Thank You

Today I graduated from Regis University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. I did not do this alone and I’m grateful for the help, encouragement and inspiration from many people. It’s amazing how 2 small words can mean so much. “Thank You”

To my wife, Corrine – Thank you for your love and encouragement and understanding. The work and dedication I’ve had to put towards my degree has meant I have not given our relationship the work and dedication it deserves and it has been this way for 5 freakin’ years! That means I’ve spent over half of our marriage doing this. You are a saint.

To my daughter, Ashlynn – When I think of the person I want to be, I look at myself through your eyes. Your optimism and enthusiasm for your schoolwork inspires me. This fall you are about to start high school and take as many Honors and AP classes as you can and it won’t be easy but know that if I can pass my classes, you can too and that your mom will support you as much as she supported me and I’m so happy that I’ll be able to also help and support you.

To my Mom – Our relationship has not been close for a while, but you formed the foundation of who I am and I could not have achieved this without your influence.

To my Dad – You work harder than anyone I know and your constant curiosity to learn new things inspires and encourages me. I may be done with schoolwork but I’ll enjoy taking after you and spending the rest of my life staying curious.

To my sister, Sam – I’m lucky to have such a selfless and encouraging sister. No matter what you’ve been through in the past 5 years (and you’ve been through a lot), you’ve always been a much needed source of enthusiasm and encouragement. Thank you.

To my mother-in-law Mary – Your faith, understanding and help have been instrumental to every success in our family. Thank you.

To Marie Trout – I took an odd job as a freelancer online and found a friend who believes in me. I value your support and friendship. Thank you.

To my friend, Dre – When I would get discouraged, I thought of you. You left a job that you could’ve comfortably stayed in to go to school and do something you love. It was always a reminder that what I wanted is possible. And when I was diagnosed with depression last year, it was easy for me to choose exercise over medication because I knew I’d have a friend at the gym to encourage me. Thank you.

To Dan, Anthony, Dave, Lewis and all my other friends that I ignored to get my schoolwork done – Thank you for staying my friend.

To my friend, Candice – You went back to school as an adult, got your degree and work as a developer. You were a reminder that what I wanted to do was possible. Thank you for the inspiration.

To my friend, Roberta – It was so long ago that we worked graveyard shift together while I did homework between phone calls and radio traffic. It is so easy to feel discouraged when it’s 3:30am and the homework is hard and the brain is tired and the people are stupid. Your enthusiasm and encouragement during those times is greatly appreciated and seeing you go back to school to work in a field you love is inspiring.

To my friend, Marla – It’s great to have a friend who is also doing schoolwork. It’s great to be able to say “Homework is hard.” and have a friend understand.

To my friend, Robin – You are a constant source of enthusiasm and encouragement. Thank you.

To my friend, Mark – I knew, at any time, I could call you up for help. It’s great to have a friend with experience in the software industry that I can ask questions of.

To my Go Code Colorado 2015 teammates, Edgar, Thi and Jaylyn – Your knowledge, friendship and successes inspire me. Thank you

To my former supervisors Vance, Carrie, Julie – Thank you for supporting me. You knew that I was working towards a goal that would cause me to change jobs and you still encouraged me. Thank you.

To everyone else who gave an encouraging word, answered a question or just generally showed support. Thank you.

My Colorado Tech Guide to Denver Comic Con


This weekend is Denver Comic Con (DCC)! Woohoo!

DCC is the premier event for all things geek in Colorado. No matter what it is you geek-out about, there’s a good chance you’ll find other people who share your interests there. As much as I like to geek-out about normal geeky things like Stan Lee, some of the cast of Doctor Who, Cary Elwes and Tentacle Kitty, I especially like to geek-out about Colorado technology. So what can you expect if you want to see Colorado Tech at Denver Comic Con?

Tech (and Gaming) Panels

Denver Comic Con made it easy and created a ‘Gaming & Tech’ track for their panels. You can see all the cool ‘Gaming & Tech’ panels here. The ones I am hoping to go to are…

  • (Friday 12:15pm-1:05pm in Room 603) – SPRK your passion: Inspiring new ways to learn through robotos! w/Sphero
  • (Friday 4pm-4:50pm in room 703) – Create a Simple Vidoe Game in 30 minutes w/ Unity Game Engine – Art Institute
  • (Friday 5:15pm-6:05pm in room 703) – How to Design Video Games and Get into the Game Design Field
  • (Saturday 12:15pm-1:05pm in room 703) – DIY Tabletop Game Design
  • (Saturday 5:15pm-6:05pm in room 703) – Mobile Game Development – Art Institute
  • (Sunday 1:30[m-2:20pm in room 703) – How to Start Your Own Droid Build
  • (Sunday 4pm-4:50pm in room 703) – Virtual Reality & Interactive Experience, Collaborative Work – Art Instutite

There will also be panels and exhibits in the E.D.G.E. featuring Colorado game developers and makers that are not in the DCC scheduling app so make sure to check in there for cool Colorado tech things. For example, on Saturday, Zhengua “Z” Yang, founder of Boulder-based Serenity Forge and all around good guy, is doing a presentation at 1pm in the 8-bit Lounge that is not listed in the DCC sheduling app.

Colorado Tech Exhibitors

It appears that the exhibitors in the E.D.G.E. are not included in the DCC app. I know that game developers Synaptic Switch and Serenity Forge will be there along with the Denhac maker space but they are not listed in the app so make sure to go check out the E.D.G.E. if you’re going to DCC. The exhibitors that are listed that I’m looking forward to are…

  • Aleph Objects, Inc. (because Colorado-made 3D printers)
  • Arapahoe Library District (because they are doing cool things for Colorado makers)
  • Backflip Studios (because they’re the biggest Colorado game developer)
  • RMCAD (because they are hosting a few of the game panels)
  • Sphero (because Colorado-made robotic spheres including BB-8)

Other Panels and Exhibitors

I can’t just spend 3 days focusing on Colorado tech. There are tons of other fun things to see. Here is my short list of other things to see at DCC.


  • (Friday 10:30am-11:20am in Room 601) NASA – Futurama: Learning Science with Fry and the Gang (because Futurama)
  • (Friday 2:15pm-3pm at the Xfinity Stage) Meet the Actors Behind the Voices (because voice actors seem like really cool people. Just watch “I Know That Voice” on Netflix)
  • (Saturday 10:45am-11:30am at the Bellco Theater) Ladies of Doctor Who w/ Alex Kingston and Jenna Coleman (because its Doctor Who. Also Jenna Coleman is cute)
  • (Saturday 1:30pm-2:15pm at the Bellco Theater) Spotlight on Stan Lee (because… well if you can’t figure it out, maybe DCC isn’t for you)
  • (Saturday 2:45pm-3:35pm in room 502/503) Steampunk: Beyond Gears and Cogs (because Steampunk is cool in a very un-cool way)
  • (Saturday 4pm-4:45pm at the Bellco Theater) Spotlight on Cary Elwes (because Princess Bride)
  • (Saturday 11am-11:45am at the Bellco Theater) Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration (because my daughter shows early signs of being a trekkie)
  • (Sunday 1pm-1:50pm in Room 402) Let’s Draw! Workshop w/ Terryl Whitlatch & Copic Markers (Because I like to draw and want to be better at it)
  • (Sunday 1:30pm-2:20pm) The Best Writing Advice I was Ever Given (because I like to write and I want to be better at it)


  • Jay Peteranetz (because he did the art on the DCC passes)
  • Red Tempest Studios (because mobile apps + comics sounds cool)
  • Rothic (because I really like looking at their comics)
  • Tabletop Fables (because tabletop gaming is cool)
  • TeeTurtle (because they have cute/fun shirts)
  • Tentacle Kitty (because Ninja Kitty is now household lore)
  • The 1UP Arcarde Bar (because pinball)

For more information about all things Denver Comic Con, go to If you’re there, send me a tweet on teh Twitterz. I hope to see you there!


More Than Tech at Denver Mini Maker Faire

On Saturday I got the chance to go to the Denver Mini Maker Faire at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The Denver Mini Maker Faire was a 2-day event that showcased the people and organizations that make up the “maker” movement in Colorado.

What is a “Maker”? When I thought of a Maker I thought of someone who knows about electricity and currents and breadboards that have nothing to do with bread and knows how to solder and how to correctly pronounce “solder” without wondering if you really should be pronouncing the “L”.

And plenty of those people were there! Sparkfun Electronics had a big booth where you could make your own LED-lit badge using copper tape. The many different maker hubs from the Denver area were there showing off projects by their members made of sensors and chips and Raspberry Pi’s.

However there were also plenty of booths, including many of the maker hub booths, that showed off creations that were made with sewing and cloth and metal-bending and 3D-printers. So what is a Maker? A Maker is someone who enjoys learning and creating with their main objective being education and inspiration. There’s no barrier to entry into the Maker movement as long as you enjoy learning, creating and inspiring.

There is something about creating things that makes us feel good about ourselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s a crayon drawing or a birdhouse or a computer game or an 8-foot tall robot made of crochet and computer chips. We feel better when we create. It’s something I’ve been trying to get going in my household. We should consume less and create more.

Check out the Denver Mini Maker Faire “Meet the Makers” page for more information about the exhibitors.

Art-o-cade let patrons decorate cars in front of the museum
The door was locked so no one could get in and get lost.
Kids playing with Cubelets (made in Colorado!)
A 3D-printed leg brace for a kitten by the Art Institute of Colorado
Drawbot drawings and other gadgets from Solid State Depot
Drawbot drawing
Cool looking Furby-things by Ira Sherman
Me with a Dalek. Apparently I had some weird-ass Caillou-hair going on all day that no one felt the need to tell me about. EXTERMINATE!
A cool game made of pinball parts
Serenity Forge hacked a Kinect a made a cool arm-waving musical game.
A sensor and a projector from System76 allowed kids to move sand to create islands, lakes and mountains
NIST had plenty of demonstrations
A giant metal dragon

2016 Go Code Colorado Winners and Advice On How To Become One

Thursday night was the Go Code Colorado Final Event at the Seawell Grand Ballroom in Denver, Colorado. Last year I attended the same event as a member of a finalist team (we won, by the way) but this year I got to be an observer which made the event more relaxing for me. The goal of Go Code Colorado is to promote the use of government data by entrepreneurs to improve Colorado. In previous years, the organizers gave teams themes to work from but this year they left it wide open which allowed challengers to really dig into their specific areas of expertise.

Another difference between the last 2 years’ and this year’s Final Event was the setup. This year’s Final Event was set up specifically for presentations which was a big plus. The event was emceed by’s Jared Ewy and featured proud words from Colorado Secretary of State, Wayne Williams who announced that the winning teams would join Gov. Bill Hickenlooper for a bill signing.


The judges had their own table directly in front of the stage. They were Dianna Anderson, VP of Global Data Strategy at IQNavigator; Debbie Blyth, Chief Information Security Officer for Colorado; Andre Durand, Founder and CEO of Ping Identity; Nicole Gravagna, advisor, author and health tech leader and Sue Heilbronner, CEO of MergeLane. After a 5 minute presentation, judges were allowed a few minutes for questions before the next pitch.

I was impressed with the confidence and passion shown by each presenter. The winning teams were HIvely, a platform to make personality-based hiring easier; Foodcaster, an app to help food trucks find the best locations based off of government and social data and Regulation Explorer, a platform to help oil & gas companies find drilling locations that are not only good for the company, but good for the communities too.

It was fun to see the support that each team received from their friends and families as well as from other teams. It is a serious competition but it is by no means a cutthroat competition.

After the winners were announced I congratulated Wojciech Magda from Regulation Explorer. Wojciech has the distinguished recognition of being a 3-time Go Code Colorado winner. He said the best way to win is to focus on your MVP (Minimum Viable Product). I also talked with Denver participant, Daniel Ritchie, who suggested that participants focus on the business-building aspects of the challenge. This was also echoed by Aiko Cheslin who was my teammate and the organize for MentorMatter, a 2015 winner. If you want to win the Go Code Colorado challenge, make a solid MVP, nail down your business organization and (this one is from me), plan on winning. This is a startup competition, not just a hackathon. With a solid MVP, a well-defined organization and a plan for the future, winning Go Code Colorado will just be the first step in your success.

Go Code Colorado has built an amazing network of mentors and innovators throughout the entire state in the past 3 years. I hope at least one team goes on to create a successful business out of their winning challenge.

Check out my videos of the Final Event below. The video isn’t that good but the audio is pretty good. They include pitches from every one of the top 10 finalists from around the state. Unfortunately the audio for the beginning of the event did not record so my apologies to Hively and Foodcaster. Also if you hear me say “I love you” during one of the videos it’s because my daughter popped into my Periscope stream to tell me good night. It was a fun night and I hope it happens again.

Perfection is a Dirty Word and the Definition of “Correctly Done” is Highly Subjective

When I decided to go back to school to be a software developer I had a grand plan. The plan was to use this site to show off my programming projects, but I didn’t want to just show the finished projects. I wanted to show how I developed the projects to prove that I could do them the “Right Way.”

I was going to learn all the UX principles and perfect my project management skills to make sure I was showing that I could use the most up-to-date agile kanban scrum thingies.
I wanted to show that my code was well organized, efficient and well documented. I wanted to show that I understood everything that was happening with my code from front to back, inside and out, then front to back again. I wanted to show that when you hire me as a new developer that I can just slide right into your team and contribute right away.

It’s been almost 3 years since I started this journey and I just now feel almost ready to start applying for entry-level positions and the biggest reason I have that confidence is that I have finally finished a few projects. The only way I finished those projects was because I did not worry about doing them absolutely correctly. It turns out that perfection is a dirty word and the definition of “correctly done” is highly subjective.

When I finished my Trespass Notice app and posted my code to GitHub last week I panicked slightly. It wasn’t done “correctly” and now everyone would see that. I didn’t use Git or TDD (Test Driven Development). There are files and models that are unused. I did not refactor my code to make it more efficient. And worst of all, there is some code that I am pretty sure works correctly but I don’t completely understand how. Oh, the shame!!

But I found out that the pride of creating a working web app outweighed the shame. Despite my pride and my expectations, I am still new to this and I will probably never feel as competent as I think I should be. I don’t need to learn all the UX principles (there are too many… and then they change) or know how to expertly manage a software project. My code will never be perfect and I will not completely understand every working part and this is OK. The important part is to complete my projects so I can learn from my mistakes.

Podcasts for the Colorado Tech Geek

Last week I decided to stop recording the Colorado Tech Weekly Podcast. It was a fun experiment and I’m glad I tried it. It gave me the confidence to talk more freely about my knowledge and I’m proud that I gave podcasting a try without spending money on all the cool audio toys… although I did make an Amazon wishlist of audio toys.

I decided to stop the podcast because I realized that it was not working towards my goal of becoming a software developer. The whole reason I have this site is to show the work I am doing so I can get that developer job. The whole reason for the Colorado Tech Weekly series is to give people a reason to come to my site to read the news and see my project updates. Therefore the podcast should have been working towards that same goal. It wasn’t. In fact it seemed to be taking up time and effort that I could be spending working on projects and posting project updates on this site.

I also had big, cool ideas for the podcast which would make the podcast cool but would also take away more time from my primary goal. I love the idea of doing interviews and having co-hosts and panel discussions that focused on the Colorado technology community. How cool would it be to hear Tamara Chuang, Greg Avery and Jess Ryan discuss the current tech news on a monthly basis? That would be awesome! But it would take up way more time than I have. The ideas I have for the podcast are great. It could work and it could be awesome. Unfortunately I am not the person to make that happen right now.

Since I am not making a podcast anymore, I figured I would let you in on the podcasts that inspire and entertain me…

  •  5280 Geek – Smurf hosts a mostly weekly podcast with a small group that talk about comics, pop culture, TV, movies, games and cosplay. There are serious opinions, “inappropriate” jokes, euphemisms and interviews. Great all around geekiness.
  • The Boop Show – Hosted by Scott Johnson. This is another mostly weekly podcast where Scott talks about the latest news in the video game industry. It’s mostly Scott by himself but he does try to incorporate listener feedback.
  • The Daily Tech News Show  – One of my favorite podcasts and the reason I thought I could ever do my own podcast. Tom Merritt hosts the show with different co-hosts every day and talks about tech news from around the world. It’s every thing I wanted the Colorado Tech Weekly Podcast to be.
  • EleventyTwelve – Hosted by Jared Ewy and Aaron Templar in Jared’s basement in Englewood on a weekly basis. Jared and Aaron take on Colorado stories and interests where each episode is under 30 minutes on purpose. It’s like a good morning radio show if morning radio shows weren’t annoying but weekly and there’s no weather or traffic updates (mostly).
  • Mostly Harmless with Dammit Damian: A Punk Rock Podcast – Do you like punk rock and comics and nice guys named Damian who live in Denver? If you think you might, give this podcast a listen. In the same way I love showing off how much Coloradans contribute to the tech world, Damian loves showing off local artists, authors and musicians. He also says “Hey buddies!” a lot so it sounds like he’s your nice beer drinking, punk rock loving friend.
  • Pixels – An internationally hosted podcast about the video game industry recorded about twice a month. It’s hosted by Patrick Beja who is from France but just moved to Japan and includes co-hosts from America and Europe so it truly is international. It’s like the Boop Show but more conversational but still sometimes includes Scott Johnson.
  • The Avs Hockey Podcast – This podcast is hosted by huge Avalanche fan and ringleader of the #AvsTwitterPsychic twitter game, Jay Vean and the amazingly well traveled and awesome guy, James “Tapeleg” Gralian. It’s recorded every 1-2 months and Jay and James chat about news and interests involving the Colorado Avalanche and NHL hockey since their last recording. The only thing that would make this podcast better would be if they recorded it more often.
  • The Nerdist – Hosted by the nicest and most popular nerd in America, Chris Hardwick. The podcast is mostly Chris having genuine conversations with is friends and with cool, famous people in movies. It’s awesome. I love Chris. Listening to him makes me feel good about being a fan of anything.
  • The Sword and Laser – After I started listening to The Nerdist and feeling better about being a fan of nerdy things, I decided to finally give The Sword and Laser a listen. It’s a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont who are just as nice and just as nerdy as Chris Hardwick (and maybe more popular in some circles). The podcast is an extension of the Sword and Laser book club on Goodreads that discusses sci-fi and fantasy books.
  • These Things Matter Podcast – Another Colorado-based podcast of general geekery. This one is hosted by local stand-up comic, Kevin O’Brien and Taylor Gonda. Every week they have an interesting guest and talk about a pop culture thing and it’s generally just fun to listen to.

I also just subscribed to 5280 Nerd, Denver Business Podcast and Turnpikers for more Colorado specific shows so I don’t know much about them yet.

What podcasts inspire and entertain you?

5 Peoples’ Reasons for going to C-Level (Including Mine)

C-Level @ A Mile High Stacked Logo 2015

On Thursday, March 10 the Colorado Technology Association is hosting C-Level at Mile High on the club level at Sports Authority Field. C-Level is CTA’s premier annual networking and fundraising event. It allows providers to bid for time with over 60 different top Colorado technology executives and includes a silent auction that benefits CTA.

This will be the 10th annual C-Level at Mile high hosted by CTA and it will be the third year I am volunteering for it. Before I let you know why I go, let me show you what some other people are saying…

I’ve attended C-Level for the past 3 years and it’s an experience I wouldn’t want to miss. Here are my top three favorite things about this exciting event:

1. The networking. I look forward to seeing many familiar faces, and meeting new contacts as well. It’s a friendly crowd in a magnificent venue.

2. The Celebrities. The top technology leaders in Denver are everywhere. It’s exciting to see which Celebrities bring in the most funds.

3. The ambiance. The energy of C-Level is riveting. I’ve heard it described as a giant cocktail party. The food and drinks are top-notch, the silent auction is fun to bid on, and connecting with friends, colleagues and new acquaintances is energizing.

-Karen Sutherland, Marketing Manager – Hitachi Data Systems (Attendee/Sponsor)

Karen is right about the networking at C-Level. It’s fun! And that’s strange for me to say since I’m not a big fan of large groups of people but the space provided on the club level, the food, the drinks and the auctions make it a very appealing place to be. I am excited to go back this year and see the friends I’ve made from the past C-Level events.

Compri has been a title sponsor several years running, and our staff attends faithfully every year. We have forged lasting business relationships and friendships resulting in recurring business and trusted partnerships. Plus, the event itself is so much fun you can’t miss it!

-Tom Melaragno, President – Compri Consulting (Sponsor)

C-Level 10 YearThe industry insight is great. There are tons of startup events in Colorado but this is a technology business event first. That’s not to say it’s not an event for startups. In fact if one of these Celebrities looks like your target market for your startup, C-Level may just be the best way to get their attention.

When I first started attending CTA meetings and events I thought it was a great business development opportunity.  But before long, I realized that it was much more than that.  It was an opportunity to connect with industry peers, develop friendships and connect with the best local, innovative technology companies.  This is the most meaningful association in Colorado for building connections across the technology space.

-Alan Ferguson, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder – Coalfire (Attending)

Like Alan, CTA is the organization that put me in touch with so much of the Colorado technology industry. I soon learned that it is much more of a community than an industry. I am thankful for the work CTA does for technology professionals in Colorado. Participating in C-Level is my way to support CTA’s various missions such as supporting startups with their support of Denver Startup Week, talking with legislators about technology issues and helping us new developers with the Tech Talent Pipeline.

The C-Level @ Mile High CTA event is a great opportunity for me to reconnect with industry friends as well as meet new technology peers in the front-range.  When I attended in 2015, it was great to see how this event has grown over the past 10 years to such a large number of attendees while still maintaining an impressive percentage that are C-suite execs.  CTA has done a great job at creating different ways to encourage interaction between the attendees during the C-Level event, which has been a catalyst to expand my network and find interesting ideas to bring back to KPA.

– Vane Clayton, CEO – KPA (Attendee)

Above all else, I go to C-Level to be inspired. I am not a marketing professional. I’m not a tech executive. Actually, I’m not even employed by a tech company yet! But when I talk to people at C-Level I find people who are passionate about the “community” part of the Colorado technology community and I hear about how they got started. We all start somewhere.

Join me on March 10th at Sports Authority Field for C-Level at Mile High for the community, the fun and the inspiration.

It’s Time To Focus More on “Doing” Than “Learning”

I just finished my last 2 classes of the year which means I can spend the next 2 months doing what I want to do. It means I have ACTUAL FREE_TIME! I’m not sure how to free-time but I’ve been told it is a vital part of my mental health so I plan on making the most of it by DOING things.

Opened magic book with magic light. EducationIt may just sound like pointless semantics or just not make any sense at all but I realized that I’ve spent most of my free-time during the past 2 years learning more than doing. This means that while my knowledge of languages, frameworks, communities, industries, hobbies and people has increased, I have very little to show for it. By focusing on learning, I’ve kept myself in a very safe place where I just need to consume information with little to no expectations.

There’s a huge difference between having knowledge of a subject and being able to perform that subject. Learning about programming languages and frameworks does not make me a good programmer just as learning how to catch a baseball does not mean I will be a good baseball player.


So I will focus my next 2 months on DOING the things I want to do. I will create apps, make games, draw things and write stories. If I need to learn something in order to create, then I will do that but my focus will be on creation. In fact, I’ve already started!

The funny thing is, the best ways to learn skills like programming, drawing and writing is… to do them!


My Hackathon Flame-Out And How To Avoid One

Definition of a hackathon flame-out: A hackathon flame-out occurs when a participant gets so frustrated and discouraged that they leave the hackathon before it ends.

This weekend I took time off of work to participate in the Pebble Rocks Boulder Hackathon. The hackathon is described as

on-whiteseventy-five bold designers, developers, and makers will use Pebble Time smartwatches, Lulzbot 3D printers, and their own wits to create something physical, something new, something kickass.

I was invited to cover the hackathon for my blog by Viget but decided to be bold and participate in the hackathon. This was my first mistake. I signed up solo and planned on joining a team when I got there. This was my second mistake. I ended up on a very disorganized team with very high expectations led by a guy that I didn’t trust. Here’s how I ended up experiencing the hackathon:

Seventy-five bold designers, developers, and makers will create a device (hardware hacking) that connects to the Pebble’s Smartstrap port (low-level programming) to interact with a Pebble app (C programming) that can be configured with a mobile app (Java programming) and receive info from an API (JavaScript, HTTP, JSON).

7fd2d5300f521969b4bc52cecb23eb9dA computer science student with social anxiety from being introverted will combine impostor syndrome with strangers and spend 2.5 days working on something completely new with technology he’s never used with people he has never met.

Instead of a a fun hackathon, I felt like I was participating in a torturous Computer Science capstone project. No wonder I had a flame-out!

Now, let me make this clear. I in no way place any blame on the organizers of the hackathon. They were all very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable. They used the resources of Galvanize Boulder very well and were very supportive. I would have had a blast if I had done this right.

Here are a few tips to make sure you do not experience a hackathon-flameout at a weekend hackathon:

  • DO NOT go alone. There will be some point during the hackathon that you will feel like a failure. By going with a friend, you’ll have someone there to support you and when they do you’ll believe them.
  • DO NOT go to a hackathon to learn brand new things. Go to confirm what you do know. 2.5 days to learn something brand new then make something you want to show to strangers is way too much pressure.
  • DO make sure you are comfortable with creating an answer to the basic question of the hackathon. Does the hackathon ask you to create a mobile app? Make sure you can create a mobile app. Does the hackathon ask you to create hardware? Make sure you can create hardware.
  • DO make sure you’re comfortable with your team. At some point you will need help. Make sure you are comfortable asking for help from your teammates.
  • DO rest. Just because you are allowed to work all night for two nights does not mean you need to work all night. Getting sleep will allow you to work through issues much easier.

If you have any tips on avoiding a hackathon flame-out I would love to hear them and pass them along. I think I’ll be done with hackathons for a while though.

What I’ve learned about the Colorado tech community after Year 2 of CTW


2 years ago, on June 16, I posted my first Colorado Tech Weekly. A year ago I reflected on what I learned so I figured since I’m still going and the last reflection was fun I’d do it again.

5 things I’ve learned in no particular order

  • You need style AND substance to succeed – Colorado is a tech startup hub and opportunities for growth and new businesses are everywhere. To succeed, you need style. You need marketing, PR and a supportive and fervent community of fans. However this is not enough. The successful companies are the ones that also have solid products and services. Without both, your startup will not succeed here.
  • A good idea does not guarantee success – This follows up on my first point. Last year I lamented how Twitter may not have been the best way to keep track of Colorado technology companies since I can only follow 2,001. I found a way to cull my following list to accounts that are only active and while doing that I have found plenty of Twitter accounts for tech companies that no longer exist. They were good ideas, but they just didn’t work out.
  • There’s a huge difference between writing code and making apps – Taking the college education route I’ve learned a lot about programming theory, data structures and how to write code. Making an app, whether that means a web app, mobile app or any other software, is a whole other animal. It requires more than just writing code.
  • Colorado Tech journalism is getting better – When I first started Colorado Tech Weekly I posted 5 national news stories and 5 Colorado news stories because I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find enough Colorado news stories. Now every week I sort through 70-100 articles to get it down to the 10 articles I post. It can be very overwhelming, and that is awesome.
  • Building is fun. Maintaining is harder. – Startups are fun because they’re new and exciting! It’s hard work, but you get to experiment with new ways of doing things and try new ideas. It’s when you get something set up that the maintenance starts. Whether it’s starting a company, owning a home or writing a weekly newsletter, it’s the maintenance that makes the difference.


  • My site receives around 1,000 visits per month. About 125 of those come from Colorado.
  • 2,435 Twitter accounts listed in my Colorado Tech list with 34 people subscribed to it. That’s almost 1,000 more on the list than last year.
  • I am subscribed to 221 Colorado tech news sources including news sites and company websites as well as blogs written by local developers and organizations.

Top 5 Colorado Tech Weekly posts in the past year:

  1. Colorado Tech Weekly #71: Aggregating the Aggregations
  2. Colorado Tech Weekly #95: GoCodeColorado and More Security News
  3. Colorado Tech Weekly #63: A meme, some money and my school
  4. Colorado Tech Weekly #99: Is Colorado the best place for women in tech?
  5. Colorado Tech Weekly #94: All About Denver, Security and Maybe Even Google Fiber?

Top 5 most mentioned companies:

  1. Zayo Group
  2. LogRhythm
  3. QuickLeft
  4. Level 3
  5. Wayin

Where do I go from here?

  • I said it last year and I’ll say it again now, I will be better at posting project updates and general blog posts. Half the reason I started my CTW posts was to drive smart people like you to my site so you can see what cool things I am up to.
  • Let’s revamp the site! As much as I enjoy back-end web development I need to know some front-end web development to show off my projects. Like I said when I tried to teach myself UX, if I want people to use the apps I make, I need to make them easy to use. So why not practice where it counts?
  • Site Maintenance: I need to kick the tires, check the oil and replace the gaskets on this site. I need to make sure my content matches who I am and that it’s easy to read.

Thanks a ton for reading! I keep trying to tell myself that I write these blog posts for my benefit and it’s just an extra bonus that other people might read them but it’s really nice to know people do read them. Let’s do this again in a year!