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Archive for May 2014

Bottle Rocket opens its doors for WWDC and Google I/O events

Two of the biggest conferences for techies – WWDC and Google I/O – are happening within weeks.

These conferences give attendees a chance to hear about the latest trends in development and get a unique opportunity to hear expert insights straight from each source.  

Since attendance for the conferences is heavily limited, we’re opening our shuttle doors here in Dallas for coverage of each event.

Starting on Monday, June 2we’re going to live stream Apple’s Keynote from WWDC followed by handpicked sessions on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rocketeers will be on-site in California to provide insight into which topics are buzzing.

We’ll have multiple viewing rooms so you can choose what to watch.

RSVP online to get a spot for our WWDC streams (you’ll need a free Apple Developer registration). We have room for 50 guests, so don’t wait to register!

For Google I/O, we’ll be live streaming the keynote on Wednesday, June 25, and streaming sessions that afternoon and the following Thursday. Again, we’ll have a choice of rooms for different sessions.

RSVP online to get a spot for our Google I/O streams.

Since Bottle Rocket is always trying to get to the next level in mobile innovation, there will be at least one session per day focused on mobile, and there will be several opportunities for guests to mingle and network with Dallas area developers.

If you didn’t see enough reasons to come, we’re serving pizza.

And cocktails.

See you there!

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Rocketeer Charity: PCs2Prosper

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Images courtesy of PCs2Prosper

For our second charity drawing this month, Rocketeers are supporting PCs2Prosper – an organization dedicated to bringing computers to children from low-income households.

Cofounders Vijay, Roja, and Karthik Manohar were inspired to start PCs2Prosper in 2011 when they learned about their father’s company policy of replacing laptops every three years. Old laptops, still functional, were often dumped into landfills.

The goal of PCs2Prosper is to take these computers to children who can’t afford PCs. 

Rocketeer Darin Newbold selected PCs2Prosper as his charity of choice.

“We often take for granted the technology that we have at our fingertips, yet many don’t have access to even a simple computer let alone the amazing mobile devices available. I’m excited that this group is taking computers that might otherwise get thrown away and put them to use with schools and children that would not have access to the technology. Simply put, it’s a great way to reuse technology,” Newbold said.

PCs2Prosper has student chapters at Glenda Dawson High School and the Texas Academy of Math and Science.

If you’re interested in the group’s mission or donating an old computer, visit http://pcs2prosper.org

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Rocketeers create an app to control lights with voice in less than 24 hours

What’s cooler than a lighting system that you can control with your mobile device?

A lighting system you can control with your voice.

iOS developer Justin Ehlert, currently a junior majoring in computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas, took on that goal during this year’s Rocket Science. After purchasing a Philips Hue starter kit, Ehlert started to fiddle around with the system’s capabilities and explored the product’s potential.

“I realized that a service that allowed you to have an always listening experience could be quite revolutionary. My vision is to have an iPad mounted on a wall and then from anywhere in the room you can control your lights in the house. Start watching a movie, turn them off without getting off the couch,” Ehlert said.

Hue bulbs display up to 16 million colors – which allows for customizable presets with color combinations.

Ehlert and fellow developer iOS Nelson LeDuc (also a junior studying computer science at UTD) enlisted the help of two new Rocketeers – Brandon Roeder (a senior studying software engineering at UTD) and Colin Campbell (a junior studying computer science at UTD) to create the finished product.

“We just wanted to create something awesome. We noticed that there are no apps that can control the Philips Hue lights with voice and we felt that a product like that could really benefit from a more automated and hands off approach,” Ehlert said.

The Hue lighting system lets you adjust intensity, customize your lighting rig, and schedule different lighting times. Starting kits run for around $200. 

Ehlert even had a Twitter back-and-forth with Hue’s official account. Kudos to the Philips social media team for keeping up with us during our slightly dereanged schedule. 

Stay tuned for a new profile of the winning teams every day this week. 

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Rocket Science 2014: Come and Make it

What do you get when you add up 24 hours, over 180 rocketeers, and countless energy drinks? 

Rocket Science 2014

Starting at noon on Thursday, Rocketeers from every discipline of the company came together to brainstorm, collaborate, and implement ideas for personal projects that reach beyond the scope of our regular (and not-so-regular) workdays. 

We shut-down our emails and put a temporary hold on client work so groups could work on personal passion projects ranging from the Keggerator (a smart beer dispensing device) to the Altimeter (an app to gauge employee morale). 

Projects varied from lighthearted attempts to celebrate our company's culture, like a Bottle Rocket-themed card game, to serious philanthropic work. Team Vocal Id spent their time at Rocket Science developing an app that lets users donate their voice to a database so those who are without a voice don’t have to rely robotic presets to express themselves and they are given a voice that is unique to them.

Team Hue, half of which was comprised of newly hired interns, developed an app to control Philips Hue lighting with voice commands - allowing users to create preset light combinations and other impressive features. 

Rocketeers Jason Osburn (pictured below) and Chris Thrash cranked out hundreds of custom screen-printed t-shirts to celebrate the event on a 4-Color Printa System.

Over twenty teams presented their work Friday morning and fellow Rocketeers voted on five categories: Best Presentation, Brilliant Failure, Most Solid, Most Creative, and Magnificent Success. 

Rocketeer James Helms and Team Keggerator won Best Presentation for their "Making Of" montage featured below. 

The Most Solid award - a brick - went to Team Pico Games, who created 48 mini-games during Rocket Science, which was 24 more than they originally planned.

Team Eye of Sauron, who worked on an app to help keep track of employee locations throughout the office, won Most Creative

Rocketeers voted Team Hot Flag, an impromptu hotdog-themed band, for Brilliant Failure (with love, of course). 

Finally, the Vocal Id team won the trophy for Magnificent Success, a golden goblet, for their work on an easy-to-use voice bank. 

Rocket Science was filled to the brim with creative energy and work that will continue for the coming months (once everyone gets a chance to rest).

Stay tuned for more exclusive content as we update the blog with videos documenting different teams and their innovative work… after a long nap!

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Rocketeer Charity: Hugworks

This month, Rocketeers are supporting Hugworks - a charity specializing in music therapy for hospitalized children.

By conducting live therapeutic music, Hugworks seeks to uplift children experiencing extended hospital stays or children with special needs. 

Founded by musician Jim Newton, the organization has gone on to produce three award-winning CDs featuring music that Hugworks performers play live in hospitals across the country. 

Rocketeer Chris Koeberle submitted Hugworks as his charity of choice and shared his experience with the group. 

When Koeberle’s 9-month-old son was inconsolable in the hospital, two men with guitars came into the room and asked to play. 

“It was probably the happiest moment he enjoyed that entire day, and I just found it so cheering that two gentlemen would take time out of their day to go to a hospital and play music for kids who were stuck there,” Koeberle said. 

For more information on Hugworks, visit their website at http://www.hugworks.org

The two previous charities selected by Bottle Rocket were Meals On Wheels and the Susan G. Komen North Texas Plano Race for the Cure.

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