Archive for Boulder, Colorado
Record Store Day, Saturday, April 26, is coming up fast for vinyl lovers everywhere, and Boulder shops sound like they’re stacking their shelves and bins with special finds to celebrate.
After moving to a better and bigger location on Arapahoe, in the retail center next to Ozo’s Coffee (where I’m writing this) and Snarf’s, Absolute Vinyl Records & Stereo owner Doug Gaddy has a full day of free music, giveaways and even Kung Fu demonstrations all set to greet his customers.
Gaddy’s calling it a Three Ring Circus Record Store Day Celebration.
Record Day, now promoted across the world, is even bigger than his Christmas sales, Gaddy says. You think he’s excited? Gaddy says he’s stocking about “1,000 fresh titles (LPs)” and will host guest bands Whiskey Blanket and The Yawpers along with four other bands.
Trent Davol, owner of Pica’s restaurant in the same retail center, will be taking part, too, with Monocle (folk rock) playing at 5:30 p.m. and the Jamesons (folk rock/alternative country) playing at 6:30 p.m.
The music lineup at Vinyl is Whiskey Blanket (alternative hip hop), 1 p.m.; The Yawmpers (roots rocks), 2:30 p.m.; and the Alright Band (rock) at 4 p.m.
After the music at Pica’s, Dave Mead, Kurt Bauer and Steve Gordon in Modern Synthetic Chemistry will be start up at Vinyl.
Boulder-based record label, Adventure Records, home of The Yawpers, as well as Radio 1190 also will be on hand with give-aways.
Throw in a live art demonstration with audience participation by Anthony Moulton and it’s a pretty full day for Absolute Vinyl.
Other record stores around Boulder will be celebrating too, with Albums on the Hill offering special releases of both vinyl and CDs, and Bart’s Music Shack, located at 236 Pearl St., filling up its shelves, too.
You can find fan pages on Facebook for all three of the record stores, where they’re announcing plans for the big day.
So get out there Saturday and support your local record stores. After almost becoming an extinct species from the digital download storm, many of the vinyl stores around the country and especially here in Boulder seem to be surviving.
For anyone who has read the new Steve Jobs biography and enjoyed the stories of how he bought and changed the direction of Pixar, this Friday’s Digital Media Symposium, or DiMe, should be a real treat.
This year’s keynoter is Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, a co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios. A computer graphics pioneer and two-time Academy Award winner, Smith joins a great lineup of other speakers for the annual Boulder event, whichs runs 1 to 6 p.m. at the St. Julien Hotel.
DiMe seems to be getting better each year, with other scheduled speakers including Boulder entrepreneur Paul Berberian, CEO of Orbotix, a new startup that’s created Sphero, a robotic ball you control from your smartphone; Ben Long, founder of Noise Buffet and 123GuitarTuner.com; and Carla Johnson, CEO of EarthvisionZ, a Boulder company creating interactive 3D geospatial platforms.
The list of speakers goes on with Harris Morris, president of Harris Broadcast Communications; Andres Espineira, CEO, and Melissa Hourigan, v.p. of marketing for Pixorial; Rob Schuham, co-founder of FearLess Revolution; J. Erik Dyce, CEO of In Demand Bands; Micah Baldwin, CEO of Graphicly, another Boulder startup that’s brought the printed world of comics online; and Joel Swanson of the University of Colorado/Boulder.
Returning as moderator again this year is Don Hahn, producer of the animated feature films “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and others.
In 2006, when Disney purchased Pixar in an all-stock transaction worth $7.4 billion, Steve Jobs became the Disney Company’s single largest shareholder, owning about 7 percent of the company. I would be surprised if there wasn’t some discussion of Jobs’ history at Pixar at DiMe.
DiMe really is part of the kickoff of the 2012 Boulder International Film Festival, which runs Thursday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, Feb. 19. If you don’t live in Boulder, BIFF is the perfect reason to come up to the city this coming weekend and catch some of the movies as well as conversations with the directors, producers and actors.
Advance tickets for DiMe are $50 or $40 for students with ID. Tickets will be available at the door of the symposium for $65 so make your reservations now! DiMe as well as the Film Festival really are highlight events of the year here in Boulder, and when I realized I had booked a trip to Arizona on the same weekend, I was really disappointed. I’ve attended and reported on the DiMe for the past two years, and always run into a lot of Boulder friends at the different events.
So go and enjoy both DiMe and the films at BIFF this year for me! I’ll just have to settle for the reviews.
Boulder is following Colorado’s lead in making good headway out of the recession, local leaders said in a 2012 Economic Forecast, but both state and local economies still have several years to get back both jobs and revenues lost in the last four years.
Some of the numbers, especially new home building permits and perhaps even total jobs, may not be coming back at all as “significant” structural changes throughout the state’s economy take hold, predicted Richard Wobbekind, the University of Colorado economist who has tracked the state’s economic health for years at the university’s Business Research Division.
We might be starting to see the “new normal,” Wobbekind told local business leaders at the event organized by the Boulder Economic Council. And he cited several examples of what that “new normal” might look like.
As Colorado’s economy turns the corner, and already it’s ahead of other states tackling much tougher jobs losses, budget challenges and steep losses in home values, the state now is adding anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 jobs a month. But the caveat is that Colorado, where in-migration from other states is on the rise again, needs around 125,000 new jobs just to absorb new workers in the marketplace. As a result, any reduction in the overall unemployment rate comes slowly.
There’s no “magic wand” out there, Wobbekind said, to repair damage inflicted by the deep U.S. recession. It could be at least 2015 or 2016, four years from now, to see Colorado get back to its “peak” employment numbers.
Another view of the “new normal” is reflected in the ongoing loss of actual manufacturing jobs. Boulder over the years has lost 35 percent of manufacturing employment as companies consolidate and jobs move overseas. But, Wobbekind noted, manufacturing output by GDP is now higher. The same is true for employment in the high-paying information sector, where employment across the state is down, but output is higher.
Technology is allowing fewer people to do more work, Wobbekind said. Employees may be working longer hours, he told me during the event’s networking, but many of those jobs simply are never coming back.
Many of the same phrases heard in forecasts of the last few years are still around: housing doldrums, lack of credit, and now “world economic slowdown.”
CU economic forecasters, Wobbekind said, “refuse to believe” that the current European debt crisis will spin into a new worldwide recession. The morning after the Boulder forecast, European economists said sharp slowdowns in December bank lending confirmed that a Euro-zone credit crunch was indeed under way.
If the European economies do stumble further, Wobbekind said trade patterns of the Western U.S. states like Colorado are more closely tied to Asian markets, and the Northeast is more vulnerable to Europe’s woes.
Anther “new normal” in Colorado’s economy will be a healthier but lower level of new building activity, especially in residential construction.
Wobbekind doesn’t expect the state to return to its building boom years, such as the 45,000 new home permits in 2005. Even in a much better economy than now, permits could total around 25,000, or maybe 30,000, he said. Through November, Colorado posted 12,758 single-family and multi-family permits, up 10 percent from all of 2010, the Census Bureau reported. Nationally, new home sales in 2011 tumbled to the lowest level in the 50 years that records have been kept.
A panel of four local Boulder leaders gave a fairly upbeat view of the city’s present and longer-term economy but emphasized that likely state and federal budget cuts hang over everyone’s head, from CU’s Boulder campus to the city’s base of nearly a dozen national research laboratories.
CU-Boulder has grown its enrollment some 15 percent over the past decade to nearly 30,000 students and overall revenue of $1.22 billion, said Rick Porreca, senior vice chancellor. But in an environment of dwindling state support, which “might go to zero in the next few years,” and the threat of federal cutbacks, graduate student fellowships and research faculty could be hurt. The university, which has cut about $35 million in operating cots, including 200 positions over the past four years, has to maintain “efficiency and self sufficiency.”
Lack of decisions on the U.S. budget and federal deficit reduction, especially in an election year, will keep all of Boulder’s research labs in cost-saving modes, said Cindy Schmidt, director of the Office of Government Affairs for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, or UCAR. “Flat is the new increase,” she said of budget decisions for 2013.
The good news is that R&D is still viewed as a long-term economic driver, she said, and the U.S. must keep up with other countries, including China, where research budgets have been increasing 20 percent a year.
Boulder recently landed the new National Solar Observatory, making it one of the best research locations in the country and attracting the higher-paying scientific jobs the labs create. Boulder’s labs, including the National Renewal Energy Laboratory in Golden, now contribute some 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, Schmidt said.
Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam and Susan Graf, president of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, both said the city has been fortunate with a local economy that was ahead of council expectations in 2011. Through November, the city’s sales and use tax rose 6.7 percent, Brautigam said. “We had a really good year last year,” she said.
The local economy’s strengths, Graf said, is directly tied to the high level of education of local residents and the region’s need for qualified employees in new high-tech and professional services ventures. Even the city’s accommodation, food, entertainment and recreation jobs, where salaries are not as high as technical positions, saw better numbers in 2011. Some 7,000 people now work in tourism-related jobs, Graf said.
“Quality of life” and residents’ love of the outdoors for hiking, biking, climbing and other sports still rank high for why some 2.2 million people visited Boulder last year, Graf said.
Helping put the city on the national business “map,” Graf added, have been tech giants like Google, which bought @Last software, and Microsoft, which bought Vexcel Corp., both online mapping technologies, and then continued to keep and grow operations in Boulder to hang onto skilled employees and attract new ones.
Just wanted to post a few photos of some coffee shops along downtown Pearl Street. I’ve just started using the Hipstamatic photo app on my iPhone, and I’m really having fun with it.
It’s time for you to put The Pinyon, a newer entry on the East Pearl Street area, a notch higher on your list of good Boulder restaurants to try out.
We were looking last minute for a reservation for dinner over the 4th of July weekend, and while many of the more well-known restaurants here were booked until late, The Pinyon was available. Turns out, we very much enjoyed our first time to this restaurant.
The Pinyon has been renovated from the last restaurant (Bimbamboo) that occupied the space, with a nice bar area where you can watch the chefs preparing your food. We chose a seat along the windows to do a little Pearl Street watching. But just a word of warning here, if it’s early evening, beware of the sun and glare from the large windows. So far, the restaurant does not have any shades installed, and the setting sun in the summer comes directly in.
Nevertheless, the wait staff was very friendly, and even offered to move us if the sun was bothering us.
The Pinyon lists itself as contemporary American, focused on “small batch, craft driven food and drink.” You have choices of small plates, although we all chose items off the large plate menu, which range in the $18 to $24 price. Salads and some sides are extra.
I tried the grilled flank steak, tender and tasty, which came with delicious padron peppers, grilled spring onions and confit tomato. The arugula salad, with some fresh strawberries and tiny Oregon huckleberries, was a delicious starter.
Others with me tried two different hand-made pasta dishes, one served with summer vegetables, another with shredded lamb. Both were mouth-watering and worth sharing bites around the table.
It was a great summer weekend, so we started with a bottle Oregon Rose that was recommended, and it was perfect for the summer heat.
It wasn’t terribly busy for a holiday weekend Sunday evening, but that might just be part of Boulder getting to know The Pinyon a little better. Chef and owner Theo Adley was busy cooking and chatting to a few customers, but it might be nice to see him come out and mingle with guests a little if the pace is slow since he’s cooking right in the main room of the restaurant anyway.
It’s those small friendly touches that pay off big in the extremely competitive Boulder restaurant market.
I’ll definitely be back. The Pinyon does offer a happy hour with small plate specials, and that could be fun to try out if you’re not looking for a full dinner.
Sometimes all it takes to get people buzzing is a new catchy phrase.
That happened this week when Foundry Group venture capitalist Brad Feld told attendees of the Boulder Economic Summit that he thinks Boulder has a really great “entrepreneurial density.”
Boulder, the city that whips itself into a frenzy in nearly any discussion of “growth,” has had more than its share of “density” debates, usually around downtown high-end condos or retail redevelopment.
But somehow entrepreneurial “density” suddenly sounded like a pretty good thing.
On an “entrepreneur per capita,” Feld said, “this place feels special.” The city’s “large enough to be interesting, but small enough to get your mind around,” he continued.
Feld is a Boulderite who, in blue jeans and loud shirt, keeps Boulder’s sport jacket and tie types (OK, yes, they are Jerry Garcia ties) wondering just what he’s going to come up with next. After all, it’s Feld’s business to invest in entrepreneurial ventures and try his best to make sure they succeed.
And the more innovative entrepreneurs Boulder breeds is good news for the network of lawyers, bankers, accountants, real estate brokers and financial advisers happy every time the entrepreneur’s ship does come in.
This year’s one-day Boulder Economic Council summit, titled “Boulder’s Innovation Economy,” just happened to coincide with Boulder Startup Week, a four-day event packed with seminars such as “The Mobile Web and Why It Sucks,” a bike ride up Flagstaff Mountain, happy hours and overall tweeting geek networking of mostly 20 to 30-somethings all hoping to be the next Mark Zukerberg, or, at least for now, to get onboard early with a fast-tracking Internet startup.
At a Boulder Startup Week kickoff party at Boulder’s Trada, Gabe Kongas, founder of Omaha-based startup Hollrback, marveled at how he was one of seven lucky geeks picked for a free plane ticket to Boulder and a place to stay “as long as you aren’t allergic to couches” to join the startup activities.
“I have no idea why I won,” Kongas smiled, “but Omaha looks up to Boulder as the big brother of what it’s trying to do.”
Kongas fits the profile of the hundreds of young entrepreneurs that duke it out every summer for a coveted spot at Boulder’s TechStars.
One of Boulder’s real success stories over the last few years, led by Boulder entrepreneur David Cohen, Feld and a slew of volunteers and business mentors, TechStars is a business incubator model that’s worked so well it’s now been duplicated in Boston, Seattle and New York City.
The competition for about 10 slots in the three-month Boulder summer program is intense among web and software startups from around the globe, with hundreds of competitors. Yes, they’re competing for the $17,000 in seed funding, but more importantly, they receive one-on-one access to a network of mentors and eventual introductions to angel investors.
“We figured out how to professionalize a system for angel investors,” Cohen told a panel on information technology at the summit. In the five years the program’s been maturing, nearly half of all the participating firms ended up staying in Boulder. And from the first 20 companies that went through the summer business camp, seven were acquired, an almost unheard of successful exit rate.
Boulder, a city of only 200,000 but with a mountain backdrop and biking, climbing, kayaking, brewpub-hopping and at least four Italian wood-fired gourmet pizzerias, has one crazy entrepreneurial eco-system that everyone loves to try and define. And it just seems be keep getting better — right through the recession.
Home-grown web and software companies like Agile and Trada compete for elbow room with startup clusters in natural foods, outdoor sports, biotech, info tech, aerospace and clean tech. There’s a few other software companies snagging computer engineers — Microsoft and Google, to name a few. Although the city’s local venture capital community is much smaller than Silicon Valley, good deals are never ignored, said VC Kyle Lefkoff with Boulder Ventures.
Colorado itself, CU economist Rich Wobbekind told the summit, is always in the top U.S. rankings for venture capital investments, number of patents and Small Business Innovation Research grants per capita.
“Capital is extremely portable,” said John Grubb, a managing partner with Boulder’s Sterling-Rice Group, a long-time Boulder-based advertising and marketing company that bucked the need to be in L.A. or New York but still attracts name-brand national clients.
Boulder is one of those places where business leaders are accessible, easy to meet for coffee (coffee shop density is intense, too) and serial entrepreneurs keep giving back. “Sometimes I’m having IM conversations at 1 or 2 in the morning,” said Robert Reich, a founder of OneRiot who launched the Tech Meetup in Boulder, an event that’s become so popular it attracts a standing-room only crowd to its meetings on the University of Colorado campus.
“Boulder is an open-door community,” where businesspeople in all sectors are willing to share their experiences and help each other, summit panelists agreed.
Silicon Flatirons Center is one more “connecting” point for entrepreneurs, said Brad Berthal, the center’s director. The University of Colorado law school center brings in national experts and facilitates discussions on telecommunications, IT and entrepreneurism.
Boulder’s thirst for networking fills up monthly open coffee club meetings, Entrepreneurs Unplugged speaker sessions, and wild Ignite Boulder meetings called “Geeky Goodness,” where presenters race through five minutes to teach something on any topic with 20 Powerpoint slides timed to 15-second intervals.
The list of challenges for Boulder’s entrepreneurs, discussed at the summit’s wrapup, revealed little that hasn’t been haggled over for years.
* The city’s lack of larger commercial space means that many fast-growing companies eventually will find larger and better-priced space outside of the city limits. But that’s good news for a healthy Boulder Valley-wide roster of high-pay employers in cities like Longmont, Louisville and Broomfield.
* Boulder still doesn’t have its own space for small to medium-sized conventions that could handle meetings of a thousand or more. Frank Hugelmeyer, CEO of the Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association, said if the city did have such a meeting facility, his group might try to develop its own “Thought Leader” center, bringing in leaders from an industry now valued at $289 billion.
* And Boulder business leaders, year after year, almost always ponder what seems like quite a bit of just plain good luck. “Boulder’s been fortunate, but a little too passive,” one panelist said, in branding its entrepreneurial innovation.
Maybe, heads of the panelists nodded in agreement, it’s time to talk more about “the highest density of entrepreneurs in the world.”
It didn’t take long at all for the spam bots to find me.
Shortly after my new site and blog was launched in WordPress, I initially was enthused by the sudden surge in traffic I was seeing from all of the comments on my brilliant prose.
They go like this. “Heya, wonderful wordpress blog, and a fairly good understand!” OK, so not everyone is really grammatically correct, at least they seem nice. Or a simply comment. “Great post! I love it very much!” Gee, thank-you very much. Comment approved.
It doesn’t take long, however, before you realize noone is really saying anything about what you’re writing. Some comments take a really strange tone.
“Thanks for the info, been looking everywhere for information on this.” Really? Or “Just to be remembered is good enough for me. Lots of people are forgotten.” If you say so.
When you really start to tune into the hard cold fact that these aren’t real people reading your blog at all is when you start to pay attention to the URLs the bots hope to plant somewhere within your site.
One comment read: “Thank you a lot for giving everyone an extraordinarily brilliant possiblity to read from this site. It is often very pleasing and as well.” Sent from the URL: www.camgirlsaction.com. Hmmm, why do I think the guy running a cam girls site is not spending a lot of time reading my blog?
A simple Google search on “How do I stop spam in WordPress” brings you to quite a bit of advice, including help pages in WordPress itself and a host of other bloggers trying to battle the bots.
The first question in WordPress Help is “Why are they spamming me?” The simple answer: “Because they can” but also the fact that everyone is trying links to their web pages so search engines — namely Google — think their important. Does this really work? Should I hire a couple of these mysterious bots to spread my URL far and wide? I don’t think so.
So your next move — unless you want to spend hours each day marking tons of spam comments as spam — is to find a good widget that forces the spammers to actually prove they are human beings.
WordPress has an FAQ on Combating Comment Spam that will take you directly to the WordPress Plugin Directory. Search for “spam” in the 13,500 plugins, and that will narrow you down to some 598 or so. Spam clearly is a problem.
So I went back to Google, this time looking for a recommendation on a decent WordPress spam tool. I came up with the “Match Comment Spam Protector.”
Fortunately, I have a very savvy website designer, who built my custom site in WordPress. I asked him if he would install the widget for me, since I’m a bit leery of messing with any HTML code in the site myself although widgets generally are pretty simple to install. Josh Divine, with PRGM2 in Boulder, jumped right in to my rescue from the spam bots. Now, only time will tell.
Can bots solve math questions? One of the first comments on the Comment Spam Protector page is “I’ve installed this plugin, but still get spammed. Why?” The answer was to check and make sure the spam isn’t coming from trackbacks instead of comments.
I’ll know pretty soon if this works. This morning I had nearly 50 spam comments waiting for approval in my email. I just deleted them all. So by tomorrow morning I’ll find out if bots can now answer math questions. I sure hope not.
The Digital Media Symposium, or DiMe, returns for its second year in Boulder on Friday, Feb. 18 with a great lineup of national and local panelists weighing in on new digital media. Tickets at $50 are on sale at www.dimeboulder.com.
DiMe recently received a $25,000 grant from the City of Boulder’s Arts and Business Collaborative (ABC) grants program, and the funding will help support the expansion of the symposium into a multi-day event with workshops, digital art exhibits and opportunities for collaboration.
The DiMe, which starts at 1 p.m. at the St. Julien Hotel in downtown Boulder, takes place during the?Boulder International Film Festival, which runs Feb. 17-20. DiMe is an initiative of BIFF, the Governor’s Office of Creative Industries and the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Two panels will fill the afternoon event covering “Digital Distribution and Monetization” and “The Future of 3D.” A full listing of panel members are on the DiMe site, but panels will include Andrew Steele, a TV and cable writer with “Funny or Die,” and Don Hahn from Stone Circle Pictures, a Los Angeles-based animation and 3D film producer.
DiMe is a great event not only to learn more about new digital media technologies, but following the event you can mingle at a cash bar reception starting at 5 p.m. with local leaders and artists in Boulder’s growing sector of film, broadcasting, gaming, mobile and other entertainment-based digital media.
Like a hammer driving down hard on the nail, the last few years of the recession have taken a serious toll on the state’s economy.
A new report just issued by Gary Horvath and his Broomfield-based company Business and Economic Research at www.garyhorvath.com examines the volatility of the construction sector, pointing out that its “peaks are often more exaggerated and the troughs more severe.”
Colorado’s construction businesses, including residential, commercial and non-building (infrastructure such as roads and utilities) now have suffered declines in employment from 2006 to 2009.
And when you realize, as Horvath explains, that even despite the recession’s effects, Colorado has a higher concentration of construction works (called the “location quotient” in economist speak) than other parts of the U.S., then the job losses have hit especially hard.
Colorado construction employment now has declined to 7.2 percent, or about 131,000 jobs in 2009, from 8.9 percent, or 167,647 jobs, in 2006.
Fewer construction jobs, of course, also smacked a number of manufacturing sectors that produce materials for builders and contractors. These include everything from asphalt to paint to HVAC equipment. Colorado actually has five seasons, Horvath reminds us. Winter, spring, summer, fall, and “cone” season.
The headlines of Colorado bank failures often fostered by a heavy reliance on commercial lending prior to the U.S. recession remind us that numerous professional services depend heavily on the health of the construction industry. The list of those losing high-paying jobs goes on with insurers, real estate agents, appraisers and mortgage loan brokers.
The category of financial employment related to construction has lost nearly 8,000 jobs since 2006, Horvath’s figure show.
One anomaly is that the category architects and engineers, “thought to be a leading indicator of economic activity,” Horvath says, actually remained fairly steady from 2006 to 2009, reaching a high of 44,593 jobs in 2008 before flattening out to 41,560 jobs in 2009. The pattern was similar for both interior and industrial design jobs.
Overall, Colorado suffered a net loss of about 105,700 jobs between 2007 and 2009, and construction workers and workers in related sectors accounted for about 56 percent of those losing their jobs with 36,700 jobs lost in construction and 22,200 jobs lost in related sectors. That’s a very hard hit.
So where do we go from here? Can a surge in construction business help save the day?
With a population of 5 million people and population growth forecast at 1.5 to 2 percent, Horvath says, the need is clear for a strong construction sector to support new homes and buildings as the economy begins to grow. Colorado, however, may finally be bringing the percentage of construction industry jobs (again it’s the location quotient) back into line with other states.
That location quotient stat, Horvath says, is down to 1.29 in 2009 from 1.44 in 2001, and may very well need to revert to 1.0 for a healthy balance in the state’s economic outlook.
Different economic forecasts for overall Colorado job expansion this year range from growth of zero to 2 percent or completely flat to 44,000 new hires.
In Horvath’s November forecast, he expected some 15,000 new employees to be added this year, based on real GDP growth of 2.4 percent. Both of those numbers, he now says, “are likely to be revised upward.”
And that’s good news for all of the unemployed waiting for the hiring to begin.