Friday, May 29, 2009

Mass Innovation Nights | June 2009‏‏

Mass Innovation Nights provides innovators with a place to connect with the media, influential bloggers, the marketplace and each other. More than 200 guests registered to attend the May event.

June Innovators

The spotlight will be on the following innovators in June:

  • Atalasoft | affordable document imaging for SharePoint

  • Canson | project your handwritten notes on the screen directly during a meeting

  • Coreblox | monitor Twitter conversations that matter to you

  • Emo Labs, Inc. | create a better multimedia entertainment experience with invisible loudspeaker solutions

  • IBM | a mission to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity

  • MyRoar | ask questions in natural language and receive intelligent answers

  • NaviSite | dedicated Web hosting services

  • Popkins | for the ice pop stick without the ick

  • ThingMagic | a low-cost platform for developing and deploying interactive read/write applications

  • Urban Animal | a new design collaborative focused on bringing multiple creative disciplines together under one banner

Event Details

Location: Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation | Waltham

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Time: 6:30 PM

After Party: Biagio's Plush Lounge

To learn more, simply access the Mass Innovation Nights website. Check out the June RSVP List to help determine if this FREE networking event might be valuable for you to attend. Then, submit your RSVP to attend this launch party.

Mass Innovation Nights actively encourages job seekers to attend.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chowda Chat | Leah Busque

Chowda Chat is a periodic Beantown Web installment that features a conversation with an influential member of the Boston technology community.

The purpose of Chowda Chat is to provide Web technology professionals with information to help advance their careers. The format involves three questions and responses followed by one final thought.

Today's Chowda Chat presents the insights of Leah Busque, Founder,, a Web service that helps individuals and small businesses in a community outsource their tasks and deliveries. Think of it as Craigslist meets eBay. They are pioneering a trend that they call Service Networking.

Leah, you were a software engineer for IBM for seven years. Why give up the fast track to start your own business and what were some of the first steps you took?

"I felt I had more to offer than just technical skills. By starting my own business I could not only utilize my technical expertise, I could also develop skills in the business, legal and management arenas. I basically locked myself in a room for four months and developed a working prototype for my idea. Along the way I networked with anyone who would listen and give me feedback about my concept.
My Board of Advisors became the following:
With their guidance I launched a beta version of the service in Charlestown (MA). I have since expanded the RUNmyERRAND crew and extended the service to the greater Boston community. We are over-the-moon excited about being a finalist for the fbFund '09 Incubator Program established by Facebook. Additional funding will help us introduce our service in other metropolitan areas."
[Update: has been selected as one of 20 final winners and will participate in the fbFund REV incubator program to take place in Silicon Valley this summer.]

What technology runs your Web operations?

"I researched several options and decided to implement Ruby on Rails because of its rapid development features. While I didn't know the technology when I started I felt confident from my training at IBM that I could learn it quickly. I started with O'Reilly's ONLamp tutorials and Rails Cookbook. Our Web operations also utilize Amazon Web Services to manage our expanding data needs."
[NOTE: Additional resources include 31 Fascinating Ruby on Rails Tutorials & Guides.]

How can someone get started with

It's simple, first check out the How it works in 90 seconds video, then click the Get Started button! Sign up before the end of May and your first errand is better than FREE, it is on us! And, make sure you become a fan of our service on Facebook.

Final Thought

"There are a lot of great ideas out there, the difficult part is taking the leap and deciding to execute on them. There was a very clear moment for me where I thought to myself, there is absolutely no reason why I can not do this, so why not give it a try. I've enjoyed meeting many other entrepreneurs with the same mentality, which makes for an exciting startup scene here in Boston!"
Update: Bloomberg BusinessWeek article, November 11, 2010.

Previous Chowda Chats

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Horizon Interactive Awards | 2009

The Horizon Interactive Awards honors the most talented developers of interactive media.

Judges look for the best blend between creativity and functionality. Awards are issued based on the following criteria:

  • solution creativity and originality
  • overall graphic design / appearance / user experience
  • communication of message
  • technical merit
  • effectiveness of solution

2009 Best of Category Winners

Here are the 2009 Best of Category winners:

Web designers and developers can benchmark their Web solutions against these award-winning entries to stimulate the creative process and help raise the bar.

Here are the Massachusetts organizations (along with their projects) honored with awards:

Access a complete list of more than 500 2009 Award Winners to see which organizations (and projects) may have been honored with Horizon Interactive Awards in your state.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

IT Education Providers | Massachusetts

Continuous improvement is a prerequisite for long-term career success as a Web technology professional. Lifelong learning is not optional -- it is mandatory -- as Web technologies evolve constantly.

A recent survey of more than 30,000 Web professionals reveals that nearly 80% of Web workers list the desire to improve their technical skills through educational training as their next career move.

IT Education Providers

Mass High Tech, The Journal of New England Technology, has researched providers of information technology (IT) education services in the region and has compiled a ranking. Here are the largest IT education providers in Massachusetts (click the "in" icon next to the organization to reveal your LinkedIn connections at that organization):

  1. New Horizons of Boston | Boston, Waltham
  2. CompuWorks Systems, Inc. | Boston
  3. RJ Wronski Associates, Inc. | Chelsea
  4. The Training Associates | Westborough
  5. Middlesex Community College | Lowell
  6. TrainerQuest | Allston
  7. UMass Lowell Cont. Studies, Corp. & Distance Ed. | Lowell
  8. Softeach | Newton
  9. BITadvisors, Inc. | Hingham
  10. Learning Tree International | Burlington, Waltham
  11. Miller & Associates | Northborough
  12. MicroCAD Training & Consulting | Watertown
  13. nSight, Inc. | Burlington
  14. Charles River Public Internet Center | Waltham
  15. iDL Systems | Boston
  16. Softeach, Inc. | Newton
  17. Bridgewater State College | Bridgewater

This listing is ranked by number of students trained in New England in 2008. For complete details access Largest IT Education Providers. pdf

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Boston Market | May 2009

Is the job market half empty or half full?

Half Empty

If you want to look for negatives, there are plenty to chose from. Here are just three . . .

  • The unemployment rate in the United States has risen to 8.9%, the highest rate in a quarter century as reported by the New York Times.
  • The IT Employee Confidence Index decreased to its lowest since tracking began in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to a recent survey commissioned by technology placement firm Technisource.

Half Full

If you want to focus on the positive, you can find reasons for optimism also. Here are just two . . .

  • According to The Dice Report for May there are more than 1,900 technology opportunities posted on their job board for the Boston metro area. If you live in the Washington, DC metro area, you have more than three times as many opportunities to chose from.

Looking at The Glass Through a Different Lens

So, how does a Web technology professional turn a half empty glass into a half full one in the current economy? Perhaps, by focusing less on the skills we currently have to sell into the marketplace and more on the skills that organizations are currently willing to purchase.

The list of Top 20 Web Technologies in Boston has been updated for May and appears in the right-hand column. The list shows more up arrows than down indicating a stability, if not slight improvement, in the technology job market since early April.

As usual, demand for programming and database skills trump demand for design skills. While Photoshop and Flash (Adobe Creative Suite programs) appear in the Top 20, four of the top five spots on the list are dominated by data-related skills:

  1. SQL [ 504 ]
  2. Oracle [ 466 ]
  3. Java [ 312 ]
  4. SQL Server [ 216 ]
  5. XML [ 216 ]

This quest for data is underscored by a New York Times article that highlights the personal story of Douglas Bowman, a former top visual designer at Google. While this story is anecdotal the data from job postings reveals that the market is placing more emphasis on data-driven development and less on design.

Ten Ways to Fill Your Glass

So, regardless of whether you view the current job market as half empty or half full, there IS a job market and that market is moving forward. We have little choice but to move forward with it.

To help focus our attention on the future here is a brief summary of a blog post at TechRepublic, which constructs a blueprint to the future. Here are three skill sets to focus on today . . .

  1. Develop expertise in one of The Big Three (.NET, Java, PHP)
  2. Become an RIA (Rich Internet Application) pro
  3. Demonstrate solid front-end Web skills (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)

To help fill your glass with opportunity, access 10 Skills Developers Will Need in the Next Five Years. Then, get to work developing and implementing a personal game plan that will prepare you for future opportunities.

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