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Fun Stuff posts:

RSVP to WalkaboutNYC Tech Edition

Today, we’re proud to announce our 4th annual WalkaboutNYC Tech Edition. Since organizing our very first WalkaboutNYC in 2010, we’ve nurtured and grown this behind-the-scenes event to showcase the vibrant tech movement in New York City.

WalkaboutNYC Has Grown

  • We’ve created an RSVP system, so that you can better plan your schedule, and your day. About 1500 people RSVP’d for sessions at last year’s event, and many used our mobile-friendly view while they were on the go.
  • We created a new version of WalkaboutNYC, the Agency Edition, where we invited NYC’s independent creative agencies to join in the Walkabout fun.
  • For the second year in a row, we’re happy to see WalkaboutSingapore happen!
  • For those who don’t live in NYC but want to throw their own Walkabout, we made Walkabout available as an open source project, so that you can share your own behind-the-scenes look at your own city’s tech movement.

Why Do We Do This?

Harvest co-founders Danny Wen and Shawn Liu have always enjoyed taking tours of workspaces. Whether it’s a loft or shared co-working space, they’ve always been inspired to see where companies are born, people spend their time, and products are launched. WalkaboutNYC enables us to share that experience everyone.

Join Us

RSVP now to join us on Friday, May 17th, and meet the entrepreneurs, designers, and engineers who are shaping tomorrow’s technology.

Christopher Gamblée-Wallendjack on Systematic Ep. 39

Systematic on 5by5

I had the pleasure of joining Brett Terpstra on this week’s episode of his Systematic podcast (“A weekly discussion about creativity, productivity, work, and everything Mac and iOS.”) I’ve been a fan of Brett and his work for a number of years now, as an avid productivity and Mac enthusiast, and he’s developed a number of tools and scripts that I use almost daily here at Harvest to help provide the world-class support that our customers have become accustomed to. I was a little nervous at first, on account of the fact that I only had a few hours notice that I was appearing on the show (more on how that came about on Brett’s blog). Once we got rolling, though, I was put right at ease.

We talk a bit about Harvest in the beginning of the episode, and then we branch out and touch on a number of subjects: walking, making and recording music digitally, and — of course — accordions. It was a ton of fun getting a chance to meet Brett and have a conversation. You can listen to the episode here.

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, Harvest occasionally sponsors the 5by5 podcast network.

WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition: The Recap

For the past three years, we’ve been organizing WalkaboutNYC for technology companies, as a way to give people a behind the scenes look at how these companies get work done. Last month, we organized our very first WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition. We invited 28 independent creative agencies to open their doors, and share how they work with the public. We held a kickoff event in downtown New York’s SoHo, to bring together some of the participants, share lunch, and have some interesting discussions related to design and getting work done at an independent creative agency, with sponsorship from Mailchimp and Behance.

During the kickoff, Sam Potts, Communications Designer at IDEO, discussed his circuitous path through the world of design. What may, in retrospect, look like a master plan, was really an unplanned route that included publishing, superhero supplies, travel in China, and now IDEO. Hear why he made the decisions he did, and how he traveled from A to Z.

Continue reading…

Go Pink in October

A few weeks ago after lunch, Matt and Paul started talking about the fact that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They wondered if there was something that Harvest could do to support the cause. As others joined in the conversation, it became obvious that almost everyone in the office had been impacted by breast cancer in one way or another. We decided to make something happen.

This month Harvest is donating $10,000 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF). We decided on BCRF because 91 cents of every dollar spent by the organization goes directly towards breast cancer research and awareness programs. This is an impressive statistic for such a large organization; one we can get behind.

But this isn’t about the money. What we really care about here is awareness. With that in mind, we’re letting our customers change their Harvest color scheme to pink during the month of October (company admins will see a message on their dashboard). We hope that seeing the pink navigation bar will encourage you to ensure that all the people in your life follow the appropriate protocol for early detection.

We hope that during this month you will take some time to think about your health and how you can detect and prevent all forms of cancer.

Introducing WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition

When I joined Harvest a little more than a year ago, I was really excited about the work we do here. However, there was one project in particular that I really wanted to get involved in – WalkaboutNYC. The event had 2 successful runs prior to my joining Harvest, and I was very excited to work with Karen (WalkaboutNYC’s organizer), Danny, and  Shawn to see if we could blow it out.

The idea that kept rising to the top of the list for all of us was to run another event that was built around Harvest’s customers. The original WalkaboutNYC features Harvest’s peers in the NYC technology ecosystem. This new event would be for and about the Creative Agencies that we are proud to have as our customers.

All that background is to share how excited we all are that this vision has become a reality. On October 19th, 2012 we will be running the first ever WalkaboutNYC Agency Edition. We also have a brand spanking new site to celebrate this event.

The 17 companies who have bravely volunteered to open themselves up to curious New Yorkers on October 19th are paving the way for what we hope will be an annual tradition. If you are in NYC on 10/19 and run an agency that you’d like to have featured in this year’s WalkaboutNYC, please contact us. If you’re just curious how these agencies work and would like to meet the folks behind the scenes, RSVP today.

DIY Walkabout

We’ve just come out of our 3rd WalkaboutNYC, and with 3 years under our belt, we’ve learned a lot. For those that don’t know, WalkaboutNYC is a citywide open house event for technology companies. This year’s WalkaboutNYC was our most successful yet, and we’ve had many inquiries from people in other cities who would like to host their own Walkabout. I wanted to share some points about what we did, what we’ve learned, and where we’re headed.

We’re excited to announce that Walkabout is now an open source project.

We’ve had many inquiries from folks around the globe that would like to organize a Walkabout in their own cities, and we couldn’t be happier to hear it. To support these efforts, we have shared our experiences and knowledge about Walkabout on GitHub, to get you started on hosting your own events. Go forth and bring Walkabout worldwide!

We learned that people like structure.

For this year’s WalkaboutNYC, we took a more targeted approach. We set a goal to include about 50 companies (down from 80+ last year), driving traffic to 5 main neighborhoods (sorry Brooklyn), and requiring companies to create an experience led by founders, or lead designers or developers. This framework, utilizing timed events, allowed companies to know what was expected and what to expect. The same is true for attendees with RSVPs — giving them a schedule to follow was loads easier to follow than “go wherever you want.”

Be forewarned, Walkabout is a lot of work. And a lot of time.

We spent 873 hours on WalkaboutNYC this year.

What did we spend so much time on?

  • We built a new mobile first website, with a front- and back-end RSVP system and database, and Facebook/Twitter authentication for attendees. This was our intern Joschka’s very first Ruby on Rails project, and led to his first open source project, Harvey.
  • Kim did some great design work, from the site, to wall signs, limited edition tote bags, to stickers. The goal this year was to bring a stronger tie between Harvest and WalkaboutNYC, so that people actually know that we organize and support it.
  • The rest: outreach and back and forths with companies, sponsorships, press and PR company involvement, and general inquiries.

Coming next: WalkaboutNYC for creative agencies.

Despite the time commitment, we find the experience WalkaboutNYC provides for companies and participants to be a very worthwhile endeavor for the community. Previously, WalkaboutNYC has focused on the technology product community, and we’d like to shift focus to creative agencies this fall. Email us at info@walkaboutnyc.com if you work at a creative agency that is interested in hosting walkabouters this fall, we’d love to hear from you. And keep exploring!

Say Goodbye To The Generic Profile Picture

The internet has been co-existing with the infamous generic person (examples above) and his brethren for years. You’ve probably seen them around. They’re the gender-neutral, grayish, human-esque figures whose regular haunts include forums, social networks, and probably one or two of your account profiles. To be clear, they’re not evil. They’re just… there.

This week, we took some time to rethink our default profile pictures. We wanted to pull away from generic icons and make something fun and vibrant. So, from now on, all new people added to Harvest will be given one of three hand-painted clock tower avatars:

From left to right: Allen-Bradley Clock Tower (Wisconsin, US), Big Ben (London, England), Abraj Al-Bait Towers (Mecca, Saudi Arabia)

When I said hand-painted, I meant I “painted” them on the iPad with one of my favorite apps, Brushes. We want to keep expanding on this idea and provide even more options for you in the future. If you know of any clock towers that you think would make a great profile picture, let us know and it could make it into the next batch!

WalkaboutNYC, How It All Started

Prior to launching Harvest, Shawn and I were in the thick of operating our web design and development business. During those years, one of our biggest inspirations was seeing how other businesses looked on the inside. The physical office space represented the modern day workshop. Seeing other people’s spaces helped us imagine the type of workspace we wanted to create. How companies divided up their floor, how teams sat together (or not), what they decorated their space with — those were all signals of what the business believed in.

Workspaces continue to inspire us as we build Harvest today. The office is where we spend a big portion of our waking hours, and we want to continue to create the best environment for our team. We still seize opportunities to visit startups and technology companies in NYC and wherever we travel. Seeing photos is one thing but to visit the physical space where ideas come together and speak with the people there — those opportunities are rare.

In 2010, with the momentum of the technology ecosystem rising in New York, we decided to bring that opportunity to a larger audience. What if we organized an “open house for technology companies” so more people can take part in the experience of seeing space and meeting the people behind them? We coined it Walkabout, after all, it’s a journey of discovery and NYC is a fine city for walking. That year, the first WalkaboutNYC event launched with 15 brave, companies opening their doors.

WalkaboutNYC is now in its third year and the event has grown up. Over 55 companies in New York City have committed to the spirit of community and to provide insightful experiences to those that visit. From NYC-rooted companies like Fog Creek Software, Tumblr, Skillshare, Voxel to new transplants like Facebook and Spotify, we couldn’t be more excited about the roster this year.

2012 also marks the year that Walkabout went international. On Friday, May 11th, the first WalkaboutSG took place in the technology capital of Asia, Singapore. It’s tremendously rewarding to see friends latch on and lead this effort in their communities. We are confident that many great things will come out of it for the respective communities.

Hat tip to Karen Schoellkopf, Harvest community manager and the fearless organizer of the event. Without her, Walkabout would not have come together.

On Friday, if you are in NYC, we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to visit technology companies, see how they work, and meet some great people along the way.

Visit WalkaboutNYC

Harvest Playback, Apr 21st Edition

We quietly launched the new WalkaboutNYC site this week. This will be our third year hosting this technology company walking tour. This time there’s going to be a RSVP system for you to plan a walking schedule (coming soon). A huge thank-you to our Walkabout team: Karen, Naama, Kim and Joschka for their good work!

This past week, we refined a project that will be open for beta sign-up this coming week. T.J. published a blog post about the lessons from our recent upgrade to Ruby 1.9.3 and it’s making the rounds in the Ruby community.

Links from the past week, on Co-op:

There you have it. Hope you have a wonderful week ahead, and see you soon!

Harvest Playback, April 14th Edition

Things got done this week: Barry and T.J. pushed through an important system update; Warwick doubled the memory for our primary database servers; Dee, Patrick, Matthew and Samara made great progress for a project that will launch for beta soon; Kim and Joschka are making the final push for WalkaboutNYC‘s new site (coming this week!). On top of all that, our new junior devs are getting started on an important integration. Phew…

Discussed this week on Co-op:

There you have it. Here’s to a fun and fruitful week ahead. See you soon!