Monthly Archives: March 2014

The 2014 Conversation Prism seen through the eyes of the a2b3 lunch


Developed in 2008 by Brian Solis, The [Conversation Prism] is a visual map of the social media landscape. It’s an ongoing study in digital ethnography that tracks dominant and promising social networks and organizes them by how they’re used in everyday life.

In 2009, I wrote up how the a2b3 lunch organizes itself through the eye of the this system. I ran across it again, and decided to do a repeat.

[Conversation Prism];
* Social networks: Facebook, Yahoo Groups

You’ll see Yahoo Groups show up in lots of the entries, because the a2b3 mailing list is the heart and soul of the whole effort. Facebook plays second fiddle, with a lot less people watching the a2b3 group on Facebook, and a lot less traffic to that group.

  • Blog: Typepad

See the a2b3 category on my Typepad blog . Mostly the specific thing that gets blogged about is the a2b3 lunch non-summaries, which I like going back to but which also take enough time to do that I don’t always do them.

  • Crowd Wisdom: Yahoo Groups, lunch conversation
  • Questions and answers: Yahoo Groups, lunch conversation

The crowd is good about answering almost any reasonable question you throw at it, either at lunchtime or on the mailing list, and coming up with an answer. We don’t need Quora or their ilk to get a good answer.

  • Comments: Disqus, Yahoo Groups, lunch conversation

I converted over this Typepad install to Disqus comments, but really, the comments are in the discussions on the mailing list and over lunch.

  • Social commerce: ?
  • Social marketplace: ?

No one yet has found a reason or a compelling method to sell things to each other, which is fine.

  • Social streams: Twitter

There is an @a2b3 twitter feed that I very occasionally post to which has 500+ followers and only 150+ tweets. There’s an opportunity to improve on that effort. If I could, I would automatically tweet out the stream from Meetup, but I haven’t figured out yet how IFTTT plays with Meetup.

  • Location: Meetup, Foursquare

The a2b3 Meetup answers the question of “where is lunch going to be”, and provides nice maps. It’s the one piece of the 2009 landscape that was missing, and I’m happy with the results. Foursquare answers the question of “where do you eat lunch”. I put together a [map of recent a2b3 lunch spots on Foursquare] without too much work. Perhaps I’ll start checking in on Foursquare.

  • Nicheworking: ?

What is this I don’t even.

  • Enterprise: Slack

The enterprisiest tool I have for lunch is the a2b3 Slack instance, a closed system (you’re invited, just ask) which does chat (a la IRC) and newsfeed syndication. It’s great as a tool, but it’s not just the right fit for this particular group.

  • Wiki: Arborwiki (Localwiki)

Localwiki is a perfect fit for a local lunch group, because you can stash away answers to questions about the area as they come up and then refer back to them later as needed. Arborwiki has been running for 8+ years and has been a tremendous asset to a2b3.

  • Discussion and forums: Yahoo Groups

The a2b3 Yahoo Group is the key to the whole system. Without it, I guess I’d reconstruct a mailing list with Google Groups. Please don’t ever ruin it, Yahoo!

  • Business: LinkedIn

LinkedIn groups can be tedious to manage, and their discussion forums never took off. However, it’s an easy way to read people’s resumes, so there’s a LinkedIn group for a2b3.

  • Service networking: ?

Not sure what this is.

  • Reviews and ratings: Yahoo Groups, Arborwiki

We don’t need a separate review system when Arborwiki is there to either catch reviews or at least to point to same on Yelp. For real-time reviews in response to queries, there’s the Yahoo group. Who’s Angie?

  • Social curation: Pinterest

If you add a map to a Pinterest board, you can pin Foursquare locations and their photos. So I did.

  • Video: Youtube, I guess

Here’s a “how to organize lunch” video from Ignite Ann Arbor 3.

  • Content / documents: a2docs (Scribd)

a2docs is a place to stash government records for the Ann Arbor area. It’s powered by Scribd.

  • Events: Meetup

Meetup is new to the group since 2013. Over the span of 6 months I’ve used it to organize two dozen events. Meetup is a little bit pricy for what you get, but they have timing for meetup updates down pat and a very low-impact way of keeping people informed. Join the a2b3 Meetup to get weekly announcements of lunch locations.

  • Music: Soundcloud

The official a2b3 chime (played at 12:30pm on Thursdays) is hosted on Soundcloud.

  • Livecasting: Ustream

We don’t livecast meetings as a rule, but if we did, it would probably be through Ustream which I’ve used for other events.

  • Social bookmarks:

The a2b3 tag on pinboard captures bookmarks. Bookmarking is not from this decade, and thus it’s not religiously kept up.

  • Influence: Klout, I guess

I only say this because former a2b3 regular Joe Cothrel works at Lithium, which just acquired Klout.

  • Quantified self: ?

This is all about keeping track of what you do (e.g. tracking exercise with a pedometer or a phone) and sharing that with yourself or the world. Several people in the group do this but we haven’t all coalesced on any single platform to share.


Interview with Douglas Perlin, author of a2parking Android application

This interview of Douglas Perlin, author of the a2parking Android application for locating Ann Arbor parking structures, was done via email. It is lightly edited to include hyperlinks.

  1. When did you get the idea to do an a2parking application, and how long did it take you to go from idea to first version?

In October or November 2011 I was looking at the a2dda website and happened to see the parking space availability on one of the pages. I thought it would be nice to have a phone app that could pull up the parking availability data.. It took about a week or two to get the first version up on google play. The original version was kind of clunky I used jsoup to extract the data from a2dda web page and wrote a little code to clean it up.

  1. How long has the software been out in the world?

The app was first published to google play on November 11, 2011. Sometime around the opening of the new Library Lane parking structure the data and web page disappeared. I guess a2dda or Republic Parking was upgrading the system. I guess sometime around August 2013 the data was made available through a JSON link but I wasn’t aware of it at that time. For some reason in early March of this year I was thinking about removing the spaces page since it was coming up blank and just leaving the navigation page. I logged into my Google app.things account and there was an email from Republic Parking informing me about the JSON data so I decided to upgrade the app and that’s what you see now.

  1. Who do you envision as using the system?

I guess I never really thought about it. Probably someone from out of town looking for directions to parking structure.

  1. Have you talked at all to the DDA or to Republic Parking?

I never talked to anyone at DDA or Republic Parking. I did send email to DDA from my regular email account to find out what happened to the data in when it disappeared. I got a quick response letting me know that the system was being upgraded. The thing that really surprised me was when my app.things account received and email from Republic Parking with the JSON link information since I never really wrote to them and my email to the DDA was from a different account. Not sure how they found out about the app.

  1. Is there more information you’d like to gather regarding parking data (e.g. pricing, trending of availability, historical or predictive numbers)?

The menu has an information screen choice which lists structures and lots and when one is tapped it will pull hours and pricing from the JSON link. I’m not really tracking the trends or making predictions.

  1. What’s your favorite parking place? Your favorite free place to park?

Hahaa! I’m a local. I’m pretty good at finding free places to park. That being said I prefer to take the bus and cabs when I come into town since its way cheaper than a DUI.

  1. Tell a little bit about yourself and how you got started programming.

I’m retired. I was a Network Administrator/Network Security Officer for many years. Programming is just a hobby and I’m pretty much of a hack at it since I don’t devote a lot of time to it. I started programming on an Apple II in basic. Then as time passed I moved on to more languages like Pascal, C, perl, and then Java. In the case of the parking app I just wanted to learn how to write a phone app.

One-Day Tech Class: Saturday, May 3, 2014 9a-3p at Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

From Dan Romanchik KB6NU – lightly edited:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU will be conducting the next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 9am to 3pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 220 E. Ann St. Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you’d like to take this class, you should send a check or money order sooner rather than later to reserve their spot. Dan’s address is 1325 Orkney Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. People can also pay via PayPal by sending $10 to

There is also a $15 fee to take the test. This fee is payable to the volunteer examiners just before they take the test. DO NOT send me the $15 exam fee.

Prospective students can download the study guide from Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before taking the test. They greatly increase the chances that you will pass the test if you do some studying beforehand.

If you have any questions, please send an email to or phone Dan at 734-930-6564.


Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire, May 10, 2014, Washtenaw Community College


Please share this Save the Date with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues across the area.

Now in its sixth year, the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire features dozens of makers from across the region and draws over three thousand members of the community for the day’s free events. Metalworkers, inventors, papermakers, artists, students, robot designers, enthusiasts and professional alike teach the public how they make their work.

Many participants come away with more than just inspiration, but new skills they can use to fuel their own creations and lasting connections to other makers and resources in the region.

May 10, 2014 marks the second time the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire will be hosted by Washtenaw Community College. This free, all-ages event features community members of all types who come together to display their ideas, projects, and inventions.

We will be seeking applications from people and groups with engaging, inspiring, and just plain cool projects. Projects should have a focus on the process of creating, designing, and making – not just displaying a final product. Makers of all ages and experience levels are encouraged to submit applications. We will begin seeking applications for makers in the next few weeks.

More Info

Check out our website ( or our Facebook page for more information, applications, and dates.

Organized by members of the Ann Arbor tech and arts communities such as a2geeks ( and GO-Tech (, the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire is a small, local version of the huge Bay-area Maker Faire, and is one of many faires across the country that happen year around.

If you have any questions about participating in or attending the Mini Maker Faire, please visit

(Needs point of contact for questions via email)

Big Data for Diabetes Research Charity Azure Bootcamp, Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Big Data for Diabetes Research Charity Azure Bootcamp
Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Washtenaw Community College

A free day of learning Windows Azure and Cloud Computing and support diabetes research (with a big data project)

Azure Learning Tracks

(Session 1) Windows Azure Websites – Create and Deploy and Scale Your Websites to the Cloud

(Session 2) The Public and Private Cloud – Create and Deploy Windows Server and Linux Servers and Virtual Networks to the cloud. This track will also include OneDrive and Office 365 deployment.

(Session 3) Creating Real World Cloud Applications – Create Mobile and Desktop Apps using Windows Azure Mobile Services on Android, IOS, and Windows 8.1 (Desktop, Mobile, and Phone) with a look at creating apps using AATA Transit Data.

(Session 4) The Internet of Things – Using the Azure Cloud to Harness the Internet of Things on the Windows Embedded Platform and The Raspberry PI (Linux)


  • 8 AM – Registration
  • 9 AM – Session 1 and lab
  • 11 AM – Session 2 and lab
  • 1 PM – Lunch Break
  • 2 PM – Session 3 and lab
  • 4 PM – Session Session 4 and lab
  • 5 PM – Dinner Break
  • 7-8 PM – Closing Ceremony and Presentations

Our Charity

Global Windows Azure Boot Camp event will help advance Diabetes Research by hosting a globally distributed lab in which attendees of the event will deploy virtual machines in Windows Azure which will help analyze data needed for this research. We’re aiming at discovering how our body’s serum protein glycosylation works. The research is led by Richard D. Smith in the Biological Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National lab (PNNL) in collaboration with Minnie M. Sarwal and Tara K. Sigdel at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. The Camp will use GlyQ-IQ software, developed to run in a massively multicore parallel deployment.

Local Confirmed Speakers

  • Orest Storoshchuk (Connected Vehicle Optimization and the Cloud)
  • Steve Holzer (HomeBuilding and the Cloud)
  • Gary Powell (Moderating our panel discussion “Streaming Media and The Cloud”)
  • Don Burnett and Jason Puro of (topic: using the Internet as a data source)

Popular Content Sessions

  • AATA Transit APIs and the Cloud, Creating Mobile Apps
  • Wolfram Language and Raspberry PI (Knowledge-Based Languages and the Internet of Things)
  • Windows Embedded Industry Pro and Azure Solutions in the Cloud
  • Using Azure with Non-Microsoft platforms
  • Washtenaw Community College’s Internet Professionals Program

Help us set a world record for the largest global bootcamp ever!

Global Link:

Register today at EventBrite. Tickets are limited.

“a2parking” app provides Android users with access to real time information about Ann Arbor parking structures

A2parking-icon“a2 parking” is an Android application that provides real time updates of available parking spaces in Ann Arbor parking structures. It is based on data published on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority web site, and in addition to showing spaces free in structures it has one-touch access to directions to your favorite lot or structure.

Download from Google Play: a2 parking.

This has been a long time coming; an interview with Steve Smith of Republic Parking in 2008 described the basic outlines of this data.