Tag Archives: government

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.

Denver Startup Week 2013

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It’s Back! If you missed last years Startup week, make sure you’re paying attention this year!

It’s gonna be bigger and better (My Prediction).

I’m really excited about it, and hope to be even more involved than I was last year. I really want Denver to be a big player in the startup space. At least personally I want to help get boot strapped startups more love. I know VC makes the world go ’round, but think it’s important, especially in a city like Denver, that we make sure to highlight and give love to the boot strappers out there (of which I’m one).

You can sign up to be on the mailing list right now. Organization is just starting so if you’re interested in helping out or being involved in some way, get on the mailing list.

 

Dear Gov’t please fix existing problems first

I worked on the title of this post for a while, and it’s often tough to be clear and succinct at the same time. I think it works.

Take a minute and click the bar over my top banner or this link. It’s definitely important.

I don’t think anyone (well maybe the 1%) would argue that it’s a pretty fucked up time in America right now. Record unemployment and foreclosures. The Middle class is vanishing faster than Bengal tigers, and the wealthiest 1% is quickly rising to essentially a ruling class. Didn’t we have a revolution about that notion? Before anyone jumps in. I don’t care if the rich are rich, nor do I think they should just give away money to balance the scales. That’s not the same as expecting a bit more equal playing field to compete and earn money.

We’ve got banks making terrible decisions, doing shady ass deals to get richer, and then being bailed out by the government because we let them get so big, failing would further damage our fragile economy.

We’ve got small businesses struggling (mine included) to stay afloat while big businesses get loans and buy outs. You know, I’d love it if the American public owned a portion of my business, can I get a small bail out loan?

And while all this is going down the government is trying to install a kill switch on the internet. You know like what Egypt and the rest of the middle east, and of course China, like to use when their citizens get uppity wanting peace and freedom from oppression.

I’m against anything that puts the internet in the control of anyone, especially a government or corporation. I think it’s a US responsibility that the internet be free, open and as makes sense unrestricted. I remember watching the news feeds, and of course tweets about shit going down in Egypt and elsewhere. People rising up against their corrupt and sure I’ll say it, evil, governments. The first thing almost every government does in that situation is kill the internet. I remember thinking how strong and brave those folks were not having twitter, Facebook, etc to use to rally. Having to rely basically on old school approaches, and risky in person exchanges before rallies to spread the word. I thought how impressive for one thing, and how sad. And mostly how lucky I felt that such bullshit didn’t happen here. Heck we’ve got popular revolts in many major cities right now, enabled, supported, and enboldened by the internet.

How many occupy(city name) websites do you think there’d be if the US government could simply turn off the net. Block sites they don’t like or that disagree with their world view?

It bums me out when people we elected to office do things that are so far from what the general population wants, let alone cares about. I mean really, do our law makers think the guy who’s struggling to make his mortgage cares about whether the internet has a kill switch?

Think he’s concerned right now as he decides which bill to pay and which to put off until the second notice, that the government is enabling big business to come in and shut down sites that they think might be poaching their shit. Sites where someone made a disparaging comment on a blog post, etc.

He doesn’t care, he can’t.¬†Oh wait, i guess that’s probably their plan… silly me.

 

Go click the link up above, it really is important.

Denver’s Initiative 300. Good idea, bad implementation

I just had a twitter chat (twchat? twat? Chitter? I dunno) with my friend LeVar about Initiative 300 on the Denver ballot.

I’m voting no, he’s voting yes.

The right answer, there isn’t one, at least not in the current initiative.

Here’s my understanding of 300. It forces small businesses to provide paid sick time for employees. This is great, and it bums me out we need a law for what should be a no brainer. Employees shouldn’t have to choose health vs. income. If you’re sick don’t go to work (obviously that can be gamed to no end, and happens all the time).

However many small businesses (Mine included) exist on the knife’s edge. Thankfully we don’t have any employees beyond Nicole and myself right now, because if we did, something like 300 would likely force us to lay off those employees and/or close our doors. No one wins in that scenario.

I’m an altruist. I admit it, and am not ashamed of it. My conferences are cheap because I think thats the right thing to do. I could probably charge more now, and make a lot more money. But that’s not what I believe is the right course of action. In my perfect world businesses do the right thing for all concerned NOT just shareholders. When they can they offer benefits, 401k, etc to their employees, they do it. When they can’t, they don’t. The obvious goal being to provide for your employees because they’re hugely valuable.

Things like 300 make the assumption that small business owners are slime bags, who choose to work their people to the bone and treat them like disposable resources. Some do, some don’t. 300 doesn’t care which you fall into. 300 forces a single course of action no matter what.

 

My solution? It just now occurred to me while thinking “I wish I had a better answer”. Now I do. I’m very anti laws to enforce behavior. They never work out like expected, and tend to do more bad than good. So how’s about this.

Instead of forcing small businesses to provide something they may not be able to provide therefore forcing them to close their doors (hello, bad for the economy). Give a tax credit to those who can/do provide paid time off? Those small businesses that can’t do it lest they go under, don’t suffer and can try to become a business that can provide for it’s people. Those businesses that can provide paid time off, get a break. Maybe it’s 50% of the total paid time off they offered over the year, i don’t know.

I don’t like adding laws, but if we have to add them, let’s make them rewards for doing the right thing, not barriers and limiters. Heck, you could even make the reward something that comes out of quarterly taxes, so that employers see a more immediate return on their trying to provide a good work environment?

What do you think? I’m still voting no on 300 because it’s a bad idea as it stands. I’d vet yes in a heartbeat for something like what I’ve proposed.

The Demise of Travel by Rail makes me sad

I have very fond memories of traveling from LA to Seattle by train with my mom and sister as a kid. It was part of our summer vacation, visiting friends and family. It was great. Watching the landscape fly by from the glass walled observation car. Grabbing snacks at the snack bar. Being able to get up and walk the length of the train whenever I wanted. And, watching some crappy 4 year old movie at night in the obs. car with everyone else (well a small subset of ‘everyone’).

It was great. It was slow yes, but that wasn’t the point.

It’s less the point now. With 3/4G networks and Mifi devices, time on a train can be (if you want) time spent working.

Rail travel’s worst enemy is amtrak.

I saw this article last night and it made me think of the few times in the last few years I’ve said, “Screw it, I’m taking the train, the TSA and airlines have gone too far!” Then I look up the price of traveling by train, and buy my ticket on Frontier. :(

Amtrak clearly doesn’t get their place in 2011. They’re slow. Sometimes slower than walking if you count the multi-hour delays that are all too common. When you’re the slowest option, you can’t be the most expensive. Unless of course trains are gold plated, and staffed by super-models and VC’s with money to burn, but they’re not.

Want power on your ride? you’re looking at far more money. It’s a shame. Realistically, even with it taking hours or even days longer than air travel, so long as you can work and be productive, it’s not time lost. I can’t use my laptop on airlines. I’m not short, and I almost always have that dick head who needs to be as close to horizontal as possible, no matter what time of day the flight is, right in front of me. Air travel is reading and watching videos time. I’d work on a train, even if just some of the time.

The article i linked to also points out lack of high speed rail, and I agree completely. Having traveled Italy by train when we went, it was amazing. Every stop was in the city center, near the local metro or taxis. Each train was fast or high speed. Even the rickety kinda scary train we had on one leg, zipped along and we were there in no time. It’s a shame our society can’t see past “immediate profits” and “instant gratification” to be more supportive of rail. More over though, it’s a shame Amtrak makes us not like them, and encourages us to not support them. I’m as guilty as the next person, I’d train it, but factoring in delays, and 2-3x the price of an airline ticket… it’s hard to take a stand and support something so broken.

During President Obama’s state of the union, he talked about high speed rail. I hope that becomes a reality. I really think fast reliable rail service would ease the burden on airlines and possibly help them be more profitable, and would make travel more enjoyable.

Free speech, so long as you don’t say anything

I read this article the other day about a dude getting arrested for a tweet.

My first reaction was, What. The. Fuck.

My second and third, after reading the article, the same.

The most obvious sign of retardedness to me is, in all the terror attacks of late, dating back to 9/11. Have the terrorists been telegraphing their moves? I mean they outfox our CIA, FBI, and groups I don’t know exist. Our TSA doesn’t seem able to stop a determined terrorist, so why on earth do we think terrorists are tweeting their plans?

I mean is someone tweeting, considered a good lead? Is there no place left where someone can make a flippant comment (often out of frustration, or in this case, concerns over weather)?

Is twitter the intelligence and law enforcement communities only source of leads?

Come on folks, really? This is getting out of control. I fully understand it’s a crime to yell fire in a movie theatre, and you’d be daft to walk thru security making jokes about the bomb in your luggage, but now we can’t even tweet without fear the police will come and confiscate our laptops, phones, etc?

Boo on anyone associated with the mentioned incident, and boo on our police and intelligence communities if they can’t filter a real threat from someone making a flip remark on twitter.

I wonder if any terrorists are following me on twitter? If so, please (anonymously is fine) leave a comment and let me know if you routinely announce your plans in a tweet.

The IP Czar cometh

So our soon to be ex-President has gone ahead and created a really lame goverment post. I thought republicans were anti big government? Didn’t this new Czar make government a bit bigger?

the Pro-IP Act, essentially makes being a consumer a crime, yippy!

Techcrunch has a good write up on.

I’m completely opposed to the idea. I think IP should be protected, but I think making everyone feel like a criminal for using their purchased goods how they want, is not the way to go about it.

Not only will laws like this Pro-IP act make pirates more active, but it’ll further hurt innovation, and make purchasing that much more difficult. People will not want to create for fear of whatever DRM is in place making their offering less interesting.

TC has a good point, and I agree. Either candidate in our current election, would really shine in the tech sector if they can ignore the reationary, “If it ain’t broke…” industry lobbyists and guide American IP and copywright law into the current, let alone the next century.