Archive | Technology

Providence Geeks – April 17, 2013

Wednesday, April 17, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Spring is here! Come celebrate its arrival this Wednesday at the April Providence Geeks Dinner!

knowyo2The evening will feature Providence-based startup Knowyo, fresh off their win (“Best Presentation”) at last month’s LAUNCH Conference in San Francisco.

Knowyo will help you to never forget a name again. Their web and mobile-based adaptive learning platform integrates with LinkedIn (and soon corporate social networks like Yammer) to enable you to quickly and enjoyably learn the names and faces of the people you need to know.

At this Wednesday’s Geek Dinner, Co-Founders CEO Elie Schoppik and CTO Andrew Sohn will tell their startup’s story, demo Knowyo, and give a sneak peek of what’s coming next.


Providence Geeks – March 13, 2013

Wednesday, March 13th, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

logoThe March Geek Dinner will feature a particularly exciting, inspiring story of a local teacher turned entrepreneur.

In 2004, elementary school computer teacher, Alan Tortolani, frustrated with the lack of good educational games for kids, started making his own.

Over the past decade Alan has grown Providence-based into an award-winning educational juggernaut with over 175 online games and several best-selling mobile apps. He has bootstrapped to significant profitability with over 1 million app downloads to date and nearly 100 million visits totalling over 1 billion pageviews annually.

At the March Geek Dinner on Wednesday, Alan will tell the story, demo some of its games, and give a sneak peek into where he’s taking this online educational empire next.


Providence Geeks – February 20, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

cb-logoThe February Geek Dinner will feature Crunchbutton, who may well have the greatest tagline/value proposition ever: Push a Button. Get food.

Started in a Yale dorm room, Crunchbutton was born of the founders’ desire to make ordering their favorite local sandwich – the Wenzel – as simple as possible.

Now headquartered in Providence, Crunchbutton today facilitates ordering from dozens of restaurants in Providence, New Haven, and Washington, DC (yes, there’s a college town theme here), and has big plans for further expansion.

On Wednesday, Co-Founders Judd Rosenblatt, David Klumpp and Devin Smith will tell the Crunchbutton story, demo their service, and talk about where this promising startup is headed next.


ProvPlan’s new Community Profiles


I spent some time playing with this new tool from ProvPlan yesterday and it is sure to be something that many of us are going to spend a lot of time with.

Web App Provides New Perspective on Rhode Island Communities

PROVIDENCE – A new web app released today will provide Rhode Islanders with easy access to in-depth data on their neighborhoods. Created and released by the nonprofit The Providence Plan (ProvPlan), Rhode Island Community Profiles ( provides fast access to comprehensive, mappable information about communities across the state including data on race, age, income, employment, poverty, housing, health, education, transportation and more. Visitors can create and share maps that compare their neighborhoods with surrounding areas, or reveal changes in their own communities over time.

Rhode Island Community Profiles is the latest in a suite of online tools created by ProvPlan. “These tools democratize data by putting information into the hands of community members,” explained Patrick McGuigan, ProvPlan Executive Director. “We hope that this site will empower our residents, nonprofits, businesses and government to identify local needs, prioritize investments, and advocate for the kinds of community change they want to see.”

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ProJo: City commission urges accountability via Web

The group’s report, recently received by the City Council, proposes the following: an online tracking tool for council member votes; interactive budget information for the previous 10 years; and streaming important meetings live on the city’s website,

“It is no secret that Providence city government has not always been a beacon of accountability and transparency to city residents,” the report’s conclusion read.

“And while City Hall has come incredibly far,” the commission says Providence officials have to continue developing a government that is “fully accountable” to its residents.


Providence Geeks – January 16, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

We’re kicking 2013 off with another awesome Geek Dinner!

Care ThreadWe hear near daily about the frustrations (nightmares?) patients face in navigating our convoluted healthcare system. What we don’t hear about are the challenges that healthcare providers – the doctors, nurses, and other clinicians – face in providing better patient care. The pain is especially acute around how providers communicate and collaborate with one another.

That’s where Providence-based startup Care Thread comes in.

Care Thread has built an innovative set of real-time mobile tools to empower providers to better collaborate, resulting in better care for their patients.

At next week’s January Geek Dinner, fresh off their announcement of Slater’s $250K investment into Care Thread, CEO & MD Scott Guelich and CTO (and healthcare IT industry veteran) Andrew Shearer (@ashearer) will share the challenges healthcare providers face every day, and show how Care Thread’s mobile & web apps improve both provider and patient experiences.


Providence Geeks – December 12, 2012

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Providence Geeks returns this coming Wednesday, the auspicious date of 12/12/12! And we’ve got a great evening planned starring Providence-based startup VCharge.

VCharge is innovating at the intersection of the information technology and energy industries. They are solving the problem of integrating renewable energy sources like wind and solar into the electric grid using a market-based approach. Their software and hardware controls enable distributed generation, storage, and load like electric cars, thermal storage heaters, and commercial refrigeration to respond dynamically to grid conditions and improve overall system efficiency.

The commercial rollout of its SmartBricks product is underway, and VCharge is controlling residential heating systems using the homes’ existing broadband connection to lower monthly heating costs and balance the grid. The company has installations in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Maine, and they’re just getting started, eyeing projects in Ireland and Germany as well as right here in RI.

At Wednesday’s Geek Dinner VCharge CTO (and MIT PhD) Jessica Millar CEO (and Harvard B-School prof) George Baker will tell the VCharge story, demo the SmartBricks control technology, and give a sneak peek at where this exciting startup is headed next.


MBTA introduces mTicket, but not for us (yet)

Update 11/27: An update of the App was just pushed out on iOS which now includes the south side stations, including Providence.
Apparently, Wickford Junction is not yet included. MBTA says it will be added in the next update.

The MBTA’s new mobile Commuter Rail ticketing app, mTicket, launched today, but only on Commuter Rail lines out of North Station.

We can expect the mTicket system to be available for trips on the Providence line starting later this month, and monthly passes for December will also be able to be purchased using mTicket. The MBTA has an FAQ to answer any questions about the system.

mTicket is available to download for free for the iPhone through iTunes and for Android devices through the Google Play store.


I spent all night playing “Fart Cat!”

News arrived yesterday of the release of Fart Cat!; a new iPhone game by Summer Camp Studios, a group of programmers that formed out of the ashes of the 38 Studios debacle. So, I’m not into cats, and I’m not into games, and I guess I’m not really into farting either, but I decided to drop 99¢ in the App Store to see what it was all about.

Then I played it all night, stopping only long enough to update my bewildered iPhone friends on my progress (I’ve made it to level 15 in case you were wondering).

The game is amazingly simple and stupidly fun, you feed the cat what it wants to eat and try to make it full before its annoying owner pets it. You then tap the cat’s belly and it farts. What is not to love? The devlopers describe it:

Our debut title, Fart Cat!, began as a thought exercise and quickly evolved into a fun game through our newly adopted iterative development process. In order to transition out of the mindset of massive, 200 person projects to the (comparatively) light and fluffy land of iOS development, we needed a simple game concept that would not only teach us how to deliver on a completely new platform, but also show us how we wanted to work as a team! Fart Cat! fit the bill beautifully. It’s a fun, simple arcade game that game be enjoyed by all ages, and has plenty of room for expansion if the crowd demands it.

Seriously, download this thing!


Providence Geeks – September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

faniumWelcome back everybody! After taking August off, it’s time to get our Geek Dinner on again.

In a small office on North Main Street in Providence, a young team of six developers and designers works long hours in their quest to shake up fantasy sports world.

Founded in 2011, Fanium has already launched a Yahoo! Fantasy Football companion for iPhone and Android. With over 1,500 NFL expert Twitter accounts aggregated, the app filters out unnecessary information, and only displays news that they need to know regarding their fantasy teams in real time.

Fanium’s Fantasy Football app serves as a perfect complementary “second screen” to a given NFL game, while always monitoring your fantasy football team.

At Wednesday’s Geek Dinner, 22-year old Brown senior and CEO Grant Gurtin will tell the Fanium story, demo their impressive app, and give a sneak peek into where this promising startup is headed.


A Better World by Design Conference, September 28-30, 2012

A Better World By DesignEach year, A Better World by Design brings a global community of innovators to Providence, Rhode Island to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal: building a better world. Internationally acclaimed and led completely by students, ABWxD creates a multidisciplinary community; engineers, architects, industrial designers, graphic designers, educators, and many others come together to discuss their work and share their ideas.

This year’s conference, the fifth annual A Better World by Design conference, will be held September 28-30 in Providence, RI! For three days, speakers will share engaging stories, workshops will teach creative skills, and discussions will re-frame perspectives around sustainable and socially responsible design. In celebration of the fifth anniversary, there will be many exciting new forms of creative content as well as extraordinary opportunities to mingle with fellow conference-goers.

Join the Better World community for three days of collaboration and inspiration! Learn more by visiting the ABWxD website and registering today.


Updating the site

We’re updating the theme on the site and fixing some stuff/moving stuff around. You can view the site and comment and whatever, but stuff will at times look wonky as we change and test various items.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if every now and then the site just completely goes down while we implement a change. Have fun watching our progress.

Providence Geeks, July 11, 2012

Jerry the Bear

Jerry the Bear. Image from Sproutel.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

It’s already time for the last Geek Dinner of the Summer (since we take August off). Can you believe it? So let’s do it right:

Providence-based startup Sproutel makes interactive toys for children with chronic illnesses, starting with diabetes, asthma and obesity. Their first product – Jerry the Bear – takes a high-tech, but playful approach to teaching kids how to properly manage their health.

At the July Geek Dinner this Wednesday, Co-Founders and new minted graduates of Northwestern University, CEO Aaron Horowitz and CCO Hannah Chung (recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s “15 Women to Watch in Tech”) will tell the story of Sproutel, introduce you to Jerry the Bear, and share their big plans for helping millions of kids take care of themselves.

This is not to be missed!


Providence Geeks, June 20

geeks-240Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Sick of trying to keep track of who-owes-what with your roommates, friends, colleagues, etc? How about of the resulting awkward conversations?

Fear no more. It’s Providence-based Splitwise to the rescue.

By perusing its mission to take the pain out of sharing expenses, the Splitwise team has made a national name for themselves as “fairness experts.” Thousand of users currently rely not only on Splitwise’s awesome mobile & web-based tracking tools, but also on their sage advice about to equitably split expenses.

At the June Geek Dinner this coming Wednesday, CEO Jon Bittner will tell the history of Splitwise, give an overview of the startup today, and demo – for the first time ever – their new web platform.



Epic webhost #FAIL


If you tried to visit our site at any time since Tuesday morning, you were likely met with an error message of some sort, or a temporary message about our site being down. Temporary turned into five days as our hosting company, Dreamhost failed us spectacularly this week.

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you got the play by play of our annoyance and desperation through the week as we submitted support ticket after support ticket with no response other than cryptic “we’re working on it” messages from reply robots.

The short story is, the server our site is hosted on had a hardware failure on Tuesday morning. Dreamhost attempted to move everyone on that server to new hardware, but that process failed, forcing them to fix up the old server, restore from backup, then move to a new server. While our site was half moved from one server to another, then back, then restored from backup (kind of), various things within the WordPress install reported back failure errors to anyone trying to visit the site.

Over the days we received various automated replies about things supposedly being back “tomorrow” and some people having service, but slow. With our random WordPress error messages and our inability to get a handle on where exactly Dreamhost was in their process (since we never got a human response to any of our requests for information), we were left to twiddle our thumbs and fume.

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NECN Video: Worcester, Mass. transit authority switches to Charlie Cards

New England Cable News:

On Monday, the WRTA switched from paper tickets to the Charlie Card.

“It’s convenient, effective and efficient, but whenever you have any sort of change, there’s going to be some problems in the transition but so far most people seem to like it,” said WRTA’s customer service employee Mike Moore.

It’s the same pass that’s used on the MBTA.

Riders can load money onto the card or they can purchase a monthly pass.


Providence Geeks, Feb. 15

Providence Geeks Dinner

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Lullabot – arguably the world’s top Drupal consultancy – is one of the Providence tech scene’s best kept secrets. From their headquarters in the Jewelry District, Lullabot has become an internationally distributed team of 36 and growing (fast).

Not content with that, Lullabot is now expanding into “product.” Built originally for – their online school for learning Drupal & JQuery – Videola is an enterprise-strength video management & delivery platform. Think build-your-own Netflix-style streaming video web site.

At the February Geek Dinner this coming Wednesday, Lullabot/Videola CEO (and former Orbit frontman) Jeff Robbins (@jjeff) will tell the Lullabot story, give a Videola demonstration, and share the vision for where Lullabot is headed next.


iPhone app allows Providence residents to report issues to the City

Angel Taveras

Mayor Angel Taveras

This afternoon I took a walk with Mayor Angel Taveras to try out the City’s new ProvConnex iPhone app (an Android app is in development).

The Mayor and I walked down Washington Street and he showed me how the app works on his iPhone. The Mayor’s Press Secretary, David Ortiz joined us and provided more details on the app.

The free app is available in the Apple App Store and integrates with the City’s online ProvConnex system which people may be familiar with. The app allows residents (and visitors I suppose if they like) to report a myriad of issues from unshoveled sidewalks, to potholes, to broken street lights and trash strewn lots, and more.

On my way home this afternoon I reported that a number of streetlights are out at the intersection of Dean Street and Atwells Avenue, the intersection is very dark because of this. Screenshots of my report are embedded in a slideshow at the end of this post, including a copy of the email I recieved confirming my submission. Issues reported through the App are sent to the Office of Neighborhood Services where staff dispatches it to the relevant City department. The app keeps a collection of your reports and allows you to follow-up on their status.

The City attempts to move as quickly as possible on reports, but of course during pothole season the holes can only be filled so fast. Reporting won’t get action in a day, but it will add your pothole to the City’s list.

The App can use GPS to locate where you are when you make a report, or you can search for an address to report an issue when you may not be at that location. It also allows you to upload a photo of the issue you’ve reported.

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