Category Archives: Technology

All things tech, from toys to hearing aids to ag-related developments…

Photo history of the Northfield Historical Society’s Auction: a reflection

 The Northfield Historical Society is having their annual auction on Saturday night… dubbed the Magical History Tour (PDF poster). The Fab Five?

I’ll be there taking crowd/socializing photos like I first did waaaaaaay back in 2003 (see this new version of the 2003 album). I missed the 2004 “Wanted Ed or alive” auction but was there last year (see this new version of the 2005 album). (Full disclosure: the amazing Ed Kuhlman, auctioneer, is a client.)

The 2003 auction was significant for me. Just a few days earlier, we’d changed the N.org website over to a weblog (see this Oct. 31, 2003 “coming soon” blog entry). Having a blog made it easy to embed a photo into a blog post. My Nov. 2 post was my first to do this — a photo of the NHS auction in the recently vacated Jacobsen’s store — and it included a link to a photo album of dozens more.

The serendipitous reaction I got from people over the next few weeks who’d viewed the dozens of photos convinced me that this was another way to “strengthen the fabric of the community” as I’m fond of saying. The people who WERE there wanted to see themselves and other attendees. And they, in turn, wanted others who were NOT there to see what they’d missed. And then I’d hear from people who said to me that so-and-so “told me that they’d seen my photo at the auction and that’s when I went to the album…”  And for months afterwards, the pageviews to the photos in that album continuously increased, ultimately into the thousands.

Yeah, I’m tooting my own horn here… I am proud of the thousands of photos of Northfield-related events I’ve posted over the past three years. But I’m also wanting to encourage more citizens to do this. N.org has a photogallery page that explains the various ways to view the photos. And they encourage people to submit photos, too. So take your digital camera with you wherever you go and help “weave community threads” by adding community photos to the pile. It’s “citizen journalism” in every sense of the phrase.

Select a candidate: we need a local version

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Sean Hayford O’Leary IM’d me about this cool tool on MPR’s website: Select a candidate.

By answering a series of questions about major issues, you can quickly learn which candidates are most closely aligned with your views. You’ll be able to learn more about each candidate, hear his/her positions on many issues, and find out how your results compare with those of others who take the survey.

I liked it in part because it made the holes in my knowledge more apparent without anyone knowing about my cluelessness. Plus, it allows you to ‘weight’ an issue depending on how important it is to you.

I took the Governor quiz and was pleasantly surprised that Peter Hutchinson‘s views were mostly closely aligned with mine, since I intend to vote for him. I then took the U.S. Senate quiz, intending to vote for Amy Klobuchar and was more than a little surprised that my views were much more aligned with Independence Party candidate Robert Fitzgerald.

I wonder what it would take to adapt this tool for the local races, eg, the Northfield City Council, Rice County Commissioner and (non-existent) School Board races? The League of Women Voters of Northfield should do something like this.

In the Loop; the future of Locally Grown?

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I attended the taping of MPR’s In the Loop show tonight at their new UBS Forum, a public meeting space. The About page for the show says:

We like to think of it as a radio show for people who talk back to their radio. Our goal is to push the boundaries of public radio, opening the way for new voices, new attitudes, new radio techniques, and an entirely new way of relating to our listeners.

The theme for tonight’s show (which airs this Friday, Oct. 20 at 9 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.):

Why bother to vote? Why stick your neck out by running for office against a “safe” incumbent? Why give money to a political candidate? Why do those people in political ads sound like they’re trying to scare us? Why is it just a little unsettling to see a mirror of ourselves in a race for student council?

It was a hoot. Host Jeff Horwich is funny and engaging, the skits and pre-produced stuff were well-done, and the music by their house band, The Smarts, was terrific. The show’s producers are really making an effort to involve the audience in the creation of the show, not just during the show. They invite their audience ‘collaborators’ to brainstorm with them at a local bar once a month to help plan the next show. Another form of citizen journalism. I didn’t contribute but I have submitted this audio comment to the show.

It’s what Locally Grown could become. Just click on those photos above and imagine the venue being The Grand here in Northfield, with Jellystone Yogi as our house band. It reminds me of the parallels between Prairie Home Companion and Over and Back.

Here’s a two-minute video clip I took towards the end of the show, with a little music and a little wrap-up from Jeff.

EDA to study fiber for Northfield’s economic development diet

IMG_4038w800.jpgAt this morning’s EDA meeting at City Hall, members had this item on their agenda (see page 6 of the packet pdf on the Sept. 28 meeting page): “The EDA will review the draft agenda and purpose of the fiber network task force meeting.” Carleton’s Joel Cooper was invited to the table to give an overview. And I was allowed to contribute a couple of comments. I reiterated the points I made in my Lack of fiber in Northfield’s economic diet blog post about this two weeks ago about “Attracting and retaining talent,” especially college students who’ve graduated; and the City of Burnsville’s push for fiber as a means of supporting/developing their medical technology industry. So I’m thrilled with this development and delighted that Locally Grown’s own Tracy Davis is leading the initial charge. You rock, Tracy!

L to R in the photo (click to enlarge): Tracy Davis, Dixon Bond, Joel Cooper, Rick Estenson, Mark Moors, Galen Malecha, Deanna Kuennen.


Click to play. 30 minutes.

Lack of fiber in Northfield’s economic diet

joel_cooper_krlx.jpgBack in April, we did a show on Northfield’s ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure with guest, Joel Cooper, Carleton’s Director of Information Technology Services. I think we should do another one, as municipal constipation may be setting in.

Earlier this week in the the Strib: College debuts Internet so fast, it almost gives you whiplash

Preparing for increased convergence of technology and media, Century College in White Bear Lake opened a new technology center featuring lightning-fast connections… He said the school developed the Kopp Center over the past five years with the idea that television will eventually be Internet-based and that as the Internet expands there will be more desktop video, more Internet TV, more bi-directional education, and so on.

There was also a Strib article in July that included info on fiber/ultra high speed: Should cities play role in providing Internet?

sBurnsville wants to make sure inadequate, high-cost Internet doesn’t slow growth, said Council Member Dan Gustafson. “We’re very focused on the medical technologies in Burnsville, and fiber is going to be very important for that industry.”

fiber.gifApple announced its TV/movie distribution service this week (BW article) following a similar Amazon announcement recently.

So what does all this mean? I think it means that the City of Northfield should examine more closely how ultra high-speed broadband infrastructure can help it achieve two of the three main strategies that are laid out in the recently approved 2006 economic development plan:

  • 1) Diversifying Northfield’s economic base
    The targeted industries include medical: “Healthcare/medical. Industry activities range from direct patient care to diagnostic services to medical research.” If Burnsville sees the need for fiber for its medical technology industry, shouldn’t Northfield?

  • 3) Attracting and retaining talent
    Isn’t it likely that the college students we want to retain and others we want to attract would be enticed in part by the benefits offered by our fiber infrastructure? In the Dallas suburb of Keller, in Tampa, and in Huntington Beach, California, Verizon is rolling out FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) for local customers “… as it can make applications like video chat and conferencing, digital movie downloads, and interactive multi-player games a part of their daily lives.” See Verizon’s FIOS website for more.

It’s time Northfield got serious about these developments. (Blandin is having a conference in October: Next Generation Broadband. City officials should attend.) Nothing has happened with city-wide wi-fi since the NDDC held a forum on it many months ago and I fear nothing is going to happen with fiber. (Yes, I’d like to see fiber brought to Northfield Crossing since I’m going to be living there next spring. Plus, I think it would help them sell more condos in this current real estate downturn.)

I plan to visit an upcoming EDA meeting and make my sentiments known. In the meantime, make your sentiments about this issue known by attaching comments here.