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Technology in Las Vegas – I Wish Vegas Had A BarCamp

Posted on: March 26, 2008 I Written By

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UPDATE: I made a few correction in my numbers. The point is still good. In fact, the corrections actually make the point even stronger.

Today I was watching my twitter stream and someone posted that they were organizing a BarCamp in Seattle. I’ve read about so many BarCamps on twitter and the other technology groups I’m apart of that I’ve always wondered why Las Vegas didn’t have a BarCamp. I think it would be fun to attend and meet some technology people here in Las Vegas.

I think the answer to my question lies in some comments my friend made to me who was looking at moving from the Seattle area to Las Vegas. He’s a killer Java programmer and some Facebook appFindYourSpot.com said that Las Vegas is where he should move and so he wanted to move here. He decided to go on Dice.com to see what kind of technology jobs were available in Las Vegas. If I remember right he said he only found 150 23 listings (UPDATE: My friend said they were 23 crappy ones at that). Comparing that to the 400 listings in Seattle he pretty much ruled out Las Vegas as a future home. Now I think he’s moved on to Phoenix which had around the same number of jobs as Seattle as I recall 240 job listings.

The point of this story is that it seems like Las Vegas isn’t the best place for a startup unless it’s something around conventions, hotels or casinos. Plus, from my experience it seems like the technology that the Casinos are using is outdated. Sure, they have a project or two that is cutting edge, but for the most part I think they’re still locked and loaded with really cool technology like IBM AS 400s.

I actually asked the CIO from Sands Corporation (own the Venitian) about any sort of Web 2.0 strategies that they were working on. Honestly I’m not sure how familiar he was with the Web 2.0 concept, but the answer was basically nothing. The most he wanted to get out of his website was to help people book rooms as easy as possible. Probably a good strategy, but I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t some really cool Web 2.0 related projects that could be funded by all those gaming revenues.

I should also mention that when I moved here someone told me how progressive Las Vegas was for bringing in technology jobs. They pointed to Zappos.com moving here as an example of Las Vegas being a good place for technology companies. Of course, being a lover of startup companies, Zappos.com is not for me. It’s too big now. Also, one company does not a great technology job market make.

Coming full circle, I don’t think that I should count on a BarCamp every being organized in Las Vegas. I guess I’ll just have to move somewhere else to enjoy such interesting events.

Before someone comes and tells me I should start one myself, let’s just say I have my reasons for not wanting to do so. Not to mention I’ve pretty much said they’re aren’t that many startups here so who would attend?

Securing Your Life and Protecting and Preventing Identity Theft

Posted on: I Written By

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Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of advertising around about LifeLock. I’m not sure how many of you have seen it, but in this rampant world of identify theft, I think we all stop and take a quick look at anything that we can do to protect our identity. As a tech person, people are always asking me if it’s safe to make purchases online. My answer is always yes. You do have to be careful, but life isn’t worth living if you are living it in a state of fear.

I’m pretty sure that many of those people still don’t shop online because their worried. I think it’s these people that are the perfect target market for LifeLock. The most catchy thing about their offer is their $1 Million Service Guarantee. However, the most startling thing I find on LifeLock is that the CEO put his social security number on their website.
Certainly you could make the argument that it’s good marketing, but it does also show that he’s not afraid to “eat his own dog food.”

I think that LifeLock has an interesting service. I personally hate things that have reoccurring fees and so that would be the biggest downer for me. It seems like much of their process can easily be automated and processing power is cheap. Why not offer a product that is a one time fee to protect me against certain vulnerabilities? I expect high net worth individuals won’t even blink an eye at the cost since it really is low at $10 a month.

As a small comparison, in my past life I worked at Discover card taking calls on one of their products that was called “The Register.” (at least if my memory serves me correct). There service protects ALL your credit cards in case they were lost or stolen or fraudulently used. The basic service was $9 a year and the premium service was something like $27 a year. The premium service did like LifeLock and would call and cancel any of your cards for you if you lost your wallet. This was a really nice service for people who had piles of credit cards, which is A LOT of people. I couldn’t believe how many credit cards they had.

At the end of the day, the credit card companies already cover your credit cards for anything over $50 and debit cards over $500. However, the process of telling the credit card companies about identity theft is what you want to avoid. If LifeLock can help with that, then it will be well worth the $10 a month. Not to mention, they take you off the credit card mailing lists which might be worth $10 a month also.

The reality is that identity theft is a real problem and if you don’t choose to go with something like LifeLock, you really need to consider doing something to protect your identity.

Starbucks Opens A Website for Ideas

Posted on: March 22, 2008 I Written By

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On CrowdSource This there is a really interesting post about the new My Starbucks Idea. It’s always great to see big companies using technology. Certainly Starbucks took a lot of this from Dell’s Idea Storm, but I don’t think Dell will mind.

I’m personally not a big Starbucks fan. Although I get a lot of chances to go there since I’ve won a bunch of Starbucks gift cards and so free Starbucks is usually worth it. Should be interesting to see what ideas come out of the numerous Starbucks fans around the world.

Las Vegas News Report on Gas Prices

Posted on: March 11, 2008 I Written By

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I just saw a preview for a Las Vegas news report that is going to talk about gas prices and people who have chosen an alternative (see bus) to avoid paying for gas. They put this rather homely unkempt man on the screen and he proceeded to say “I can go 20 miles on 1 bus pass. Two fity.” Let’s say your car gets about 30 miles per gallon. At around $3.50 for gas that’s about $2.33 for a 20 mile trip. Yep, I think we should all take the bus. I love what the news decides to air. News 3, watching out for you!!

WordPress 2.5 Almost Here

Posted on: I Written By

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It looks like WordPress 2.5 is going to arrive possibly next week. Either way it will be coming really soon. Is your blog ready for it? I found a pretty extensive check list of things you can do to prepare for the upgrade. I think that it is a little over the top myself, but I guess you kind of have to be to avoid that person that gets mad at you for saying that the upgrade should be very easy. That’s why I’ve basically limited myself to the plugins that are so mainstream someone is going to update them or the ones offered by WordPress themselves (ie. Akismet and WordPress Stats). It’s always interesting to see what features they come out with next.

Screen Capture Software

Posted on: March 10, 2008 I Written By

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I knew that there were a bunch of screen capture software out there, but I’d never had time to find one that is free. Not to mention I haven’t had a pressing need either. I think that CamStudio is what I’ve been looking for to do this. It looks like it could be the right software for capturing some tutorial videos that I’ve considered doing for a while now. Anyone have any experience with it?