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February 14, 2014 at 9:58am

Military crowdsourcing site Endless Crowds launches

Endless Crowds is a fundraising platform exclusively for active/veteran military, firefighters, first responders and their causes.

There is great power in numbers - especially when it comes to getting needed funds to programs, businesses and individuals. Enter crowdsourcing, a fairly new phenomenon that harnesses the power of many to accomplish tasks and fundraising large and small. Popular crowdsourcing sites range from fundraising site Kickstarter to mini-job site TaskRabbit.

And now there's a new kid on the block called Endless Crowds, launched just this week, designed specifically for active duty military, veterans and first responders. The site allows participants to pool resources, ideas and raise funds, but strives to go beyond what many think of as a crowdsourcing site.

Founded by Roger Mensah, Endless Crowds is designed to serve a variety of projects, including community service programs, entrepreneurial and personal projects. Mensah began working on the site soon after President Obama's 2013 State of the Union address. Obama told the nation that 34,000 troops would be coming home and Mensah realized this meant many of these returning troops would face employment challenges.

To help vets who want to forge ahead on their own paths to self-employment or starting a business, for first-responder companies who cannot meet their needs through available funding, for military community programs who need a boost - Endless Crowds is there to help. Mensah believes that the discipline, leadership and teamwork qualities taught and engrained into military and first responders are inherently intertwined with a site such as Endless Crowds, which amplifies and empowers such qualities.

 "I believe those that protect us deserve the very best from the community at large, and their challenges are better solved together, rather than alone. Endless Crowds aims to harness the instilled qualities of teamwork, discipline and leadership found in our military and first responders to find a new way to get things done," said Mensah via a recent press release.

While fundraising is one aspect of the platform, Endless Crowds serves a higher purpose as well. Where other sourcing sites usually gather funds and nothing more, Endless Crowds will offer support and guidance to participants beyond the fundraising push. The site brings together resources and tools available to participants and aims to offer a personalized experience, which most other crowdsourcing platforms do not.

Beyond military members, Endless Crowds will also serve first responders, who often end up on the short end of the stick with public funding and can't afford needed equipment or programs from D.A.R.E to National Fire Prevention Week.

Some of the projects already listed on the site include Our Home Transitional, a program that hopes to help single homeless female veterans by raising funds to help for job training, education, health care and home placement assistance. Another project, Police Unity Tour, which is a four-day bicycle ride from New Jersey to D.C. to raise awareness of officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and to raise funds for the The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

To start a project or fundraiser, or find one to support, go to endlesscrowds.com. To see which programs are already listed on the site, go to Explore and you can peruse by Community, Entrepreneurial and Personal/Creative projects.

January 30, 2014 at 2:51pm

Central Washington University launches mobile app for veterans

Just the other day Team Walkie Talkie was discussing the lack of veteran-related apps. We came up with several ideas, then went back to our day job of writing snarky preview blurbs.

When, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a new veteran app originating across the Cascade mountain range. Central Washington University says it's the first university in the United States to use a special web and mobile application to help military veterans connect to colleges to earn degrees.

That's cool.

Here's an excerpt from the news release:

Key components of the Veterans App (VAPP), developed by Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, are a lockbox for online storage of military service records and the ability of users to browse veterans' service providers by major categories. The VAPP platform also provides a checklist of required steps needed to transition out of the military.

CWU is also specifically highlighted on the first-of-its-kind VAPP Checklist pilot program, a web-only application, limited to active service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) as they transition out of the Army. As a select sponsor of VAPP, CWU anticipates veteran recruitment and enrollment, both at Ellensburg and at CWU's campuses statewide, will grow.

"More than 20,000 veterans from JBLM will be going through the Active Duty Transition Process in the next two years. And those who investigate education through the VAPP checklist process will always see CWU's Preferred Sponsorship Logo linking to our VAPP Web page," said Swiney, adding that VAPP is formatted for both Web and mobile devices.

The Veterans App is available at www.vapp.com. The link can also be found on CWU's web site under Services, and on Admission's and the Veteran's web pages under Related Links.

January 21, 2014 at 9:33am

The Pentagon is, like, still using the Blackberry

Dear Pentagon: It's over. Done. Stop tweeting #iheartblackberry. Listen to the guy in Ring B off Corridor 1: "Dudes! OMG! Lose your Blackberry phones! Just got my iPhone 5s and it's hella sick, like a laser on a B-1 Bomber wrapped in bacon delivered by Marcus Luttrell on the backs of angels shaped like drones!"

According to Defensetech.org, the guy in Ring B off Corridor 1 isn't off the mark.

The Pentagon can't break their CrackBerry habit. Once the smartphone of choice, most of the nation and even most federal workers have stopped using BlackBerries as their work phones years ago. But the U.S. military keeps plodding along with the BlackBerry.

Read the full story here.

Filed under: Defense Department, Web/Tech,

January 20, 2014 at 8:23am

Monday Morning Joe: Deadly battles today, revised armed sales policy, 3-2 SBCT photos, LOB...

Treos in Old Tacoma offers a bridge to the community life where you can meet old and new friends in an informal meeting place over espresso and pastries - or a panini and handcrafted beer, wine and tapas.


An assault by suicide bombers and gunmen against a NATO base in southern Afghanistan today killed one servicemember.

After a night of vicious streets battles, anti-government protesters and police clashed anew today in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

A coalition servicemember was killed today when insurgents dressed in military uniforms launched a complex attack on a military base in southern Afghanistan, employing a car bomb and multiple attackers with suicide vests.

The Obama administration announced last week that it had revised its arms sales policy, emphasizing "restraint" to ensure that arms don't fall into the wrong hands or aren't turned on civilians by governments.

The Taiwanese Air Force unveiled an air-to-ground stand-off weapon developed for the F-CK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter.

A senior Marine officer whose career was stalled for two years amid a high-profile scandal involving scout snipers in his unit has finally been promoted and assigned to a top-level school.

The 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team is at the National Training Center. Let's look at photos.

The Seattle Seahawks are bringing their game-changing defense - and the "12th Man" - to the Big Apple for the Super Bowl.

Good News: Technology is not driving us apart after all.

According to Google, Washington state residents want "a say" in life.

Why strap a boring Rolex to your wrist when you could proudly wear a spacecraft?

Director J.J. Abrams said he has a completed script for the next Star Wars film and will begin shooting in May in England.

Now there's a rumor that the little Seinfeld reunion was for a Super Bowl commercial.

Gary Burghoff (Radar from MASH) is now on Twitter, with plenty of stories to tell.

You'd think that, by this point, people would start being a little more discerning with their passwords. You would be wrong.


September 27, 2013 at 10:18am

China Davis launches an Indiegogo campaign for "Arctic Days"

China Davis performing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Gig Harbor born, but Northwest raised rock band China Davis has launched an Indiegogo campaign for their upcoming album, Arctic Days, which core members, and brothers, Ben and Ted Fuller have been working on since their birth. I have heard snippets, and read lyrics, for the past two years. It's full of mystery, beauty and a sense of yearning. Tacoma musician, poet and artist Jeremy Silas has added his talent to the project, too. Read more about the band's new effort and where the $4,000 it's asking for through an Indiegogo campaign will be going, below then scroll down to check out the video for "Anjilla" off Arctic Days.


April 2, 2013 at 6:33am

Comment of the Day: Provide universal Internet access to America


Yesterday's comment of the day came from Chris Van Vechten — Rule 9 Municipal Prosecutor (criminal) at the city of Lakewood — in response to Aaron T. Sherman's op-ed "Online translations vital for equity in Tacoma Public Schools" posted on the Weekly Volcano's new political and policy blog, Town Hall Tourist.

Van Vechten writes,

I really think you should compare the technology in Tacoma's Public Schools to our Private Universities (UPS & PLU). I can't speak to PLU, but UPS is way behind TPS and has been for quite some time.......Students with non-English speaking parents overwhelmingly lack access to the internet and tech skills. We still don't have universal internet, and the poorer you are, the less likely you are to have access to these technologies. These are problems bigger than the school district, requires Federal Intervention. I've long thought this is something where the GOP and Dems could work together on if they were willing to ignore some people. If I were in charge, I would completely defund the US post office, and use the revenue currently going to that service to provide every family in America with a laptop, wireless internet, a fax-machine, printer and scanner. We'd bring every household in America online, we'd reduce needless energy costs by communicating exclusively via email and online billing/banking, and we'd preserve resources likes fuel and paper. The post office mostly exists today to provide junk mail and credit card applications to people with zero credit. It's employees have expensive benefits. It's been an amazing service to the country, but it's use is no longer obvious. We could do more by providing universal internet access to America, and allow package delivery to be conducted by a number of private competing delivery companies.

March 26, 2013 at 1:05pm

Olympia food truck Nineveh Assyrian owner to star on cooking talk show

ASSYRIAN KITCHEN: 10 appetizers in 30 minutes with Chef Lisa Miriam David and AK's Atorina Zomaya.


Lisa David, owner of the Nineveh Assyrian food truck on the corner of Plum and Fourth in Olympia is about to go national. Yes, the local bartender, DJ and artist - who serves outstanding Fattoush and fried cauliflower from Nineveh - will star in a web series based out of Chicago. The interactive cooking talk show Assyrian Kitchen launches Wednesday, March 27 as an eight-part series featuring David cooking 10 popular Middle Eastern appetizers.

David has been working with Assyrian Kitchen over the last year, flying out to Chicago for live and taped shows.

"The taped version is for a greater audience that can't make it to the live shows. The Assyrian community is spread out all over the world, so this will reach out to many of them this way. On top of that it crosses over well to a general audience who is genuinely interested in our Assyrian cuisine."

This opportunity puts David in a unique position to share a passion.

"Many of the participants in the live demonstration are non-Assyrians with a love for good food," she says. "I think that has been a major part that is really exciting for me, reaching out to people and introducing them to the food I grew up with and love so dearly. Seeing the enjoyment they get from tasting it and the satisfaction they get from learning to make it. This is an aspect of what makes our Nineveh Assyrian food truck so dear to me, that feedback you get from someone who has never tried something like a shawarma before and who is truly tasting something unique for the first time."

David is also excited to preserve her culture.

"Assyrians are a very small indigenous minority in the Middle East and are spread out wide in a Diaspora due to political persecution and ethnic cleansing in our homelands," she explains. "Any culture that is so spread apart is bound to assimilate into the adopted countries where people have settled. I think an effort like Assyrian Kitchen will help preserve an important aspect of being Assyrian, and that is the food we eat. Creating these videos, doing the live shows, and posting recipes online will go a long way in helping people, especially so many young people who were born or raised outside of our traditional native lands, to maintain this part of our cultural identity. That is something that brings me great satisfaction."

Filed under: Food & Drink, Olympia, Web/Tech,

February 27, 2013 at 11:24am

Found On South Sound Craigslist: 80 toilets, Hobbit feet, Irish Hurling and more ...

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: You could have it delivered.


Browsing the net is part of a blogger's job. While some people like to peruse Huffington Post, Reddit or in the Weekly Volcano's case - Twitter, I prefer to browse old school - Craigslist. And I'm not talking the back page hook-ups - the kind former Volcano scribe Brett Cihon described. I'm talking about the obscure and interesting, the weird and absurd, and my favorite - the free.

Below are a few precious items I recently discovered on Craigslist.

Eighty free toilets are up for grabs in Lacey. Why in the world does someone have a surplus of 80 toilets? 

Need beer and wine bottles? Judging by the picture of feet in the photo, and the barrel of bottles, Bilbo Baggins has had some late nights tossing back the brewski - and now the bottles can be all yours - for free. 

There are also cool paying gigs on Craigslist: 

"Award-Winning Filmmakers from L.A. Looking to film in OLD houses in TACOMA area":

"New tattoo shop opening on 6th Ave looking for artists";

"Wedding party looking for a folk/rock band".

And, the community section always has a few awesome postings. This week I found a group of performers in Tacoma looking to collaborate and bring live entertainment to senior citizens and other members of the community who may not experience it otherwise.

Also in the community section is a charity wedding dress sale where money raised on designer dresses on the cheap will help provide weddings and vow renewals for individuals facing terminal illness and other serious life-altering circumstances.

Or maybe you are interested in Irish Hurling, which is not what you do leaving O'Malley's at 2 a.m. It's a sport. And of course there's an ad for Irish Hurling on good ol' Craigslist.

Oh, you can also find all the medical weed you could need on Craigslist - sometimes even ones that will deliver.

What have you found?

Filed under: Lacey, Tacoma, Web/Tech,

February 8, 2013 at 3:14pm

SOUTH SOUND SIDEKICK: Changing the world through Wikipedia

ADAM FLETCHER: The Wikipedian (en:User:Freechild) seen here at the American Museum of Natural History. Photo courtesy of Ragesoss/Wikipedia

South Sound Sidekick series offers advice from experts living in the, well, South Sound. It posts every Friday. Today, Wikipedia expert and Olympia resident Adam Fletcher has advice and tips on how to do good work on Wikipedia.

Adam Fletcher writes,

It's a quiet night in the middle of winter when you surf Wikipedia on your favorite subject. Lately you've been obsessed. Reading the regular "blah, blah, blah" you'd expect in an encyclopedia, suddenly your eyes come across something you know is wrong, and you want to fix it.

Stumbling through the clunky interface of the world's largest online collaboration, you manage to edit one of the website's 4,000,000 English language articles. With renewed vigor, you start reading again when you notice there isn't a link to someone you know is really, really important for your subject. Using the poor search engine on the site, you figure out there's nothing for this person. Suddenly, you decide that you will write the article that Wikipedia is missing. Wikipedia wants you to.

This was my story nearly 10 years ago. Since then, I have created more than 500 articles on "the free encyclopedia," volunteering thousands of hours of my life to improve this virtual database of human knowledge. I was a younger hell raiser then, bent on sharing what I'd learned through my career as a consultant for government agencies and nonprofits. Looking specifically at youth engagement, I found a gaping hole in the fields of youth development and education, and began writing rampantly.

However, despite trying to write articles that sounded like they knew it all, I immediately got smacked down. Beautifully grandiose pieces that I knew should've won the Pulitzer were deleted, and on the back channels of Wikipedia other editors said mean things about me.

Determined, it wasn't long before I learned the form. I started reading good articles about topics I wasn't interested in just to figure out what to do, and studied my detractors' comments for insights I might need. Most importantly, I learned how to find sources to support the new topics I was introducing to Wikipedia.

I grew comfortable with the site. After a while, I began writing about anything that interested me. In the waning hours between being a fulltime dad and running my own business, I studied and wrote about the histories of New Mexico, Washington, New York and Alberta; I plumbed the depths of the micro-history of North Omaha, Neb., the neighborhood that I grew up in; and I contributed to other topics I cared most about then.

Since then, I have gained a reputation for writing about topics that are controversial, apparently inconsequential, or otherwise chagrined by other editors, and because of that I keep going. It feels good to stand up for the underdog, online and in the real world. This is how I change the world, sometimes.

What I have learned about Wikipedia is this:

Don't volunteer on Wikipedia for the recognition. On its surface, a large part about Wikipedia is the anonymity. Because of that, there isn't a lot of recognition for hard work. While editors can give each other badges and access, there's no explicit volunteer recognition program, awards or ceremonies. Don't expect anyone to wave your flag for spending days on in at the website.

Editing feels like dog-eat-dog sometimes. Because of the anonymity and the nature of the Internet, editing can get cutthroat sometimes. Editors aren't generally warm and fuzzy, or particularly supportive toward newbies and topics they don't know about. I even experienced many to be suspicious. Stay strong and committed and your work will make it through.

Wikipedia successfully raises the general public's knowledge about topics. After working in my field for more than two decades, the topics we address are more known than ever before. That's in no small part the fault of Wikipedia, and I'm confident that my contributions have helped.

I had to lose some of my ego to be a successful editor. Hidden in the harsh editing climate of Wikipedia is a desire to build a substantial contribution to the world's knowledge. Grammar, style, citations, and reputation are invaluable for that, and I may not be the absolute hottest writer to ever contribute to the project. I have learned to accept feedback and even criticism so I can write better.

Learn to work the system. Wikipedia wants to be spectacular, and in so doing has its doors wide open. Learning to work the system - including the guidelines, editing environment, and processes - can allow you to influence the world, if you work it right.

There's more than a million ways to start. Ready to do it? The biggest advice I can share is to start anywhere and go anywhere. There are a million entry points for contributing to Wikipedia, including editing existing content, creating articles, adding citations, checking verifiability, working with topic-based projects and many other ways. The most important thing is to simply start.

As my story shows, anyone can add to Wikipedia. I really think that if you want to change the world, the website is a great place to go to do some good work. There are so many opportunities there, and your contributions can have a real impact on other people, no matter how small or insignificant they might feel.

Instead of spending more time reviewing the site, I would suggest that you stop reading this and start editing. Look me up on the site if you want, and happy editing!

Learn more about Adam's editing and contact him on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Freechild

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January 23, 2013 at 9:00am

Tacoma's GIVINGtrax helps businesses manage donations

GIVINGTRAX TEAM: Lance Hungerford, Karrie Hungerford, Courtney Titus and director of development Kai Sounthala. Courtesy photo


Tacoma has brought many wonderful products, resources and people into this world: Almond Roca, Dale Chihuly and the 253 Heart. Now, there is one more side of awesome to serve up - GIVINGtrax. Never before has giving or receiving donations been so nifty.

Originally founded in 2010, but officially launched at Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas, GIVINGtrax was co-founded by Tacoma businesspeople Karrie and Lance Hungerford, and Internet marketer Courtney Titus of the Bruce Titus Automotive family.

"GIVINGtrax provides web-based and mobile-based tools for managing donations, corporate giving, cause marketing, volunteerism, and fundraising," says Titus. "In a way, GIVINGtrax.com plays matchmaker to local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who otherwise may have never met."

Along with managing your own giving, the service is all about connection and awareness - simplifying and consolidating the donation receiving and giving processes. Among the system's many capabilities, it allows nonprofits to thank their donors or business partners, ask for donations, or submit donation requests to a cloud and find others who are likely to give to their cause. Individuals can join and affiliate themselves with their employers, and both keep track of their donations as well as get notifications about employee-matching programs.

"We have launched our GIVINGtrax BETA here locally in the Puget Sound and will be rolling out the product Nationwide and hopefully globally," says Titus. "As we expand we will continue to keep the local aspect of GIVINGtrax - giving the businesses, nonprofits, and individuals that use GIVINGtrax the ability to see their social impact in their community."

Already, several Tacoma businesses and nonprofits are on board, from the Harmon Brewery to Round Table Pizza to the Tacoma Art Museum.

Filed under: Business, Web/Tech, Tacoma,

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