Sunday, March 15, 2015

National Pi Day Celebration at Second Saturday - The Foundry and Buffalo Lab!

Get ready because this is a fun and exciting tale about celebrating National Pi Day. But this was truly special as we found ourselves at the Buffalo Lab inside the Foundry!

I have blogged about this space before, but its getting better every time I go there.

Saturday March 14, (3.14 if you will) means Pi Day of course we didn't do mathematical calculations of Circumference and Diameter's but we had fun celebrating in different ways using one of my favorite new computing devices, aptly named for today's celebration called the Raspberry Pi!!!

I covered this sweet device about 2 weeks ago and it keeps getting better as I use it. I also bought the brand new one which has the newest version of Raspbian OS and it is so fast and great that it runs as fast as a low end PC for many desktop needs. I plan on a blog on that one soon!

Quick note that many of the pictures you will see were taken by Annette Wong and Matt Lehner Board Members of Buffalo Lab. Two great people here in Buffalo, truly making a difference and many, many thanks for an excellent day!!

OK!!! Now lets show you what went on!!!

Here are Kevin Hayes and Annette Wong 2 great people of the Foundry. This is why things are so good at the Foundry, because of the people that run it!

Now check out these great panorama pics by Annette of the Buffalo Lab space.

Before the event

During the event!

Before classes on Raspberry Pi

Class in Session! Well done Matt!

Here is one of my favorite projects that I want to do!
Rocking a Gameboy looking Raspberry Pi running an emulator to play Mario Bros.

 Here is my setup I brought with me, all you need is the Pi, Keyboard, Mouse and Monitor to bring the Pi to life!

 Here I am with Clark and Kelly Dever, two great people in WNY and we are talking about making web servers with using the Pi. Thank you Clark!! Meanwhile my son Nick is setting up the Pi!

 In just a short while the place went from empty to jam packed. Here is Annette rocking Buffalo Lab and all that it has to offer! 

Now we all have heard of drones in the sky, right? Well how about an underwater drone using similar technology like the Raspberry Pi. The project is called OpenROV and it was very interesting. Russ who brought it in got it in December and can't wait for the ice to leave so he can start doing some diving! 

Of course it cannot be Pi day without PIE!! Blueberry and Banana Cream Pi were both AWESOME!

And Buffalo LAB gave away 2 Raspberry Pi 2's just for coming!!  

Kids of all shapes and sizes came from near and far to try out the Raspberry Pi and all it can do. Matt Lehner and Annette Wong hit it out of the park with all the great options for everyone that wanted to learn.

Meanwhile, the Foundry was jamming too, with Second Saturday (always the 2nd Saturday of the Month) lots of different cool vendors and great food. I bought a lot of things and it is a wonderful group of people. 

 My favorite food - Beef and Cheese Pods! Amazing! Annette knows what I am talking about!! HAHA!

 A few weeks ago I heard about this Yoga mat converted into a cool bowling type game. Dennis who brought it in will be starting a Kick Starter soon! I know I will be getting one!!! 

 So I came not even know that this was going to happen. My friend Scott Vader another Buffalo Lab Member, brought in a Slow motion (High Speed Camera) and another Foundry member Dave Sheffield owner of Buffalo Bottle Craft! wanted to film one of his cool hockey puck bottle openers blowing open an bottle of beer! Let me just say I was totally blow away by this opportunity!

 Nick and I rocking the Steampunk Goggles!! 

The high speed camera

 The Slingshot and Puck!

 Proper lighting to capture it all!

 The setup with a high powered LED Light to make sure we capture all the details!!

Below are 3 links of the high speed camera in action. The first is my view of how they broke the bottle, then the second link is the actual video of the bottle breaking, and lastly, the video of me getting smashed by confetti eggs on my noggin! Enjoy! 

It was a great day indeed, and while we were at the Foundry we met Stormy a great cat that was so friendly that I couldn't believe it was a cat! 

It was a great day indeed, and I cannot wait to go back to the Buffalo Lab!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What are you afraid of?

I struggle all the time with what I want to do. I don't show it, nor do I tell people about it, but I figured I could write about it because not many people really read this blog so I figure my secret will stay hidden. So for anyone reading this, get ready to meet the real me....

First of all, I love people, I really do. Communication, interaction, working together and finding something better for the World, is in my DNA. But just like anyone, I have my own deeper feelings that most people have, that you don't openly share. And these feelings aren't exactly the opposite of my outward feelings and emotions but I am conflicted many times.

When I am faced with doing something, my inward and outward feelings are somewhat contradictory as a lot of the times, I don't want to do things, I don't know why I got involved in what I am in, and that I don't even know if I want to keep doing them. I commit to working with someone, or a group of people, or get behind a cause, and then right before I start, I am telling myself, NO!!! Don't do it, are you crazy for agreeing to do this?

For example, last year First Niagara flew me all over the North East to speak in front of hundreds of Real Estate Agents. Each time we had to go away for a few days, I was in a dark place, I didn't want to travel, I was scared I would screw up, or they wouldn't like me, or other excuses to freak myself out. We visited 6 cities, Holyoke, Mass, NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Hudson Valley. On the outside, I acted as if I traveled all over, but in reality, rarely do I travel anywhere outside WNY. But everyone who met me thought I was a world traveler.  I am dreadful of public speaking, but after speaking in each city, people thought of me as a great speaker, and enjoyed my view on technology and real estate.

My fear is replaced with elation! 

I speak in front of Real Estate agents all the time. I have even created a few classes, and I have helped put on several large events, and all the while, I am gripped with fear. I feel that every step that I take is going to cause me to fail or something major is going to go wrong. But after each event, because I work with a great group of people,

I feel connected, and a part of something larger. 

I work on large events each month, for Startup Grind, and for InfoTech wondering what am I doing here? We have put on 9 successful Startup Grind's and countless Infotech events since I have been involved, and at the end of each one, people come up to me or we get many people call or email us and tell us what a great job we did and that they look forward to the next one.

The relief I feel from hearing these words are therapeutic. 

To say the least, fear is a great motivator. If I wasn't afraid, I would only wing it, and skip my research on the topics I speak about. If I wasn't in fear, my presentation wouldn't be polished to what it should be for those looking for me to show them exactly what they need to know to be more successful. And when I complete my goal of doing what I set out to do, fighting all of the fear, dread and worry, I come out feeling so great that I forget (for a short bit) the fear that was holding me back, until the next thing I jump into.

Be afraid, its good for you, let it motivate you to be better.

Finding a way to make fear be your motivation should be a goal of many people, because we fear the things we think are the hardest. So instead of running away from your fear, let it motivate you to become razor sharp and focused on the goal you want to accomplish and go get it.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raspberry Pi B+ Quick Review

Have you heard of Raspberry Pi? Well if you have you know what this little device can do, but for those who don't know it, it is an AWESOME little computer.

There are several version of it. 

Today we will be talking about the B+ model.

This is a mini computer the size of a credit card. In the picture above you can see the Pi is a very versatile device, with a solid processor, HDMI support, audio, Ethernet connection and 4 USB ports. The storage is a MicroSD Card slot and is powered by a 5volt Micro USB power connector. Expand-ability is easy with a CSI Camera connector and 40pin GPIO Header.

If that isn't cool enough I got a kit from Amazon that included a case and an 8GB SD Card loaded with different Operating Systems I could try for $65. There is an easy sub-program called NOOBS (New Out Of Box Software) that gives you an easy choice of the 7 different OS's you can install.

In my early tech years, I used to build PC's from parts up. Power supply, case, motherboard, processor, RAM, Hard drive, CD Rom drive, video card. And then install and Operating System, run all updates and then install hardware. This could take about 3-6 hours and now in less than 1 hour I had done almost the same thing with the Raspberry Pi.

So as soon as I got it, I put it in the case and this is what it looks like now!

In this first pic, you see the Pi is fully protected from shock or drops. I have the Wireless adapter installed and works very well. You can also see 3 other USB ports along with the NIC card adapter.

Taking off the top part reveals the 40 Pin GPIO connector, and the camera connector.

When all is connected, this is what it looks like. Power, Keyboard, Mouse, and HDMI and a USB memory stick with music loaded on it.

When you first boot up your PI, you are given a choice to install a software.
I chose Raspbian first and it was like having a nice little desktop to run the web and other items on but I have several PC's and Ubuntu machines so another desktop did not appeal to me so I wanted to try something new.

So I installed OpenELEC which is a great media center operating system X-BOX Media Center product. 

It can connect to any PC on your network and browse the shared folders by using SMB and its so simple to do. I had to just drag files into a Public folder on the PC and then use the OpenELEC interface to drill to that folder and I was able to see the files there. A couple of Emma's movies are shown below, but what about training videos, teaser commercials and how to's on a lobby or common area in a hotel or business. 

Video playback was spot on and quick as you can see below. It can play pictures and music from any network source or USB Stick as well, so you can have a variety of file access options.  


It has a weather station and you can pick from all over the world.

I could connect to Pandora and listen to all my stations! 

I could connect to other services like Apple iTunes Podcasts, although the interface is a little slow at times (a minute or two passed an menu would open but I did get to hear a new Tiesto's Podcast! 

This could be a great alternative to the Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast and the Apple TV.

So when I say this little credit card computer is AWESOME, it is! You can learn to code, understand electronics, and build almost anything with the Pi! 

I hear that Raspberry Pi 2 is a great desktop replacement for word processing, spreadsheets, and more. They are even saying that Windows 10 (Which is downloadable now) will run on on the RaspberryPi 2! 

There is a ton of support and many videos on YouTube to help get you started, and maybe you can make the next big thing!  


Monday, February 9, 2015

All Female Hackathon in Buffalo NY - Saturday February 7, 2015

Girl Develop It Presents - First All-Female Hackathon!

First off I figured I would give you a definition of what a Hackathon is:

hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.

Click on the picture above to see the official page from #GDIHacks15. 

So here is what I saw over the 12 hour marathon coding event, with pictures and my view on the whole day, so here we go!

First of all, before we get to the event itself, It is a first of its kind in our region, all female 12 Hour Hackathon, and the call was to all women of all levels of skills from beginner to advanced. The goal was to build a new website framework for a local minority or women owned businesses. Well over 50 women answered the call and 9 local businesses were given a website makeover you won't believe in just 12 hours!!!! 

So I could do a blog on the #43North / Z80 space but that's not what we are talking about here, but let me tell you, that this event could not be held without the use of their excellent space!

I arrived around 8:30 a.m. and I brought my 10 year daughter, Emma. She took several of these photos and she had a wonderful time. 

The event kickoff time was 9:00 a.m. 

Now, The space was setup with 10 tables with labels depicting team numbers and many of the participants were already conversing and setting up for the day.

There was a very easy check in station as you walked in and just outside was an area of breakfast from Paula's donuts! 

Great swag from hats to stickers to shirts buttons and more!

The place filled up quickly before 9:00 and light music was playing while people settled in. As Infotech was a sponsor I was lucky to have the opportunity to be apart of this great event. I have put on many different events in my lifetime and I can tell you that this was top notch. 

Here I am speaking with Sabina Ramsey who was the lunchtime Keynote speaker she is the owner of Insight International and with her were a couple of the organizers Brittney and Sabrina. 

So at 9:00 a.m. Lena Levine Director of GDI Buffalo explained the rules of the day. Each  of the 10 teams would be broken up into several components and would be assigned a random company to start working on. The components were Frontend Developer, Backend Developer, UX/UI Designer, Marketing Specialist and the Business component. 

The Platinum Sponsor was AT&T and this event showcased the partnership that they have with local organizations and how willing they are to help foster growth in our community. Thank you Ben Roberts and Kevin Hanna for your support!

For Emma this was also a first of its kind and she smiled and enjoyed herself and the main reason was because of all the love and happiness that was shared with her throughout the day. Every single person she met was engaging, helpful, friendly, kind and courteous and it made her feel great! I cannot tell you how happy she was and on top of it she made it on the twitter feed for #GDIHacks15 as you can see! Lots of Love!! 

Emma was made an honorary designer for the day!

The 9 business represented were introduced and gave a brief summary of their company. After that the GDI Team broke up everyone and connected them with their prospective client for the day. And then they started HACKING!

Media coverage was great and I am glad to see that there was a lot of press, also #GDIHacks15 was a top 10 trend on Twitter in Buffalo!

 During lunch Sabina Ramsey had 2 dancers do a wonderful performance before her inspirational speech. She covered her story of where she came from and how she learned to succeed. She also showed her formula to success and you could tell her message was well received. Well done Sabina!
Follow her on Twitter and her company Insight International USA and #ShareAnInsight

After lunch Emma and I had to run, but before we did I got to try a cool VR Goggle using a neat box ocular and a smartphone. I thought this was the coolest thing and I am going to get one, HERE

I came back around 7:00 p.m. and the first thing I wanted to do is meet the judges of the Hackathon, Marnie LaVigne, Katie Krawczyk, Sabina Ramsey and Barbara Ann Sherman I did miss the dinner which was catered by Lloyd's Tacos and the Keynote was Dr. Rohini Srihari. 

Last minutes update, changes and fixes to make each project complete and you could tell that all teams had worked hard and put in a solid effort. In some cases the owners didn't see the site yet so it would be a big reveal to them as well as the audience. 

So at 8:00 p.m. the call to end all work, and the presentations began. There were 9 teams but there was not a Team#6 so when you see the reviews below, keep that in mind. I also took 1 or 2 photos only but in all cases the sites were very well done and in most cases the clients were thrilled with the results.

Team#1 was Absynnia – an Ethopian restaurant website built on Static HTML for showing menus, photos of the great dishes and coming soon, events. The new site made me want to go and try the food it looked so good!

Team# 2 – America Tea Experience – The website was a complete makeover, the previous site looked dated and needed a new look. It was not meant to be a consumer retail site but to connect the tea purveyors  – teapot makers tea sets and more. They described it as a for Tea. New Logo along with a strong social media experience! Custom made Wordpress theme, with forms to build a directory. 

Team# 3 = Creative Corner for Kids! Easy site to use for kids and that was the goal. Wordpress site, done by only 2 students and it was their first time doing this. Company is still developing their business so they had only a few items to setup as examples. Built a customer portal and login page with a wish list and it would remember you as a customer. This was one of my favorites as the team was only 2 students trying this for the first time, and they did fantastic!

Team# 4 Franklins Interior Exterior Concepts LLC. – Frank is the owner and his team took a brochure and business card and lots of questions to build his site. They used Wordpress and CSS to build the site. The content was built based on experiences of Frank the owner, and all of his services he offers. This is a solid framework for this small business owner to take and build on. 

Team# 5 – Orchard Community Initiative – Fruit belt community organization. The organization is the source of information in their community like a local google for answering questions on what offerings, assistance and events that are happening in the community. Worpress site and they built a form to get information to build on grants and get more people registered and this site will eliminate the need for some paper and automate the process. 

Team#7 – Groom Service Beauty and Dry Bar- Major overhaul of the site. Amazing site rebuild with the ability to book a look after viewing what you want to look like with models images of hair and makeup with one button "book the look!" Events page for Bridesmaids and more events to come. Great about page. The used WIX to build which is a product I have used myself! 

Team#8 – Promo U Videography! Her life is videography and uploading videos was #1. The site was redesigned with a simple page layout with criteria that met the clients need. The homepage was built based on the clients feelings on what was needed. Then the client had picked a theme which helped the group which they used sketches to complete the site layout. They built in categories for videos and that helped with search ability and to tie social media to drive traffic back to the site. Responsively built! Great overhaul.

Team #9 – Volunteer Lawyers Project – User friendly and easy to read info for both users and lawyers. A simple site that anyone could easily update with minimal training. Content details were built by the client. They built a custom lawyer volunteer portal to make it an easy way to sign in and pick volunteer dates. A calendar system was built and attorneys can pick the day and then if forwards to an admin to verify and this automated a lot of what was needed. Responsive website and well done. 

Team#10 = Jose L Fuentes Artist-  This client came with no branding, logo, or website so this was a full on marketing build, also no server or domain. The site was built on Wordpress with e-commerce to purchase the artists work. They built everything from scratch with a gallery of the artists work, a very details About page and they even a blog to help build the artists momentum online! This was truly something from nothing. Great job!

Judging commences! I didn't envy our judges as there were so many good things about each of the teams that it would be very hard not to award all of them!


Best Mobile Responsive Website 
Team #9 - Volunteer Lawyer Project

3rd Place
Team #7 - Groom Service Beauty and Dry Bar

2nd Place
Team# 10 - Jose L Fuentes Artist

1st Place
Team#2 American Tea Experience

Consolation prize
Team #3 - Creative Corner for Kids!

3rd Place Team - Groom Service Beauty and Dry Bar

1st Place Team - American Tea Experience

The Girl Develop It - Hackathon Team 

After a day of competition you would think all would be weary but right at the end, someone found out that one of the developers, Crystal, was having her Birthday so this happened!
View it here if the video doesn't play for you here!

This was a great day indeed. I hope this is not the first and then last of its kind as this was a perfect day for many people. And even though there were only a few winning teams, everyone was better for the experience, and the clients walked away with a great online presence to help grow their business. You can say it was a WIN/WIN for all! 

Thanks for reading!!!