BarCamp Houston 2 was great. The Houston Technology Center was a really nice venue, and it was cool to hook up with so many locals who are into bleeding-edge tech. Nice too, to get some faces to go with Twitter avatar pics.
State of the Startup
(Kurt Stoll, StartupHouston.com)
- Lots of startups in Houston, but little communication/coordination.
- Not enough interested talent and not enough local capital. Houston startups have to go outside of town for their cash.
- Brain drain -- not enough connection between the startup community and the universities, easy opportunities with big business in Houston.
- Open-source participation can propel entrepreneurship
The Up Experience
(Ernie Rapp, The Up Experience)
A conference modeled after TED (www.ted.com), coming in to Houston in February. One announced speaker is Steve Wozniak.
Seems a bit pricey at $1000, but they are trying to make it something pretty extraordinary.
(Alexander Kouznetsov, Spresent)
Software-as-a-service, Web-based presentation application. Written in Flash. Looks pretty decent, if you need to do Powerpoint-style presentations.
If it were me, I probably wouldn't be able to get past my visceral distaste for Flash -- I'd use S5 or something. But I can see how it would really appeal to people who do presentations with a lot of media in them.
(Tory Gattis, OpenTeams)
"Takes the icky out of wiki." These guys are a Houston-based startup.
A friendly, more usable wiki-style collaboration Web-app for business. ZDNet blogs has a good writeup with video of the actual app.
I talked with Tory a little bit about open-source -- it's apparently a question they get asked a lot. He said they had tried to contribute some code to Dojo, but didn't have much luck coordinating with the Dojo guys to get it included.
They're an ASP, so they don't want to open-source the entire app. But I mentioned the idea that they could consider open-sourcing something smaller like a component -- something generally useful, but unique to their app. It's a nice way of contributing back without killing your whole business. Tory seemed interested in the idea, since people seem to be badgering them a lot about their open-source story.
I was also pretty impressed with the open way they've set up their business -- it's very community driven, and they're deliberately blurring the lines between employees and community. Check out their FAQ on the Open Model Entrepreneurial Organization.
I need to throw this out to the OSAF crowd, since it's completely free for non-profits.
Text and Readability, E-Books
Robert Nagle, IdiotProgrammer Weblog
Gerry Manacsa, Wowio.com
(Disclaimer: I have a bunch of good friends at Wowio.)
Lots of talk about various types of new media, the importance of graphics versus text, and the influence on reading of technology.
I won a book for my answer to one of the poll questions. (The question: Where are some places people read? My answer: On the can.)
Robert has his slides available online here.
Chris Koenig, Microsoft
A really impressive demo that showed how serious Microsoft finally has gotten about making RIA programming a first-class citizen in its tools-oriented programming ecosystem.
Silverlight is going to be an interesting technology to watch as it matures, and things like Ruby/Python support fall into place.
They tout it as cross-platform, but sadly, to the guys at MS that still just means "Wow, it works on Mac." I'll be impressed when there's a Linux player. No one expect development tools, but hey, Adobe has a Linux player for Flash. This is kind of minimum effort here, guys.
If Microsoft can lose billions of dollars on XBox, they can spend some resources on a Linux player for Silverlight. (And no, I don't want to hear what the Mono guys are doing.)