Tag Archives: Steve Jobs

Denver Startup Culture

tl; dr;

Is Broken, but fixable.

the long form:

I got into a Facebook fight with a CEO the other day. He was mad i said a blog post on his site was click bait (which it was, but the popular term is content marketing). I was mad because it doled out praise for “making Denver Startup Week happen” to a group of people that certainly did participate in the week, but only 1 was a member of our actual team that drives the event, AKA “Making it happen”. As a member of the team that makes it happen i was a bit insulted. Not that i was not included, but that my work was being ascribed to others. Coincidentally in an effort to quantify my time, I track it (not 100% well, yet), this year i spent approximately 160 hours on Denver Startup week. Had I billed for that time it’d be over $10,000. That’s not a small investment on my part, it’s larger than several sponsorship levels in fact. I don’t say that as a “I do more than you” just as a statement of what i  do, and it’s relative value.

The next day (i kid you not) i see a blog post by builtin Colorado that says there’s no coworking in LoDo. When in fact I helped launch Uncubed, which started in RiNo but has been in LoDo (15th and Blake) for mmm 3 years now, and has existed longer than built in Colorado. Several other places were mentioned as “nearby options”, all are commonly written about in Builtin and/or Tech crunch because they raise money (which to be clear is totally fine).

That’s the crux of what I think is broken in our community. A focus on money raised. On exits. Not on who’s building and running businesses. 

I think raising money is fine, I think selling your company for tons of money is fine, i think talking about those things is fine. They’re obviously economic drivers, they creates jobs, etc. They’re sexy and attract attention.

But.

We’re making our focus around the “Denver startup community” solely about who’s raised how much, how much did the company sell for. We talk about how much VC money flooded Denver in a given time period, but we’re ignoring those companies that form, and continue to exist that don’t take VC money. Uncubed Started with no money from anyone but the three founders. 360|Conferences, started with nothing at all. Last year we had revenue of about $250,000.

We’re not talking about companies that have been around years, are profitable, are doing things. Sure they’re less ‘sexy’ and often (but not always) employee fewer people, but they’re contributing to the Denver community just as much (and I feel more) as the latest well funded Tech Crunch darling, that may or may not even exist next year.

So, all that said, I think that’s now the goal for my blogging efforts. I don’t know if that will be here on my blog or if I’ll spin up something new. I’d like to get a few folks to help me cover things. There’s more to the story of Denver’s amazing startup scene than is being talked about, and I think it’s time we fixed that.

Want to know more, stay tuned. Want to help, let me know.

Two things I’m very proud of

The other day I had the opportunity to take part in something super awesome. I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to get involved.

HouseOfGeniusLogo-smaller

House of Genius, is to be blunt, awesome. I had the opportunity to present at the last gathering/meeting/whatever it’s called. I like Assemblage of awesome myself.

Anyhow, the basic idea is a small group of people, all anonymous beyond just a first name. Those selected to present their idea have 5 minutes to present it. There’s some Q&A, then some “Sit and listen to what we say without responding” and at the end of the presentations, (usually only 2-3 I think) there’s the “reveal” where everyone introduces themselves; who they are, what they do, etc.

It’s really awesome. I presented something I’m working on and got tons of feedback and introductions. It was very valuable. If they’ll have me, I’ll be happy to be back, it was that awesome of an experience.

 

vis_1The other thing I’m currently really proud of is 360|intersect. It’s an event I’m organizing that’s 100% different than I’ve ever done before. It’s not a technical event, not a hackathon, or summit. They easiest way to describe it, is TED minus the Douche baggery. It’s a group of awesome speakers, from across the events I’ve done and beyond, talking about what they’re passionate about, what makes them awesome technologists.

It’s coming up the end of this month, if you’re in Seattle or just want to spend a weekend being inspired, riding WWII Amphibious vehicles and nerding out with folks from all different technical circles, use “johnsblog” to save 20% when you register.

I can’t wait. Seattle is awesome in the spring, I’ve got lots of friends there, and we’ll be right downtown at an awesome venue, nerding out indoors and out.

 

Hope you can make it! It’s gonna be fun.

Stop comparing everything to an iPad

WiiU controller as a helper for game play

I get it, we all love our iPads, i love mine. I’ve tried Blackberries, droids and such, and am back with an iPad.

But, that doesn’t mean every consumer device with a screen should be compared to one!

I was at a Nintendo event last week, for a sneak preview of their new WiiU. (Pronounced, I think. We you).

The big new feature of the WiiU is the game pad controller dealy. Which has a large screen (Which seems to be enough to warrant a comparison to the iPad).

During the event I asked a lot of questions of the demo wranglers, to make sure I knew exactly what the WiiU was, and how it was gonna fit into my life. Doing so made it clear, that much like the Wii before it, it’s less about whiz bang look at my pixels and more about, let’s make games fun and engaging for everyone in the room. However the WiiU is HD now!!!

The Game Pad (I honestly don’t know what it’s name is) is often not the primary game play device. That’s still the realm of the Wiimote (kinda nice to upgrade console and not need new controllers). I’d say about 75% of the games being demo’ed used the game pad as a helper device. In Rayman, the person with Game Pad, destroyed obstacles, and created platforms for the player to use in getting through the level. (see above)

In Super Mario (world, 2, something) the game pad player, gave Mario platforms to jump on, to cross large areas, bopped kupas to keep them off Mario as he moved, etc.

This type of game play really makes the games more collaborative. The Game Pad has a touch screen, so you just tap around, making controlling things easy. It did also have two joysticks, a + controller, and a bunch of buttons like a PS3 controller. Many games were like that, using the Game Pad as an assist to the game.

The other type of game I got to play used the Game pad as the main controller in 1 person at a time games. Obviously it’ll be up the the game studios, but the games I played made excellent use of the game pad screen. In in one game (below) when your character entered a building, you had to use the game pad screen to navigate until you got back outside. It made the game more engaging.

Having a touch screen right there in your hands also opened the game up to cool gestures. Need a gun in a game, draw a sideways “L” and your gun was available. No menus, no toggling, etc.

One game took the game pad in a weird place. It was a skiing game. If you were playing it, you had to look at the game pad in portrait mode and use it’s acceleromter to steer your skier. I guess everyone else would watch the TV, but the player never did. It was kinda weird. Most games leveraged the game pad really well to enhance game play.

So yeah it has a screen and an accelerometer, so I guess a comparison to the iPad is fair? Course, my guess is if you sat an iPad on a coffee table, AirDisplayed it to an AppleTV and used iPhones as controllers, all over Wifi or Bluetooth, (sarcasm warning) it’d be the same fun family/friends gaming experience, until a push notification made your controller disconnect, or a phone call comes in, etc. Course it would cost a lot more too.

I understand we love our iDevices, but not everything is trying to be an iDevice killer, or even a competitor.

Disclaimer: The games I played were almost all prototypes. They said we could post pics so long as they weren’t close ups, and included the game pad as well as the TV screen.

My thanks to Nintendo for a fun time, and an informative event, I can’t wait to add a WiiU to the house, or maybe Uncubed Coworking

 

The only Un-Apple, Apple Experience

Is their retail stores. Well at least mostly. If you want an iPhone case, know what you want and where it is, it actually is a very very Apple like experience. But god forbid you take your shiny Macbook Pro in to the genius bar….

Here begins my tale of frustration and rejection.

Last week I had business down in Tech Center, so since I was gonna be down there I booked an appointment with the Park Meadows Apple store because well look at the screen shot.

I’m a little over a month from my Apple Care Warranty expiring and clearly my battery isn’t working right. Figured I’d scoot in and get a new battery installed.

I made my appointment online, easy peasy. Showed up 20 minutes before my alotted time.

Chased a blue shirt down to check in. “Go stand around over there” Ok cool.

Another blue shirt comes up, “You can grab the spot at the bar you should be coming up soon” Ok cool. I set my laptop down on the bar and sit.

And sit. And Sit. The Genius 1.5 feet from me wraps up his customer. Rather than look to the unattended customer sitting patiently at the bar, he walks around the bar away from me and whispers my name. At least I think he does. By the time I hear what I think is my name, another schmoe has claimed the space, sat down and started talking. I could be a dick and butt in but since I wasn’t 100% sure I didn’t.

I wait. And wait. And wait. 30 minutes later I flag a blue shirt down “Can we make sure I’m in the queue and didn’t get skipped?” Of course.

“Oh looks like your appointment was started and wrapped up. Someone marked it as ended. But you haven’t even been helped?” Nope.

To their credit they scrambled around to find a Mac genius to help me. Oh at first my guy asked another guy for help on the situation, his answer was I needed to make a new appointment… WTF. Thankfully my Blueshirt didn’t take that answer.

Unfortunately the timing of my appointment coincided with wide spread reports of Mountain Lion being a battery drain on laptops. Maybe it is, but my issue pre-dated that, and since the batteries health and capacity weren’t 100% you’d think it would be treated differently. You (and I) would be wrong. My genius preceeded to tell me to wait for 10.8.1 When i asked if once the “fix” was released and my issue was still there I’d be allowed a replacement battery her answer was, “you should buy the Apple Care Extended for $350”

2 hours of my life I’m not getting back. Thanks Genius Bar.

So, that said, Yeah I think the system is broken, but there’s so many easy fixes.

  • Leverage those fancy big displays above the genius bar to show the queue and who’s next. Dont’ walk around, let us come to you.
  • Be loud when calling names? Whispering “John Wilker” in an apple store is like not speaking at all. Shout my name
  • Give me an damn pager device like a restaurant to summon me to the bar. Heck make it Apple, and use an iPhone or something.
  • Use the fancy apple store app, which knows i have an appointment as said page and have it notify me when my turn has come.
  • This one is least likely but would be most well received I think. Have two Genius bars. one for muggles and one for everyone else. I saw 2 sticky iphone buttons. 1 “how to i migrate from this busted iMac to this more busted macbook” and 2 “What’s iPhoto”

I love Apple and most everything they do, but it’s apalling that they’ve revolutionized; computing, movies, TV, books (meh I use my Kindle), etc, but simple queue management in a help desk setting is so broke as to make me wanna start murderin’

So yeah. My monday sucked, and what’s best I get to look forward to doing it again since I didn’t get a new battery. I hope Apple “fixes” the issue fast.

Work With Smart People. Like @bmf and @lordbron

My friend Mike Lee was in town for 360|MacDev and we had a chance to chat a few times. We also chatted a lot when I was in Amsterdam, that’ll happen when you’re sleeping on someone’s couch :D

He’s been around the block; helped found companies, worked for Apple, and most recently starting an international movement called Appsterdam. He’s spoken at more events than I can count, thankfully that includes my events. Of all the speakers I’ve worked with, Mike raises the bar. He preps like no one’s business, and puts his heart and soul into the presentation. And he doesn’t repeat and recycle his talks. Each is a unique work that he puts a lot of energy into.

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Can i get streaming media? Pretty please?

Turns out, with the Motorola Xoom, the answer is no.

Hulu. No.

Lots of devices including the Nexus one. Really? the Nexus One has the hardware but the xoom doesn’t?

Ok not lots. Far from lots. Hundreds of handsets and tablets on the market now, and 6 can run hulu. I retract “lots”

I like my Xoom  a lot, i’ve invested good sizes bits of my $ to buying apps to make the device my go to tablet. I like the size, I like the form factor, I like the OS. But traveling with the Xoom (as I did to WWDC this year) is kind of the pits, unless I make sure to pre-load the device with downloaded content.

Netflix. No.

My understanding is that it’s largely to do with the encryption/DRM capabilities of the device. OK that makes sense.

 

What doesn’t make sense to me, as a prosumer techy with a $600 device on my desk… How did Motorola not build the Xoom with these two apps in mind?

 

Better yet, how was Moto (for that matter, Google too) NOT working with both companies from the get go, to ensure that the Flagship tablet of the Android Army, the first device to ship with Honeycomb, wasn’t at the top of the compatible devices list?

 

It was one thing when neither service had an app for android, it made using the Xoom, not a “This or that” decision with my iPad. But now, now two of the main use cases for my iPad (other than games and Omnifocus) are available for android… just not my android.

Gruber sums it up pretty well in “Fragmentation, I don’t see any fragmentation

It’s funny, there’s plenty I don’t  like about the way apple does things, but for the most part they don’t seem as determined as Google and Motorola do, to drive me away from their platform. :(

What I hope to see at WWDC

Blah blah, i know it’s that season (I think I said this last year too) but I was thinking about Devin’s post about possible retail store products for their 10th anniversary and figured I’d throw out my best guesses for the WWDC keynote. Not retail store product options, Devin covered those as well as I could. But really honest to goodness possible products.

The rumor mills are going nuts over the iPhone 4s-5-superDuper, so who knows, and I’m not gonna bother speculating there.

But what about Apps for AppleTV? We know it’s running some type of iOS, why not a subset of the full app catalog for media apps? Hulu? CBS? HBO GO, etc. How awesome to integrate an app store model into the AppleTV. Heck, with a magic trackpad paired, even iOS games could be viable.

 

Or maybe iPod Nano Touch 2nd Gen? I love my iWatch, and I’d love even more for it to do more, though I hope a camera is not one of those things. Cameras are like netflix apps, every device has 2 or 3.

Maybe take a queue from the metawatch movement? If anyone could make it a clean user experience it’s Apple. Why not have my watch show me the SMS that just came in, or my most recent push notifications? I’d love to glance down and see where certain friends are without pulling my phone out of my pocket.

Maybe even an SDK for basic apps? watch faces? etc. That’d be awesome.

This is a bit out there, at least this year. But, SSD only laptops. No optical drive, either 2 drives used separately, boot to the SSD, store data on the HDD, or 2 SSD’s in a RAID array. I’m running the former configuration right now in my Macbook and love it. Booting into Lion…erp Rawrdacted sorry, is cake. Certain features in that OS really really benefit from having an SSD as boot drive, and with the Mac App Store, who needs DVD drives anymore? Even OS X is distributed through it, and new machines can have the OS recovery on a USB drive like the Macbook Air. So why not use that space for something else? Something better.

 

That’s it, pretty simple, nothing too pie int he sky. Ok maybe the iWatch part, but I can hope, everything is in the realm of the possible, maybe not this year but next or the one after.

What do you think we’ll see at WWDC in a few weeks?