Pek @ Tech Cocktail Chicago

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This is my first Tech Cocktail. I’ve been wanting to go for a while and I missed the last one. This one was held at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville. A few startups showed their wares. I got there at 6 and it was pretty dead. However the place got packed pretty quick. By the time I left it was standing room packed. It was just insane. I’m glad I went though as I met some really cool people as well as ran into some old friends. The likemind crowd was there. My old buddy Jason Rexilius who owns HosteLABS and runs BARCamp Chicago was there and FINALLY introduced me to Harper and the other Threadless guys. I’ve been wanting to meet them for a while now. Threadless, in case you are not familiar with, is a brilliant company. On the surface, they sell t-shirts. The beauty of it is that they don’t design the t-shirts. The designs are crowd-sourced from designers and artists all over the world who submit their designs to Threadless. Visitors vote on which designs are cool and ultimately determine which designs will be printed. The winning designer gets a cash prize.

On to some of the cool people I’ve met:

  • Andrew Huff, from Gapers Block, a web publication about Chicago
  • Ars Technica – I met a few of the editors there. I didn’t realize these guys are from Chicago. It’s a technology blog so you know I am a big Ars Technica fan.

So here are some of the cool companies I saw:

  • callpod – mobile device hub charger. Their product looked very stylish. It’s Chicago based, but they outsource the manufacturing to China and Malaysia.
  • mocklinkr is an online mockup collaboration tool. They just launched today. I poked around their website before coming to the event but there wasn’t much there. They had a really cool video demoing the product at Tech Cocktail though. It looks very promising.

All in all, this excursion was a success unlike some of the other tech events I’ve been to. I’ll probably go again next time.

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Underwhelmed at WIRED NextFest 2008 Chicago

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I recently popped my NextFest cherry. Can you believe it? All this time and I’ve never been. A few years back the Accenture Techlabs was there to show the interactive wall, but I didn’t go. All I have to say is that it was a fail. I dunno, maybe I expect too much. First of all the venue was tiny. Second there wasn’t that much to see.

Stuff that tickled my fancy:

  • Brainball – a battle of wits to see who can push the ball to the goal using their brain waves. The idea is you propel the ball by being relaxed. If you stress out or get excited, the ball doesn’t move. This presents a dilemma because you get excited as you push the ball forward with your brain waves. Kinda neat.
  • Toyota concept green cars – or what could be best described as little more than eggshells on wheels. I wouldn’t be caught dead on the roads with any of these.
  • The Immersadome was kind of a cool concept. It projects images onto a dome that you put over your head (like a hair dryer?) for a truly immersive experience.
  • I thought this was really cool: Xerox Solid Ink. In an effort to be green, Xerox has these solid ink cartridges. There’s no empty cartridge box. And what’s really cool about it is that they come in different shapes that fit the slot for each particular color. It’s kinda like a baby’s toy cuz you know, people are just too dumb to figure those things out nowadays.
  • Oh, and Eric Natzke’s work was on display. They also had those cool gelaskin covers for your iphone and itouch with his artwork for free. I took one.

All in all, I really didn’t think much of it. Spent maybe half an hour there. I was originally going to take my wife with because I thought it would be cool for her to see. Now I’m glad I didn’t. Check out photos from the Flickr community.

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