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Showing posts from 2015

A sad holiday season

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For anyone who knows me, I've never been a big fan of the holiday season.  It's taken on a bit more of a personal flavor this year with a pretty unhappy pair of losses over the last 2 months.

On Nov. 5th, my dad, Ken Converse, passed away.  He was 88.



He was a kind and gentle soul.  The youngest of 8 kids raised during the depression by only his mother, a widow, and the mean streets of Pipestone, S. Dakota.  He served in the Navy in WWII and was in the fleet that was present when Japan signed the surrender.  He met my mom while skating (he was, at the time, a bit like a skateboarder would be today in his youth) and asked her to marry him while working at a dairy where they both ended up at during the same period (he was, for a short time a milkman..yep, for reals).  That's not where his real interest lay though.  While in the Navy, he became an electrician's mate and, for most of his professional life, he was the equivalent of an un-degreed engineer everywhere he worke…

Our product's getting real...

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Testing the Prototypes at ExtractCraft

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It's time to pass the torch at TinkerMill...

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I founded TinkerMill a little over two years ago with a room of 5-6 people one Tuesday evening in one of our local public school meeting rooms.
Over the last two years, it's grown from an idea that we needed one of these in Longmont, to the largest makerspace in this 10 state region, with hundreds of paying members, over 1,000 online members, 10,000+ square feet of space, an incredible array of tools and capabilities and, most importantly, an incredible community of creative people, all experts at something.
I've been the president for these first two years; I said when I started that I'd lead it for a year, two tops.  Here we are, two years later and it's time for me to pass the torch; I told everyone that if nominated for president again, I wouldn't accept.
Soooo... Although I'm still on the board, mostly to provide a smooth transition, as of yesterday, I'm no longer the president.  We elected a new board and the board elected new officers (President, Vi…

I have a stormchasing hobby.

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Here's my current stormchasing setup.  A phone and 2 tablets on 3 networks (Verizon, ATT, Sprint)  and the linux based in dash system that comes with the car providing GPS and maps.  Each device runs different multiple/software apps for tracking (radar, reports, ground crew real time report tracking, etc.).




BUT... this time around... tons of storms but nothing to actually see.  The storms were so big that they tended to hover low to the ground (with so much precipitation they looked like they went right down to the ground after only a few hundred yards.

This is unusual.  Tornado's generally require the ground to be warm first, which means you need a sunny morning to warm up the ground and then you have these majestic thunderstorms forming that you can see from many many miles away.  

You also, usually, have mornings to track and find good potential storm cells to view and, hopefully, take video and pictures of of.

Not this time.

This  'solid to the ground' cloud wall went o…

Longmont has the worlds fastest internet (almost).

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Heh....  Longmont now has the fastest internet in the US and the 2nd fastest in the world.

http://lmont.co/NextLight



Damned impressive.

Makerspaces and Local Economies

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Excellent article in The Atlantic about how makerspaces jump-start innovation and new business creation at a local level.  We've seen this, in spades, at our own makerspace: TinkerMill.  

The picture above is of the first test unit production of a new patent pending product that was conceived, prototyped, internally crowdfunded by TinkerMIll members and is now going into first run production.

It's an essential oil extraction appliance- effectively a vacuum chamber that allows you to create essential oils from almost any biological source, by boiling it down in ethanol at very safe (low) temperatures.  It's called "The Source" from a company formed at TinkerMill called ExtractCraft (I'm a co-founder).  The number of markets it addresses is pretty astounding.

Without our makerspace, this product would never have been created.  The people with the right mix of skills would never have met.  The tools to prototype the ideas wouldn't have been available.  The fund…

The most important FCC vote of our lifetime is about to happen.

Small entities and Big entities- working together (or, at times, not working together)

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Brad Feld had a great blog post on small companies working with big companies a few days ago that really struck a cord with me.

As some of you know, I founded and am president of TinkerMill, a 501(c)3 makerspace that focuses on education - particularly STEAM related education- a hot button area right now, and new business incubation- the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Longmont where we're based.  We grew from an idea to the largest makerspace in Colorado (and, it seems, this 8-9 state region) pretty quickly, so we attracted the attention of quite a few organizations out there.

As a result, over the last year and half or our existence, we've tried to work with the various entities (NPO's) that are involved in most of our day to day lives.  Municipal and state government; the local public school system and their private counterparts, the charter schools, as well as the local community college and some of our local economic development folks.

Overall, I've fo…

Boulder County Mini Maker Faire party at TinkerMill video

A quick recap video our our pre-party for the Boulder County Mini Maker Faire held at TinkerMill in Longmont.

Oil.. A race to the bottom...

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www.pkverlegerllc.com/assets/documents/141217_Rise_of_the_ManufRacturers1.pdf

Fascinating analysis.  Short read, worth checking out.
Oil production as manufacturing. This scenario sounds very very plausible, even likely.

It compares what's happening in oil production to what happened in the computer world (from expensive mainframe to low cost distributed PCs). Think of today's Exxon as IBM making expensive mainframes (traditional expensive ...billions of $ to startup... and deep oil wells in expensive to extract places) vs fracking ($10 million, dropping rapidly to startup, with the ability to shut down then quickly restart as prices rise and fall).

Add this happening in low cost places (i.e. not the U.S.), and you can see how this is, indeed, the future of oil, and low oil prices.

Hmmmmm....lots of good there, but, even more (really) bad. Hopefully the wind, hydro and solar folks will keep the cost curve dropping fast. It's now a race to the bottom.

Colorado makerspaces: Where technological innovation meets entrepreneurship

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Our local newspaper has been very supportive of TinkerMill.

Here's an article they just did on us:

http://www.timescall.com/business/local-business/ci_27384916/colorado-makerspaces-where-technological-innovation-meets-entrepreneurship





"Colorado makerspace: Where technological innovation meets entrepreneurship".