Archive | Technology

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.

Continue Reading →


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.

Continue Reading →


Providence Geeks, December 14

Providence Geeks Dinner

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

The last Geek Dinner of 2011 is going to be a doozy.

Providence-based 38 Studios will be giving an early look at their first game|the highly anticipated RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. There will even be the opportunity to get hands-on. Yes, you read that right – get hand-ons with Reckoning two months prior to its February release date.

What else do you need to know? See you there! (You might want to come on the early side”¦)

Please RSVP at Facebook

Providence Geeks


Providence Geeks, November 16

Providence Geeks Dinner

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

Did you know that Portsmouth, Rhode Island is arguably the barcode capital of the world?

Yup. Thanks to A2B Tracking Solutions – the leading provider of turn-key solutions for bar code tracking.

Since it was founded in 1994, A2B has led the bar code industry movement into mobile computing, developing a state-of-the-art mobile tracking system for United Parcel Service (UPS). Principals of A2B include founders of the bar code industry, who have lead innovations in applications for 50 years. To date, A2B has completed more than 3,000 tracking installations around the world. This Wednesday, A2B CEO Peter Collins will tell the story of how their industry-defining company has gotten to where it is, and where it’s headed next.

Continue Reading →


Providence Geeks, Special Location, October 19

AS220 Mercantile Block

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011, 5:30 – 8pm
AS220 Labs, Mercantile Building, 2nd Floor
131 Washington Street, Providence, RI
FREE (buy your own food and drink – it’s cheap)
RSVP at Facebook

This month, Providence Geeks is doing something a little different, and totally awesome.

We’re hosting the October Geek Dinner at the all-new AS220 Labs in the beautiful Mercantile Building.

Better still, in place of our usual presentation, we’ll be surrounded all evening by a group of select “Makers“, fresh off the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire. They’ll be giving live, hands-on demonstrations of everything from 3d-printing to robotics building. And finally, food and drink will be available next door at the latest addition to the Downcity food scene – Mexico!

Please RSVP at Facebook.


Like: New York Transit “On the Go!” interactive transit kiosks

On the Go! Kiosk

Image (cc) MTAPhotos

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has begun rolling out these interactive kiosks in subway stations.

The sleek, stainless steel enclosure supports a large screen with a colorful display, offering customers information about their entire trip, from planning with Trip Planner , real-time service status, escalator & elevator status and local neighborhood maps. In addition, the MTA has partnered with third party developers to include applications which provide additional information, such as local history, shopping and dining options nearby provided by third-party applications Zagat, myCitiapp, and History Bus. As added features, the screens will provide news and weather information. Taken together, this is an unprecedented amount of information made available to subway and commuter rail customers in one handy tool.

Pretty cool. I’m heading to New York next month and will try to find one.