Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

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Posts Tagged ‘local’

Geek Week AZ Recap

As @AbeVigoda would say, “I am alive!”

Somehow, I survived Geek Week AZ. I went to Ignite Phoenix, TEDxPhoenix, Desert Code Camp, SustainaBIL, AZIMA, Developer Ignite, Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference (AZEC), Social Media Club + AZEC Mixer, Phoenix WordCamp, #evfn, and PodCamp AZ. All without taking any time off work. The only events going on during working hours were AZEC & WordCamp, where I co-worked!

The spaghetti is on the wall, and it’s time to see what stuck. The event organizers who banded together to make it happen pulled it off. It was no easy task, because they’ve already got their handful with their own events, but this year, they went above and beyond to create something new. The culmination of 2 years of conversations about making a big splash in the local tech community resulted in a festival of independently organized tech-focused and tech-related events.

Geek Week AZ became what it was because the idea evolved WITH criticism. “You don’t think this will work? Then propose a better way of accomplishing the same goals.” What Geek Week AZ was looks nothing — NOTHING — like what Geek Week AZ initially set out to be.

Now that it has happened, there are new criticisms. It’s very important that this criticism doesn’t fall of deaf or defensive ears.

There are at least a dozen people who have said they are opposed to multi-day events. Perhaps something like Geek Week AZ isn’t for everyone, but the beauty of the model is that most of the events are free and you don’t have to pay for the full event and feel obligated to attend as much as possible. Some people just can’t handle 4 days in a row of learning, networking, and staying out late.

I thought one of the major problems would have been people not knowing what is going on and where to go. That’s why I put together a pocket guide to Geek Week AZ. Either the site solved the problem, or the problem didn’t end up being there to begin with.

There are justifiable concerns about the momentum and energy of attendees who participated in multiple events. It also seems possible that events could have built up more excitement and anticipation if they were standing alone and not a smaller part of a bigger thing.

Does this mean Geek Week AZ shouldn’t exist? No. This means there is valid criticism that should be addressed — not ignored — and addressed in a way that still accomplishes the same goals. What are the goals? I might have posted about them before, but feel free to ask me.

The way you respond to criticism shows your ability to think creatively. You can say, “It doesn’t work like this, so maybe we should go back to the old way of doing it.” Or you can say, “If it doesn’t work like this, what can we do to make it work better so we still go in the same direction: forward.”

Here’s to going forward.

ReadPhoenix: Top Blog Posts of the Week #4-5

Busy, busy, busy. I was unable to find the time last Friday AND last weekend to review and write-up the best Phoenix blog posts of the week. The good news is that I included last week’s best in this post, under “Week #4.”

I have received very good feedback regarding what I am doing here. Thanks to everyone who has let me know they read and value these posts. Positive feedback is one of the best motivators.

Week #5

Blog: Valley PR Blog
Author: Angelo Fernando
Company: ASU
Post Title: Never too late to learn: lessons from a pizza driver

This is a story about a real estate agent who moved from Washington to Arizona and got a job as a pizza delivery driver to familiarize himself with the Phoenix metro area quickly.

Read on for more of the story.

Blog: Wurkit Books
Author: Dan Ritz
Company: Forty Media
Post Title: Quick to the Point

Some of the people I have met recently are involved in the Press Release business. After conversations with them, I have put thought into the future of the Press Release. The excerpt Dan highlighted is true for memos, web sites, and even press releases. From the book, Maverick: “The longer the message, the greater the chance of misinterpretation.”

Read on to see the full excerpt and Dan’s commentary.

Author: Jim Jeffers
Company: Sitewire
Post Title: CSS Commenting With Textmate

Jim posted a link to a great article on Think Vitamin. He reflected on the article’s overview of best practice CSS commenting. I read the entire article and thought there were quite a few other excellent points.

Read on to see Jim’s commentary and a link to the original article.

Week #4

Blog: Scrollin’ On Dubs
Author: Sean Tierney
Company: JumpBox
Post Title: Place-shift your Rhapsody service

Real Networks recently shut down a 3rd party web service called Yottamusic, which provided an enhanced interface and social networking features on top of the Rhapsody music service.

Read on to see Sean’s reaction, and click here for additional details provide by TechCrunch.

Blog: theonetogoto = aaron post
Author: Aaron Post
Company: Forty Media
Post Title: If Candidates where Web 2.0 Applications?

Aaron took the time to examine key traits in our current Presidential candidates and compare them to social web sites.

Read on to see what Web 2.0 application your favorite candidate resembles.

Author: Jim Jeffers
Company: Sitewire
Post Title: A Refreshed Design for 2008

This is not just a redesign. In this blog post, he outlines some of the specific features embedded into the site.

He put in a considerable amount of work to utilize many features that have not even been adopted yet by all major browsers. What’s great about it is that he made sure that it degrades gracefully, rewarding users with modern browsers without having negative effects on those that don’t.

Read on to see the changes Jim made to his blog.

ReadPhoenix: Top Blog Posts of the Week #3

Two weekly posts in a row. Do you know what that tells me? It says in no uncertain terms that I am not writing enough. That is one of the most valuable benefits I receive by doing this. The weekly write-up gives me an obligation to post regularly and the desire to make sure those scheduled posts are not my ONLY posts.

It is also great for me because it ensures I do not miss anything going on in local blogs. I want to keep up with what people are talking about locally, but if I did not set this obligation for myself, I probably would not spend time making sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Blog: BrainFuel
Author: Thomas Chapin
Company: Tornado Design
Post Title: Overnight Project

Tom whipped up a fun micro site recently, It allows you to input a person’s name and it will return “100 completely accurate, verifiable facts about anyone.” Everyone has probably heard a couple of “Chuck Norris facts” during the last couple years. Now those same fun facts can be applied to you, your friends, or even your enemies.

Early this week, an anonymous Twitter user popped up on my radar, linking me to I tried to track down the person responsible. Unfortunately for me, Tom used private domain registration, hosted it on a different server in a different state from his regular sites, and used a proxy service to leave a comment on my blog. I was unable to track down who made it, but Tom later confessed and allowed me to help him with some pseudo-randomization PHP code. (Try looking up facts for multiple names)

Read on and see what facts you can dig up about your friends!

Blog / Author: Sunny Thaper
Company: Forty Media
Post Title: Radiohead’s In Rainbows Dumb Business Move?

Sunny starts off this post with: “Fortune Magazine claims that Radiohead’s latest album “In Rainbows” is the 58th dumbest moment in business.”

I agree with Sunny on the fact that Fortune is absolutely, positively, confoundedly incorrect. I might not go so far as to say it was the 58th smartest moment in business, but there would be a strong argument in their favor. What I can say is that it was one of the most consequential business moves in the music industry. A band sells their album online, makes it available for free, and proves that such a model can yield massive monetary success. It provides more evidence of the music industry’s obsolete business model.

Read on to see Sunny’s side and the links he provided.

Author: Jim Jeffers
Company: Sitewire
Post Title: Advocates vs. Practitioners vs. Practicality

Jim brings up a good point about advocates and practitioners. With the success stories of Internet startups piling up, everyone is pushing the next big thing. Major companies are inventing new platforms to develop on left and right (Look at Google: OpenSocial, Android, Gadgets [Desktop, iGoogle, web], Google Gears, APIs for: Maps, Search, Feeds, Charts, Checkout, Calendar, Picasa, YouTube, etc). There are countless startups pushing everything from a new take on social networking (Facebook/MySpace-killers), communication (Twitter/Jaiku-killers), search (Google-killers), etc.

Read on to see Jim’s point of view.

Blog: Arizona Coffee
Author: Chris Tingom
Company: Tornado Design
Post Title: Boost Sales: Have a Starbucks Next Door?

Chris asks: “Could it be that having a Starbucks near independent coffeehouses actually helps boost sales?”

He provides a link to a great article from Slate Magazine that looks into the effect Starbucks has on independently-owned coffee shops. Much to Starbucks’ dismay (they intend to run competitors out of business), the presence of a Starbucks actually helps sales soar at competitors’ shops.

Read on at Slate Magazine.

ReadPhoenix: Top Blog Posts of the Week #1

Before jumping in, I should explain what is going on here and why.

A Series?

By the “#1” in the title, you can tell that this is intended to be something I will try to do regularly. I will try to remember to take note of my favorite blog posts during the week and do a quick write-up on Friday.


In race car terms, the Phoenix tech community is a sleeper. There are a lot of ideas, developers, designers, companies, and potential, but most people don’t realize it. One recent movement to draw attention to the fact that there is activity in this desert valley is, a web page maintained by Erica Lucci of Integrum Technologies. At, you can find a list of Phoenix-based bloggers with links to their respective blogs. I have met many of the people on that list and thus read most of the blogs listed. There are currently 55 RSS feeds marked “Phoenix” in my feed reader.

Weekly Highlights

The goal is to help introduce people to new blogs that provide interesting content. With the most active Phoenix blogs I’m subscribed to posting just under a once-per-day average, I figure I should be able to pick and choose from over 50 blogs (and 100+ posts in the last 7 days) to find at least two or three posts worth sharing.


There are a few reasons why I think I should do this. Most importantly, I want to give exposure to content producers in the Phoenix tech community. With any luck, some of the lesser-known authors will get a few more subscribers. Some people have made remarks about my watchful eye on Phoenix blogs — I subscribe, read, click-through, and comment when I can. If I am a person that watches more, I should be able to act as a human filter and help people find the most interesting content in the Phoenix blogosphere. Part of the motivation was from those remarks and another part was from one of the posts I chose to feature this week.

So Without Further Ado…

Blog: Scrollin’ On Dubs
Author: Sean Tierney
Company: JumpBox
Post Title: The best cross-platform RSS feed reader

He had me at “The best cross-platform RSS feed reader is still a smart friend who reads a bunch of feeds and has coffee with you once in awhile.” Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring as the Jerry Maguire quote (“You had me at hello”) but I wanted a fun way of expressing how this quote really made the article stand out and “stick”. The article makes a great point that feed reader applications being great, but nothing can compare with the human mind’s ability to pick out and share only what is valuable and relevant to you.

Now, I started this post off talking about how I keep track of what everyone is doing in the valley. If you want to offer to buy me a coffee, please form a single file line to your right. ;)

Read on about why it is more valuable to YOU to talk to people than it is to subscribe to every RSS feed under the sun. (I don’t subscribe to too many blogs outside of the Valley of the Sun to maintain some sanity)

Blog: ok with failure
Author: Curtis Edmond
Company: Integrum Technologies
Post Title: Flickr makes with the stats

By now, if you think Flickr having stats is interesting, you should already know. People have been talking about it. The reason I wanted to highlight this post is because when it popped up in my RSS feed late Thursday night, I had not yet heard the news. This was great news to me and I am grateful Curtis posted about it so quickly.

Read on about the new stats feature you should know about by now.

Blog: Wurkit Books
Author: Dan Ritzenthaler
Company: Forty Media
Post Title: No Need To Fake It

Dan’s post focuses on this quote:
In spite of the drawbacks, companies are lured to initials like moths to a candle. The success of the IBMs of this world seems to be proof that initials are effective. It’s the classic confusion between cause and effect… It’s like trying to become rich and famous by buying limousines and corporate jets. First, you have to become successful in order to have the money to buy the fringe benefits.

My experience in marketing and interest in branding made this blog post resonate with me. It is a great quote from a book on branding and positioning (titled, oddly enough, “Positioning”). Dan compared it to the phrase “Fake it, ’till you make it.” This is true, but I would like to add that companies are diluting their brand and reducing its stickiness while they think they are strengthening their brand image.

Read on about the quote, Dan’s commentary, and the many other Wurkit quotes.

Blog / Author: Josh Huckabee
Company: Integrum Technologies
Post Title: Want an iPhone for Christmas?

Here’s the short and skinny. Donate money to receive one raffle ticket per $1 donated. Next week, a winning raffle ticket will be selected and that individual will get a free, brand new 8GB iPhone.

Read on for more details on the raffle. Give a few bucks to people in need.

Blog: Code, Content, Caffeine
Author: James Britt
Company: Rising Tide Software
Post Title: The Downside of Clever

Quote: “Everyone knows that debugging is twice as hard as writing a program in the first place. So if you’re as clever as you can be when you write it, how will you ever debug it?” — Brian Kernighan

James mentioned the quote at BarCampPhoenix and I asked him to post it. It is a great quote that can be used to promote Test Driven Development and code analysis tools like flog. The less clever you force yourself to be in early development, the less strain you will have to endure to debug it.

Read on about this quote, James’ review, and check out the other valuable Ruby-related content he publishes.

Blog: BrainSpool
Author: Derek Neighbors
Company: Integrum Technologies
Post Title: kthxtees Tech Shirts

On Wednesday, I started thinking about a new idea for a series of t-shirts. What designer (web, print, et al) hasn’t at some point thought about designing t-shirts? There are two types of designers, those that have thought about designing t-shirts and those that have actually made their designs into real shirts. On Thursday, I found out that Integrum is going to join the latter group. They have a few sample designs posted and have vowed to post new designs every week.

Read on to learn more about their t-shirts.


I’ll tell you. That wasn’t easy. I hope to streamline the process a little more by compiling a draft post throughout the week instead of waiting until Friday night to type it all up. I hope you found some or all of this content useful. If so, please leave a comment so I know it wasn’t a waste of time! ;)