Tag Archives: technology

Comedy Hack Day Vancouver 2016

TLDR: We made a silly game you can play it here: http://pot.robertdall.com But really… your gonna want to keep reading.

I heard about these Comedy Hack Days and I, though. You spend and entire weekend building something just to get a laugh? Isn’t there an easier way?

But then my buddy and Later co-founder Ian MacKinnon brought the funny hackathon weekend to Vancouver. So I read about it and thought well that sounds hilarious, and you had to apply to go, you had to tell the organizers why you wanted to go, What you could offer, what skills you have.  That preference along with Ian running the show how could I not apply?

In the morning we pitched our idea. Those who applied in groups said what they would be working. I tried and failed to pitch my dating app based on your podcasting preferences or Public Radio Dating as a service which people actually though it was too realistic.

But Wes Lord pitched an idea called “Portland Oregon Trail” Which recreates one of the games of my childhood The Oregon Trail.

“Where we wrangle up an intrepid band of hipster adventurers at a poetry slam in Omaha Nebraska and set sail for the cooler pastures and fair trade organic coffee of Portland Oregon, In 2008, Before it was mainstream.” ~ Wes Lord

I went into the foyer and met up with Wes Lord, Aaron Shaw, Max Ahn, Kelvin Lau who later became the team Portland Oregon Trail. We decided to build the game in the browser as appose to an App as we were all pretty much familiar with the web, but only some had app building experiences.

Screenshot of the Portland Oregon Trail Game
Screenshot of the Portland Oregon Trail Game

It was amazing how fast we just got down to work and started submitting code to our GitHub repo. I had a previously poor hackathon experience at a different event, but this was the complete opposite. We couldn’t believe what we accomplished on the first day and how well everyone worked together.

Also props to Lighthouse Labs / Launch Academy for providing an awesome working space and the organizing committee with plenty of food, drinks and coffee and awesome bandwidth to keep us going. Also to some anonymous sponsor who purchased Carmel Corn for everyone because he felt it was important to have a snack.

Yes we even had notifications and events that increased or reduced your cool points.
Yes we even had notifications and events that increased or reduced your cool points.

I was the design and graphics person, as the rest of the guys had the all of the javascript knowledge needed to run the game. Wes Lord and I were also the only two that played the original game. Luckily Internet Archive had a copy all the others could play.

We got a decent night sleep as hackathons go as we’d completed a lot that first day and we hit the code again the next morning. Sunday was harder than Saturday as we were doing a lot of QA and fine tuning for the semi-finals that were behind held downstairs that afternoon at The Hive.

Sometimes the irony of the situation that we presented ourselves was funny enough. Yes the colour graphics from emulator of the Oregon trail was not web safe. (I know nothing needs to be web safe anymore but when I got the RGB covered it hex I found it some what ironic.)

We also had to find a Commodore 64 True Type font which we then converted into a web font and displayed it as a 8-bit font via @font-face which has only been available for mass usage since 2011.


We presented, and were lucky enough to be voted by our peers to show our game at the finals! The Competition would be tough, the finalist were:

PMPL – a social networking app that brings people with pimples to people who want to pop them.
Rock out with my Rock out – A pet rock “Dwayne Johnson” App for your phone!
PokeMAN Go – Pokemon Go using real people using a facial recognition api to catch real people. (Yes it actually worked similar to Pokemon Go)
Burning Bridges – Russian Roulette generator that if you lose it send an insult to someone in your address book.
Portland Oregon Trail – Hipster’s trying to make it to the promise land.

We presented to rousing applause and laughter having a comedian like Wes presenting made for a presentation.

We ended up getting third losing out the funny yet equally disgusting PMPL getting second and the PokeMAN Go winning the event.


Although a little physically tired I actually felt rejuvenated in other way. We actually accomplished something in less then 48 hours I actually want to show to people. Yes, there are bugs, yes the code isn’t prefect, but yet what we were able to accomplish in two days was pretty awesome for people who didn’t know 15 minutes before decided to built the thing. If your a designer, comedian, coder and your looking a for fun you should really apply next year. I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

Oh and you play the game yourself. There is a number of easter eggs and inside jokes amongst the code. Drop me a note in the comments if you find one of them.

You can play the game here


Apple Store Vancouver opens

I arrived with only minutes before the opening of the Apple Store Vancouver to see what I expected to see. Hordes of people (some already wearing Mac t-shirts) to enter into the opening of the new Apple Store. It is small in comparison to the new Boston Store but is similar in size to the Palo Alto Store I had seen years ago.

Apple Store Opening in Vancouver is met with great fan fair
Apple Store Opening in Vancouver is met with great fan fair
The Apple Store before the rush
The Apple Store before the rush
Yes this is the line up for the free T-shirt
Yes this is the line up for the free T-shirt
Yup the line goes out the door and around the corner
Yup the line goes out the door and around the corner

Over all I was impressed with the Apple Store and welcome it to Vancouver. It is sorely needed.

Here is a video of the opening

All photography is copyright ©2008 Robert Dall – all rights reserved – No reproduction of any form without expressed written permission.

Apple Podcasting Logo

Podcasting goes Mainstream

iTunes 4.9 now with podcasting
iTunes 4.9 now with podcasting

It really wasn’t until June 28, 2005, when Apple incorporated podcasting into their now hugely popular iTunes platform that mainstream use could begin. Numbers range widely on just how many iTunes users there were at that time, but roughly their were between 25 million and 100 million users of the popular player.

Hits on Podcast
Sept. 28, 04
Oct 1, 04
Oct 18, 04
Sept, 28, 05
March, 28, 08 114,000,000

Immediately after the release of iTunes 4.9, some podcasters saw a triple and quadruple subscription to their podcast. Finally users could automatically download podcast and sync them directly with their portable device.

Apple is certainly not the inventor the podcast nor do they produce much content in the way of podcasting. But what they do and do very well is a place where the normal joe can in one click pick podcast and be able to consume when you want how you want. All the back end is provided by the podcaster and apple is only providing the directory to find it.

A lesser used podcast icon
A lesser used podcast icon

iTunes is also not the only directory for podcasts but it is certainly one of the biggest and it is a huge selling point for Apple to have this free directory available on their store.

But many podcasters suffered from their own success after Apple delivered podcasting to the mainstream, the bandwidth needed to keep up with demand became an increasing problem for some podcasters.

Claims by many service providers that they had unlimited bandwidth were met with anger and frustration by the like of Tikibartv.com a humors podcast about friends and cocktails. It was at one point the number one podcast in the United States, but keeping that number one spot was met with a lot of frustration as Kevin Gamble writes about in the tiki forum.

Kevin Gamble plays Johnny Johnny on Tikibar TV
Kevin Gamble plays Johnny Johnny on Tikibar TV

“I gotta be honest, when we started hunting for bandwidth, all sorts of places looked good (and we tried a few cheap ones in desperation) and by the time we got to Libsyn, I was a little jaded – lots of sites say “UNLIMITED BANDWIDTH!” but then they have this fine print that usually says “note: unlimited bandwidth does not include files of any kind”. Or something. So when we found Libsyn, I was like “suuuure, unlimited. We’ll see how long THAT lasts”. Well, we’re still here, and Libsyn hasn’t pulled the plug yet. So that’s why I’m plugging THEM. Because they’re nice and they keep us streaming! So if you want to start that all important cat-podcast… or… catcast… check out Libsyn No, we’re not sponsored. They’re just really nice guys and if they go offline we’ll be real sad.”
~ Kevin Gamble, November 20, 2005 Plays “Johnny Johnny” Head Bartender at the Tikibar tv ~

Podshow Logo circa 2008
Podshow Logo circa 2008

The industry responded by the creation of podcasting networks, Adam Curry, now named the godfather of the podcast, started one in October 2004 called Podshow Inc. (rebranded to the name Mevio in 2008) In August 2005 Podshow Inc. was given 8.85 millions dollars in venture capital and with in 12 months Podshow Inc. had raised 15 million in venture capital. These numbers aren’t small potatoes anymore, but what Podshow Inc. and many others have done is allowed husband and wife podcast teams like Geekbrief.tv to operate out of their own home and provided with server and bandwidth issues along with selling advertising to the show and providing support for sponsors.

Geekbrief.tv is based in Dallas, Texas and is operated by Luria Petrucci (aka Cali Lewis)and her Husband Neal Campbell (they divorced in 2010)  out of their apartment. They use normal AT&T Broadband from home and work off MacPro’s in the home studio and the MacBook Pro on the road.

Luria Petrucci aka Cali Lewis
Luria Petrucci aka Cali Lewis

Cali Lewis is not her real name but both her and Neil thought they would have a problem with people remember and knowing Luria Petrucci. It is hard to know where Luria stops and Cali begins, but the podcast is created around a theme of the Cali Lewis presenting Geek Brief tips through the Geek Intelligence Agency, which is more or less the viewership of the show.

But that is really where the fantasy stops and the news broadcast begins; to be a show which bring happy shinny technology news to it 200,000 to 300,00 views four times a week for approximately 3 years which has developed into solid and creditable following around the world. The couples next project is to take their podcasting show on the road covering all 50 states (Don’t worry they are flying to Hawaii) in something called the big trip.

Part three will cover the cost of podcasting

The History of Podcasting

First generation ipod Released October 2001
First generation ipod October 2001

In the ever evolving world of digital media, podcasting is at the forefront of this current media revolution. People are consuming more and more information from the media on a daily basis, but most are missing their regularly scheduled program.

Yet, most are still able to watch their current shows, catch up on the latest tech news and serve up the best content then can through podcasting.

For those who don’t know what podcasting is, or where it got its name, well, you can thank Steve Jobs for some of that.

When he unveiled the iPod in October 23, 2001 it was heralded as an ultra portable device in a portable age; and the word iPod rolled off the tongue as easy as money flowed into apple coffers. It fit well into its strategy of iMac, iBook, brands. Podcasting borrowed from the name in that: one, it was portable and two, it was broadcasting or media. The name didn’t infringe on any trademarks owned by Apple and gave them free advertising.

Adam Curry
Adam Curry speaks at Gnomedex

Originally, podcasting was just in audio format and it was audio that had already been recorded and was now available for download on the internet. You had to, however, download each and every episode or file yourself and you were never really told when a new version of your favorite show was available. RSS feed syndication had been invented by Netscape in 1999 and was in use, podcasting, didn’t have widespread usage. Although podcasting now uses the RSS feed syndication thanks to Adam Curry who first made podcasting viable format of delivery.

But it was still difficult to get your podcast on your ipod. There were some applications (eg. iPodder was one, but is now named Juiced after a cease and desist letter from Apple over trademark license infringement) and most early adopters were tech savvy enough to make it work, but mainstream usage was still far away.

Part two will cover the ethics of podcasting