Events are easy

until they’re not.

They’re easy when it’s someone elses money you’re working with, or when there’s no real money on the line to begin with. Or when your name and reputation aren’t attached to it.

They’re very much not easy when it’s your money and/or reputation on the line.

Last Friday afternoon i made one of the hardest business decisions I’ve ever had to make, whether to cancel an event.

I cancelled the event. 360|intersect 2014, that was to take place in Seattle next week, isn’t happening. Ticket sales were way too low. I had kept hoping the flood gates would open in the last two weeks, as often is the case with events, but finally had to admit defeat, no one was coming. Well not no one, but not enough, by a long shot.

I’ve never had to cancel an event before, I’ve been in spots where i probably should have, but didn’t. This was the first time i made the call. I spent the weekend calling the speakers and talking to them about it, thankfully each one has been awesome and supportive of the decision.

Today I’ve been emailing sponsors, the venue, the hotel, refunding attendees, etc. Working out the details of unwinding an event.

I’m losing money, but I’m losing less than had i gone through with it, in terms of money but also my reputation and the reputation of the event.

 

Events are easy, except when they’re not.

Why 360|intersect means so much to me.

tl;dr;
Buy a ticket to 360|intersect, thank me afterward. Hate it, I’ll give you your ticket fee back.

But really, read this.

I created 360|intersect last year, after 3 years of it sitting in my brain, waiting to hatch. The seed was planted by Doug McCune, in 2010 at 360|Flex DC. One of our worst performing 360|Flex events.
Doug gave a talk about “taking the Tangent” (The link is to a recording of the talk, watch it now and come back, or save for later, but watch it).

That talk really stuck with me, like i said, it was the seed.

Since that talk, I’ve made sure every event after it no matter the audience, had at least one or two talks that stoked the fires of inspiration and creativity.

Last year, in talking to Ben Reubenstein and Brent Simmons at very different times they both suggested something like 360|intersect. I mentioned Doug’s talk, and similar ones, and both agreed it sounded like something that should exist.

So I did it. I hand picked people from all the spaces of tech i knew (Flex, Mobile, web, business, and more) and invited them to Seattle to share their stories. You can see the recordings here.

It wasn’t a large event. It wasn’t supposed to be, i wanted it small, exlusive, cozy. I didn’t want a TED or TEDx sized monster. I wanted something approachable, where speakers left the stage, and took a seat in the audience, where everyone could fit on a single duck.

From what I can tell, everyone loved it.

From the moment we wrapped up 360|intersect 2013, i was thinking about 2014. Who to invite? Who to ask for recomendations?

I think this years line up is every bit as awesome as last. In fact maybe more so, because there’s a few people in the line up that are recommendations from people i admire. The speaker line up has grown beyond my meager circle of friends. WIN.

360|intersect, isn’t a technical conference, it’s an inspirational one. Hell it’s not even a conference, it’s an ‘event’. Everyone there wants to learn and grow, whether speaking or sitting in the audience.

TEDx type events are great, and the ideas spread are amazing, but they’re not approachable, and they’re not exclusive. I look back at 360|intersect, at the Millennial Media Jones soda contest, at the duck tour, at hearing people i know and admire for their technical expertise talking about running, race care driving, magic, hiking, and more, and i can’t help but smile.

I’ve watched and re-watched last years recordings, because when i need a kick in the pants to write, or be more involved in Denver and get outside my shell, they do the trick.

Go get a ticket, you’ll thank me, and if you hate it, well you had a nice few days in Seattle, and I’ll give you your ticket fee back.

I don’t want to see 360|intersect go away. I believe in it’s value to people. I believe it can have a positive impact on people’s lives. Marketing something like this is hard, really hard. I don’t have crazy TED money, or crazy TED name recognition. I have me, this blog and twitter.

Can’t make it, want to help me out? Share this. Share a link, it all helps. If i had a passion project within 360|Conferences, this is it.

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Would you like to mentor teams Competing in GoCode CO?

UnknownIf you didn’t know, i’m helping organize events for the GoCode CO campaign. It’s a pretty cool thing that the Secretary of State is organizing. It starts with hackathons taking place all over CO. Actually there’s a kick off event, but the fun starts with the hackathons.

I’m running the Fort Collins event (feel free to sign up!!) but there’s going to be events in Boulder, Durango, Grand Junction, and Colorado Springs as well.

The hackathons are the weekend of the 21st. Teams will compete around building apps around state data. Solving problems that exist now.

Here’s where you come in. We need mentors for a check in event that follows the hackathons. April 5th at the awesome Convercent office we’ll be bringing the winning teams from each city together to spend the day talking to mentors from all corners of startup’ness.

We’ve got a sign up form, here. We need about a dozen or so more mentors than we have at the moment. We want to make sure each team has the opportunity to talk to lawyers, business people, sales people, tech people, etc.

Unlike other hackathons, the winners don’t go home at the end of Sunday, done. With money and possible State contracts up for grabs, the teams that win the hackathons are just starting a journey that ends May 9th.

To make sure the teams are as supported as possible, this mentor checkin day is a big deal. If you have something you can share with aspiring new startups, please sign up, there’ll be snacks and coffee, I promise :)

If you’ve got any questions, just let me know.

I like this stylus! My Review of the TrueGlide Apex

I’ve been on a hunt for a stylus i like for a while now.

I tried the O-Stylus, but was afraid I’d break it, but it is beautiful and I’m excited to own one of the first.

I tried the Lunatik Pen, it’s great, but more a typical sausage stylus, squishy tip, kinda looks like a penis. BUT, it’s a great pen!

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I backed the Trueglide stylus on kickstarter and it arrived a few weeks ago. LOVE IT. It’s nice to hold, and easy to use. Best of all since it’s not Bluetooth (more on that later) it works with any app, no API needed.

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Click for larger

What i like is that the tip is actually the size of a pen tip, it’s not a big bulky finger sized tip that obscures the screen. The creators came up with a cool solution. The Trueglide generates a field that the capacitive screen reads as a finger, despite the size of the tip that’s actually touching the screen. Therefore I can see where I’m

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working. Pretty inventive, and it works damn well. I use Paper to doodle, and you can see it works quite well.

There’s a lot to like about this stylus. It’s lightweight, easy to use and not at all hard on the eyes. There’s even a nice little hump on the top pieces that’s there to keep the stylus from rolling away, great idea. While it is light, it’s durable. I’m much less worried about carrying it around in my bag. I might use the pouch it came with, but wouldn’t freak out if it was just in a pen slot in my bag.

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While note taking on the iPad is still not quite there (writing notes, not typing them) the Trueglide definitely has gotten close. The note to the left was written pretty slowly, I’d never be able to make notes in a lecture or meeting or anything. Maybe i need to start doing sketch notes, that’d probably work better.

I only two complaints with it and neither are huge or deal breakers at all.

1. I’d rather some type of push button to turn it on. To turn it on/off you twist the top, which is also how you change the battery. Kinda like a maglite. Not a big deal but can be annoying, one review i read, the user twisted the wrong way too tight (PEBKAC for sure, but still) and broke it.

2. I love the price point of this unit, but would probably have paid more to have BTLE, and an API. Kinda like how Paper (IIRC) can tell Pencil from finger, so you could erase with a finger, draw with the Pencil, etc. I think there’s some cool stuff that could be done with something like that. Again, not a deal breaker and it certainly hasn’t hampered my use of it.

If you’re looking for a stylus for your iPad, I’d definitely take a look at the Trueglide Apex, it’s pretty damn nice. No squishy tip, doesn’t block out the point of contact on the screen, I’m still on the original AAAA battery with moderate use most days.

Defend the internet

Why something that was born from academia, transcends (mostly) national borders, and brings together people and idea, even needs defending is beyond me. That said, it’s clearly not beyond our government. Whether it’s the NSA or our congressmen, it seems like the fight for a free and neutral internet hasn’t stopped in years. When one idiotic bill is killed (SOPA/PIPA) another is introduced with much the same goals.

I’m taking part in today, because I think it’s a big deal. Already we’re seeing the effects of a less than neutral internet, and it’s been less than a month.  Many have posted great examples of what a non neutral network could look like, and sadly the above is one that was common “…Now imagine a future where Netflix streaming is twice as expensive after 6PM. Where a single Skype call costs as much as a monthly landline.

Or simply throttled into unusability.

 

My kingdom for a Stylus

Well maybe a sub-kingdom, or duchy i don’t care about. My pal Terry wrote up a review of the Pencil by 53, which got me thinking about my next stylus. Terry did an awesome job and even did a tl;dr; flowchart for deciding if Pencil is right for you. In his view (and I agree after playing with his for 5 minutes) unless you use only Paper, and don’t care about exact precision, and have money to burn, don’t bother.

Next, yes. I have more than one.

I’ve tried the shit ones, with the nub made of foam.. they’re all crap. Squishy, weird, not remotely precise and of course not “smart”.

touch_pen_square_silveralloy_400x400_db_120516.mediumI have a Touch Pen that i like quite a bit. It’s also not “smart” but it’s capable. For one it’s just a nice pen, and I love me some pens. It’s my go to pen, i cary it everywhere, even when I’m not carrying my iPad. It’s just a damn nice pen.

As a stylus, it’s ok. It’s not as squishy as those foam jobs, but definitely very squishy still. It’s a rubber tip that works the same as the foam crap. It has a large tip (he he) so precision is nonexistent. I kickstarted it, because the makers are cool and I know they don’t make crappy stuff. I doubt I’d pay retail, but right now they appear to be on sale for $20, I’d pay that. If nothing else it’s an awesome pen, and a usable stylus.

a0367e31ec3e734e486187410995e957_largeMy ‘next’ stylus has me really excited. It might even arrive this week, who knows. It’s another kickstarter project, the TruGlide Apex. As with all kickstarter projects there’s a fair bit of hope involved. What i liked about this was that it’s “smart” in the sense that it’s BT and powered. It’s not made by an app maker and they’re working with app makers to add support. My hope is that they continue working with app makers, and that the apps I love (and those that don’t exist yet) leverage this tool. I also like that the tip isn’t huge and foamy. The site explains how it works, but basically it generates a field that mimics a finger, while having a foot print much smaller. My biggest gripe is that I can’t write with other stylii because the tip is so big it obscures what I’m doing and makes me have to write much larger than i should.

When Pencil was announced i had two reactions; 1. that’s pretty 2. Shit, that means they likely won’t support many if any other ‘smart’ stylii. It’s also unlikely other apps would support Pencil, though who knows, maybe 53 will release (or have they and I don’t know) an API.

So yeah, having seen Terry’s Pencil, I’m really excited to try out my TruGlide (why does it have to sound like it’s lube??!) when it arrives.

I’ll post an update once it arrives and I play with it, in the meantime, what’s everyone else using for stylii? Please don’t waste anyone’s time with “If apple wanted you to use a stylus they’d sell one, your finger is just fine” posts. If stylii aren’t for you, great.

My Hobby Isn’t Worth a Single Life.

I was at the gym the other night and this notion popped into my head. I was on a cardio machine and the numerous TVs around the space were covering the recent shooting at a high school in CO. It was incredibly sad to watch, whether it was teens rallying around a wounded classmate, or the sad statement from the devastated parents of the shooter. How do you reconcile the grief of loosing your child, against the evil he committed against others? I can’t even begin to imagine their pain.

This was the thought as it popped into my head. I captured it on my iphone so I wouldn’t lose it.

“If someone said kindles were directly responsible for thousands of deaths a year. I’d smash it on the ground and go back to reading paper books. I wouldn’t shift blame.  I wouldn’t posture about how it was the authors that were responsible or the readers. I wouldn’t propose half measures like making kindles softer or capable of loading fewer books. I’d smash it and never look back and be thankful so many lives were spared.”

I know that’s an over simplification but in many ways it’s not. I know a lot of ‘gun collectors’ who rarely if ever hunt. Not that i think hunting is an acceptable use either, but I can respect it as an activity. And frankly collecting guns is the same as collecting anything and in my case, it’s books. My hobby isn’t worth a single life.
I know guns is a hot button topic, and honestly I’m not interested in debating it, because I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no negotiating on this matter. This is my opinion, everyone is welcome to theirs. By all means leave a comment, but if the discussion turns nasty, I’ll shut it down. I just wanted to share an insight I had.