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The December NYTM with a Senator in the House


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CraigWilliston-Schumer

Yes, we know that Senators sit in the Senate, but with a new sheriff – ok, mayor – about to hit town, NY Senator Chuck Schumer took to the stage at the New York Tech Meetup this month to assure the room that not only will it be tech as usual, but that “the goal is to keep tech growing in New York so that one day Silicon Valley will call itself New York East.”

The Senator also talked about patent trolls, the need for universal wi-fi, and the immigration bill, which will provide for a green card to be attached to diplomas earned by foreign students.

Onward to the presentations:

Hitlist is a mobile app that allows you to travel on you own terms and sends you mobile alerts when there’s a cheap deal to the destination of your dreams. They’re partnered with Skyscanner, the European equivalent to Kayak, and available for iOS and Android. Founder Gillian Morris announced that there have been 20,000 downloads since the app launched last month.

General Assembly co-founder Brad Hargreaves introduced Dash, their new online tutorial that teaches HTML, CSS, and Javascript through fun projects you can do in your browser, and allows you to make awesome websites.

WiredNYC introduced wiredscore, to address a very New York City tech problem: you move your office into new headquarters, but how good is the connectivity in the building? Ah, that’s always the rub. Wiredscore rates building internet connectivity to help tenants pick tech-friendly office locations. Guess that, for now, it’s the next best thing to universal wi-fi.

Priori Legal. Ok, so you’ve solved the building connectivity dilemma, but we all know how difficult it is to find an affordable lawyer in this town. Even lawyers have a hard time finding reasonably-priced lawyers, according to presenter and Priori co-founder Basha Rubin. Priori helps solve that problem by helping you to find trusted, hand-selected lawyers at below-market rates. You fill out a customized questionnaire and are given a short list of lawyers from which to choose. Hourly and flat rates are provided, as well as what you’re getting – and what you’re not.

Next Door. 28% of Americans don’t know the name of a single one of their neighbors, and Next Door is out to change that with their free and private social network for neighborhoods. So, if you need a local plumber or nanny, you can ask a neighbor. If there has been a break-in in the ‘hood, the app give you a heads up, via email alerts. Oh, and if there’s a neighbor who is a bit bothersome, well, you do have the ability to mute that person. And we all know that there’s one in every crowd. Or in this case, neighborhood. At last, an app that might do Mr. Rogers proud!

Skillfeed is the latest offering from Shutterstock, and the easiest, most cost-effective way to learn creative or technical skills for your job, via online video tutorials. There is content available from hundreds of instructors, including full courses, all conveniently broken down into 2-3 minute sessions because, let’s face it, that’s pretty much our attention span. So, here’s your chance to learn Photoshop, or SEO. $19 a month buys you unlimited classes.

For the Hack of the Month, NYU graduate student Eric Schles demoed his program that helps law enforcement identify persons who are likely victims of human trafficking. Of course, because of the nature of the information-gathering process, his program also identifies prostitutes (“they’re more likely to post their pictures,” Schles noted) – and people looking for those services as well. His program predicts with an 85% accuracy rate. He presented a graph that depicted prostitute demand, which hilariously ‘spiked’ – stiffly – on Thanksgiving. You get the picture. Schles has already secured a job with the anonymous agency with whom he has been working, once he graduates next month. Kudos for his good work on a very serious problem that needs addressing.

Artiphon is reinventing music creation with a dramatically new kind of musical controller that allows you to play multiple instruments (even if you can’t play a note on any given instrument) and create your own symphony. Plug in your mobile, and take garage band to the next level. Well, maybe a couple of levels up. The physical product itself can be played in five different positions (think guitar as opposed to  violin), programmable so that you can create an entire band and according to presenter Mike Butera, adapts to the player rather than vice versa. Price tag: $799 (mobile not included) and well played!

Canopy. There are 30 million people in the US who seek medical care each year, and who don’t speak a word of English. Hospitals do have dual phone lines that allow medical professionals to reach interpreters, but let’s face it: that’s pretty 80s. Canopy is an app (funded by the NIH) to improve healthcare for non-English speakers by putting a medical interpreter literally in the pockets of every doctor and nurse by bringing up a menu of simple yes or no questions across different possible medical conditions and languages to zero in on what the problem might be. Once an actual interpreter is needed, it’ll get one on the line. Released a month ago, it’s already being tested at a number of major hospitals.

TouchCast is a new video technology platform that merges the interactivity of the web with video to create a whole new medium. Considering that 50% of web traffic is video and YouTube is the search engine of the up and coming generation of web users, we’re looking at the dawn of the video web, and TouchCast may well be one of the tools that enables it. Shareable through Facebook, Twitter, email and of course, YouTube. Available now in the app store. Coming soon to a desktop near you.

And yes, we are aware that Silicon Valley is west of New York. We didn’t quite understand the ‘New York East’ comment either, but to his credit, Senator Schumer did stay for most of the presentations and tweeted from the audience.

Image credit: Craig Williston

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About the author: Bonnie Halper

Bonnie Halper is Editor-in-Chief of AlleyWatch and also writes and curates the StartupOneStop.com newsletter, which focuses on startups and entrepreneurs, and is currently being read is 50+ countries around the world.

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