February NY Tech Meetup (or Bust!)

Velvetrope

I attended the February NY Tech Meetup last night; it was great event, as always, but not easy to get in.

They really should try to find a larger venue.
Trying to get tickets has gone from a mildly frustrating exercise to damn near impossible. That is great, in a way, because it shows the enthusiasm for these events and growth of NYTM – but not so much if you want to attend.

They always sell out, so the best way to get in is to pay close attention to release dates (tickets become available in batches), and if you don't jump on it, they are gone. Getting them when you fail to have that discipline becomes an exercise in begging and pleading on the mailing list and Web site discussion forum. It seems like those in search vastly outnumber ticket sellers.

Actually, it gets pretty funny reading the sob stories of people looking for spare tickets.  Many (myself included) wrote about how they report or blog and just want to cover the event, and spread the good buzz about NY Tech.

You can see the messages posted here. One enterprising guy offered his ticket in exchange for job opportunities – I thought that was very creative.

Usually someone responds to my emails/site posts with ticket offers, but not this time. So a colleague and I decided to roll the dice and go to NYU's Skirball center to see if we could scare some up down there and the gamble paid off, as we ran into someone who had two spares to sell.

Our persistence was rewarded – it was another great event and night of demos and networking. Without further adieu, I list the participating companies below:

  • How about We – This novel dating website has been around for some time. They provide a nice alternative, as their service is more about getting people together over creative dates rather than just helping to make connections. It was a very nice demo; they now have a service for couples (my colleague jokingly wondered if it was about swingers).
  • Combosaurus – This new Web-based service is an outgrowth of OKCupid, which is another dating site (and the one where I met my girlfriend of close to two years – so it worked well for me!). Combosaurus gives you a way to discover interests and people based on lots of data and impressive number crunching.
  • Shelby.tv – A great video discovery and sharing site
  • Mortar Data – Grist for the big data geeks out there – a so-called open source framework and Hadoop-as-a-service for engineers and scientists. The CTO showed a cool demo – he mined Twitter data using clever searches to find which state had the most coffee snobs (Oregon, as it turned out).
  • MLB Advanced Media -This is a business unit within Major League Baseball that does live streaming for a number of clients, including NYTM. It was a really impressive demo – they used their own streaming tech to take us behind the scenes in real time, showing their data center and walls of video.
  • Catchafire – A website to organize do-gooders around pro bono projects.
  • Tactonic Technologies – This company offers an innovative approach to touch and gesture interface technologies (thus "enabling surface interaction – everywhere"). There are many cool potential application, e.g.they showed how this might work on a car dashboard and steering wheel.
  • SumAll – Business intelligence for the rest of us, AKA small biz.  The team showed how to generate beautiful charts and graphs from a range of data.
  • Citia – This company wins my vote for the coolest demo of the night.  The website claims that they reinvent the media experience, and I have to say, I don't think this is an overstatement.  Their system makes content jump, roll over and do many other tricks.  It is really hard to explain, but they do have nice videos on their home page that will give you a taste (the demo they showed looks like Flipboard on whatever comes after steroids).
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