The DC Tech Community is Alive and Active

I have to say that the DC Tech Community is alive and active.  I have been meeting so many great people who share similar interest to me.  It’s a fun time to live in the Washington DC area.

Here’s a recap of the last week and a half….

Will Meyer talks Widgets at Refresh DC

Last Week, Clearpsring‘s Will Meyer talked to a packed house of 100+ people at RefreshDC.   Widgets are something that a lot of folks had heard about but i’m not sure how much they’d actually worked with.  This high level overview and discussion was great.

This  Refresh DC was also one of the first major events since BarCamp DC, so there was a lot of the same excitement.

CopyNight DC bring good beer and great discussion about the state of online music

This was my first time attending CopyNight DC,  which is hosted by Joseph Price.  They met at Regional Food & Drink in Chinatown, which has a GREAT beer selection.   What was even better was the discussion.  We got into an impromptu discussion about the state of the online music industry.    With the Amazon MP3 music store just recently coming out, this was one all of our minds.  I really enjoyed it, met some great people, and will be coming back next time.

NextDC Happy Hour Tonight (I’m Bummed I Missed It)

Moses McCall’s group NextDC hosted their very first happy hour tonight.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it.  I’m sure it was a great time and I’ll see photos of it on Flickr tomorrow.

DC Tech Network is almost at 100 members

A few weeks a go I had the bright idea of using a Ning social network as a way for the DC Tech community to stay better in touch with one another… so I created the DC Technology Network.  I’m pleased to say that we’ve just signed up our 90th member.  The network is getting more and more active everyday.  We’re even working our own book group from the network.

Oh… and there’s more.

There is so much that’s happening in the DC tech community.  It’s exciting.  I hope to share more soon.

If Facebook Just Wastes Time, Can’t It Be Easily Replaced?

There is an interesting thread in the blogosphere about how Facebook might just be a gigantic way to be unproductive.  Web standards luminary  Jeffrey Zeldman and even Facebook app consultant/self-proclaimed Facebook addict Nick O’Neill have  admitted to its unproductive qualities.

The question I ask is… if the best thing Facebook has going for it is its ability to help you waste time really well, can’t it be easily replaced or won’t it slowly die out?  How can this be a long term viable platform?

Some other Web application or social network is going to help you waste time in an even more fun way and people will flood to that, in the same way that people are moving away from MySpace to Facebook.

At TechCrunch40, everyone got super excited when Mark Zuckerberg announced the new venture fund they’d be starting to spur on the growth of Facebook applications.   They have apparently set away $10 million for this.  I guess this means I can apply to get $25k to build the next generation in Zombie biting Facebook applications.

Please, someone build me a Facebook applications that blows my mind.  Build me an application that really takes advantage of the social graph in an meaningful way.   Show me how you use it in a way that is beneficial to your day to day.

I like Facebook Events but I’d rather use Upcoming or Evite because its not as restrictive.   I like Facebook Photos but I like Flickr better because everyone can see it.  Facebook Video is great but I don’t use it that much.

I need more.

Can You Live A Week Without Facebook?

I have been really busy lately. Work has had my que loaded pretty non-stop. When I’m not working, I’m getting ready to move into the city, organizing conferences, and hanging out with friends. It’d be incredibly easy for me to go a week without using Facebook.

I’ve been thinking about, talking about, and writing about Facebook and I’m still not really sure what extraordinary thing it does.

Facebook is the place where I find out whats up with my friend from third grade who I haven’t talked with in 10 years. Facebook is where I get bitten by the Zombie application from the person who I met at a conference but haven’t talked to since. Facebook is where my friends join groups which do absolutely nothing.

I challenge all of you who read this to not use Facebook for a week. See if you can live without it. I bet you can.

If you can’t live with out it, tell me why. Like Robert Scoble, has it become your address book? Do you have 5000 friends you have to keep track of?

Also… I challenge my friend Nick O’Neill to live without Facebook for a week or to write me a post convincing me why he can’t live without it (and the reason can’t be that its the center of his business.)

Announcing WidgetDevCamp in Washington DC

WidgetDevCamp Logo

I think I speak for everyone when I say that BarCamp DC was an absolute blast. After the event, a few of us started chatting about what we could have next to bring the community together.
Today, I’m pleased to announce WidgetDevCamp DC. It’s another unconfrence, similar to BarCamp, but based off of the DevCamp model. There will be opportunity for learning and sharing about widget development, a time for widget designing and hacking, as well as sharing your demos with the group.

The event is currently in the development stages. When more solid details become available, they’ll be announced here.

Right now we’re looking for a venue and sponsors. If you’d be interested in either, please get in touch with me.

Oh… make sure that you sign up for the WidgetDevCamp Google Group so that we can keep in touch with you.

Have You Read Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point?

Cover of The Tipping Point

On the DC Tech Network forum, some of us started chatting how we hadn’t read Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. In the spirit of community, it was suggested that we should read it together.

So I’m writing this to see if any of you in the DC area would want to join our little book group and read The Tipping Point?

All are welcome to join.

Let me know if you’re interested. I’ll post more specific details once things are decided. This should be really fun to do as a community.

Tip: Use Unicode When Developing Your Web App

If you have the dream of writing the next big Web application that takes the world by storm, I have a tip for you.  Use Unicode.  Make sure that every aspect of your Web infrastructure for your application supports the free flow of Unicode data.

What is Unicode? It is a type of character encoding that supports the widest variety of characters. If you you want your Web app to have a chance of correctly taking in English, Chinese, and Arabic characters, you want to use Unicode.

You may have seen the meta tag in your HTML tag with a reference to UTF-8.  Yep that’s setting the character encoding to your page.

<meta http-equiv=“Content-Type” content=“text/html; charset=UTF-8” />

Unfortunately, there is soooooooo much more to the process and I don’t have the time to write about it all right now.

For now just trust me,  make sure that you’re using Unicode (utf-8, a type of Unicode) everywhere. When I mean everywhere, I mean your browser, HTML, PHP, server, your database… everywhere.   Ultimately, doing this now will save you a whole lot of time down the road.

NextDC is Hosting a Happy Hour September 27th at 6:00pm

It’s been really exciting. Over the last few weeks, I’ve met with even more people who are excited about getting the Washington DC tech community going. One of those people is Moses McCall, founder of Rockcreek Software, who has recently started a local group called NextDC.

NextDC’s mission is to “connect both socially and professionally with young people who have a stake in future of tech and new media in DC.” Sounds good ot me.

Well NextDC is holding a happy hour on September 27th at 6pm at the Science Club up in NW. I’m going to try and make it. You should too. is a great search engine

This week I was doing some research on php and unicode. I put my search terms into Google and just wasn’t getting what I wanted. It was kind of frustrating.

An hour or two later, I decided to try something different. I’d used as my search engine. I found exactly what was I looking for.

It really makes the case that human-powered search may be the direction where things should go. Yahoo was genius for snatching up.

You’ve seen so many other services which want you to enter in explicit feedback about a Web site (digg, stumble upon) but it just doesn’t make complete sense. It’s hard to get a lot of involvement. With, they take advantage of the natural instinct to bookmark a Web page and organize those bookmarks.

Have you used sites like, Mahalo, or ChaCha as search engines? If so, what do you think? If no, what’s holding you back?

Facebook Video Makes Video Too Easy; Video Messages vs E-Mail

Facebook Video

So to continue the conversation on Facebook, I thought I’d write about one of my favorite applications, Facebook Video. (I don’t want people to think that I’m completely negative on Facebook.)

Facebook Video is very simple, which I think is part of its charm. You can upload videos that you have on your computer or you can capture video right from your Web camera and send that to all of your friends or to certain specific friends as a video message.

Uploading videos that you have on your computer isn’t that exciting. That’s what we have YouTube for.

Being able to send video messages is what excites me. I have an Apple MacBook, which means I have a Web camera built into the lid of my laptop. (This is so genius of Apple.) So… all I have to do is literally open the “Create a new message window,” hit record, and start talking into the camera. It’s that easy.

There are times which I’m tired and don’t feel like penning War & Peace in the form of an e-mail. It’s so much easier to just to open up Facebook Video, type in the person’s name, hit the record, and start talking. I’ve been doing this with one of my best friends from college. It’s so much fun.

With video, so much more comes across. You get the emotion and personality so much clearer from the person that you’re talking to. It’s quite cool.

So you’re assignment for today, if you have a Web camera, go on Facebook Video and send me a video message and I’ll send you one back. As I said before, this should be incredibly easy for those of you that have Apple MacBooks.

You’ll see how much more fun it is then sending e-mail.

When The Week Gets Away From You

It happens way to easily. You get crazy busy at work. You get home and you’re exhausted. The last thing on your mind is blogging. All you want to do is to relax and kill some brain cells by watching reality TV.

Well a huge part of blogging is writing consistently. The key is to get back on the horse again and just go at it. Don’t give up just because you haven’t posted in a few days.

So… Yeah this week was nuts for me. All I had on my mind after word was this really cool bottle of California Cabernet and watching season 3 of Hell’s Kitchen. Well now, it’s time to get back on the blogging train. The week got away from me but the weekend won’t.