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Musings From Scott Converse



Life, Politics, Television, Media, Software, Technology and Business... If you think you have things under control, you’re not going fast enough. — Mario Andretti, racecar driver



Last Build Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2018 00:34:16 +0000

 



Times Call = Boulder Camera (?) Apparently it's the same Newspaper

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 22:59:00 +0000



Longmont and Boulder:  Very different towns.  However, our for-profit local newspaper chain seems to think it's the same town, and we won't notice, so they just reuse the same content.  Over and over.

From 60% on the low end to over 90% on the high end (any given day) the content is the same.

This isn't community news and information media, it's an advertising container.

However, it's also the reason we started the Longmont Observer.



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The Times-Call, our local newspaper, turned off commenting- this is not a good thing

Thu, 29 Mar 2018 00:43:00 +0000

Some of our readers at the Longmont Observer, recently, pointed out to us that The Longmont Times-Call, owned by Alden Global has made the decision to turn off commenting by readers for its entire site.  They referenced this article: Times-Call ends story commenting. The Times-Call, a Digitial First Media Corporation property, states that "Commenting on stories, while a sound idea in principle, presents a host of challenges for us and we simply do not have the tools or adequate resources to ensure story commenting provides positive value to our readers."They go on to say: "The majority of the time, the comments are dominated by a small group of people, most posting anonymously, and who, frankly, tend to simply shout down or ridicule any opposing view. Commonly, our comments sections are filled with vitriol, personal attacks, profanity, and angry and hateful speech — and worse, unfortunately."Many news outlets in America, and across the world, have moved the conversation from local media outlets to the large social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  The thinking has been they create a barrier that raises the bar by creating helpful friction in the process that, in theory, would produce a more restrained and thoughtful commentary.  Others, especially over the last couple of years, agree that places like Facebook offer a massive space, but, are not always a place for intelligent discourse.What appears to be happening with social media is a significant portion of people are behaving irresponsibly and writing without thinking of the consequences their messages have.  Often, these people hijack public discourse and set, even control, the tone of the discussion.That, apparently, has now happened to the Longmont Times-Call.In addition, most sites that have commenting only see a small percentage of their readers actually sign up and participate in the comment sections.  Sections that require, often, significant resources to moderate from already struggling news media entities and their constantly shrinking staffs.The news, today, is no longer concentrated and fed to a city by a single source anymore.  The local newspaper used to be a quasi-monopoly on how people found out what was going on in their town and determining what was important and what would be ignored.  People were willing to pay for that news.Those times are no more.We still pay for it, make no mistake about that, but it's distributed among several players now.  The average person pays on average $50-100 a month for their internet service at home.  Another $50 a month for your cell phone and it's data service.  With that comes access to 'free' information and news.What we forget is we pay for 'free' services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.  What also forget is that, when a service is free to us, we become the product.  My Friend Dennis Dube, when the iPad first came out said to me, quite insightfully "oh look, a screen attached to your credit card'.How true.We pay with our personal information.  It's collected and sold, as highly focused advertising, to sell us things.  From cars to politicians to, it now seems, social contracts on how to behave. Those advertising dollars used to go to that local newspaper.  The old Times-Call building in Longmont had, at it's prime, 200 plus employee's, creating a well informed daily record of our lives in Longmont.Also, no more.The small, personal and sometimes even petty is now relegated to the short sound bites of Twitter or the cloistered bubbles and echo chambers we create for ourselves on Facebook.The question then becomes where to turn to find out what's really happening in your town?  Who's paying attention to what's going on at St. Vrain Valley Schools?  Who's digging into that tip about the troubled kid's facility going up on the west side?  Who's asking about things like police misconduct?  And who's talking to local businesses to find out what's available to people i[...]



We need a local non profit media entity that replaces the tired old newspaper model and the 'one size fits anyone' algorithm driven future offered by social media

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 05:38:00 +0000

Yea, I said it.  Non Profit local media.I'm thinking of a mashup, maybe, of TinkerMill (our local makerspace-provides membership/volunteerism) crossed with NPR (provides individual sponsorship and business underwriting). Why does this matter?  Because our local news just no longer cuts it.  It's not local, it's not community focused and it's gotten to the point where it's close to useless.Yes, I'm aware that local news products meant to displace existing media has been tried before. Places like the for profit Backfence, funded with millions of dollars, failed.  There are, of course, organizations that are trying to figure this out, but no real solutions seem to have come from it.Those that are left, objectively, aren't doing a very good job of it.  As an example:  NPR and PBS.  Both are very good at what they do, but, is there an NPR reporter in my home town?  No.  Have they done a story on my home town?  The last one, I think, was in September of last year.  PBS is the same, as are non profit newspaper entities like the Texas Tribune.  Maybe there's a way to leverage them and help them, but they seem to have their hands pretty full right now just making sure they keep their existing funding.The bottom line is when it comes to state wide coverage: not bad.  Are they in the city council meetings in local municipalities?  Do they show up at key football games of the local AAAA state champ high school teams?  Are they at the school board meetings?  Do they even know my town's got one of the best microbrewery networks in the country?  No way.I suspect that it's because it's generally been under the watchful eye of existing journalism types and  non profit experts and has tended to repeat the mistakes of the old school models.  Maybe a more local non profit tech focused alternative view can come up with a viable approach.  Mix in the community operated/non profit aspect and it could work.  Maybe. After creating the non profit 501(c)3 TinkerMill, and nurturing it, with a great group of co-founders, into being one of the more successful makerspaces in the country with almost 500 members and counting as of early 2017 with a self sustaining membership driven revenue and operations model that's bringing in six figures, more than enough to operate an exceptional space, all focused on our local community, and after having done a few other non-profity things as side projects over the last 25years, most of which did reasonably well, I have to wonder:  Can we create a non profit community focused local newspaper/radio/TV replacement that's also better than being sucked in and consumed by Facebook and it's ilk?I'm reasonably sure the answer is yes, but, can it be better than what's there now?TinkerMill taught us quite a bit about how to mobilize and engage different parts of a community.  From residents to government, to business to schools to other non profits and community groups.  It takes many aspects of a local community to create a community resource.What I really want to do is see if there's a way to replace, or at the very least, seriously augment, the existing local newspaper/radio/tv/social media realm. In our city, we don't even have a local news radio station or a TV station and the newspaper is owned by a regional entity that's owned by a hedge fund out of New York City that's primary goal is to cut costs and provide the least possible service for the most possible money.  They recently announced that they are moving the entire staff of the Longmont Times Call (about 22 people) out of Longmont to the offices in Boulder.  So, they sit in another city and pump out 2, maybe 3 stories a day (sometimes less) and then reuse stories from other newspapers in the area they own.  If you're working in an office half an hour away from the city you're 'covering', you simply cannot cover that city well.  Not eve[...]



What is (and isn't) fake news and why is it important we train ourselves to know the difference?

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 16:55:00 +0000

Fake News is everywhere, and no where.  It's undermining our 4th estate and it's being used by unsavory forces in truly scary ways.  This post from a reddit user (Deggit) outlines what's really going on.  Every citizen interested in truth should read it.There was a fascinating and brillant exchange on Reddit (www.reddit.com) about 'fake news' that every citizen who wants to stay informed should read.  Here is the initial post (from reddit user 'DongMy') and then the reply (from reddit user 'Deggit').From user DongMy:  Actually a lot of fake news is being generated by the government itself now.  Obama repealed the law to prevent government propaganda and in 2011 removed the last remnants of the Fairness Doctrine which required broadcasters  to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced in order to help push his agendas.  When you consider 90% of the media is owned by 6 companies which includes all TV, radio, news and movies, most of which have a bias and agenda, this is a big problem.  It's no wonder the political division and fake news has gotten so much worse since he was elected.  Image of his post:Response by user Deggit:To anyone coming from bestof, here is the comment I was replying to. I have responded to many comments at the bottom of this post, hopefully in an even handed way although I admit I have opinions yall...The view presented by this 1 month old account is exactly how propaganda works, and if you upvote it you are falling for it.Read "Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible" which is a horrifying account of how the post-Soviet Russian state media works under Putin. Or read Inside Putin's Information War.The tl;dr of both sources is that modern propaganda works by getting you to believe nothing. It's like lowering the defenses of your immune system. If they can get you to believe that all the news is propaganda, then all of a sudden propaganda from foreign-controlled state media or sourceless loony toon rants from domestic kooks, are all on an equal playing field with real investigative journalism. If everything is fake, your news consumption is just a dietary choice. And it's different messages for different audiences - carefully tailored. To one audience they say all news is fake, to those who are on their way to conversion they say "Trust only these sources." To those who might be open to skepticism, they just say "Hey isn't it troubling that the media is a business?"Hannah Arendt, who studied all the different fascist movements (not just the Nazis) noted that:In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.Does that remind you of any subreddits?The philosopher Sartre said this about the futility of arguing with a certain group in his time. See if any of this sounds familiar to you____ have chosen hate because hate is a faith to them; at the outset they have chosen to devaluate words and reasons. How entirely at ease they feel as a result. How futile and frivolous discussions appear to them. If out of courtesy they consent for a moment to defend their point of view, they lend themselves but do not give themselves. They try simply to project their intuitive certainty onto the plane of discourse.Never believe that ______ are completely unawar[...]



Mmmm... local meat shop

Sun, 30 Oct 2016 22:02:00 +0000

I stumbled on this place by accident.  It's a local meat shop called, creatively, Front Range (Organic & All Natural) Meats.

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Not exactly a butcher.  The meats are packaged (see below), but it's fresh and a bunch of it's local.

Here's my haul:

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Rib eye steak, bison burgers, uncured natual bacon and something I've never had before: Back Bacon!  This should be interesting!

For those of you thinking: whoa.. that's way too much meat, for me, not so much.  I'm on a keto way of eating (think: low carb/high fat).  Details here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/keto/wiki/keto_in_a_nutshell

That means meats are a big part of my daily diet.  Very happy to have found an all natural source right here in Longmont.(image)



Set Up A 501(c)3 Non Profit Corporation

Sat, 30 Jul 2016 02:56:00 +0000




I keep getting asked to help people set up a non profit because I've done a couple.

I think lawyers try to make it sound more complicated than it really is.  With a little focused expertise, you can get it done quickly and at a much more reasonable cost than hiring a lawyer (or trying to figure it out yourself).

It's really quite simple.  I've done two so far and given this advice to about half a dozen others (those that carried though with it as outlined all got their 501(c)3 designations).  The first one we did took 30 days (denhac, the Denver hackerspace) and the second one took 60 days (TinkerMill, the Longmont Makerspace).

We used the same process for both.  It involves three steps:

1) create a Colorado (or whatever state you're in) non profit corporation. In Colorado, the cost is $50.  You do it online here (Colorado's Secretary of State website, your state likely works in a similar way): http://goo.gl/c9qdZ2

2) hire this firm to do your paperwork:  Floyd Green Financial Services (Atlanta, GA).  Ask for Tina Mikova (tina@fgfservices.com)  tel. (877) 457-2550; direct line (678) 608-3911;  They charge between $500 and $650 for everything.  This person did both of our's and she's a pro.  They want to be paid via credit card up front.  Trust them and pay them.  We did and got exactly what we paid for.

3) pay the IRS their one time fee.  You now send in the paperwork Tina prepares for you and a check to the IRS for $850.  Or $400 if you're doing less than $10K in revenue a year (for regular 501c3 applications). For those organizations that qualify for the expedited 501c3 application (f1023-EZ), the IRS filing fee is $275 if their projected gross income is of less than $50K.

So, total outlay, about $1000 low end, about $1400/1500 high end.

I would strongly recommend you not try to do this yourselves.  Hire these guys.  They got ours through the IRS with zero hassle.  They've done thousands of 501(c)3's and know exactly what to do.

DISCLAIMER:  I am getting NO referral fee's or any other remuneration of any kind from Floyd Green Financial Services. I just think they do really good work at a fair price, fast.(image)



TinkerMill- Time For Me To Move On

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 21:36:00 +0000

It's time for me to leave the leadership of TinkerMill, the Makerspace, to the next generation of members.Monday, 7/25/16, was my last Board of Director's meeting and a new board was elected Tuesday night.  After three years, I'm no longer part of the team running TinkerMill and am now just a regular member.TinkerMill started in May of 2013 as the simple idea that I  wanted a makerspace in Longmont, where I lived.  I'd been a member of denhac, the Denver hackerspace, and was tired of driving to Denver multiple times a week.  So, I started talking to people.First (among several people) was the VP of education at SparkFun, Lindsay Levkoff.  She and I met at City Cafe, one of my favorite places to eat, and decided, 'yea, this is a good idea'.  She had a URL called "TinkerLab" which we considered as the name.  We settled on TinkerMill though because one of the first places we (almost) rented was an old flourmill.So, we used meetup.com (highly recommended).   I posted a meetup and thought, if 4 people show up, we'll have a second meeting. 6 people showed up and we haven't missed a weekly membership meeting since.Within a month, we'd created a non profit Colorado Corporation (June of 2013).  Within 2 months, we had about 30 members.  Within 6 months, we had 50 members and we had a space - about 4000SF in a soon to be torn down mall).  Around a year or so in we got our 501(c)3 non profit status.  We found a new home (about 10,000SF indoors and another 3/4000SF of covered outside space at 1840 Delaware Place, Longmont CO., where TinkerMill still lives.We created bylaws, a board of directors, documents, structures and processes for protecting the membership and a culture that, apparently, is working well.  I served as president the first two years, and the last year as a director on the Board of Directors.As of early July, 2016, we have around 400 paying members making TinkerMill one of the largest makerspaces in the USA. It's become a true melting pot of people from all walks of the creative life.  From bits - computers and software - to atoms - metalwork, pottery, woodshop, plastics, robotics, blacksmithing, welding, wetlabs, glassworks, silversmithing, music, amateur radio, recording, art of all types, scouts and other kid friendly learning, sewing, prototyping and coming up with new art, products, companies and, well, just creating and innovation in general.It's also become a place with over 100 classes a month (often more) on everything from how to use a 3D printer or lasercutter to how to throw and fire pottery to how to program arduino chips and build robots and drones to how to develop a new game (software, board, cards, dice, you name it).Everyone at TinkerMill is an expert at something.It's, (initially) by accident, then intentionally, turned into a kind of incubator/accelerator and center of entrepreneurial activity for the area.  With members from all over the front range, and several small companies forming and growing within TinkerMill's walls; new products, businesses and primary employment are being created in a place, and in areas of interest, that have never happened before in Longmont.Although I'm the original founder and had a significant part in getting it started, the real star here is the membership itself.  The members of TinkerMill made it what it is today.  In the last year, we even found our new, very capable, leader:  Ron Thomas, our full time Executive Director.One person can't create a group of creative artists, craftspeople, scientists, developers, engineers and entrepreneurs like this though.  Even the membership can't really do it alone.  It's something an entire community has to get behind and that very much happened at TinkerMill.The City of Longmont (Sandi Seader in particular, as well ad Harold Dominguez) have been very supportive, wi[...]



Well, it keeps getting weirder.

Thu, 11 Feb 2016 23:55:00 +0000

Last Monday, I went to check on my youngest brother Brian, and found him slumped over in his easy chair. He'd passed away the night before. He was 50. He'd developed lung disease (a heavy smoker most of his adult life) and it took him, peacefully, in his sleep.

It's been a pretty crappy 3 months. Dad in November (88, heart disease); Craig on Christmas eve (53, complications from surgery) and now Brian. The good news is I still have one brother and Mom, who are doing as well as can be expected, plus a large extended family across the country.

Brians obituary(image)






A sad holiday season

Sat, 26 Dec 2015 17:19:00 +0000

For anyone who knows me, I've never been a big fan of the holiday season.  It's taken on a bit more of a personal flavor this year with a pretty unhappy pair of losses over the last 2 months.On Nov. 5th, my dad, Ken Converse, passed away.  He was 88.He was a kind and gentle soul.  The youngest of 8 kids raised during the depression by only his mother, a widow, and the mean streets of Pipestone, S. Dakota.  He served in the Navy in WWII and was in the fleet that was present when Japan signed the surrender.  He met my mom while skating (he was, at the time, a bit like a skateboarder would be today in his youth) and asked her to marry him while working at a dairy where they both ended up at during the same period (he was, for a short time a milkman..yep, for reals).  That's not where his real interest lay though.  While in the Navy, he became an electrician's mate and, for most of his professional life, he was the equivalent of an un-degreed engineer everywhere he worked.  He spent most of his working life (30+ years) at IBM in various positions and lived a long and happy life with my Mom, Betty Converse, who's, thankfully, still with us and in reasonably good health.A day before Christmas, my brother Craig died after a surgery that he hoped would end the pain and possibly help repair the damage done to his spinal cord in a car accident 9 years ago that made him a near quadriplegic.  He was 53.Craig was a huge man, in both physical size and in the size of his heart.  At 6'6" and weighing in at 250-300lbs most of his life, it was hard to call him my "little" brother.  I did call him my less infinitely wise and younger brother as often as I could though, much to his (feigned) chagrin.  He was, like our dad, a gentle soul.  An architect by training, deep down, his real nature was that of an artist.  A very good one at that.  He spent the last several years of his professional life designing schools and involved with educational institutions before the accident.  His lovely wife Kate took excellent care of him until the end, making his life as good as it could be given the circumstances.   She will always be a part of our family.I miss my Dad and my Brother, both, terribly.Treasure your family and friends.  In the end, they're really all that matter.Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



Our product's getting real...

Sun, 20 Dec 2015 05:20:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" class="YOUTUBE-iframe-video" data-thumbnail-src="https://i.ytimg.com/vi/HaAh78yIVEQ/0.jpg" frameborder="0" height="266" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HaAh78yIVEQ?feature=player_embedded" width="320">

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Testing the Prototypes at ExtractCraft

Wed, 12 Aug 2015 23:44:00 +0000

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mHMxZiBB4es" width="480">(image)



It's time to pass the torch at TinkerMill...

Sun, 09 Aug 2015 02:01:00 +0000

I founded TinkerMill a little over two years ago with a room of 5-6 people one Tuesday evening in one of our local public school meeting rooms.Over the last two years, it's grown from an idea that we needed one of these in Longmont, to the largest makerspace in this 10 state region, with hundreds of paying members, over 1,000 online members, 10,000+ square feet of space, an incredible array of tools and capabilities and, most importantly, an incredible community of creative people, all experts at something.I've been the president for these first two years; I said when I started that I'd lead it for a year, two tops.  Here we are, two years later and it's time for me to pass the torch; I told everyone that if nominated for president again, I wouldn't accept.Soooo... Although I'm still on the board, mostly to provide a smooth transition, as of yesterday, I'm no longer the president.  We elected a new board and the board elected new officers (President, Vice President and Secretary).  Here's the lineup:Clint Bickmore (New President)Greg Collins (New Vice President)Matt Stallard (New Secretary)Fara Shimbo (Director)Scott Converse (Director)Ron Thomas remains our executive director.Chris Yoder remains our Sgt. at Arms.Steven Alexander is our new Treasurer.I'd also like to say: A truly deep and sincere thank you to our departing board members: Karl Niemann, Lee Sutherland and Dixon Dick, all Founders of TinkerMill and all incredible contributors over our last two years of existence.  I'd also like to thank Jeff Cragg, also a TinkerMill Founder, who served for over two years as our treasurer as we grew to become what we are today.  Thank you to all of you.  It's been a great ride so far, and I think we still have a long way to go.There are many adventures ahead with Makerspaces and TinkerMill around creating new kinds of education, innovation, economic development engines and furthering the creative collision of art, science, technology and entrepreneurship.  I'm not going away, I'll be there, trying to figure out how all this fits into the future, in Colorado, and many other places, and I hope many of you will be right there, with us.Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



I have a stormchasing hobby.

Mon, 11 May 2015 16:52:00 +0000

Here's my current stormchasing setup.  A phone and 2 tablets on 3 networks (Verizon, ATT, Sprint)  and the linux based in dash system that comes with the car providing GPS and maps.  Each device runs different multiple/software apps for tracking (radar, reports, ground crew real time report tracking, etc.).BUT... this time around... tons of storms but nothing to actually see.  The storms were so big that they tended to hover low to the ground (with so much precipitation they looked like they went right down to the ground after only a few hundred yards.This is unusual.  Tornado's generally require the ground to be warm first, which means you need a sunny morning to warm up the ground and then you have these majestic thunderstorms forming that you can see from many many miles away.  You also, usually, have mornings to track and find good potential storm cells to view and, hopefully, take video and pictures of of.Not this time.This  'solid to the ground' cloud wall went on for hundreds of miles.  If a funnel cloud dropped down  more than  a hundred or so yards in front of me, I wouldn't have been able to see it.There were also some pretty freaky artifacts of the storms like baseball sized hail (some locals claimed grapefruit sized).So, with the prospect of smashed windows, funnel clouds dropping down on top of me due to crappy viability for hundreds of miles and the general bummer feel of this set of storms, I'm done chasing these things; at least for now.  I'm still taking off the time though.  I need some time to evaluate stuff and consider what's next in this adventure called life.  We'll see.  :)Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



Longmont has the worlds fastest internet (almost).

Sun, 10 May 2015 16:39:00 +0000

Heh....  Longmont now has the fastest internet in the US and the 2nd fastest in the world.

http://lmont.co/NextLight



Damned impressive.(image)



Makerspaces and Local Economies

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 17:46:00 +0000

Excellent article in The Atlantic about how makerspaces jump-start innovation and new business creation at a local level.  We've seen this, in spades, at our own makerspace: TinkerMill.  The picture above is of the first test unit production of a new patent pending product that was conceived, prototyped, internally crowdfunded by TinkerMIll members and is now going into first run production.It's an essential oil extraction appliance- effectively a vacuum chamber that allows you to create essential oils from almost any biological source, by boiling it down in ethanol at very safe (low) temperatures.  It's called "The Source" from a company formed at TinkerMill called ExtractCraft (I'm a co-founder).  The number of markets it addresses is pretty astounding.Without our makerspace, this product would never have been created.  The people with the right mix of skills would never have met.  The tools to prototype the ideas wouldn't have been available.  The funding would have been much more difficult to find (if it was findable at all- our own local professional investors who are more software only focused passed on the idea).  In short, there wouldn't be a product, or a company, without the makerspace.The article (link below) about how these makerspaces work and effect local communities is insightful and very much worth the read:http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/makerspaces-are-remaking-local-economies/39080Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



The most important FCC vote of our lifetime is about to happen.

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 00:56:00 +0000

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Small entities and Big entities- working together (or, at times, not working together)

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:49:00 +0000

Brad Feld had a great blog post on small companies working with big companies a few days ago that really struck a cord with me.As some of you know, I founded and am president of TinkerMill, a 501(c)3 makerspace that focuses on education - particularly STEAM related education- a hot button area right now, and new business incubation- the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Longmont where we're based.  We grew from an idea to the largest makerspace in Colorado (and, it seems, this 8-9 state region) pretty quickly, so we attracted the attention of quite a few organizations out there.As a result, over the last year and half or our existence, we've tried to work with the various entities (NPO's) that are involved in most of our day to day lives.  Municipal and state government; the local public school system and their private counterparts, the charter schools, as well as the local community college and some of our local economic development folks.Overall, I've found the experience to be mixed.  We've had good interactions with the economic development folks, like the Longmont Area Economic Council (LAEC), as well as the City of Longmont itself- their senior staff totally get's what TinkerMill is about.  Both have been very supportive (in action and in financial support).  As always there have been a hiccup or two here and there, but all minor so far.Our experience with the schools, particularly the big ones (SVVSD, our local Public School district) and Front Range Community College (FRCC), hasn't been so good.  Not bad, exactly, but not consistently good.It's effectively mirrored the exprience Brad talks about in his dealing with 'big companies'.  He sums it up perfectly with this comment:"we’ve had many interactions at many levels over the years – some good, some bad, some complex, and some perplexing"That's a near perfect reflection of our experience with some large non profit/educational institutions we've known the last year.  I won't go into details here, but after banging our heads against the 'rules' the schools operate by (which seem anathema to operating in the 21st century, and within a local community on terms they don't completely control), we've pretty much given up trying.  Or more accurately:  Trying as hard.  Our doors are always open to discussion, but only if it's followed by action and actual implementation.  Talk is.. well.. just talk.Sadly, it's not the fault of the change agent's trying to make things happen inside these educational institutions, it's almost always the bureaucratic back room that kills off being innovative.  I suspect it's mostly a risk aversion thing.The sad truth is, however, places like TinkerMill, over time, can augment these institutions significantly.  By not working with us, these existing 20th century institutions are taking the very real risk of being "Uberized" by 501(c)3 non profit educational entities like TinkerMill. It's not unlike little companies disrupting (and often dismantling) much larger companies, only, here it's the school system and, in some cases, the public libraries (many have gotten stuck in the 'we're about books' mode vs. what they're real mission is:  Knowledge Distribution).It's interesting to see patterns repeat, and boy do they.  From Brad's experience with small and large companies interactions to our recent almost mirror like experience between small new innovative non profits and large stuck in their way(s) NPO's. Indeed, the patterns just keep repeating.Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & b[...]



Boulder County Mini Maker Faire party at TinkerMill video

Sun, 01 Feb 2015 19:10:00 +0000

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A quick recap video our our pre-party for the Boulder County Mini Maker Faire held at TinkerMill in Longmont.
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Oil.. A race to the bottom...

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:45:00 +0000

www.pkverlegerllc.com/assets/documents/141217_Rise_of_the_ManufRacturers1.pdfFascinating analysis.  Short read, worth checking out.Oil production as manufacturing. This scenario sounds very very plausible, even likely.It compares what's happening in oil production to what happened in the computer world (from expensive mainframe to low cost distributed PCs). Think of today's Exxon as IBM making expensive mainframes (traditional expensive ...billions of $ to startup... and deep oil wells in expensive to extract places) vs fracking ($10 million, dropping rapidly to startup, with the ability to shut down then quickly restart as prices rise and fall).Add this happening in low cost places (i.e. not the U.S.), and you can see how this is, indeed, the future of oil, and low oil prices.Hmmmmm....lots of good there, but, even more (really) bad. Hopefully the wind, hydro and solar folks will keep the cost curve dropping fast. It's now a race to the bottom.Scott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



Colorado makerspaces: Where technological innovation meets entrepreneurship

Sun, 25 Jan 2015 12:51:00 +0000

Our local newspaper has been very supportive of TinkerMill.

Here's an article they just did on us:

http://www.timescall.com/business/local-business/ci_27384916/colorado-makerspaces-where-technological-innovation-meets-entrepreneurship





"Colorado makerspace: Where technological innovation meets entrepreneurship".

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2014 in review- TinkerMill, Makerspaces, Startup Longmont and more

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 22:14:00 +0000

It's been an amazingly interesting and productive year here in Longmont, CO.We created a makerspace in mid-2013, but it really took off this year.  We call it TinkerMill, The Longmont Makerspace.  We received our 501(c)3 public charity status this past summer.We went from a small group of 6 people showing up for a meetup at a local school's 'Career Development Center' facility in May of 2013 to a few dozen folks  at the beginning of 2014 to over 150 paying members and almost 640 meetup members as of the end of 2014.  Not bad for 18 months.This makes us the largest makerspace in Colorado and, as far as we can tell, the largest makerspace in this 7 state region.  You have to go all the way to Austin, TX. to find one larger.Our primary charter as an educationally focused non profit is to create a collaborative commons where our members can learn from each other, teach each other and create, pretty much, anything, from art to personal projects to new products, services and businesses.We started the year out with an average of 55 classes and events per month and consistently grew that over the year to as many as 120 classes and events per month (in some months, holding up to 14 classes and events in a single day and averaging 4+ events per day, every day, all month long).We've had almost 1,000 classes and events at TinkerMill in the last year or so.  From the art of making cheese, to programming Arduino chips for robots, drones and 3D printers to how to forge a sword, weld and use a throw wheel and kiln.We're experimenting with a concept called 'nano-degrees' and we put together a new kind of class to teach people how to prototype products using 3D printers.  We're doing it hand in hand with our local Front Range Community College's staff and their incredible million dollar precision machining facility.  If you teach people how to prototype using the latest tools like 3D printers and how to make real product with serious machining tools like a Bridgeport GX 250, you've got the makings of a true high tech/advanced manufacturing economy renaissance.There's a pretty good chance that if you want to learn it, someone at TinkerMill can teach it.  Or, if you're looking for a co-founder of a company, you'll likely find someone for that as well.  Our membership is made up of 70% technical people (engineers, developers and technologists), 20% creatives (designers, artists and artisans) and about 10% business focused (startup people, entrepreneurs, potential investors and general biz folks).We moved TinkerMill into a new space at 1840 Delaware Pl, Longmont CO. in May that's a little over 6,100SF.  It's made up of offices and workshop space packed to the rafters with awesome tools, workspaces and incredibly creative people. We're expanding Jan 1st of 2015 to include a couple of thousands more SF of prototyping lab and incubator-ish space to help our members do even more learning, teaching, creating and starting up new businesses.We have a healthy and open relationship with our city government and have been heavily involved with programs related to teaching kids during summer and after school programs as well as putting together a civic technology series of classes to help Longmont residents into the 21st century.  We received a grant from the City of Longmont ($60K) to buy a large array of new prototyping gear that we'll be using to teach our city's residents to use for creative projects as [...]



All Wheel Drive Does Not Make You Safer

Mon, 01 Dec 2014 19:03:00 +0000

Every so often I read a blog post that's really relevent our day to day life.  This is one of those.  A friend of mine, who writes an outstanding blog on living a simpler life,wrote up a great post on exactly why AWD just isn't worth it.  Worth a read.

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Copyright and software

Sun, 12 Oct 2014 17:56:00 +0000

Every so often I run across an article that really makes me rethink a position I may have had for a long time.  This blog posting from Foss Patents had that effect on me this morning.In Oracle case, Google has gone from fighting API copyright to attacking all software copyrightI have to wonder on this one.  I'm not sure the author is thinking clearly about the intent of what Google is doing re: copyright. Personally, I think software copyrights have been severely abused over the last couple of decades, and what Google is doing now is trying to put copyright back to where it should be:  A tool to protect written works, not software products.I'd also go on to say:  Opensource.  Yea... opensource.  Eventually, I would hope, everything will become opensource and companies will compete on capabilities and not the size of their legal teams.  This applies to hardware as well as software.And something to consider:  The (now) largest economy in the world. China's lack of belief in copyrights and patents (I like to judge based on actions, not words) will eventually overtake the western worlds approach to ownership. When the guy who owns all the factories doesn't give a s**t about your patent, AND owns the largest marketplace and middle class in the world.. well, whistle in the wind all you like kiddos... you don't get to keep your toys in a world like that.  I'm not saying this is right; I am saying, it's happening right now and there's no way to stop it.Elon Musk and Tesla got it right:  Get a patent, but don't use it as a blunt instrument to kill your perceived enemies.  Use it as a way to protect the idea from being locked up by someone else by giving it away to everyone.Naive?  Maybe.  Better for all businesses in the long term?  AbsolutelyScott on life, politics, podcasting, technology & business [...]



Hackerspaces and innovators

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 03:33:00 +0000



I really should post here more often. :)

I've been having quite a bit of fun founding and getting a hackerspace off the ground.  We now have a better understanding why TinkerMill’s grown so fast in the last 6 months*.

Local Newspaper Story in the Longmont Time Call.

Apparently, a Hackerspace/Makerspace is something our town’s needed for awhile.  :)

Average number of Patents per 10,000 people in the USA:   4

Average number of Patents per 10,000 people in Longmont:  45

You read that right, 45 vs. 4.  More than an order of magnitude more than the rest of the country.

*50+ members, 3000SF space with lots of great tools and activities, more at: www.tinkermill.org.(image)