Palm Pre ‘Hello World’ error on Windows

If you’re running through the Palm WebOS ‘Hello World’ application on Windows (I use XP) with the command line tools, you’ll want to change this line this.controller.pushScene("first"); to this this.controller.pushScene("First");, as outlined in this forum post.  Apparently, case matters somewhere in there, and the palm command line tools generate upper case view and assistant file names.

This oversight is a bit embarrassing/peculiar, since the ‘Hello World’ example is often the first thing developers turn to when learning a new platform, and it was reported in July and acknowledged by a Palm employee that same month. I can only surmise that this works fine on other platforms (which is definitely possible, given that the palm tools don’t lowercase the first letter of the scene, as expected, on Windows).

I’m not sure about whether this affects the Eclipse plugin. This is using the 1.3.1-314 SDK.

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Trying to schedule a meeting? Try Doodle

A friend turned me on to Doodle for distributed meeting scheduling.  Four steps to a url you can send out to an unlimited number of people.  You select dates and times.

Anyone who has the URL can then, without logging in, vote for a date/time that works for them.

There are other options available, but this is enough to set up the occasional lunch with busy friends, which is what I use it for.

If you need to do any scheduling of multiple parties, give Doodle a try.


List of Front Range Software Networking Events and Conferences

Updated March 21: crossed out ‘conferences’ because I don’t do a good job of listing those.
Boulder, Colorado, has a great tech scene, that I’ve been a peripheral member of for a while now.  I thought I’d share a few of the places I go to network.  And by “network”, I mean learn about cool new technologies, get a feel for the state of the scene (are companies hiring?  Firing?  What technologies are in high demand?) and chat with interesting people.  All of the events below focus on software, except where noted.

NB: I have not found work through any of these events.  But if I needed work, these communities are the second place I’d look.  (The first place would be my personal network.)

Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup

  • 5 minute presentions.  Two times a month.  Audience varies wildly from hard core developers to marketing folks to graphic designers to upper level execs.  Focus is on new technologies and companies.  Arrive early, because once the presentations start, it’s hard to talk to people.
  • Good for: energy, free food, broad overviews, regular meetings, reminding you of the glory days in 1999.
  • Bad for: diving deep into a subject, expanding your technical knowledge

User groups: Boulder Java Users Group, Boulder Linux Users Group, Rocky Mountain Adobe Users Group, Denver/Boulder Drupal Users Group, Denver Java Users Group others updated 11/12 8:51: added Denver JUG

  • Typically one or two presentations each meeting, for an hour or two.  Tend to focus on a specific technology, as indicated by the names.  Sometimes food is provided.
  • Good for: diving deep into a technology, networking amongst fellow nerds, regular meetings
  • Bad for: anyone not interested in what they’re presenting that night, non technical folks

Meetups (of which BDNT, covered above, is one)

  • There’s a meetup for everything under the sun.  Well, almost.  If you’re looking to focus on a particular subject, consider starting one (not free) or joining one–typically free.
  • Good for: breadth of possibility–you want to talk about Google?  How about SecondLife?
  • Bad for: many are kind of small

Startup Drinks

  • Get together in a bar and mingle. Talk about your startups dreams or realities.
  • Good: have a beer, talk tech–what’s not to like?, takes place after working hours, casual
  • Bad: hard to target who to talk to, intermittent, takes place after working hours.

BarCamp

  • Originally started, I believe, in response to FooCamp, this is an unconference. On Friday attendees get together and assemble an interim conference schedule.  On Saturday, they present, in about an hour or so.  Some slots are group activities (“let’s talk about technology X”) rather than presentations.  Very free form.
  • Good: for meeting people interested in technologies, can be relatively deep introduction to a technology
  • Bad: if you need lots of structure, if you want a goodie bag from a conference, presentations can be uneven in quality, hasn’t been one in a while around here (that I know of)

Ignite

  • Presentations on a variety of topics, some geeky, some not.  Presentations determined by vote.  Presentations are 20 slide and 5 minutes total.  Costs something (~$10).
  • Good: happens in several cities (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins) so gives you chance to meet folks in your community, presentations tend to be funny, wide range of audience
  • Bad: skim surface of topic, presentation quality can vary significantly, not a lot of time to talk to people as you’re mostly watching presentations

CU Computer Science colloquia

  • Run by the CU CS department, these are technical presentations.  Usually given by a visiting PhD.
  • Good: Good to see what is coming down the pike, deep exposure to topics you might never think about (“Effective and Ubiquitous Access for Blind People”, “Optimal-Rate Routing in Adversarial Networks”)
  • Bad: The ones I’ve been to had no professionals there that I could see, happen during the middle of the work day, deep exposure to topics you might not care about

Jelly

  • Cooperative work environments, hosted at a coffee shop or location.
  • Good: informal, could be plenty of time to talk to peers
  • Bad: not sure I’ve ever heard of one happening on the front range, not that different from going to your local coffee shop

Boulder Open Coffee Club

  • From the website: it “encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organize real-world informal meetups”.  I don’t have enough data to give you good/bad points.

Startup Weekend

  • BarCamp with a focus–build a startup company.  With whoever shows up.
  • Good: focus, interesting people, you know they’re entrepeneurial to give a up a weekend to attend, broad cross section of skills
  • Bad: you give up a weekend to attend

Refresh Denver

  • Another group that leverages meetup.com, these folks are in Denver.  Focus on web developers and designers.  Again, I don’t have enough to give good/bad points.

Except for Ignite, everything above is free or donation-based.  The paid conferences around Colorado that I know about, I’ll cover in a future post.

What am I missing?  I know the list is skewed towards Boulder–I haven’t really been to conferences more than an hours drive from Boulder.

Do you use these events as a chance to network?  Catch up with friends?  Learn about new technologies, processes and companies?


Anyone you know care about society?

As a society and democracy, we don’t need newspapers, but we do need journalism.  Please send Clay’s article to anyone who reads or writes for newspapers.  We all need to start thinking about how to preserve journalism through the internet revolution instead of hiding from it.  Oh, and this too: most of a local newspaper is not journalism.

Thanks to Clay Shirky for a cogent, scary, realistic analysis of this issue.  Via Barry Ritholtz.

PS: I hope the universities know that the internet is coming for them too.


Dan Pink discussed the sad state of employee incentives at TED

Fantastic video from Dan Pink about motivation in the workplace.  He examines the science of motivation, and knocks business for not adapting new methods of encouragement for the new, right brain type problems that face us.

This quote pretty much summarizes the talk:

There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. And what worries me, as we stand here in the rubble of the economic collapse,  is that too many organizations are making their decisions,  their policies about talent and people, based on assumptions that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science.

You can see a transcript of the talk by clicking on the ‘Transcript’ link on the right hand side of the video.  It’s actually pretty cool–clicking on a sentence and it updates the video to that part.  It’s not linkable, though–FAIL.

A few takeaways:

  • If/then rewards work well for simple tasks…they concentrate the mind and narrow your focus.
  • From a study by the FRB of Boston, “once [a] task called for ‘even rudimentary cognitive skill’ a larger reward ‘led to poorer performance'”
  • Management is not a tree, it’s a television set.  We invented it.
  • Atlassian used to give their engineers autonomy at least a few times a year to choose what they work on (FedEx Days), and now gives workers control over 20% of their time.  (Joel has something to say about Atlassian too.)
  • Autonomy, mastery, purpose are what people are looking for (once money is taken care of)
  • Results only work environment–people can work when they want, as long as they get their work done.  Here’s a stub wikipedia article about ROWE.
  • Encarta vs Wikipedia–who won?  The encyclopedia that leveraged people’s desires to work, not the one that paid them.

Now, my thoughts.

  • First, watch the whole video.  It’s only 18 minutes and is well worth your time if you are an employer or an employee (which covers most of us, I think).
  • ROWE reminds me a lot of college, especially higher level classes.  No one cares about when you do the work and I don’t remember being required to be at classes, but the results (passing a test, turning in a paper) were very important.
  • He only talks about the autonomy component of the new ‘motivation trilogy’ (autonomy, mastery, purpose).  I wish he’d chosen to talk about ‘purpose’ because to me that is the hardest bit–someone needs to do grungy jobs.  I guess granting workers autonomy is pretty revolutionary too.
  • “once money is taken care of” is a huge elephant in the room that he again does not address.  When the work is high value add, it makes sense to take money off the table (software developers are very lucky in this respect).  But what about a worker at Target, for example?  A Target store can’t afford to pay someone enough to take the money issue off the table, but can probably benefit from the ‘motivation trilogy’
  • The whole Encarta vs Wikipedia example that he gives is great, but he ignores the fact that Wikipedia has very few paid employees and that Wikipedia only won because of volunteer labor.  It’s not a solution that scales across a society.

Overall, in general, a thought provoking talk (expect nothing less from TED).  I would say that he is describing the future of work as consulting.  You are paid for what you know, the problems are fuzzy, answers are unexpected and at times unclear, and results arrived at matter far more than hours put in.

Is the future of work consulting?  If so, the business world is about to be upended, because, to borrow Dan’s phrase, “the operating system of business” isn’t designed to handle a workforce of consultants.  Heck, society isn’t either.

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Mozilla Crash Reports

Check it out: Mozilla has made their crash reports available online.  You can see crashes for all kinds of Mozilla apps, not just Firefox.  But I think that the firefox stats are the most interesting.  Here’s the top crashing domains for the last-but-one FF release (3.5.4).  Here’s the top crashing urls for 3.5.4 (go FarmVille!).  Here’s more about Firefox crash reporting in general (including links to the software that runs the online crash report server).

I’m not sure how useful this data is to normal web developers, since you can’t see if your domain is causing crashes unless it is among the top urls and/or domains in the trend reports.  However, if you had a relatively high traffic website and you noticed, after a new FF rollout or new rollout of your webapp, that the FF user percentage had dropped off a cliff, you could try to see if your webapp was listed here with a large number of crashes.

Microsoft has the other main crash reporting program I’ve seen regularly, but apparently they don’t release statistics, based on their privacy policyOpenOffice collects crash data, but that organization doesn’t appear to release the data either.

Bravo for FF for releasing their crash data.  I looked around, but didn’t see any academic research based on this data–I imagine you could find some interesting trends (checkins vs crashes per version, etc).

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StackOverflow and Community

“Hey, have you heard?  StackExchange is the new faq/forum.  It’s the cat’s pajamas, with SEO friendly urls, lots of web 2.0 features (including a realtime wysiwyg editor) and social goodness baked in.” — Dan, trying on his hipster hat

If you’re a programmer, and you use the google to look for answers to your programming questions, you’ve probably seen stackoverflow.com pop up in the search results.  This site, started as a collaboration between Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood last year, is a better way to do question and answer sites, aka FAQs.  It opens the FAQ asking and answering process to anyone with a browser, has anti spam features, some community aspects (voting, editing answers, reputation, commenting, user accounts), and great urls.  And, incidentally, a great support staff–I emailed them a question about my account and they responded is less than 24 hours.

They’ve done a good job of generalizing the platform, and now you can create your very own.  There are a wide variety of stack sites: real estate, your pressing Yoda needs, small business, space exploration.  Here’s a list.  I love the fact they are charging for this software–$129/month for a 1M pageviews is not very much for software that lets you build your community and lets your community share knowledge.

And that’s the key.  Like most other social software, what you get out of a stack site is highly correlated to what you put into it.  If, like the folks at Redmonk, you create a stack site about a topic on which you have expertise and publicize it where you know interested people will hear about it and spend time answering questions on it, I imagine you have a good chance to build a community around it. And once you get to a certain threshold, it will take on a life of its own.  But you need to provide that activation energy–it’s an organizational commitment.
If, on the other hand, you create a stack site and don’t have a community which can get excited about it, or don’t do a good job reaching out to them, you end up with an abandoned stack site (worse than an abandoned blog, imho).  I’m hoping that Teaching Ninja won’t be in this state for long, but right now there’s only 3 questions and no answers there.

The proliferation of social software infrastructure sites (I’m looking at you, ning) has made it easier than ever to create the foundations for communities online.  But, you need to have people for community software to have any value!  Because it is so easy, getting others involved is not a case of ‘if you build it they will come’ (if it ever was).  There are too many competing sites for other’s time.  Software can make it easier and easier to build the infrastructure around community, but it’s the invisible structures (bonds between you and your users, and between them) that will actually create ongoing value.

If you’re looking for an outward facing FAQ site and willing to invest the time in it, a stack site seems to be one of the best software platforms for building that right now.  (I have some qualms about who owns the data, but it seems like they are planning export functionality.)  Just don’t believe the hype: “The Stack Exchange technology is so compelling, sites can take off right away.”  No software can make a social site ‘take off right away’.

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