Showing posts from May, 2014

Kewl Gadget Alert: LED Light Clips for Running Shoes

Maybe it's because I had a race last weekend, but I seem to have running on the brain this week. Which is why I just had to share this handy gadget.

PowerSpurz LED Lights are clip-on LED lights that slide right onto the back of your sneakers, to keep you visible as you run (or cycle?).

They have a really smart design, latching onto the ankle of your shoe with an ergonomic look. Unlike many other disposable running lights out there, these are the least intrusive design I've seen. And they feature a big power button to turn them on and off which is nice in the dark. All around, a winner.

Except for this: The one GIANT drawback is that they are disposable. While they do provide 70 hours of continuous use or 100 hours of flashing light, for us long distance runners they might not even make it a year before hitting the landfill. Come on, designers, how hard would it be to put a little rechargeable battery in there and a USB plug? I mean, at $20 apiece for the disposable ones, you c…

Our Incredible Journey: The Tumblr of Startup Demise

Our smartphones are convenience boxes filled with all sorts of magical, useful apps on which we rely to monitor our sleep, wake us gently, control the temperature of our homes, buy our morning coffee, remind us of all the things we would otherwise forget, warn us of traffic snafus, keep us connected with family, and so on. And at any moment, the companies who built those apps on which we rely so heavily could be bankrupt or worse... acquired.

I mean, bankrupt is one thing: there's good chance that a solid app will be picked up by someone who will endeavour to keep it online or at least some enthusiast who just can't part with it will build a knock-off model that's surprisingly slightly better.

But an acquisition... no, that means the end. And they always seem to have the audacity to issue some BS press release putting a positive spin on the whole thing that they think will console you in your time of need. Jerks.

Here's a for instance for you. Tell me if this sounds f…

That Time I Got Hacked: A Lesson in Heeding Password Change Warnings

This past weekend was a big one at my house for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it was the Ottawa Race Weekend, which means that we had a house full of runners and walkers participating in the half marathon. Secondly, I got hacked.

Now I don't mean hacked in the Twitter spoofing I-was-an-idiot-and-clicked-a-dm-link not-really-hacked kind of way. I mean, account credentials stolen and credit card used to make a purchase kind of way.

Here's how it happened:

Last week when eBay told people to change their passwords, I immediately tried to log into my account but couldn't remember which email address I had used to register, let alone the password I'd used. So after a couple of tries, and my lunch hour being over, I made a note to check on it later and got back to work. Naturally, later never came. And then race weekend came and it was still not done.

As I was picking up my race kit Saturday afternoon, my phone received a huge influx of spam emails. All of them w…

Hack the Government: Gov Jam 2014 (June 4-5)

Let's face it: if you're a fellow govvie, then you know that there are more and more opportunities to hack the government: hackfests and codefests and open gov initiatives and consultations and conferences and meetups and communities and so forth. Buuuuut, it can be hard to stay on top of everything, let alone get away from the office to participate. And sometimes, if the participation is remote, it can feel like you're commenting into a void and nothing is ever, ever going to change. Your life — and your career — is going to be governed by policies and processes that were instituted decades before you arrived and that will likely continue standing long after you leave.

But then, every so often, you go to an event or, if you're really lucky, you get to work with a team, full of people with ideas and with the latitude to make change! And you get invigorated! And hopeful! And you just want to change the world!

Which is why you need to come to Gov Jam!
On June 4 and 5, 20…

Recreate the Game of Thrones Intro with this Incredible Pop-Up Book

If you have a Game of Thrones fan, then this might be a great novelty gift idea: the Game of Thrones Pop-Up Guide to Westeros.

It exactly what you think it would be: a grown-up version of a pop-up book featuring the castles and even The Wall from GoT, as well as some trivia and brief write-ups. The book was created by Matthew Christian Reinhart who has the fascinating title of Paper Engineer. Apparently papercraft is what he does for a living! I had no idea that was even an option, but if you believe the reviews on Amazon, apparently he has found his calling because this book is full of details even the most discriminating fan will appreciate.

Not only are the structures incredible to look at, but you can even remove the book's spine and lay out the entire thing as a map to get a closer look.

Check it out:

Bonus: Super Mario-Inspired Game of Thrones Intro  So someone sat down one day and thought: what would the Game of Thrones intro look like if it was recreated in 8-bit? And then…

How To Live-Tweet an Event: Part 4 - Showtime!

This is part 4 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 3 - Editorial Calendar & Cheat Sheet. Or see the bottom of this post for the full 5-part series.

It's your big day, so let's jump right in.

Equipment setup First of all, you'll need a laptop or tablet/keyboard combination. Given that you will be using multiple sources of information as well as tweeting out and receiving/ responding to replies, hardware that is capable of multitasking and a full keyboard will be important requirements.

Second, you'll need Internet connectivity. If your venue has Wifi, that's great but also think about a backup plan: in my case, I test out the option to use my phone as a hotspot in order to have backup Wifi. You never know if the venue Wifi might go down or lag from the audience traffic.

Third, you'll need access to your cheat sheet to copy and paste your pre-written tweets.

Fourth, a Twitter application: don't plan on live-tweeting from the Twitt…

Kewl KickStarter Alert: Gi Bike - The Gorgeous Folding Electric City Bike

So, you should know by now that I am a fan of design. When a product is designed to perfectly suit the user and their context and *still* looks good... well, I am truly an admirer.

Case in point: a couple of months ago, I chatted by email with the designers of the Gi Bike. Check it out:

It's green in both its tech and its design. And it's downright futuristic-looking.

But for all its gadgetry, slick look and smartphone integration, I think the best part is this:

Right?! The thing actually folds into a compact little unit!
Love that!

So, me being the practical one, I did have a question for the designers about repairs: this bike is entirely custom, so I wondered about replacement parts. For example, hubby has had a few broken spokes on the bike paths around town, I wondered... would these be impossible to find and expensive to replace? The designers assured me that they would be readily available (online) and easily repairable, which is good news:
The rims are not standard. The…

How To Live-Tweet an Event: Part 3 - Editorial Calendar & Cheat Sheet

This is part 3 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 2 - Developing a content plan. Or see the bottom of this post for the full 5-part series.

So now that you have figured out why you're live tweeting and created a content plan, it's time to get busy doing the prep work for the big day. In this installment, we'll look at creating an Editorial Calendar and cheat sheet.

Pre-writing If you're just tweeting administrative and logistical info, you may just need a single live-Tweeter and can pre-write a lot of the content such as:
"The break starts now and runs for 20 minutes; sessions will resume at 10:40 am in the conference room."Note: Some of this information will be repeated throughout your event, so pre-writing can reduce Tweeters' effort on the day of the event. It can also ensure that the information is accurate and consistent.
Caution: is to ensure that your live tweeter double checks the accuracy of any content before hitting …

Trailer for The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz Hits the Big Screen

Aaron Swartz was a brilliant, young mind who had some incredible accomplishments in this short life. He helped write the RSS 1.0 specification, unofficially co-founded Reddit, and worked feverishly as an activist for the freedom of information. Sadly, mainstream media made him notorious for using the MIT network to hack into the non-profit JSTOR and "liberating" millions of scientific and academic papers. He subsequently returned the papers to JSTOR, who sought not to pursue him and actually changed their rules to open access to their research. But he was still charged with 13 counts of network and computer fraud-related offenses, punishable with up to 35 years in prison and $1 Million in fines. A little more than a week ago, Aaron committed suicide, cutting short his brilliant existence and leaving the tech world reeling.

Since then, there have been a number of projects memorializing Aaron, including an MP3 project and a KickStarter to fund a documentary about his life. Wel…

Hacking Our Way To An Agile Organization: The Video

I recently gave my presentation "Hacking Our Way to an Agile Organization" for a government audience. The event was hosted by the Government of Canada Federal Youth Network (FYN) and open to all public servants. We had a great turnout for the event which was both in person and webcast. Since then, the FYN has posted the video online, for general use.

This version has evolved from a number of speaking engagements over the past year, and is a bit more focused on the public service, although it's still applicable to pretty much any workplace. The video contains my full 30 minute presentation followed by a Q&A.

If you prefer text, the full script is available on Google Drive and (as with all the content on this blog) is licensed with a creative commons attribution. (Here's more info about this license.)

Hope you like it!

Related posts:Hacking Your Way to an Agile OrganizationCivic Hacking: Spydergrrl on LSE Impact BlogHacking is a Mindset, Not a Skillset

How To Live-Tweet An Event: Part 2 - Developing a Content Plan

This is part 2 in an ongoing series on Live-Tweeting Events. Check out Part 1 - Defining Success. Or see the bottom of this post for links to the full 5-part series.

In part 1 of this series, I listed out dozens of questions which would help you consider your goals for live-tweeting your event: the purpose, the audiences, the type of engagement you want to encourage and what you will do with your content post-event. Now that you have figured out what success will look like, let's move on to the prep work. Yes, that's right: there's homework to be done before the event even starts.

Before you can get started, you need a content plan. It might seem a bit weird to plan out content that will be delivered in 140 characters and based on activities or presentations that you might not even see until the day of your event, however pre-planning content has a number of benefits:
you can ensure coverage of key points; you can prepare important logistical information up front; and, you …

R2D2 Fixes NASA's Star Wars Day Transmission (May the 4th Be With You)

So, between today being Star Wars Day and yesterday being Free Comic Book Day, this is gearing up to be a pretty nerdy weekend. I couldn't find any Star Wars themed events going on around town, but if the rain arrives as the forecast claims it will, we might have to catch up on a few episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Lightsabers in hand, naturally. :)

And we won't be the only ones celebrating:  apparently even the folks at NASA are getting in on the May the 4th fun this year. Check out this great little clip celebrating Star Wars Day.

What are you going to do to mark this special occasion? Whatever you do, May the 4th be with you (*groan* I know ;)

Related posts:
It's May the 4th! Happy Star Wars Day to you!May the 4th Be With You: Star Wars Bobble Heads

Free Comic Book Day!!!!

Once again, we kick off the week that is the Dude's birthday-stravaganza with our favourite annual event: free comic book day!!!

If you don't remember how this works, let me break it down for you:

Go to your favourite (participating) comic book store.Get free comics. Not one, not two, but an ENTIRE PILE of free comics. Leave.

This annual event is a fantastic way to foster a love of reading in both the young and old. And the selection is vast enough to ensure suitability for all ages.

For info and to find participating stores, check out the official Free Comic Book Day website or watch some of these great promo clips:

Featuring the incomparable Stan Lee:

And Levar Burton from Reading Rainbow:

Happy reading, nerds!

Related posts:

This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! (w00t!)Uber Nerdy Saturday: Free Comic Book Day and May The 4th Converge!