Kickstarted Into a Theater Near You

Kickstarted Into a Theater Near You (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 7-25-13) 

With movies like Despicable Me 2 and Man of Steel, we’ve seen the release of quite a number of respectable movies.  Of course, nothing is perfect.  Some of you are probably disappointed with World War Z or are not sure that Smurfs 2 is going to live up to the hype.  (Insert Smurf “La-La-La” song here.)  In the past, not many options were available to disgruntled movie goers like yourself.  But like everything else, the Internet is beginning to change that, too.

Does anyone remember a detective show called Veronica Mars that played on the CW a few years ago?  The show featured teen-ager Kristin Bell in the title role.  The show was a critical success and developed a niche following.  Ultimately it was cancelled after three seasons.  Rumors for a movie persisted for a couple of years, but eventually those died out as well.

Fast-forward to 2013 and this nifty little thing called Kickstarter.  Series creator Rob Thomas and Kristin Bell never let go of the movie idea.  As part of the deal to persuade Warner Bros. to make the movie, Thomas and Bell put out a call on Kickstarter for investors.  If they could raise $2M, Veronica Mars the movie would become a reality.

Kickstarter works like this – First, you have an idea for a creative project.  Art, Music, Technology, Fashion – It’s your project to decide.  In this case, Thomas and Bell wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie.

Second, you decide how much investment you need to make your project reality and create different levels of rewards for those that pledge more to fund your project.  Veronica Mars needed $2M to get the studio on board.  Backers of the movie received anything from autographed movie posters to tickets to the premier.  One guy actually received a speaking role in the movie in exchange for a $10,000 pledge.

Finally, create your Kickstarter page, and begin to get the word out about your project.  If folks believe in your project, they pledge funds to help.  Only when your goal is met do the funds become available.  According to Kickstarter, 44 percent of all proposed projects have reached their goals.

Over 91,000 backers pledged a total of $5.7M to the Veronica Mars movie project.

See you at the movies, marshmallows!

Kickstarting Augusta – Since we are talking Kickstarter, I just want to give a quick shout out to Joe Stevenson.  His old band, People Who Must, is currently funding a project to record a new album, The Silver Screen EP.  It’s their first one in 14 years.  If you want to help him, go to Kickstarter and search for him.  Good luck, Joe!

Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker

Did You Ever Notice?

Did You Ever Notice? (reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 7-18-13)

Did You Ever Notice?  -  A colleague of mine and I were up at an Atlanta data center this past week installing some hardware when we made an interesting observation.  That observation is that everyone is different.  I know, I know…what a brilliant revelation, Greg! But hang with me for a second.  When you see a group of people in their normal work environment, there is a certain amount of conformity that occurs.  Politicians generally speak more vibrantly than the situation requires, trade professionals tend to give the impression they would be much happier hunting or fishing, and at the Metro Spirit, the smell of fried tufu and incense is unmistakable.

Ok, just kidding on that last one…that’s just Josh Ruffin’s area, but you get my drift.

Like it or not, many professions and professionals are identified by superficial characteristics.  Getting back to the data center, we weren’t able to discern a single characteristic that seemed to stand out.  (Other than the fact that I suspect many folks would group us all under the major subcategory of “Nerds,” but that’s just too easy.)  Watching the folks come in and out of the building, there were people of different shapes, different sizes, different colors, and different nationalities.  Had we inadvertently discovered a state of utopian diversity?  Alas, we thought we had, until…

We noticed the tattoo.  While tattoos have become commonplace, for whatever reason, most IT folks still prefer the clean canvas.  There is one exception to the rule, and we both spotted it immediately.

If you see an IT professional with a tattoo, chances are they install cabling – Ethernet or Fiber.

From there, the sub-professions began to stand out and our utopian universe collapsed.

 If you see an IT professional with a lot of gadgets on their belt, this professional probably specializes in hardware and facilities operations.

 Are they wearing horned rim glasses and dressed with a bit of style?  Probably a software developer.   Do they display a liberal use of hair gel?  Probably a web developer using Java.  Hair gel, but no glasses?  Then web developer using .Net.

 How about neatly dressed professional with minimal style or a company logo shirt?  These are the server and network support folks.  If they are clean-shaven, almost certainly Windows Server.  A goatee indicates a network professional.  Full beard and a guru-look?  Linux server most definitely.

 And this is the one that gets me in the most trouble.

If you encounter a lady in an IT environment, while this is not completely true – I’ve known some very brilliant engineers who also happened to be female – chances are she is in marketing or sales.

 So if you ever find yourself at a data center, and you are able to get by the whole nerd thing, don’t be overwhelmed by the diversity.  It’s a universe no different than others.  Different people fill different roles to ensure the Internet keeps us all connected.

Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker

 

 

 

Behind Every Innovation is a Great Whine

Behind Every Innovation is a Great Whine (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 7-11-13)

 Last week we talked about how the act of complaining and whining is a crucial component of the innovation process.  This week we start with a case study of how this works in practice.  New Zealander Jake Evill suffered the unfortunate occurrence of breaking his hand.  The treatment, as is standard with most broken bones, required the application of a plaster cast.  Jake thought this a bit out of touch with the times.  Says Jake, “Wrapping an arm in two kilos of clunky, and soon to be smelly and itchy, plaster in this day and age seemed somewhat archaic to me.

Let’s face it he’s right.  Plaster casts started widespread use in the middle 19th century.  Our modern treatment of broken bones is still based on a 150 year old technology.  That would be the equivalent of surfing the Internet using Morse Code.  Here’s the cool part, though.  After the whining comes the innovation!

Since there was not a better solution to the plaster cast, Jake set about to create his own.  His solution is called the Cortex, and it’s based upon the lattice-shaped structures (the trabecular) that form the inner tissue of the bone.  After performing a 3D scan of the injured limb, an exoskeleton that provides support in the appropriate places is designed utilizing the Cortex pattern.  The exoskeleton is created using 3D printing and consists of materials that are lightweight, washable, ventilated and recyclable.  You can read more about it at http://jakevilldesign.dunked.com/cortex.

While the Cortex is still in the prototype stage, it’s a great example of how life’s annoyances can lead to something great.  So stop whining and start doing!

 S’up in Space – I had a choice this week when pulling together this column.  On one hand, we could talk some more about government surveillance, Snowden, Verizon and the NSA, and in the process get ourselves all worked up over a bunch of neo-political idiots that we can’t do anything about anyway.  Or on the other hand, we can talk about some neat stuff in space.

Not really much of a choice, is it?

Last month, SpaceX ran another test flight of its Grasshopper reusable rocket.  Grasshopper is a Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicle designed to test the technologies needed to return a spacecraft to the Earth intact.  Grasshopper reached its highest flight to date with a top altitude of 1,066 ft.  The test flight made use of Grasshopper’s full navigation sensor suite, including the F9-R closed loop flight algorithms to accomplish a precision landing.  Now I can go on with the techno-babble all day, you really need to see the video.  Search YouTube for “Grasshopper 325m Test” or check out the website.  Maybe Amy will be nice enough to link to the video.

In Saturn’s Rings is a self-described giant-screen art film created entirely from the still pictures taken mostly during the Cassini-Huygen mission to Saturn.  The movie is unique in that CGI or 3D modeling effects were not used to create the feel of flying around Saturn and its rings.  The IMAX movie is scheduled for release in 2014, but several trailers are found on its website, www.insaturnsrings.com.

Finally, this week marks the 66th anniversary of the Mother of All Conspiracies.  Yes, I’m referring to Roswell.  On July 7, 1947, so the story goes, an alien spacecraft crash-landed near Roswell, NM.  The U.S. Air Force captured the aliens, and the matter was entirely covered up.  Of course, other aliens have come in search of their own kind.  Also, in retaliation, a significant number of Americans have been abducted.  While these events have been depicted in movies and TV shows such as the X-Files, Independence Day and Men In Black, nothing truly captures the horror of what happened in New Mexico nearly 70 years ago.

Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker

 

Innovation – It’s all about the freedom to whine

Innovation – It’s all about the freedom to whine (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 7/4/13)

It’s a short week this week as we turn our thoughts to a long holiday weekend.  It’s a weekend that has its origins in the most significant social experiment in all of recorded history.  Can a group of people establish a nation built upon a core value of individual liberty and create a system of government that effectively thwarts tyranny?  It’s a good question and one that still remains unanswered.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m betting on liberty.

As I started writing, the question occurred to me – What is the impact of liberty on innovation and technology?  A quick review of American history would seem to indicate that innovation and freedom go hand-in-hand.  American innovators not only created new technologies.  More often than not, they created new industries.  Edison, Bell, Ford, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Morgan, Westinghouse, Carnegie, Colt, Browning, Whitney, McCormick, Deere, Lougheed, Boeing, Northrop, Hewlett, Packard, Watson, Gates, Jobs…this list is seemingly endless.  But other countries with much less emphasis on liberty seem to innovate as well.  What gives?

A few years ago, Mark Taylor of Georgia Tech and Sean Wilson of George Washington University asked this same question.  While they confirmed that societies promoting individual liberty are generally more innovative, their research provides a couple of surprising results.

1.  High-levels of innovation may occur in a socialist society where the national objectives are of greater concern than local-level or tribal objectives.  In other words, the country fosters a high level of patriotism.  The rationale is related to risk taking.  In a highly patriotic society, an individual is willing to risk personal loss for the benefit of all.  Where the individual feels stronger bonds to local or tribal groups, the opposite is true, and a significant negative impact on innovation was observed.

2.  The ability to produce innovators and entrepreneurs may not be the driving factor in a society’s ability to innovate.  The more important factor is related to the freedom of the individual to pursue those activities that provide personal gratification.  Individuals pursuing their own interests naturally create markets that demand innovation.  When predicting a society’s ability to innovate, it turns out the freedom to demand innovation is more important than the freedom to innovate.

So it’s easy to see why America is so good at innovation.  First of all, even with all our differences, the American people always stand together and put everything on the line for our principals.  Secondly, if the freedom to demand better is truly a key to innovation, I dare any other society in the world to say they can bitch, moan, gripe, complain, criticize and whine better than the folks here in the good ‘ole U. S. of A.

Have a Happy 4th and God Bless America!

Until next time, I’m off the grid.  @gregory_a_baker

Make Life Easier with CMA Technology & Office 365

Make Life Easier with CMA Technology and Office 365

With the need for greater mobility, agility and better data management increasingly driving the dynamic workplace, SMBs today are learning to appreciate the benefits cloud computing can bring to their businesses.  Yet, some SMBs still struggle to understand exactly what cloud computing can do for them.  Enter Microsoft Office 365, an all-inclusive productivity solution that delivers familiar Office applications coupled with powerful enterprise class communications and collaboration capabilities in a cloud-based subscription service you can easily use.

Give your business a productivity boost with the new Office

Today, you can acquire Office 365 Small Business Premium or Midsize Business through CMA Technology, as a stand-alone solution or bundled with our cmaCloud , and no matter which you choose, you’ll still receive the same support and service you’ve come to expect from CMA Technology.

Office 365 for SMBs is a completely modernized platform designed to meet your constantly changing business needs. It delivers rich features and cloud service innovation that SMBs are adopting at an accelerated rate.

Benefits include:

  • Letting you take your personal office experience with you – across tablet, PC or phone – wherever you are and whenever you need to get work done.
  • Saving documents to the cloud by default. When you sign into Office 365, you get roaming settings and quick access to your documents in SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint online.
  • Scheduling a meeting, sending an email, starting an IM, as well as initiating voice and video calls right from your contact list.
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Most importantly, with Microsoft Office 365 you get an always available, secure and reliable cloud service from a trusted partner. We manage the billing and support for your subscription service so you have a one stop shop for all your support needs.

For more details on Office 365, email us at info.cmaaugusta.com.