Space Needle Photos @ Kerry Park in Seattle

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I took this picture at Kerry Park in Seattle.  There are a few others on my flickr set Seattle Skyline. Kerry Park is one of my favorite photo spots in Seattle because it has a great view of the Space Needle and the Puget Sound with plenty of room to take pictures. The park is located on West Highland Drive, Seattle, WA between 2nd Ave W and 3rd Ave W. To get there simply go up (North) on Queen Anne Ave N and take a left on Highland Drive which is about half way up the hill. Be prepared with a jacket or other warm garment because the park is fairly exposed and can get quite cold at night. The great view is also great for dates so you had better be prepared to deal with some PDA. Small price to pay for such great shots.

There is usually parking on the street with people coming and going frequently. I’ve been there many times and never had an issue with parking, sometimes you will need to wait a few minutes for someone to leave, however.

In the winter of 2012 some adventurous skiers decided to create a ski jump to drop the Kerry Park ledge. To get speed they got toed by an SUV. I thought it was interesting so i’m sharing the video:

Code Fellows

The Seattle community is filled with classes and resources for Microsoft Technologies.  I have taken my fair share of programming classes at Bellevue College Continuing Education which were very good.  Recently, however, the classes have gotten much more expensive and I don’t think they are worth it.  Also as .NET tapers in popularity and open source proliferates I find that there very few classes i’m interested in.

My recent interests are in BigData, Hadoop, NodeJS, Ruby, noSQL, and Machine Learning.  There seems to be a general lack of classes for non-Microsoft web development and emerging technologies.  After some searching I came across Code Fellows founded by local Andy Sack, I got really excited.  Here is what they are offering:

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After digging a bit, however, I was somewhat disappointed.  The classes are only offered during work hours and have very limited availability.  I decided the classes wouldn’t work for me but sent to a few friends.  One of them got really excited and went to sign up.  Only problem, Women only.

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“What?  Are you kidding me?” he asked.  I was quite surprised and quickly double checked.  Sure enough it was true.  Women only.  I have never seen anything like this.  The real kicker is the language in the application.  It goes out of its way to indicate its policy for gender equality and that everyone should have access to classes.  Here is an excerpt from the application:

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The way I read it is that Code Fellows prohibits discrimination against any person unless you are male.  I’m hoping the #nomen aspect to the program is simply temporary issue with availability of teaching resources and that this problem gets solved soon.  For now I remain disappointed.

Code Fellows, if you find this post, here are some thoughts:

1. There are quite a few customers out there interested in your summer classes but they are ineligible.

2. You might want to re-think your application language because it seems quite contradictory

3. Consider explaining the reason for “Women Only”.  There is probably a good reason just need to hear it.

4. Really like what you are doing, keep it up.

5. Your code-behind message made me laugh, I’m always checking people’s source.

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Simply Measured, Simply Beautiful

Simply Measured is a Seattle based start-up that is changing the way you view analytics.  You can follow @simplymeasured to get free analytics reports on various social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  The company raised $8 million in January to continue to expand their vision of beautiful, useful, and easy to use reports.  On their website there are over a dozen free reports.  Here are just a few:

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The LinkedIn reports is marked as “Coming Soon” and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.  In order to try out the service I put in my twitter handle @mikekennewick and they did the rest.  Here are the results of the report:

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With the free twitter report I can see:

  1. Top Keywords Within Follower’ Profile Descriptions
  2. Total Followers
  3. Followers Top Time Zones
  4. Followers by Time Zone
  5. Followers by # of Followers
  6. Followers by Date of Last Tweet
  7. Users by # of Followers
  8. Users by Total Tweets

They also have a really easy way to export to excel and powerpoint.  Here is a screenshot of the raw data for followers list:

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You can download my Excel and PowerPoint exports here:

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Although there are may companies doing analytics on social media one thing that I think is especially well done by Simply Measured is the visualization and easy conversion to the office suite.

Social Media Sentiment Analysis with Lexalytics

I have been working on Speech Recognition and Natural Language Understanding technologies for over 12 years.  Hence, it is natural for me to look at things from this perspective.  When researching social media tools I came across a company called Lexalytics.  Although they may not be a sexy report generating company they have some real horsepower when it comes to NLP.

No public signup available but there is a web demo at the following location: http://www.lexalytics.com/web-demo.  The demo takes text and performs sentiment analysis.  The idea is to get a measure of the authors overall attitude in their post.  Additionally it is often useful to understand attitudes towards specific entities in the text.  There are all kinds of applications such as understanding how your customer base feels about a new product release or social campaign to better understanding your friends reaction to a news story.  You can read more on Wikipedia if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentiment_analysis.

In order to run the demo I needed some content so I went to the Entre 528 blog page and took the most recent post.  Wix: Quickly build your personal brand – thanks Mohamad for the data.  I pasted the data in and hit process text.  It appears that the overall sentiment is positive with a score of .354.  I believe this indicates that the post is moderately positive overall.

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Below is a breakdown of specific entities, themes and topics that were present in the post.  This section is more interesting because it allows us to see Mohamad’s sentiment towards specific things as well as overarching themes.

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The benefit from a single document is minimal but imagine that this could be applied to all relevant data such as blogs, tweets or Facebook posts.  You could instantly know how your customers feel simply by extracting it from their discussions with others.

Natural language processing has been around for decades but recently is gaining significant momentum because of massive amounts of available data and the processing power to deal with it.  The NLP community has benefited greatly from the BigData revolution.  There is no question that text processing approaches will play a vital role in social media analytics moving forward.  There is just too much data for individuals and companies to deal with and we will need to rely on text processing and machine learning algorithms to do it for us.  I’ll be on the look out for any other tools and will post if I find anything worthwhile.

iCanHasCheezburger

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http://icanhas.cheezburger.com

A couple of months ago I was at the Bellevue Square Apple store to pick up some overly expensive accessories for my macbook pro.   While browsing around looking for a thunderbolt cable, I recognized someone in the store.  I couldn’t quite but my finger on it but there was something about his glasses.  After a few minutes it hit me.  It was Ben Huh, CEO of iCanHasCheezburger.  The reason he looked familiar is I had just watched him on TV the night before in a reality show called LOLWork.  I decided it would be weird to say, “hey I saw you on TV last night” so I finished my shopping and went on with my day.

iCanHasCheezburger is built on and contributing to social media.  The company uses elaborate integration into the social web for several main purposes:

  1. Drive users to one of their sites
  2. Facilitate viral sharing
  3. Encourage users to contribute content
  4. Reduce costs by utilizing YouTube for streaming video delivery

The company’s mission is to make the world happy for 5 minutes per day.  It is working.  Cheezburger has over 350M visitors a month to its 50 sites, over 500K likes on face book and nearly 200K followers on twitter.  This company knows how to leverage social media.

Cheezburger has chosen to create and manage multiple brands such as lolcats, animal gifs, and I can has hotdog.  Each of these sub-brands has its own social media carefully designed to interleave and promote the Cheezburger brand.  For example, @thelolcats on twitter has over 5K followers.

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Cheezburger is one of Seattle’s most interesting companies.  In 2011 they raise 30M in venture funding to continue to spread their vision.  The company has come a long way since posting funny pictures of cats and are slowly becoming the nerve center for the viral web.  I highly recommend checking them out.