Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?


Dear Reader,

I was thinking of installing the beta version of Windows 8.1 on my Lenovo but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to install the beta-bugswindows-blue2-300x219

that would surely come with.   I was not up to re-loading my entire operating system if it created too many problems — I’m happy with all the work I’ve done configuring this machine.   I visited the Microsoft Kiosk in the Mall and they had a Surface running 8.1 and it was pretty good.   So I figured I’d go ahead.  About as always to beta; it was not entirely a clean, easy install.   Windows 8.1 download link puts on an installer that sends you to the Microsoft App Store.   It errored out on me.


I Goggled to find the solution.  It is entirely possible to install the beta, but it would require some low-level hands-on work.  At the moment, I don’t have the extra time to fiddle with it.   I may wind up waiting for the free install to be released.   For more information, check out BetaNews or any of the links below.

Dear Reader,

logo @NEGiveCamp is always a surreal experience.   For one weekend, I’m in an environment of total teamwork absent of self-interest, political agenda, financial goals  – everyone pulling together to help the organizations depending on us.  I planned my week of vacation around this event.

This year, the experience was healing for me.   New England Give Camp is annually hosted by Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.   For those of you blog followers who aren’t familiar with Boston’s geography, that is literally about a block or so from the bombings and where the officer was killed.  In addition to being so geographically close to the horrific events it was chronologically close to the events as well – about 3 weeks after.   I was terrified to get on the train to go into town.  The first night I was awakened at 3 am by a loud bang!   It turns out one of the other campers had stumbled during the night, but I was panicked for a bit.

However, being a New Englander, rather than head to the Bahamas for vacation, I pick up my weapons of choice (my trusty laptop and my courage) and I head into terrorist country.   logo

There is healing in community sharing.   I met old friends and we talked.   We processed the events together.   We worked to fix the problems in the world together.  I saw the young children that were not traumatized by the events, but were rather energized to make a difference.    Joy Olaes Surprenant always comes.   She began a wonderful organization, Catching Joy, that teaches the children the joy of givi559643_312590812203058_1173642950_ang back.   After the events of the terrorism, her organization was flooded by children wanting to know how to make a difference.

My team was helping out the fledgling organization, GVNGTogether – a non-profit that is innovating philanthropy.   Rather than philanthropy being one individual helping others, GVNGTogether is creating a community of philanthropists benefitting others.

I realized that those two terrorists made headlines and an impact.   New England Give Camp may not make the same headlines, but our impact is greater.   We outnumber them.  There are 120 of us volunteers, 24 non-profits and uncounted numbers of people positively impacted by that.   It doesn’t always feel like it, but the good is winning.   Its just not quite as flashy as Superman.

Dear Reader,

Hacking for a weekend #negc2011 @NEGiveCamp is impossible without tons of food and coffee — all of which was incredibly generously provided – to the point of embarrasment we had so much food.

First, I personally would like to thank Green Mountain Coffee and their very wonderful rep, Marlena Farnham who was back this year donating all the coffee we needed to drink.  Then there was the 47lbs of cheese generously donated by Cabot.  The horseradish was exquisite.

We were also fed by Dominoes Pizza, Naked Pizza, Panera Bread, Kick Ass Cupcakes, Cosi and Microsoft.

I liked the cupcakes the best.   I had mojito.



Dear Reader,

I arrived at New England Give Camp 2011 to work for The Morrill Memorial Library.   Shortly, I saw a better opportunity and abandoned them for The Newton Tanzania Collaborative.  Why Tanzania?   Perhaps it was some familial ties with my younger brother, Ted, who worked in Tanzania for part of his career?  Maybe it was the lure of the exotic… work in Africa.

The truth is that The Library really didn’t need three people for the work and the NTC team wound up in need of extra hands.  My team said to go see if I could help them and they adopted me.  No worries.

The Newton Tanzania Collaborative is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to educational development and cross-cultural exchange between students stateside and in rural Tanzania. They work over in Tanzania between Dar es Salaam (the capital) on the west coast (A7 – B2 markers on Google satellite image)and Kibaha (also A7) – follow the yellow line slightly to the East – Check out the Google Map at the end of the post.

That was the part of the project I worked on included a separate web page for their main website for the Village Reading Corner – a webpage to engage stateside children in virtual reading activities with Tanzanian children.  It shows the reading group over in Tanzania and stateside kids can join by logging their reading.   There is also a new geography game for stateside kids to travel across the world making layovers on the way to Tanzania!   Seriously cool!

If you want to learn Swahili, try this WEBSITE.

Dear Reader,

We got off to a great start last night!   #negc2011 and @NEGiveCamp for all Twitter feeds.  There are 29 non-profits this year (5 more than last year).  I am on a great team with Ben & Fred.  Fred, by himself, IS a photo-op.  We are spiffing up some of the functioning for the website for the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA.  The representative from the non-profit is an angel.

The food, as promised, is plentiful and good!   We had Dominoes pizza for dinner last night, plenty of fresh fruit and popcorn for snacks, lots of coffee and Panera Bagels for breakfast today — in addition to whole grain cereal, fresh fruit, yogurt…. Me, I’m having way too much rolling around Microsoft’s corporate offices in my Jammies!

I’ll be publishing more pictures here and to my Facebook.

Dear Reader,

Give Camp 2010, was the event of a lifetime!  I am packed already for Give Camp 2011!  Volunteers including myself camped in the offices of Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at One Memorial Drive — I personally, spread my sleeping bag out in the conference room and slept on the floor! Give Camp is an organization that arranges weekend-long events to connect technology professionals with a heart for giving with non-profits and charities that are in need of technical help.  What is GiveCamp? from givecamp on Vimeo.

I wound up contributing to the new website for RESPOND.   There is a write-up on my website HERE.   Complete pictures have been updated to my Facebook page HERE.   This year’s event is coming up in about two weeks!  For Twitter updates, follow me at @EvyLion or Jim O’Neil @jimoneil.

Facta non verba -“deeds, not words.” — Jim O’Neil