JavaScript Meetup crew at MetaCommunications in Iowa City, IA

JavaScript Meetup at MetaCommunications on Saint Patrick’s Day in Iowa City

I had a great evening hanging out with a group of diehard JavaScript fans at MetaCommunications on Saint Patrick’s Day! To celebrate, they named this JavaScript meetup “Java O’ Script”! Yes, while others were out drinking just around the corner from us in downtown Iowa City, we were cuddled up talking nerdy! MetaComm supplied the venue for this meetup plus pizza and beer – way to give back to the tech community in Iowa City!

Tonight Mostafa Abdelraouf­ presented his JavaScript project. We also talked about the Slack app and how it handles updates. There was a slight lull in the discussion and we got to know each other and what we do. Learned more about Katelyn Lensch (Iowa Tech Chicks) and her work in REST api and AngularJS 2.0. Then the discussion caught fire and went on until the wee hours of the night! But when you start at 8pm and talk for hours it’s to be expected. I had a fantastic time and am already looking forward to the next event.

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Geeks talk shop at TechBrew. Hosted at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City, IA on Mar 8, 2016

What: TechBrew Iowa City
When: Tue Mar 8, 2016 5pm Central Time
Where: Forbidden Planet, 111 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA
Why: Because getting tech geeks talk shop out from behind the desk is really a good thing!

TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Friends geeking out at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Friends geeking out at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Fellow Nerds talk about technology at TechBrew at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City

Assistive Technology Helping Web Accessibility and User experience

Assistive Technology Helping Web Accessibility & User Experience

Iowa Web Accessibility UX and Inclusive Design LOGO (#A11y)
We went to the Iowa Web Accessibility, UX & Inclusive Design meetup. This time it was held at the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research. The evening started off with Amanda Lewis (Graduate Assistant) & Patricia (Patti) Bahr (MSE, ATP, RET) Director, stepping us though what it may feel like to be learning disabled, blind or hard of hearing. For me (being dyslexic) this was an interesting experience in realizing all of the obstacles I’ve had to deal with in my life. Once the group had a chance to experience empathy toward disabled members in our society, we proceeded to learn about some of the tools that modern technology gives people in need: From standalone apps like BeeLine Reader, Snap&Read Universal to Nuance’s Dragon®.‎ We also went over an extensive library of Google Chrome™ plugins like Voice Note II and Read&Write (my two favorites). To keep them all organized I recommend using Extensity!

So why learn about all of the tools available to people who are blind, hearing impaired, learning disabled, etc? Because programming a website that is user friendly across the board is just that important. We had lots of fun at this event at the University of Iowa.

Learning disability simulation of drawing within the lines:

This little mirror trick isn’t as easy as it looks. Cover your drawing hand and use a mirror at the top of the paper to draw within the lines while the “teacher” goes around praising some for doing such a wonderful job (yet no one really was) and says perceived negative things to others that are quickly internalized by the students who are having a hard time just following this simple star. It makes me truly sympathetic to people with disabilities who know what to do… but their bodies simply won’t let them do it.

Amanda Lewis, U of I Graduate Assistant talks about dyslexia and how teachers teach

Amanda Lewis, U of I Graduate Assistant talks about dyslexia and how teachers teach

Mirror Activity simulates having dyslexia or learning disability

Mirror Activity simulates having dyslexia or learning disability

Reading simulation: What it may feel like to be Dyslexic or Learning Disabled:

In the beginning you are given several words that were translated for you into this made up “dyslexic” language. As soon as you turn the page, it becomes more complex. Learning new “words” and remembering old fictional letter combinations turns out to not be as easy as the reader thinks. Before you know it the story is over and the “teacher” begins to ask you questions. The realization is that you struggled so much to read the text you didn’t have time to comprehend what you just read.



Reading a story as a Dyslexic student may read it

Reading a story as a dyslexic student may see or read it. Not so easy after all.

Learning to use modern tools that should be accessible to the websites we produce:

VoiceNote II was a little funky, but for the free price tag you can’t go wrong. It was able to read just about anything that was viewable on the computer, from websites to .PDFs and more.

Comparing Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking to VoiceNote II and other apps

Comparing Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking to VoiceNote II and other apps


Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

Yelp marketing help in Iowa City, IA: Yelp Iowa City Event

Yelp logo I had fun hanging out and talking shop/marketing with Rachel LeBeau (A quite talented lady! See Website & Esty shop) from Yelp Iowa City at The Java House today. We discussed several free options that Yelp offers and ideas to best utilize them. For Big Ten Web Design’s clients, we usually only recommend getting the back link and the free service. We just haven’t seen the ROI (Return on Investment) for clients in the past. Several of our clients have used it, then have come to us for advice, and we have guided them towards other more viable options.

Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

Hanging with Rachel L. from Yelp Iowa City, IA

Promotional restaurant Table Tent Marketing idea to engage social media

“Table Tent” Marketing with Social Media Promotion

This print advertising campaign was designed to get patrons who are already at Forbidden Planet in Iowa City to share on social media that they are at this location having fun and are posting pictures of their good time. This type of printed advertisement is called a “table tent.” The purpose is to give away 10 free tokens to play the games if you post on social media and tag this restaurant. This, in our opinion, is an under-utilized technique to get the word out in a somewhat organic way. After all, who likes forced promotions by a company that they follow on social networks? However, when a post shows up from a friend saying how much fun they are having, that will catch our eye and it’s intended to have a much different effect than self promotion.

Wanna get some free tokens? It’s easy! Take a picture of fun #icforbiddenplanet times, tag us and claim your tokens at the bar. #tokens #arcade #iowacity #downtowniowacity #uiowa #iowa #universityofiowa #fun

Posted by Forbidden Planet: Pizzeria & Video Arcade on Friday, January 22, 2016

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Tech, Web & Freelancers Lunch in Iowa City, IA

Startup Iowa logo startup Iowa City logoWe joined 8 other tech industry members in the Iowa City area for a Freelancers lunch and discuss how to better interact with clients. From using videos to show clients what we worked on that day to digital scrum boards to just email. We were all in agreement that dealing with clients, that email maybe one of the worst things to use. Phone calling using a google voice number was far above just sending end of day emails. But in short is what is manageable for you and the client. Its not always an easy thing to balance or find.

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Tech and Freelancers lunch in Iowa City

Participants of Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

Fun at the Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

Startup Weekend LOGOHad fun participating in the 2015 Iowa City Startup Weekend! I worked on several projects. All pivoted and ended up going in lots of different directions. From a “Daily Special” app for local restaurants to fun but simply not practical “Corn Caucus” that was at first designed to be a satirical look into Iowa politics but also pivoted into a kids book later on in the weekend.


It isn’t all ways hard work!

My group at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

My group at Startup Weekend Iowa City 2015

In the video below the Corn Caucus Crew is discussing the characters in the book that we ended up working on for this project.