BarCamp Boston 9 – Sunday, 10/12/14

My notes from Sunday’s tech gathering follow.


  • morning stretches
  • “Sleep? What is sleep?” – Coders and why they need to take a break.
    • shouldn’t that order be reversed … ? 😉
  • Explaining Psychic + Anomalous Phenomena
  • Mental health and the geeky life – a story of hope.
  • Mistakes many startup entrepreneurs make
  • Demos
  • BarCamp brainstorming

morning stretches with boooolson

-straddle stretch
-wrist stretches
-runners stretches
-side stretches
-lower back stretches
-downward facing dog

“Sleep? What is sleep?” – Coders and why they need to take a break.

Brett saw this session on the proposal board, that it had a lot of checkmarks, and that no one had moved it over. So he claimed it this morning and ran it as a discussion. We each said why we were there, then we chatted about whatever came up. Brett used a Zeo for a little while, a sleep data gathering device that is no longer produced. Sleep allows our brain to process ideas. We try to go without sleep, but there’s no escape. Recent research indicates our brain cleans itself during our sleep cycle. We all know people who are night-shifted or who go without sleep (either because they choose not to sleep much or because they don’t need much sleep). The light from computer and television screens messes up our sleep patterns. Brett uses something to have a red screen. (Searching for it led me to bunches of pages about the “red screen of death,” not the helpful tool.)

Addendum 10/15: Too bad I hadn’t yet come across this xkcd. The alt text is particularly relevant.

Explaining Psychic + Anomalous Phenomena

The presenter talked about his model to explain psychic phenomena. Our notion of time is wrong. If we change our notion of time, we can easily explain all psychic phenomena.

Hack the con badge @xxv

Steve walked us through the details of creating the con badges, from the code behind each badge to the printing process to … The printers get a 1200 page pdf. Each badge has two pages: front side and back side. Blank badges are included in the pdf because each has a unique QR code, like each badge for a “real” attendee. An onsite registrant gets a valid code and can use it to put information about herself online.

Is there some way to show registrants/attendees who have checked into the conference?
People want to be able to modify their names on the badge, like being able to turn off the last name.
Preview of the badge would be good.
Make it clear what information is going on the badge. E.g. one registrant said he thought the blanks had to match the name on the registration credit card instead of being the name he goes by.
Give registrants a “secret” link that would allow them to view and edit their badges.
Allow attendees to choose their own images instead of stealing one from their Twitter account or snagging a random one from Steve’s collection.


I skipped the next session because lunch arrived.


Mental health and the geeky life – a story of hope.

The podcast: Black Sexy Geeky & Mental

When Amber, the speaker, was going off to the hospital, she was listening to a podcast because she loves podcasts and needed something familiar. When she got out of the hospital, she had to take public transit home, so she listened to a podcast because she needed something familiar. After coming home from the hospital and realizing the only people who were talking to her were her family or paid doctors, she started a podcast. I love her story because I love podcasts and radio shows and understand the value of having them around, in part because they’re familiar. She’s been able to help people and build community through her podcast.

Stigma busting is very good. She often finds geeky events to be stigma busting. Geeks seem to be pretty open.

Blogs or podcasts can be cathartic because they’re forms of expression. Talking into a void is helpful. Having a community is good, but she feels like it complicates things because she tries to consider her audience more now that she knows more about some of her listeners.

She has an interest in expressive therapy and studied it in grad school.

She recommends using a mood tracker. [PatientsLikeMe has that.]

She took some employment tests, like what would she be good at, and found out that she’d be a great circus performer, which isn’t what she wants to do.

For movies and inputs and whatnot, she likes to be in a complementary frame of mind. If she’s not very happy, she doesn’t want to listen to the song “Happy.” The depiction in the media of people who are mentally ill is, as you might imagine, often wrong.

What can we do for our mentally ill friends? Be supportive, but don’t enable. You may be able to take specific legal, protective actions under the law if the person is going to harm herself or others. Everyone’s needs and paths are different.

Some illnesses, like bipolar, can have long recovery periods after a crisis.

Mistakes many startup entrepreneurs make

  1. Failing to form an entity
    -limited liability
    -investment/equity building

  2. Failure to assign the intellectual property to the entity
    -investors may lose out if a company doesn’t own the intellectual property
    -founders and other intellectual property stakeholders leave and take the IP with them

  3. All employees need to sign an employment agreement
    -need to protect trade secrets
    -you don’t want people to take other employees with them
    -you don’t want them creating competitive entities
    -avoids later misunderstandings
    -minimum wage and overtime laws and FICA taxes need to be accounted for (especially in cases where monetary compensation might not happen at first)
    -people imagine non-compete agreements are going away

  4. Failure to authorize sufficient stock and to have vesting schedules
    -vesting schedule incentivize founders and other unvested equity holders
    -investors will require vesting schedules and one i in a better negotiating position as to how much has vested prior to an investments if vesting schedules are in place
    -stock is a useful currency

  5. Dividing equity in such a way as to make decisions impossible or overly hard
    -2 people involved: each has 50% stock -> decision is hard because partners are equal
    -almost always, someone deserves more than someone else

  6. Not protecting trade secrets
    -Being the first to market is very important and a startup needs to have the rights contracts to protect its trade secrets
    -physical security, encryption, and careful use of ‘need to know’ further protects the company

  7. Not filing for sufficient IP protection
    -almost every startup can and should procure copyrights, design patents, trademarks, utility patents … to protect their intellectual property
    -investors prefer companies with some protectable IP due to limited monopoly afforded by IP protection
    -not all inventions can be protected as trade secrets; the additional protections help

  8. Not generating a great investor slide deck and not practicing one’s pitch sufficiently
    -capture investor interest with a great slide deck
    -practice the pitch and tailor it to the audience
    -getting funding is key

  9. Don’t research the investors
    -investors investigate companies
    -what are these investors’ connections: angel groups, other companies, allies, potential allies?
    -are the investors considering other, similar investments?
    -are any of the investors champions

  10. Not understanding the term sheet you are offered
    -investors usually want an employee stock option pool
    -investors may offer a high valuation but issue money in tranches with hard to meet milestones
    -investors may want a majority share of the company, then majority control of what happens to the company
    -avoid long no-shop clauses (long = 8 weeks, 3 weeks is more reasonable)


I sat in on the side project demos, then two BarCamp Boston wrap up sessions. And that’s BarCamp for another year! Awesome!

#bcb9, #BarCamp Boston 9

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