LDS Church’s internship pitch to Coding Campus students

The Provo Dojo is a cool start-up incubator in downtown Provo. I decided to attend their startup lunch, a place for startups to chat with each other and get ideas, as advertised on Monday, June 9, but ended up having a cool detour in my plan. Along with needing to fulfill an assignment for my journalism class, I figured I could do a little research for my side-gig at Utah Technology Magazine.

When I showed up, Michael Zaro of Dojo Dev Camp  told me that the lunch wasn’t happening that day. In fact, I learned later that the weekly lunches had been postponed months ago due to building remodeling (it turned out the event was still autofilling into a Google Calendar that a local events board used.) But true to the community-culture that the startup world is known for, especially around here, they invited me to stay and participate in something else cool that was going on.

Sariah Masterson, program director of Coding Campus took me into a room where about 10 people were sitting at a big desk learning to code (which is what Coding Campus does. Amazingly, she said they have a 100 percent job placement rate for graduates). It turned out that representatives from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ IT department would be there in 10 minutes to recruit and I got to stay for their pitch. Below are Tweets and Instagrams that I think bring out the most important elements of the event. For anyone who thinks they might want to be an intern (pay sounds competitive!) I’ve also included a Soundcloud file of the internship-focused Q&A session at the end.

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Experience in commenting

For the week’s homework assignment I commented on a popular news site and on a private blog. The news site I chose was NPR because, well, I love NPR, and also because I looked at the NY Times first and read a commentary article by David Carr that I thought I could say something about but I couldn’t find the comment option there. Maybe they only let people comment on hard news, which is strange.

 

I read an article about costs for VA benefits on NPR and made the following comment:

Screenshot 2014-06-10 at 4.46.19 PM

I read some other comments aftereward and saw that someone else had said something similar. Oh well. Guess i should make sure I’m really adding something new to the discussion. It was cool to have the chance to plug my generally pacifist views in a public forum though.

 

The private blog I commented on was scarier, because it’s a niche blog in the field I want to make a career out of: Wordyard, a blog about new media. I critiqued the writer for jumping to conclusions which was very bold of me. I didn’t have the greatest point and quickly relented when he tactfully disagreed. Another downside on this one was I used the comment feature wrong and had to post 3 comments to do what I chould have done with one. Good learning experience.

I think the good thing about this exercise is now that I’ve done this once or twice, the barrier I felt before is gone. And it would be no big deal for me to contribute comments on other big blogs, which is cool.

The Provo Library isn’t always quiet…

Steel drums and calypso rhythms rang throughout the normally quiet Provo City Library on December 16 when the Drum Labs Steel Band performed as a part of a holiday concert series.

Drum Labs Steel band is actually two bands of teenagers formed by Darren Bastian at his studio. A couple hundred people attended, including many children.

Erika Hill is the library’s community relations coordinator, and was on hand to help run the event.

“Our goal is to provide programming so families can come in and do something active at the library,” Hill said. “Its a way to get people into the library, help them see that libraries can be an integral part of their lives and give them something to do with their families.”

Band leader Darren Bastion formed the groups because music jobs were scarce when he finished his doctorate in percussion. He found that steel drum music, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago, had an appeal even in Utah. The packed crowd and dancing children at the library concert demonstrates just that.

“Tonight was our christmas concert and it was awesome,” Bastian said. “We had a full house, a great atmosphere, a lot of people having fun–great crowd. And it just kind of shows how steel drum music is a great live music and it’s really fun to play.”

“Steel drums are like happiness generators,” Bastian said.

Youths in the Pleasant Grove area pay a monthly tuition to be in one of the two bands, Pure Panic or Pancake. Bailey B., a high school student and member of Pure Panic, has been doing percussion for about four years. She needed a private teacher and had a cousin at Bastian’s studio.

“So I went over to there and tried him and I found out that he was doing steel drums,” Bailey said. “And so I got involved in that over the summer, and I’ve just really enjoyed it since then. I’ve just really blossomed in my talent.”

The bands played a variety of music in steel drum style, from Call Me Maybe, to traditional Christmas songs like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Performers seemed to have as much fun as the crowd.

“I thought tonight’s show was awesome!” Bailey said. “I just have so much fun playing this Christmas music; it is just such a blast.”

Erika Hill from the library had wanted people to know that there was more at the library than just books. And judging by this concert, hundreds of people have gotten the message.

A Fine Acoustic Explosion

At the start of every school year, the Student Activites Board hunts down student musicians on BYU campus. Interested students sign up, are demoed in person or via email, then the board begins selecting performers for one of their most popular events: Acoustic Explosion.

They hold the event for free on Wednesday nights every couple months. For the Dec 4 show, five bands were on the program, and The Wall–the cafe and lounge in the basement of the Wikinsen Student Center–wass filled with students.

Genevieve Gantt is on the Student Activities Board (STAB) and helped set up. She was excited for the event.

“It’s really fun to just hang out with your friends, sit on a couch, eat French fries, and listen to really good music,” Gantt said.

The couches are a new development for this traditional student activity–a result of a change of venue from the auditorium-style Varsity Theatre to The Wall, which opened earlier this year.

Steven Fortney, a lead student for STAB, helped with the transition.

“We knew the Varsity Theater was kind of hard because people came in and they felt like they had to stay the whole time. We like The Wall more because of its more relaxed atmosphere,” said Fortney.

The Student Activities Board doesn’t need to pay for use of the venue.

“They love [hosting] because we bring in tons of business for them,” said Fortney.

Ginger Colony opened the show, and played at an Acoustic Explosion last year also. It took a few minutes once they got on stage for all the sound equipment to be properly set up, so they handled the time with their trademark awkward humor.

Taylor Woodward sings and plays guitar for the band, and thought the show went well.

“I pretty much look at it as, if we make the crowd laugh then we won, we won the game,” he said.

That said, they sounded good too, felt the other band member, Jace Norton.

“I felt like we were pretty in sync, and things were tight together,” Norton said. “It was good. I liked it.”

Judging by the hearty applause that followed theirs and each of the other acts that night, their fellow students did too.

A Fiber-filled Thanksgiving

Provo has something extra to be grateful for during Thanksgiving this year, the addition of Google Fiber. The deal between the city and Google was finalized last April, but it’s only within the past month that Google’s trucks started going through the city, neighborhood by neighborhood to hook people up.

The deal helped the city get out from its financial obligation of millions of dollars to its fiber optic network then known as iProvo, which was losing money. Google will become the full owner of the network as soon as it brings the infrastructure up to a designated level of functionality.

The mayor, John Curtis, said it’s hard to say exactly when the city’s relationship with Google began:

“It’s like asking ‘when did your relationship with your high school friend from 30 years ago start?” Curtis

said. “But I think it’s fair to say that there was persistence on our part.”

Paul Frame is a BYU computer science student from Texas; he is excited about the deal.

His own addition of a wireless router would allow Paul to use the gigabit connection for his handheld device designed to play games from his computer.

Paul’s roommate, Eric Kieliszewski, is concerned that his landlords might use the upgrade as a way to increase the internet bill unfairly. But Paul’s brother Chris may have the more common attitude:

He said regarding Google Fiber: “I’m excited about [everything] and not really concerned about anything.”

*Disclosure note: The John Curtis quote is from an interview I did for a separate, but related article for Utah Technology Magazine.

NanoUtah video, via webcam

I’m amazed at what my iPhone and Voddio can do. But that said, amazing technology gives us new and spectacular ways for things to fail. Since this week’s project consistently “Failed to Render to Video” despite repeated attempts, reboots, and memory clearing, I recorded the project via webcam while it was in preview mode in the editor.

As a result, both the audio and video quality are sub-par, but hey, sometimes life’s like that. At least it’s an interesting topic this week. (Also, the first 1:15 is just me setting things up, so you should skip forward in the video to that point!)

Sometimes it’s the little things.

A regional conference called nanoUtah brought together professionals and students from all over the state to share knowledge and enthusiasm about nanotechnology. The event had a special feeling of relevance this year because of its pricey, pristine backdrop: Utah Nanofab, the University of Utah’s new high-tech facility.

Nanotechnology means science down at the atomic and molecular levels. Research on that scale is painstaking and requires expensive machinery, but industries as varied as microelectronics, mining, agriculture, and medicine all have a clear potential to be dramatically affected by innovation in nanoscience.

Dr. Anne Anderson, a friendly and sharp professor at Utah State, has attended the conference for four years. As a biologist, she researches microorganisms and plants interact with potentially toxic heavy metals, and “drifted into nanoparticles more by accident than by design.”

She enjoys the conference, and says:

“It’s a [chance to come and see] what’s out there, and how many things are going on in the world. When you’re studying hard, it’s hard to get that breadth. It’s really neat to come out and be exposed to things,” Anderson said.

The exposure is good for professionals and students alike, says BYU professor Matt Linford, who is on the conference’s programming committee.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Dennis E. Discher is an award-winning professor from the University of Pennsylvania’s Biophysical Engineering and NanoBio-Polymers lab spoke to about 135 people.

Discher was impressed when he toured the Utah Nanofab facility, and liked the way it integrated groups working with biomaterial and groups working with hard materials.

“The nanofab lab–brand new, and finishing off some of the rooms–[accomodates] both bio and soft material polymers and hard materials. And so I see going forward students working on very different projects bumping into each other while using these facilities, and hopefully fireworks, new directions will emerge from that. You know like, “Hey use that tool, that AFM or electron microscope and just throw our particles in,” late one night. And [they can] see new things and make new things.”