Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Dev League Computer Coding Scholarships

April 9th, 2014
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While filming our segment about the first-ever Honolulu Mini Maker Faire at Iolani School last month, I heard about Dev League's coding boot camps and introductory programs for kids who have an interest in computers. We just had a brief mention of them in the piece that's running on the current episode of Career Changers TV, but that led to Russel Cheng calling me to talk more about what they're doing... and I'm glad he did, because it's directly related to many topics we've covered on my show.

We've done a number of stories about startups, business incubators and accelerator programs, which all have one thing in common: they need people with computer coding skills to set up websites, program software and create apps for smart devices. Yet there were no intensive hands-on training programs in Hawaii to teach coding in a concentrated time span, according to Russel, until they launched Dev League's boot camps a few short months ago. He believes graduates who complete their 12-week course will have a good chance of receiving high-paying job offers from big companies that he and his partner, Jason Sewell, are working with -- and that's the key to justifying their price tag of $10,000 per student for the program.

It sounds like a lot of money... and it is, but if you compare it to college costs for courses and degrees that may not lead directly to any kind of employment in that field, it seems like a much better deal for anyone who wants a career in high tech. What's more, if coming up with the tuition is a challenge, you may be able to qualify for a scholarship or financial assistance. I'm copying excerpts from the Dev League press release below. We'll be doing a segment on them for our May episode, but you can find links to our Mini Maker Faire video on the CCTV YouTube Channel and daily viewing times for Career Changers TV by clicking here.

BTW, there's still time to sign up for their next "part-time" 26-week course,  April 28 - October 25 Wednesday & Thursday 6 - 10pm, Saturday 9am - 8pm

From Dev League's press release:

Dev League to Advance 21st Century Technology Competency in the Islands Announces Scholarships and Tuition-Assistance for Coding Courses
In its groundbreaking business initiative to bring technology competency to the Islands, Dev League today announced two scholarships: a tuition-assistance loan plan and a federally-funded workforce development program to help motivated individuals learn professional web development at its coding boot camp. Located at the Manoa Innovation Center, the 12-week program aims to ready students for jobs in entry-level web development both here in Hawaii and on the mainland.

According to LinkedIn, the top 25 hottest skills of 2013 required coding skills. Technology skills are highly valued. Web programming was number 13, right between number data engineering and algorithm design.

The Women Who Code scholarship is 25 percent off cost of tuition for a single selected applicant to a qualified female applicant. The low-income scholarship is 100 percent off cost of tuition for a single qualifying applicant. Both scholarships are sponsored by Dev League to increase diversity and opportunity in the tech industry.

Dev League’s partnership with Upstart.com is a tuition-assistance plan that enables applicants to finance their tuition over a term of five or 10 years based on future income. This unique loan program helps match qualified “upstart” individuals with “backers” who make offers to help fund an individual.

Oahu WorkLinks job development program enables qualified applicants up to 80 percent tuition assistance to Dev League via its federally funded job training services as part of the Workforce Investment Act program. To learn more about the scholarships, tuition-assistance programs and to apply, visit the Dev League web site at http://devleague.com/apply. The company has posted three new courses on its web site (click here).

Bread and Circuses

May 31st, 2013
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Program Alert: The June episode of Career Changers TV will premiere Sat. night, 8:30 PM on OC16 (now found on channel 12 or high def 1012). For other daily viewing times, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Looks better on real TV though!

As you may have guessed from the headline, the theme of the new episode involves circuses (no, not UH sports or politics) and sustenance... or to be more precise, how to save money on food. When you think about it, that sort of sums up the two main things in life: what we need to survive and our desire to be entertained. Everything else is a means to one of those ends -- we work to eat, and to spend money on stuff that fulfills us on an intellectual or spiritual level.

So we have segments about the new Aloha Live show in Waikiki that focus on producer Tuffy Nicholas and director Mathieu Laplante. Tuffy was born into the circus life. His love for both the old time Big Top tradition and modern Cirque du Soleil type acts is clearly evident when he talks about his current enterprise, and his plans to unveil a Big Top circus on Oahu in September before taking the show across the Pacific Ocean to Asia and the Philippines. Mathieu's background was gymnastics in Canada, which led to him performing in the Cirque du Soleil "O" show at the Bellagio and touring with their  "Saltimbanco" show. I've seen "O" twice and it was even more incredible the second time around when we sat closer in the premium seats.

What's unique about Aloha Live is how they mix Polynesian and cirque type entertainment in an open air setting on the third floor pool deck of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel across from the zoo. Dinner starts around 6 PM as the sun is setting while you gaze out towards Diamond Head. When it gets dark, the performances look even more spectacular, particularly the Polynesian fire knife dancer act. Another highlight locals will appreciate is Vili the Warrior. Yep, the former unofficial UH football mascot back in the June Jones days, has found a new home that really suits his personality. The guys he picked out of the crowd were so funny in their responses to Vili's antics that I thought they might be plants, like what they do at the beginning of the Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas... but no, these were just regular guests who were having a blast on stage.

Aloha Live offers a nice kamaaina discount too. When you add in the cooked-to-order dinner, it's a great deal for locals (make sure you mention you heard about it through Career Changers!). Here's the YouTube link to the piece about Tuffy and Mathieu's segment. For more info on Aloha Live, visit their website.

In regards to the bread angle, we did a story on the Star-Advertiser's Smart Shopper extreme couponing seminar, which featured a woman who turned coupon clipping into a career after her husband posted a video of a shopping excursion on YouTube -- which producers at TLC just happened to see when they were in the planning stages of the Extreme Couponing show. It's simply amazing how YouTube has changed the face of not just entertainment, but business as well. It has enabled anyone with a video camera to launch new ventures or be discovered as new talent. Even traditional advertisers are reaping the benefits of having low budget videos produced that can find niche markets on the internet. For example, segments we filmed for Remington College and Argosy University that first aired on OC16 two years ago, are still getting 300 to 400 views per month online -- and these are serious 4-5 minute long pieces, not 30 seconds of cats jumping in boxes or doing silly things.

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Also, we have Part 2 of our Waimea Valley tour, which dovetails with the first-ever Waimea Valley Summer Concert Series commercials we produced and will be premiering on the new June episode. It's a terrific deal for anyone who loves local music: $35 for three concerts, each featuring four different music groups that span generations of island talent. Click here to see the commercial for the Generations concerts, and here's the link to the 30-sec spot we did about their events facilities.

Coincidentally, two months after we featured the Waimea Valley volunteers program coordinator -- Hoku Haiku -- on Career Changers TV, I picked up a copy of the current AFAR magazine issue and there he is in an article titled, "Authentic Aloha"! His personal essay is followed by a two page spread on"Hoku's North Shore Wanderlist." If you're into travel, pick up or subscribe to AFAR.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to check out my new Career Changers TV show this Saturday night, exclusively on OC16!

Love in the Age of Facebook

January 17th, 2013
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After a week of R&R in sunny Kona, I was ready to get back to blogging about new stories I came across while on vacation. Then the Manti Te'o revelation/hoax press conference interrupted the Ellen show I was watching while taking a break, and my first thoughts were: This is just like that documentary film -- "Catfish" -- I was recommending two years ago on Twitter and Facebook!

I also knew the same filmmaker had created a MTV series about that subject, which is essentially people pretending to be someone they're not to hook unsuspecting online users of social media such as Facebook. Yet many people who called in to the morning sports talk radio shows or posted comments on message boards apparently weren't aware these kind of malicious "pranks" have been going on for awhile. In the original Catfish movie, it turned out the perp was a lonely middle-aged woman who created a fantasy life for herself by ensnaring a young guy, who became increasingly suspicious when his online "girlfriend" kept postponing or canceling plans to meet in the flesh. To be honest, I was suspicious of the guys who made the film -- what made them decide early on to make a movie about the guy's involvement with the young girl artist (fake) who introduces him to her beautiful older sister?

On the other hand, the lure of fantasy romances can be stronger than the real thing. This has been the case for thousands of years with people. It's the driving force behind myths and fairy tales. When I was growing up, young people often had pen pals in faraway places they would write to, without even knowing what that person really looked like. Or maybe you met briefly and kept in touch for years -- each of you changing in physical appearance (but never sending updated photos). What mattered were the words you shared on paper or the occasional long distance phone call. Your imagination and needs filled in the rest of the details to create an idealized version of someone you could love from afar...

When you think about it, social media and instant smart phone connections actually make that scenario even easier to fall into, because manipulators can post lots of photos stolen from someone's FB page or "flickr" pictures. And in a time when young people prefer texting or online chatting to physical meet-ups, I can see how someone like Manti Te'o could prefer a virtual girlfriend over a real girl with real needs and flaws. In college, I had a philosophy of art class in which the professor defined love as "desire"... and the essence of desire is wanting something you don't have or can't have. So, in a sense, virtual romances are the very nature of Platonic love, which you could argue is a higher form of love because it isn't mere physical lust.

It also reminded me why I enjoy watching documentaries more than high concept Hollywood crap based on comic books or cartoonish superheroes. Good filmmakers find reality-based stories before they become big news. Or sometimes the stories they uncover inspire copycats, who then become news. In the better documentary movies, it's often art recording life that in turn leads to life imitating the art that was inspired by real life.

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Was going to blog about the latest episode of Career Changers TV, now airing daily on OC16 (click here for viewing schedule and details) and how the features on architects and the fashion incubator relate to Design for Living, and also about my latest Big Island trip observations... but that will have to wait until next post!

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Holiday Networking

December 28th, 2011
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Used to be that for many companies, the holidays were a time to call on clients and thank them for their biz or throw parties to impress prospects. It also gave people a chance to catch up with business contacts, and put out feelers for other career opportunities or job openings. For years, I've been sending Hawaii Christmas cards to Hollywood connections, just to remind them I'm still writing screenplays (usually with a note about what I'm currently working on to see if they'll nibble).

With so many people out of work or looking to make a career change, what surprises me is how few actually take advantage of the holiday season to do some networking. It seems like fewer and fewer people send out Christmas cards, while company parties have become a thing of the past. Sure, I understand the need to cut expenses and avoid lawsuits resulting from inebriated employees doing inappropriate things. But I still think it's nice when companies arrange little get-togethers or mixers for workers and clients to share positive feelings at least once a year.

I also look forward to getting short handwritten notes from friends who send cards. Frankly, the Facebook postings aren't really very personal and tell me more about what that person wants others to think of them, than what they actually think about things or how they're doing. And if that person has time to post mostly trivial stuff on Facebook, yet "doesn't have time" to send cards or write notes to friends, what does that say about them or your relationship?

Anyhow, if you're looking for work or new job opps, this is the time to reach out and call someone or send them a personal email/card/letter to tell them you're having a rough time. Even if they can't help you at the moment, it might lead to something down the road should that person hear about an opening somewhere. More importantly, it's a good excuse to get together with old friends IRL -- in real life -- instead of skimming through their Tweets and FB wall posts.

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You can still catch our December episode of Career Changers TV until next Thursday (click here for daily viewing times on OC16). One of the segments is about Argosy University's commencement ceremony last month at the Hawaii Convention Center. For those who aren't familiar with the school, you'd be surprised at how fast they have grown in the past three years... and there's an inspirational story within the segment about a former meth addict, who has turned her life around. For the low resolution YouTube video version of that segment, click here.

While we were shooting that piece, I had some words of advice for graduates based on my own ill-advised attempt to emulate a commencement tradition: do NOT toss your cap in the air at the end of the ceremony. Those things have sharp corners and are potentially lethal. I tossed my hat high in the air -- and it came down hard and fast, hitting a young woman in the face right behind me. Nearly took her eye out. She was angry, and I felt like a fool. Bad move.

Speaking of caps and gowns, the Argosy commencement program included interesting background on the symbolism of colors and designs used. Did you know the sleeves of bachelor's and master's gowns are differently shaped? Or that the doctoral hood attached to the gown identifies the wearer's academic heritage? Here's the Wikipedia link for more info on that.

Not addressed in the piece is the question of what to wear under the gown. When I graduated from grade school, the boys wore blue gowns and the girls wore white. All the guys in my class wore dark pants -- except me. I had white slacks on, so when you look at the group photo, it was easy to pick me out by my white pant legs.

Have a safe and Happy New Years!

Feedback Loops and Shopping Psychology

November 24th, 2011
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For me, the nicest thing about long weekends is I get to catch up on reading. I have stacks of books and magazines, plus articles I've saved that I want to share with others or write about in my blogs. With the holiday shopping season officially underway, this seemed like a good time to mention a couple of recent Wired Magazine pieces that pertain to quirks in human behavior -- quirks that retailers and online companies capitalize on.

The concept of "feedback loops" came to mind yesterday while I was shooting the introductions for the Career Changers TV episode that will start running on Dec. 1. We did the segment intros at the Strictly Christmas/Yarn & Needlecraft shop in Kailua, and I asked owner Sylvia Kruse how business had been. She said it's been great, the best it's ever been in spite of all the negatives you hear about how terrible things are. It's funny, but every time I go to Ala Moana or a shopping mall, it seems like they're all crowded and doing pretty well. Last week, I wanted to buy Bose noise-cancelling headphones for an upcoming trip, and I could not find a parking space at the Ward theater complex where the Bose store is located -- and this was in the middle of the day during the work week.

After I finally found a parking space in the adjoining shopping complex lot (which was also filled) I was chagrined to learn from the Bose staff that those $299 headphones never go on sale. Other headphones and products were being offered at 10 percent off though. The thing is I had been holding out for years even though every review I had read says Bose makes the best noise-cancelling headphones. Instead, I bought cheaper brands that were supposed to be pretty good... and they didn't last very long. Normally, my wife and I will put off buying certain products until they go on sale -- we can wait, is our mantra. In this case, Bose knows they have the highest-rated product, so they figure they can wait us out. Well, they won. I bit the bullet and bought the expensive headphones because there is nothing worse than being on a six-hour flight with wailing babies and loud seat neighbors.

Anyhow, getting back to the Wired articles: the one about feedback loops gave a great example of how drivers will slow down when they see those digital read-out signs on the side of the road that show your approaching speed. There's no camera, no cop standing next to it, and the information is actually redundant. Most of us glance at our speedometers and know how fast we're going -- which is generally a little over the speed limit. Yet when we see that read-out, we tend to slow down. Why? Researchers theorize that people are inclined to respond to positive feedback -- it's similar to the feeling of getting a "reward" when you play games. And that kind of subtle behavior modification is being used in everything from online sites such as Facebook to retailers like Amazon ("free" shipping if you spend a certain amount).

Getting back to Sylvia, she noted that the past couple of years have been tough largely because the media keeps telling us how awful the economy is. It becomes a self-fulfilling negative feedback loop. Consumers hear over and over that unemployment is up, so they cut back on spending, which causes businesses to go into cost-cutting mode -- starting with job cutting and freezing wages... which forces workers to further reduce spending, while creating anxiety and fear that things will get even worse. Meanwhile, look around at the shopping malls and in Waikiki. Sure, it is a very tough job market for many, many people. But is the media overstating the negative?

What's a little scary is how easily feedback loops -- even positive ones -- can be used to manipulate us into spending more time doing things that have questionable value for society. Look at Facebook and Twitter, or how there are new rating systems to measure your social networking reach. It's as if you don't have a certain quota of followers and people in your network, you are somehow deficient. But you can always make up for it by buying a lot of great gifts at specially-discounted prices!

Here's the link to the Wired articles:

How Online Companies Get you to Share More and Spend More

Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops

You can still catch the November episode of Career Changers TV until next Thursday. For daily viewing times and other links, please visit our website or check out videos from past shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and mahalo for watching!