What we’d Hack

We are unable to make it to this weekend’s City of Houston Open Innovation Hackathon, but hopefully you are going.  They have a ton of great ideas to work on at the site, but we thought we’d share one more that occurred to us today.


Please feel free to borrow liberally from these ideas, we can’t wait to see what comes out of the Hackathon.


The concept is based on two high level patterns from Christopher Alexander’s book ‘A Pattern Language.’ Pattern 23: Parallel Roads and Pattern 20: Mini-buses.


The first goal would be to make basic analysis of what effect moving Houston to a city based on Parallel Roads would have.  The basic idea here is that by eliminating left turns you can drastically speed up the rate of travel in a city and speed driver toward the ‘ring-roads’ where they can travel at very high speeds.  We already see this pattern downtown where it works really well.  What if it was extended to the other major city streets in the city.


Imagine Westhimer only went in to town and Richmond only went out of town.  Shepard and Greenbriar already follow this pattern, but what if it were extended to Montrose only running south and Kirby only running north. The Parallel Roads pattern typically demonstrates a speed increase of more than 2 fold.  Streets where a commuter averages 10-15 mph with traffic stops for left hand turning drivers can average 30-45 mph when stops are reduced.


Step 1: Use Google Maps and driving directions API to calculate the decrease in driving times from various locations to other various locations if certain streets are converted to one way (and […]

Where We Want To Be – Week of 4/8/2013

Hi everyone,

Here is the list of things going on around Houston this week.  You can find a lot of these at

Tuesday, April 09

Learn About Organizing and Participating in Hackathons


@7PM | Stag’s Head Pub – 2128 Portsmouth St – Houston, TX 77098 |

Our guest presenters are the organizers of some of Houston’s best coding events, including Code for America, the SpaceApps International Challenge, and Houston Hackers. This month’s Netsquared meet-up will teach you how to organize and participate in a codeathon or hackathon. You’ll also benefit from hearing how nonprofits and businesses alike are taking advantage of Hackathon and Coding events to save time and cost for developing new apps for social good.


Houston Ruby Brigade


@7PM | START Houston – 1121 Delano St. – Houston, TX 77003 |


Monthly Ruby and Ruby on Rails meet-up.



Monthly Meet-Up Houston’s Civic-Minded Hackers and Coders Visit!

@7PM | Stag’s Head Pub 2128 Portsmouth St, Houston, TX|

This month, Houston Netsquared has invited a few local hackers and coders from different non-profit organizations who are helping build more apps for civic projects.

We’ll have representatives from Houston Hackers, the SpaceApp International Challenge, and Code for America’s Houston Brigade. They’ll be talking about how to organize and participate in Codeathon Events when you’re not a programmer or very technical.

There’ll be plenty of time for questions about what a Hackathon or Codeathon is, how to find them, and how to take an idea for an app and pitch it to find a team to help you work on building it.


Thursday, April 11


Using Powerpoint as a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – Emmie Chang

Where We Want To Be – Week of 3/18/2013

There are lots of great things coming up this week.  Also Houston Startup Weekend is coming up.  Check it out here:

Most of these links come from Sarah Worthy and her work on the Houston Startup Digest.  Check it out here:

Tuesday, March 19

Matthew Morey: Core Data with multiple managed object contexts
@7PM | START houston – 1121 Delano Street – Houston, TX 77003

With iOS 5, MOCs now have parent context and the ability to set concurrency types. These new features greatly simplify dealing with Core Data on background queues. During this presentation Matthew Morey, an independent Houston developer, will cover the pros and cons of this new method of dealing with Core Data.


PyHou – Kirq
@7PM | Stag’s Head Pub – 2128 Portsmouth St – Houston, TX 77098

his month’s Houston Pythonista meetup topic is “Constructing Kirq, software for conducting set-theoretic social research using Qualitative Comparative Analysis: A software development travelogue”, a presentation by Claude Rubinson.


Wednesday, March 20


Windows 8 Line of Business Apps
C# puzzles and Effective C#: 6-6:40
I’ll bring some puzzles for us to solve and maybe do some of Bill Wagner’s Effective C# points.

Windows 8 LOB apps by Tony Champion: 6:45-8:15
Windows Store apps bring new opportunities as well as new challenges to line of business developers. In this session we will take a look at what line of business development looks like in Windows 8. In addition we will cover how some of the new Windows 8 features can be useful to your apps.

There will be food, drinks and O’Reilly books to hand out.
See you all there at 6!


Thursday, March 21


OpenCoffee Club – Houston
@8AM | Onion Creek Cafe – 3106 White Oak Dr – […]

Where We Want To Be – Week of 2/11/2013

Wednesday, February 13

Recruiting for a Houston-based startup with George Khachatryan, Ph.D
@6PM | Platform Houston – 5504 Morningside Dr – Houston, TX 77005

George Khachatryan is Senior Vice President and co-founder (along with his parents, Alex and Julia Khachatryan) of Reasoning Mind, a non-profit organization that is reforming school mathematics education through the use of technology.


Friday, February 15


TX Rx Labs Weekly Open House
@7:30PM | TX/RX Labs – 205 Roberts st – Houston, TX 77003

Come out and learn about Houston’s Hacker and Maker space every Friday evening.

Saturday, February 16


Platform Houston’s 2013 DESIGNathon, $600 in CASH prizes on Tshirt Design
Saturday, February 16 @1PM | Platform Houston – 5504 Morningside Drive – Houston, TX 77005

Platform Houston is hosting a T-Shirt design contest this Saturday with $600 in cash prizes to the best designs. You will be given 4 hours to create a T-shirt design using the existing logo. Winners will be announced shortly after. Please email for the logo.

Sunday, February 17

Pancake Science Sunday
@11AM | TX/RX Labs – 205 Roberts st – Houston, TX 77003

Come join Tx/Rx members eat pancakes, talk science and donate what you can for sweet sweet pancakes. One of the goals as a group is to help build a technology and science community.

By |February 13th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

Where We Want To Be – Week of 2/4/2013

Monday, February 04

Django Houston Meetup
@7PM | Stag’s Head Pub – 2128 Portsmouth St – Houston, TX 77098
Join the Houston Django meetup group for their monthly meetup to discuss topics related to the Django web framework for python.




Wednesday, February 06


Bring more BigData understanding to Houston
@6:30PM | Caroline Collective – 4820 Caroline St – Houston, TX 77004 |

Houston Hadoop Meetup Group will discuss Predictive analytics with R and Hadoop, hands-on.



Thursday, February 07

GroundUP Houston Meetup
@8:30AM | The Dessert Gallery – 3600 Kirby Dr., suite D – Houston, TX 77098 |

GroundUP Houston events encourage entrepreneurs and people with start-up dreams to share their experiences with like-minded individuals.


@6PM – 2AM | START – 1121 Delano St. Houston TX 77003 |

Come out to hear a select group of Houston’s local startups come pitch their company, current status, and where they are headed next. Hear feedback from local Mentors & Entrepreneurs as they offer insight to each pitch.


Seven Programming Languages in Seven Weeks Part 01: Ruby
Thursday, February 07 @6:30PM | START Houston – 1121 Delano St. – Houston, TX 77003 |

The Houston Open Development User Group meets this month to go through the book “Seven Languages in Seven Weeks” and will be starting with the programming language Ruby for their 7 programming language series.


Friday, February 08

Commercial Spaceflight Panel
@6:30PM – 9PM | Lunar & Planetary Institute | 3600 Bay Area Blvd. Houston, Texas 77058 |

Join SpaceUp Houston at the Lunar and Planetary Institute to learn what the Commercial Aerospace companies have been doing and have planned for manned and unmanned space exploration. Hear from companies including Boeing, XCOR, Spacex and more for the most […]

By |February 5th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

For us, for now, knockout.js + backbone.router is enough.

Last night Eric Cemmons gave great presentation to the houston.js meetup about angular.js.  It was a great presentation and everyone should check out the project setup work he’d doing at

Our stack of choice here at RIVVIR has been knockout.js + backbone router.  This has worked well for us because:

1. Designers like the declarative nature of the knockout html.  When you put html inside of script tags it makes their job harder.
2. Backbone routers do just about all that we need a router to do and they play really nicely with knockout.
3. Knockout’s magic is enough to make us way more productive(unlike backbone in general) and the implementation cost is basically non-existent(unlike ember).

We aren’t married to this configuration, but it has worked really well for us.

I really like what I saw in the first half of the presentation and it looked like an almost 1:1 mapping between knockout and angular.  In the second half, angular started to go off the rails for me and seemed to be trying to solve some problems around modularization and dependency management that we just haven’t run into as much of problem.

Afterwards a colleague asked me which I though would be the choice in two years.  It made me think a bit:

Neither.  I’m not sure what the timeline for ECMA 6 is, but if observables become a first level citizen in javascript you may not need all this magic.  You may get it for free.

I can teach a jr. dev the basics of knockout.js and backbone’s router in less than two hours.  When observable next gen routing become first class I can forget them just as easily.

Both Ember and Angular seem to hit […]

Where We Want To Be – Week of 1/28/2013

Tuesday, January 29

MEETUP: Health 2.0 Houston launch!
19:00 – 21:30 Houston Technology Center
Details here:

Join Health 2.0 Houston for our Launch Event at the Houston Technology Center! Hear one-minute “elevator pitches” from a selection of the best and the brightest Houston area innovators and health start-ups.* If you’ve got what it takes to be a pitch master, you must register for consideration to pitch by January 15! Then join us for two very special speakers…

Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is a Houston area thought leader who writes about the convergence of social media and medicine. “Dr. V” is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and co-founder of the Medical Futures Lab, a newly launched collaborative center focused on re-imagining the future of medicine.  The lab is interested in exploring the ways that digital technologies are changing the practice of medicine, from the challenges of privacy and professionalism in social media to the ethical dilemmas of big data, personalized medicine, genome sequencing, and the quantified self.  As a center based at Rice University with core collaborators at Baylor College of Medicine and University of Texas Health Science Center, their team includes physicians, artists, serious games designers, creative writers, bioinformaticists, filmmakers and data visualization experts. He writes and thinks at the intersection of medicine and technology on his blog, 33 charts.

Nate Gross, MD, is from the San Francisco Bay Area and has made a career out of working with great people and ideas at the intersection of health, policy and technology. He is the co-founder of Doximity, a HIPAA compliant physician network with over 567,000 US physicians in 87 specialties. He is also the co-founder of
Rock Health, the leading seed accelerator for health […]

By |January 29th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

Where We Want To Be – Week of 1/21/2013

Tuesday, January 22

Choice of Entity for the Tech Startup with Huan Le
@6PM | Platform Houston – 5504 Morningside Drive – Houston, TX 77005

Listen to Huan Le, who recently joined the executive team of Medifr, a healthcare software start-up. Huan also provides executive leadership to DiCentral Corporation, a fast growing supply-chain software company, where he serves as Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel . At DiCentral, a now 300+ person company, Huan executed the company’s acquisition strategy, having completed multiple acquisitions in the past few years.

LECTURE: Accelerate your DevOps with Rally and BMC
14:00 – 18:30 Royal Sonesta Hotel Houston, TX

Join Agile Lifecycle Management experts Rally Software and BMC Software for an in-person event to successfully apply Agile methodology throughout the entire lifecycle – from idea to release.

While Agile is simple, it’s not easy. As organizations apply Agile methodologies throughout the release cycle, DevOps and Release Management are often left out.  To realize the benefits of faster releases, improved quality and better productivity, Agile needs to be applied to the entire development lifecycle. Learn how the combination of BMC and Rally provides consistency through each stage of the agile lifecycle, from ideation to deployment and everything in between.

You’ll hear from Chris Ring, Software Development Professional and experienced Agile Practitioner, on the challenges and lessons learned during the transition to more Agile practices at Landmark Halliburton and Petris Technology.

Learn how:

Culture, roles, and expectations change with Agile
Create successful teams – and how to hire
Facilitate collaboration across departments
Training contributes to velocity – and when to use it
Agile doesn’t happen overnight. We need to learn how to keep improving, testing and optimizing!


2:00pm CST    Registration
2:15pm CST    Introduction to Rally and BMC
2:30pm CST    Keynote: Chris Ring | iCloud
3:15pm […]

When it comes to APIs, most business owners don’t know where to start

Here at RIVVIR we build APIs and we build a lot of them.  In fact, when one builds a Cordova based mobile application, one has to build an API to send data from a server to a client.  Apple frowns heavily on just wrapping a web server in a webview.

We wanted to take some times to lay out some of the principals we use when designing these APIs and share them with the community.

This post is targeted to business owners with little to no technical expertise and who have little or limited access to technical expertise.  It is a situation that we run into here in Houston quite a bit that might not be as prevalent elsewhere.

So where do we start?

1. The first step is asking the question: Who?

We start with ‘who’ and not ‘why’ because the answer to ‘who’ will drastically change the answer to ‘why.’  For example, a partner companies will want to use your API in drastically different ways than your users will.  Further, partner companies will use it differently on behalf of your users then user will for themselves.

As an example, let’s take facebook.  A user may subscribe to an api feed of their posts in a simple reader.  The why is that they want to see their latest posts in a user friendly place.  A partner might want access to a user’s data stream to analyze it and make more advanced friend recommendations.  To do this they’ll need access to all past likes, posts, friends, and friend of friends.  A third group may want to offer an alternate view on a friend stream with augmented data from LinkedIn.  All three of these scenarios are different and will require different […]


Tuesday, January 15

Houston Ruby / Ruby on Rails Monthly Meetup
@7PM | START Houston – 1121 Delano St. – Houston, TX 77003 |

Debugging your Rails Application- @jwo will run a short series on the essential gems every Ruby/Rails developer needs in his/her arsenal. This month: foreman… a must if you use Heroku or if you have multiple services that make your app go.


PyHou – Houston Python Enthusiasts! Monthly Meetup
@7PM |  Stag’s Head Pub – 2128 Portsmouth St – Houston, TX 77098 |

Join Houston’s Python developers for monthly topics around the open source Python programming language.


Wednesday, January 16


Real World Dynamic C#
18:00 Microsoft Houston OfficeOne Briarlake Plaza2000 W. Sam Houston Pkwy South #350 Houston, TX


  • We’re in the Discovery Room after you turn left at the Microsoft sign coming off the elevators, take another left.
  • 6-7 pm:
  • The art of Refactoring by Peter Seale.  Peter will take us through some steps of how to turn working code into more reusable code through refactoring.
  • 7-8:30 pm:
  • Dynamic C# in the Real World by John Teague.  John is a developer from the Austin .NET group and head of Avenida Software who is driving down here to give us a taste of using the Dynamic features added to C# through the DLR.
  • There will of course be pizza and drinks.  Bring your code, your laptops and your questions.  See you there at 6!


Timing Matters for the Entrepreneur with Jack Gill, Ph.D
Wednesday, January 16 @6PM | Platform Houston – 5504 Morningside Dr – Houston, TX 77005

Dr. Jack M. Gill is the co-founder of The Gill Foundation of Texas and Founder of Vanguard Ventures, a high-tech venture capital firm in Palo Alto, […]