Portland is Demolicious

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It’s been a big week in Portland Tech, and it’s still going strong tonight with the Demolicious/Portland Web Innovators event at Cubespace. What is Cubespace? Rental office space for start-ups, consultants, and freelancers. What is Demolicious? 5 project presentations, 10 minutes per project. It basically means that a bunch of innovative people in the room, watching, sharing, and presenting prodigious pre-beta/beta/live web projects. Good stuff. Gone is the era of stale doughnuts and flatlined agendas. This stuff is groundbreaking, interactive and sweetopian.

There’s also beer here, provided by MyStrands, a social/community/aggregator startup based on music sharing (currently in Beta edition, but I can send you an invite).

There’s probably about 50 people here. A lot of faces from last night’s Gary Vanerchuck event at Portland’s ad agency Weiden+Kennedy, and W+K’s Monday Lunch 2.0 Event.

If you’re curious about what’s going on in the Portland Tech scene, and want to join in on some of these events, check out the next events at Yahoo’s Upcoming! website. (The next Lunch 2.0 Event is on July 16th at Souk!) Presentation Map:

  • Kevin Chen, Metroseeq
  • Don Park, Do-it-yourself Friendfeed
  • Matt King, Interface Content Management Framework
  • Mounir Shita, GoLife Mobile
  • Lev Tsypin, Green Renter

Kevin Chen - Metroseeq

“Metroseeq is a location-based search engine that aggregates offline deals,” says Chen.

The ability for users to be able to find information from both offline and online sources effectively is the difference between Citysearch and Yelp.

But there’s more – the website also digitizes coupons. Chen tries to demonstrate this with a manila envelope full of paper coupons, but accidentally drops them all over the floor. It’s great, because shows his point even more. Then Chen navigates to the screen, where coupons for each listed business have coupons available for online users. It’s very nice.

Don Park - Do-it-yourself Friendfeed

He’s working on solving the problem that everyone faces when they join social networks and have to re-enter all of their social connections. “When you’re joining a new social network,” he says, “you want to bring your friends with you.” Everyone’s data is locked up in different silos. There’s the Twitter silo, and the FriendFeed silo, and the Digg silo.

The key is to drain the silos and bring the dis-separate user data into one place. Use an RSS reader to to it to conveniently track it, and you’ve got your own personal mini-PR system at your fingertips. Brilliant.

Park’s XFN Spider project utilizes the attributes attached to a user’s friends on Twitter, Digg and Wordpress to map out other connections and links associated with those users. The spider can show the blog, Facebook profile, news sources and other pointers that contain the user’s profile/identity attributes, and consolidate them in one resource list.

“Your friendview in Twitter only allows 50 ids to display at one time,” says Park. “A spider can index all of those ids…far past the 50 it allows in its display.” Attach an RSS reader to this process, and you’ll be able to read every RSS feed that your friends are reading.

The spill-over of extensive blogroll links on Wordpress and other Blogging sites can be put to good use by using attributes to track data.

He then uses Firebug to “inspect” one of his friends in Twitter. The whole sequence of links becomes a fractal. If someone The RSS does the updating. “You don’t have to depend on any other location to do the updating.” The speed at which you gain information is And it can go infinite levels deep. That’s a lot of Web 2.0 fractals. The downside? It’s kind of slow. But what is slowness compared to a social media site that’s often fail whaled?

Try it out at: http://donpark.org/spider/

Matt King - An Interface Content Management Framework

“I’m going to show you a content management system that builds content management systems.” he says. He then states that he’s going to build a fan site about the A-Team, because it rocks, and that he’s going to build the website in the next 10 minutes. He then brings up barebones interface. “Just to show you that I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve…” he points to the projection screen, “there’s no pages here”.

So he starts by adding a page. The audience watches. Click. Click. This page is done. “Lets hit save,” he says, “then we’ll add a page about the show, I guess.” He points out that you don’t have to assign a slug or a template. The site will do it for you.

The he does a pages about the A Team’s Van, because “the van warrants a page in and of itself, because it’s so cool.” Users can use templates to pull content in from the CMS.

The structure of the pages is easily modified, with the database automatically updating the url structure. Pages can also be infinitely nested.

King begins to add some dynamic content for the episodes and the characters. He does it this by adding models. “You can add as many as you want,” he states, explaining that “Models are the dynamic content of your site.”

There’s more. You can add as many fields to your content types as you like. You can upload images if you want. Add a location and the database will automatically give you an address and will geocode it. (this system reminds me of an ultra-fast, ultra light version of Drupal).

Once the page structure has been created and set, one can instantly start adding content to it. Models can all be associated with each other. This part is kinda meta-style.

Season: Associations: “has many” Volia.

Like some sort of computer chef, King previews the site. “And then we’ll go to the page here,” he says, and “out pops a really nice page.” Watching King make a website is like watching a chef make something, put it in the oven, pause the camera, and take it out again, completely finished. Except there’s no baking time. “Okay, I cheated. I did the templates beforehand”. The audience laughs. “Go to seasons,” he says, ” and Pick a season. We’ll actually get to see what episodes are associated with it.”

Lastly, when you add content it instantly gets an API. King says that they used this for a few flash-based websites. The websites didn’t even need to use html, “just our API”. Nice.


Q: “Is this internal only?”

A: “We’re trying to make this a base camp-type setup for it, so that you can sign up and get an instance of this development”. A: “As long as we can get a website setup for it”, says King’s partner.

Matt King’s website is here, in case you feel like checking it out. He’s done a variety of other tech experiments. Perhaps you can use Don Park’s spider to find them all.

Mounir Shita - GoLife Mobile

He’s presenting a mobile application platform for mobile applications. He shows a Traffic Camera Widget.

He accesses the platform on a sort of mobile device emulator. Then he swaps out the data source object without changing the code. “You can tie these UI components to different devices,” he says, “like switching one component traffic feed (Oregon) to another (Arizona).”

Simplified overview of the platform

A widget contains UI components. UI components are attached to sources.

Platform layercake:

  • XML (standard Internet)
  • SMS Vado (cell phone)
  • HTML (iphone)
  • (Gateway)
  • (Virtual Widget Layer)
  • Action Layer (Show lists)
  • (Show traffic information)
  • (View article)
  • (Write article)
  • (Personalization layer)
  • (Content enhancement layer)
  • (Data Access Layer).

Simple use case: Person x wishes to find closest Starbucks. But a mobile device should also figure out where friends are. Mobile device will go and figure out where friends are and recommend a location on the basis of nearness. The device will then tell you where location is, how to get there, inform your friends of your trajectory, and smoothly handle any details, should they arrive.

A mobile device should also show you the menu options, deals, and drink selection of the location as well. Dynamically. You shouldn’t be telling every single application what you like and what you don’t like. “it’s very very semantic”, he points out, “you’re plugging in very very small semantic codes that plug and play together”. On the whole, these semantic codes help mobile nomads get together on the fly.

It’s as semantic as a roving a meeting maker that negotiates meetups across dynamic time and space, as if the entire geography were a mobile, roaming office. The website meta tag states that “GoLife Mobile is erasing the barriers between the physical and electronic worlds. We let your mobile device get to know you, so it can…” Well…you know. Here’s the website, if you’re intrigued: http://golifemobile.com

Green Renter - Lev Tsypin

Green Renter is a database of Green buildings available in the Portland area.

Tsypin states that this database is location-agnostic. It has data values for the Portland area because it was birthed here, but should expand to encapsulate every real estate area.

There’s a featured building, and a cetegory for renters and owners. A real estate site that satisfies a eco-niche. A nice feature of the site is that it provides a list of features like:

  • The Building’s surroundings…
  • Community resources (i.e. libraries nearby)
  • Services (i.e. grocery stores nearby)
  • Public transit nearby
  • Car share vehicle nearby
  • Bike lanes/paths nearby
  • Park/open space/wildlife areas nearby

The same type of list is available for building materials, like non-toxic concrete mix, and bike racks.

All of these categories and feature layers aggregate together to form the context of a ‘Green Score’, a scoring system similar to Google’s Quality Score or Page Rank. Over time, this will hopefully spur the community transparency and ethics which will lead to more green buildings.

Something Green Renter wants to include in the future is a glossary for their green categorization system. Including this glossary allow the side an educational/resource component for those who with to learn about how to find/develop increasingly sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings. It’s like the etiquette of a website that’s been correctly structured according to W3C standards or SEO code.

Visitors can utilize an aggregate map of all buildings in a given area and filter out which buildings have vacancies or not, or which buildings have LEED certifications for green building.

The site also has a blog that links to green events that are happening around town. In this way, Green Renter can bolster the education and awareness of its community of readers, but can also connect those readers to other individuals who are also interested in living in sustainable architectures.

The add building feature allows users to add commercial or residential property to the site, with property details, contact info, pictures, and renting or leasing information. It’s like a social network for the buildings themselves. Each building with its own avatar and characteristics. Pretty nifty.

The founders also own greenowner.com and are looking into develop that, but feel it is more important to really nail down a niche before going on to develop other things.

When addressing the massive market share that Craigslist holds over the rental/leasing market, Tsypin says that “if you post your green building on Craigslist, you can provide a link back to the site so that your viewers can see all of the green features and details of the building.” In this way, Criagslist and Green Renter can form a symbiotic relationship with one another. A Craisglist listing for a Green Building can function as a starting point into a extended database full of information about the given property, hosted by Green Renter.

And yes, the site supports OpenID.

GreenRenter is alive and well at http://greenrenter.com


There is, of course, much more to say. I’ll leave you to analyize the nitty gritty stuff and add details. I left out a lot of important things, but it is late and there are only 110 hours in my workweek to get things done.

As always, I am blown away by the things that are happening in the Portland Web Community. Something amazing is happening in Portland. I’ve never seen anything like it. Everyone I meet is always working on something so interesting, and has an positive and innovative mindset on their shoulders. I’m eager to see what’s next.

Special thanks to Portland Web Innovators, Cubespace, and all those who presented. Impressive awesomeness. Bram Pitoyo inspired me to do this write up, but this pales in comparison to his precise assemblages of brilliant journalistic data.

Thanks for reading, and please excuse any inaccuracies incurred based on my Strands-sponsored state.

If you’re on Twitter, I’m @caseorganic. I’d love to follow and meet more of you.

Source: [1]