With a mission to leverage technology for the force of good, the San-Francisco-based non-profit ReAllocate has organized HACKtivation for the Homeless, a weekend-long hackathon uniting techies with San Francisco’s 7000-person homeless and at-risk community.
In typical hackathon fashion, the weekend began with pitches, this time coming from local non-profits and city agencies. Participating techies joined teams that resonated with their passions and areas of expertise.
Gathering on a rainy Saturday at the Yammer HQ in the Twitter building, teams plugged away on a wide range of projects, each designed to have a lasting impact.
One group I spoke with is redesigning the website for St. Francis House, which serves the homeless elderly population. Another group, working for Larkin Street, is building an SMS-based reservation service for emergency beds, bypassing the need to check-in at the building itself. A third group, led by volunteers from Salesforce, is digitizing the Homeless Prenatal volunteer sign-up form, which they estimate will save 20 minutes per applicant.
In his Wired article, Bitcoin: The Internet of Money, Naval presented his vision for the future of the digital currency, pointing to a number of features and distinct advantages provided by the new platform:
Bitcoins are scarce (Central Banks can’t inflate them away), durable (they don’t degrade), portable (can be carried and transmitted electronically or as numbers in your head), divisible (into trillionths), verifiable (through everyone’s block chain), easy to store (paper or electronic), fungible (each bitcoin is equal), difficult to counterfeit (cryptographically impossible), and can achieve widespread use – many of the technologists that brought us advances on the Internet are now working overtime to improve Bitcoin.
So why not just use Pounds or Dollars? One can use bitcoins as high-powered money with distinct advantages. Bitcoins, like cash, are irrevocable. Merchants don’t have to worry about shipping a good, only to have a customer void the credit card transaction and charge-back the sale. Bitcoins are easy to send – instead of filling forms with your address, credit card number, and verification information, you just send money to a destination address. Each such address is uniquely generated for that single transaction, and therefore easily verifiable. Bitcoins can be stored as a compact number, traded by mere voice, printed on paper, or sent electronically. They can be stored as a passphrase that exists only in your head! There is no threat of money printing by a bankrupt government to dilute your savings. Transactions are pseudonymous – the wallets do not, by default have names attached to them, although transaction chains are easy to trace. It has near-zero transaction costs – you can use it for micropayments, and it costs the same to send 0.1 bitcoins or 10,000 bitcoins. Finally, it is global – so a Nigerian citizen can use it to safely transact with a US company, no credit or trust required.
Silicon Valley knows a platform when it sees it, and is aflame with Bitcoin. Teams of brilliant young programmers, entranced by the opportunity, are working on Exchanges (Payward, Buttercoin, Vaurum), Futures Markets (ICBIT), Hardware Wallets (BitCoinCard, Trezor, etc), Payment Processors (bitpay.com), Banks, Escrow companies, Vaults, Mobile Wallets, Remittance Networks (bitinstant.com), Local Trading networks (localbitcoins.com), and more.
GDC, the annual game developer conference, is heating up in San Francisco — as are the bazillion parties oft dubbed “sausage fests” for their preponderance of dudely revelers. Realizing this, an ingenious company called Paymentwall is hosting a sausage fest of its own — but this time, there will actually be sausages.
The cleverly-titled SausageFest takes place tonight at the upscale San Francisco-based Supper Club — and oh, will there be supper. In addition to the obligatory scantily clad women in German regalia (*sigh*), the third annual festival features unlimited German sausages of all shapes and sizes, washed down with free-flowing pints (perhaps even litres?) of German beer.
Ve have vays of making you drink.
According to Paymentwall’s CEO, Honor Gunday, the party will be set to a soundscape of German 80s music, along with a German oompah band. It is unclear whether the mashup geniuses of Bootie will be there to mix the two sounds together, but one can only speculate — and hope.
Paymentwall makes a suite of monetization services for mobile and social games, including subscriptions, offer walls, and in-game currency sales. The company helps free-to-play apps become profitable by incentivizing users to become customers, whether through actions they take, or purchases they make.
Appropriately enough, the SausageFest admission policy eats the dog food — so to speak — of its parent company’s philosophy. Attendees can either pay $10 for admission, or visit the Paymentwall booth at #2030 on the GDC convention floor to redeem a complimentary “MINT Card” for free admission.
See who’s shining in the spotlight (so far) on April 22:
Salil Deshpande (@salil) Managing Director, Bain Capital Ventures
Salil Deshpande focuses on software infrastructure, open source, middleware and enterprise software, such as Typesafe (the Scala language; Akka and Play frameworks for Java), Redis Labs (the Redis NoSQL database), Hazelcast (in-memory data-grids for Java), Aria Systems (ERP for recurring revenue businesses), Iron.io (queues and workers in the cloud), ZeroTurnaround (faster Java redeployments), and DynaTrace (application performance management; acquired by Compuware). Salil joined the Forbes Midas List in 2013 and manages a Top 10 syndicate on AngelList.
Greg Schott is CEO of MuleSoft, the most widely used integration platform for connecting SaaS and enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise. Greg recently guided MuleSoft to their $50 million Series E round, positioning the company as a dominant force driving the open, connected, enterprise cloud. Greg is a lifelong leader in open innovation, formerly serving as VP at Springsource, Verticalnet, and Agile Software.
Sarah Novotny (@sarahnovotny) Technical Evangelist, NGINX; Program Chair, OSCON
Sarah Novotny is a technical evangelist and community manager for NGINX. Sarah has run large scale technology infrastructures as a Systems Engineer and a Database administrator for Amazon.com and the ill fated Ads.com. In 2001, she founded Blue Gecko, a remote database administration company with two peers from Amazon. Blue Gecko was sold to DatAvail in 2012. She’s also curated teams and been a leader in customer communities focused on high availability web application and platform delivery for Meteor Entertainment and Chef.
John Mark Walker (@johnmark) Chief Cat Herder, Red Hat
Called “one of the original generals in the open source army,” John Mark Walker is the Gluster Community Leader for Red Hat. An experienced marketing executive specializing in grass roots community-building for startups, John Mark’s career has spanned numerous organizations, including Splunk, Sourceforge, VA Linux, and Hyperic. He’s widely known for identifying and nurturing community contributors into becoming leaders and evangelists in their own right, allowing communities to benefit from the network effect and a larger center of gravity.
Mark Brewer (@mabrewer7) President & CEO, TypeSafe
Mark Brewer is President & CEO of TypeSafe, the company behind Scala and Akka. Mark previously served as Vice President of Business Operations for VMware’s Cloud Application Platform, where he helped build out their cloud application platform portfolio. Prior to VMware, Brewer was Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Services at SpringSource, where he was responsible for the packaging and delivery of SpringSource’s enterprise (subscription) offerings. Brewer also participates as Board Member for several open source technology companies, including Stormpath, LucidWorks and ActiveState.
Diane joined Mozilla to operate and expand the WebFWD startup accelerator, which incubated 33 developer-led, open source startups across 4 continents. Diane’s current role focuses on developer engagement, and working with startups to keep the web open.
Michael Gold (@michaelgold) Founder, #techdrinkup; Co-Founder, Empirical.ly
Michael Gold is a serial tech entrepreneur with expertise in marketing and product development. He’s advised well known brands such as HBO, LG, Montecristo, Starbucks, and Target. Michael’s marketing strategies have been featured on Mashable and he’s been written up in numerous publications including Forbes, Examiner, The Observer, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Techcrunch. His company, Empirical.ly, connects world-renowned innovators and technologists through events, summits, and destination experiences.
Christian Perry (@sfbeta) Founder, #sfbeta; Co-Founder, Empirical.ly
(It’s me!) Christian Perry is the Founder of #sfbeta and Co-Founder at Empirical.ly. For more than seven years, Christian has built and catalyzed technology communities across eight cities on three continents. His work has been featured in Wired, GigaOm, TechCrunch, Mashable, and VentureBeat. He served as a charter member of Intel’s Social Media Advisory Board, actively advises numerous companies and community organizers, and blogs daily from sfbeta.com.
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Newsweek made headlines when its recent front-cover story linked the real Satoshi Nakamoto, the famed creator of Bitcoin, to a curmudgeonly engineer named… Satoshi Nakamoto. You won’t believe what happened next.