Google Glass photo

Glass Under Pressure

Durham, NC – If you missed the hype about Google Glass coming to Durham, you either are living under a rock, or are not involved in the Triangle Technology Ecosystem. 3,500 people sold-out the event in about 24 hours. Much of what you have read in the press about Google Glass has been developed during private invitation only sessions (many links can be found at the end of this article). As the Technology writer for Cary Citizen, I wanted to witness the Google Glass experience through the crush of people at the Durham event.


The event was scheduled from 10 AM to 6 PM at Bay 7 of the American Tobacco Campus. 3,500 people in 8 hours means that the event needed to be set-up for handling 437 people per hour or just over 7 each minute! I was concerned about excessive waits as I was seeing pictures on various social media showing long lines and then about 1 PM I saw the following Tweet from @AmerUnderground

Three hours in and the line keeps growing! #durhamthroughglass #durm

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I showed up just before 3pm and the line went just past Bay 9 (shorter than I had seen in pictures). I then found out how well organized the event was. As I arrived in line, we were given a card showing the basics of operation of Google Glass. We were also told that the wait would be 35- 40 minutes (my wait was 32 minutes) and were provided iced water as we waited (thankfully due to the 92F temperature). Inside the event was very well organized; registration went quickly and we were grouped to first have a demonstration of Google Glass, and then moved to another area where we could personally try out Google Glass. Afterwards, we were provided wonderful refreshments by Angus Barn, as we waited for our picture wearing Glass, provided a poster (we now had 3 souvenirs of the day) and the option to give feedback (on a new Chromebook Pixel via Google Docs).  In total it took me about 2 hours.

A well organized Google Glass event in Bay 7.

My Glass Experience

The demo was not going so well. Monty and Jim were giving us a demonstration where we should be able to watch simulcast on a tablet, but the Wi-Fi was overloaded and we were not being able to see what we were told was happening. Many excuses about connectivity problems and the overloaded Wi-Fi. In the loud room, Glass was having trouble understanding verbal commands and the user was basically unable to hear from the device.

Quick look around while in-line for picture at the Durham Google Glass Event - Everyone on their smart phones.

Quick look around while in-line for picture at the Durham Google Glass Event – Everyone on their smart phones! How much Wi-Fi and cell service do you need?

We were now able to try Glass. In the the RSVP confirmation we were told:

Leave your Glasses behind: If you wear glasses or contacts, please put contacts in for the event. If you only wear glasses we’ll do our best to fit Glass over your frames, but your experience will be much better with contacts.

Now I have worn glasses since 5th grade and had given up wearing contacts over 15 years ago. Based on the above suggestion I tried without my glasses (thinking that something close to the eye would be easily visible) but this turned out to be nearly impossible as the image is projected at infinity so it was very fuzzy. I also could not get Glass to be able to find directions to anywhere (which apparently resulted from the device not being synced to GPS due to the Wi-Fi overload or other issue)

My Glass Experience, Part 2

My Cary Citizen Press Credentials were seen by the event promoters, and I was quickly introduced to Devin Buell from Google (Devin was working at the Google Chapel Hill office until he recently joined the Glass team) and given a different Glass that had connectivity. This time I tried the Glass over my glasses and what a difference! I could see the screen clearly (Note to those wearing glasses – definitely use Glass over your glasses).  After a few tries, Glass finally understood where I wanted to go and gave me directions (remember the room was really noisy).  I fumbled through a few navigation steps, but was able to see the promise of this very cool technology.  I was glad to have the press credentials that gave me a second try to be able to evaluate Glass through a few paces.  (I’ll probably follow up with another article about my specific observations and things I have thought of since the demonstration.)

Privacy Invasion with Glass?

There has been much written about invasion of privacy with Google Glass, but after seeing Glass in use, these fears seem to be overblown. The Battery life was given by one of the presenters as 45 minutes watching video, but could ‘last all day’ under normal use (which is normally not on). People wearing Glass have to make obvious gestures on the side of the unit and need to make very clear verbal instructions for the Glass to go through its paces. With the ability of all new cell phones to be recording devices, Glass seems to be a very clumsy and obvious way of invading your privacy.

My Takeaways

Google Glass was clearly playing to their potential early adopter customer base at this event. My estimate is that the average age of attendees was ~35 years old and a smart phone owner. No one seemed to mind the line waits and a ~2 hour experience to get their hands on Glass for maybe 5-10 minutes. The event was very well managed and everyone had the chance to try Glass and even more importantly get their picture taken wearing Glass. Social media was chock full of people sharing their experience, so Google got a huge bang for their buck from hosting this event. I would be interested to see the results of feedback from such a pro-Glass audience and if this is really an indicator of support from the general population.

131005 Ian aI think that Glass provides an interesting presentation of information – kind of like being able to check your rear-view mirror while you are driving. Glass seems to be a good complementary device to your desktop, tablet and smartphone, but would not replace any of these at this point. I’m intrigued and would like to be able to evaluate Glass for a longer time and I look forward to see how Glass continues to develop as part of Google X.

What Was Your Experience?

Did you go to the Google Glass event in Durham? We would be interested in your experience.  Please comment below or E-mail me about your experience with Glass.

News Articles About Glass:

TODD at RTP180°

RTP, NC – Story by Tech Tank Managing Partner Ian Henshaw

At the RTP 180°Open Source All The Things event on September 17, 2013, I was able to present an informative (and mildly humorous) view of 2013 Cary Open Data Day (CODD) and the upcoming 2014 Triangle Open Data Day (TODD).

We need your comments about what you want to see at Triangle Open Data Day, so leave them below or send me an e-mail.

Previous articles on RTP180°:

5 Months to go

Story by Tech Tank Managing Partner Ian Henshaw

We have passed 5 months in our countdown to Triangle Open Data Day (TODD). We are planning for an interesting and fun event. Comment below or E-mail me about what you would like to see in the Speaker Track and the Hacker Track.

In the mean time, check out our registration site and follow the official TODD Twitter @OpenTheTriangle.


Story by Tech Tank Managing Partner Ian Henshaw
180 Degrees

On Tuesday, September 17, 2013, Triangle Open Data Day will be presented at the widely acclaimed RTP180° produced by @TheRTP at the Research Triangle Park. The 180° theme this month is Open Source All the Things.

Register now so you won’t miss out on this fun and fast paced program.

Punkin’ Chuck at Lazy Daze

Cary, NC – Story by Tech Tank Managing Partner Ian Henshaw

2013-08-24 07.59.27

The Technology Tank Team put together a Trebuchet in a couple of hours on the hot, humid weekend before Lazy Daze. We were under pressure to get a demo unit to display to the huge crowds of Lazy Daze.

Scrap lumber from under Tech Tank Fellow Jamie Dixon‘s deck and a blueprint that was partially in several of our heads developed into a Trebuchet (and we also burned out several of Jamie’s power tools putting this together…, sorry Jamie).  

Tech Tank Managing Partner Hal Goodtree stopped by to document the effort (and to try and figure out what we were doing).

TT Trebuchet

Building the Trebuchet with an onlooker wearing a Cary Open Data Day T-shirt!

Well we built the Trebuchet for display and it might even work… But you have time. You can do research, perform calculations and do a proper design layout and build process – There is lots of information available on the Internet.

The Tech Tank Trebuchet might be able to throw a pumpkin, but your designs will be much better for distance and accuracy!

Put a team together, plan properly and make sure you keep safe during the process (safety glasses, gloves, closed-toed shoes, etc.)  We look forward to seeing you on the Pumpkin’ Chuck Field of Glory!

Pictures: Cary Open Data Day 2013


Cary, NC – It was a rainy Saturday in Cary. Perfect time to learn about Open Data and write some code.

Cary Open Data Day

About 50 people showed up for Open Data Day at the Cary Chamber. Town of Cary IT provided Wi-Fi and technical support (thanks Bill and Wilson).

Jason Hare, Open Data Program Manager for Raleigh gave the keynote. He educated the crowd (me, at least) about the Open Knowledge FoundationOpen Data Institute and the principles of Open Data.

“Transparent government. Not transparent citizens.” – Jason Hare, Cary Open Data Day


Jason also emphasized the goal of regionalism for open data in the Triangle. That is, municipalities need to adopt similar rules and standards so data can be easily complied for the entire region.

Hacking and Workshops

After the keynote, council member Lori Bush fired up the crowd and solicited ideas for data projects to hack. The group had half a dozen data sets provided by Town of Cary, plus all the open data available on the internet (for example, maps). The group also pitched ideas for data sets they’d like to see made available for future projects.


Crime data was a topic of high interest, as well as data about government spending.

The crowd broke up into smaller groups scattered around the Chamber to work on specific projects. The goal was to have a model up and working by the end of the day.


Throughout the day, workshops popped up in the conference room or the board room. Topics included privacy, Code for AmericaTriangle WikiGithubOpenSpending.orgdata journalismand more.


After a full day of hacking and learning, eight groups presented working open data websites the conference. Crime “heat maps” were popular.


Organizers Ian Cillay and Ian Henshaw of TechnologyTank raffled off a Samsung Chrome Book, won by a PhD student from NC State.


It was an auspicious beginning to Cary as a community tech hub. Open Data Day is a sure-thing to return to Cary next year.

More Pictures

In the spirit of Open Data Day, the entire set of 42 pictures is available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


Story and photos by Hal Goodtree, first published on CaryCitizen.

History of Data Journalism

data journalism

Story by Hal Goodtree from CaryCitizen. Graph from Mortality of the British Army, 1858

Cary, NC – Sometimes, a word or phrase comes into focus around something we already understand, but have not yet named. Such a phrase is data journalism.

Data Journalism

The term data journalism came into focus for me in preparation for moderating a workshop at Cary Open Data Day.

Data journalism is creating content (stories or pictures) based on analysis of statistical information.

The best example of everyday data journalism is in sports. A table of projected rankings of NCAA tournament brackets is data journalism. A chart of salary vs. hitting percentage in Major League Baseball is data journalism.

The best known contemporary individual in data journalism is Nate Silver of The New York Times. Silver accurately predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the last Presidential election. The interesting thing: Silver did no original research. His analysis was based on everyone else’s polls.

The History of Data Journalism

The Guardian claims the first foray into data journalism in 1821, with an expose on schools in Manchester. They published a table showing the prices paid for public schooling in the British city, revealing a far greater number of public-assistance students than perceived by the population.

The most famous example of 19th century data journalism is the masterpiece study by Florence Nightingale, Mortality of the British Army, 1858.

In the late 1950′s, data journalism took a quantum leap forward with the first “Computer Assisted Reporting” (CAR) of Presidential elections by broadcaster CBS.

In he 1970′s, data journalism was sometimes called “precision reporting.”

The first international data journalism conference was held in Amsterdam in 2010.

3 Steps of Data Journalism

Modern data journalism has three basic steps:

  1. Get Data
  2. Understand the data
  3. Communicate the data

Get the Data

For reporters at ESPN, there is ready access to lots and lots of rich data sets. But often, data journalism requires some finely honed search skills.

Some data is readily available as “streams” – XML or RSS feeds that are easy for machines to read. The City of Washington, DC has an Open Data Catalog.

In many cases, data must be discovered or “liberated,” through carefully combing websites or by initiating a public records request from a government agency.

Understanding the Data

The fundamental principle of analysis is that data does not equal facts. Information is not the same as knowledge.

Understanding the data is about creating plausible context in which the information makes sense.

Communicating the Data

This is where the writers and graphic designers get involved.

Everyday tools like Google Spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel can produce stunning charts and graphs. Popular data journalism features include use of “infographics” – data presented as a picture. Typography often plays an important role is data visualizations.

Another good practice is to include the data set in any presentation. That way, interested parties can see how you derived your conclusions and maybe hack another view or conclusion.

Finally, data journalism today means communicating your results across platforms – a blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all come to mind. But a data visualization about food might find an audience on Pinterest. Or one about music might prove popular on Instagram.

More Information

For my workshop on data journalism, I collected a dozen or so links to examples and more in-depth information.

It’s an open document, so if you have data journalism links to add, please feel free.

More Info: Data Journalism Workshop Links

Welcome Chucker!

Welcome to Cary’s GREAT PUNKIN’ CHUCK. Whether you’re a Chucker, a Spectator, or just someone who’s interested in DIY technology and science, you’re in the right place!

Cary’s GREAT PUNKIN’ CHUCK is created and produced by in partnership with Town of Cary. The team has been working for weeks to scope out the site (Fred G. Bond Metro Park in Cary), rules, sponsors and so forth.


Sunday, November 3, 2013
12 – 5 PM


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