• Automate Your Life

    Teaching, it is something that we all do on a daily basis even if it is not professionally. If you have a smartphone, it is something that you are doing almost every second of the day. Our phones are always trying to learn how to improve upon the processes that can make our lives easier.

    One of the most basic things that we teach our phone is spelling. We have been teaching our phones to change ducking to…something else since the days of T9. However, our phones are a lot sharper with predictive typing nowadays. With keyboard applications like Swiftkey, your phone can begin to predict entire sentences with minimal input and can even form words when there are a plethora of keystroke errors. Drunk texts riddled with typos are a thing of the past and perfectly spelled sentences that make no sense are the future.

    Another basic task that has evolved into automation is setting our morning alarm. Originally there was just one alarm that could be either turned on or off. The alarms quickly became more advanced by allowing you to set specific times for specific days. Currently, you can easily teach your phone where you work. Doing so will allow your phone to make adjustments to your alarms. Let’s say I-94 is backed up due to another wreck, an ongoing construction or both. Well, your phone will take note that your commute time has increased and will make your alarms occur earlier so that you can still make it to work on time.

    Automation like this is simple to set up and allows your phone to present you with information at relevant times. Creating location specific notifications such as foot notes from a client meeting that will be presented to you the next time you arrive at their location. Automation like this will change the way we keep notes, focusing on location, while taking time of day into consideration, will greatly improve the efficiency of our notes and reminders.

    The little amount of work that is required to automate processes and reminders on your phone will pay major dividends every day after. So do yourself a favor and get automating!

  • CRT TVs: Trash or Tourney?

    Old CRT TVs new usesAn all too familiar sight, an old CRT television being left to the elements until the garbage truck comes to take it to the big retailer in the sky. With advancements in technology, it seems everyone has a flat screen in their living room. In fact, it would be very odd to see an old CRT TV in someone’s living room in 2015. However, the CRT TV is still getting some extended use in one circle. Competitive gaming. 

    Why would competitive gamers choose to play tournaments on a television that does have the best screen quality, or even a television that is considered modern? The answer is something called input lag. Input lag is the time that it takes for a controller input to register on-screen. This time is measured in milliseconds, and in highly competitive video games like “Super Smash Bros. Melee” every millisecond counts. What sets CRT TVs apart from modern flat screens is that CRT TVs have less input lag and the input lag is fairly consistent across almost all CRT TVs. Flat screens have more input lag and varying input lags across brands and types (plasma, LED, 4K and now 5K or quantum dot).

    Controllers also play a big factor in the input lag equation. Wired controllers have a big advantage over their wireless counterparts. So much so that you will almost never see a competitive gamer using a wireless controller. It is that much of a disadvantage.

    competitive gaming controllers input lagTelevision technology has come a long way in the past 15 years in regards to picture quality, but at the cost of input lag. Will we see a flat screen tv with as little input lag as a CRT tv in the future, or is the niche too small to create a demand? My guess is that someone will fill the void in some form since competitive gaming is only getting bigger and more reputable.

     

  • Halfway through 2016, what's come to pass?

    July is finally here and with it came the halfway point for 2016. I know, it went by fast, right?

    A lot has happened these past six months, for sure. But what has been happening around the Region? And more importantly, halfway through, are my predictions for what would happen this year coming true, or do I look like fool?

    Let’s take a look:

    • Obviously, the results of the state’s Governor and Senate races remain to be seen. Until Indiana makes its decision, these goes down as a no-decisions.
    • The Dunes pavilion banquet hall looks like it’s going to get its liquor license. Point for me.
    • Barely a peep so far this year on that South Shore expansion. But I was right about seeing bikes on the train. Two points.
    • The USW and ArcelorMittal agreed on a new three-year contract. That’s a welcome bit of good news for the local steel industry, especially amidst the reports of closures and layoffs that seemed frequent for a little while there. I’m not sure this will put an end to market uncertainty in the face of globalization, but I’ll happily surrender a point here with this outcome.
    • Is Illinois still dysfunctional? Consider the saga of the George Lucas Museum that wasn’t: The city wanted it. The state wanted it. Communities in need of jobs wanted it. Star Wars lovers from Portage to Milwaukee to Peoria wanted it. The only ones who didn’t want it were a handful of people dedicated to the preservation of the city’s parks, even though the park land in question was actually a parking lot. And in the end, they won, scaring Lucas off and killing the project. Obviously, this is small potatoes compared the state’s other problems, but  I'm focusing on it because dysfunction that’s comical is in rather short supply, and i'm trying to do something light and fun here. I’m taking the point on this one.
    • The World Series is still months away, but the Chicago Cubs are looking tough. When people talk about them having a chance, they’re serious, not saying that with an eye roll or a caveat about curses. Coincidentally, this season has corresponded with the U.K. voting to leave the European Union, which some alarmists are saying is the first step toward the splintering of Europe and other disastrous worldwide repercussions. So unless the Cubs fall into a post-All-Star Game swoon, maybe it isn’t too late to start preparing for the apocalypse…

    So, thus far, my predictions stand at three correct, one incorrect, and three to be determined. Not bad…

  • Jason Topp | TEDxCountyLineRoad

    TEDx Countyline Road Indiana

    Innovative ideas often begin on a small, local scale, such as that of Northwest Indiana. Next week, several innovators local and otherwise will be gathering in the Region to share their visions and ideas.

    TEDxCountyLineRoad is set to take place on November 12 at Hobart’s County Line Orchard. 

    The popular TED conference series lends its name to many local TEDx conferences all over. However, TEDx events are completely independently organized by members of that community, who then reach out to the company for the TED branding.

    Several individuals in the Region came together to do just that in 2014, putting together the first TEDxCountyLineRoad. Among the original curators is Jason Topp, a Northwest Indiana native currently residing in St. John, and a member of the event’s speakers committee.

    TEDx Countyline Road Jason Topp“It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve been a part of,” Topp said. “It’s inspiring to see driven people laying aside their own ambitions to work as part of a team and bring something really special to the area. It’s great group of people who have grown to become friends.”

    The second TEDxCountyLineRoad will feature six speakers, one more than its inaugural event last year. The theme of the conference will be “A Revolution of Sorts.” The gist of the theme is thinking outside the box and taking a new, or revolutionary, approach to one’s field.

    “Each speaker is going to be related to a revolutionary idea or talk about a revolution,” Topp said.

    The six speakers cover several different fields, such as business, media, charity, and the arts. Most are from within the state of Indiana, although the organizers managed to secure a speaker who does TED events on a national circuit in Lloyd Reeb, a North Carolina former-real estate developer-turned-author and lecturer.

    Finding speakers who covered relevant and useful topics, under the event's umbrella of revolution, took quite a thorough search, according to Topp.

    “It’s a pretty long process, identifying and making sure we get some talented speakers for the day,” he said. “We’ve been working on that for pretty much the whole year.”

    Topp and his fellow organizers saw the inaugural TEDxCountyLineRoad last year as a success. Their aim with this year’s sophomore outing isn’t just to repeat themselves, but to establish the conference as a yearly event.

    “We were definitely delighted by the success last year,” Topp said. “I think the end result was something great for the region, something we’d like to do again and continue to do.”

    Tickets for TEDxCountyLineRoad are available for $75. The event will begin at Noon Central Time on Nov. 12.

  • Kickstarter: Local going global

    Kickstarter has always seemed to be a crowd-funding platform that looks out for the small local artists. Recently they helped bolster that reputation by announcing that they will not seek IPO and instead will become designated as a public benefit corporation. This designation cements their place as a company that aims to benefit society instead of focusing only on increasing profits. 

    Kickstarter’s designation as a public benefit corporation is not surprising when you look at how they protect their artists and investors. They limit the risk for both parties by implementing an “All or nothing” approach. Either you raise all the funds needed, or you get nothing. This aspect keeps funders from sinking money into impossible to complete projects. Completing a project on Kickstarter is far from simple. Grindhouse Cafe in Griffith used the platform for a food truck project and Valparaiso local Adam Farster recently used Kickstarter to raise funds for the publication of his own comic book called Humalien. Farster stated, “The real challenge is setting up rewards and letting the campaign play out”. With Kickstarter limiting campaigns to 60 days, the closing days can be very stressful if the final goal isn’t met yet.

    One of the most effective ways for Kickstarter campaigns to garner support is on social media. Adam also leveraged social media heavily in the Humalien campaign. “Most of my backers came from friends of friends that shared my Kickstarter out. Towards the end you see more people jumping on board”, he added. And that makes sense. Not many people are out there browsing Kickstarter for something to buy, but almost everyone is checking social media pretty frequently.

    The social aspect of Kickstarter allows artists and creatives to tap into some of their closest stakeholders: friends and followers in news feeds. And these friends and family can have a huge impact on whether a project attains its funding goal. One share from a local friend can quickly give a project a global reach.

  • SpeakerCone Relaunches

    SpeakerCone Relaunches by Mystic Waters Media

    Mystic Waters Media is proud to announce the relaunch of SpeakerCone. In the past it was known as a music-focused web magazine that focused on the Chicagoland market. In this new relaunch it will expand into reporting about experiences of all kinds.

    SpeakerCone Relaunched by Mystic Waters Media

    The rebranding expands from listening to visiting, seeing and participating.

    SpeakerCone's relaunched was set to coincide with the NWI Comic Con. The site will be featured and promoted at the Mystic Waters Media booth in the Exhibition area of the convention. The are plenty of SpeakerCone stickers and buttons for the visitors in attendance. Look for the crew throughout the event.

    If you represent any interesting talent, please get in contact via social media to arrange coverage.

     

  • Tech Foundry | Moving Beyond the Lab

    Northwest Indiana Tech Foundry Valparaiso

    Online startups are so common in today’s digital age that more likely fail than succeed. But with the right aid in development and finding investors—and, of course, some money—talented, hardworking professionals can get a good idea off the ground.

    Those are the individuals Kelly Schwedland looked when he established the Tech Foundry, a Valparaiso-based accelerator program that wrapped up this week.

    Schwedland is an entrepreneur who’s worked in the development of many startup companies, some of which grew into great successes. His company Elevate Ventures seeks out promising Indiana startups to connect them with investment and experienced business minds from across the state. The overall goal, according to the Tech Foundry website, is to help establish thriving Indiana companies.

    Kelly Schwedland Tech Foundry
    Kelly Schwedland

    "Today was validating because a lot of the people who had been mentors along the way that had seen the companies two or three months ago. They were surprised that they were the same companies, to see how far they had come," Schwedland remarked regarding the first cohort to move through the program.

    Tech Foundry, the work of a partnership between Elevate Ventures with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, intended to do just that. The program chose six companies for to mentor over a 13-week course, which ended today after beginning in August.

    The six companies cover an array of different service areas. Such as Adjunct Professor Link, which seeks to help qualified educators find teaching positions, and Ananse Health team, who are dedicated to the area of healthcare and caregiving. Additionally, there are start-ups focused on protecting the electronic devices of young school children, one with the aim of helping businesses and non-profits connect and raise money and, finally, a project focused on developing high-altitude balloons, which are used in various areas of research.

    Over the course of the program, all six companies were provided with mentors and investors to find the best way to develop a corporate structure. They were also provided with working space in Valparaiso in a mentoring environment, and most importantly, received some $15k in capital needed to take their first steps.

    Ginny Angert Tech Foundry Ananse Health
    Ginny Angert of Ananse Health

    "The Tech Foundry has been great, Elevate Ventures sponsored this opportunity", said Ginny Angert of Ananse Health, "We had the opportunity to meet with a bunch of different groups. To really have that synergism was exciting. Honestly, one of the best things this was the mentors. They brought in a lot of business and real life experience, and gave us some really great ideas about how to build our product."

    Ron Pulliam, also of Ananse Health, added the "I think one of the large benefits of being in the foundry, which corresponds to our next steps, is that the people we met with were able to tell us how to maneuver our companies to a point that we need to be in order to attract new investment."

    The next steps for these developing companies is move beyond the confines of the program and establish revenue traction in the marketplace.

  • The Duneland Innovators Community

    Duneland Innovators northwest Indiana Chicagoland

    What a year! 2015 has seen the Duneland Innovators brand expand quite a bit. If you haven't been following down every avenue, let us outline some of the biggest developments here for you.

    Probably the most notable addition to the offerings is our monthly event series. On the first Wednesday of each month, a local professional takes to the presentation stage to talk about their ideas on a relevant topic. If you follow us on Facebook, you can watch the video recordings of presenters you may have missed. There have been a lot of great dialogs started during the Q & A sessions that follow the presentation. If you're looking for networking opportunities, these events are an excellent platform to meet others working in northwest Indiana. If you'd like to join the group, connect with it on Meetup for updates and announcements.

    Social media channels are vital for us to spread the messages embedded into our content here on the site. While we endorse a "Facebook first" strategy, you can find unique promotions on Duneland Innovator's Twitter account as well. We even share pictures occasionally on Instagram from the events or "behind the scenes" moments while filming. Join the conversation and let us know your thoughts on articles that interest you.

    Producing video segments based on articles and from events has been a really fun new endeavor. The crew has turned out approximately 50 videos since we started with the format this Spring. Not too bad for a little boutique operation like ourselves. Look for more announcements about our video efforts in the new year.

    We're now releasing 3-5 original pieces of content each week and every month reach thousands of people via all of our channels. It great to see people engage the stories, particularly for features that highlight organizations and individuals in our community. If you have a story that needs to be told or would like to contribute content to the site, please get in contact with us by calling (855) 404-6016 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Thanks for a great 2015.