Minnestar

    Minnedemo tonight was absolutely fabulous. Such a great variety of demos! A couple apps I installed while watching the demo!

    Crowd queuing up for Minnedemo 33 at the Riverview Theater!

    Minnestar board strategy and future planning session! Great group and an amazing community! πŸ‘

    Minnebar 14

    Minnebar 14 kicking off! Looking forward to learning a ton again this year! πŸ’™ this event, organization, and the community that makes it!

    Great energy going into Session 0 at Minnebar 14! Record registrations!

    We have a growing, thriving technology community in the Twin Cities and Minnebar is an integral part of that community! I’ve been lucky to be involved with this organization since the beginning and love that SPS Commerce is a terabyte sponsor!

    Good Session 0 at Minnebar 14 with a wake-up call from Sharon Kennedy Vickers on the issues that come from a lack of diversity in technology, and what we can do to improve as an ecosystem!

    Good Minnebar open session on Product Management with Adrienne Peirce, Shawn Heller, and Jeremy Moede. Lot of knowledge sharing!

    Minnedemo 30

    Excited for Minnedemo 30 tonight! And always proud to have SPS Commerce as a Terabyte sponsor!

    Goodbye to my friend, David Hussman

    The last time I saw my friend David Hussman we met at Red Wagon Pizza and enjoyed an extended evening of pepperoni pizza and several glasses of a delicious red wine. We initially sat inside to avoid some scattered rain, but then transitioned outside to enjoy a gorgeous evening, great wine and even better conversation. Like most times that David and I got together the conversation never had a gap and flowed all over the place.

    I commented to David that he seemed remarkably well. It had been well over a year since David called to let me know about his cancer diagnosis. When he called he was talking weeks and months. Here we were drinking glasses of wine and laughing well over a year later. He was sharing stories of his recent trip to Italy with his family. It sounded amazing and I could almost be fooled into thinking that David wasn’t sick. But he definitely was.

    I first met David when I was CTO for MarketWatch. One of the engineers on our team knew him and figured he could help us out with some of the things we were doing. I instantly liked David’s insight, his directness and ability to see through the messy stuff and get right to the problem.

    David and I were able to combine forces several times over the next 25 years. We had what I would describe as a mutual mentor relationship. One of us would often ping the other with the vague request to get some “hang time” and talk through some topic that was on our mind.

    David was always understated. His work to bring agile methods to companies was exceptional, and as a thought leader and speaker his stage was global. He presented at conferences around the world and brought a tremendous amount of energy and fun to the sessions. I enjoyed every talk I ever saw David give. There are dozens of them on YouTube if you never got the chance to see him present. I was really excited when he agreed to give the Keynote at Minnebar 9.

    Often times I thought it would be fun to build something with David, maybe do a project or something. Both of us were always busy with family and work things that pushed that off. I tried to get him to join my book club at one point but he deferred, citing his busy travel schedule.

    The last year I was able to connect with David on a more regular basis. A terminal cancer diagnosis provides some urgency. He approached his cancer with an amazing resilience. I can’t even imagine how hard such a thing is, but from what I could tell his approach to life made the time he got at the end so much better.

    David was often referred to as The Dude, in an admirable reference to The Big Lebowski. He even coined his own law, Dude’s Law, that Value = Why / How. In life David always seemed to have a good handle on Why, and he kept his How pretty damn simple. The rest worked out as best as it can.

    You will be sorely missed Dude! v5.6.50

    Here are some additional items I’ve indexed remembering David.

    Great Minnestar board meeting today! Lucky to be part of a great organization helping to connect the Twin Cities technology community. πŸ™Œ

    Minnebar 13

    Today I went to my 13th Minnebar — I haven’t missed one yet! For the first time ever we had a blizzard to contend with. Usually Minnebar is competing with the first great days of spring. This year, we were worried if people could get to the event because of the snow. This was also the first Minnebar for our new Maria Ploessl, our new Executive Director, to take the lead on. The event went off great, with more coordination than the last couple of years.

    The sessions I went to today at Minnebar.

    • Computers Are Easy; People Are Hard with Bridget Kromhout
    • Propelling More Women into the Ranks of Engineering Leadership with Ashley Monseth, Rebecca McCann-Young, Ethan Sommer, Cailin Wertish, and Millicent Walsh
    • Blogging for Fun…..and Profit? with Chris Moffitt
    • Web 3.0: Blockchain May Provide Us the Most Human Version of the Web with Matt Bauwens
    • Pragmatic intro to functional programming with David Price
    • Docker 101 with Rebecca McCann-Young
    • Building Sandcastles with Leah Cunningham

    Here are some pictures from some of the sessions I went to.

    Minnebar lunch panorama.

    Had a great time at my 13th Minnebar today! 🌟

    Join me in supporting Minnestar and the Twin Cities technology community by becoming a Community Supporter. As a board member, we are matching the first $10,000 in donations over the next 100 days! Donate today!

    Bridget Kromhout kicking off Minnebar 13 Session 0. πŸ‘

    Three new board members joining the Minnestar board! Great to have more talented people driving this organization forward! πŸ‘

    Great Minnestar board meeting today. It’s very rewarding to think about how far this organization and the events have come. More good things on the horizon! I’m honored to get to be part of such an impactful non-profit!

    Missing Minnedemo tonight β€” coached Tyler’s soccer and home stuff. Have a great event!

    Currently tweaking Minnestar DNS settings! Don’t mess it up! 🀞🏻😊

    Great Minnestar board meeting today! Very exciting things in the works over the next few months! πŸ‘πŸ»

    Minnebar 12

    Session 0

    • Punk Rock/Computing
      • Break the rules
      • Simple, fast
    • Point of view is worth 50 IQ points - Alan Kaye

    Minnebar 12 on Minnebar

    • Random
    • History
    • Ideas on future opportunity

    Zen and the Art of Agility

    • Nice Sps plug
    • Why agile?
    • Culture > Strategy
    • Why not time tracking?
      • Software is not deterministic
    • Where is agile right? Predictive v Adaptive v Reactive. Also, very much cost of refactoring

    Blockchains are coming!

    • Quick overview of bitcoin but focusing more on applications of blockchain

    Introduction to Functional Reactive Programming

    • Reactive overview
    • Functional overview
    • Good summaries and examples of approach

    So you don’t hire Jr. Devs? Tell me more

    • Weird discussion.
    • Totally missing the mark on negative unemployment.
    • Commitment dialogue. Yikes.

    Privacy for Everyone

    • Fine session. Pretty basic advice.

    Communicating When Stuff Is Going Wrong

    • How to communicate bad stuff.
    • This will be final update on this incident.
    • Do not communicate time to repair. Don’t agree with that for production items.

    A Minnebar Ticketing Proposal

    I’ve recently put some thought into how tickets are managed for Minnebar and Minnedemo. I’ve been very close to these events for a long time, and on the board for several years now, while our ticketing process has remained relatively unchanged over that long time.

    The Problems

    Why spend cycles thinking about the ticketing issue? I think there are some large problems with the way that tickets are managed.

    Timeliness

    The ticketing process encourages people to act immediately upon issuance and get tickets since they will all be taken immediately. Often people will take a ticket before they have even made sure they can attend. This timeliness requirement unfairly penalizes people that are occupied and not watching Twitter at that exact moment.

    Understanding Churn

    The current process reduces our ability to understand how many people have stopped going to our events. We routinely see a high number of “first-time” attendees, and along with that a high amount of churn. Is the churn because people weren’t ready the second that tickets came out, or because they don’t want to come?

    Redemption

    Many tickets go unused. We manage around this by predicting what percentage of tickets will be unused, but it is more art than science. The rushed nature of ticketing may decrease redemption rate as people just jump on tickets as quick as possible.

    Quantify Demand

    All of these events “sell out” (to the extent a free event can sell out) within minutes. This removes our ability to know the true demand for the events. If 800 tickets are picked up within 15 minutes of release, how many people wanted to go? 900? 3,000? That is anyone’s guess.

    Limitations

    When considering how to better manage tickets, it is important to consider some limitations.

    Identity Is Unknown

    There are numerous ways to manage ticket redemption that would focus on reputation. Mainly this is a means to solve redemption and put rules in place such as not being allowed a ticket if you don’t use the last three tickets.

    Cannot Be Complex

    We’ve entertained some options that avoid identity and reputation but encourage careful assignment of tickets. The most commonly referenced one is to use some form of a cash deposit. For example, you would pay $5, $10 or $20 to get your ticket to the event and that money would be refunded back to you when you show up at the event. This would certainly reduce the number of unused tickets but at the cost of managing a significant amount of complexity and risk.

    Requirements

    Before looking at the proposal let’s recap from above what our requirements are:

    1. The solution must not require managing identity. You cannot know a ticket holder from one event to another.
    2. The solution would ideally allow us to understand how many people would like to come to an event.
    3. The solution would be able to manage preferential access for certain groups.
    4. The solution would allow for improving the precision of “no shows”.

    It is important to note that while “no shows” are something to consider, I believe it is a lesser problem than understanding the true demand for the events, churn and making the ticketing process more equitable.

    Proposal

    Taking these objectives into place, I propose the following ticketing process.

    Phase 1: Get in line!

    First thing, get in line. Rather than distributing tickets in groups we propose everyone get in a line (or list) to attend. This line opens up at a prescribed date and time, and anyone and everyone that wants to come to the event would then get in line. The line will close at another prescribed time, but as long as the line is open more and, more people can get in line.

    This line dampens the urgency to take immediate action. Please note though that Phase 3 does reward people for getting in line early. It is valuable to the organization to get a sense of demand quickly, so getting people in line sooner is a good thing. However, no matter when you get in line you may get a ticket.

    Phase 2: Priority Access

    Once the line is complete and closed we then deal with priority access. There are some groups that get priority access to the events and are guaranteed a ticket:

    • Volunteers: Anyone volunteering at the event.
    • Community Supporters: Individuals (not companies) in the community that have donated $100 in the last 12 months.
    • Sponsors: Packages get different numbers of tickets. If you are in line under one of those slots you get a ticket.
    • Students: We look to encourage high school students to attend our events, and wish to give them priority access.

    Once these special groups have priority access, we’ve used some of the tickets and now have a smaller line.

    Phase 3: Ticketing Groups

    The remaining line is now divided into groups. This is where some further math and heuristics could be applied to better manage tickets over time. For now, just assume that all these numbers are potential variables and you could optimize the solution over time.

    Take the remainder of the line, let’s say there are 1,000 people still left, and for easy math put them in 5 groups of 200 people.

    Each one of these groups is then ticketed. Remember that these groups are in the order they got in line, so the early people are in the front and the last person to get in line is at the end in position 1,000.

    We also at this point know how many tickets were assigned to priority access groups and can make a determination about their “no show” rate. Likely those groups have a very high redemption rate, so assume most are used. The remaining tickets will be assigned to the five groups of 200 people in a decreasing percentage. All of the people in group 1 get tickets. 70% of the people in group 2 get tickets. 40% of the people in group 3 get tickets and so on until we get to something like 10% of people in group 5 getting tickets.

    Over time these groups may be able to provide more accurate data on redemption, and we may know that Group 1 people redeem tickets at a higher rate than Group 5 so we can assign more tickets in Group 5 knowing more will go unused.

    Additionally, it is important that any tickets that get returned before the event, when people realize they cannot come and notify us of that, should be returned to the group it was assigned to. So, if a person in Group 3 returns there ticket, it should go to another random person in Group 3. This could be managed by creating different classes or types of tickets for each group. If there are no people left in that group without a ticket, like Group 1, then flow the returned ticket to the next group in line.

    Summary

    This may seem complex at first, but I think the implementation could be reasonable. Eventbrite could still be used to get in line but getting a “Line Ticket”. The list of registered email addresses could then be manipulated with a small program to do the rest.

    I do think that this would meet our goals of:

    1. Understanding true demand for the events.
    2. Allowing special access to some groups.
    3. More fairly assigning tickets to the remaining people.
    4. Minimizing the urgency around ticketing.
    5. Optimize “no show” management over time.

    Very importantly this would also help us understand people that stop coming to events. If you get in line we know you want to come, but if you don’t get in line many times in a row you are deciding our events aren’t worthwhile and we’d like to know that.

    If you have suggestions or comments contact me. If you would like to help solution this that would be great too!

    Minnedemo 25 Recap

    Minnedemo 25 was last night, and it was fabulous. I’ve gone to all but a few Minnedemo events and realize that sometimes the demos are just a bit better than other times. Last nights was a great serving of everything that Minnedemo can be. We had very polished demos with clear paths to markets alongside passion projects. We had a team that was formed only five weeks prior at a hackathon. We even had the perennial bombed demo due to technical difficulties that still gets shown the warmth of the community.

    Minnedemo 25 Panorama

    Update (Feb 22): Tech.MN posted videos of all the demos.

    Talkative Chef

    A group of 8 women that met at Hack the Gap built this product in just the last few weeks. They started working on this concept and showed a pretty well put together alpha of that work. The product helps you cook and bake hands-free by using voice commands with your computer. It worked well, and it was impressive to me that it was all done in the browser. As soon as they showed it, I thought this should be an Alexa skill package, but they highlighted that they were doing it in the browser to make it accessible to a wider audience. It’s not clear to me that this is a company or if it’s just a hobby project, but the concept of hands-free guides makes a lot of sense and in more than just the kitchen. The same concept could apply to repair projects in the house and having a screen to show diagrams or pictures while you talk could be helpful as well. Cool idea, well executed, great demo and great to see an all-female team building this, and it coming from a hackathon.

    VennPT

    Interesting take on preparing physical therapy programs. They showed a platform that allowed a PT specialist to design a program and then assign it to their patients. Very similar in concept to what you would have a personal trainer do by building workouts and assigning them. Two unique features that hit me in the demo:

    1. The ability to record on your mobile a brand new video and create a unique exercise just for this one person. This is probably a big deal with physical therapy where you might create a specific activity for someone and to be able just to record and produce it right away seems compelling.
    2. Capability to export the assigned PT program using a text template into an EMR system makes sense for the therapist. I would imagine that is a significant time saving for them.

    Inkit

    This demo reminded me a bit of Twilio. Twilio took something old, plain old telephone service, and make it accessible via API’s and the cloud. Inkit feels similar in taking something old, direct mail, and making it accessible in the way that modern digital marketers think of the world. Makes sense to me but strikes me as a market with a lot of competition. Well done product and demo.

    EnduraData

    I was looking forward to this demo because it was the most technical of the bunch. EnduraData has software that moves large volumes of sensitive data between multiple locations and does it better, faster. You can buy expensive devices to do this, but their software delivers the same benefit. Unfortunately, to do the demo, they had a virtual machine in another country set up and were going to shuffle data around, and the WiFi in the room failed them. They were going to try showing a video as a backup, but that couldn’t work either. I was excited that this was the only demo of the night that was running Ubuntu, but bummed we didn’t get to see it.

    Newt One

    Newt One is a non-violent game concept where the characters only have a positive impact on the game environment. The concept was cool, the art and music were very nice, and it looked fun to play. We don’t get a lot of game demos at Minnedemo, so this was fun to see.

    Trout Spotr

    Trout Spotr stole the show and is one of those passion projects that I love to see at Minnedemo. The presenter started by saying “I built a website for my Dad.” and then went on to show how he used open data, various software packages and created a stunning website that allows you to find trout streams that are on public land. The visuals were well done using D3 and mashing up a lot of other web technology. The presenter also had a ton of energy and excitement. Great demo!

    Player’s Health

    Players Health has an interesting product that allows youth sports programs to deal with injury information in a much more sophisticated way. This demo opened the door to a problem that seems significant but underserved and showed a service that provides a lot of value to parents, coaches and even creates a data set that can be used to improve the youth sports world. I was impressed by the quality of the demo and that it appears to be serving a real need around injury management.

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