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Broadly defined "technology" e.g. software, water pumps

Broadcast Music Around Your House - Apple Airport Express? Roku? Squeezebox?

Here's the scenario: all of our music is stored as mp3s. We want to be able to control music from a laptop as we sit in our kitchen or back room and have that music broadcast to speakers all over the house and back yard patio. Ideally we'd rather not have to run speaker wires from a central amplifier to the rest of the house. There seem to be 3 or four solutions to this problem.

Apple Airport Express and iTunes

Now that we're a family of Mac users, this seems like a decent solution. We buy a handful of Airport Express units ($100 new or as low as $60 used/refurbished) and install them in a power outlet near the speakers. The speakers have to have their own amplifier and accept a headphone mini-jack input for this to work. I'm also not 100% sure that the airports would all be synchronized in terms of what they play at the same time, though there are multiple articles which claim that it is possible. So, it probably works ;)

Bonus: Each of the airport express units expands the coverage of the WiFi network as well which will make our house super strong...and perhaps we could sell access to that to neighbors...

Drawbacks: iTunes only.

A Dedicated Device like Roku or Squeezebox

Roku and Squeezebox are two alternatives focused specifically on music. Roku is more focused on using the Roku to control the music, costs $200, and doesn't act as a WiFi repeater. The Squeezebox Receiver or Transporter could also do this but, like Roku, are way more expensive at $150 or $2,000 respectively and don't act as WiFi repeaters.

Drawbacks: Still requires some client software on the laptops that is Windows/Mac only :(

Remote Wireless Speakers - Audio Unlimited

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Herman Miller Chairs in Denver - Expensive Chair, Cheap Tables

So, I'm outfitting my office which has me thinking back to all the great articles I've read over the years about offices. There's Joel on Software's 12 Steps to Better Code which is largely just common sense of developer types explained using traditional business language. And Jason Calacanis about how to save money running a startup which is largely more of the same.

Cheap tables and Expensive Chairs (like... Aeron chairs)

Jason's tip that really resonated with me was this one:

Buy cheap tables and expensive chairs. Tables are a complete rip off. We buy stainless steel restaurant tables that are $100 and $600 Areon[sic] chairs. Total cost per workstation? $700. Compare that to buying a $500-$1,500 cube/designer workstation. The chair is the only thing that matters... invest in it.

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July Denver/Boulder New Tech Meetup Overview

This was the first "New Tech Meetup" that I've attended. It was quite interesting. Perhaps more interesting was the before the session I was at "The Cup" in Boulder talking to a VC/Consultant/Entrepreneur type and comparing Boulder to Denver he said something like "The thing about Boulder is that there's more VCs up here so the Entrepreneurs from Denver have to come here."

At that exact moment, sitting in the Cup working on their presentation was Dandyid. Point proven?

Without further ado - my notes on the sessions.

Gnip (Guh - nip)

Used OpenOffice.org Impress and Ubuntu.

Basically they want to go from the "polling" model (think of all the rss requests that your rss reader makes in a day) to a push model. But it has to be polling, so they will do the polling in one big poll and then share the resulting data with you either by polling or pushing. Their model seems to be like Facebook, but in a B2B way. I'm not sure that I see the problem that they are solving, but they already have several big name partners which means that those big name partners see a business model which is really all that they need.

I like them more now that I see their website: "We got $h*t to pop". Ok, fair enough. They had a real demo - well done. The demo didn't 100% work. Oh well.

Question from the audience: Who saves money? Who spends money? What's the revenue module?
Answer: Uh, this is the new _tech meetup. I'm not a business guy....Let's say for now we're doing this for public benefit._

mobileXware (nice site!)

Used OpenOffice.org Impress and WindowsXP and they couldn't get the presentation to work. Whoops.

All presentation, no demo (it's hard to demo handheld stuff). Basically it's a fitness guide via cell phone that's for sale now.

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Some Research Before You Write That (Technical) Book

It appears that the costs of publishing have really fallen, otherwise how can I explain that there's a good chance I'm going to be writing a book that might actually get published. In the last week two referrals came my way and I'm sitting here thinking "Should I do it?"

The major questions in my mind are: Is it profitable on its own? If not, can I do it in a manner which will be profitable (i.e. write about a niche that somehow brings in future business)? Should I partner with a publisher? Write it myself? Or perhaps "dead-tree" books are just "dead" and I should make it an e-book?

Oh yeah, and will I maintain the motivation to get it done? And done to a level that doesn't suck?

John Resig Writes about Writing For a Publisher

In his post about Programming Book Profits (which, I'm not going to be writing about "programming" but it's probably a useful comparison to what I would be writing) John Resig lays out exactly what his profits were 1 year after publishing. He also lays out some of the pros and cons and surprises that he found. In short: the paycheck from the publisher doesn't seem like it will be worth it.

Note: he recommends pretty strongly against the e-book route.

Go It (mostly) On Your Own With Lulu.com or the Kindle

ProBlogger's How to Be a Rockstar eBook Seller [Interview] mentions the use of Lulu.com for sales of their book. It appears that they've made a decent profit. Sadly though, while he gives revenue numbers he doesn't give "books sold" numbers and the sales $ depends on several factors so you don't really know how many copies they sold.

Note: they love the e-book.

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Firefox Extensions that I Use

I use a lot of firefox extensions. You might call me a power user. Yeah, that's right, powerful.

Here is the list of my favorites. They are broken down into extensions that make Firefox better, those that make my general life better, things for "geeky stuff" and things for my life as a web developer/sysadmin/competitve webmaster. Yeah, I'm competitive. My stable of sites is better than yours!

Enhanced Firefox

  • Cute Menus - humans recognize colors and images faster than words.
  • Download Statusbar - I want the information compact, in an overview, and readily visible. I hate new windows.
  • Flashblock - I hate flash. It's amazing how much better the internet is without flash.
  • Google Gears - Since I'm in places without internet pretty regularly, it's nice to be able to get my Google feeds in an offline mode.
  • PageStyle2Tab - again, humans recognize colors and images faster than words.
  • Image Zoom - Firefox lets me zoom text, image zoom lets me zoom images. Duh.
  • Locationbar2 - Prettify the URL bar. Also happens to make it safer by clearly identifying the domain and downplaying the importance of subdomains (i.e. the phisher phavorite ebay.com.shadysitestealpasswords.com/enter-username is clearly visible as "www.ebay.com" as a subdomain of "shadysitestealpasswords.com". Whoohoo!

Enhanced Life

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Hiring in Denver (Especially for Tech / Drupal Employees)

Recently the folks from the Democract Convention Committee were looking to hire a Web/Drupal savvy person in the Denver area. They posted to Craigslist, I added it to Groups.Drupal.org but what else can you do?

There are several good places in Denver to find tech-savvy employees (likewise, if you are looking for work, pay attention to these places that advertise jobs):

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