Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chicago Nerd Dinner - Nov 15, 2005

We had another enjoyable and educational evening last night, as organized by Jeff Key and Ryan Rinaldi. Also in attendance were Brian Beatty, Brian Scott, Chris X, Rob X, and I. Eric was only there in spirit. Jeff raffled off the tools package from JetBrains which was won by Eric.

We had a wide-ranging discussion. Here are some of the questions and topics which came up that have stuck with me.

Web sites and services:

  • Amazon's new "Mechanical Turk" web service pays humans a (very) small fee to perform simple tasks (HITs) which are hard for computers. Very creative. They reference an article at Business Week.
  • is an ASP which provides inexpensive organization, collaboration and management tools for small business and individuals. It is built using the "Ruby on Rails"(RoR) framework, which has been getting attention lately. eWeek has a good article on RoR and they also have an interview with its creator, David H. Hansson. There was extended discussion of it, which I missed since it was at the other end of the table.
  • is a web-based site for creating and collaboratively editing documents. It is also mentioned in Ten Blogging Hacks by Steve Rubel

Some other topics, issues:

FLICKR was bought by Yahoo last spring. It caused quite a stir back then, and more recently Wired has reported some resistance to its integration into the Yahoo superstructure.

Ryan was talking about a seminar by Juval Lowy at DevConnections, who he said was very instructive, if a little too full of himself, and about working with Clemens Vasters (whom I confused, thinking instead of Ingo Rammer, the .NET Remoting guru.)

Where, if anywhere is pluralsight based? Bill Williams, who is their administrative contact was, and I think, still is based in Massachusets. They do a lot of training in Redmond, WA. I guess the issue was where Ryan's blog reading went when he hit their server. Need to do one of those IP mapping requests to figure that out.

And there was also some discussion of whether there might be a new Internet bubble. I mistakenly confused Ted Neward with Dave Winer, who sold his site to Verisign earlier this year. Scoble blogged about it here in October. Verisign talked about it here. There is a good bio of Dave at Wikipedia.


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