Sunday, March 27, 2011

WNY OpenData Platform Potentially Moving Forward WIth Infochimps

Things have slowed for a while, but are starting to ramp up again. Over the past week, I have contacted Infochimps ( and have a potential partnership in place with them. This partnership will be that they are providing me with a "hackbox" within their environment, where we can build and run our data ingestors. As we continue to add datasets, Infochimps will integrate these into their production and provide the storage of our data. In addition, we'll be able to write our APIs against this datastore and have them hosted by Infochimps as well. We are essentially donating our time (which we'd end up needing to do anyways) for free hosting of our data. This is pretty nice for a group who has a budget of $0 :-) I will be meeting with one of their engineers this week and getting a preview of their environment. I'll keep everyone posted.

Brian Fending should also have our website up shortly. At first it will be a marketing site with who, what, and why, but will evolve into a place to make requests for datasets to become available, visualizations, promotion of apps that use our data, etc.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Buffalo OpenCoffee - 7/13/2010

We had a good OpenCoffee meetup today. Discussion highlights (things that I remembered) include:

  • Shift of game development from giant $60 games requiring lots of time to play, to cheap mobile games that can be played in leisure.
  • This lead us into talking about Siftables ( as a new form of table top computer gaming
  • Discussions on co-working space. Discussed people currently trying to put things together. Jeff Ross was wondering how InfoTech Niagara can help. How we can leverage the 40+% of unused space in Erie County. We would need someone to actually run a co-working facility - currently no volunteers.
  • LISC of Buffalo is currently looking to get a co-working space in Buffalo and they are probably the farthest along (that we know of) with planning.
  • Short discussion on freelancing websites such as
  • General discussions on how InfoTech Niagara can help the tech community. Suggestions were made that they need to get the local tech community and companies to do a better job at engaging students at UB, Canisius, Buffalo State, etc. Need to teach them the skills they'll need to graduate and how to be better entrepreneurs. Let them know that they don't need to work at a bank, and can work at local tech companies or start their own. ITN can also help by finding sponsors for grassroots events - let events/groups happen organically, but help when needed.
  • ITN needs to focus more on the developers, designers (people doing the actual work), in addition to their usual target of IT Managers.
  • Discussion of creating a single site with information on all the local technology user groups (Perl Mongers, WNYLUG, Graphic Designer groups, Ruby User Group, Drupal Users Group, PHP Meetups, Hackerspace Events, etc).
  • Weekend collaborative events/competitions should take place. An example being to create a product or game over a 48 hour period and launch it, or gain further funding/award prizes.
  • GiveCamp was discussed as a weekend idea. We also discussed companies donating resources during work week hours as well.
  • More OpenData discussions on datasets to go after. Fending shared a discussion he had with a Canadian opengov person. Discussed ways to have OpenData that is user created/crowdsourced through physical devices, etc.
  • Fending and I will be at the next iPhone developers meetup at Hackerspaces to discuss our WNY OpenData initiative.
  • Fending made some comments about Drupal being cool and how he will be holding the next meeting at the Rochester co-working facility.
Here are a few links to some things that were discussed:

LISC of Buffalo (planning co-working space in down town on Chippewa)

Siftables (Table top gaming console)

Early stage, mini startup funding. We should have something like this in Buffalo:

Here's an example of weekend startup competition:

How to Be Silicon Valley, by Paul Graham

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Buffalo Tech Consolidation - The OpenCoffee Club

Steve Poland sent an email out to Buffalo BarCamp members today which is directly inline with my goals and a startup consolidation initiative that I've been planning since attending Boulder Startup Week. Seeing as this was just posted to a Facebook group, I'm posting it here so that it can referenced by people outside of Facebook.

I think that there's a strong tech community in Buffalo, but everyone is spread out and separated into niche groups. We need more community interaction. Let's start to have our local startups share ideas, problems, and solutions. We need to create a forum for entreprenuers to interact with each other. This cross polination will help out our community as a whole, while strengthening each startup along the way.

It's all about "co-opertition" (cooperative competition).

The OpenCoffee Club was started to encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organise real-world informal meetups to chat, network and grow. This is the online complement to that offline network. Meet people, find out what's going on nearby you and then go and take part.

I really want to see the tech scene in Buffalo talking. I'd like to see start-ups start to blossom from this area. I'd like to see experienced techies in Buffalo lend their knowledge to UB students. I'd like to see Buffalo techies *stay* in Buffalo. We need to network -- we need to help each other. It's Buffalo vs the world. Let's do what we can to help start-ups and area business grow, to create more jobs, and ultimately more opportunity for everyone.

Come join us weekly at Panaro's at 571 Delaware Avenue (corner of Delaware and Allen St). They aren't typically open, but will be for us between 7:30am - 9:00am on Tuesdays. We'll meet, network, discuss stuff in tech, talk geek, learn about we're all interested in and working on, etc.

There's no wifi, so bring your tethered connections and mifi hubs. I know people will want to reference some stuff online, but the idea is to just get us talking offline. Meeting new people in our area with tech passions.

And then hopefully we can get some BarCamps lined up.

Spread the word -- please email/forward this to all your geek friends in Buffalo!

Steve Poland;

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Capital Idea To Trim Down The New York State Budget

This past weekend I went on a tour of the New York State Capitol Building. It was sickening to hear about how much the project cost and how much money is poured into this building on a regular basis. For example, they recently spent two years converting two elevators from manual to automatic - $2 million down the drain.

The Senate's Chamber had glaring examples of both waste and common sense that can take place by our elected officials. The waste was obvious with the 23 carat gold leaf walls. I don't know how much money the melted down gold would sell for, but go ahead and put it toward the deficit. Remember that gold is at record highs (at least that's what the commercials are telling me). After I did some further reading, it appears that there is some of this gold leaf in the Executive Chamber as well - rip it all down!

The refreshing example came from the days of Teddy Roosevelt. There were sculpted flowers that were chiseled into the side of the room. There was a section that was only half finished, and there is good reason for it. Teddy had decided that this project was costing too much money and declared that the room was officially completed and no more work was to be done. If only the recent people in Albany had the same fiscal responsibility, we wouldn't have the mess that we do today. Pataki is to blame as well for all of his projects around the Capitol which added up to hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money.

The Flag Room seems to be a pretty well known room in the Capitol. I was delighted to hear that they are restoring hundreds (possibly up to a thousand) flags dating back to the Civil War for a price tag of $50,000 a flag! I'm all for historic preservation, but is it worth cutting the education budget, or forcing people to buy new license plates, or adding a deposit to water bottles, etc?!

In the end, I did enjoy the tour and learning about the history and the architecture of the Capitol, although I left feeling annoyed by the wasted money. I would like to see some type of investigation on Capitol specific expenses and how these can be minimized. If such a report exists (digitally) I would be interested to see it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How To Mark A Short Track Speedskating Course

Marking a Short Track

Items Needed:
  • Permanent Sharpie markers
  • Two tape measures (one at least 100m long and one at least 10m long)
  • 1" drill
  • Router with ¾” bit
  • Surving flags
  • Paint
  • Straight edge (pipe or 2 X 4 board) that is at least 2 meters long.

Note: This is a three hour job for two people just to set the track. You will need another 2 hours to mark off the alternate track start lines! Consult your handbook for diagrams to supplement these intstructions!

First spot check ice thickness at starting area, and block area to make sure it is not too thin or thick. Hopefully it will be a constant thickness.

Place the surving flags in hole at the points that you measure off. This is done so that you can see the track to make sure it is correct before drilling holes for the dots. If you don't do this you'll be sorry! Don't start filling in the holes until all holes are drilled and checked. Use paint, not paper dots or tape - paint lasts longer and you can fill the holes to the top.

1. Find dead center of the mid-ice red line and dead center of goalie crease redline (the thin red line at the back of the crease that runs from dasher board to dasher board). With zero at center ice, pull the tape measure to the center of the goalie crease and go back and mark off the following points:
4.425 meters (47' 4")
* Which will be the center point of your main track radius.
* Use a red dot for this spot.

Then continue towards the goalie crease and mark off the following measurements:

* 22.425m (73' 7")
* This is the apex block on the red track.

As long as the tape is traight and tight, you can mark off the other tracks at 1 meter distances:

20.425, 21.425, 22.425, 23.425, 24.425

85 ft = 25.908M / 2 = 12.954M

2. Now go back to the center ice red line and mark off 8 meters (26' 3") to the right and left. Also, mark off 6.5 meters on the finish line side. I would mark these two points with a flg. Now go to the red goalie line and do the same. Mark these points with flags. What you now have is a perfect rectangle. You need this because in setting block #1 and #7, you may veer too far one way or the other. Trust me, that this is critical!

3. Go back to the 8 meter flag at center ice and stretch out the tape as you did in your first measurement running it all the way to the 8 meter flag at the goalie line. It will now become obvious to you as to why this is necessary. This time mark off the point at 14.425 meters. This will be the red track block #1 or #7 (whichever one you do first). Leave the tape right there and mark off the other tracks with flags.

4. Repeat this process for the other side to find block #7. Now you have three blocks set.

5. Now you need to go to the radius center point which you already set at 14.425 meters. You are now going to find the red track blocks: #2, #3, #5, #6. You are not finding the other tracks - yet! The radius is 8 meters (26' 3"). With another tape measure, set at 8 meters, go to the red track block #1 and find where the two tapes intersect. This intersection will give you a precise placement of block #3. When you go to the other side at block #7, the intersection will give you block #5. Move the tape to the apex block on the red track and find the intersection for red track blocks #2 and #6.

6. Now you will need to find the other tracks for blocks 2, 3, 5, 6. Using your straight edge and marking reasonably sure it is parallel to the dasher boards, you can set your other blocks.

7. Do the same for the other end of the arena.

8. Drilling the holes - the points found are the edge of the track. The holes should not go beyond the measure points. THey should be tangent to the measured points.

Alternate Start Lines

Items Needed:
  • Router
  • Chalk Line
  • Tape measure
Please note that the main start/finish line is supposed to be the very beginning of the red line, not the middle of it or the end of it. Your skate tip should just touch the red l ine. Use the router to make a well defined edge and use red masking tape.

With that in mind, when you go to the opposite side of the rink for the 500, 611 and 1500M races, you must also consider the start line as the first part of the red line.

1. From the beginning of the red line, measure the other starting lines for each track at two meter offsets. There is no specific order as to which is which. Just make sure they are consistent with your dot color pattern.

2. Using the chalk line, strike these lines. Use a 3/4 inch router bit set about 1/2" deep to cut a straight line. Put masking tape in the cut groove and cover with slush.

3. If you left those market flags in the ice, you will know how far to go to reach the proper start position. Running the tape measure from the flag to the dasher boards, you should drill the first dot at 37.5cm from the flag. From that point, then drill start position holes every additional 75cm until you reach the dasher boards. This will give 6 to 8 positions depending on the size of your rink. For 85 ft wide rink, you get 6 positions (37.5, 112.5, 187.5, 262.5, 337.5, 412.5 cm).
7.5, 412.5, CM

4. The finish line starts 6.5 meters from the center of the ice and extends to the boards. Use a black line for this. If you are going to be skating time trials it is a good idea to have alternating starting lines on both sides, or at least one dot in the middle of the track indicating the offset poisition and track color.

5. You do not need pre-start yellow lines.

There you have it as prepared by Mark Jastrzembski and revised by Jim Cornell
Version 8/17/05

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Perl Foundation - Head of Public Relations Comittee

Within the past few weeks I've been voted into the Perl Foundation's role of Public Relations. This will grow into more than a one man operations and hopefully grow into an entire team of eager volunteers. This will be a great opportunity (and challenge) to try and change the public's perception of Perl as an irrelevant language. There's a lot of people out there doing great things with Perl, and I plan on doing everything I can to promote their successes. Along with this, I will need to ensure that we are successfully represented in all aspect of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc).

If you're interested in participating in the advancement of the Perl language and community, feel free to contact me and I'll find a way for you to help out! :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sears Fail!

For those of you who missed it, or got to the site too late...

This was actually up on the Sears website for a brief period this morning (read the description of the product under the Sears logo) - classic!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hop Harvest!

Last night I started harvesting my hops. I picked about 70% of my crop and I'm hoping for another good round of hops by mid-late September (if the weather stays nice and warm). So far I've only had hop cone production on with the Cascades, but definitely a much better yield than I expected for first growth year.

Here are some pictures:

These are currently sitting in a paper bag behind a couple computers to dry them out before using them in a brew.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Magnabrew Hop Garden

Here's a picture that I took today of my hop garden. I'm assuming that due to the different duration of sunlight that each get, they are descending in size from left to right. Perhaps is has to do with one variety of hops doing better in the Buffalo climate - I'm not sure. I have three different varieties growing.

From left to right: Cascade, Mt. Hood, and Sterling

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Speedskating Dryland Workout - 6/29/2009

  • 4 SETS "ONE LEG SQUAT" (60 @ 51 PACE & 75" REST)
  • 4 SETS "SIDE TO SIDE DITCH" (75" @ 100 PACE & 75" REST)
  • COOL DOWN JOG (10')

Chestnut Ridge Park

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bankrupt Corporations As Boats/Ships...

A nice way to represent this data! Pretty amazing how big Lehman Bros actually was - GM is quite dwarfed in comparison, and Chrysler looks like a insignificant.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Belgian IPA @ 9AM

Drinking one of my Belgian IPA's at 9am - like any good 3rd shifter would do!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Buffalo's Homebrewing Events/Competitions

Unbeknown to me, there is a group events coming up this Spring/Summer for the local homebrewer. A couple of these seem to be new this year, while the Cole's IPA Festival is going on it's 3rd year. I plan on partaking in all these events.


Friday, April 24th - Beerology at The Buffalo Science Museum


May 30th - Pearl Street Brewmaster's Challenge


June 6th - Cole's 75th Anniversary Homebrewing Competition


Saturday, July 14th - Cole's 3rd Annual IPA Festival/Competition
  • No Entry Fee
  • Entry Form
  • Forms due June 30th
  • Submittions due by July 6th

Stay up to date with other Flying Bison related events

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

O'Reilly DBA Training Fail!


I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a joke or not, but perhaps they'll discuss what happened here!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Magnabrew's Hop Monastery (Belgian IPA)

Brew day today. It's been a real long time, but it's good to get back into it. My favorite beers are IPAs and Belgian Beers (Abbey Ales, Wit Ales, etc). I came across a recipe for a Belgian IPA, and I figured that I should master this (not officially a style of beer) genre. I liked the fact that the style is still under development, which allows me to experiment with it a little more - as seen by my derivation from the recipe I was trying to clone. Hopefully it will turn out alright!

Batch Size: ~3.00 gal (Did not sparge nearly enough)
Original Gravity: 1.079 SG (19% brix)
Sparge Gravity: 1.061 SG (15% brix)
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Mash Time: 90 Minutes
Target Temperature: 149 deg
Strike Water Volume: 3 gallons
Strike Temperature: 164 deg



5.00 lb German Pilsner (1.7 SRM)
3.00 lb UK Golden Promise (2.4 - 3 SRM)
2.00 lb Belgian Pale Malt (3.2 SRM)
0.75 lb Organic Brown Sugar


1.00 oz Hallertauer, New Zealand [8.6%] (60 min)
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [2.0%] (20 min)
1.00 oz Saaz [5.8%] (20 min)
1.00 oz Tettnang [4.7%] (10 min)
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings [2.0%] (5 min)


Wyeast 1214 Belgian Ale Yeast Activator Pack

I currently have this sitting in the primary fermenter at a temperature of ~66 degrees. Now all I have to do is sit and wait for the yeast to do its work!