Tag Archives: drew-olanoff

Top Ten Gnomedex Memories

We’re entering the home stretch, preparing to launch Gnomedex 10 here in Seattle. Wow – ten years of Gnomedex. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this for so long! Planning a conference of this magnitude is no easy feat and this year has been no exception to that rule. However, I have a fantastic team of volunteers without whom this tenth year would not be happening. They’ve all worked incredibly hard to help pull together what promises to be an excellent weekend – and I guarantee you will regret it if you miss out.

Over the past several weeks, we used our @gnomedex Twitter account to ask previous attendees what their favorite memories have been from past years. We took all of the responses and created a top-ten list for your enjoyment – and to help you remember why it is you love Gnomedex as much as you do. It’s funny… a few people have accused us of not being Geeky enough – not technical enough – not hard-core nerd enough. However, looking at the top ten it’s easy to see that the hard-core Geek stuff is not what people remember most.

Gnomedex is all about YOU. We focus a lot on humanity, community and communication. We aren’t a tech conference in the traditional sense, and that’s okay with me. People have repeatedly told me that they have come away from Gnomedex with a new outlook on life… that the conference has changed their life in some way. Something strikes a chord deep within our attendees each year, and that is priceless to me. I was pleasantly surprised by this list, and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. I hope you will, as well.

Without further ado, here are your favorite Gnomedex memories, in reverse order:

  • Watching Miss Gnomedex Christine Juhnke earn her title at Gnomedex 1 in Des Moines.
  • Microsoft giving the first public look at IE 7 during Gnomedex 5, showing off the built-in RSS capabilities.
  • Television actor Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) speaking at Gnomedex 4.
  • Raising thousands of dollars in a short time to help send Cambodian women to college with Beth Kanter.
  • Not one single attendee took their eyes off the stage during the Mars Rover presentation given by “driver” Scott Maxwell during Gnomedex 8. Every Geek in the house had a serious case of jealousy going on.
  • Nearly 2/3 of the attendees jumping on stage to dance spontaneously with Matt Harding (of Where the Hell is Matt? fame) during Gnomedex 8.
  • Having our perceptions drastically changed by Mark Horvath’s presentation about the plight of homeless people. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the auditorium when the money we quietly passed the hat to raise was given to James… the homeless but hard-working man who appeared on stage with Mark.
  • Watching our buddy (and long time Gnomedex supporter) Drew Olanoff tell his cancer to take a flying leap off of a short pier. I’m beyond happy to report that Drew beat his cancer, but his fight against it continues – on behalf of the millions of others still battling the disease.
  • Multi-year Gnomedex attendee Derek Miller couldn’t be with us in person back in 2007. Derek’s fight against cancer began that year, and he was unable to travel. SO – we brought Gnomedex to him via a live video feed from his home in Canada. Derek is still fighting the good fight, and we continue to follow his story and wish him well.
  • Gnomedex 6 keynote speaker Senator John Edwards being told by Dave Winer that he needed to make net neutrality his campaign platform in order to successfully run for President.

What was YOUR favorite Gnomedex memory of all time? Will you be joining us this year? Tickets are going fast – I hope you’ve already reserved yours.

Qwotes Can Inspire You

Drew Olanoff is himself an inspiration, although he doesn’t see it that way. When he was diagnosed with cancer last year, he decided to make it social. He wanted a place to talk about what he was going through, as well as where he could help raise awareness. He did so in a huge way, causing him to even gain the attention of Drew Carey. Now that his battle against the dreaded disease has ended, he decided that it is time to stop letting things sit around in his brain. Thus, Qwotebook has been officially released.

The site has a mixture of real-time and historical quotations. Users are allowed to contribute, attribute and share their favorite Qwotes of all time. The quotes can be things the users themselves have said, or things that they have seen (or read) by others – including famous people. Qwotebooks takes the funny and inspirational things you may overhear and puts them alongside some of the most famous sayings in all of history. These snippets can come from your mom, your neighbor or even your drunken best friend. The interface is easy to use, and Drew promises there are more features to come.

“If you have a dream, you do it. Period,” says Olanoff. “Time is limited, tomorrow is never promised.” As I said, this idea sat around in his brain for more than three years. He kept putting off development, thinking he had all the time in the world to make it a reality. After his bout with cancer, Drew realized that he may not have all the time in the world… that none of us do, in fact.

I can’t speak for Drew, but I know that over the course of my lifetime I have read many things that inspired me in some way. I’m sure he’s been through that, and that would likely be where his idea came from. Things that others say can not only inspire and challenge us, they can sometimes lead us to laughter when we’re down, or to cry when we need to shed a tear. What better way to bring all of these emotions and resources together than with Qwotebooks?

Mustaches Vs Cancer


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Andrea Wojcik was a Gnomedex attendee this past August. She is passionate about causes, and helping to raise money for Pediatric Oncology. She discovered a very cool website that she wanted to talk about during our Gnomedex Show and Tell! Mustaches Vs Cancer is an organization whose motto is: “Kids can’t grow mustaches, and they shouldn’t have cancer, either”.

Even though no child deserves cancer, those who are diagnosed definitely deserve the best care and the best chance at a cure available. We all know that a mustache is the gift that keeps on giving, by creating a more dignified and aesthetically appealing population. But now that killer ‘stache can do even more; it can help fight a killer. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease (non-accidental) among children.

In order to participate, all one needs to do is grow a mustache and take a picture of it at least once a week to post on the website. Donors pick their favorite ‘stache face and sponsor the efforts. There is a twist, though. If a mustache continue to bring in at least ten dollars a week, then the wearer will have to continue growing it! This will help bring in maximum donations, as well as keep the facial hair growing!

It’s easy to participate, and fun to donate. Be sure to check out Mustaches Vs Cancer and help work towards a cure for childhood cancers. Even if you don’t think you look good sporting a ‘stache, you can just remind yourself that just this once – it isn’t about you!

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When is Your Birthday?

I noticed around the web that we have three community members celebrating birthdays today! Traci Toguchi, Frank Eliason and Drew Olanoff will all be blowing out candles today. Now, normally I’d say a simple “Happy Birthday!” and be done with it. However, realizing today is Drew’s birthday gave me pause, and made me think…

Six months ago, Drew completely sure what his future held. He was diagnosed with cancer back in May, and the fight began. He finished up his last Chemo treatment a week ago, and the doctors have given him the awesome news that his tumors are gone. He is free of that stupid disease, hopefully forever. He continues his fight against Cancer, with the support of many thousands of people… including Drew Carey. In order to help raise money for the Livestrong foundation, all you have to do is click that little “Follow” button on Drew Carey’s Twitter page. For every follower – up to one million – that Drew gets prior to midnight on New Year’s Eve, he will donate one more dollar. How cool is that?

Thinking about all of this, and Drew O’s birthday, kind of puts life into perspective a little, eh? It makes one remember to stop and be thankful for what we have… right here, right now. It makes us want to push ourselves a little harder to do the things we promised ourselves we would do. It makes us want to reach out and tell those we care about that we do, in fact, love them.

Cancer touches everyone. EVERYONE. In some way or another, your life will be affected by Cancer at some point. Even though Drew’s personal fight may have come to an end, the war has only begun. Keep doing your part in kicking Cancer’s ass, everyone. We won’t rest until we eradicate it for good.

Birthdays aren’t the only thing going on in our community today, as you know. All of you are busy posting and writing, sharing your thoughts and dreams. What have you read that was interesting or thought-provoking? If I missed something, please leave a follow-up comment and share it with the rest of us!

Today in our downloads center, we have several excellent apps for Windows. Be sure to check them out!

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