MoMoVan: Rx Networks and Assisted GPS

When you turn on your GPS device you can wait for a loooong time while it locates the satellites. By the time it does, you may have missed your exit. Peter Mueller and Adrian Stimpson of Rx Networks explain what is happening during that delay and what they are doing to speed it up.

Their first approach has been to have a network of earth stations around the world that keep satellite location information and transmit it to a GPS device over a high speed network. The next level of sophistication is to give the devices the ability to predict where the satellites are going to be.

They describe how their technology has been incorporated into the latest line of Garmin GPS devices to give them an "instant on" capability.

And it doesn't stop there. Things get even more interesting in their next project, a GPS-based self learning system.

From Mobile Monday Vancouver, Nov. 3, 2008.


MoMoVan: CellMap, Canpages and ImmersiFind

Aaron Hilton, Founder and CTO of CellMap gives a personal account of his collaboration with Olivier Vincent, President and CEO of Canpages that recently resulted in the creation of an innovation mobile search platform: ImmersiFind. It all started at a Momovan event last spring.

Along the way, Aaron shares his experience of developing for the iPhone. From Mobile Monday Vancouver, Nov. 3, 2008.


MoMoVan: Entrepreneurship Panel

The panel discussed how their companies organize and promote themselves as well as the challenges of competing in a global market.
  • Igor Faletski - Co-Founder of Handi Mobility

  • Danny Robinson – Founder & CEO of Bootup Labs

  • Ron Klopfer – Serial entrepreneur and angel investor

  • Amielle Lake, CEO of Tagga

  • Michael Bidu, WINBC (moderator)
From Mobile Monday Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2008.

Click the image below to see a two-minute summary.

Click this image to see the whole discussion.


3 Minute Pitch: Imogo

Stewart Irvine, CEO of Imogo, describes how his company delivers an "integrated, mobile, global office". From Mobile Monday Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2008.

The Art of the Pitch

From Mobile Monday Vancouver: Woodrow Wilson once said, "If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if an hour, I am ready now."

Ron Klopfer, no stranger to the technology industry or raising capital describes the art of the perfect pitch. He makes the point that good pitching skills are important in all aspects of the business, not just for convincing investors. Richly illustrated with examples and pithy advice, Ron speaks to the importance of being clear and concise and how to master being efficient at pitching.

Click the image below to view the presentation.


Generational Communication Gap

Can't figure out the people you work with? Maybe it will help to look at them through the lens of generations.

The Baby Boomers are delaying retirement. Generation X is sandwiched between Baby Boomers and Millennials, waiting their turn at formal leadership. This discussion explores the uniqueness of each of the generations and how to engage them all in your organization despite their differences. From the Oct. 27, 2008 meeting of the High-Tech Communicators' Exchange.

Kathi Irvine is a principal at KLI Associates and a core consultant with Sundance Consulting Inc. The intergenerational workforce is one of her current research projects.

Enjoy Your 25 Hour Day

This blog is called 25 Hour Day for a reason. Several of us will get to experience a 25 hour day today as we adjust our clocks for the end of daylight saving time (DST). Feels good doesn't it? Wouldn't it be nice if you could have that good feeling every day?

Well you can't, unless you adopt my modest proposal. In the meantime, enjoy your 25 hour day and enjoy your 5% reduced risk of a heart attack.


Marketing New Media

An engaging and useful Third Tuesday presentation. Mhairi Petrovic talks about "Overcoming the challenges of marketing new media to traditional decision makers."

The evolution of the Internet has brought about many changes in the way we do business: marketing in particular has seen a sea change as new methods of interacting with target audiences have come to the fore. Many senior decision makers today, however, come from a traditional marketing background and are hesitant to adopt new media marketing techniques. This talk will discuss the common objections old school marketers have to new media and how you can use the basic principles of traditional marketing to educate them to the new way of doing things.

Mhairi Petrovic is Chief Marketing Orchestrator and Founder of Out-Smarts Internet Marketing - a company dedicated to working with small to medium sized businesses to maximize their Internet exposure. Passionate about social media, Mhairi blogs and podcasts regularly and puts her knowledge of the Internet to good use to develop and implement innovative Internet marketing campaigns.

Mhairi's presentation and the audience discussion were live-blogged here, a post which helpfully includes links to all the sites and tools mentioned.

Click the image below to see the presentation. Sorry for the poor video and audio quality, it was a very dark intimate room in a noisy lively setting.


MoMoVan: Mobile Voting Panel

From the MoMoVan E-Zine description of the Oct. 6, 2008 meeting...

John Boxall of Handi Mobility and John Lyotier of Direct Voter carried a lively discussion of how the new technologies are being deployed; how politicians are doing a lousy job of embracing the new tools at their disposal and how secure mobile technologies are going to transform not only search marketing for election campaigns but also the way we vote.

What's up with the hats? Watch this.


Edie Hats and MoMoVan

From the MoMoVan E-Zine description of the Oct. 6, 2008 meeting...

In addition to the informative sessions and discussions, we also selected the new face of MoMoVan for the year (a unique tradition) for the official face on the "Smile, it's Monday!" button.

Edie, owner of Edie Hats, once again provided the props (sexy, crazy, trendy hats). There was some modesty at first, but Natalie (store manager) was relentless and no one was spared from the fashion show or the ensuing photo shoot. A top 5 was chosen from the room and after much deliberation, Igor Faletski passed the mantle to Amielle Lake.


Tagga Makes Instant Mobile Sites

Amielle Lake, CEO of Tagga, describes how this new company lets you create instant SMS and mobile sites. From the lightning pitches at MoMoVan, October 6, 2008.


Video: Apple Store Opening, Vancouver

Just for fun: a mashup of YouTube videos of the opening of the Apple Store in Vancouver on May 24, 2008. The videos from several attendees were synchronized and then edited in Final Cut Pro. The video runs in real time. Yes, the yelling and screaming did go on and on and on...

Picture credit: Retrocactus (who has many other fine pictures of the event)
The original YouTube videos are here: kockgunner, jeffreykao, RunningKelton, GregEhTV, PalluxoMediaOnline, bo5is, azisman


Video: CellMap Presentation

Aaron Hilton, president and CTO of CellMap, talks about how his company is bringing a new kind of map to your cell phone. He explains why it isn't Google Maps and gives a detailed business case example.
From MoMoVan, May 5, 2008.

Click the image below to view the video (length: 12:32).


Video: Mobile Social Networking

Join the panel at MoMoVan May 2008 for a discussion of social networking in the mobile space. Moderated by the always effervescent Roland Tanglao, panel members Jim Udall, Jeff LaPorte and David Vogt mix it up with the audience on topics of the next big thing, what will do for mobile what Google did for search, and is Vancouver a good place to nurture wireless companies?


Video: CTIA Wireless 2008 Quickie

Here is a very short (about 1 minute) overview of a panel discussion reviewing highlights of the recent CTIA conference in Las Vegas.

The panelists are:

Christina Lees, Product Manager, Wavefront
Luni Lebes, Chief Architect, Medio Systems
Razmig Sarkissian, Integration Manager, Mobile Distillery

Moderator is Michael Bidu, Executive Director, WINBC

Click the image below to view. If it sounds interesting to you, you can listen to the complete audio (length 20:40) of the discussion here (Right click to download.).

Play video


Video: Wireless Survey in 60 Seconds

Here's a 60 second version of a video that can be seen in full here.
Editing it down to one minute is obviously a bit of an experiment. Let me know what you think!
Michael Bidu, Executive Director of WINBC, gives a quick overview of the results of a 2007 survey of the wireless industry in British Columbia. The sector is healthy with over $1B in revenue and 6,000 employees. It has now reached a level of maturity where substantial investment is needed to fund the sales and marketing needed for the next stage of growth.

From MoMoVan, Mobile Monday in Vancouver, March 3, 2008.

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Podcast: Where Will BC's Wireless Companies Find $133M?

By now you've heard that our 2007 BC Wireless Industry Survey uncovered the need of BC's mobile companies to find $133M in financing over the next two years to fund growth and expand their markets. Where will that money come from? That was the main subject of the WINBC MoMoVan at the downtown offices of Fasken Martineau, March 3, 2008 .

The panelists were:

Steve Hnatiuk, from Yaletown Venture Partners. Yaletown is backed by major institutional investors in Canada and the US and invests the majority of its capital in early-stage technology companies in BC. They typically invest up to $2 million in the first round in any start-up they back and up to $6M in a company across multiple rounds. Every year Yaletown sees about 300 new companies seeking funding and invests in 3 or 4.

Jenny Yang, from the Business Development Bank of Canada, a crown corporation with $500 million to invest in early stage companies, especially ones in life sciences, advanced technology, telecommunications and IT.

Earl Hong Tai, from Telefilm Canada's New Media Fund for early stage start-ups.

Riz Kheraj, from NRC/IRAP, which helps small and medium tech companies by providing financial and other support. They have $13 million in R&D funds available to BC technology companies.

Michael Bidu, Executive Director of WINBC, moderator

Listen to the audio here (Right click to download).


Northern Voice 2008: Mobile Video Blogging

Chris Heuer and Roland Tanglao show how to stream video live from a phone, and discuss how it is changing the landscape for blogging. Lots of good interatction with the audience.
The session itself was (of course!) broadcast live from Roland's phone. This video is a mashup of Roland's stream, a GO-HD camera I had in the audience, and audio from a portable recorder stuck near the front of the room.
From MooseCamp at Northern Voice 2008.

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Video: BC Wireless Industry Survey

Michael Bidu, Executive Director of WINBC, gives a quick overview of the results of a 2007 survey of the wireless industry in British Columbia. The sector is healthy with over $1B in revenue and 6,000 employees. It has now reached a level of maturity where substantial investment is needed to fund the sales and marketing needed for the next stage of growth.
From MoMoVan, Mobile Monday in Vancouver, March 3, 2008.


Northern Voice 2008: Achieving a Personal Style

Some pithy comments by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward, renowned photographer, writer and artist, on the role that lighting plays in achieving a personal style in your pictures. Starting with the lament that "right now we are going through the opposite of a renaissance of lighting," and that the world is becoming "Flickr'ed", he identifies both the biggest enemy and the holy grail of photography.
From the PhotoCamp session at Northern Voice 2008.

(A somewhat bigger version of the video is here.)


Piano Phantom

Just for fun, here's a short video I made to test some video sync software I am working on. It may not be obvious at first that there are several media streams being synchronized, but keep watching.


Northern Voice 2008: Best Compact Cameras

Tim Bray gives a quick survey of the state-of-the-art in compact digital still cameras in the PhotoCamp session at MooseCamp, Northern Voice 2008. Tim's talk itself is quite compact, as he cuts to the chase about why you would want to use a pocket camera versus an SLR, what the dream camera would be and how close you can get to that today. The links to the topics and cameras are gathered here.

(A somewhat better quality version of the video is here.)


Experiments in user-generated music videos

R.E.M. has done something innovative with their latest single, Supernatural Superserious. They posted 11 videos of the group performing the song and invited fans to mash them up into their own music videos. The results are here.

Some of the videos are pretty good. My favorite is actually only slightly connected with the concept, but especially after seeing some of the others it really grabs you (or me at least).

My own effort was just a technical exercise in synchronization. Still, it has some charm IMHO.

This is just the latest in band-encouraged fan videos, following on from a 200 contributor effort for a Shins video which was written up in Wired (which gets bonus points for a great headline).

Ultra-budget film-making

Kirk Mastin, a professional photographer, had a great idea on how to compare the quality of a cheap Flip Video camcorder with that of my beloved Canon XH A1, which costs about 20 times as much. He literally taped a Flip onto the side of an A1 and then shot a documentary with both of them simultaneously.

The results are fascinating. They are best viewed in the original Blip.tv form because they get cropped on Kirk's blog.

The Flip version looks not bad at all, even though it was cropped to get a 16:9 aspect ratio. Just shows that technique wins over equipment.


Northern Voice 2008: DOF and Gallery Hack

Derek Miller, with some help from Kris Krug, gives a quick intro to the concept of depth of field and how to control it. He then presents a neat hack to get photo galleries on your blog that look suspiciously Flickr-like. From the PhotoCamp session at MooseCamp, Northern Voice 2008.

Technical note: The image is a little dark because the lights were off in the room! Given that fact, the GO-HD did a pretty good job.



Northern Voice 2008: Natural Light Photography

Miranda Lievers from Blue Olive Photography gives a great instructive presentation on making natural and found light portraits - what to look for when placing your subject(s), and how to get great natural portraits when you find the light. Well-illustrated with several excellent photos illustrating the concepts.

From the PhotoCamp session of Northern Voice 2008. A somewhat bigger and higher-quality version is here.

Northern Voice 2008: Enterprise Social

A well-attended session from Northern Voice 2008. David Orchard leads a discussion on the use of social software (especially wikis) within the enterprise. More notes here.

Technical Notes The first 45 seconds or so is audio-only, because I started the camera late. The video was recorded with an Aiptek GO-HD and the audio was recorded with a Zoom H4. This was literally the first time I had ever used the GO-HD and my camera work is pretty wonky in places as I was playing around with it!


DemoCamp: Scannerfly

Brendan Wilson demos Scannerfly, a Flash component that turns any webcam into a barcode scanner. Presented at DemoCampVancouver05. For a recap of the meeting, go here.

DemoCamp: Twemes

Rochelle Grayson describes how to track Twitter memes with Twemes. Presented at DemoCampVancouver05. For a recap of the whole meeting, see this TechVibes post.

DemoCamp: Localiti

Jason Murphy demos Localiti, a new concept for a web/desktop application that promises to redefine communication and messaging.
From DemoCampVancouver05. Read the meeting recap here.


DemoCamp: pul.se

Weston Triemstra demos pulse, a Facebook application that helps you keep track of your favorite bands and makes recommendations. This recording is from DemoCampVancouver05. A recap of the meeting can be found on TechVibes.


Nonlinear Learning, or Why I Don't Read Books Anymore

I had the good fortune a while ago to have dinner with Don Tapscott, a writer/thinker whose work I quite like. There was an awkward moment when I confessed that not only had I not read his latest book, but I doubted that I ever would. Don's a good writer and the subject area is interesting to me, but I just don't read books anymore. More precisely, sometimes I start reading them but I rarely finish. (I've had about 50 pages to go in Cryptonomicon for several years now.) And I do dip into books frequently, especially electronic editions. But read a book? Uh, no.

The reason has something to do with the fact there are so many other information sources that command my attention. I wasn't able to articulate this very well at the time, and now I don't have to because Scott Karp has clarified it admirably. The crux of his argument is summed up by these questions:

What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I’m just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?

What if the networked nature of content on the web has changed not just how I consume information but how I process it?

What if I no longer have the patience to read a book because it’s too…. linear.

Yup, that's it (almost).

We home-schooled our three kids for many years. One of the key advantages of unstructured home-schooling over scheduled learning in a classroom is that you can take advantage of the "learning moment". There comes a time when the child asks a question or otherwise lets you know that she is receptive to hearing some information about a specific topic, right now. The amount of learning you can pack into that moment is incomparably more than what gets absorbed from a steady stream of linear information going by.

Call me ADD if you want but I prefer to think of our digital age as enabling a rich variety of learning moments. Mommy isn't around to answer my questions, but Wikipedia is. So is Twitter, Google, the electronic editions of The Vancouver Sun and The New York Times, Safari books online, my social graph, etc. etc. Sure I hop around from topic to topic and can't follow the bread crumbs back to where I started sometimes, but on the whole I am getting more out of it than by following a linear track. Much more.

I disagree with Scott on one point. I don't believe his (or my) style of thinking has changed. Human thought processes are naturally nonlinear and hyperlinked. It's just that now we have information sources that match. Physical books that are read from beginning to end don't fit.


Mathematician Up For Grammy

This article tells the wonderful story of how a mathematician helped restore a bootleg recording of Woody Guthrie performing live. Until recently no such recordings were thought to exist, but in 2001 one appeared. The problem was, it was recorded on flimsy wire that was stretched and twisted. The restoration was so good that the recording has been nominated for a Grammy.



A Skeptical Mathematician Loses Weight by the Numbers

I am six feet tall. A few months ago I weighed 190 lb, which is at the 38th percentile of American males. In other words, 62% of males my height weighed more than me. Sounds good, but there's a problem. Says who? Says WHO, that's who. The World Health Organization (WHO) has this nasty thing called the Body Mass Index (BMI) and if you are six feet tall and 190 lb you have a BMI of 25.8 and are deemed to be moderately overweight. My doctor (who is skinny) thought I was moderately overweight too.

This is the story of my journey to figure out how to lose some weight.

For no good reason, I decided I should weigh 170 and it would be all right to take two years to get there. How to do it? We all "know" that diets don't work. (Actually, we don't know much of anything. See Good Calories, Bad Calories.) There is a school of thought that if you just practice intentional eating, or mindful eating, you will eat less. A quick read of Mindless Eating (and Influence) convinced me otherwise.

The more I looked into weight control, the more skeptical I became that anyone knows anything about it. The proliferation of zillions of fad diets seemed all too understandable: diet studies are hard to do with scientific rigor, no one does them right anyway, everyone has a vested interest, etc. etc. The state of the science for all this is depressingly poor. Sigh.

Everyone seems to agree that reducing calories will result in weight loss. That doesn't mean it's true, but everyone agrees. So I decided to count calories. Being a mathematician, I was getting interested now that it was becoming a numbers game. The standard wisdom is that you need a certain number of calories to maintain your weight and if you eat 500 calories a day less than that you will lose one pound in a week. Counting calories is pretty easy because nutritional info for generic food is readily available and (thanks to Ralph Nader apparently) there are calorie counts on pretty well all packaged foods.

So I just needed to know what my maintenance calories were and then eat less than that. The maintenance level is loosely known as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Fortunately there are many Web sites that tell you how to calculate your BMR. Unfortunately, they all give wildly different answers. But fortunately, I live in a quasi-socialist society where they think the government is supposed to help people and they have a Dial-a-Dietitian service. Forget all the confusion on the Internet, I could ask a professional for the answer!

The dietitian was very nice but was very insistent that she wasn't going to tell me what my BMR might be. Why? "Diets don't work." Well, I'm not really planning to diet exactly, just practice a little portion control perhaps. "You'd have to keep track of your calories and no one does that effectively." I can! I can! "You should try to get more exercise instead." I will, I promise, but maybe I could combine that with a little calorie monitoring? No luck, resistance was futile.

So much for theory. I decided to just experiment on myself, eat a little less, count the calories I was eating and see what happened. Well, a funny thing happened. Counting calories made me aware of how many stupid calories I was taking in. I ended up eating even less than I had planned to and my weight fell faster than I had expected it would. The best part was I didn't feel like I was dieting or starving myself. Somewhere along the way I decided that my target weight should be 162 lb because that would give me a BMI of 21, right smack in the middle of the healthy range. That number was kind of arbitrary, but I liked the idea of performing a "random act of self-discipline" (as Bill Gates supposedly described his temporary adoption of vegetarianism).

The graph above shows the results. Before my little calorie-counting episode, my weight was slowly creeping up. Afterward it went steadily down. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine at what point in the graph the change happened. Just last week, I reached my target weight. I had lost 28 pounds in about five months. Yay!

What did I learn? Lots of things, but they may well apply only to me and no one else. Calories do make a difference. Fat, not so much. My normal diet is not particularly low-fat. Nor is it particularly low-carb. And exercise? Surprisingly, it seemed to have very little impact. For the first third of the five months I was exercising much more than usual. In the middle third, I exercised much less. In the final third, I've been back to normal for me, which is on the light side of moderate. None of this made any difference to my weight. (Ha! Take that, professional dietitian!) Basically I learned that 99.9% of everything you read about dieting, exercise, calories, carbs, fat and everything else is garbage. Evidence-based medicine is a good thing. But you'll be disappointed if you think there is much of that going on in the world of nutrition.

I know what you're thinking. Will he be able to keep it off? I'm actually more concerned about something else: how do I stop losing weight? I know how to lose weight. I don't know how to maintain my weight. I know what the theory says about my BMR. I can put all the data I have collected about myself into a first-order inhomogeneous differential equation and solve that to get my BMR at any given weight level. (Parents: your kids wonder why they should study math? There's your answer.)

But according to that calculation I would need to eat 700 more calories per day to maintain my weight. Um, that would be like a 47% increase. I don't believe it. So I'll experiment some more and explode some other theories in the process no doubt.