Older blog entries for kgb (starting at number 372)

2 Jul 2010 (updated 2 Jul 2010 at 19:31 UTC) »

BarCamp Orlando Spring 2010

BarCamp Orlando Spring 2010   flyer front photoApril 3rd was my first BarCamp Orlando – a free event run by the community and for the community. These occur throughout north America. Anyone can give a presentation on anything, but often they are about technology, publishing content, or social media. Due to sponsors, the event came with a free t-shirt and hot lunch (which was a great pasta buffet). You are asked to contribute in some way, helping with presentations or cleanup are obvious ways.

It was held in downtown Orlando, near the public library, at Slingapour’s, One Eyed Jacks, and Gibson Guitar Center.

Barcamp Orlando checkin

Check-in Desk

Barcamp Orlando 2010 Schedule

Schedule Board

I attended the following sessions:

The GoWalla API

- A brief overview of the GoWalla API calls, which are limited to read-only access to the location based service.


- Discussed the doctype, HTML differences, new audio and video tags, etc.

Singularity U

- Conducted by a friend of mine, BJ Price, this session discussed the experience of being selected to attend this unique learning opportunity.

BarCamp Orlando Spring 2010   2010 04 03140247 photo

BJ Price discussing Singularity U

New Media Discussion

Free forum discussion about new media and news & video publishing.

Video without Cameras

- Discussed xtranormal – a web site that allows you to easily map text to animated characters and their vocal recitation.

You can relive the experience through the hastag’ed Twitter posts.

Syndicated 2010-04-04 04:16:51 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

2 Jul 2010 (updated 2 Jul 2010 at 19:43 UTC) »

Celebration FL Google Fiber Update

The deadline has passed, and Celebration FL submitted it’s RFI for the Google Fiber for Communities. Google is now reviewing all the submissions and will eventually announce which town(s) will win installation contracts.

Celebration residents banded together to create this video postcard message to Google:

www.youtube.com/watch? v=qOP8eBYCZV4

As well as:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmloi- j630I

But the town didn’t stop there, if they win the contract Celebration plans to permanently rename one of their streets “Google Lane”:

Most of credit for the effort goes to Teddy Benson, who did a fantastic job moving quickly, creating the video, and submitting the RFI. I think it’s important to note that this was really all pulled together and produced in 2-3 weeks time, while other towns in the country began their promotional efforts in Feb.

Keith Barrett speaking at Celebration FL 
Google Fiber Task  Meeting

My show of support at the Celebration Task Force meeting

Syndicated 2010-03-28 04:20:02 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

2 Jul 2010 (updated 2 Jul 2010 at 19:44 UTC) »
2 Jul 2010 (updated 2 Jul 2010 at 19:46 UTC) »

Celebration FL Wants Google Gigabit Broadband

The town of Celebration FL has a unique history. It’s the town that Disney originally provided the land for, designed, built, and operated. Several books have been written about it. Disney no longer operates the town but they continue to occupy most of the office buildings.

When the town was originally built, it was promoted as being very networked. In the mid-1990’s it held the world’s record for “most connected town” in the country. SmartCity, the firm that supports the phone and network infrastructure at Disney World, also wired up Celebration and still provides the phone service. Cable broadband and television stations are provided by Comcast, in partnership to the SmartCity infrastructure. SmartCity provides telephone and DSL. All of it buried in ground. This was back in 1992. As nearby cities today get high-speed cable broadband and FIOS, those services are not including the town of Celebration because of it’s private infrastructure. Residents have sometimes been caught by Comcast finger-pointing to avoid responsibility when trying to resolve service problems.

I live in this area and my Internet bandwidth usage is beginning to have some concern. I “cut the cable-TV cord” recently, so all of my television, movies, news, conversation, downloads, and my VOIP phone comes to me via my broadband connection. I’ve already neared Comcast’s 250gig limit once, and I haven’t started my live streams yet.

So it’s very exciting on many levels that Google may offer a solution.

Enter Google

Google is offering a ‘contest’, where they will wire up a few small towns with their new Gigabit broadband service, and a letter went out to Celebration residents encouraging them to participate:

Celebration Residential Owner’s 
Association, Inc.
Celebration Non-Residential Owner’s Association, 

Submissions are due by March 26. Every submittal increases Celebration’s chance.

Google Fiber Initiative Town Meeting
Tue, March 16; 7:00 p.m.
851 Celebration Avenue

Given the famous nature of the town (it was also a premier town for the Segway scooter), and it’s proximity to Disney World, both Celebration and Google would benefit from this arrangement. As would I

Syndicated 2010-03-15 14:24:05 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

WordCamp Orlando 2009

WordCamp Orlando 2009   4147308621 5e0ca11557 b photoThe first annual gathering of WordPress users and programmers took place Saturday, 12/5. WordCamp Orlando was held in 2 buildings on the beautiful Rollins College campus in Winter Haven. There was free WiFi but AC Power was a little difficult to come by, so more than once I had to seek out space on crowded wall outlets. Everyone agreed the $15 conference fee was well worth the information and presentations shared (plus it included a t-shirt and a good BBQ lunch), There were roughly 72-100 people attending, a list of people who had specified Twitter accounts can be viewed here.

This event was unique among WordCamps in that for the first time, all 4 WordPress developers were together in attendance and available for Q&A (could being near Disney World have had something to do with that?). It was also the first time I personally have seen GoogleWave used as a main communications means for the people attending. The photo stream for the WordCamp is on Flickr, and the Twitter hashtag was #wco.

The schedule was divided into 2 tracks – a developer track and a user track (i.e. WordPress.com), with some sessions of each held simultaneously. Having personal interest in both tracks, I had to bounce back and forth between session rooms.

Time Track 1 Track 2
8:00 am Registration Open
9:30 am Welcome
10:00 am Geno Church & Eric Dodds
People are the Killer App
Mark Jaquith
What I Hate About WordPress
11:00 am Jane Wells
The User Experience of WordPress
Barry Abrahamson
High Performance WordPress
12:00 pm Lunch – BBQ at the Cornell Campus Center
1:00 pm Dan Maccarone & Andrew Zipern
Why Online Products Fail
Chris Scott
You’re Doing it Wrong
2:00 pm Jeremy Harrington
A Site Seeing Tour
John James Jacoby
3:00 pm JC Hutchins
From Podcast to Print
Brian Johnson
WordPress on Windows
4:00 pm Sean Brown
Moving to WordPress: One Publisher’s Journey
Eric Marden
WordPress as a CMS
5:00 pm Matt Mullenweg
State of the Word: Q&A
5:50 pm Closing
7:00 pm WordCamp Orlando After Party – The Globe at Wall St. Plaza
19 N Orange Ave Orlando, FL

What I Hate About WordPress, and High Performance WordPress

These sessions discussed the problems and growth behind the WordPress.com hosting site. WordPress.com has about 850 servers in 3 data centers. ~350 web/php servers, ~300 DB servers, ~60 memcacheD servers.

These presentations can be viewed online here and here

You’re Doing It Wrong

This was the most useful session for me, as it gave examples on the best way to code WordPress plugins and PHP so that they survive upgrades and changes.

WordCamp Orlando 2009   4160952050 6ed733f6ce o photo

Chris Scott telling us how to code correctly

Chris’s slides are viewable online.

A Site-Seeing Tour

Various web sites and blog were presented, with commentary about what was done well and poorly. One of the sites presented was Disney Parks Blog, which was an example of a site done well. The brand was clear, the colors consistent, and the comment section easy to view.

Another interesting point brought out is how things have changed. Web designers use to design their pages with the most consideration “above the fold”, meaning the main screen viewing area. People who still do this are out of touch, as mobile devices, especially if they tilt, no longer have a consistent fold.

Buddy Press

I did not attend this session but the content is viewable online

From Podcast to Print

Narrated by book author JC Hutchins, without any projector or slides, JC discussed his attempts to get his book “7th Son” published. While a fan of “just-in-time” self publishing when it makes sense, traditional publishers don’t look favorably on it and he wanted to have his book appear in book stores. What he did do was read his book a piece at a time in his own podcast. This allowed him to “self publish” in a way that was more accepting to traditional publishers, and was more interactive with his audience. He leveraged blog and podcast mediums to build an audience and sell the final commercial product of his book. Story-telling podcasts as a method to publish, while protecting themselves from duplication, is an interesting use of the medium. In his words, “If you build it they will come” doesn’t work by itself. You need to “tell them where to go”

I personally believe that major book publishers, instead of fighting it, will eventually embrace and create self-publishing divisions for new authors, moving them to print if/when they sales reach certain numbers.

WordPress as a CMS

Another good session. WordPress is a CMS, as is anything that helps you manage content. Some companies do nothing but set up sites and CMS environments using just WordPress. What works best will depend on the diversity of the content being managed, the skill-sets of the people involved, and what needs to scale.

WordCamp Orlando 2009   4160576579 908dba90e2 o photo

Eric Marden discusses WordPress as a CMS

Eric’s presentation can be view online also.

State of the Word: Q&A

WordCamp Orlando 2009   4163890207 fe5deae505 b photoMatt Mullenweg, a person that I swear acts and sounds just like actor/comedian Dave Foley, ran a great Q&A session. With all 4 developers present people had a unique opportunity to discuss almost anything.

A topic receiving much discussion was the “Elastic Theme“, A GUI driven theme designer similar in concept to what people see on SquareSpace.com


I did not attend the after-party, but I well enjoyed my first WordCamp. Every year you hear about major WordCamps on the west coast and in NY, and it’s great to finally have one local to Orlando!

UPDATE: There is now an Orlando WordPress Users group – OrlandoWordpress.org

Syndicated 2009-12-09 07:30:42 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

2 Jul 2010 (updated 2 Jul 2010 at 19:39 UTC) »

NASA STS-129 Shuttle Launch Tweetup: The Impact

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch Tweetup: 
The Impact   405380main nasa tweetup 100x75 photoMy wife and I were 2 of 100 social media users chosen to participate in NASA’s Space Shuttle Atlantis TweetUp on 11/15/2009. This 2-day gathering of Twitter users began with presentations by NASA technical, media, and astronaut staff, a tour of the Kennedy Space Center property, and a visit to the shuttle from just 1/4 mile distance. The 2nd day we were set up with a private press tent near the giant countdown clock and Vehicle Assembly Building, and watched the shuttle launch from only 3.5 miles away — the closest people are allowed to be when it lifts off.

You can re-live NASA TV’s entire 5 hour coverage of the event, including interviews with the TweetUp attendees and the launch.

For the attendees, the return on their investment (ROI) was obvious. Participating in Twitter (a free service) and registering on a web site (also free) resulted in a once- in-a-lifetime experience of being part of a select group allowed to view a launch on site, plus receive lots of press attention. It’s safe to say that most of the people were excited just for the opportunity to see the launch up close. Some came from as far away as Britain and New Zealand.

What about NASA’s ROI?

From a social media perspective

While the event was run by NASA public relations and social media groups, much of it was set up physically using volunteers and staff personally excited to be a part of it. There were actual costs obviously; the conference room, people’s time, the shuttle buses, gasoline, the tent, press kits, etc. This was actually their 5th tweetup, but the first one centered around a shuttle launch. As a social media event it was done very well. They setup a special hashtag (#NASATweetUp), every table on both days had free Wi-Fi and AC power, the front of the room had large displays showing the Twitter feeds, the event was simultaneously streamed to the Internet, and there was an expectation by presenters that people would be actively involved but would be looking at their laptops most of the time. Attendees were treated like press; and received press kits with mission details, CDs of data, and more. More than once NASA made it a point that they were open and would discuss anything at all — after all, it’s your space program. Your tax dollars paid for it.

Almost all of the people that participated were selected on a first-come, first-served basis, having little to do with their social media standing, number of followers, or areas of interest. It was driven by the passions of the people wanting to attend. The only exceptions were FOX News, Laughing Squid, and Space Tweep Society, who received specific invitations, which again NASA was very open about.

NASA estimates the 100 people represented over 150k of personal followers. Conversation was so active that #NASATweetUp became the 3rd most popular trending topic on Twitter during the first day of presentations, ahead of the press conference discussions about water being discovered on the moon. By the end of the first week the event had generated over 10.4k “tweet” postings referencing the #NASATweetUP, plus a lot of blog, podcasts, and main stream media content. Speaking for myself, I picked up about 40 additional Twitter followers because of it.

Twitter Traffic Rockets into Space Along With Shuttle Atlantis

Here is where the ROI becomes a bit more obvious and interesting

First; there’s little question whether this was reaching the target audience. While the group was a mixture of diverse people and interests, everyone that went to that web site to register and traveled at their own expense to be there was passionate enough to be the target audience. Also their friends and family would be included in this circle. They didn’t have to be paid, so there little doubt to their motivation.  Everyone was as excited to be there as the people at NASA were on their first day of employment.

Social Media is about sharing the experience, in whole. While the mainstream press frequently focuses on the downside of the news and mostly attends launches in case there is a “tragedy”, the social media press had nothing but excitement and positive things to report.  Every moment generated a Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed/blog post. In fact the interaction with the TweetUp press was so much more involved and positive, that the monitors displaying the mainstream press conference were turned off after about 20 minutes of their depressing questions.

Unlike when the mainstream press posts a single story about a launch, and one about the landing, the social media continued to discuss the events every day for over 2 weeks. Furthermore, because the TweetUp itself was news, generating additional stories, and the people attending were interviewed by their own local press when they returned home, there was more mainstream coverage about this than would have otherwise occurred.

Some of the simplest things, like the massive eagles nest on property, or that an armadillo was spotted living at the Kennedy Space Center visitors complex, made social media news. The human experience, shared.

When the van carrying the astronauts stopped on route to the shuttle so the press area could to wave them off (a NASA tradition), because of the TweetUp it was the largest gathering of people there since Apollo 11 — NASA history in the making.

Perhaps one of the most unexpected ROI results was that in the wake of massive budget cuts and an ending shuttle program, a grassroots organization was created by some of the attendees to help save the NASA space programs. Their main point? With all the wasted government spending, and bailouts of deceptive financial institutions, why remove support from an organization that is actually working well?

There is also a documentary in progress concerning the event, again, being created by one of the attendees.

The TweetUp generated hundreds of additional photos and videos compared to the mainstream press. A large number of friendships also resulted, and I’m sure some NASA staff renewed their energy about working there.

NASA Pushes Social Media Experience to New Heights (press release), also published on RedOrbit

NASA Blogs: Tweet,two,one … Liftoff!

NASA considers the event a success and is planning on holding another one — pehapps larger this time. They are aware the general public views things they take for granted like seeing a rocket launch, talking with an Astronaut, or learning the complexities of putting it all together, as bottled-up treasure that should be shared.

Social Media Coverage

Many of the 100 TweetUp attendees posted blogs and podcasts of the event, relating in their own words their experience:

Skylog: Looking Up!

This is How NASA Will Win the Public Back

The Sociology of Tweeting and How It Affected a Space Launch: The Incalculable Benefits of Social Media on Geeks

STS-129 NASA Tweetup: Return on Investment

NASA Tweetup — Space Shuttle Atlantis Launch — Day 1 and Day 2

Attend a Shuttle Launch In Person — YES!

Birgit Pauli-Haack Photostream

NASA STS-129 TweetUp Photostream

There’s also Space Tweep Society post listing many more sources

And there were some social media stories:

Houston, We Have a Tweet: NASA’s Latest Social Media Launches

How to Launch an Effective Tweetup: Recent NASA Tweetup Offers Four Easy Lessons for PR

Mainstream Media Coverage

The presence of the TweetUp people was itself news, and caused the mainstream press to extend their coverage of this launch compared to others. CNN made a video and interviewed several of us:

CNN Coverage of NASA TweetUp

And many media outlets ran stories containing interviews or tweets from our group:

Atlantis Blasts Off On Space Station Supply Mission

Tweeps come from around the world for NASA Tweetup at Kennedy Space Center

Amador County local ‘twitters’ from NASA space shuttle launch

WSJ: Space Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off

From a Personal Perspective

I’ve already mentioned this event caused my Twitter followers to increase, as well as my making many new friends and renewing my interest in space science. I can’t imagine not going to another one and doing an even better job of covering it for myself and others. One problem that became obvious to me was that I need to make a few changes to my blog and web site so I can more rapidly publish photo and video material. Things happened very fast.

My launch video was shown on CommandN as a video pick of the week, and my blog entry as a web pick. I also could not resist creating the following 2 photos:

Crasher Squirrel at NASA TweetUp

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch 
Tweetup: The Impact   AtlantisCrasherSquirrel photo

Summing It All Up

The NASA TweetUp is a good example of how and why companies should embrace social media, instead of fearing a lack of control over it. Such control is mainly an illusion, since any employee or visitor with a cell phone in their pocket or eventual access to the Internet can publish a message or photo to thousands instantly. It’s better for companies to allow access and address employee issues as they would with any other individual concerns. In many ways, Social Media is exactly what marketing has been complaining they’ve wanted for years — to be able to target the people most trusted to spread the word about their product to friends and families. The problem is that people are honest and direct about products. Social media is not compatible with deceptive advertising or spin. You have to actually have a great product and earn trust. By participating in social media and hosting events, companies become an active member of the conversation. NASA took shuttle mission #129 and made it as special as #1, generating weeks of positive press and excitement.

NASA is already planning to host another TweetUp. I will try my best to be a part of it!

Syndicated 2009-12-07 13:30:04 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

NASA STS-129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2

NASA Tweetup Entrance SignOnce again my wife Cindy and I left our home around 5:30am and made the toll laden drive to NASA, this time bringing along my hi-def video equipment and tripod. Again we arrived about 15 minutes before we needed to be there, and again there were several other cars ahead of us waiting for the KARS ball field parking lot gate to open. When it did we parked in rows on the grass and had a bit of a tailgate party to kill the time until the buses arrived. By this point everyone was making  friends and exchanging contact information.

NASA Tweetup Tailgate NASA Tweetup Tailgate

Arnold Evens of FOX TV Dallas showed us he uses a OLPC (“One Laptop Per Child”) PC as his field equipment. Designed for use in 3rd world countries, it was a very good choice; long battery life, waterproof, durable plastic. I’ve thought of this myself, so it was very cool to see someone actually doing it. Many people had never seen one before so it became one of the topics of conversation during our tailgate party. In case you don’t know, you have the OLPC project to thank for the fact we now enjoy $200 netbooks.


Our Press Tent

The buses came and took us on a several mile trip to the NASA press area, located right next to the famous Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the large launch countdown clock. There NASA had set up a special tent for us, again complete with WiFi, power strips, and large displays of broadcast and twitter feeds.

Tweetup Sign NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4124546476 ffbef93a0e o photo

Everyone picked their locations and began their news broadcasting.

Tweetup Tent

TweetUp "Press" In Action

Keith Barrett Twittering Away

Keith Barrett Twittering Away

Long Shot Showing Keith and Cindy

Long Shot Showing Keith and Cindy

Cindy Tweeting

Cindy Tweeting

Our View of the Tent Front

Our View of the Tent Front

NASA gave presentations and answered questions while the launch progressed. We were currently in a 3hr hold, so this was a perfect time to walk around and take photos of the area around the tent, and the countdown clock.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123779405 9696884075 o photo NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4124549312 c67bdb0ba8 o photo

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4124549468 190a7ae92f o photo NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123780145 56372ab9bd o photo

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123781387 bc4641f8a4 o photo NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123780459 be7a305744 o photo

All the TweetUp attendees gathered together for a group shot:

NASA Tweetup Winners

I must have said a hundred times that I couldn’t believe I was sitting on the grass next to the VAB building. While we were together, NASA was presented with a group signed poster as a thank you for inviting us to this event.


One of the podcasters in our group also took advantage of the opportunity and had us give a live cheer. I recorded this live on my cell phone.

The Interviews

Many of us, including Cindy, were interviewed by local press, podcasters, and film makers.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4124550816 8f14b40558 o photo

Most of the press that visited our group were more interested in the few people that traveled from other countries to be here today. I though it rather ironic that old media was interviewing the new media, and in several cases the new media was reporting on it back.

The Astronaut Wave

As the astronauts are driven to the launch site, it’s tradition for the van to stop by the press area so everyone can wave at them and wish them success. Days before the launch, the astronauts spend most of their time in isolation to prevent catching a cold and bringing it with them into space. This last stop could be the final time in their lives that they see other people should something go wrong with the mission, so it’s a very important sendoff. We were thrilled to be a part of it.

The van was accompanied by a security helicopter. The Astronauts are all suited up so they cannot leave the van.

NASA Astronauts on their way to the launch

We waved like crazy. NASA later told us we were the largest gathering of people to wave them off since the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. One of several reasons why this tweetup is now a part of NASA history.

The Launch

As T minus zero minutes approached I went and staked out an area to set up my video equipment. Two different NASA people said I had to be in different places, so there was some relocating until I had a spot no one seemed to feel was in their way.

While I was setting up, my wife was still in the tent. NASA starting to hold drawings and giveaways. They gave away the TweetUp banners and other items. When my wife finally joined me on the grass, she was excited to say that she had won the sample of Aerogel they were displaying yesterday, so the one disappointment I had about not being able to see it was completely flipped around because now we owned it. Amazing.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123782519 015b8dab28 o photo NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4124552438 8f6dfd07e9 o photo

Then the time arrived. The clock reached zero. The ship took off and everyone was surprised how emotional the experience was. The ground shook like an earthquake and the windows in the building behind us rattled loudly. Car alarms went off in the parking lot near us, and camera shutters clicked wildly.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123782903 8122586741 o photo

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123783031 6cebb54618 o photo

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123783095 bf9cc387d7 o photo

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 2   4123783309 f77d09e28b o photo

It exceeded all expectations and was more impressive than I ever imagined. You can watch my video for yourself:


The NASA Coverage

NASA created a video highlighting the launch itself and the reactions of the people inside the TweetUp “twent”.


The Press Conference

After the launch we went back into the tent to put away our gear and wait out the formal press conference. The questions the main stream media were asking were pretty depressing; “What would have happened if nnnn failed”?, “how much did nnn cost?”. “What about the budgets?”… How could those people not have had the same experience we did? We just watched 6 people ride an explosion into space. Astronaut Mike Massimino yesterday had described the experience as like “a big beast grabbing a hold of you” and taking off, and you hope it knows where it’s going. All we TweetUp people could talk about was how amazing the launch was, that it was a perfect day for it, that it was an honor to wave them off, etc. The NASA staff actually turned off the monitors in the tent after a while and said it was far more fun to talk and listen to us!

John Yembrick and Beth Beck of NASA were wonderful people to meet and made this an incredible experience for everyone.

After it was all over, we took the long bus ride back to the cars, waved goodbye to Beth Beck (who was surrounded by tweeple still talking about the day), and quickly landed in slow-moving traffic for a long part of the trip. Everyone that had seen the launch, not just the tweetup people, were all leaving at the same time.  It took us over 2 hours to finally make it home.

The photos on this article are only a sample. You can view the entire photo stream on Flickr.

[In the final article of this series I will discuss things that happened after the event, plus it's impact on main stream and social media, and on us - the attendees]

Note: UPDATED 12/7 to include the signed poster video and the NASA reaction video

Syndicated 2009-11-26 10:43:45 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

NASA STS-129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1

NASA Tweetup check-in tableRegistration for the NASA STS-129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp was from 7:30-8:30 am, and if you missed it you could not attend any part of the 2 day event. I was already exhausted and partially sunburned from working the previous day, but we managed to get up at 4:30am and NASA Tweetup credentialsbegin our drive to NASA a little after 5:30am. It’s normally about an 80 minute trip according to Google, but we’d never driven to the Kennedy Space Center before and wanted extra time for breakfast, getting lost, etc. After dealing with all the tolls and a mis-turn we arrived about 7:20am, behind 5 other cars already parked and waiting. When people came out to the check-in table we picked up our credentials, program guide, press kit, and some cool gifts and waited. We passed the time by introducing ourselves to each other, taking photos, and (of course) tweeting.

The Morning Presentations

At 8:30 NASA staff escorted us into a conference room inside one of the visitor buildings. The room was filled with round tables, each having power strips. Everyone scrambled for their desired tables and set up their laptops, cameras, and other equipment.

NASA Tweetup banner NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4125065627 6b45222605 o photoNASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4123610147 27689ba38a o photoNASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4109511522 2c27899e9e o photo

Each table was also given an unidentified object used by NASA. Some of the objects were explosive bolts (used), special bricks, and a sample of aerogel (sometimes referred to as solid smoke). I had always wanted to see some aerogel, but sadly I missed the opportunity.

Each speaker was very engaging, and the audience was tweeting the whole time. At one point #NASAtweetup held the 3rd most popular trending position on Twitter.

It was very apparent that NASA was experienced in social media. From simple details like providing power at the tables and warning presenters that people would frequently be looking at their laptops rather than at them, to the the large twitter feed screens in front of the room. The presentation was detailed, humorous, and played to a diverse audience. Everyone had nothing but compliments about the morning. More than once the discussion came up how main stream media looks for and focuses on “the tragedy”, while social media is all about real-time sharing the experience. NASA probably experiences this more than most; it seems that the only reason the main stream media shows up at a shuttle launch is to be there in case something does fail

You can watch the entire two hour presentation just as we did (except broken up into 3 YouTube compatible segments). Note: I can be seen working about 29:16 into the part 1 video.

Part 1: John Yembrick (NASA public affairs officer), Jon Cowart (Ares I-X deputy mission manager)


Part 2: Wayne Hale (strategic program planning manager), Mike Massimino (astronaut, STS-109 & 125)


Part 3: Veronica McGregor (public affairs, NASA’s JPL), Miles O’Brien (space reporter, former CNN anchor)


Here’s a screen capture of our table from the simultaneous broadcast on NASA TV:

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4124378856 3b7876570a o photo

All the speakers were informative and entertaining. After the session Astronaut Mike Massimino stayed around for autographs and photos.

Keith Barrett with Astronaut Mike Massimino

NASA then told us they had to step up the schedule, and that the buses would be leaving about 11:45, so we had about 45 minutes to site see and have lunch. While touring the visitor center I saw this display of old Apollo 11 items:

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4123611743 9933083c2f o photo

I once owned this View Master set, which included the vinyl record.

The Afternoon Tours

At 11:45 we climbed aboard bus #2 to our first destination while our tour guide, Greg, described the sites we passed and his experiences working at NASA. Since the day would be presentations and tours, I decided not to carry around my heavier Hi-Def camera equipment and tripod, opting instead for my G1 camera phone and a common pocket camera.

Our first stop was the International Space Station building, where you can see what some of the modules of the Space Station look like and feel like to walk through. There were also genuine station modules in a clean room area. These are used to replicate and solve problems up in space, or prepare them for actual transport to the space station.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4124380878 8391ce5104 o photo

Tour Bus #2 with Greg

Keith Barrett at NASA STS-129 TweetUp

In front of a Space Station Module

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4105733705 27fe27475a o photo

Space Station Bathroom

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4111475524 68d3a70c77 o photo

Real Space Station Modules in Clean Room

NASA Limited Area Warning Sign

Guess TweetUp Credentials are OK for Limited Areas

Our next stop was at the Apollo 11 memorial attraction. I had actually sen this attraction once before in the early 1980s and it seemed the same, and just as enjoyable.The entrance is through these massive metal doors, that when they opened I half expected them to sound like #2’s office doors in “The Prisoner” TV series.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4110710269 ea5daa2fe5 o photo

Apollo 11 Experience

When it begins you see all the original Mission Control stations setup as if long abandoned …

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4111475720 69d4a822d1 o photo

1969 Mission Control; abandoned

… but suddenly they spring to life with lights, sound, and displays, and you are taken on a recreation of the Apollo 11 mission of 1969.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4111475760 2e1a6d5ae1 o photo

Mission Control; Alive!

Last time I was at NASA was back in the early 1980s, and they had a Saturn V rocket sitting outside, rusting, that you could climb on and take photos. Today this massive structure has been restored and is on display inside the building you enter when leaving the Apollo 11 recreation.

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4110710383 c843853ab4 o photo

Saturn V Engines

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4124381422 66665b9b9c o photo

Saturn V

NASA STS 129 Shuttle Launch TweetUp: Day 1   4110710459 424b0bd01e o photo

Saturn V

There were other Apollo mission vehicles on display as well:



Lunar Rover

Lunar Rover

The Big Surprise

Our final stop was a surprise. We heard that we would be taken to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis while it was still on the launch pad, BUT NASA did not tell us that we would be stopping only 1/4 miles away from it! Words were insufficient to describe our excitement!

STS-129 Shuttle Atlantis

STS-129 Shuttle Atlantis

STS-129 Shuttle Atlantis

STS-129 Shuttle Atlantis

If NASA had warned us that this was going to occur, I would have brought my good camera gear! I had to settle for these photos, plus I also did a quick, short live stream video from the site:

NASA Tweetup STS-129 Stop

Quite an exciting way to end the day! We continued to take pictures until it was time to load back onto the bus and get dropped off at our cars, then take the long drive home.

Tomorrow was launch day!

These are only a sample of the photos taken today. You can view my full photo stream on Flickr,

[In the next segment of this series I relate the events of the second day of the Tweetup, including the shuttle launch]

Syndicated 2009-11-23 02:17:04 from Keith Barrett Online » Technology

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