Friday, December 28, 2007

Learn Using More Senses

Last night, DigitalChalk launched the new marketing website and campaign. This is a total revamp of our website which we are all very excited about. There is much more information out there about the tools that DigitalChalk offers as well as an easier to navigate layout. As you browse around the site, you will see some glimpses of screenshots of the new release of DigitalChalk which is due out at the beginning of the year. We will be doing a phased roll out that we know is going to be very exciting to our customers and resellers. I can't wait to get it out there for everyone to see. The next couple of entries to this blog will detail some of the new features that will be coming with the new release. In the meantime, browse around and let me know what you think of our new look!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Second Life Newby at Amazon Presentation

I am now officially a Second Life user. Dr. Dobbs Journal had a speaker that I was very interested in hearing last week. Jeff Barr of spoke on Amazon Web Services and the different elements of their stack that they have made accessible to the world at large. Amazon is not just an online retailer, they are a true technology innovation company. The technologies that they have made available to the general development community have changed the way virtualization technology is thought about and used. Jeff focused mainly on the services of S3, EC2 and Mechanical Turk. If you are a developer and need the ability to scale your applications quickly and at a reasonable cost, I highly suggest you check AWS out. What really made this meeting unique was that it was held in Second Life. There I was with other "avatars" dressed in all sorts of outfits. The great thing about this was the interaction. Jeff was gracious enough to open the floor to questions. It was very personal and gave the users access to Jeff that makes it more familiar than an email. Thank you Jeff for your time and answers! Maybe we can start looking at writing the infrastructure at DigitalChalk to allow our users to teach live courses in Second Life...

Screenshot of the presentation by Jeff Barr

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

George and Jamie Cowart

Wow, it has really been a while since I have posted. I just couldn't help post some photos from a wedding that I shot all the way back in August! Can you believe that. DigitalChalk really taking every waking moment of my life right now and it is a lot of fun, but I just couldn't put these off any more. Come back soon for more information on the new version of DigitalChalk that we will be releasing at the end of this year. Everyone is really excited about it and we can't wait to get it out to our customers.
While you wait, enjoy these pictures from George and Jamie Cowarts wedding. They are friends of mine and have been extremely patient with me on getting their pictures to them. Thanks so much you two! It was a beautiful day and their love for each other was brilliant.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

2 Years

This past weekend marked 2 years of marriage for me to my beautiful wife Laura. We took off to the higher elevations of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain to have a small get away. What a great time it was! Matt and Jeanie Steele allowed us to stay in a house that they have up on the top of Beech Mountain. Thanks Steele Family! We even got a fire going both nights in the fireplace and enjoyed the obvious temperature drop this weekend next to the "cozy" fire as Laura would say.

Saturday we took off to the Blue Ridge Parkway and went hiking. What a beautiful day for a hike. The views were really amazing. I highly suggest hitting the Linn Cove trail if you have the chance sometime on a clear day. I have include a very rough panorama shot from the top that I took. It in no way does it justice, but it does give you an idea of what it was like.

Saturday night, we celebrated at a restaurant in downtown Banner Elk called Louisiana Purchase. The food was great and the atmosphere was very enjoyable. Stop in sometime if you are in the area.

Happy Anniversary Laura... I Love you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

NC State Interview

About 2 months ago, I was contacted by Ken Tate from NC State about doing an interview for the computer science news letter doing a profile on me and DigitalChalk. He set up a short interview with a writer in the department named Kristen Jeffers and the following article was written. I am flattered to have been interviewed and included on the a list of achievers with the excellent people that are also alumni of the department listed here. It is very humbling and an honor. My time at NC State was a wonderful experience where I met some of my best friends. Thank you Ken and Kristen!

Click Here to view the article

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend

This weekend was certainly a busy one for me but a lot of fun. Friday night I had the pleasure of shooting the wedding of Rebekah Taylor and Tommy Hendricks. When I arrived at The Farm where they were getting married, it was an absolute downpour. We were all praying that it would stop so that the ceremony could take place outside as planned at 7:00. God heard our prayers, and at 6:55 there was no more rain and everyone rushed outside to start setting up chairs and wiping them down. Even the brides father was out there working hard. Kudos to my sister Tara Jordan who owns Weddings with Tara for snapping everything back together so quickly. Here are a few of the shots I grabbed from the bunch to share with you.

Saturday morning I spent the day in Waynesville, NC at my parents house helping my dad build a fence around their backyard. This is no small task as many of you probably know from your own fence building experiences. And why are we doing this? Not for my parents dog, but for my sister and brother-in-laws dog Toni. A huge 5 1/2 foot tall fence spanning about 100 yards for a dog that only visits once in a while. You can see pictures of Toni on Tara's blog. Needless to say, this dog is spoiled.
That night, I had a great time with my wife Laura in Brevard, NC visiting one of my instructors from NC State, Carol Miller and her husband David Smith.

They cooked a great meal at their beautiful mountain retreat and we had a great time catching up and sharing stories about people that we knew and things we remembered. After dinner we went to a Jazz concert at the Brevard Music Center which was really great. I had no idea that this summer camp and auditorium even existed. I will certainly be going back sometime.

That evening was topped off back at their house with some delicious blueberry cobbler and ice cream and a hot cup of coffee. What a way to end the night! Thanks Carol and David for such a great evening!

Sunday brought news that we were all aware of at Biltmore Baptist Church, but it was sad to hear all over again. On Thursday the membership of the church learned that our Senior pastor, James Walker, will be moving on to a new calling at the Haggai Institute. Sunday he told us about his journey with God in this decision. While it is extremely sad for Laura and I to be loosing a pastor, it is harder to see them go because they are wonderful friends. It is evident that God has called him to this new ministry and where He leads, James will certainly follow. Laura and I were able to spend Sunday night with James and Debbie at their house eating ice cream sundaes at their house (i have a weakness for dessert and coffee) and just talking about what the future holds for them and for Biltmore Baptist. We love them and will miss them dearly here in Asheville, but we plan to get to visit them in Atlanta. James, thank you for your obedience to Jesus Christ, for an unbelievable 14 years at Biltmore Baptist and for a friendship I will always cherish.

Me with James and Debbie after ice cream sundaes

My beautiful wife Laura with James and Debbie

Monday, July 16, 2007

Blackboard World '07

It has been a whirlwind of a week and weekend for me. I am writing this on a plane right now and I feel like I am back to my days of consulting and traveling except this time it was work and then pleasure. In any case, I am just getting to update this blog now.

Last week I spent the week in Boston, Massachusetts at Blackboard World 2007 Conference and Expo. We were able to show off DigitalChalk to a different audience than at the ASTD conference. This time, it was geared completely towards education. Blackboard is the predominant course management software player in the higher education market and they hold an annual conference to debut new features that they are rolling out and to allow third-party vendors to also setup and show off the new technology that they have. We did just that!

It was great to meet everyone there and show off DigitalChalk. It was very exciting to see how interested people were in the product and learn the new ways that they would like to use it. Todd Nelson, Director of Business Development for Blackboard, introduced me to George Kroner on the Blackboard Building Blocks team to discuss a seamless integration between DigitalChalk and Blackboard that would enable instructors to create a lesson in DigitalChalk from the Blackboard system even easier than it is now! This will be a great feature enhancement that I am excited about and I will certainly keep you up to date on as we start development and get it into the release cycle.

Wednesday night was the big party and everyone had a blast. Blackboard had setup a Dance Club, Food & Bar and an Arcade. I had a crazy time playing pool with a group of Blackboard administrators for a school system in Louisiana. Don't let the "administrator" word fool you, they were crazy and a lot of fun! Gotta love the candles... enough said! You know who you are! ;-)

Finally, on my way home I had a layover in Washington DC at the Ronald Reagan airport. While I was there, eating a quick dinner before I jumped on my next flight, I recognized a face in the crowd walking by. It was none other than Fred Thompson, who I am guessing will very soon be announcing his candidacy for President of the United States. I quickly chased him down and spoke with him for a couple of minutes and snapped a picture. Never know, maybe this is a picture of me with a President.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend of Extremes

I had a great weekend and I hope you did as well. It was a weekend of extremes when I look back on it now. Not in "good" vs. "bad" type of extremes, but one that really shows a contrast on the materialistic side of life.

I spent Friday night and all day on Saturday at the ABCCM Women's Shelter with a bunch of my good friends from my BFG (Bible Fellowship Group). We really had a great time completely renovating one of the rooms there. What was so impressive was how so many things came together to provide us with the materials to redo the entire room. Nick Ragle of Sherwin-Williams here in Asheville donated most of the paint and painting supplies. Joe and Karen Schneider of The Carpet Barn donated the laminate hardwood flooring and Eddie and Rebecca Colley of the class donated a brand new matress. Even better, when two of the members of the class went to Lowes to buy a new ceiling fan, they saw a co-worker there and when they found out what we were doing, they donated a ceiling fan! With the donations and about $325.00 given by the class and a lot of people working, we were able to transform the room in just a little more than a day. It was great to watch everything come together over the two days. Denise Edwards, the organizer and real motivator on the project, caught several pictures of what happened. Thank you Denise for your tireless hard work and caring heart!

Jeremy Heiny, in orange, and Chris Angel work on getting the chair rail and floorboards in place.

Jeremy is an extremely talented and sought after trim carpenter of R. Weaver Construction and luckily he was part of our group and took care of making sure that we got that done properly.

Wow! Check out the room after the day was complete.

That picture shows the floor and all of the paint and trim work. It was so exciting to see it all come together. When we added all of the furniture and put in some new decorations that my wife ran around to just about every garage sale in Asheville seeking out, it was really impressive. You can see more pictures on Denise's Snapfish account here.

On Sunday, Laura and I experienced the other extreme. The life of luxury lived by George Vanderbilt at the Biltmore House. We had a great lunch at the Stable Cafe next to the house and did get to see some of the grounds before it started pouring the rain. Fortunately we did get season passes, so we will be going back to get some more pictures throughout the year. Here are some that we captured yesterday.

One of the lions that guard the front door to the house

View from the left side of the house

View of the house from the Lagoon

It was a lot of fun, but I am looking very foward to being able to hang out on a nice sunny afternoon on the grounds this summer again. There will certainly be more pictures to come then!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Web 2.0

Everyone has an opinion, and that has been very clearly evident in the "Web 2.0" debate. What is it and what defines a Web 2.0 site or experience has been discussed, battled, rehashed, revisited and over used. So, why not throw in my 2 cents as well! I mean, really... this is a blog right? Isn't the very nature of blogging hit at the core of Web 2.0?

Two years ago, just when Web 2.0 was taking root and really starting to become a "household" name among the techie crowd, I posted a couple of ideas with some colleagues of mine about what Web 2.0 and Mashups were all about. I have heard it is still floating around out there somewhere in "Google Cache" but what I said then still holds true in my opinion today. Web 2.0 isn't all graphic and glitter or even just the technology (aw man, but that is what I like!)... It is really about community (ok, i like that too :-) ). When it comes down to it, community is Web 2.0. Think about what the web was 10 years ago and what it has evolved to be today. We have gone from static content being churned out by universities and corporations to dynamic user generated content. That user generated content is what drives all of the wow in Web 2.0. From blogs, wikis, and podcasts to photos, mashups and YouTube, the web is now a collaborative playground for its users. I don't know about you, but I no longer limit my surfing to a single store for the product that I want, nor do I simply just trust the CNet reviews. I want to know what other people say about the product and the company. I go to places like and to get the lastest deals that the community has found and I want to read the reviews that other consumers like myself have made. Community makes the model of a company pushing a product to a consumer a little more interesting... user generated content demands a level playing field, one where the company must speak person to person. I read the blogs and listen to the podcasts and watch the videos that my peers have made. I want to know what a real person thinks, not what a company is pushing. I think it may have to do with our innate desire for relationship. God created us for relationship and the web 10 years ago was cold and impersonal. It is growing to be personal and relational... "warmer".

So, why write about this? For one, I am always interested in where things are going in the connected world and of course it fascinates me. Secondly, to explain a little of where I see DigitalChalk going. We are continually creating a learning environment that fosters community. A community where people can give their opinions on a subject or share the knowledge that they have with more than just a few people that they can gather in a room, but with masses of people around the globe. While the technology that lives in DigitalChalk and makes it work is easily recognized by a developer as Web 2.0 technology, it is the users of DigitalChalk that truly make it so. They are the ones collaborating, sharing, and forming the relationships online through the software. It is the community that defines Web 2.0.

In the spirit of sharing, this is a great YouTube flick on the transformation of the web and Web 2.0

Friday, June 8, 2007


Seems appropriate that I would start a blog and announce a new Web 2.0 site at the same time! This week was a big week for DigitalChalk, and fun and engaging online multimedia site! On Monday at the ASTD conference in Atlanta, DigitalChalk was publicly announced and advertised for availability to the marketplace. I have been working on DigitalChalk with a great team for a little more than 6 months and it is exciting to finally see it publicly available. A HUGE thank you to our beta customers who made this launch possible and to my teammates for all of the long hours of coding. You can check out the site at and let me know what you think.

I had a great time talking with all of the exhibitors and attendees at the conference and learning about how DigitalChalk could meet their needs and how they could help us out. There are so many ideas and possibilities. DigitalChalk will evolve quickly. There are new features being worked on everyday and I am excited about what is coming in the very near future... I will let that be a tease for now :-) You can be sure that I will be talking about them here when I am able to, as I am already about to bust right now!

At the booth...

ASTD invited DigitalChalk to the Braves game and I had to have some ice cream!