Tag Archives: community

GoCode CO 2015 (Year Two)

I just finished the AAR (After Action Report) Meeting, so now I figure it’s time to put my thoughts down, on this, my second year being a part of such a fun project.

tl;dr; GoCode CO 2015 was better than it’s predecessor, and a huge success. Both of which are kind of expected, you always want to improve, and we did.

I was much more involved this year over last. That was good, last year I felt under utilized, and never really involved beyond, “Show up and be put to work”, so it was nice to actually be involved. The team changed from last year to this, and while I enjoyed last years’ team, I think this year’s team really crushed it. We enjoyed working together, laughed a hell of a lot, and dealt with issues with style.

I was tasked not just with Challenge Weekend (I ran Ft. Collins again this year) but with all event logistics. Four events, two of which were weekend long events, two more party/reception/gala style, was a stretch and a fun challenge.

This year I’ve tried to branch out a bit and take on some event consulting work between my own events. Overall it’s been fun, but definitely a lesson in time and resource management.

I won’t go into granular details of each event, that’s not needed, they all went well, nothing went sideways, or at least overly sideways. My adopted city Ft. Collins took 2 out of the 3 winning spots, which is awesome. I’m sure my team is over hearing me crow about Ft. Collins, sorry all, can’t help it. :)

That said, this year every single team really brought their A game. The Apps were polished, the presentations (mostly) amazing.

It’s been very fulfilling to be a part of something like this, 5 cities around CO (Ft. Collins, Grand Junction, Durango, Co. Springs, Denver) sending 2 teams each to the final event. It’s awesome to see this kind of thing at the state level. Colorado is lucky to have such a cool project, striving to make CO even better than it is.

Oh and I will say, our current Sec. of State is a hoot! I got a chance to chat and hang out with him during Challenge Weekend (i think he hit 3-4 out of 5 cities, that’s impressive), and a little during the final event. Both times he was super cool to talk to. Hard to not like someone who laughs that much!

Event Consulting

I just wrapped up RWDevCon, which by all measures was a huge success. Kudos to Ray Wenderlich and his amazing team.

I handled logistics, and Ray’s team put together an amazing two days of tutorial based content.

For my part, things went well I think. Nothing too crazy came up with the hotel, the other group didn’t interfere with us at all. We didn’t run out of food, or have a projector crap out :) All win’s

This was my first “conference consulting” gig. I really enjoyed it and think I gave great value to the client (Ray).

I’m really excited to help make other events in the community awesome!

Also, I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined the AltConf 2015 team, so that’s gonna rock! I’ve sponsored, and volunteered in the past and this year I get to have a more direct role, which I love.

See you at AltConf! Or any of my 360|Conferences events; 360|intersect, 360|iDev or [360|iDev min] :)

 

So, I went to Hong Kong

IMG_0046

My travel journal.

tl; dr;

Had a great time, I’d go back. Their mass transit is amazing.

Long but I hope a good/interesting read.

I went for two reasons, Tom had asked me to go with him (he was attending a conference), and I figured I’d see if Hong Kong had an iOS community and would make for a good 360|iDev city. Sadly Hong Kong, won’t be a 360|iDev city. In talking with a few developers I learned 2 things; 1. there aren’t a ton of developers, let a lone iOS developers. 2. Developer is looked at like “Oh you couldn’t be a doctor or a banker”

Tom and I went to a pre hackathon intro to iOS Meetup, he helped, i hung around. The turn out was good, lots of newbies, lots of kids, but neither was a demographic for bringing 360|iDev, and sadly, neither is a group likely to immediately be in the market to attend 360|iDev Denver.

That’s ok though, that was part of the trip, and while not opening a new door, it certainly was informative, and I met some really cool folks.

The other part was tourism. Tom had a conference but i was hanging out.

Hong Kong island is pretty awesome. Think LA or Manhattan times 20. There’s no skyline, like those cities have, no visible change from low to high rises. It’s all high rises, everywhere.

Food.

We had some really great food (You can see my yelp reviews here). We only had one meal that was completely Meh. Everything else was good or great.

Lodging.

View from the executive lounge of the Renaissance Harbor View.

View from the executive lounge of the Renaissance Harbor View.

We stayed at 4 different hotels. Mostly out of necessity of our plans. First was the Renaissance. Very nice hotel. With points come privilege, we enjoyed a tasty buffet each morning on the executive level, which had amazing views out to the harbor.

After a few days there, we headed to Sha Tin. Basically a suburb to the north. That’s Where Tom’s conference was. After 1 day we both decided it’d be better if he trained in from Central vs. staying there, so we canceled the rest of the stay at the Courtyard Marriott Sha Tin, and booked at the JW Marriott in Central. I wanted the Renaissance, but they were booked. The JW is of course amazing. For what it costs (I used points) it had better, heck my phone even knew my name. Sadly we were only at the JW 2 nights before resuming our original plan. We wanted to make sure to see the Kowloon side of Hong Kong, so our last 4 nights were at the Mira Hotel. Each hotel was packed with friendly welcoming staff. Each room was very nice, with ample plugs (and the Marriott brands offer complimentary power converters in the room).

Kowloon.

Kowloon, is all the worst parts of Beverly Hills, the garment district in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and maybe 16th St Mall in Denver. High priced, up market stores everywhere, watch stores (by brand or ‘sells them all’) every other store front, every luxury brand had at least 3 stores. Annoying hucksters selling watches or tailoring services, and snobbery and euro trash everywhere. Where Hong Kong was bustling with business and life, Kowloon was bustling with Tourists. The Mira was a very nice hotel, but swank. Lots of mirrors and mirrored surfaces. The in house bar was intimidating chic, and the fancy restaurant was FANCY. The food was good though, and the staff amazing).

We ended up spending most of our Kowloon time, elsewhere. Really just one day was spent wandering around Kowloon. We did go to the History Museum and see an amazing history of Hong Kong exhibit, which went from pre-history to the departure of the British. It was amazing.

Overall though, Kowloon just didn’t have much that was interesting. The Temple St. Night Market was cool, but basically a flea market. Lots of crap electronics, knock offs, and clothing. Lots of food stalls and such.

We did stumble onto the filming of a TV show or movie. Suddenly there’s cops everywhere, and people with their hands cuffed behind their backs, and bags on their heads. It took a second to see the cameras. That was neat. It’s funny that they filmed right there without closing the street or anything. That’s how they roll i guess.

Hong Kong DisneyLand.

IMG_0053Unless you have extra time in your travel plans, skip it. It was a hair below “OK”. Not just a small park, which it is, but it felt like a pale shadow of a DisneyLand, or even a knock off. We did end up spending the entire day there (starting around 11a) but that was mainly because Tom wanted to see the fireworks display (they sucked).  I was told the plan is to expand gradually and avoid what nearly happened to Euro Disney, makes sense. Maybe in another 5 years the park will be awesome. There’s some HK specific stuff, and the food was way better than what you’d get in Anaheim, but beyond that, really it was meh, at best.

Hong Kong Island.

The highlight of the trip was here. The island is insane. Huge buildings everywhere, lots of small food stalls and restaurants. The best meals we had were all in Central, whether well known fancy places or hole in the wall local favorites. Getting around was cake, whether walking (lots of raised sidewalks, and bridges make getting around easy, or taking the MTR or double decker light rail bus thing. Victoria peak, walking along the water, the ICC (with immense Apple store), everything we did in Central Hong Kong was fun.

Occupy Hong Kong.

IMG_0214We knew this was taking place, but weren’t sure how close we’d be or what was going on. Turns out we were close. The JW Marriott was in Admiralty where the bulk of the protest was happening, and a few times we walked right past or over (via raised sidewalks) the protest area. It was interesting to see, so many tents and barricades. While we were there the police were getting ready to kick out the groups, and one night a few of them broke through a side door of the gov’t building they were in front of. Overall it seemed fairly peaceful, but we weren’t there when the planned eviction was going to take place.

 Transportation.

Just about everywhere I go outside the US and a few places inside (Chicago, NY) I get very jealous of the mass transit options. The only times we took a cab were when there was no train or when we were in a hurry (so, in total 3x). Otherwise the MTR was amazingly useful. Stations are everywhere, connections to other lines abound, it’s the model of what I’d love to see here. Want to go to Boulder from Highlands Ranch? Take a line into Downtown, transfer to the boulder line, done. Fast, inexpensive, easy, low stress.

Even trying to get around with luggage isn’t too terrible, you’re restricted to taking lifts much of the time, which are slow and usually small and cramped, but totally doable.

I’m very jealous of Hong Kong’s MTR. Denver especially should look to what they’re doing. There’s certainly good models stateside, The “L” in Chicago, Metro in DC, etc. Heck even LA has managed to implement subways, Los Freakin’ Angeles. And Denver Still has almost useless (except for commuters) light rail that YAY! now goes to Golden.

Obviously miles and miles of subway isn’t an overnight thing, but man, the benefits are amazing.

Culture.

IMG_0239I Debated adding this, I hate generalizing about culture, but well, it was pretty universal in 11 days of being in Hong Kong. For one thing personal space is a non thing, understandably, the residences are small, the trains are croweded, etc. That’s actually fine, especially when I tower over most others, and have weight on my side, I need some room, start wiggling to make space, problem solved.

Selfies EVERYWHERE. Old, young, male, female, they had selfie sticks. Yes that’s a thing, that’s what it’s called. They were everywhere, HK Disney, MTR stations, the street. We saw people on the steps to big buddha primping for a selfie, that didn’t even include big buddha. It was a little ridiculous. I know it’s very well stereotyped (asians love taking pictures) but man it was very supported. We saw people focus so much on the perfect selfie the missed the thing that was happening.

They have no concept of waiting in line. Yes there’s lines everywhere, but it seems totally ok to at least attempt to cut the line. Maybe you’ll get scolded, but maybe not, so they just walk up to lines and try to merge in. It seemed the acceptable responses included saying something (No idea what, but it was never very confrontational) maneuvering the line cutter out passively, which seemed to be perfectly ok, or simply letting them cut. It was very interesting.

 

So there you go, some random slightly organized thoughts on my two weeks (ish) in Hong Kong. Thanks to my pal Tom for creating the reason to go.

Just Vote

I don’t really care who you vote for, though I certainly hope you align with me :)

Really though, i don’t care. I care about Americans being so apathetic we sit around, bitch about political ads, bitch about whomever is in office, and then come voting day, we’re “too busy”, “Don’t care enough, the other guy’s gonna win anyway, the news said so” etc. We’re often our own worst enemy.

On Columbus day I saw tweets going around about taking Columbus day as a national holiday and giving it to Native Americans (which is certainly better than Columbus day) but the one I liked the most, make Election day a national holiday. 

Remove the biggest excuses for low turn out.

Until that happens, though, it’s on us. I’ve voted in every election since I turned voting age. I’ve asked to leave work early, I’ve waiting in hour plus long lines. It’s important to me.

I wish my voice carried more weight, I wish we put .. well all things, above who can spend the most, maybe someday we will. Maybe when voter turnout nationwide is closer to 90% than 60% (honestly I was surprised it was that high) the will of the people will matter.

All that to say, please vote. If you live in a state (Like CO) with mail in ballots, you have NO EXCUSE. You’re a terrible, person, and worthless ‘merican if you couldn’t even put a stamp on an envelope or go for a walk and drop the ballot in a box. If you have to go to a polling place tomorrow, I sympathize, but still urge you to do it. You may not think your vote/voice matters, but it’s hard to ignore a chorus.

GO VOTE.

Denver Startup Week 2014 Review (Part 2)

This year i had the pleasure to be in charge of our headline events for the week (basically the 6-9 slot each day), and it went pretty well. Last year three of us manned the top spot, and it was kinda chaotic, and stressful. In the end it all worked out, but was exhausting. This year i decided to be more relaxed. Matt and Kerianne were on the team and between us we divided the headline events and empowered each organizer to make their event rock, and scream when they needed us. It mostly worked.

So what fell under my ownership?

The opening night Party (Elyse and Maggie executed it). It was awesome. Nearly a thousand people in the Union Station main hall, DJs, interactive street arcade games on the ceiling (Courtesy of Oh Heck Yeah!) and lots of tasty drinks. The entire event was a blast, and everyone seemed to really have fun.

Insight Night (Executed by Terry, Rick and Jared) was one of my favorite events. For a few reasons really. Based on Ignite, run by members of the awesome Ignite Denver team (Ignite Denver 18 is coming up soon, get your ticket now!), and taking what’s great about Ignite, and what’s great about DSW and mashing them together. I’m excited to see Insight Night grow and become a major part of the week.

The Startup Crawl (Rocked, by Elyse) was finally awesome. Each year it’s tried to be this massive city wide showcase, and each year it becomes this massive city-wide boondoggle. Elyse decided to limit it to those companies actually in downtown, and offer up spots at Basecamp by Chase for others from farther outside downtown. It was awesome. I stopped a few places, and each had lots of folks enjoying the hospitality of some of our most awesome Denver Startups

Denver Founders Network (Chris and soon to be dad Josh) is easy to work with. It’s an awesome monthly meetup and they know their shit. They had a great panel lined up. It was fun to watch.

The only day time Headline event this year was the Startup Resource Fair. Which was like a Job fair (which was awesome, packed and amazingly attended) but for service providers. I think this year laid some great groundwork for that being a cool addition to DSW. Cari rocked it this year. For the Startup Job Fair, a packed room is a blessing and a curse, but for sure show’ed how hot the tech job market is in Denver. Derek and Josh killed it as usual. Who doesn’t like a job fair with a DJ!

Lastly was the closing party, at Galvanize. Brady did her usual awesome job bringing food, drink and the Denver Startup Community together. There had to be over a thousand people inside and out of Galvanize, and it was amazing. Bumping into people who had a great week, were pumped about the community, and excited about next year. I even ran into an old co-worker from CA, who moved to CO after I did, and now works for a company downtown.

 

Anyhow, kinda long, but wow, Denver Startup Week 2014, was all kinds of awesome and amazing and I’m proud of the work the team did this year. See you in 2015!

I’m Helping Organize RWDevCon!

So for a while now I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some event consulting. I’m good at what I do (at least I like to think so) and so I’ve thought it’d be fun to do it for others.

I’m officially working with Ray Wenderlich on RWDevCon (get your tickets now!), set for early 2015. I’m really excited.

Ray is an awesome guy (and his wife Vickie rocks!) and they’re huge parts of the iOS community. When he approached me with the idea of doing a small event centered around his website and it’s amazing authors, i jumped at the chance. It fits with what i love doing, events that are focused on community, not just doing an event to do an event.

Part of my 2015 plan is to get more involved, and helping organize other stuff is part of it, attending other stuff is the other. No I won’t be attending events that compete with me and trying to poach speakers, that’s shady. There’s lots of awesome events out there and I haven’t experienced them.

The first part of my plan is RWDevCon. I’m excited to see this kinda once in a lifetime (or year) gathering of the folks that contribute to making raywenderlich.com such an awesome asset to the iOS developer community.

Go grab your ticket now, see you in DC!

Denver Startup Week 2014 review (Part 1)

What a ride.

Timing wise, this year was great, 360|iDev was behind me, [360|iDev min] (still time to buy your ticket!) was in front, and DSW fell in the middle. I was able to enjoy the week a lot more than i did last year.

I spent most of the week at the “Basecamp by Chase” (I think we have to call it that, LOL) and it was great; good internet, meals, and plenty of coffee (and beer in the afternoons). It was a great central place for me to work from for both 360|Conferences stuff as well as my DSW duties.

Basecamp was always a hub of activity, not only was there a lot of awesome programming taking place, but people were having meetings, folks were bumping into each other, etc. There was so much energy at Basecamp by Chase it was hard to not get excited each morning when I walked in. The politicians all stopped by for a visit, which is always kinda cool.

Oh yeah, I got to meet and shake hands with the Governor. Funny story…

I was overseeing the Startup Resource Fair, our only non 6-9 event, and I had just walked 8ish blocks at my typical fast pace from Wynkoop Brewing back to Basecamp by Chase. I knew the Governor was there, or had been. When i arrived Tami Door was outside and I joked about being inconvenienced by our elected officials dropping in willy-nilly. We chatted then she blurts out “Let me introduce you”

Oh crap! I had just power walked 8 blocks, os quickly wiped sweat and dried palms. Hick was making his way clear of the crowd and Tami jumps up and does the intro. We say hi, shake hands, Tami tells him my role in the week. We make a little small talk about the week and Basecamp by Chase. Then when you’d expect us to part, we don’t so now I’m standing there looking at Hick, and trying to decide what say next. I stammer a little more about the Week and such, babble about it being an honor to meet, and back away. All this happens while shutters are clicking all around me. That was fun..

So yeah, Denver Startup Week was awesome. I enjoyed being a part of it. I think Next year will be even more epic.