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Entries in Milwaukee (36)


Citizen Blogging Summit: On The Panel

bloggersummit.jpgOn Friday, June 15th, I'll be appearing at the Citizen Blogging Summit sponsored by Newsradio 620 WTMJ with my good friend and fellow blogger Pete Prodoehl and blogger Jason Kotecki, who I don't know yet, but love his cartoons.

The three of us are on a panel from 2:25-3:10 called "Beyond Politics, Beyond Milwaukee" which means we get to talk about everything else related to blogging. I think we're the breather session, meant to cleanse the palette after talk show host Charlie Sykes and the political bloggers argue political theories.

I love how Pete expressed this on his post about the Summit:

I’m really not sure what to expect. Mike Rohde and I are on the 2:25-3:10 Panel, Beyond Politics, Beyond Milwaukee. I’m guessing we are the ‘tech bloggers’ or maybe the token ‘non-political’ bloggers. Anyway, I’ll just prepare for this the same way I prepare for BarCamp or Web414 presentations, wait until the last minute, attempt to do nothing, then embrace the chaos.

Classic Pete. I'm with ya Pete! :-)

I plan to discuss blogging as a method for "thought leadership" which is to say, sharing your work, process, personality and thinking, as a way to build credibility and to augment your business. That's what I find most valuable about this blog.

We're not sure if this will be on the radio, or recorded as a podcast. If I find out more before Friday, I'll post it here, and will add a link to the podcast, if there is one.

Special thanks go to Phil Gerbyshak, who told organizer Sean Hackbarth, about Pete and I as candidates for the event. I owe you one buddy! :-)

Interested in attending the Citizen's Blogging Summit? it's free, lunch is provided — just register to attend.


Open House Day

House PhotoIt's Sunday morning, and today is our big open house. It's been a long journey.

The past several weeks were filled with de-cluttering, tossing junk, storing away little-used but needed stuff, and cleaning. Oh the cleaning. It felt like a never-ending process of cleaning. I'm Mr. Clean.

Last night was a long night, cleaning, de-cluttering and prepping the house until about 3am. This morning the tweaking continued, as I put finishing touches on each room — washing windows, turning on lights, replacing our half-bath's 70's vanity door handles with modern ones, and so on. Like they say, God is in the details.

I began to see prepping out home like designing a logo or an icon: the details make the difference. Every time I'd think to myself "That's good enough" I'd stop that thought pattern and push to the next level. It's the same process I follow in design — pushing to the next level until it's excellent. It's a pain, but worth it in the end.

I just hope the details aren't lost on the visitors. I know that when we go to open houses, we notice those small details, and in doing so we've built up a reserve of inspiration and ideas for our own open house. I think it will make the difference.

It just feels good to be done. In fact it feels so nice in our de-cluttered and cleaned home, we hate to sell! However, we also know that it's time to sell and move to the next step in this journey of life.

Once we sell, then the next step is finding a house to buy — that's another story! :-)

Update 2007-05-27: Wow! We've heard that had 8 parties went through our house today, and one expressed interest by phone to our agent. We are very excited, and can't wait to learn more on Tuesday. Oh, and our agent was very impressed with our house preparations, which was great to hear!

Update 2007-05-30: One offer came in last night and another is coming in today, plus we had a private showing last night and have 2 more private showings scheduled for this evening. We're feeling pretty good so far. :-)

Update 2007-06-01: We had a total of 4 offers on the house and accepted one on Thursday. We were very pleased with the final offer, and now have an inspection left. Time to find a house to move to!


Embracing Iterative Design Talk (Slides & Audio)

embracing-iterative-design.jpgTonight I gave a talk to the Web414 group on embracing iteration in the design process, and I think it went pretty well.

I discussed what iteration was and gave ideas on how to embrace iteration and use it to your advantage when designing logos, website and more.

I shared sketches, black and white and color artwork from the Blit logo design, and the UserScape web redesign. We had a great discussion in the Q&A, where I had a chance to share details of my design thinking related to both of these projects. It was fun to get up in front of my Web414 friends and talk about my design work.

Interested in checking out my slides from the talk? You can view the Slides on Slideshare or on Flickr.

You can listen to my talk, recorded at April's Web414 meeting in MP3 format, or hear it streamed here from at the end of this post, or stream it from at the link below:

Mike Rohde: Embracing Iterative Design (

Thanks Pete for recording it for me!

You may also want to read my article at Graphic Define on the same topic.


Only in Milwaukee: Polski ATM

Tonight I deposited a check in a local Milwaukee ATM, and saw something unusual:


Polski as an ATM option? I love it! :-)

Only in Milwaukee (and Poland)!


The BarCamp Milwaukee Experience

d334.jpgOn Saturday, I headed dowtown to BucketWorks for BarCamp Milwaukee, not knowing what to expect. The sessions on the website looked great, but pixels and reality can often be quite different.

I was not disappointed. In fact, I was very impressed with the entire event, enjoying the BucketWorks space, meeting new and interesting people, enjoying challenging discussions, sharing my passions and learning new things.

Settling In
I arrived at BucketWorks around 2pm, and was welcomed by organizer Bob Waldron at the door. He checked me in and directed me to the schedule and main meeting area. BucketWorks occupies one floor in an old printing warehouse, with wide open spaces, heavy duty beams and old wooden floors.

The space has a warm, lived-in, industrial feel which I liked very much. BucketWorks has a nice mix of both large meeting areas and small, intimate rooms, perfect for the mix of sessions on tap for the day.


Sessions were already running when I arrived, so after orientation to the space and a glance at the low-tech schedule board, I dropped into a gadget roundtable with Pete Prodoehl, Jordan Arentsen and abut 8 other guys. Pete had an impressive collection of gadgets, I brought my Dana Wireless and blew several guys away when they realized it could run a browser, email client, a terminal app, IRC client and IM client.

The Flat World Roundtable Session
My first session of the day was a roundtable on the topic of Flat World, and its impact on society, business and culture. At first I was a little concerned as only Jordan and John December, my cohorts in the session, were in the conference room. Campers slowly filtered in, taking their seats around the long oval table. When the session started, there were roughly 15 campers participating the session.

078627722X.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpgI shared My Unusual Work Life to kick off the session, then discussion ranged across many aspects of the flat world and Thomas L. Friedman's book, The World is Flat. Some highlights of the discussion: the benefits and drawbacks of working remotely for global clients, and how integral place, people and our preferred culture determine where we decide to live. I thought it was interesting that now some workers can choose the place they want to live and work, while having connections to other distant people and places.

We also touched on the impact of English on the flattening world, whether machine translation would be realistic in 50 years time, debating network access as a utility, the digital divide being spawned by the flat world, how 3rd world countries might enter into the flat world, and whether flattening was good or bad.

Of all the sessions I most enjoyed this one, because of the large group, varied ideas and positions from very smart people in attendance. I was reminded how fun it is to get a good thought-provoking discussion going with a group of passionate people.

Moleskine Custom Planner Hack Demo
While this session was small, with Jordan and Dave Bost attending. A few others mentioned being interested up unavailable to attend (now I need to schedule some one-on-one demos!). it was a nice opportunity to have a more intimate discussion with Dave, who has adopted Getting Things Done and was looking for an alternative approach to managing things in his life.

Moleskine Hacking

I showed Dave what a Moleskine was, explained how I moved from a Palm to a custom-made weekly Moleskine planner and discussed the system and how it was working out for me.

Afterwards, Jordan and I had a chance to learn more about Dave's move from developer to evangelist for Microsoft, and discuss the new XAML and Windows Presentation Foundation. It was a nice time to share and discuss ideas away from the crowds.

Logo Design Process Presentation
Immediately after my Moleskine demo, I was up in the meeting room again for the my Logo Design Process presentation. Jordan and I had to locate a DVI to VGA adapter from Scott Reynen, then fiddle with an old projector before I could begin.

I shared my collaborative, sketch-based process with 7 campers, and had a nice Q&A and discussion time following the presentation. All of the guys had interesting questions for me about the process, and through them I came to realize how fortunate I've been to have such great logo clients.

Again, a few people I knew were unable to attend, so I gave Phil Gerbyshak a personal demo beforehand, and will likely present again at the next Milwaukee Web Designer's Meetup in October. I was very encouraged by the interest in my process, and I quite enjoyed sharing my passion for logo design.

For those interested, I've posted my PDF presentation online for download:

Mike Rohde's Logo Design Process (9.2MB Acrobat PDF).

RSS Feed Uses & Future Ideas
When my session was complete, Jeremie Miller of Jabber fame took over, heading the discussion into RSS and Atom feed territory. He asked our opinions of secured and signed RSS ffeds for viewing sensitive documents (like bank statements), we discussed current interesting RSS feed uses and how many feeds we each followed. Like good geeks, we veered into other territory at the end: vs. other social bookmark tools and various semi-related topics. :-)

Mini-Mash Pit
My final session of the night was Pete Prodoehl's mini-mash pit session, talking about interesting mashups of various services with open APIs. By this time I was starting to loose steam, even though the discussion was quite interesting. At 12:20 the guys were ready to start coding a mashup, so I packed up my gear and headed home for some sleep. :-)

Meeting Cool Campers
I appreciated the opportunity to re-connect with people I knew: Pete Prodoehl, Phil Gerbyshak, Jordan Arentsen, Chad Lawson, Ashley Dryden and Juan Valencia. I also enjoyed meeting new, interesting people like Pehr Anderson, Todd Clausen, Kevin Ciesielski, Dave Bost, Ken Meltsner, Jeremie Miller, Scott Reynen, Tegan Dowling, Clint Laskowski, and Jason Tertadian (to name a few).

I think this aspect of BarCamp was my favorite part: seeing other people interested in gathering and sharing ideas on technology and life. Since I'm a pretty social person, meeting others who share similar passions or are keen on hearing about mine always gets me stoked up.

Constructive Criticism
Of course, there were a few things I felt could be improved for the next round:

1. Reduce amount of sessions happening at the same time. I felt torn in several cases over which event to follow, and heard from several people who wanted to be in my logo design presentation but had chosen another session. I don't know if fewer sessions, fewer tracks or spreading them out over the full span is a solution for this.

2. Setup a public address system. I think it would have been helpful to have some way for organizers to announce things in all of the session areas so everyone could be on the same page.

3. Better WiFi support. The network was pretty flaky and I do know it was being hammered pretty hard — but for some of the demos a network connection was critical.

4. Coffee as well as sodas and water for the evening sessions. At one point in the mashup session I smelled brewing coffee and it drove me crazy to not locate it. I may bring my own espresso machine and brewing gear next year to help those who choose coffee over sodas for caffeine. :-)

5. Consider a Friday night through Saturday Midnight timeframe. I would have loved to start on a Friday night with a dinner together somewhere and the chance to get a few sessions in afterwards, then go the full day Saturday with more sessions.

Hopefully these ideas are helpful for BarCampMilwaukee 2.0.

Final Notes
I think BarCampMilwaukee was a great success, thanks to the tireless efforts of guys like Pete Prodoehl, Bob & Luke Waldron, the BucketWorks people and many others. Thanks to you all for putting on a great un-conference for Milwaukee — I can't wait for BarCampMilwaukee 2.0!

Related Links:
BarCampMilwaukee on Flickr

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