Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

09 Oct 2008, 9:23 a.m.

Meetup Roundup

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2008 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

The monthly New York Tech Meetup continues to put on a good show. It used to be free to get in but now you have to prepay $10 on the Meetup site to RSVP, since they have to rent spaces that can hold 400 people. It's worth it for the demos and the hobnobbing, although I fear students and shoestring startup types will come less now that there's a price.

This month's demos and talks featured six neat ideas and one fizzler.

  1. I'm In Like With You does social/casual multiplayer games like Hamster Battle. They've created an open API for networked games creation so developers can leverage existing "highscores, matchmaking, user-registration, stats, social features, and multiplayer server management" features. This could be a superlatively useful platform for indie and newbie games creators.

    The site is also open sourcing all their games past, present and future. However, when Fred Benenson asked what license they're using to open source their games, Charles Forman responded that they haven't chosen one. That's just asking for trouble, and I wouldn't hack on anything I cared about under an unspecified license.

  2. rmbrME, or Remember Me, does contact exchange via SMS & a really standards-compliant vCard. This sidesteps all the poxy interchange barriers among PDAs and carriers; every phone can do SMS and every contacts program can read a vCard. Founder Gabe Zichermann points out that paper business cards are like paper checks. rmbrME sounds great for sales folks and mega-networkers.

  3. has specialized blogs by paid writers to post about important issues and point people to ways they can donate/help out with causes (e.g. criminal justice issues). They had a wide-open period to find out what causes people cared about, but then culled the dozen most popular causes and chose to focus on them. Note that there is an editorial process; it's not all bottom-up.

  4. Family Builder helps you look for living relatives using social network sites -- they've built versions for Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, etc. that can all talk to each other. My LDS friends will be interested to know that you can import your existing genealogical data from other services, such as, using a standard format. Family Builder is also selling kits to do DNA testing. Since you're just using this DNA to track down ancestors, and not finding out whether you're at risk for Parkinson's, your state health department will probably be fine with it.

  5. TheLadders, a premium jobs site, decided to make an iPhone app basically for fun. An internal competition ensued and several teams formed to write apps. The winning app leveraged preinstalled components on iPhones (Safari and SQLite; I bet the latter is there for Mail), stored data in SQLite, and then used jQuery & AJAX to make the app quick & responsive.

  6. Speaking of iPhone apps, the developer of Aqua Hoops (a casual iPhone game costing 99 cents) gave a humorous presentation on his inspiration, lessons learned, and profits. E.J. Mablekos advises that, if you're thinking of selling an iPhone app, you should get the 1-week seller approval process over with right away so it doesn't slow you down when you're ready to release. As funny NYTM talks go, Mablekos wasn't in the same league as Will Carlough's February 2006 Double Feature Finder demo, but it's hard to top that (video).

  7. CollabFinder is a social network where awesome designers can find awesome software developers, and vice versa, to collaborate on noncommercial personal projects, and that's it. Sahadeva Hammari, the presenter, has made strong design choices and has a great name that reminds me of home. He also likes to say "awesome." These things remind me of Ryan North and Project Wonderful and make me happy.

  8. The makers of Adarky (an ad-replacer that lets you choose what ads to see) could learn something from Project Wonderful. Anyone who goes to the effort to install the Adarky plugin is a perfect candidate to simply install an adblocker, which is less work. The hand-wavy boil-the-ocean strategy for getting ads and making money off the whole thing got the worst reception of the night.

    Urbis, a prior project by the same folks, seems much more interesting. It's akin to the fan fiction sites, except that it's meant for commercially publishable fiction. I hope all the opportunities are legit; Making Light has taught me to be cautious of agents who seek out new writers.

TheLadders sponsored a cocktail hour, I exchanged business cards for resumes, IAC let us watch the second Presidential debate on their huge screens, and those who drank every time McCain said "My friends" got in over their heads. A good meetup.


Valerie K
10 Oct 2008, 15:32 p.m.

Excellent synopsis.