. Only to have it dead-end before completion.

Today is a good example.

I’m on a specialized VPN allowing me to reach servers to administer them. I’m also using a USB headset for my VOIP telephone connection. However, I can’t do both at the same time because the VPN won’t allow VOIP through. My deskphone and I are currently separated.

The Bb Vista servers aren’t responding to their jdbc connection change. Looks like a KB article applies. Oh, but wait. Not exactly. Stop DBAs, start Bb Support. Open ticket.

User says can’t login with email-based User ID I gave him since he’s a guest in our system. Oh no… I know exactly what is happening. Why do people do this? I say use your address as the UserID and password, then after you login, reset the password. Instead their fingers typed the gmail acct AND the gmail password. Wrote a more detailed email. They’ve been waiting for me to fix this for days. No fixing for me to do.

Phone call on other line (since I’m on the VPN still). Do I have the spreadsheet of the early adopters? No, I say, it’s on the wiki. While I’m hanging on the phone, they access wiki, can’t find it. I suspected that would be the upshot. Sure, I’ll send it to you. I hang up; I go to the wiki and can’t find it either. I hate confluence. It’s an attachment on some page but all the wiki users attach where they please. So much for collaboration.

Get the transition site up. But we have new standards. I must go to a website and make a request and provide a chargeback account number. So, first step, I must get aforementioned chargeback account number from someone. Find out who. Phone call. Referred to next person. Send that person email. Get number. Back to website. More options we need, more than the $300 I asked for. Okay, add $225 more to shopping cart. They’ll thank me when the questioning subsides. Get an email from the site, oh, it appears to be from the human who will set up my website, but the human is sending an out of office reply. Why is only one human being notified that I need this website? I will have to wait to put up content until next week. The point was to start quickly… Changing tasks.

Meanwhile my Office package after 60 days has decided it’s not activated and given me a 1 day until armeggedon warning. I call the Help Desk. Oh, this is happening a lot. Some of our wireless networks aren’t reaching our License activation server during the Office install (which I did manually and didn’t even realize there was an automated back end piece). I’m sent the path to a vbs script and the params to use with it to force it to contact the activation server. But I have to run as administrator and can’t remember where the magic juju is to start the cmd.exe as admin. Google that. Shoulda guessed. Rick-click menu before opening. My main expertise is not the desktop, that much is obvious.

Back to the wiki, can’t find the spreadsheet, need to upload from my desktop and also send to the Instructional Designer who needs it. And gotta get off this VPN, got an email that a phone call is coming in from someone wanting a special LMS course site set up. I’ll leave the Bb Vista jdbc problem for later – whenever I hear back from Blackboard support I suppose. Except that my own DBAs have a timeline to keep and will want me to get this going sooner than that…

Outside my window is crew of cement polishers. No wait, cement cutters. No wait, cement dust makers. The dust is covering my black pants. I’m on the inside. No open windows. How is this possible? The roaring of their drill bits and gasoline powered cranes fills my ears.