DerbyHacks

DerbyHacks LogoStudents from the University of Louisville hosted DerbyHacks 2.0 on February 24-26, 2017 at the Institute for Product Realization complex, overlapping into the Engineering Garage, the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Center, and FirstBuild.

Hackathon

DerbyHacks isn’t the same kind of hackathon as the Open Data Day Public Safety Hackathon. This one is a three-day competition under the auspices of the Major League Hacking network.

I attended this hackathon as an observer/advisor, not as a competitor. I love the hackathon spirit and atmosphere; the innovation energy inspires me.

Over a hundred students from Kentucky colleges got together to create cool stuff. I’d guess that half the students were from UofL, where the event was held, but there were several from the University of Kentucky, from Berea College, and others.

Some of the teams created physical products, and others created digital ones.

Resources

There were several sponsors, presentations, mentors, tools and parts, and so so much food.

Experts from the region came to offer tips and troubleshooting to the teams.

The city’s Chief Data Officer, Michael Schnuerle (right), talked with several teams about Louisville’s Open Data Portal, and the myriad of ways that it could be used.

Teams

The full list of 26 teams is here, with the winners at the top (look for the diagonal yellow “winner” stripes).

Knowing several astrophysicists, I was quite impressed with CenterScope, that automatically centers your telescope on a star you want, without you having to manually fiddle with the delicate calibration knobs.

It was cool to see Alexa used for Smart Chess by letting you speak your move, with a synchronized electromagnetic chess board would move the piece on your board and on your remote opponent’s board. Your opponent would then speak his move, and so on.

A bunch of my friends formed the LouTrail team to recommend local restaurants and attractions. They won a special award for best use of local data.

Silent City combined the input from (proposed) sonic detectors throughout the city to map the noise pollution, much like Air Louisville did for the air quality (cleverly syncing asthma inhalers with a smartphone gadget to “phone home” when it was used, to identify to parts of town that were hardest on the lungs).

New Home for Me combined data for crimes and a dozen other sets with real estate listings, to help home buyers find a place that really fits their needs.

Physical Threat Intelligence used facial recognition technology as a “key” to grant access (and potentially other tasks).

The Smart Dollhouse was lots of fun. The team wanted to work with “smart home” technology, but since they couldn’t bring an actual house with them, they brought a tiny one. They installed cameras, motion sensors, heat sensors, and app-controlled door locks. Since the dollhouse had an elevator, which was broken, they fixed it! And also tied that to a smart app. It won the award for most potential value / biggest market.

The big winner was SnapCal, led by my friend Ishwar Agarwal, an app that uses pictures of your food to determine the calories. It sounds simple, but took a lot of computer know-how to pull off, using Machine Learning to translate an image into a food, then displaying the nutritional information. Besides being technically challenging, I think it reflects the health and fitness focus of today’s youth.

The Future

Since Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer was an entrepreneur himself (behind the combined soft drink / ice dispenser), he loves coming to hackathons, especially ones that are student-led and student-competed. Our future is in good hacky hands.

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Public Safety Hackathon

Hackathons

A hackathon is an event for making. Sometimes it’s making something physical, sometimes digital, sometimes service-based.

(No, it doesn’t mean we’re breaking into people’s computers.)

The hackathons that I’m a part of tend toward digital. It might be converting something to a new format, transferring it to a new platform, combining things, securing something, analyzing something, open up access to something, or anything else along those lines.

In the past, I worked with Louisville’s Civic Data Alliance volunteer code brigade on projects like this:

Open Data Day

Open Data EventsMarch 4 2017 was “International Open Data Day.” Hundreds of cities around the world held hackathons and other events to celebrate, to educate, and to serve.

Open Data is a philosophy that information should be available at no cost. Government data, being underwritten through taxes, belongs to the American people (at least in theory). Downloadable/accessible datasets for crimes, parks, restaurant health inspection scores, and similar information can be used to help everyone.

The Louisville government is at the forefront of open data. The data.louisvilleky.gov website has hundreds of datasets free for public use in a variety of formats (shapefile, json, csv, and more).

Public Safety

In Louisville, we chose “public safety” as our hackathon theme. Volunteer hackers could work on whatever project they’d like, of course, but event captains (Becky Steele and Margeaux Spring) arranged for representatives from the police department and other areas of government to share their needs and offer advice.

The hackathon was held at LouieLab, a dedicated space for government and the people to work together on projects.

Forty to fifty volunteers worked on projects all day (detailed blog about the projects here).

Public Safety Hackathon

Our volunteers from 2017; look at last year’s team here.

My Work

I worked on two projects, and also floated around a bit helping teams as needed.

I wrote my first Alexa Skill! The Amazon Echo / Amazon Dot has a speech interface, so people can access the internet by voice alone.

In the News

The event was covered here:

and blogged about here:

Get Involved

The Civic Data Alliance will host another hackathon for the National Day of Civic Hacking, and will ramp up to monthly public meetings and hackathons once per quarter.

Join the meetup group and the slack team.

Louisville

Startup WeekendI do what I can to stay involved in the local community.

Here are some of the groups, places, and events where I spend the most time.

https://davemattingly.net/louisville

 

Global Game Jam

Warp Zone is Louisville’s shared working space for video game developers (one year old this week!). It was founded by the Louisville Makes Games group, which is in turn comprised of several small independent game companies.

Read up on the spot in Business First, Louisville DistilledNerd Louisville, Never Nervous, or On the Record Magazine.

Or check out this short intro video of the zone.

Global Game Jam

This annual event gives game developers just 48 hours to create a brand new video game based around a theme that is announced on Friday night. The teams then have until 7:00PM Sunday night to upload their games to the worldwide game repository (in order to be eligible). Then, all the teams demo their games. Visitors are welcome to attend the final presentations.

The theme this year was “Waves.”

The Games

All of these games were made in just 48 hours! Many of them even had a custom soundtrack that was composed and recorded over the weekend, as well.

Duolastic: This can be described as air hockey played with cones made of jello instead of regular paddles. That gave the developers a chance to play with some unusual elasticity properties. What was impressive is that several players (in pairs) could play against each other at once. There were a few two-player games going on in the room by audience members with laptops… while the demonstration was still going.

React: This is more of an experience than a game. Dancing gradients of color dance on the screen based on user input. Sort of like a screen saver that thinks it’s a mood ring, based on clicking or touching like a piano or drum. The effect was soothing and beautiful, like staring at a fishtank or a fire. I lost my mood ring. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

YellScreaming Mosquito: You play a mosquito that goes up when he flaps and falls when he’s not, and who dies if he touches the overhead clouds or water underneath. But the interface is the amazing part. This was pitched as “flappy birds controlled by noise”. The whole room would scream as he fell, causing him to rise up again. It was the most innovative and engaging game interface I’ve seen in years. I could see this quickly becoming the phone app game that every child loves, and every parent hates, possibly even launching a new craze.

Gupi: You play cute alien fish that swims through the water, eating floating hamburgers and avoiding a snake that twists all around. The artwork was so adorable that you might want to keep playing just to watch more of it.

Flowr Powr: You play a robot who spreads flowers over a boring grey planet. Even robots need to stop and input the flowery aromas, I suppose. The background textures, the lights and shadows, and other visual elements worked well together, making the colorful blossoms stand out even more. “I, for one, welcome our florist overlords.”

Ice CreamSweet Wave: This was a virtual reality game (that can also be played 2D). You play an ice cream truck employee who hurls ice cream cones at onrushing children, to get them to shut up. If you didn’t take care of the brats soon enough, they’d overwhelm your truck and start shaking it back and forth. The cartoony art, the smooth gameplay, and the chance for everyone to play a game using the latest VR tech made this was another standout achievement for the Warp Zone teams.

Photo Gallery

React Duolastic Screaming Mosquito Gupi Flowr Powr Sweet Wave

Want More?

Warp Zone has frequent social events, game jams like this one, classes, demonstrations, and other events.

Join the meetup group to keep abreast of the latest happenings.

Warp Zone is at 612 W Washington St, Louisville, KY 40202.

Winter Quest

This weekend, I went to www.Winter-Quest.com, a charity comic-con to benefit the homeless in Louisville.

Comic-Con for the Homeless?Hotel Louisville

The event was held at Wayside Christian Mission‘s Hotel Louisville.

Wayside is a homeless shelter that has been in Louisville for many years. A good friend of mine runs the “Samaritan Patrol” for them, delivering coffee, sandwiches, coats, and such to the homeless camps, bridges, train tracks, etc. every Sunday.

Hotel Louisville was once a Holiday Inn, but it ran into financial troubles right after a major remodel. So Wayside bought the hotel, where it now houses the homeless. The homeless also run the entire hotel, gaining experience at cooking, cleaning, managing, and otherwise taking care of business.

The Waycool Cafe inside the hotel is crazy cheap ($5 buffet, anyone?), and they have a very good selection, including vegan and Esselstyn diets.Ministries

Ministries

I was at the con representing some of the various outreaches that I’m a part of:

  • the Christian Gamers Guild (geared toward board gamers, card gamers, and roleplayers)
  • the Grave Robbers (geared toward punks and goths)
  • Game Church (geared toward video gamers)
  • Fans for Christ (sadly now defunct, geared toward fandom, cosplayers, anime, etc.)
  • …and others that I didn’t specifically have materials to send home with people

Guests

The range of people and groups there was impressive for such a new event.Family Tree

Fun

Leia Cupcakes

“I love these cupcakes.”
“I know.”

For a small first-year event, there was a lot going on.

 

LouieLab

LouieLab opened on December 1, 2016.Louie Lab

LouieLab

It’s a new collaboration between Louisville government and the people. It’s designed for use as a coworking space, so government and people can work on specific projects together, like the Civic Data Alliance‘s hackathons through Code for America.

At the opening, two tech projects were demonstrated:

  • Smart Louisville, the city’s next-level open data interface
  • CASPER, the smoke alarm detector with a built-in 3G signal

Smart Louisville

Smart Louisville TeamVolunteers from the Civic Data Alliance built the interface between Amazon’s Echo Dot (“Alexa”) and various city data interfaces (“APIs”).

I was a (minor) part of the team that put all of this together. Most of the work was done by Reydel Leon, with lots of input from Michael Schnuerle (the city’s first Data Officer), Ed Blayney (who just won a Navigator Award for his work on SpeedUpLouisville), Matthew Gotth-Olsen (who manages LouisvilleKY.gov, and was once in a hardcore band), and others.

As it turns out, the most common 3-1-1 call is to find out about junk pickup day. Soon, anyone in Louisville with a Dot can just ask it, “Alexa, when is junk pick up day?”

The volunteers also have developed the interface to programmable light bulbs that can change color and intensity based on pre-selected options. That way, for example, the bulb could:

  • turn yellow to warn allergy sufferers during high pollen days
  • flash red during a tornado warning
  • flash through a full cycle of colors in time to a dance beat (although my theoretical ‘disco mode’ seems unlikely to ever get developed)
  • …and many more, in fact, the city would love to hear your ideas on useful interfaces

Where There’s SmokeCASPER

CASPER (the Completely Autonomous Solar Powered Event Responder) was developed by local makers Nathan Armentrout, James Gissendaner, and David Jokinen at the LVL1  smoke alarm hackathon a year ago. It listens on the standard smoke alarm frequency band (so that it should work with any variety), and makes a wireless call to alert the authorities. It’s primarily in use right now at vacant and abandoned buildings, since fires at a vacant building spreads to neighboring properties 80% of the time. The city of Louisville has several in use now, and plans to roll out many more. Other cities are also expressing interest.

News RoomLouie Lab Group

Here is some press coverage of the opening:

Other Nifty Tech Stuff

Here in Louisville, we’re also founding a chapter of the VRARA (Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality Association). We had dozens of people at the kickoff meeting last week.

Warp Zone, our video game creating coworking space, just had another successful Ludum Dare game creation weekend.

The KY Science Center just ran another three-day Celebration of Coding event, aimed at getting youngsters involved in software.

Vogt Awards 2016

Vogt Awards Demo Day 2016This past Tuesday was my third (at least) time attending the Vogt Awards Demo Day.

Vogt Awards

Local innovative early-stage companies are chosen each year to receive $25,000 apiece, and expert mentoring and training. The demo day is their chance to “show and tell” the cool stuff they’ve been doing. This year’s event was held at the Frazier.

The Frazier History MuseumShakespeare's Wheel of Death

The Frazier opened in 2004, along Louisville’s “museum row” (which includes the Science Center, Slugger Museum, KMAC, Ali Center, and others). They’re currently hosting an original First Folio from Shakespeare, the first collection of his works, and a historical toy soldier collection.

The Frazier also hosts the local “Dream Funders” television show, an entrepreneurial competition, which will air its second season on November 30.

The WinnersBreath Diagnostics

I already knew half the companies, so coming to congratulate them and cheer them on was like a reunion.

  • Breath Diagnostics detects lung cancer through patients blowing into a bag. It’s faster, cheaper, safer, and more accurate than current diagnostic methods. You can’t make balloon animals out of it, but it can keep you from dying, so that’s good.
    • I already knew these guys. We completed the Nucleus LaunchIt program together, and I’d seen them at a previous Xlerate Health Demo Day, and would occasionally run into Rick Rummel at various healthcare events, like the ones run by HEN.
  • Collabra Music helps music teachers and students work together online.
    • I also knew some of these guys. I used to work with Brandon Kobel, their CTO. Zack Pennington, one of the founders, is all over the Louisville startup scene, with things like chia and axes.
  • Curio Learning is writing an app to help teachers find and share professional development strategies and content.MailHaven
  • G3 Tri-Tech makes the Infinite Swim gadget, to let triathletes swim for miles in a pool without having to constantly turn around for laps.
  • MailHaven makes a smart mailbox, to securely accept packages and notify the recipient of deliveries. It’s sort of like having a tiny robotic Allen Funt who can text you.
    • Kela Ivonye is another Louisville startup mainstay, and Nathan Armentrout is a LVL1 member, and often there tinkering on something. His laptop sticker collection looks a lot like mine.
  • RMC Solutions keeps the insides of concrete mixers clean with a high-speed rotating water “enema,” if you’ll pardon the mental image.

 

Startup Weekend Louisville #9

Startup WeekendOrganizers

Louisville’s ninth startup weekend was held at Bellarmine College on October 14-16, 2016.

I volunteered this time around, spending most of Friday at the check-in table to help welcome and orient people as they came in. It gave me a chance to see friends as they arrived, and meet a lot of new people.

This was our largest event ever, with 80 some-odd people. A little over half of them pitched their one-minute idea, and eleven of those ideas were upvoted into teams.

The teams spent all weekend (54 hours from start to finish), with top-notch mentors. On Sunday evening, starting at 5:00, the teams each gave a 5-minute (ish) presentation on their idea, research, prototype, and business model.Judges

The three judges were Fred Durham (CafePress), Grace Simrall (city of Louisville’s Chief of Civic Innovation), and Chris Bailey (Revio).

The Winners

The three winning teams were:

  1. UpNext, a phone app to make karaoke easier
  2. CritterFacts, daily texts about animals
  3. Touchband, a social media wristband

UpNextOther entrants were: Samurai School, Buy Spy, Ring of Fire, Glass Capitol, Bocca de Lupo, Book Club, JamFit, and News Lancing.

Around the Web

Here are other looks at the event:

Here are some other events coming up:Everyone

And here are some resources for the local startup scene:

 

A Fool’s Errand

48-Hour Film ProjectThis past weekend, I finally participated in the 48-Hour Film Project. Friends of mine have been doing it for years, but until this year, I’d always been on the road for Louisville’s event.

Forty-forty-forty Eight Hours to Go…

Imagine an insane love child of Startup Weekend, improv theater, and finals week.

Before the weekend, we chose our team, assigned roles, and scouted locations, without actually knowing what we’d do until we began. On Friday night, each team draws a genre out of a hat (actually, each drawing has two genres, and the team picks the one they’d like to do). The final film must be 4 to 7 minutes long (credits at the end of the movie don’t count against the maximum time).

A schedule typically goes like this:

  • Friday night: draw genre, frantically write the script and contact the actors, wardrobe, and locations that are needed.
  • Saturday: learn lines, assemble costumes, rehearse, film (ay, there’s the rub)
  • Sunday: edit the film, add soundtrack, add title and credits, frantically rush to turn in the final product on time

On top of randomly drawing a genre, each team has three required ingredients: a line, a prop, and a character. Even though each team gets its own genre, all teams share those same three ingredients.

The GenresFool's Errand

The randomly assigned genres include one of these:

  • Action / Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Coming of Age
  • Dark Comedy
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Film de Femme
  • Holiday Film
  • Horror
  • Musical
  • Road Movie
  • Romance
  • Sci Fi
  • Silent Film
  • Western

And one of these:

  • Adventure Serial
  • Animal Film
  • Buddy Film
  • Detective / Cop
  • Fable
  • Family Film
  • Fish Out of WaterImpellizzeri's
  • Martial Arts
  • Mystery
  • Period Piece
  • Slapstick
  • Sports Film
  • Superhero
  • Time Travel Movie
  • War or Anti-War Film

Some are harder than others. With the variety of talent we had on our team, we could have handled any of them, but I personally would have had a difficult time with Musical and Animal, and several of them would not have particularly interested me.

Team Maybe

Thankfully, we draw Mystery or Film de Femme. Mystery is a well understood genre, and our writers bubbled with ideas.

Our (and every team’s) ingredients were:

  • Character: Dylan (or Diane) Murphy, a cook
  • Prop: Rubber band
  • Line: “But what if you’re wrong?”

Our team included people that I’ve been friends with for a long time, like Jessica Mathis, Patrick Gabbard, and Rachel Allen. And many more that I’d sort of known, or hadn’t met at all until the weekend.

My title was Assistant Producer. That meant that I ran for coffee, shuttled people around, and otherwise tried to make the experience smooth for the rest of the cast and crew. I also acted as an extra, and got kicked in the shins a few dozen times as part of a scene.

A Fool’s ErrandFool Moon

The movie we filmed is “A Fool’s Errand.” We’re part of the ‘Group A’ block of films that are competing. The movies will show at Village 8 Theaters in Louisville, KY.

Sadly, we don’t qualify for an official award, since we turned in our project late.

The power in the building where we were shooting and editing blew out on Saturday night, forcing us to reshoot several scenes Sunday. Without that previous footage, which got lost in the outage, we weren’t able to finish in time.

Still, our movie will be shown, and is eligible for the Fan Favorite vote. Everyone who attends can vote.

 

Government Innovation Summit

Last week, I spent two days at the second annual Government Innovation Summit in Louisville, Kentucky.

There were some great seminars and breakout sessions, and 500 or so leaders from all around the country.

On Wednesday, I attended the LouieStat Live workshop.

LouieStatLouieStat Live

Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Performance Improvement & Innovation uses the LouieStat methodology. LouieStat encourages reporting on a weakness orientation basis (e.g. instead of “We’re 95% on time,” say “We’re 5% late.”).

This wasn’t just a theoretical discussion of what the process is and how it works — this was a full actual meeting, so that the audience could see the entire process, and how everyone was involved. In this case, it was the first official LouieStat meeting for EMS. There were several officials present, representing technology, communication, administration, and such, plus the new director of EMS (Jody Meiman) and some EMS managers (Chad Scott and Diane Vogel).

Some of the EMS concerns that I learned were that the average ambulance check-in time has increased by about 5 minutes, but that it’s largely due to new policies and processes on the hospital side making dropoffs take more time. They’re addressing that by providing the hospitals with more radio call-ahead information to help them prepare. (Busy ERs might have to doubleup with two patients in a triage room, and knowing the gender and general complaint of the incoming patient helps them organize.) Also, there are way more low acuity (non-emergency) ambulance runs than I would have guessed.Social Muscle

I chose this session because of my love for data transparency. I’ve been familiar with LouieStat for a while, and know some of the people that created it. I even made Louisville’s mayor Greg Fischer chuckle when I answered his question about why it’s important to take incremental steps before all the information is gathered, when I answered that “You can’t steer a parked car.”

Social Muscle

There were great ideas offered by the panel of leaders, and examples from the community, but my favorite one came from William Evans, the Boston Police Commissioner. To pave the way for improved race relations in the future, the police bought an ice cream truck that they drive around parts of town where they are frequently hated and feared. By giving out ice cream, they hope to forge bonds with the younger generation, and keep them away from violence.

While the commissioner was saying this, Greg Fischer was smiling and staring off in the distance… I wonder how long until Louisville gets a city ice cream truck?

Lightning TalksLightning Talks

My only complaint is that (as expected) they were all too short. I would have preferred breakout sessions instead, so that we could split up and dive a little deeper into one topic of interest.

The talks themselves were great, and covered a broad swath of societal issues. Early in the planning stages, there was a chance that I would have been speaking on behalf of community involvement, stemming from my volunteerism at the Civic Data Alliance, hackathons, and other local events. It was good to see Daro Mott again (speaking about data-driven government), who once came from Cleveland a year or two ago to speak at a TALK (Technology Association of Louisville KY) event, and who I’ve seen once or twice when I’ve spoken at Cleveland SQL Saturdays.

Open Data

Open DataI was so overwhelmed (in a good way) by the speakers on this panel that I could barely take a note. Beth Blauer is the Director of GovEx (the Government Center for Excellence) at John Hopkins. Joy Bonaguro is the Chief Data Officer for the City of San Francisco. Jean Clark is the President of Periscope Holdings.

The panel was so dynamic and uplifting, that I wished it could have gone all day.

Third Wave

Steve Case, the founder of AOL back in the day, came to Louisville as part of his twenty-city tour. His new book, The Third Wave, applied the concepts (farming, industry, post-industry) of Alvin Toffler’s original Third Wave book to the internet. First came the planting of ISPs, then the connected backbones of industry (Google, Amazon, etc.), and now the third wave — nigh-invisible integration and proliferation in real-world devices.

As he says, “250 years ago, America was just a startup.”

I sat at a table close to the stage, and Steve sat with us for a little while before going up to speak.Becky Steele

Bonus Events!

On Wednesday evening, TALK hosted a cybersecurity event, focused on the internet of things. Greg Garcia (the White House’s first cybersecurity chief) spoke about the wonders and the dangers that await us.

On Thursday at lunch, at the Summit itself, my great friend Becky Steele was crowned the Continuous Improvement Champion for her work at Code Louisville. I believe she’ll defend her title in the gladiatorial arena at next year’s conference. Or not.

On Thursday night, EnterpriseCorp (the entrepreneurial arm of the city’s chamber of commerce, Greater Louisville Inc) held its annual Evening of Entrepreneurship. Steve Case was the keynote speaker here, too.