Category Archives: Innovation

Robot Soccer!

AIBO SoccerSeptember 7th – Chad Jenkins and his students are “demonstrating”: a variety of robotic and data visualization experiments at the “CIT”:,-95.677068&sspn=36.452734,71.015625&ie=UTF8&ll=41.827299,-71.39917&spn=0.004189,0.008669&z=17&om=1.

On offer:
DLR Hand
AIBO Soccer
Teaching Robots
Diagramming Tool
and Pizza!

Robotics & Graphics Open House
Interactive Demos – Free Pizza
Friday, September 7, 2007 at 12:00 Noon
CIT 4th Floor


Brown Forum for Enterprise to Host Internet-Related Event this Thursday, 10/19/06

The Brown Forum for Enterprise will be hosting Case Presentations in Information Technology this Thursday the 19th in Kingston at URI‘s University Club. Sounds very interesting. From the announcement:

This event will feature cutting-edge internet security and web-based advertising technologies. The CEOs of Activity Central Inc. and IAM Technology Inc. will give an overview of their business plans followed by an interactive discussion between a panel and the CEOs. The panel will evaluate their presentations and give feedback pertaining to their identified market, competitive position, funding strategy, intellectual property strategy, etc.

Large Crowd Witnesses the Unveiling of the Flapjax Web Programming Language


At the Providence Geeks Dinner earlier tonight, a large, enthusiastic crowd witnessed the unveiling of Flapjax–“a new programming language designed around the demands of modern, client-based Web applications.” Shriram Krishnamurthi led us through a fascinating demo-driven presentation. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of impressed geeks in the audience.

Flapjax is built entirely atop (and is syntactically identical to) JavaScript, and can thus run on traditional Web browsers without the the need for plug-ins or other downloads. The language has five essential features:

  1. It is an event-driven, reactive language, ideal for writing browser-based client applications.
  2. It provides a reactive, persistent store that automatically updates on all clients sharing the same data.
  3. It enables convenient sharing of data with other users.
  4. It implements access-control to channel this sharing.
  5. It provides libraries to connect to external Web services (thereby enabling client-side mash-ups).

The Flapjax team timed tonight’s presentation with the launch of the official Flapjax web site, an extensive resource that features the online compiler, documentation, demos, tutorials, and more. I expect to hear a lot more about Flapjax in the coming months.

Update: As he notes in the comments below, Jim Willis has posted photos of last night’s event here.

Some Tips on Submitting Conference Proposals

Here’s some general advice on submitting proposals to tech conferences (this isn’t specific to O’Reilly conferences, it’s just some things I’ve picked up after speaking at a few conferences myself):

  • Check out the previous year’s conference to get some ideas of the talks that got accepted. But you also need to look through the CFP and understand what they conference organizers are looking for because it might be different than last year (for example, this year’s ETech is looking for magic that “makes complex things simple or makes the impossible possible”).
  • In general, avoid product pitches because in most cases you’ll be talking to geeks like yourself. Even the people who are there to learn about new companies will be basing their judgments on your tech chops.
  • And if you do get a paper accepted, you can usually expect to get free admission to the conference. Airfare and lodging is up to you. The only exception is with conferences that have tutorial tracks. If you’re doing a half-day tutorial, you might get a small honorarium and/or some travel allowance. But this varies among conferences and conference organizers.

And if you’ve written up a proposal that you want some feedback on, ask a fellow Providence Geek to take a look! (And check out this forum thread for upcoming conferences that might be of interest to Providence Geeks).

Library Books

If you’re running OS X, check out “Library Books”: It logs into your library account(s) and gives you a status menu in your menubar. The date sort is waaaaay better than PPL’s web interface. It should work with the Athenaeum (and RISD?) too. It’s free, but the author does have a paypal tip jar.

RI-WINS Town Hall Re-Cap, Part II

RI-WINS Town Hall

Here’s a summary of the Q&A from the RI-WINS town hall. It’s mostly paraphrased/summarized (see the video for verbatim; I’ve included the timestamps for each question/answer to make it easier for you to locate them).

If you have any questions or clarifications, please post them in the comments. And if you’d like to be identified as one of the questioners, let me know (you’re anonymous by default).

How do Verizon and other carriers perceive this initiative as regards their own initiatives such as EVDO?

Bob Panoff replied that Verizon was one of the first companies they contacted. He went on to say that the goal of this initiative is to foster applications that work across interoperable wireless networks. He also mentioned that RI-WINS has been talking with Cox about how they might work together. Tracy Williams pointed out that a lot of the focus of private sector wireless has been the Route 95 corridor, but that RI-WINS aims to establish a consistent wireless footprint across the state.

What about bringing access into people’s homes (targeting the consumers in Rhode Island)?

Bob replied that the initial focus is on enterprises and institutions (RI-WINS is more of a wholesale provider of wireless access, with the enterprises and institutions providing user-facing capabilities). He said that there will ultimately be an “innovative approach to consumers”, but that they will work with partners and affinity groups who will develop consumer-facing offerings.

What will the hardware look like from a consumer viewpoint? Users with a WiMAX card in their laptop? A WiMAX enabled home router that creates a Wi-Fi cloud?

Bob answered that there’s no definite answer on this, but he thinks we are moving toward a multi-protocol world (cell, Wi-Fi, WiMAX) with seamless hand-off when roaming between clouds of wireless.

As a followup to the last question, what sort of equipment should contest entrants plan on using for their N-GEN Wireless World contest entries?

In response, Bob pulled a Navini WiMAX PC Card out of his pocket 🙂 For the immediate future, the network is based on pre-WiMAX technology. As an aside, RI-WINS initially considered Wi-Fi, but it would have taken 9,000 access points! With WiMAX, it will only take 120 base stations (I’d love to see that on a Google map!). However, Wi-Fi hotspots will play a part. Don Stanford pointed out that WiMAX is being widely touted as an alternative to 3G/4G, but that the infrastructure is very affordable and flexible.

Are there any compatible WiMAX cards that are suitable for embedded systems/sensor network development (either Compact Flash-based cards with Linux drivers or serial-WiMAX bridges for bare metal development)?

Don replied that these sorts of devices will eventually come. Maybe they’ll even be invented in Rhode Island! To that point, Bob pointed out that RI-WINS would really like to see the network used for ocean research. Don mentioned that port security is another big area for RI-WINS.

Is the lack of a strong commitment to consumer access on the part of RI-WINS a policy choice, economic choice, or something else?

Bob replied that it’s a combination of things:

  • The state of technology is definitely an issue (the WiMAX hardware won’t be widely available to consumers soon enough).
  • By not tackling consumer access at this point, complicated questions of acceptable use can be deferred (some of those issues-especially file sharing-bring major bandwidth issues along with them).

Putting aside the broad consumer market for the moment, what if the question is changed to individuals-people not tied to an institution?

Bob replied that RI-WINS is very committed to this kind of use, but that it will be through intermediaries who build solutions on top of RI-WINS. He mentioned that we could eventually see policy/government entities working with RI-WINS to underwrite/subsidize low-cost access to users. But all this is a later phase-and that these sort of features will be added incrementally.

Could municipalities sign up with RI-WINS to provide access to their citizens?

Bob replied that RI-WINS is talking to one community that is not well-served by broadband, and they are looking to provide low-cost or free service to people who are unable to afford other solutions.

What kind of operating budget does RI-WINS have?

Bob replied that they have some seed money from the state government, a grant from homeland security. [Unfortunately, I couldn’t make out the actual amount that Bob quoted, but I’ll get that info and put it in here].

R.I. Wireless Innovation Networks Town Hall, June 21

RI-WINS Town Hall

[Update: you can read all about the event now. Providence Geeks coverage: Part I, Part II. Also, here is Matt Guilford’s excellent summary.]

5pm – 6pm, Wednesday, June 21
115 Empire Street, Providence, RI
Providence Geeks is delighted to announce the first in what we hope becomes a regular series of town hall meetings. We have invited representatives of the RI-WINS project to offer some background and details on their amazing endeavor.

The RI-WINS project was launched by the Business Innovation Factory “to create a statewide, border-to-border, wireless broadband network that breaks down barriers to innovation, improves interoperability among new products and technologies, and establishes Rhode Island as an ideal place to explore and test new business models.” For more information, see the RI-WINS web site.
Speakers include:

  • Bob Panoff, RI-WINS Program Director
  • Donald Stanford, Chair of the Business Innovation Factory and President of Stanford Scientific
  • Tracy Emerton Williams, Rhode Island’s Chief Information Officer

The RI-WINS Town Hall is open to the public, and will start at 5pm on Wednesday, June 21 at AS220 (115 Empire Street, Providence, RI) and end at 6pm. The speakers will present short talks on their involvement in and perspective on the RI-WINS project, and will then field questions from attendees. If you have any questions, please contact Brian Jepson (bjepson AT gmail DOT com) or leave a comment below.