Here are some of the groups, places, and events where I spend the most time.
Here are some of the groups, places, and events where I spend the most time.
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.
Or check out this short intro video of the zone.
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.”
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.
Screaming 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.”
Sweet 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.
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.
This weekend, I went to www.Winter-Quest.com, a charity comic-con to benefit the homeless in 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.
I was at the con representing some of the various outreaches that I’m a part of:
For a small first-year event, there was a lot going on.
LouieLab opened on December 1, 2016.
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:
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:
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.
Here is some press coverage of the opening:
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.
This past Tuesday was my third (at least) time attending the Vogt Awards Demo Day.
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 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.
I already knew half the companies, so coming to congratulate them and cheer them on was like a reunion.
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.
The three judges were Fred Durham (CafePress), Grace Simrall (city of Louisville’s Chief of Civic Innovation), and Chris Bailey (Revio).
The three winning teams were:
Other entrants were: Samurai School, Buy Spy, Ring of Fire, Glass Capitol, Bocca de Lupo, Book Club, JamFit, and News Lancing.
Here are other looks at the event:
Here are some other events coming up:
And here are some resources for the local startup scene:
This 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.
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:
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 randomly assigned genres include one of these:
And one of these:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
I 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.
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.”
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.
For those who’ve wondered what a National Day of Civic Hacking is like, here’s a post from Stan Siranovich that covers his (and my) experience at last weekend’s event.
There are a lot of great things happening in Louisville this weekend.
Get a jump on the weekend activities at the quarterly Geek Dinner. Gather at the BBC in St. Matthews on Thursday at 6:00. No pitches, no presentations, no recruiters; just a friendly get-together for technophiles.
Also called Hack For Change, this is annual event is a way for the government to promote the use of public data.
I’ve been to this one every year. I love it.
It’s a great way to make new geek friends, create something, and learn new stuff.
Here’s a flyer that you can use to spread the word!
The ISSA (Information Systems Security Association) is hosting this network forensics workshop. Proceeds benefit Hackers for Charity (a group that I love to support; Johnny Long and his family’s mission to teach tech to street kids in Uganda).
WonderFest is Louisville’s model-building and special-effects convention. It even hosts the country’s largest model contest for sci-fi, horror, comics, etc. There are also seminars, workshops, celebrity guests, and other coolness. I’ve attended several times, and even exhibited there a few times when I still ran a publishing company.
I’ve always loved LEGOs, but still haven’t been to one of these trade shows. This is at the Fairgrounds, right across the street from the Crowne Plaza that’s hosting WonderFest.
Also at the Fairgrounds, this summit focuses on healthy, sustainable, safe, attractive neighborhoods here in Louisville.
Gather with freaks, geeks, and weirdos just like you at the Sub Rosa reunion, hosted by everyone’s favorite ginger: Divinity Rose.
After hanging out, stick around the Bard’s Town to catch the Friday showing of…
Next weekend, check out the Louis-Villainz Market for Mischief.