Geoloqi Weekend, Hack Your Location!

This last weekend I travelled from Seattle down to Portland to visit the Geoloqi Team. The idea popped into my mind when I had coffee with Amber Case a few weeks back (if you don’t know who Amber Case is, you should -> Go here, and here, and here, etc…)  I knew about her and Aaron Parecki (also, if you don’t know who he is -> Go here, and here and here) working on Geoloqi for a while now and proposed I come down and hang out with them a few days, maybe hack on some code, and generally see how the startup scene is going with Geoloqi and PIE.  What follows, is my weekend…

Saturday – train trip down.

5 am, some Geoloqi tracking my path, 7 am, tracking the train route as we’re rolling.

I woke up at 5am, stoked for the long weekend of coding, meeting all the founders and members of Geoloqi, hanging out in the city, and seeing PIE. I’d read about and heard about PIE several times since it began existence. Odd that I had never been, I was ready to remedy that. I mounted my bike, gear on my pack, ready to go board the earliest King County Metro #18 I could get. With a train departure at 7:30am, getting out of Ballard to downtown was key.

I arrived at the station after a short bus ride and even shorter bike ride to the station. I got the bike tagged for loading on the baggage car, readied my laptop for coding on the train, and waited for departure time. It wasn’t long, and off we were a train of 200 or so, surfing the wifi, enjoying the scenery, with no traffic to block us and plenty of coding for me.

I propped up my stuff under a seat in the Bistro Car and grabbed a breakfast sandwich. While rolling along at 79mph I worked through loading Mongo (for some reason, it had left my Mac, not sure where I put it before, but it was no longer installed), playing around with it a bit, and then worked on some Ruby and Rails work. Irony has it, working on Rails while riding rails. See what I did there? 😉

The entire time I’d tracked my route with Geoloqi. It was really cool to see the route being drawn against Google Maps. Usually the rail lines aren’t marked clearly, so knowing exactly where we were was cool. It gives more context to where the rails run in relation to the highways, Interstate Highways, and other arterial roadways.

12ish, arrived, biking to PIE, introductions ensue! …till’ 6 or so, talking geolocation, Geoloqi, & the energy behind it all!

We arrived on time, actually about 10 minutes early, which still just counts as on time. I counted that as good fortune as I stowed the Mac and retrieved my bike. From here I walked out front to a very warm day in Portland. More coding awaited, but before then I desperately needed some decent food. However I decided to go straight for coding and rode up to PIE.

After turning myself around, I found PIE and walked in. On the weekend there was fewer people than during the week, but being a startup incubator you know there is always somebody hacking on some code. I looked around and noticed Aaron, who I’d never officially introduced myself to. Being myself I strolled right up and introduced myself. Brian Ledger (Again, get to know him here and here) was sitting next to him as they worked through some code, bugs, and other errata.

I pulled up a seat and discussed what they were up to for a short bit. After introductions and all I decided to pull out the Mac and get some similar dev machines up and running so I could pull the code on Github. If you want to join in, check out the repositories here:

The Geoloqi Team also have more repositories, so be sure to go check out their work. There is a lot of good stuff there!

I got Android up and running after waiting for a long while getting all the refreshes of the SDK bits. Google really ought to do something about the mess that the Android SDK has become. Then of course, maybe I’ll have a different attitude about it all after I’ve coded in it for a while. However most devs I know using the Android SDK will tell ya, it is a pain in the keister!

Around this time Kyle Drake (Yup, he’s on the Internetz too!), the platform developer for Geoloqi popped into the office. Kyle and I chatted for a while, he whipped up some wicked tasty hot tea, and we continued discussing Ruby, Rails, .NET, C#, Java, and a host of other language bits. The topic of the reactor pattern came up while talking about Node.js and also his work on Sinatra Synchrony. I was pretty stoked about this, it sounds pretty wicked cool and hope to dig through the code sometime (I realized, I only now pulled down this code! o_O).

One of the plants at PIE blocking my photography...
One of the plants at PIE blocking Aaron from camera view...

I pulled down the libraries and after getting them to run looked over a few minor tweaks on the MapAttack Game with Aaron. It’s always great to sit in on a completely foreign code base to see how the team has put things together. The graphics, CSS, and JavaScript intertwining to provide MapAttack functionality was really cool. Some smart tweaks and design elements gave some cool functionality that I’ll admit, I’d not have thought to do. I’ll have to get my CSS skills improved (mental note to self).

Midnight Drinks, Sweetbreak, Pour em’ Strong!

Beaker & Flask Location
Beaker & Flask Location (Click to navigate to the location on Google Maps)

After an evening of hacking, finding where I was staying, and getting introduced to everyone (who I’ll tell you all about below) Aaron, Amber, and I met up for a few drinks at Beaker & Flask. For those of you living in Portland that haven’t been here, go check out Beaker & Flask. They have some great drinks and tasty, interesting, and unique food. We discussed a whole slew of tech topics and just caught up on Portland, Seattle, startups, and other things. It was good times!

The Route to Home #1
The Route to Home #1 (Click for the route on Google Maps)

After that I rolled back to the place I was staying with my trusty steed (i.e. bicycle). I had reserved a unique place for each night, just for full coolness effect. The place I stayed in an Airbnb Reservation owned by Kari & Dave.

Sunday – map attack!

Airbnb Served Me Well, early day, Sunday rest, nah.

The Airbnb Room served me very well. It was perfect quite all night! I got a great nights sleep and in the morning packed up, stowed my gear and loaded my messenger bag. Off I went for some breakfast, coffee, and some in person MapAttack!

Caffee Pallino
Caffee Pallino (Click for Google Maps Location)

I grabbed breakfast at Caffe Pallino. This is a great little hidden local to Division Street (or the #4 Bus Route) cafe that has breakfast, gellato, and pretty good coffee. It was just about a minute ride down from the Airbnb Room I stayed at, and since I knew it was quality grub, I stopped by for the needed coffee fuel.

Ladd’s Addition Pincer Attack! MapAttack Charge!

For Amber’s write up, check out her Overview of this Sunday’s MapAttack Game in Ladd’s Addition!

Aaron Coding up some last minute oompf!
Aaron Coding up some last minute oompf!

We all met up at the north east end of Ladd’s Addition to start the game. A reporter from the Oregonian was there to record the game and write an article on the event. Aaron, Brian, and Kyle were all working on some final code tuning to get everything running just right for the game. Others started showing up and we all gathered to begin the game.

We all poured outside in the almost 90 degree heat to tear down the street and score the most points! After a thorough description of the game’s rules by Amber, and insuring we’d all received team assignments we stood, ready in runner’s positions to being the game. The countdown began,




We were off, at first I ran down the street with one of the other players aiming for one of the alleyways of Ladd’s Addition. I had pinpointed the 50 point targets I wanted to get! In the blazing 90 degree weather I ran down half a block and cut directly into the diaganal alley way just west of Ladd Avenue. After looking closely as I ran toward the virtual coins on the Geoloqi MapAttack Map I realized this alleyway, in glorious weird Portland fashion, was indeed named! I tore down Ladd Avenue Mulburry Avenue Alley toward my 50 pointers!  I ran down the whole alleyway, noticing that none of the coins were scoring as I ran through them. I wasn’t sure at the moment what was happening, and figure it was lag and eventually they’d score as blue for the team I was on. I kept running, assuming they would trigger any moment and I was under the gun from a red runner a street over from this one.

Kyle & Brian Explain the Finer Semantics of the Game, or something...
Kyle & Brian Explain the Finer Semantics of the Game, or something...

I got all the way to Harrison Street and cut a right toward the small park. There awaited the 50 pointers I was aiming for. My feet ached at this point and I slowed down. While going slower, sweating profusely from the heat, the coin popped over to blue. But that one was a 10 pointer, I walked over toward the 50 pointer waiting for it to pop over from plain to blue. It changed and I realized at this point I had ran too fast down the alley way. I got the other 50 point coin, and then began my way back up the alley way. Slowly but steadily the blue team scored 10 pointers, 20, 30, and more 50 pointers! I watched with anticipation on my phone (Android Evo if you’re curious) as each of the coins was getting popped over to a team color. Rooting for my team I got back to the end of the alley way near Hawthorne Street. I walked slowly back toward our starting point, knowing I’d not be able to get the other coins on the other side of the map. I could see as my other team members went for the victory points though. Watching, being involved in all this was intense with excitement.

MapAttack, was absolutely a BLAST!!

Skateboard Shoes are Stupid for Running, Suffering Heat…

Whew. As I walked back I realized, “boy it sure was dumb running with flat footed skateboard shoes on.” Yeah, sometimes I’m not the brightest candle of the lot. I didn’t complain at all though when I realized several of the ladies playing were wearing heels! Oh yeah, that’s right, we were all some seriously hard core players!

The Whole MapAttack Crew
The Whole MapAttack Crew
Watching the Game
Watching the Game

Upon getting back Aaron came out with his Apple Mac Air and Amber, I and eventually others as they returned watched the remaining points get scored by members of each team. We discussed the throughput and calculations of the games, the geo point fences and other specifics he was able to view while monitoring the game. Brian came back and made a victorious last 200 foot run!  Kyle and the others then reappeared also. We all sat on the steps watching the final members of the group come back up. The newspaper man was then kind enough to grab a final shot of us – which I’ve snagged to the left here from Amber’s blog.

The game ended. I hung around and discussed the game some with Amber and Klye. Eventually I headed out to find the second place I’d stay during my stay, the McMenamins Kennedy School. I pedaled my way through downtown, just to take the scenic route up to north east Portland. Eventually arriving and relaxing for a while. I then enjoyed some coding, checking out some more with MongoDB, a bit of Ruby, etc. Ya know, the standard nerd evening alone with some code. After a short bit I decided I’d try out Geoloqi some more by taking a ride about on transit.

Evening, #72, Green Line, more Geoloqi Tracking, Silent Portland

I triggered Geoloqi to track my trip, which I messed up a few times by playing around with the app and turning it off and on while I was en route. I rode on the #72, which stops a block away from the McMenamins Kennedy School, and rode down and transferred to the #9, then to the Green Line Light Rail to downtown. Once I arrived downtown I walked here and there, tracking myself literally on the sidewalk and crossing the street even. Really cool & really accurate. I tried out leaving myself a message or two, one at the train station to remind myself to board the train on Monday evening. As if I’d need a reminder. 😉

Eventually I got back to Kennedy School and crashed for the night after a few more hours of coding & playing with the code base.

Monday – PDX Breakfast Culture, some more PIE, and a flanged wheel ride home.

Monday Morning Portland, a bit o’ breakfast.

Monday morning, dramatically relieved with the onset of cooler air, I departed for breakfast with my folks (i.e. parents). I met them at the Radio Room, which is a breakfast joint inside of an old Texaco Gas Station. Personally, this is a much better use for a gas station than providing gas. But then of course, I didn’t step inside a single vehicle while actually in Portland that uses gas. The bus uses diesel, which is almost as bad, but in Portland they do have about a 15% mix of biodiesel for cleaner burn. This, in my opinion could still be improved also. After the tasty breakfast I bid farewell and headed downtown for some hacking before heading back over to meet the Geoloqi Team for lunch.

Lunch, Kyle, Aaron, and a whole lot of Architecture Ideas

At lunch, I rode up to PIE, tied up the steed, and headed to lunch with Aaron and Kyle. There we had a good time chatting about EBS Volumes at AWS (Amazon Web Services), how MongoDB or other NoSQL Solution could solve some of their pending data storage and query concerns, and other architectural issues. It always strikes me curious, how each field has slightly different needs that are just different enough, to prevent a cookie cutter approach. After lunch and convo, we headed back and just hung out getting some coding done.

Hanging Out at PIE, Sad to Leave but the flanged wheels call out

As I hung out there, I was sad I would be heading out in a short time. However it had been an awesome, entertaining, educational, kick ass time hanging out with the Geoloqi Team. Making new friends is always cool, making new smart friends has an added benefit.  🙂  Eventually the flanged wheels called and off into the sunset aboard the Amtrak Cascades #508.

That was last weekend so this weekend I intend to watch the grass grow. 😉  Cheers!

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