Web414: Creativity Challenges

Creativity Challenges

For the Web414 March 2009 Meeting we’ll be discussing Creativity Challenges on the web.

Have you taken part in National Novel Writing Month, or the RPM Challenge (record an entire album in a month) or maybe taken a photo every single day for a year for the 365 Days Project?

These are challenges (not contests) and there isn’t a winner or a loser (unless you beat yourself up about not finishing) but if all goes well, attempting to “meet the challenge” will force you to be creative when it’s so easy not to be. It’s too simple to come home from work, plop down on the couch and consume the latest piece of “entertainment” that someone else created, but if you like writing, making music, or photography, why not step it up and see what you can really do by giving yourself a challenge to be met?

It can be difficult… most of the people I know involved in these challenges have day jobs, friends and family, and other responsibilities. And often, things just “get in the way” or go haywire and you just can’t do it. Equipment breaks, computers crash, files get lost. I saw a post in the RPM Challenge forums from a guy who said he couldn’t finish due to the fact that he had to get divorced. Life can get in the way of things, and that’s all part of the challenge.

If everything goes right, you complete the challenge, you’re proud of what you’ve created, and hopefully you’ve learned something in the process, had some fun, and make plans to continue creating things and being creative.

If discussing this further sounds interesting, please stop by Bucketworks Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 7pm and join in


One Year with the Asus Eee PC

It’s been a full year since I got an Asus Eee PC, so I thought I would review…

We can start with my first impressions of the Eee PC.

Throughout the year the little computer has served me well. It’s almost always in my backpack and ready to use. Being just 2 pounds is a definite plus for something you always carry around. Lightweight is definitely a top feature. As for battery life, well… I really expected better. With wifi on, I typically see under 3 hours, which isn’t great, but again, small computer = small battery, so I can live with that. The power adapter isn’t too big, so I always carry that around as well. The battery does seem to drain more than it should in sleep mode, so I typically turn if off when not in use.

Asus Eee PC

Connecting via wifi was only an issue at my own house where I had a weird setup (which I’ve since fixed) and anywhere else it worked fine. One annoying issue is disconnecting an external monitor/projector. The Eee PC thinks it’s still there and you can’t see the parts of the screen you want to because it assumes some higher rez display is there, it’s annoying, and worse case, requires a reboot to fix. (I’m used to the way the Mac dynamically deals with monitors being connected/disconnected and does the right thing.)

As I wanted a unit that “just worked” (as much as a Linux computer can) I stuck with the default Xandros OS on it. I contemplated trying Ubuntu a few times, but things like “recompile the kernel for wifi to work” or other such warnings turned me off. Besides, for the way I use the thing, I didn’t think I’d see much benefit from a different OS.

So after one year how am I liking the Eee PC? There have been a few small issues, but none I couldn’t deal with. For the price, it was worth if. Of course today you can get a much better little PC for even less money. It served me well through Web414 meetings, and BarCamps, and anywhere else I needed a computer on the go. (Unless I needed Mac-specific applications, in which case, it was totally useless.) The screen is small. I’m glad to see that 1024 pixels wide is what the newer machines are using, as 800 pixels just doesn’t cut it. All in all, I’ve been pleased with the Asus Eee PC. (I’ll be following up with another post specifically about how I hosed it all up.)


BarCampMilwaukee3 is over…

We somehow managed to pull it off again, and BarCampMilwaukee3 happened without any unfortunate incidents, even though there was threat of desks being burned to the ground…

In the coming weeks I will try to follow-up on specific things about BarCampMilwaukee3, but for now I will just ramble on aimlessly…

Wifi seemed good and the internet connection worked. This probably sets a new record for Bucketworks.

I did not get to complete my robot, but it looks like Royce Pipkins may be starting up a Milwaukee Robotics Club. (Possibly meeting at Bucketworks.)

We had a desk building competition (sponsored by Bucketworks) and I did not win, despite building two (yes two!) amazing desks…

Blake Hall and I (mostly Blake!) started working on the new BarCampMilwaukee web site & infrastructure. We should be done before BarCampMilwaukee4…

We’ll be discussing what worked/what didn’t and ideas for future *Camps in Milwaukee, including some sort of “FoodCamp” and DrupalCampWI2, and WordCamp, and others I forgot about…

Discussing where? At Web414 on Thursday, October 9th, 2008… 7PM at Bucketworks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin



It’s on! BarCampMilwaukee3 will happen Friday, October 4th through Sunday October 5th, 2008. It’ll be at Bucketworks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


We’re in the process of preparing the web site, and soon you will be able to register at

We’re also looking for sponsors. While Bucketworks is providing the venue, they’ve had a few setbacks this year due to flood damage, and they are also looking to up the bandwidth for BarCamp events held there. If you or your company wants to sponsor BarCampMilwaukee3, please get in touch with me. We’ll make you known to all the passionate technology leaders in South-Eastern Wisconsin.

Here’s a list of our current sponsors:

We’d also like to mention Web414 (organizing group) Distance Software (hosts the web site) and Fresh Coast Ventures (our fiscal sponsor.)

I’m sure you’ll see a lot more about BarCampMilwaukee3 in the next month, as it promises to be a great event… and who knows, we might even have a few surprises to reveal along the way. :)


Web414, BCMKE3, Teecycle

The Web414 July 2008 Meeting will be held on Tuesday July 8th, 2008 at Bucketworks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The June meeting was at MSOE due to the water damage sustained at Bucketworks. For those of you who have not been to Bucketworks since the incident, you’ll get to see the damage, and hopefully that won’t distract us too much from the Web414 meeting.

We’ll start some of the planning for BarCampMilwaukee3 which is set for the first weekend of October. Hopefully by then Bucketworks will be fully operational. While we will discuss BarCampMilwaukee3, the real planning will start to happen at dedicated meetings yet to be scheduled. As always, anyone interested in helping out is welcome to participate. We’re open like that.

Oh, we have one more thing in store for the Web414 meeting. Teecycle is this neat idea involving selling used shirts online. Here’s how they describe it:

Cool pre-loved vintage T-shirts for cheap. It’s like adopting a cute rescue puppy from an animal shelter, except a Teecycle shirt won’t ruin your furniture, terrorize your cat and crap all over your carpet.

Your purchase also supports the River Revitalization Foundation. $1 of each sale is donated to restore urban river trails and waterways in the Milwaukee area.

I think it’s cool that they are using the web to do this. Tim from Teecycle has asked if anyone from Web414 wants to help him out and model some shirts. If you are interested, stick around after the meeting and get your photo taken. Also, if you have any old shirts you want to donate to Teecycle, bring them to the meeting.

I look forward to seeing you there.