Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene (Week of Monday, November 26, 2018)

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, tech entrepreneurs, and nerds in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, November 26

Tuesday, November 27

Wednesday, November 28

Thursday, November 29

Friday, November 30

Saturday, December 1

Sunday, December 2


A ducky way to explain the generally preferred way to sort things: Quacksort!

I rather like this “ducks and shades” poster that explains the quicksort algorithm graphically:

Click the graphic to see it at full size.

If you prefer to have quicksort explained to you with dance, here’s the classic Hungarian folk dance explanation:

Or, if you just want it explained to you simply and plainly:


I try my best NOT to be THIS type of project manager

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene (Week of Monday, November 19, 2018)

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, tech entrepreneurs, and nerds in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, November 19

Tuesday, November 20

Wednesday, November 21

Thursday, November 22

Friday, November 23

Saturday, November 24

Sunday, November 25



How to win Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2018

This weekend marks the end of Global Entrepreneurship Week Tampa Bay, and it’s ending with a bang: the Tampa edition of Startup Weekend! It’s a 54-hour whirlwind event where you get to be part of building a business in a weekend, Silicon Valley style. It’s about pitching, business model creation, prototyping, designing and market validation all in a friendly and supportive team environment, and in Factory 114’s beautiful coworking space.

If you’re participating in Startup Weekend, you’re probably wondering how to maximize your chances of winning. If so, this article’s for you!

10 Tips To Help You Win Startup Weekend

  1. Designate a project manager from the get-go and define your methods of communication. Pick someone to coordinate the effort, and stick to the simplest possible communication tool that everyone on the team is familiar with.
  2. Work backwards from the end product. Hackathons are chaotic events often held in noisy spaces, and it’s way too easy to get sidetracked, go down technical rabbit holes, or just talk over each other. Keep asking “What’s the goal? What do we want at the end of these 48+ hours?”
  3. Divide and conquer. Come up with a rough idea of the solution and how you’ll get to it, divide the problem into smaller pieces, and split your team into pieces by skill set to tackle those problems.
  4. Validate, validate, validate. Not just your code, but your product idea. Talk to potential customers, either in person, or online!
  5. Check in with your teammates. “Sure, this is touchy-feely and didn’t contribute to hard development, but it helped us become a unified team.”
  6. Take advantage of free advice, but be specific in your ask. Startup Weekend-style events often provide industry experts, and you should make use of them — that’s what they’re there for! Just be aware that they have to support other teams, so be sure to have questions on specific topics for them, and not just general hand-wavey ones.
  7. Show your team you trust them. Don’t micromanage. “Take a leap of faith and let them take a stab at delivering. Then give them your feedback.”
  8. Laugh. Have fun. Sometimes, this is the easiest thing to forget.
  9. Be authentic. “The final pitches that grabbed my attention (and stopped me from glancing at the #swyyc Twitter feed), were the ones where the founder was clearly passionate about the idea and it showed in their eyes.”
  10. Take care of your body: Hydrate. Eat well. And sleep, somewhat. “Don’t just stock up on the sugary treats and salty snacks. Eat lots of fruit, veggies, and get your protein.” Also, a little sleep can go a long way — make sure you get some!

How to Win Startup Weekend: A Hustler’s Guide

  1. Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. If you don’t have time to read the book, watch Eric Ries’ 2011 talk at Google on the topic, which he gave when he was still writing the book.
  2. Have a rough idea of your business model. “If you’re going to be pitching an idea, then you should have a basic understanding of how that idea can be turned into a real business.”
  3. Do your research. Who are your competitors? What strategies are similar companies using? Who are your key influencers?
  4. Get to know your fellow participants. You’ll need to do this in order to build your team.
  5. Build your team by selling yourself and your idea. Your pitch format should be along these lines: “Hi, My name is _____ and I’m here today to invite you to join me in <business name> that <main value prop>. My background is in <relevant background> and I’ve seen a problem/opportunity where <problem/opportunity>. I think we can solve this by <how you do it>. I need <mobile app developer / web developer / UX designer /etc.>
  6. Set Friday night goals. 1. Quickly do introductions amongst your team, and sort out roles. 2. Quickly revise your business model canvas, with new input from your team. 3. Register a domain and setup a landing page with an e-mail capture. 4. Work out what your MVP is going to look like.
  7. Saturday: Build it and sell it.
  8. Sunday: Pitch! Focus on 3 things: Is it pretty? Does it work? Can you sell it?


How to Win Startup Weekend (Prague, early 2018)

Code Without Code’s How to Win at Startup Weekend, Parts 1 and 2

Other articles


Tampa Bay’s tech “scenius” depends on us

Here’s a word that you should add to your vocabulary: Scenius. It was coined by musician, music producer, and visual artist Brian Eno to describe the extreme creativity that groups, places, or “scenes” can generate.

Eno came up with the term as a way of countering the pervasive myth of the Lone Genius — the idea that innovation comes from a small, select set of Chosen Ones.

Here’s an expanded definition, courtesy of Eno:

Creative Commons photo by Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep (AVRO).
Tap the image to see its source.

“Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.”

…I thought that originally those few individuals who’d survived in history – in the sort-of “Great Man” theory of history – they were called “geniuses”. But what I thought was interesting was the fact that they all came out of a scene that was very fertile and very intelligent.

So I came up with this word “scenius” – and scenius is the intelligence of a whole… operation or group of people. And I think that’s a more useful way to think about culture, actually. I think that – let’s forget the idea of “genius” for a little while, let’s think about the whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.”

“Genius/EGOsystem vs. Scienus/ECOsystem” graphic by Austin Kleon.

Here are some examples of scenius, where the collective smarts, creativity, and passion of a group of people coming together to do great things is greater than the sum of its parts:

  • The Lunar Society of Birmingham: a dinner club run between 1765 and 1813 in Birmingham, England, and attended by industrialists, scientists, and thinkers who changed science and engineering forever. Their regulars included Boulton and Watt (steam engines and their applications to manufacturing), Erasmus Darwin (biology, inventions, and grandfather of Charles Darwin), Keir (industrialist, chemistry, inventions), Priestly (chemistry, philosophy), Small (Thomas Jefferson’s professor at the College of William and Mary), Stokes and Withering (early heart medicine), Wedgewood (industrialized pottery, pretty much invented modern marketing, including the concepts of direct mail, money-back guarantees, self-service, free delivery, buy one get one free, and illustrated catalogs), Whitehurst (geology).
  • The Sex Pistols’ 1976 gig. It was attended by a mere 42 people, but those people went on to revolutionize music through their work in British alt-rock: Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley (The Buzzcocks) organized, Tom Wilson and Martin Hannett (Factory Records and the Hacienda), Morrissey, Mark E. Smith (The Fall), Paul Morley (NME magazine, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Art of Noise), Mick Hucknall (Simply Red), and Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, and Peter Hook (Joy Division, New Order).
  • Silicon Valley: Your iPhone and Android are direct descendants of the scenius that was born when the “Traitorous Eight” left Shockley Semiconductor to form their own company, Fairchild, and the “Fairchildren” who then left Fairchild to form their own companies, and so on, creating a cross-pollenating scene that we now know as “The Valley”.

Global Entrepreneurship Week Tampa’s Happy Hour + Florida Innovation Discussion, November 12, 2018.

Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired and former editor and publisher of the Whole Earth Review, wrote that the geography of scenius is nurtured by several factors:

  • Mutual appreciation — Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. Scenius can be thought of as the best of peer pressure.
  • Rapid exchange of tools and techniques — As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a common language and sensibility.
  • Network effects of success — When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. This empowers the scene to further success.
  • Local tolerance for the novelties — The local “outside” does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone.

BarCamp Tampa Bay, November 10, 2018.

Here’s what Austin Kleon, a writer and artist whose ideas have been adopted by the tech community, has to say about scenius:

Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals—artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers—who make up an “ecology of talent.” If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as lone geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.” Scenius doesn’t take away from the achievements of those great individuals: it just acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.

What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don’t consider ourselves geniuses. Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute—the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. If we forget about genius and think more about how we can nurture and contribute to a scenius, we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of the worlds we want to accept us. We can stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.

Tampa Community Connect, October 20, 2018.

The time is ripe to build Tampa Bay’s tech scenius. Consider these recent developments in the area…

…as well as Tampa’s place as one of the new “18-hour cities” or “new boomtowns” referenced in this Washington Post article.

hack</hospitality> Hackathon, August 2017.

Over the past little while, the elements of an interesting, vital technology scene have been gathering in Tampa Bay and the surrounding area (I like to think of Tampa Bay as the western end of the “Orlampa” corridor, with Orlando — who have a lively tech community of their own — at the eastern end). This scene will be boosted by the arrival of that startup hub and gathering place Embarc Collective in March:

Click the image to see it at full size.

Click the image to see it at full size.

Click the image to see it at full size.

While the elements of scenius are in place for Tampa Bay’s tech scene, there’s still some way to go before Tampa can match places like Nashville — whose tech scene is bigger than you might think — never mind places like Austin, Charlotte, Indianapolis, and Raleigh.

The success or failure of Tampa’s tech scenius depends on us, the Tampeños who work in tech, creative, and related industries.

I’m originally from Toronto. While it has one of the hottest tech scenes in North America today, it wasn’t that way 15 years ago. While the city did launch some initiatives to change this, what truly made the difference was Toronto’s own tech community stepping up and organizing. We held events of all sizes, from regular meetups and user group meetings at pubs and lecture halls to independent conferences like Mesh, RubyFringe and FutureRuby to tech “camp” events to big corporate gatherings put on by the likes of the Canadian subsidiaries of IBM and Microsoft. We built places to get together, from hackerspaces such as Hacklab and Site3 coLaboratory to the MaRS Centre. In my work as a developer evangelist for Microsoft, I’ve met many students at Toronto’s fine universities and colleges, and they’re eager to crank out the ‘wares, both hard and soft, and they’re bright as all get-out. We built a great community bound together by cooperation, a strong social media scene and good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings. We got stuff done, and the stuff we did traveled far and wide. We built Toronto’s tech scenius, and it put the city on the map.

Can Tampa do the same? I believe so — it’s just up to us.

Worth reading/watching

Current Events Tampa Bay Uncategorized

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene (Week of Monday, November 12, 2018)

The scene at BarCamp Tampa Bay 2018 last Saturday.

Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, tech entrepreneurs, and nerds in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, November 12


Global Entrepreneurship Week — Happy Hour + Florida Innovation Discussion @ Factory 114, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM


Tuesday, November 13

Wednesday, November 14

Thursday, November 15


Tampa Bay Cocoaheads — Writing a parser in pure Swift @ ActSoft, Inc., 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM


Friday, November 16


Global Entrepreneurship Week — Techstars Startup Weekend Tampa Bay, powered by KnowBe4 @ Factory 114, Friday 5:00 PM to Sunday, 8:00 PM


Saturday, November 17

Sunday, November 18