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BarCampLA is back!

April 11, 2011 in Technology

After a 2 year hiatus BarCamp, the premier ad-hoc technology conference returns to LA Sunday April 30th through Sunday May 1st. The event will be held this year at Mt Washington Elementary at 3981 San Rafael Avenue. Tickets are $35 right now for the whole weekend and there are student and group discounts available.

If you’ve never been to one I have to say that BarCamps are more like a weekend at tech camp than a conference. Anyone can give a presentation (but make sure you’re there early to get the prime spot) and the topics can vary wildly but they’re almost always fun and insightful. I’ll definitely be there!

Get tickets early because it’s definitely going to get sold out fast. Not to mention you can skip the Procrastinator edition tickets which are an extra $20 if you just get them now.

http://barcampla.org/ on the web
@BarCampLA on Twitter
Facebook

We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked: Sex Shops and The Nordstrom Effect

February 13, 2011 in Holidays, Online, Shopping

It happens out here (most recently, at a Culver City sex shop near the home of a woman I was dating), it happened back East, it happens everywhere.  You walk into a sex shop, begin browsing, and, within two minutes, a young Goth staffer comes over and says, “I use this at home, and I really love it.”  Then she proceeds to give you a sexual symposium on the merits of German vs. Japanese (and I don’t mean cars), furry vs. metallic, water vs. oil, etc.  The problem is, we didn’t ask.

I call this The Nordstrom Effect.  It reminds me of those Nordstrom salespeople who, though typically not young nor Goth, are just as overly helpful as the sex shop girls.  In both cases, what starts out as accommodating quickly becomes annoying.

At Nordstrom, I think the salespeople do this because (1) commission is likely a big part of their compensation; and (2) they want to uphold Nordstrom’s well-deserved reputation for excellent customer service.  However, at the sex shops, I think it’s nerves.  Specifically, the salespeople and their managers figure that many customers in their stores are uncomfortable and in need of hand-holding.

And sometimes they are right.  I’m sure there are many people — perhaps women more than men, if this series is an indication — who feel shy about striding into sex shops and picking out personal items.  (Guys often have their own problems in other stores, such as when picking out lingerie for their women).

The cure for The Nordstrom Effect, and the shyness which may cause it, can be found online.  There are tons of Internet retailers out there, such as Adam and Eve , 123 Adult Store, and Sex Toy Sex.org (links NSFW, obviously), where you can shop in the privacy of your own home.  Moreover, some of the Los Angeles area shops profiled in this series provide online shopping as well.  Many of the well-known sites will send your items in discrete packaging designed not to raise the red flags (or any other parts) of nosy neighbors and pervy postmen.  Coincidentally, I met one such retailer the other night, the woman who runs the Los Angeles-based Sex-Butter.com (not to be confused with Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax for your surfboard, unless you are using “surfboard” as a euphemism), who sells her products primarily online.

Of course, it is a fun experience to grab your sweetheart or friends and check out a sex shop or three in the flesh, whether as a bona fide shopper or simply a tourist.  Our writers in this series have done just that, profiling some of the sex shops they like in the Los Angeles area.  However, if avoiding The Nordstrom Effect is a priority, then shopping online might be just what the Naughty Nurse ordered, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.

[Part of blogging.la's "We've Got Valentine's Day Licked" series]

Police Tape Got You Down? Find Out What’s Up!

June 9, 2010 in Crime, LA, Law Enforcement, Online

I came home this evening to find a lot of police activity in my neighborhood and had to do a little detour. I realized that the happenings were pretty close to my street. In fact, one end of my street, about half a block from my house, was yellow taped off. I really wanted to find out what was going on, but wasn’t too keen on wandering over to the scene. I learned some basic information from a neighbor (suspicious package, homes evacuated), but I wanted to follow the progress.

Someone suggested I go to an online police scanner, which hadn’t occurred to me. I found what looks to be a pretty good resource. Radio Reference.com’s Los Angeles County page has live communication feeds from a variety of police, fire, and EMS departments. I tuned in to the Los Angeles Police and Fire-San Fernando Valley Divisions broadcast and  learned fairly quickly that the situation was resolved and that the “resources” were being released. In a relatively short period of time, I heard all kinds of things from animal bites to suspects being apprehended. I know I’m not the only one who get frustrated when up-to-the-minute info is not readily available, even on Twitter. You might want to bookmark this one.

Monitored By The Mayor

May 26, 2010 in Online

I am now being followed by the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Do I consider this my crowning achievement as a Metblogs contributor? Yes. Do I think it will end well for either party? Probably not.

Consider my most recent tweet regarding @Villaraigosa, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry →

OK Go Video Release Party TONIGHT

March 5, 2010 in Announcements, Events, Music, Online

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet this week, you’ve probably seen the new, innovative video from local band OK Go. The group is well-known for its viral one-take creations, most notably “The Treadmill Video,” in which the guys did a fairly complicated routine on four treadmills for their song “Here It Goes Again.”

To promote their third studio album Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, which is a fantastic, Prince-inspired record, OK Go has pushed the DIY music video to a new level. Teaming up with L.A.-based creative powerhouse, Synn Labs, the band’s ambitious concept involving a massive Rube Goldberg machine was brought to life.

The engineers were tasked with creating the device with the requirements “that it had to be interesting, not “overbuilt” or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow.  The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on time over a 3.5 minute song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot.  To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.” The geniuses of Synn Labs spent a few months in a warehouse in Echo Park creating a physical manifestation of the band’s vision.

Click through for details on tonight’s video release party in L.A and more

How the Internet is Spoiling My Olympics

February 15, 2010 in Events, Media, Online, Sports, Technology, Television, Twitter

I suppose it was inevitable.  This past year, social networking shot through the roof, with everyone and her grandmother (literally) on Facebook.  That is in addition to the explosive popularity of Twitter, as well as websites pumping out up-to-the-minute news 24/7.  At the same time, the old media NBC television network decided to tape delay its Winter Olympics broadcast on the West Coast, apparently three hours behind the East Coast, even though the events are taking place in our time zone.  And finally, as do many others I’m sure, I multitask when watching television, laptop in front of me, news headlines and social networks (and Vancouver Metblogs) never more than a click away.  All of these phenomena have come crashing together this month like a perfect storm, threatening to spoil my Olympics.

The problem is, I keep learning the results from these Internet sources hours before seeing them for myself.  I learned of Hannah Kearney’s mogul skiing gold medal, Apolo Ohno’s record-tying silver medal in speed skating, and the generous figure skating judges doling out high scores to skaters who fell during their short program, all before seeing it on tv.  I tried appealing to my Twitter peeps who aren’t located on the West Coast not to post Olympics results, but they seem to need to do so, as if their reactions won’t count unless shared electronically and immediately.

I’m sure some of you are more computer-advanced than I, and can tell us how to get a great webcast of the Games on our computer in real time, even on our big-screen hdtv.  If so, I would love to hear the solutions.  I investigated this briefly, and did not find a satisfactory solution — for example, the online ads I saw were even more annoying than those on NBC.

I’m afraid the only solution I have found to watch the Winter Games unspoiled by spoilers is the most radical solution of staying off the Internet altogether.

3 Days Left in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign — 6 L.A. Orgs in the Running for $1M

January 19, 2010 in Celebrity, Comedy, Entertainment, Online, Social issues, Technology

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

If you’ve been on Facebook in the last couple of months, then you might have been inundated with requests to vote in Chase’s Community Giving Facebook Campaign. With financial resources drying up for many organizations, this campaign has been a rare opportunity for non-profit orgs to come by cold, hard cash by simply leveraging their social media muscles. Out of more than a half million eligible organizations, the Top 100 vote getters in Round 1 have moved on to the final round of voting, which is happening now. Top 100 orgs are already the recepients of a $25,000 grant, but the top organization gets $1 million.

Six Los Angeles area organizations are in the running for the $1M: [links go to Facebook pages]

  • Center For The Pacific Asian Family Inc (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Hope For Paws (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Imaging Foundation (Malibu, CA)
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Inc (El Segundo, CA)
  • Tiziano Project (Calabasas, CA)
  • Trevor Project, Inc. (West Hollywood, CA)
  • In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been supporting the Center for the Pacific Asian Family (CPAF) in this campaign, since I feel that their “big idea” has the greatest potential for immediate impact on those who are living in Los Angeles, right now. CPAF was founded to help address domestic violence and sexual assault in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Up to 60% of Asian and Pacific American women experience domestic or sexual abuse in their lifetime, and are the least likely to report the abuse. Since the economic downturn in 2008, domestic violence has been on the rise. With cutbacks in state funding, non-profits like CPAF are forced to turn away more callers trying to flee a violent home.
    Read the rest of this entry →

    CrisisCamp Haiti in Los Angeles Tomorrow (Saturday, 1/16/2010)

    January 15, 2010 in Announcements, Downtown, Earthquakes, Events, Technology

    Alongside the headlines of the horrific devastation of the Haitian earthquake are the headlines about how “digital fundraising” is providing a rapid flow of dollars, showing the importance of technology in providing new avenues for relief efforts.

    For anyone who is technologically-minded, and even those who are not, if you want to lend your hand to a good cause, you should check out CrisisCamp Haiti in LA tomorrow at USC. CrisisCamps are hosted in a barcamp style where great minds come together to share their knowledge and expertise for social good.

    This Saturday, the USC Annenberg School will be hosting CrisisCampHaiti Los Angeles to bring together volunteers to collaborate on technology projects which aim to assist in Haiti’s relief efforts by providing data, information, maps and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public. Chad Catacchio will be leading up a team.

    Project Proposals for CrisisCamp Haiti
    1. Base layer map for Port Au Prince: This project would create a new collection of imagery and a new base map for NGOs and relief agencies. Post available imagery to share with the public for open source applications.
    2. Family locator systems: Uniting efforts of interested technologists, developers and communications experts to provide technical assistance.
    3. Tech Volunteer Skill Matrix/Volunteers: Create a role of volunteer as well as
    4. Managing News Aggregator: Provide content channel management to coordinate data feeds
    5. Defining the Collective: Create what we are and why we are doing this. Coordinate and post historical timeline/archive for the CrisisCamp efforts.

    This will also been happening in London, Washington D.C., Denver, and Northern California.

    h/t: Browyn on the BarCampLA list

    C’mon, Get Appy.. Pantages!

    January 7, 2010 in Food & Drink, Technology, Theatre/Stage

    Picture 1

    Pantages Hollywood just made it easier for you to make good on your resolution to see more local theatre, with the release of their own iPhone app.  (Click here to open the Pantages app page on iTunes.)

    You can buy tickets by phone, get presale offers, discounts, YouTube channel updates, and check out nearby restaurants. And it’s free. Like an app should be.

    Go see a show, Freckles.

    Cell Phone Service Coming to Red & Purple Lines

    December 30, 2009 in Mass Transit, Technology

    more bars

    If Metro gets its way, you may soon be playing @foursquare deep in the bowels of the L.A. subway.

    The Source is reporting that the agency is moving forward on the development of a request for proposal that will be sent out to private firms to outline the agency’s requirements.

    I cannot wait until the day when I can tweet about meth-induced stupidity on the Red Line.

    Can ESPNLosAngeles.com Draw As Many Readers Away From LA Sports Outlets As It Has Writers?*

    December 21, 2009 in LA, LA bloggers, Media, Online, Sports, Twitter

    ESPN’s new online hub for local sports, ESPNLosAngeles.com, officially launched today, providing a new source for LA Sports news, as well as a new home for several LA Sports writers, including the LA Times’ (former) Lakers bloggers.

    ESPNLosAngeles.comMeant as a hub for local online sports coverage one could set as their homepage, the site features SoCal-specific “SportsCenter” segments, local breaking news, and direct links to pages for all the major pro teams, including the Galaxy, Chivas USA, the LA Sparks, as well as the Angels and Ducks. There’s also a “Headlines” tab you can click to view nationwide sports headlines, in case you care about what happens outside of our little bubble. ESPN launched similar local sites for Dallas, Boston and Chicago earlier this year, and the sports network opened a new broadcast studio (along with an ESPN Zone sports bar) Downtown at LA Live this past spring.

    But the best part of the site is the local team blogs and columnists, providing quick-access to news and columns about your favorite teams that is also easy to subscribe to by e-mail or RSS feed to keep up on everything. The other ESPN city sites have Twitter accounts you can follow as well, but as of this writing, @ESPNLosAngeles exists but hasn’t tweeted a thing. The @ESPNLosAngeles Twitter account is also up and running, providing links to stories on the site. So far there’s a USC blog (but no UCLA blog yet), a Clippers blog (sort of – it links to the outside ClipperBlog.com, part of an ESPN affiliate network), and of course, that Lakers Blog, which is basically a direct transplant from the LA Times’ Lakers Blog. Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, who just yesterday afternoon announced their departure from LATimes.com, pick up at ESPN right where they left off, except now the blog is called “Land O’ Lakers”. The Lakers Blog was regularly one of the most-visited on the site, sometimes getting over a million page views per month. No announcement has been made yet as to who or what will replace the brothers at LATimes.com. It seems that, at least for now, a few different staff writers are taking turns contributing posts to the Lakers Blog to keep it going.

    Read the rest of this entry →

    The Solstice with the Mostest

    December 21, 2009 in Online, Science

    Thanks to Beverly and Pack on Flickr - Creative Commons licence

    Tomorrow night is the Longest Night of the Year to snuggle up to someone warm.

    The Solstice is exact for us here in Los Angeles at exactly 9:47 AM this Morning. It’ll be the shortest day, and the longest night of the year. And that’s pretty much the story for the whole hemisphere.

    But in L.A. it’s at exactly 9:47 AM.

    See, my Pagan sensibilities come with a certain amount of anal-retentiveness. My Astrological curiosity comes with a little exactitude, ya dig?

    I mean, y’ever wonder exactly when sunrise and sunset happen on a particular day? Maybe exactly when a New or Full Moon is? Ever find yourself trying to do the math from Greenwich Mean Time, and wondering whether you needed to subtract an hour or not?

    Okay, probably not. But for all you amateur astrologers out there who aren’t ready to invest in their own telescope, or all you fledgling vampires out there who want to avoid bursting into flames or looking conspicuously sparkly, a few links for current Los Angeles data:

    Seasons, Equinoxes and Solstices
    Sunrise and Sunset
    Moonrises and moonsets (That’s Right.)
    Moon Phases
    Interestingly enough, (at least, if you read this far, I assume it is) the Griffith Park Observatory has a list of Moon Phases, as well. They differ slightly, by about a minute, on a few of the times. To be fair, the “Time and Date” website claims an accuracy of “within one minute,” so there yeh go. You can make you’re own decision about who has the final word. Personally, the Griffith folks are local, I been there, I’ma go by what the local kids say, but you do as you like.

    So, there it is. All the Loony info you need. Now if I’d just tell you something useful, like when it’s okay to park in a green zone. (Never, that’s my space on Sunday!) But that kind of thing only happens once in a Blue Moon.

    Which, incidently, occurs this year on New Year’s Eve. (At exactly 11:13 AM)

    I Spy a Red Balloon

    December 2, 2009 in Announcements, Technology

    balloonThis is your chance to join an official DARPA Challenge Team and all you have to do is look to the sky this Saturday, December 5 and report back if you spy a red balloon!

    To sign up, go to ispyaredballoon.com and you will be part of a team effort to win $40K that will be donated to charity, plus all the fame and attention that comes with that!

    On Saturday, December 5th, 2009 at 10:00am EST, DARPA will launch ten 8-foot red weather balloons across the United States, held in place by a tether. The first team to submit the locations of all ten balloons will win $40,000! This contest is called the DARPA Network Challenge, sponsored by DARPA, the people who (among other things) hold contests to build cars that drive themselves.

    The I Spy A Red Balloon team has pledged to donate all of the prize money to the American Red Cross. The entire team is volunteering their time, so absolutely no money will be used for any other purpose. Every dollar that the team wins from DARPA will be given directly to the Red Cross.

    Again, go to ispyaredballoon.com to sign up and they will send you a reminder on Friday to look for the balloon. On launch day, their site will change, ready to accept your sighting details. They will provide a clickable map, or you can provide latitude and longitude if it’s available to you (using your phone or standalone GPS device). The names/nicknames of all contributors will be part of a poster to be published after the contest has finished.

    Become a part of the I Spy a Red Balloon DARPA Challenge team today!

    See Nissan’s First Zero Emissions Car This Weekend

    November 9, 2009 in Announcements, Driving, environment, Shopping, Technology, Transportation

    On November 14, 15 and 16, locals will have the opportunity to check out Nissan’s first ever zero-emissions electric car, the LEAF. This will be the first public unveiling of the LEAF in North America. You can check it out this weekend at the following locations:

    Nissan's New Electric Car Debuts in LA this Weekend

    November 14, 2009 10am – 9pm
    Third Street Promenade
    1351 3rd Street Promenade
    Santa Monica, CA

    November 15, 2009 11am – 8pm
    Americana at Brand
    233 S. Brand Blvd.
    Glendale, CA

    November 16, 2009 9am – 5pm
    University Southern California
    3501 Trousdale Parkway
    Los Angeles, CA

    According to Nissan, the LEAF handles and accelerates like a V6 and has a top speed of up to 90mph. It will have an average range of 100 miles per charge and the battery will charge in 4-8 hours on a 220V home charging unit. At quick-charge stations, it will charge to 80% in about 26 minutes. Although Nissan has not released exact information on pricing, they say that they are “targeting a price in the range of other typical family sedans.” The LEAF will be on the road in some states in 2010, with mass-production beginning in 2012.

    To attend one of the unveiling events this weekend, register on their website here.

    Would you pay $13 a month for LA Times online subscription?

    October 21, 2009 in Media, Online

    LA Times has unveiled their new  eEdition, “a reproduction of the print edition– online” for $12.99 per month.  Considering that I just got a year of 7-day home delivery of the actual print edition for $75, or $6.25 per month, and they are offering print subscribers the online subscription at no extra cost, I’m wondering what the strategery is here.

    Access to its archives is one thing LAT is offering as part of the deal, and they are also touting that it’s available at 5:30 AM everyday, unlike the online edition, which is available the preceding midnight, contains much more news and, um, it’s free– for now.

    I guess this is a first step (and trial balloon) for the online paid subscription model we’ve been hearing about from other newpapers in dire straits– which means the vast majority of them.

    As a side note, PBS.org is streaming Inventing LA, the recent doc about the Chandlers and the LA Times. Worth a look.