Denver Startup Week 2018 Review

Want to write easy content for your blog? Take one subject and write 4 blog posts about that one subject. Want to squeeze one more blog out of that onion of an idea? Take that idea and those 4 blog posts and put them all into one post to make it easier for people to find all the posts related to that one idea.

In this case, that one idea is the 2018 Denver Startup Week which was my first startup week. It was fun and felt like a good use of my time. Want to know more about my 2018 Denver Startup Week experience? Check out the posts here:

Denver Startup Week 2018 Review (Day 4): Improv, Art, Startup Founders and Inspiration

Denver Startup Week is an aptly named week long convention about startups and technology in Denver, Colorado. Two of the coolest things about Denver Startup Week is that it’s free to attend and it takes place in different locations throughout downtown Denver. 2018 was the first year I was able to participate in Denver Startup Week. I have watched through social media in previous years but I was never able to go because I worked as a 911 dispatcher and never felt it was a good use of my limited vacation time since I wasn’t working in the tech or startup industry. But this year in working for a tech startup with unlimited vacation time and coworkers that are open to collaboration and new ideas so I was excited to see what I could bring back to my team from Denver Startup Week.

Colorado, and Denver specifically, is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the things that makes me proud about our tech and startup community is the inclusion that we practice and it was great to see that attitude explicitly called out during the opening keynote and supported by the actions of other participants and by the panel on Thursday. Because my fear is that we will move away from that attitude as we grow so it’s great to see that attitude reinforced during the biggest free startup conference in the world. (My Day 2 review can be found here)

Day 4

I started out Day 4 at 8am the Bovine Theater for an Improv Workshop for Developers and this sounds like the epitome of “ugh, really?” because it’s improv at 8am… for developers. It sounds like a cringy setup for a sitcom episode. But it was SO GREAT! It was hosted by 2 people whose names I forgot but the woman in charge makes her living by doing improv poetry which instantly made her one of my heroes because anyone who can make a living by doing something that is creative and fulfilling to them is a hero of mine.

My favorite takeaway from this session is the importance of respecting the existence of imaginary objects both in improv and in writing code. An improv scene falls apart when one person pretends there’s a table in the middle of the stage only to have another actor ignore the existence of that table. The same is true for code. If a developer defines an object and other developers do not use that object in ways that respect the original definition, the code is clunky and difficult to follow.

Now since this was my first Denver Startup Week, Monday was overwhelming and Tuesday and Wednesday were packed to the gills with panels so I decided to take it slow on Day 4. I took it so slow… (How slow?!) I took it so slow I only went to 2 panels. However I got to continue to wonder at all the positive changes to downtown Denver. I took some time to check out the trendy Milk Market for lunch which was very overwhelming and even stopped to check out an art gallery.

It is very important that inspiration is accepted from all sorts of places because inspiration is a funny thing and strikes at odd moments and affects you in unexpected ways. This is why many of the hardest programming problems are often solved while on a walk or in the shower or looking at art so I make a point to enjoy art both for just the pure enjoyment of it and for the inspiration it may provide. This installation was at the Robischon Gallery on Wazee Street in downtown Denver. The art has changed since Denver Startup Week but you should still check it out.

After taking my time and checking out a few sights I was allowed to hang out in the CTRL Collective co-working space before my last panel of Denver Startup Week which was about the stress of a startup. Since I now work at a startup, I thought this would be a great way to talk with other startup employees about the stresses of the industry. I was wrong. Instead it was a panel of startup founders talking about dealing with stress from the point of view of a founder which was still good to hear about. Since I have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak in me this was absolutely worth my time.

One of my favorite takeaways from this panel was from Finn Kelly when talking about imposter syndrome which is as prevalent among entrepreneurs as it is among software developers. Imposter Syndrome is when you feel like you don’t belong in the industry or position that you want to be in because you feel like everyone else must know more than you. You feel like someone is going to unmask you as an imposter. Kelly’s advise was that any time he feels that feeling he asks “Have I done something inauthentic to get here?” and if the answer is “No.” then he is not an impostor! It’s simple but I love it!

I also added a bunch of books to my “To-Read” list on GoodReads thanks to this panel. A lot of thinking about thinking goes into being a successful startup founder.

That was it for my 2018 Denver Startup Week. I bailed on Day 5 because my wife was off work that day and I’m mostly introverted so, after spending 4 days talking and listening to many people, I was ready to recharge. I hope I helped give some insight into a good Denver Startup Week experience and I look forward doing it again next year!




Denver Startup Week 2018 Review (Day 3): Meeting People Again, Not Asking Questions and Ibotta’s QA Strategy

Denver Startup Week is an aptly named week long convention about startups and technology in Denver, Colorado. Two of the coolest things about Denver Startup Week is that it’s free to attend and it takes place in different locations throughout downtown Denver. 2018 was the first year I was able to participate in Denver Startup Week. I have watched through social media in previous years but I was never able to go because I worked as a 911 dispatcher and never felt it was a good use of my limited vacation time since I wasn’t working in the tech or startup industry. But this year in working for a tech startup with unlimited vacation time and coworkers that are open to collaboration and new ideas so I was excited to see what I could bring back to my team from Denver Startup Week.

Colorado, and Denver specifically, is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the things that makes me proud about our tech and startup community is the inclusion that we practice and it was great to see that attitude explicitly called out during the opening keynote and supported by the actions of other participants and by the panel on Thursday. Because my fear is that we will move away from that attitude as we grow so it’s great to see that attitude reinforced during the biggest free startup conference in the world. (My Day 2 review can be found here)

Day 3

Day 3 started with another morning trip to the CapitalOne Cafe, but this time I was in the right place! I got to meet a bunch of great people who I have been following on Twitter who you can usually find running the Boulder Python Meetup as they talked about how to grow new developer communities with purpose. If you work with technology at all, you know that the hardest part about technology is people and even though developer communities (user groups, meetups, conferences, mailing lists, etc.) are centered around technology, it’s the people and how they treat each other that make the community. I want to spend more time learning about Python and contributing to the community just because the people involved are nice and smart, which is a pretty cool feeling! I also got to re-meet Jessica West and realized just how much I don’t expect people to remember me. I’m all for humility, but I think I take it too far there. I’m just gonna be excited to see people from now on and if they don’t remember me they’ll probably say something.

The next panel I went to was one of my few panels that were not in the developer track. It was a talk about startup culture and how to scale it. This is something I worry about at Infinicept because we have a great implicit culture and I want to keep it going as we keep adding people. So I was very excited to listen to Josh Ashton, Emma Bindbeutel and… the guy that moderated the talk and works at Go Spot Check but I forgot his name. I came away from the talk feeling good that we are safe keeping our culture implicit for a while longer however I’ll feel better as we keep growing to have our culture explicitly defined. I also came away from that talk with a lot of questions because it turns out that when I have a lot of questions but only the opportunity to ask one question my mind seizes up and I end up asking no questions. At least I wrote them down so I can ask them some other time.

My foray out of the developer track was short lived as the next panel I went to was about figuring out how to have quality code without having a QA team. The talk was by Kelly Shuster who leads the Android engineering team at Ibotta. Since my company also does not have a QA team I was very excited to hear how a successful company like Ibotta does this. The overall lesson of the talk was to have an open, honest process around development that is owned by everyone involved. One of the really cool things Ibotta uses is feature flags, a thing I hadn’t heard about before. I really like the idea of having a flag that can be used to turn a feature on and off! I also like that there’s a routine and a reason to the release process that is used and respected by everyone in the process. I need to take these ideas to my team because I think they’d help out a lot or at least get us talking about how we want to own the quality of our applications.

On the way to the next panel I struck up a conversation with a random woman on the 16th Street Mall Ride about software development, QA testing and the relationship between developers and testers. When I got to the panel about empowering diverse engineering teams for success, it was not what I expected. Jesse White from Bluprint was the lone presenter. He talked mostly about the challenges of going from developer to manager which was neat to listen to, but since I haven’t even reached my first full year of my software development career it was not really applicable to me. He made some good points and brought up good concerns and issues but those are things that I don’t need to worry about yet.




Denver Startup Week 2018 Review (Day 2): First Job Search, ReactJS, Hunters, Gatherers and Developer Keynote

Denver Startup Week is an aptly named week long convention about startups and technology in Denver, Colorado. Two of the coolest things about Denver Startup Week is that it’s free to attend and it takes place in different locations throughout downtown Denver. 2018 was the first year I was able to participate in Denver Startup Week. I have watched through social media in previous years but I was never able to go because I worked as a 911 dispatcher and never felt it was a good use of my limited vacation time since I wasn’t working in the tech or startup industry. But this year in working for a tech startup with unlimited vacation time and coworkers that are open to collaboration and new ideas so I was excited to see what I could bring back to my team from Denver Startup Week.

Colorado, and Denver specifically, is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the things that makes me proud about our tech and startup community is the inclusion that we practice and it was great to see that attitude explicitly called out during the opening keynote and supported by the actions of other participants and by the panel on Thursday. Because my fear is that we will move away from that attitude as we grow so it’s great to see that attitude reinforced during the biggest free startup conference in the world. (My Day 1 review can be found here)

Day 2

Day 2 started with at stop at the CapitalOne Cafe for a panel only for me to realize after getting some tasty coffee and danishes that I was at the wrong panel so when I finally got to the panel that I wanted to be at, it was packed the panelists didn’t have any microphones so it was difficult to hear them. On the plus side I did get to talk with one of my favorite people, Bryan Griess with FusionAuth, so that worked out!

It was neat being at an event that was good for networking without wanting to get a new job, but I went to a talk about getting your first junior developer job anyway and I realized that, despite the good intentions of such a talk, a talk about how others got our first development job is not that useful. I appreciate the intent and I’ll give advice to anyone who maybe asks for it but it just didn’t seem that useful. We all have our own paths and own strengths and weaknesses and as much as I hate hearing “It depends…” from any sort of panelist, the hardest part about getting into the tech industry is just getting your foot in the door and the only advice I’m willing to give unsolicited is to keep trying, be honest and listen to answers when you ask advice. I’m going to again divert myself from ranting about practicing.

As with getting your first tech job, most business advice is an opinion. There’s very few facts in business advice because there’s so much room to cover. However one of the comforting things about technology is that, like math, there are more facts than there are in business advice so I was happy there was a technical panel in the middle(ish) of the week. It was a talk about React Performance with Jeff Carbonella from Gusto. My company decided to go with React for one of our new apps and we’re looking to get all of our apps using React. Since I just recently watched most of a Pluralsight tutorial on React and I’ve modified a component that’s in production code I wanted to see what I could understand and learn and liked what I found out at the panel. It turns out all of your React performance problems can be solved by using pure components! Ok, I’m kidding but Jeff did show a bit of how cool pure components can be and I appreciate it.

After that I made my way to the swanky Slalom offices right between Union Station and Coors Field and I once again marvelled at the amount of fancy new buildings there are in the area. This time I went to learn about common tools from Matthew Boeckman and learned, quite unexpectedly, about the art of flint knapping which has nothing directly related to computer technology but still pretty damn cool and useful. Matt said that good tools should be accessible, ubiquitous, empowering and flexible and it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about tech tools today or stone tools a millenia ago which makes a bunch of sense. He also made a great point about the myth of separate responsibilities in pre-agricultural societies. There’s the myth that men were hunters and women were gatherers and that there was a split in these responsibilities that couldn’t be true because when you’re trying to survive you do what needs to be done regardless of your title. “If you’re a gatherer and you see a rabbit, you hunt. If you’re a hunter and you see berries, you gather.” This theory works just as well for pre-agricultural societies trying to survive and for modern tech startups! If you notice something that needs to be done there’s a good chance you’re the person who needs to make it happen. To bring this completely back into tech, one reference he mentioned is the Google Site Reliability Engineering which sounds like a resource more people should know about, especially since it’s free!

You’d think I’d be done after all this, but nope. There was still one more panel and it was the biggest panel of the day! The Developer Track Keynote was a panel of 4 smart people who are in charge of lots of smart people at their well respected companies. It was moderated by Kelly Shuster who is also a smart people in charge of other smart people at Ibotta. The theme of the panel was “Why Colorado?” and their answers mostly boiled down to our inclusive startup and tech culture and the Colorado lifestyle that shows that work is not our number one priority. It made me feel super proud to hear this because I’m proud of what we have in Colorado and it’s nice to see that being recognized from people. Micheal Lopp, the smart guy in charge of smart people at Slack said one of their mottos is “Work hard and go home” which I love! I also find it funny that, of all companies, this motto belongs to Slack because my company’s use of Slack makes it the most difficult for me to leave work when I leave work.

That’s it for Day 2, next week I’ll post my review about day 3!




Denver Startup Week 2018 Review (Day 1): Keynote, BaseCamp, Learning to Learn and UX

Denver Startup Week is an aptly named week long convention about startups and technology in Denver, Colorado. Two of the coolest things about Denver Startup Week is that it’s free to attend and it takes place in different locations throughout downtown Denver. 2018 was the first year I was able to participate in Denver Startup Week. I have watched through social media in previous years but I was never able to go because I worked as a 911 dispatcher and never felt it was a good use of my limited vacation time since I wasn’t working in the tech or startup industry. But this year in working for a tech startup with unlimited vacation time and coworkers that are open to collaboration and new ideas so I was excited to see what I could bring back to my team from Denver Startup Week.

Colorado, and Denver specifically, is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the things that makes me proud about our tech and startup community is the inclusion that we practice and it was great to see that attitude explicitly called out during the opening keynote and supported by the actions of other participants and by the panel on Thursday. Because my fear is that we will move away from that attitude as we grow so it’s great to see that attitude reinforced during the biggest free startup conference in the world.

Day 1

Day 1 was quickly overwhelming. It started out with a special kick-off breakfast which, I learned after I got there, required a special registration that I didn’t do. It was the worst thing to happen to me all week. I’m not being over dramatic about it though. The rest of the week was so good that the worst thing to happen to me was missing out on some breakfast on Day 1. I’ll take a week like that any day…er… week.

The key-note involved some laser lights (Is that saying the same thing twice), a super enthusiastic and well liked member of the Colorado tech community, Erik Mitisek who is the Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Colorado, a proud and inspiring Pattie Money who is the Chief People Officer of Sendgrid (Now a part of Twilio!!), a failed crowd selfie by Denver Mayor Hancock, motivation from Meow Wolf CEO Vince Kadlubek who explained why he wanted Denver to be the first place for Meow Wolf to expand out of Santa Fe, entrepreneurial determination from Daniella Yacobovsky of BaubleBar and… oh yeah, Steve Case who is best known for his part in starting a little company called America Online.

It’s pretty cool that a major name in tech is not the highlight of a keynote. Mitisek pointed out that generosity is part of our brand here in Colorado. Money pointed out that it’s not just if you grow, but how you grow that is important and Kadlubek pointed out that it’s great to ask “What are you willing to live for?” when gauging your pursuits and stressed the importance of creative people and endeavors in the business world. I heard the same pride and concerns with the Colorado technology community that I have from Mitisek, Money and Kadlubek which made me feel pretty darn smart, a little smug, and ok with missing out on breakfast.

After the keynote I headed over to the Commons on Champa where the Chase Bank Basecamp was set up. I was almost instantly overwhelmed so I decided to plug in and do some work on a side project. After a few minutes of pointless clicking on my laptop I realized I wasn’t going to get any work done on my computer so I decided since I was at a great event for networking, I should go network!

I got to meet Chris Martinez who was representing the Veterans in Residence program and I was super excited to finally meet Tamara Chuang after reading her articles from the Denver Post for so long (she’s now a member of the Colorado Sun) but missed out on my chance of talking to Lizelle Van Vuren. Lizelle doesn’t sit still very much so it’s hard to catch up to her once you miss your chance to see her. However I did catch up to Name.com’s Jared Ewy and got to spend some time with him in a big, awkward inflatable blue bowl which sounds like a result from a Mad Lib, but it’s true!

Oh! How much fun would it be to do a Colorado tech/startup MadLib? That sounds like a lot of fun but I’m getting off topic now.

The first panel I went to was at the CA Technologies office which is right above the Lodo Tattered Cover and if I would’ve known that before hand I might have just hidden away there for a while. It was a one man panel by Scott Tolinski on how to learn quickly in a rapidly changing development world. Aside from having an excellent first name, Scott was great at giving expert opinions with humility and gifs. He does a podcast called syntax.fm about web development that I forgot he mentioned until I started writing this post and I look forward to hearing more from him.

The next talk I went to was at Industry in RiNo. This was my first time taking the A line on the Light Rail from Union Station and the amount of changes I saw in that area blew my mind. The last time I was in that area, the idea of “RiNo” was still a new idea. What was seedy industrial buildings known best for being downwind of the Stock Show every year is now fancy apartments, buildings, restaurants, bars, etc. I was floored!

The panel was about the UX design process and as much as I love writing code and learning about the ones and zeros and languages and frameworks I am also fascinated with why people use computers and how they want to use them which is what UX design is all about! The talk was by Ari Weissman of Crownpeak and I really liked his points that if you don’t talk to users, your “UX Design” is just design and that if you ask users what they want, you’ll end up with the Homer Car which no one really wants. It’s better to ask people what they’re trying to do and why they want things then just asking them what features they want. He also mentioned that if you can’t come up with a good idea unless you come up with a lot of ideas which makes me want to jump on the soapbox of practicing which I will not do now.

That wraps up my Day 1. I didn’t go to any of the night time events because my family still likes me and I want to keep it that way. Also, as an introvert, I wasn’t excited to spend more time talking to fun people after spending all day talking to fun people. Next week I’ll post my review of Day 2 which was even more jam packed than Day 1!




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

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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.

-Panels

  • (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)

-Exhibitors

  • 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 denvercomiccon.com. If you’re there, send me a tweet on teh Twitterz. I hope to see you there!

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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.

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Art-o-cade let patrons decorate cars in front of the museum

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The door was locked so no one could get in and get lost.

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Kids playing with Cubelets (made in Colorado!)

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A 3D-printed leg brace for a kitten by the Art Institute of Colorado

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Drawbot drawings and other gadgets from Solid State Depot

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Drawbot drawing

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Cool looking Furby-things by Ira Sherman

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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!

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A cool game made of pinball parts

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Serenity Forge hacked a Kinect a made a cool arm-waving musical game.

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A sensor and a projector from System76 allowed kids to move sand to create islands, lakes and mountains

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NIST had plenty of demonstrations

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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 Name.com’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.

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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.