Houston Netsquared Members Take the Stage at Our July Meet-Up

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The middle of the summer is always a smaller group for our meet-up with the schools out for summer and everyone taking vacations to the beach.  So in lieu of the regular format for our Houston Netsquared meetings, I thought I’d try something fun that would give our members a chance to share their thoughts and ideas.

Summer Gong Show with the Houston Netsquared Group
For our July meet-up, we opened the floor up for our attendees to talk to our group for up to 5 minutes on whatever they wanted to share.  We brought in a Gong and gave everyone the opportunity to present to the group for up to 5 minutes, followed by time for Q&A from the audience.

As important, educational, and fun as our regular meet-ups are, I really enjoy these random deviations from ‘regular‘ that provide me with an opportunity to get to know the members of our group better. 

Here’s the list of brave and inspiring speakers who signed up with details about their presentations:

Speaker: Patrick Wheeler with TX/RX Labs
Patrick spoke about some of the interesting programs and activities that go on at TX/RX Labs, a nonprofit membership organization that helps make state of the art technology manufacturing equipment accessible to inventors and start-ups. 

TX/RX Labs is Houston’s Hackerspace, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with hackerspaces - Wikipedia defines Hackerspace as “a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, and digital or electronic art, (plus many other realms) can meet, socialize, and collaborate.”

Patrick talked about the manufacturing and technology tools available to use like a 3D Polymer gun and the CNC machine, and he shared some of the training classes offered for very little money (most are around $10-15) to teach people anything from knitting to advanced programming and robotics.

Sadly, we had to “Gong” Patrick for going over his 5 minutes - because he’ll be NetSquared’s featured August speaker.   We were so riveted by what TX/RX Labs has going on over there and we want to save the best details for next month when Patrick will have the entire meet-up.  

Speaker: Mark Hiebert owner of Hiebert Photography

Mark spoke about photographic lighting and gave our members awesome tips on what to be mindful of when taking photographs to get well-lit and great looking photographs. 

Mark gave us tips to help us spread the light around and get better photographs:
Ideally, as the photographer you want to control the location and time of day to get the most use of natural sunlight
Shoot your photographs through a screen, softbox, or umbrella
Bounce light above or behind you by adjusting your flash to a different angle

Mark’s presentation opened the floor to a discussion about the difficulties experienced by the photographer of this year’s Olympic athletes, Joe Klamar.  Klamar was one of the photographers taking photographs of the U.S. Olympic athletes on Olympic Media Day.  Co-organizer and lovely “Gong-Hostess”, Katrina Esco, asked if Mark could offer his opinion, as a professional photographer, on the topic that she had spotted trending on Facebook and across the web.

The resulting photographs didn’t live up to Klamar’s award-winning photography portfolio and there were some harsh critics of Klamar and the Olympic committee that selected Klamar online.  If you haven’t heard about the “viral photographic scandal” yet, Slate has a very good article that shares the details from a more neutral perspective on their website.

The resulting, disastrous, photographs can largely be attributed more to the lack of time for Klamar to prepare for each photograph and the lack of control over the lighting for each athlete’s shoot.  Mark stressed how important it is to give a photographer time to adjust for lighting as it relates to skin tone and clothing (especially if you’re in a leotard covered in sequins).

Nonprofits with upcoming fundraising Gala’s should look at Mark’s advice before you hire a photographer to take photos of the event and your biggest donors.  You definitely want to make sure your event photos look amazing and here are 3 tips to takeaway from the Olympic Photography example:

  1. Don’t expect to get a photographer last minute and get the best quality photographs, give the photographer time to prepare and bring the right lenses and lighting accessories
  2. Talk to your photographer, before the event, about the number of people and groups that you want shots of and the amount of time total.  Be flexible if the photographer says he or she needs more time between shoots for the best photographs.
  3. Don’t rely on the post-editing of photographs to improve the photos.  Yes - software can sometimes do magical things to a photograph...the best photos, however, are almost always the ones that were shot right in the first place and don’t need editing.

Speaker: Robert Nnake with Parks By You

Robert was a first time Netsquared attendee and he came up to share the project he’s part of that is working to bring more hike and bike trails to the city of Houston and surrounding areas.

Robert spoke about the plans his nonprofit organization, Parks By You, is implementing thanks to some large grant money and the support of the Mayor Annise Parker. 

Our group has a number of active distance runners and we had a lively and friendly debate about running surfaces versus concrete.  Robert’s openness to accept the feedback and thank us for providing a new perspective to his work was a perfect example of what the Houston Netsquared group is all about - sharing new perspectives so organizations can improve upon their work and bring even more good to the world.

Speaker: Ken Ismert, Web Database Programmer

Summer Gong Show with the Houston Netsquared Group
Ken is one of Houston Netsquared’s long-time members and during his presentation shraed philosophical musings on nonprofit libertarianism and spirituality compared to religion.

As always, Ken provided the group with thought provoking ideas and questions to get us around our spirituality, angels on earth doing good, and what it takes inside a person to stand up and try to solve some of the world’s largest problems.


That's a Wrap!

I want to close with a big Thanks! to these folks who shared with the group and to everyone who came out for the July meet-up and skipped the beach to hang out with us!

Please join us for our August Houston Netsquared Meet-up Featuring TX/RX Labs on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012.

Follow the Houston Netsquared Meet-Up on Facebook and view photos from our latest meet-up on our Summer Gong Show Photo Album.

We want to also thank our sponsor for the food and drinks for our meet-ups: Tendenci, the open source CMS for NonProfit Websites.