Tag Archives: sxsw

SXSW Fashion – T-Shirts and Sneakers

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I’m willing to bet you never thought of SXSW as a fashion show. With thousands of people in attendance from every walk of life, you’re bound to see a heck of a lot of different types of clothing. The most predominate article worn, though, was the old standby – tees. Our team fell in love with several different shirts and companies during their stay in Austin, and I’m afraid Kelly may go into withdrawls if she isn’t able to bring a few home for herself.

Fur Face Boy has all original designs, based off of things that the creator is interested int. The styles are casual and fun and many of them will get people talking. One shirt in particular that I’d like to talk about is the new Ultra Fur Face Boy. This little guy is very special and he’s taking on a huge task: helping the people of Japan. For five days, pre-sale orders were taken on these awesome little babies with 100% of the proceeds going to the Red Cross in Japan. If you weren’t lucky enough to order one yet, you still can! You can also still donate directly to the Red Cross.

Heyday Footwear is another item that was seen pounding the pavement all over the beautiful Texas city. They offer tees, hats and – of course – kickass shoes. The Klout Heyday party during SXSW was one of the most elite ones during the week, with 75 influential people hanging out, having fun and kicking back with their new sneakers.

The Good Child isn’t just a brand – it’s a lifestyle. The brain behind the brand, Heather, was the good child growing up. She had two “bad-assed” brothers whose antics she credits for her success. She learned that “expected and good behavior doesn’t always reward, and often times, it is the rebellious ones who make all the difference.” She was influenced by the boys’ pranks to be her baddest self and to live her dreams. She has turned that determination and passion into some serious cool clothes!

We Are The Process is a design company who also happens to have a passion for shirts. The team primarily works on sports-related themes and ideas which represent the deep south. They feel it’s important to rep the place they’re from! They credit their influences in many different places. The boys bring their own backgrounds and experiences into what they come up with.

You don’t need fancy software in order to design something fabulous. Most of these companies grab a sketch pad and pencil when the ideas begin to hit. They each use basic computer skills learned in high school and college to flesh out what they’ve come up with.

It just goes to show that you should never let a lack of expensive tools keep you from reaching your dreams.

Grouped(In) Keeps You Better Connected

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There are an awful lot of apps out there in the wild which allow you to “group text.” When they arrived at SXSW last week, Jake and Kelly simply weren’t sure what the heck they should be using to keep in contact with everyone. After watching the official launch on Friday, they were convinced that hot new offering Grouped(In) was the way to go.

Grouped(In) provides a common interface to interact with people in your social circle. Personalizing social communication seems to be the theme of a number of emerging startups, and this app is no exception. It doesn’t matter what method of communication your contacts use. You can combine these missives with Grouped(In) to stay in touch more completely than ever before.

Talking with Brian from Grouped(In), you quickly get a taste of the enthusiasm and passion that went into this app. The team truly believes they have brought something unique to the table and they’re prepared to work even harder to keep it that way.

Why are you still flipping between several different applications in order to get all of the information you need? Grouped(In) delivers it all right to the proverbial door. Keep up with Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, in-app group messaging and regular old SMS messages all within this app. Organize your work and personal connections into groups that make sense for you.

Other features include:

  • Access to completely private, instantaneous group messaging.
  • Real-time alerts on new messages and comments via push notifications.
  • Quick communication with any group member, or members through multiple channels, including phone, SMS and e-mail.
  • Follow activities of your group members who are friends on Facebook or those you are following on Twitter within each group stream.
  • Easily toggle on and off channel streams, such as Facebook or Twitter, within each group.

  • Customize settings, including notifications, communication preferences, and channels for each group.
  • Invite anyone in your contacts list to join a group.
  • Follow public content, news, and brands, and receive offers from your favorite merchants and brands.

After test-driving Grouped(In) during SXSW, Jake and Kelly agree that it is simply the best means of staying connected with a group of people. This is true in many different settings, including special interest groups, sports teams, work groups, family and friends, conferences and tradeshows and even vacations. The possibilities are pretty endless: if you can bring a group of people together, this app can handle the flow of information amongst them.

Opera 11.10 Beta

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Catching up with Thomas from Opera during SXSW this past weekend was enlightening in more ways than one. The team attended the conference to show off the new beta for Opera 11.10. There are a lot of enhancements to this iteration of the browser and a few new goodies you should enjoy.

The popular Speed Dial feature has been beefed up quite a lot. All of your favorite pages will now have much clearer previews. Dials can even show live content for websites. There isn’t a limit as to how many dials you can use. It’s so simple to adjust the Speed Dial view to make it fit YOU and your setup. Click the little + sign to add a new website and type the address or just choose from a long list of suggestions.

Edit the name, and you’ve totally owned that dial. Devs can optimize their Speed Dial thumbnails which lets you see what is happening on your favorite sites with one quick glance.

The design has been enhanced significantly. The graphics and UI offer a more sleek and modern look. Features are much easier to find and actually use. This new design is said to have the feel of a “finely tuned browsing machine.”

Version 11.10 supports CSS3 linear gradients and multiple columns. The browser shows webpages using the best standards in all of their relative glory. It’s also now much easier to install your favorite plugins, including ones like Adobe’s Flash Player. They’ll install quickly and automagically.

It’s quite interesting to watch the browser wars these days. With the recent release of Internet Explorer 9 – and tomorrow’s release of FireFox 4 – Opera doesn’t have much choice but to innovate. With all of the new-fangled features in each of these offerings, it leaves me wondering where there is to go next. Will they one day develop a browser that will simply know what we’re thinking and take us there? Could we finally expect a browser that loads pages literally instantly?

Where do you think browsers will be heading in the next few years? What more can we possibly expect to see that isn’t already being done? Most importantly, (for this post, anyways) does Opera have what it takes to maintain a large user base?

How to Be a Video Blogger

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We were able to catch up with Sami Jarroush from the Rock It Out! Blog during SXSW this weekend. The conference hosted a panel featuring the challenges of becoming a music vlogger, which is someone who covers the music industry in short-form video on sites such as YouTube. Developing your own style, injecting personality into your videos and building a passionate following are just some of the things master Sami has to teach all of you.

He got his start several years ago by hosting a show for a competing network. He jumped into YouTube and noticed how many people were sharing their views on the music industry so he decided to put a few vlogs up himself. He is passionate about rock, and began diving into things behind the scenes – the clubs, the bands and the music itself. He noticed fairly quickly that people seemed to like what he had to say – and more importantly – the way he said it.

He’s been making his living by creating unique content for about two and a half years. Even though it’s not easy much of the time, Sami admits that the passion he still carries is what drives him. You can have a million viewers… but they mean nothing if you don’t care about whatever it is you are putting out there for them to watch.

I’ve talked in the past about how important it is to be yourself. Figure out who it is you are and embrace it. Don’t try and pretend to be something you aren’t – especially on video. People are always going to see through you, and they’ll never develop trust in you. Believe in yourself and the things you are trying to teach others. Be creative – find your sense of style and polish it. You don’t have to be the smartest person out there or know even half of everything to succeed. You simply have to be different from everyone else… bring your knowledge and heart to everything you do in a way that is all your own.

Sami mentions that the Internet is ruthless – boy oh boy is that ever true. The audience will know if you’re a poser. Don’t bother talking about something simply because it’s a hot topic that day. If that’s not what YOU are passionate about, you are going to be dismissed as a phony sooner than immediately.

Be consistent. People want to know that they can count on you. If they are forever logging in in the hopes of finding something new by you, they’re going to quickly give up and move on to the next person. Develop a routine and schedule and stick to it. If something happens to prevent you from keeping to that timeline, let your followers know so that they don’t feel as though you abandoned them.

How do you get started? It’s simple, young grasshoppers: pick up a camera and turn it on. You have no clue just how far you can go if you don’t bother to try.

Adria Richards Discusses WordPress and SXSW

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We were able to snag some time with the ever-lovely Adria Richards during SXSWi last weekend. Adria’s passion lies in empowering people through technology. She actually started her career at Geek Squad way back in 1999. She runs her own consulting company, offers online training through FreshWorkshops, blogs her heart out, produces a weekly tech show and finds time somewhere to help raise awareness of equality in the tech field.

First and foremost, Adria believes that SXSW is all about relationships. It’s arguably the best conference each year to connect with others who share your interests and goals. The panels she attended were informative but the hallway chatter and networking events are what stood out for her – as they did for nearly everyone else in attendance.

Adria points out that a buddy system works well for this event. You cannot possibly attend every session and talk that is scheduled. Work with a friend or two to divide up the talks that interest you the most. Build some downtime into your schedule later in the day and compare notes. Discuss what you learned and what you took away from the session with you. Share the ideas and build upon them with your friends.

Adria has been using WordPress since 2006, and is considered by many to be an expert. She got her start after being spurred by people she had helped via email. They would ask her tech questions, and she would respond with detailed and lengthy messages full of links and bullet points. Those people knew that her information should be made public so that others could learn from her as well.

In the early days, Adria used WordPress when teaching a course on A+ certification. There were no online resources back then such as we have now for learning environments. Instead of relying on mass emails (or even phone trees), Adria could quickly throw something important onto the WordPress install and the entire class of twenty-five had instant access.

These days, she uses WP for much more than teaching courses. She blogs for herself when she has something to say about topics that interest her. She also teaches others how to properly use WP through online and in-person training courses. The online course is four weeks long – two hours per week.

Adria did of course attend the WordPress session during SXSW. One thing that has her excited is the fact that bbPress is going to be integrated as a plugin. This will allow you to quickly and easily set up a forum on your site right from your WP back end.

WordPress founding developer Matt Mullenweg loves what he does because WP gives people a voice. Having that voice is what Adria works so hard to bring to other people… a task which she does flawlessly.

How to Help Japan Thanks to SXSW

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The recent earthquake and Tsunami in Japan took thousands of lives, left millions without homes and destroyed a countless number of businesses and farms. It will take many years to rebuild some of what was lost, if it can be rebuilt at all. The country and its citizens are still reeling from aftershocks and fearing the worst with the issues at the nuclear plants. Even the parties at SXSW this week couldn’t completely obliterate the haunting video footage from our minds.

People such as Hermione Way of the The Next Web didn’t sit on their laurels drinking mimosas. They got out there and did their part to send relief to this country so ravaged by nature. She and a friend decided to raise money using only their iPhones, a Square device and their humor. Hermione performed several fun tasks in exchange for donations to the Japan relief effort.

Our buddy Drew Olanoff donated some money. Several other people did, as well, including a whopping $1111.11 donation from Tim Ferris. Tim challenges you to double his donation – are you up to the task?

The girls raised about $4500 in less than 36 hours, doing everything from being thrown into a swimming pool fully clothed to chugging a full beer – a task that Hermione hopes she never has to repeat. She also reportedly gives good neck and back rubs! They will continue to raise money over the next several days via IndieGoGo.

Another group has begun an “official” SXSW fund-raising effort called #SXSWCares. In just a few days, around $57,000.00 has been raised! This shows how much heart geeks really have, folks. We aren’t only concerned about the next big tech gadget or newest location service. We care about our fellow humans – often in a very big way.

The SXSW committee is putting their money where their mouth is: as of the writing of this blog post, they are offering up:

The next to donate $900+ receives a 2012 SXSW Platinum Pass. Only 1 left.
The next to donate $650+ receives a 2012 SXSW Gold Pass. Only one left.

That’s a pretty sweet deal, folks. If you have ever seen the cost of those particular passes, you’ll know that’s a bargain. Not only are you getting the ticket at a good price, the money you “spend” is actually going directly to the Red Cross to help the victims in Japan.

You can contribute to the SXSW Cares cause in one of three ways:

You can, of course, also help spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, your blog and any other websites you visit regularly.

Even a few dollars will go a long way towards helping the people who are facing devastation on such a large scale that it’s hard for us to imagine as we sit here in our homes following the announcements, product launches and parties that together make up SXSWi. If you can, I urge you to donate. If you cannot, please keep the people of this beautiful country in your thoughts, and spread the word to others where you can.

Internet Explorer 9 Launch

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Ari Bixhorn is the Lead Product Manager at Microsoft. We were fortunate to catch a few moments of his time during the Internet Explorer 9 launch party during SXSW. The browser launched today amidst much ,a href=”http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Enterprise-Applications/Microsoft-Internet-Explorer-9-Arrives-10-Reasons-to-Use-It-851132/”>fanfare from reviewers. I even happened to see a Tweet earlier which said “IE 9 isn’t your momma’s Internet Explorer. Give it a try!” Strangely worded, perhaps – but true.

The first major difference that Ari pointed out during the interview is the sheer speed of this iteration. It is noticeably MUCH quicker than any previous version, which is important in today’s browser wars. We demand that our pages load instantly, and we don’t settle for anything less. From all reports, IE 9 actually performs up to par. The browser has an improved JavaScript engine named Chakra and uses hardware acceleration to deliver Web pages to users sooner.

Microsoft also drastically changed the entire user experience this time around. They have placed the focus onto the web sites you are visiting and shifted the focus away from the browser itself. In past versions, Microsoft forced users to deal with too much clutter around a Web page. You’ll find that ugliness is gone now.

There are some hefty privacy and security updates, things that are crucial if the Redmond company is to survive amongst other offerings on the market. Some of the updated features include tracking protection and control over ActiveX filtering. The tracking protection function allows you to place a limit on which websites are allowed to communicate with your browser. The tracking protection list blocks certain sites from monitoring what you are doing online. Having control over your ActiveX filtering gives you the ability to select which sites you trust to access information to create your interactive features when surfing the web. Additionally, IE 9 introduces “hang recover” in this version, which will isolate a malfunctioning tab while letting other open tabs continue to work properly and independently.

Another important factor to note is that IE 9 was built from the ground up to support HTML5. This is good in that developers can build upon HTML5 across multiple browsers. Consumers can experience sites in ways they never could before using HTML5, such as with videos and games. This will have a huge impact on what you can do when you are online.

Believe it or not, the demo shown during SXSW proves that IE 9 can run with the big dogs when it comes to speed: several sites were demo’d which ran smoothly in IE 9 but were choppy and slow in both Firefox 4 and Chrome. Don’t believe me? Ask Dave Wolf – VP of Strategy at Synergy. They produced a neat little game in HTML5 and showed off a short demo of it in this video. It renders at about ten times the framerate in IE 9 as it does in Chrome. Again, don’t take my word for it – watch for yourself.

As already mentioned once – give it a try before you simply write it off. I think Internet Explorer 9 is going to surprise you.

Have you played around with the new Microsoft browser offering yet? What are your initial thoughts?

How to Diet and Exercise When You Travel

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Conferences are a fantastic way to educate yourself and make new connections with people. They’re also a great way to network at after-parties and gain a little weight. Let’s face it: most conference parties offer food which is full of carbs, sugars and other icky substances. Even though it tastes fantastic, our bodies may not thank us for partaking in the morning. What’s a geek to do to stay in shape while spending so much time attending events? Jake met up with Tim Ferriss – author of The 4-Hour Body – to find out.

Sticking with proteins and veggies can be done at SXSW and any other event you may be traveling to. Don’t feel you have to sample all of the food offered to you during conference lunches and dinner or during parties thrown for attendees. Additionally, if you feel you must drink alcohol, try ordering a NorCal Margarita. This is comprised of soda water, high-grade tequila and the juice from at least four limes. These drinks are the “lesser of many evils” according to Tim, since many types of booze contains a lot of calories.

Exercising in a hotel room can be tricky, and you usually don’t quite feel up to going for a morning run during conference days. Tim has a few ideas to help Jake out there, as well. Packing a few mini bands allows you to quickly do your resistance exercises. You can also adapt several normal types of exercise to give you more of a workout: try doing one-armed pushups against a desk at an angle. Do your squats with one leg raised. Make sure you aren’t a klutz like me before attempting any of these things, though.

If you don’t have any weights in your suitcase or hotel room to help with your workout, try making your exercises much slower than usual. If you’re performing squats, go down slowly at a count of five and come back up at a count of five. The same goes for many other types of stretches and lunges.

Lastly, Tim recommends looking into doing an intense workout the day before traveling which requires giving your body 5-7 days to recover before doing another. This sort of covers you for the days you are gone and cannot work your body to its usual pace.

Does Klout Measure Your Influence?

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Klout CEO Joe Hernandez hosted an awesome party at the Klout Krib during SXSW this past weekend. We were able to catch up with him for a few moments to see what he’s been up to, the challenges he faces in leading a fast-growing social measurement company and how things have changed within the Klout ratings themselves.

Klout brands themselves as “the standard for online influence.” A Klout score doesn’t tell you who the “A-list” people are. It measures the influence of anyone – and everyone – on Twitter and Facebook. The service uses more than 35 different variables between the two social sites to measure your True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Score.

Your True Reach is the actual size of the audience you engage. It’s based on the people in your friends and followers who listen and react to what you’re saying. The Amplification Score tells you what the chances are that your thoughts will generate some type of action, such as a reTweet, @ message, Likes and comments. This is measured on a scale of 1 – 100. Your Network Score lets you know how influential your engaged audience is and is also scaled from 1 – 100. The total Klout score directly relates to clicks, comments and Tweets.

Joe indicated the company is hard at work on a new version of the website, which is due out in the near future. He is quick to point out that they are constantly updating site features and figuring out more ways to connect influencers with brands.

Just a few weeks ago, a new measuring algorithm was introduced into the mix. The company felt that they were starting to see what they called inflated scores, mainly amongst people who are using Twitter as though it is a chat room. That type of back and forth conversation definitely isn’t an indicator of strong influence. Therefore, the company changed the way different things are weighted in order to attempt to come up with a more accurate score.

The problem with Klout is that it isn’t always accurate. During the interview, Joe mentioned that they are determining your score based on “meaningful conversation” instead of chit-chat. I’m not quite sure how the heck an algorithm can determine what is actually meaningful. He even throws out the whole “if Ashton Kutcher reTweets you, that’s pretty important.” But WHY is that important?

There have been stories about people who have been turned down for speaking gigs and jobs due to not having a high enough Klout score. As much as I like the company and its service, I feel that it is absolutely ludicrous to base someone’s viability as a presenter or employee based on their so-called influence score. As Kelly plainly pointed out in her article a few weeks ago, the scores are often dreadfully inaccurate. However, those inaccuracies aren’t apparent to anyone other than the person they belong to.

Klout is on to something good, there’s no doubt about it. It will be interesting to see where the company heads in the future as they figure out more ways to make their scores foolproof and measure the true indicators of influence.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that a Klout score is something to covet and throw around? Or is it a novelty that will quickly wear off as some other method of bragging rights comes to town?

Catching up with Dave Olsen from HootSuite at SXSW

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We were able to snag some time with HootSuite’s Dave Olsen during the Source Code pre-premiere party at SXSW. Dave is excited about the recent announcement by his company about their new tool: HootSuite Social Analytics.

The tool is designed to give you a better idea of what’s going on in your social space with more powerful analytics tools, different ways to measure and reports you can customize. All of these components are designed to help you track the success of your campaign and help you gauge what the return is on your social media investment.

Using the tool, you can track your Twitter brand mentions, measure your profile follower growth, examine your Likes and demographics on Facebook, overlay social link clicks and website visits from Google and choose from more than thirty report modules to plug into the customizable report templates.

Dave is quick to point out that tools such as HootSuite are relied upon by people needing to get a message out quickly. This holds very true when there are significant world events, such as the recent earthquake in Japan and the uprisings in Egypt and other countries. People tend to turn to mediums such as Facebook and Twitter over other means of communication when they spread the word about rallys, meetings and even fund-raising drives. Social media is a much faster and more effective form of communication when you want to get your point across to a lot of people very quickly.

It’s very cool to note that during the time much of the Internet was blocked in Egypt, HootSuite continued to work. Even though the actual Twitter and Facebook sites were not accessible, the client was. This caused a huge growth spurt for the company. Dave felt that in some small way, their product was the voice of freedom in the country.