Gmail Shortcuts Via KeyRocket

Ran into this Chrome plugin while looking for a way to use Excel shortcuts in a Google Docs spreadsheet. It is super simple. Install the plugin and as you are moving around Gmail it will remind you of the keyboard shortcuts you could have used. Take it for a spin and ramp up shortcut knowledge.

KeyRocket for Chrome

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Events: End of December

The Holidays really crept up on me pretty quickly this year. I was completely unprepared when I headed out to California from the 19th. I didn’t check the snow reports in Tahoe, so I hauled my snowboard out there only to find manmade, icy runs. I can handle manmade, icy runs in Vermont where I’ll take what I can get, but up in Tahoe it’s just depressing. I also had done absolutely no Christmas shopping, which meant I spent my supposedly relaxing vacation days in the labyrinth that was the local middle America mall. Although unprepared, it ended up being a great Christmas. Its always tough being on the other side of the country from my family, but it does make the Holidays that much more special. I hope everybody had a great Holiday too.

Tuesday, December 13th: Founders @ Fail w/ Amol Sarva of Peek

First, I have to say that I met Amol recently, and he is a perfect example of why the New York entrepreneur ecosystem is great. I’ve had a few conversations with Amol now, and during each one he continually surprises me with how genuine and sincere he is. Amol always seems to be more than willing to listen, give advice, and help out where he can. Just one of those guys I look to emulate in my daily life. On to the talk… I remember reading about Peek on Engadget when it was launching and not knowing how to take the device. Peek was getting a ton of press and gadget of the year titles, but the iPhone had just come out, and I didn’t understand where an email only device would fit into the market. Then the economy crashed, Peek struggled, and eventually fell off of my, and probably most people’s, radar. The story that was missed was an incredible one. Amol spoke of Peek’s troubles, how they searched for a new path, how they’re investors supported, issues in the office, and their eventual turn around. Peek, for those who don’t know, are currently providing software for low-cost feature phones around the world. I am now incredibly interested to see how they will continue to evolve as the world turns from feature phones to smart phones. If you have a chance meet or hear Amol speak, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, December 15th: Startup Jobs: Find Your Path w/ Charlie O’Donnell

I thought it would be interesting to check out Charlie O’Donnell’s thoughts on breaking into the start-up job world. It was a good talk, informal and free flowing; he answered a lot of audience questions. The general theories weren’t anything you don’t hear everywhere else. Mainly that startups are busy and need to know exactly how you will help them. For those interested in making a career change, I would recommend checking this talk out if he does it again and definitely checking out Charlie’s Blog,

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Events: December 5th Through the 11th

Monday, December 5th: NYC MusicTechnology Meetup – Demos

Kicked the week off with a music tech demo night, little did I know that music was going to be the theme of the week. I have to start off thanking iHeartRadio for providing Uncle Bones BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. Uncle Bones’ cooks in his backyard and serves out of the patio at The Gibson in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a great, low-key spot in the craziness of Bedford Ave.
iHeartRadio, which is owned by ClearChannel, presented their addition to the online radio space. The site allows you to stream over 800 live radio stations from around the country. You can also create custom stations, a la Pandora. The speaker was pretty adamant that the current state of the site has had too much corporate influence and is the midst of a complete re-design.
Staying with the big business demos, Spin Magazine was there demo their iPad app. I really like checking out how various offline media presents their content on the iPad. When I had an iPad I loved the NY Times app, it still felt like a newspaper but took advantage of what the iPad could provide. I also downloaded a couple iPad-only magazines. These were really where I saw a lot of creativity, tying text, photos, and videos all seamlessly together. This is what Spin is trying to do. They are taking the magazine content, and adding additional articles, videos, and of course audio, to paint an experience that just cannot be made in a print magazine. Each edition comes with something like 60 or 80 songs as well, which are all connected to the content. You can listen to songs like a radio or playlist, then follow songs you like back to its surrounding content. When I get an iPad again, I’ll spring $8 for the yearly subscription.
From the start-up side, there was Austin-based iJukebox, which puts a stores’s jukebox on its customer’s phones. Fun idea, I feel like I have seen a bunch of similar things. I guess it will be about execution here. Their selection of songs, how easy it is to curate the jukebox, and, most importantly, the user experience.
Similar to the Music Video Genome, is a solution for the online music video channel. This one isn’t automatic, each of the stations is curated. I be checking this one out on my own and will report back.
Other presenters included eMusic, EarCandyGo, and The Orchard.

Tuesday, December 6th: NY Venture Community Holiday Happy Hour

This was a fun night, connected with some friends and made new ones too. Hung out with the guys behind Clothes Horse for a bit. Clothes Horse is helping online clothing purchases by making personalized recommendations on size and fit. I also met and hung out with the team behind a new start-up, which will be revolutionizing captcha.
To continue with the music theme from Monday, I met a co-ounder of, a cloud-based music application. I currently use Google Music, which I like and find easy, although there are definitely things I don’t like. I am going to give a try, see how I like, and I will report back.

Thursday, December 8th: Ultra Light Startups, Investor Feedback Forum and Pitch Showdown

First off, free pizza from! Nine companies pitched to four investors: Greg Cangialosi (Nucleus Ventures), Owen Davis (NYC Seed), Nihal Mehta (ENIAC Ventures), and Marc Michel (Metamorphic Ventures). Overall the presentations went well and the investors advice was thought provoking. Not much more you can ask for.
On to the companies. First, to keep with the music theme, I want to talk about MyStream. This is another service I have wanted for years. It started when I was snowboarding with a group and we were all listening to our iPods, I wanted a way for us all to listen to the same one. That is what MyStream does. Over bluetooth or an open wireless network, MyStream streams one persons music to others around him. You can either listen live with him, or peruse his catalogue and listen to what you wish. Very simple idea, but also awesome. There are a lot of ways to move this forward, I’m interested to see what direction they take it.
Indiewalls had a great pitch, and I am pretty sure they won the showdown. Indiewalls provides stores, cafes, restaurants, etc. with free access to independent art to hang on their walls. Each of the paintings are also for sale through the Indiewalls website. Stores get free art, Artists get public awareness and sales – pretty cool idea.
Finally, I’ll go to another company whose product I want on Android, Brainscape. Brainscape does online flashcards, the secret sauce being ranking your knowledge of each card to change the time between repetitions. Right now it is free to make your own cards, and you can purchase pre-made language learning packs. I’ll be trying out the online version and sharing my thoughts of this as well.

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Brooklyn Venture Community: First Event Scheduled

Just scheduled the first Brooklyn Venture Community event. Holding a social Happy Hour to kick off the new year at Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s The Saint Austere.

Info here:

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Events: November 28th Through December 4th

Monday, November 28th: Tech Startup Pizza Night

A pretty general networking night, except for the delicious pizza, sponsored by Atto Consulting. Met some interesting folks and got to about mobile rails development for a while, which was cool. But, these are the kind of nights that inspire me to go home, open up the terminal window, and then proceed to get bummed that I wasn’t working all night.

Tuesday, November 29th: Columbia Venture Community’s Holiday Party
My first official Holiday Party of the year. It is always good to catch up with the Columbia community. I even ran in to an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. Ended up having conversations with some great people and that really made the night worth it. Plus, I got to catch up with Mark Davis, the CEO of Kohort, which the platform I am building Brooklyn Venture Community on. He was super supportive of BVC and is already helping me out. Oh and the Bison Burger at HB Bruger, delicious.

Wednesday, November 30th: North Brooklyn Breakfast Club

Demo breakfast in my home neighborhood of Williamsburg. It was great to be able to go to such a packed event so close to home. I am blanking on the name, but there was an interesting demo from an independent ebook retailer, enjoyed hearing them speak. The whole media scene intrigues me. I’m interested to see what technologies can be truly disruptive in the current markets. Spotify is fun to watch, but I chose Google Music as my cloud music choice, I guess I may have to re-look into that now that Spotify has opened up their API. Next we heard from The Mutual, a way to give to charity and get perks in return. What was funny was that I ended up riding the subway a guy from The Good Karma Company, which is in a very similar space, allowing users to find local non-profits. Talked to them both for a while, its funny how similar and different they can be at the same time. There were also multiple shared work spaces talking about their space, includingThe Yard.

Wednesday, November 30th: General Assembly’s Demo Night

GA packed for this event, so I ended up having to stand in the back and teeter around a pillar. I didn’t mind so much, but I am sure those behind me were a bit peeved. As I wrote about earlier, I like VHX’s demo. They bring a streamlined approach to watching, finding, and sharing videos online. I don’t watch a ton of online content, and I rarely ever seek it out. That is why I enjoy the Music Video Genome, it allows me to experience content without much interaction or time investment. Nodejitsu was the most entertaining of the demos, perhaps the speaker enjoyed a few too many of the free beers beforehand. Node.js, which if you didn’t know, was the most followed project on Github at the time, is a javascript platform. The presenter didn’t think anyone would really care about what he was saying, figuring there were few hardcore engineers in the room, and although I’m in no way a hardcore engineer, I was really intrigued. Javascript is something I’m try to build up in my repertoire, and if Node.js will allow me front and back end development with the same code, well then maybe that is what I should be learning. Definitely taking a closer look at Node.js, so thanks for the entertaining introduction Nodejitsu. Tred, helping with custom car ordering, Paperlex, organizing and tracking legal documents, and Makom, collating and curating travel guides and information, were among other to present. All in all with the packed attendance I was glad it ended up being a fun night of Demos.

Thursday, December 1st: #techdrinkpp

One aspect I want to bring to BVC is social. My goal is to have BVC be a clearinghouse for all Brooklyn events and groups, including of course BVC sponsored events, but I also really want it to include a solid social side. I wanted to check this event out to see how this group was already doing it. I did enjoy myself while I was there. Free cocktails, it was on a rooftop, I met some interesting people, and I had a solid conversation with two members of a company that provide hardware for various cloud services. Even with everything in the cloud today I haven’t stopped to think too much about the infrastructure that is needed to back it up. Definitely an eye opening conversation. What I really took away was ideas for the social side of BVC, mainly that the events need to bring people together across all aspects of the industry. I’m finding that too many events that are segregated between the business people and engineers, the key is to find what will appeal to both.

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My New Disk Jockey: and the Music Video Genome

I love when I run into a problem can’t find a solution and then a few days later the solution falls into my lap. I don’t have cable, so I don’t really watch TV, I mainly just watch movies. When it came time replace my TV I decided I would forgo the TV and instead get a projector. It hangs from my ceiling, giving me a 100 inch screen on my wall, and plugs into my Mac. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had a few friends over and thought it would be rad if instead of playing tunes I played music videos via the projector. The problem was that I didn’t want to create a YouTube playlist, and I couldn’t find anything that would automatically queue music videos. I was bummed. Then last week I went to a Demo night at General Assembly. One of the presenters was, a website that streamlines watching videos online. They were showing examples of what their API could do so they demoed the Music Video Genome: The solution to my problem. I went home that night and put it on while I did some chores around the apartment. This thing is awesome, think Pandora for music videos. It’s definitely DJing the time I have people over.

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Events: Thanksgiving Week

There wasn’t much this week due to Thanksgiving, but I did get to a Ruby Hackfest on Tuesday at Pivotal Labs. Nothing was really hacked, at least from my end, but I enjoyed spending a few hours in my terminal window, practicing and learning by osmosis from (and talking to) all the talent in the room. I even ran into a friend that I didn’t know worked there when she came out for the beer and pizza that was provided.

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Brooklyn Venture Community

I started attending Columbia Venture Community Events in 2008, the New York Tech Meetup in 2010, and through my job at CTV various entrepreneur and venture events around New York City since probably 2007. I recently have been attending more and more tech and entrepreneur events and I’ve been having a blast. I’ve discovered new products to use, been inspired by projects I’ve seen, and, most importantly, I’ve met some truly great people. One other aspect I’ve really enjoyed is finding new events and meeting the people involved in the tech scene in Brooklyn, the borough I’ve called home since 2007. There are a bunch of great tech events and thriving communities throughout Brooklyn, but they are all over and seem to be neighborhood specific. Further, there isn’t one place someone can go to find out everything that is going on in Brooklyn. I’ve decided that I am going to take it upon myself to do just this. I’m going to connect the tech scene in Brooklyn

BVC will place to find great events, starting off with the events already taking place in the borough. There are some awesome, thriving communities already in place and BVC in no way wants to replace those. BVC will simply be a place that connects all of these groups together. BVC will also begin to hold our events, I’m thinking lectures, round tables, and of course Demos.

But I want BVC to be more than a place for these events. I want it to be a community where people can find, meet, and interact with each other in a more social way as well. Great ideas are thought of when intelligent people are chatting over dinner, or having beers after playing a game of pick up soccer. I want BVC to be a platform which allows for and encourages just this.

These are my initial thoughts on BVC, and I’m looking forward to writing more on this as it grows.


I am building BVC out on a new group/event platform: Kohort is still in private beta, which means you will need an invite to join the service. Not to worry I can send you an invite. If you are interested in joining shoot me an email at ryan at armbrusting dot com and I will send one over.

Brooklyn Venture Community

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Events: November 14th Through the 20th

Monday, November 14th: Working at a Start Up

After not being able to get into the Steve Blank talk at Union Square Ventures last week, I saw this event on Skillshare and figured I’d check it out. I think half of the reason I wanted to go was just to hang out at USV. There were some good points in the talk, and I appreciated their perspective. When I go to events like these, I like to test to see if my current thoughts are on par with what is presented. This time I was pretty on point. There were a few points made that I needed for reiteration, and some I that just needed to learn. All around, glad I went.

Tuesday, November 15th: Book Club

Another non-tech event, but I haven’t made my Book Club in a while, and it was our 4th anniversary. We read Us by Michael Kimball. It is about an old couple dealing with death. That doesn’t sound too uplifting, and really it wasn’t, but it did demonstrate the beauty that can be found in the love between a couple. It was written in a very interesting style, so if it sounds at all appealing then I recommend it.

Thursday, November 17th: Raise Cache

This ended up being a quite a fun event. Hard to network when everybody is there with their teams celebrating, but that was what the night was for. I ended up running into a bunch of people I knew, and one off my buddies even crashed the runway, hilarious. I did meet a few new people, plus it was a fun time, and for a good cause, raising money for HackNY.

Friday, November 18th: Dumbo Tech Breakfast

I’ll say it again, I really enjoy these tech breakfasts. I’m not going to call myself an engineer (yet), but it is really fun to pretend and nerd out.

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Events: November 7th Through the 13th

Tuesday, November 8th

No tech event, but I did attend a fundraiser for the Ovarian Cancer Society. I very good friend of mine volunteers for the cause so I thought I would show my support.

Wednesday, November 9th: Web Tech You Can Touch

I killed two birds with one stone here, as it was partially sponsored by my office, but I’m glad I went as it was a good little event. A lot of Columbia engineers were attending looking to figure out ways to get involved in the tech scene or to pitch their ideas. A brief introduction and speech also turned in to an impromptu demo night, so that was pretty cool. My take away: more engineers are always needed.

Wednesday, November 9th: Columbia Venture Community’s Demo Night

I left the Web Tech You Can Touch event and headed to the Columbia Venture Community’s Demo Night. Got there a little late but I think I only missed one presentation. FoodPop, which was founded by one of the original team members of Fresh Direct, demoed their new social network for foodies. I found this demo to be interesting for two reasons. First, I am interested to see where niche social networks will be going in the future, and I am not just talking about Ning type networks. I mean full blown, funded companies founded around connecting niche groups of people. How will these play out versus groups on generic platforms, i.e. Facebook, Meetup, etc. Second, FoodPop is a social network that creates and distributes its own content to its users. FoodPop has its own kitchen production space where they can create new content, like recipe videos, also, they hold, often celebrity filled, food related events which they post content from to their members. Another demo was from NestEgg Wealth, which is a portfolio management web tool. This is another space that I find intriguing. You have young people coming out of college and going in banking, then leaving and starting companies these financial companies. Maybe they think there is an easier way, or they just want to do something different. Either way, I am looking forward to seeing if they can be truly disruptive or if the big houses are just too powerful?

Thursday, November 10th: Steve Blank Lecture at NYU

This was a presentation to Stern Biz School, and it was a great talk. There is no wonder why this man is so well known. I recommend taking a look at the slides. A lot of good takeaways; the key point was to go out and do something, then iterate. He also spoke about Billy Durant, the founder of General Motors. Billy Durant’s life story sounds pretty incredible, and I have it on a short list to do a little research on the guy and write it up, but that will have to wait until I have a little more time. For now here is an article Steve Blank recently wrote that touches on him. After the NYU talk, Steve went and spoke at Union Square Ventures. I wanted to check out that presentation as well, I thought it would be interesting to hear if and what the differences would be between the talk for business school students and the one for the employees of USV’s portfolio companies. Unfortunately, when I showed up, I found out the USV talk was for just those portfolio employees.

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