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July 10th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Startups, Technology

mbloom

The Maui-based technology fund mbloom, cofounded by local entrepreneur Arben Kryeziu and California-based Nick Bicanic, today announced its first two investments: $350,000 each in Flikdate, a real-time video dating service, and Ozolio, a live HD webcam hosting service.

The mbloom team definitely knows the companies they’re investing in well: Bicanic is the founder and CEO of Flikdate, and Kryeziu is the startup’s CTO.

As for Ozolio? It was founded by Kryeziu as a “pet project.”

The fact that mbloom’s first investments were in companies founded by the fund’s managers caught the eye of Hawaii-born entrepreneur Eric Nakagawa, who posted links to Hawaii business registration reports for Ozolio and Flikdate. And a commenter noted that there was a third company listed on the “mbloom investments” page: Code Rebel.

Code Rebel was founded by Kryeziu, and he is also listed on Code Rebel’s state business registration filings.

I don’t know enough about venture capital to know how common it is for a fund, state government backed or not, to invest in companies founded by the fund’s managers. But it was certainly unusual enough to spark discussion on Nakagawa’s post.

What stood out to me was that Kryeziu and Bicanic’s co-founder status in the funded companies was not mentioned in the local news article. It makes many of the statements and quotes awkward.

“Kryeziu said mbloom decided to invest in the two startups because they were familiar with their work,” the story reads. “In addition to the financial investment, general partners Kryeziu and Nick Bicanic will provide mentoring to Flikdate’s and Ozolio’s teams and give them access to their resources and network.”

Meanwhile, a Flikdate press release put out last month quotes Bicanic as Flikdate’s CEO, and quotes Kryeziu as “Managing Partner of mbloom.”

mbloom is billed as “Hawaii’s first early-stage technology fund,” and in January announced the close of a $10 million early-stage venture capital fund. That fund was backed by a “public-private partnership” between the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation and Devon Archer, a New York-based investor.

UPDATE: Kryeziu has responded on Nakagawa’s Facebook post:

“Our investment process is governed by a robust due diligence and risk management framework. In the event of potential related party transactions Mbloom investment decisions are supervised and approved by an LP advisory board. We will be addressing the community concerns over the coming days…

“CodeRebel was reviewed by mBloom, but did not meet the funds investment criteria – it shouldn’t have been on the website.

“We have also made several additional investments which will be announced soon.”

UPDATE 2: Official statements from mbloom and HSDC:

mbloom: Not only is there no smoking gun – there’s no gun at all. The irony here is that if we don’t defend ourselves, we end up looking guilty. But if we do defend ourselves, we also end up looking guilty.

HSDC: HSDC was aware of the private investor’s interest in Arben’s and Nick’s already existing businesses and worked with them to establish a fund governance process to review and evaluate related party transactions, if they were deemed appropriate for the fund. Through this process, Flikdate and Ozolio were approved for investment by the limited partners of the fund, and not by Arben and Nick.

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July 9th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Business, Food

Liliha Bakery on Nimitz Highway

I work at Dole Cannery in Iwilei, and while it’s only a few blocks west of downtown Honolulu, it’s a comparative wasteland when it comes to food options. One can live on Costco hotdogs and pizza for only so long. Fortunately, a celebrated local eatery has finally opened its second location on Nimitz Highway, in the old Sam Choy’s space across from City Mill.

Liliha Bakery has been a Kalihi institution since 1950. Peter Kim bought it in 2008 with plans to expand statewide. And while that expansion has been a long time coming — this Iwilei location has been in the works since October 2013, with the opening delayed from May — there’s little doubt Liliha Bakery and its signature coco puffs will easily satisfy an even larger audience.

The space, located at 580 North Nimitz Highway, is familiar to people who’d dined at Sam Choy’s during its 15-year tenancy. It’s been given several modern updates, with dark wood furniture and spot lighting, giving it a much more moody feel than its much older sister on Kuakini Street, less than two miles away. In addition to ample bakery space, there’s restaurant table and counter seating, and the kitchen remains open and within view of customers.

Liliha Bakery at Iwilei

Liliha Bakery at Iwilei

Check out more photos of the new Liliha Bakery location on Flickr, Google+ or Facebook.

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June 27th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Science, Social Media, The Web

Milgram Experiment

The title of the research paper is certainly scholarly. In “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” the results of a “massive experiment on Facebook” were published in The Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. They showed that moods can spread on the network like a disease by exposing some users to more positive news stories than usual, and others to more negative stories.

“For people who had positive content reduced in their News Feed, a larger percentage of words in people’s status updates were negative and a smaller percentage were positive,” the paper notes. “When negativity was reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.”

The mainstream media had fun with the story. “Facebook emotions are contagious!”

But as the story spread online, and notably after this report in The A.V. Club, actual researchers took notice. And many are upset.

The problem is “informed consent,” a fundamental principle of research involving human subjects. While it can get complicated, it basically means researchers must meet three requirements:

  1. Disclosing to potential research subjects information needed to make an informed decision;
  2. Facilitating the understanding of what has been disclosed; and
  3. Promoting the voluntariness of the decision about whether or not to participate in the research.

This critical issue is summarily dismissed by saying that all Facebook users agree to be studied simply by using Facebook. The study addresses the matter in one sentence fragment: “…It was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

And indeed, Facebook’s Data Use Policy does mention research: “…In addition to helping people see and find things that you do and share, we may use the information we receive about you for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

But many say that’s not enough.

“This study is in violation of laws regarding Human Subject protocols in research,” writes Gwynne Ash in a comment on The A.V. Club story. Ash, a professor at Texas State University, goes on to say:

“In this study there was no disclosure to participants that they were members of a research study, even though the purpose of the study was to produce negative emotional states, such as depression, through specific manipulation of data provided to participants (i.e., this was not a naturalistic study). The blanket research permission that is part of the Facebook TOS in no way approaches ethical appropriateness for human subject research of this type. There was also no debriefing of study participants. The publication of this study breaches all accepted protocols for the protection of human subjects in experimental research…”

Aimee Giese, someone I’ve followed online since 2009, put it much more succinctly: “there is NO WAY Facebook did not violate human subjects rules.”

Apparently, informed consent rules don’t officially apply to private companies conducting their own research, but while a Facebook employee was the lead researcher, there were co-authors affiliated with institutions of higher education — University of California, San Francisco and Cornell University — that most certainly adhere to the requirement.

At the University of Hawaii, the Human Computer Interaction Lab leads a lot of research into social computing. Lab director Scott Robertson, who is also an Associate Professor of Department of Information and Computer Sciences, shared his initial thoughts with me.

“My opinion is that what Facebook did here is unethical, but it is a fuzzy boundary,” he said.

“For example, Facebook (and others) conduct so-called A/B studies all the time where they present different interfaces, or different ads, or use different algorithms to different customers and measure things like time spent on the page, click rate, buying, et cetera,” Robertson explained. “If you think about it, they are purposely manipulating the experience and emotions of users in these situations as well, but somehow this seems OK to me.”

“This is a bit of a new frontier, and we will see a lot of this type of thing in the future,” he added.

I don’t know if I was one of the hundreds of thousands of Facebook users included in this study, but I definitely feel manipulated and grumpy. So either way, their test worked.

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June 27th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Events, Government, Politics, The Web

Common Cause at The Box Jelly

In an election year, the more citizens know about candidates and their campaigns the better. And while there’s a lot of information available from the Campaign Spending Commission, it can be a challenge to make sense of it all. That’s where the recent Civic*Celerator comes in, and its slate of online tools to help voters understand who is funding political campaigns, and where the money is going.

Last night at The Box Jelly, an advocates’ workshop drew community leaders, activists, and even a political candidate or two. The event was organized by Common Cause Hawaii, in partnership with Hawaii Open Data (an organization I co-founded in 2012), and allowed the developers of several Civic*Celerator apps to present their work and answer questions.

Mapping guru Royce Jones showed off several tools he built using Esri GIS software, including a map to explore local voting precincts and another to look up candidate filing information based on location. He even previewed his “Power Ballot” concept, which would show an interactive version of each precinct’s actual ballot, and provide extensive links to information about each candidate.

Esri Map

Local software developer Jason Axelson, meanwhile, focused on data visualization, building a Hawaii Campaign Spending site that turned a dense pile of columns and rows into beautiful, interactive graphics that told the story of campaign expenditures by office, category (“food and beverage” being a fun one to explore), candidate, party (democrats obviously outspend all other parties by far), and amount.

Campaign Spending Visualization

Abercrombie Campaign Bentos

Data visualization is also the specialty of Ben Trevino of UHERO, and his Funding a Campaign for the Hawaii State Legislature app also provided an elegant way to explore political fundraising activity in Hawaii.

Funding a Campaign for the Hawaii State Legislature

Also featured last night was KOHO IKE, which offers new ways to search the Campaign Spending Commission’s contributions database. You can find who donated the most to state candidates (per campaign or number of candidates), identify which special interests support which candidates, and where a candidate gets most of his or her campaign cash. And Polidex sought to explore which contributions influence bills being signed into law, providing a graphical interface to illustrate when local legislators are collecting the most money.

While developer presentations are understandably geeky, it was clear to most of the people in the room that these apps had very practical applications, and provided new ways to look at often impenetrable campaign finance data. It was heartening to see local software developers working on ways to serve the public good, putting their considerable talents to helping all Hawaii residents become better informed, better equipped citizens.

And now that they’ve built these tools, hopefully we can get people to use them. While the public can learn more about the people who seek to represent them, they can also hopefully provide “real world” feedback to the developers to make their apps even better.

You can check out links to these and other Civic*Celerator apps here.

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May 13th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Events, Music

Eisa Drum Photo

This Saturday, the Eisa Drum Festival returns for its fourth year. The celebration of Okinawan music, dance and culture has grown larger and more diverse since 2010, and I wanted to get a behind-the-scenes view of its evolution. Lead organizer Shari Tamashiro is a friend as well as the “cybrarian” at Kapiolani Community College, which is hosting the festival, and she was gracious enough to participate in an email interview.

Q&A with Shari Tamashiro

Q. How much larger or different is this fourth event compared to the first?

In terms of audience, it has been growing in size each year. Hard to estimate numbers, but based on food sales, we think we had 2,500 to 3,000 people last year.

In terms of the program, it has been evolving. From year one to year four, we evolved from Hawaii-only to a festival that has developed strong ties between Hawaii and Okinawa.

The first eisa festival was all local Hawaii performers: three Okinawan eisa groups, Kenny Endo’s taiko, and Okinawan lions. Year two we brought in Daiichi Hirata from Okinawa who brought in a crazy level of energy and excitement because he’s so incredibly talented. Year three we brought in Daiichi Hirata and members of REQUIOS, the 2012 and 2013 Worldwide Eisa Festival champions and probably the best eisa drummers in the world. For year four we are bringing in Daiichi Hirata and 20 members of Kajimaai, the 2011 Worldwide Eisa festival champs.

Of course, the heart of the festival remains the local Hawaii performers.

Q: I’m definitely always awed by the energy and size of the festival for such a tight-knit community. When you dreamed up the festival, did you think it would be as dazzling as it turned out to be?

Absolutely not! But I should have. The Hawaii Okinawan community (and all the Okinawan-at-Heart people!) are really overwhelming in how much they support these kinds of events.

Q. What was your inspiration for the festival? Other similar festivals in other communities? Or just an ambitious dream to pull the community together for a big party?

I went to Brazil in 2008 for the centennial celebration of Okinawan immigration to Argentina and Brazil. The closing for their Okinawan Festival had over 100 eisa drummers all drumming together. The floor literally shook from the power of the drums, which created a living beat that just resonated with me. The entire area was awash with such incredible joy and energy! It was magical and I could not stop smiling from ear to ear. I remember thinking, “Why don’t we do this kind of thing in Hawaii?”

Hawaii has individual eisa groups but they all perform separately. I had never seen them drumming together before.

So the inspiration for eisa festival was to try and bring that incredible energy and joy I felt in Brazil to Hawaii and let the community in Hawaii experience that magic by bringing together all the different drum groups. The rule for all of our festivals is that everyone who participates must come together for the finale number. It’s a reminder that we are one community.

You’re mixing traditional and contemporary styles, as well as different groups beyond Okinawa. How do you envision broadening the diversity and inclusiveness further?

My favorite performance from the second festival was the “Chant of Island Peoples,” which brought together Hawaiian and Okinawan chanting and drumming. I love when Nawa’a and Daiichi start drumming together. Hawaii and Okinawa have so much in common that I’d like to explore that connection further.

This year, I invited Halla Huhm, a Korean music and dance studio. They are going to showcase Korean drumming and will join us in the finale number. I like forging connections through drums!

This event is not just for the Hawaii Okinawan community but for anyone who wants to learn more about Okinawan culture. We make an effort to explain what people are seeing so they have a better understanding (and appreciation). There is a story and meaning behind the Shishimai or Okinawan Lion Dance. Our MCs will explain it so people don’t just see a hairy creature up there. Things like that!

Okinawans have a saying, “Ichariba Chode” which means Once we meet, we are family. Anyone can be Okinawan at Heart if they share the values and have an interest. So anyone is welcome to become a part of the Hawaii Okinawan community! Doesn’t matter if you have the blood or speak the language. I really like that about the Hawaii Okinawans.

Q. What else have you got in the works?

I have this really awesome plan based on the original paranku brigade we put together at the first festival (which you and your family took part in!). I can’t give details yet, but it’s going to be a really fun project that regular folks can participate in. If people want to learn more, I will of course let you know, but they can also sign up for my mailing list (subscribe at www.pigsfromthesea.com) to get notices.

Mahalo to Shari for taking the time to share some of the story behind this wonderful festival. Here are the details:

About the Eisa Drum Festival

What: The 4th Eisa Drum Festival
When: Saturday, May 17, 2014
Where: Kapi’olani Community College Great Lawn

Food sales begin at 4:30 pm. Program runs from 6 pm to 9 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Alcohol is strictly prohibited. Bring a lawn chair and enjoy an evening under the stars!

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May 6th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Science, Technology, Video

Space, the final frontier, was the theme of this week’s appearance on Hawaii News Now, chosen in honor of UC Berkeley astrophysicist Alex Filippenko. Filippenko, who is known worldwide for his scientific achievements as well as his efforts to bring astrophysics to the masses, will be our guest on Bytemarks Cafe tomorrow afternoon, and is the featured speaker this Saturday in the Explorers of the Universe lecture series organized by the UH Institute for Astronomy.

For our TV friends, we featured three space apps:

Exoplanet AppExoplanet [App Store] by Hanno Rein, astrophysicist at Princeton University. The app is a beautiful, interactive guide to over 1,700 planets and counting, plus rich details on planets and moons in our own solar system. The app lets you zoom way, way out from Earth to the farthest reaches of the cosmos. You can get push notifications of new exoplanet discoveries, and even link the app to your Philips Hue light bulbs to change the color of the light in your room to match that of the atmosphere of a distant planet.

StarWalk [App Store, Google Play Store], a perennial favorite that combines astronomy with consumer technology in an irresistible way. The “augmented stargazing” app helps you spot over 200,000 stars, planets, constellations and satellites in the night sky. StarWalk won an Apple Design Award in 2010, was named among the Best of 2012 in the App Store in 2012, and continues to be one of the most compelling space apps out there.

SatelliteSelfies, an app concept entered in the 2014 NASA International Space Apps Challenge. It’s a simple game that presents a satellite image and asks you to guess where on Earth it is, and it is the brainchild of Kailua High School graduate George Uno (now living on the Mainland). He entered it in NASA’s “Where On Earth” challenge, and public voting just closed yesterday. SatelliteSelfies made the final cut, and now just two apps are left in the running for the Global People’s Choice award.

Want to explore the cosmos in greater depth? Tune in to HPR2 89.3FM (or streaming live via the web and mobile apps) at 5 p.m. HST to hear our conversation with Alex, and get a preview of his Saturday talk, “The Big Bang Theory, Inflation, and the Multiverse: An English Major’s Introduction to the Birth and Early Evolution of the Universe.”

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May 2nd, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Education, Hawaii, Media

KCCStudent speech on college campuses is again being challenged in Hawaii, with two separate stories surfacing in recent weeks: the administration take-over of Kapi‘o, the student newspaper at Kapiolani Community College, and a lawsuit filed against UH Hilo over restrictions placed on the distribution of literature on school grounds.

They’ve definitely stirred up memories of my college journalism experiences… including serving as editor-in-chief of the weekly student paper at UH Hilo (Ke Kalahea) and the daily student paper at UH Manoa (Ka Leo).

First, on the slopes of Diamond Head, the student newspaper Kapi‘o is being shut down.

“With heavy hearts, we are sad to announce that the Kapi‘o News has met its end,” reads the announcement on the publication’s Facebook page, explaining:

On May 16 this student run campus publication will be departing Kapiolani Community College forever. This decision was made by the school administration who wanted to move Kapi‘o in a new direction. In the future, the Kapi‘o is turning into a place to post outstanding student work, and other events as deemed important by the school. This way a writing/editing staff is no longer needed. All decisions are going to be made by KapCC faculty and staff — therefore we will no longer be a student publication.

The last assertion is key, though it is in dispute.

In my view, a “student publication” is run by students, one where students decide — for better or worse — what gets published.

Don’t get me wrong, this autonomy can lead to trouble. I got into my fair share of it at both college papers that I ran, sparking many scoldings and even a couple of petitions and protests. But that kind of real-world independence and its consequences are the whole point of the college newspaper experience.

The KCC administration seems to be questioning the relevance of the student-run operation because (1.) journalism-specific courses are not currently being offered at the school, and because (2.) the things being published don’t exhibit the “quality” they expect to see. In other words: KCC student journalists can’t be trained, and what they’re publishing sucks. So the school’s solution is to take back the keys (and apparently divide up its nice office among other departments), and instead set up a “student life website” where the grown ups can pick and choose what student work represents the “excellence” they want to showcase.

That’s a load of baloney. Yes, a student newspaper can make a college campus look bad. Sometimes that’s because the student journalists are bad. And sometimes that’s because the student journalists are doing everything exactly right.

I should note that I did graduate with a degree in journalism… but decided to go that route after getting involved in student publications. When I was filing three stories a day for Ka Leo, I still harbored delusions that I was going to be some kind of scientist.

What was the KCC Board of Student Publications thinking? As it turns out, nothing.

Yes, there’s supposed to be a publications board to decide how to allocate the student fees that go to support them ($10 per student per semester), but the campus has been operating without one. So after a new faculty advisor was appointed late last year, he proposed converting Kapi’o into a faculty-curated outlet. And the plan was approved by KCC Vice Chancellor Mona Lee and Chancellor Leon Richards.

Three administrators, it seems, decided to overturn a primary platform for over 8,300 student voices.

“This is a student news organization funded by student fees, and the students deserve their independent voice, not a student life web site run by administrators,” commented Donovan Slack, a Kapi‘o alum who is now a Washington correspondent for Gannett. “I went on to become an award-winning investigative reporter at The Boston Globe before landing here in D.C., and it all started at Kapi‘o.”

“That is terrible,” commented Robert Lopez. “I’m an investigative reporter at the Los Angeles Times and my first reporting experience was at Kapi’o. It all began there for me at KCC’s Diamond Head campus under Winnie Au.”

Lopez then asked if the student body is planning to protest. Others (including myself) urged some kind of action. Alas, it seems only current and former student journalists are getting riled up. And there’s been distressingly little attention paid to the Kapi‘o shutdown. Here are some links:

“We have far from thrown in the towel,” a Kapi’o student representative posted on Facebook. I’m glad for that. And maybe a printed student newspaper is no longer a relevant format for publishing in this day of blogs and Facebook pages. But it’s clear that whatever form student-run media takes at KCC, it won’t be the outlet that had been carrying the student voice for decades.

UH HiloMeanwhile, on the Big Island, UH Hilo is being sued for its “excessive restrictions on the rights of student organizations, and limited student speech in open areas of the campus.”

Merritt Burch, president of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at UH Hilo, dared to step away from the group’s assigned space behind a table to distribute copies of the U.S. Constitution in the Campus Center Plaza.

She and her fellow YAL members were told that UH Hilo policy forbids approaching students that way, and were later referred to the campus “Free Speech Zone.” A zone at the lower edge of campus on the banks of a muddy ditch.

The fight was reminiscent of a free speech battle that a few Ka Leo veterans and I found ourselves in after launching an independent student paper in 1997. It was called the University aVenue, with a handful of students reporting, taking photos, doing the layout, selling ads, and — after getting it printed — distributing it on campus.

Of course, we figured the best place to get copies into the hands of students was at Campus Center. And that brought us into the crosshairs of Jan Javinar, then interim director of Co-Curricular Activities, Programs and Services, who told us we could only distribute our paper in designated “free speech areas.”

Long story short, after a little attention from the media (and help from the Student Press Law Center), we were allowed to continue to distribute on campus. At least in our case, it didn’t come to legal action.

Now, UH says it is has “initiated a review of the policies involved and the manner in which they were enforced. We will make any changes that are needed to ensure that free expression and First Amendment rights are fully protected on that campus and throughout the University of Hawaiʻi System.”

…again.

Update: KCC student enrollment updated from 2,500 to 8,300.

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April 29th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Art, Events

hawaii-comic-toy-expo

Hoping for a new chance to “relive our hanabatta days,” three local organizers are launching what they hope to be an annual expo for comic and toy collectors this Sunday (perhaps fittingly, the day after “Free Comic Book Day“).

The Hawaii Comic & Toy Expo is the brainchild of Francisco Figueiredo, Carey Ishizuka, and Steve Valenzon, and will take place on Sunday, May 4 at the Ala Moana Hotel. More than 20 dealers are participating, and there’ll be a midday appearance by the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion (since it will also be “Star Wars Day“).

Figueiredo sells vintage comics and toys on eBay and has participated in the Hawaii All-Collectors Show, and Ishizuka organized toy and card shows in the 1990s.

“[We] saw a need for a ‘pure’ comic and toy show where comic and toy dealers can sell their stuff and where collectors could find those hard to find items in one place or buy that toy they played with as a kid,” Figueiredo says, something Hawaii hasn’t seen for more than 20 years.

The expo is also aimed at showcasing local comic artists: Sam Campos (creator of Dragonfly & Pineapple Man), Kevin Sano, Theodore Lee, Andy Lee (Chinatown Cop), and Kanila Tripp — the latter two having also worked for Marvel Comics. They’ll be sharing and selling artwork and even offering custom artwork.

Participating dealers include Jelly’s and Charisma Industries, and attendees will be able to pick up comic books from the Silver Age to the Modern Age as well as vintage and contemporary toys like Hot Wheels, Maisto, and Matchbox die-cast vehicles; Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Marvel, DC, Kikaida, Godzilla, and WWE Wrestling action figures; and more.

“The plan was to create a small show and let the public and collectors enjoy it, with plans to eventually grow the show and bring down other comic artists and celebrities from the mainland for next year and future shows,” Figueiredo says. “But still keep in it small with focus on local talent, allowing them to feature their art and sketches.”

Admission is $3 (free for children under age five). For more information visit the website, call (808) 384-7800, or email HawaiiComicToyExpo@gmail.com.

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April 26th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Education, Events, Technology

cyberhui

Next Saturday, the Cyber Hui is hosting its Cyber Hui Celebration at The Box Jelly in Kakaako, presenting trophies to the to three teams from the Kukui Cup cyber security scrimmage (not to be confused with the other Kukui Cup competition). As a virtual competition, the school whose computer systems were targeted in the exercise was the infamous Kukui High School.

Cyber Hui is a community of cyber security pros dedicated to sharing skills and knowledge with high school and college students. Their goal is to inspire local students to become the next generation of cyber security professionals.

In addition to recognize the Kukui Cup winners, the Saturday celebration will offer an opportunity to recap the last CyberPatriot competition and prepare for the next. CyberPatriot, created by the Air Force Association, is “the premier national high school cyber defense competition.”

And, of course, there are prizes. Middle and high school student participants are eligible to win a Raspberry Pi and Shakacon tickets.

For those unable to attend in person, the Cyber Hui celebration will also be streamed live online.

The Kukui Cup cyber security scrimmage included seven high schools, with the students playing the part of the Kukui High IT staff. They were responsible for finding and securing vulnerabilities on Windows 7 and Windows 2008 operating systems, as well as competed in 10 time-based challenges.

The top three teams were Iolani High School, Sacred Hearts Academy, and Mililani High School.

It was an all-volunteer event coordinated by Michael Herr, Jake Ross, Scott Atta, and Jason Yeo with support from the Hawaii state Department of Education, Air Force Association, AFCEA, and Referentia.

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April 24th, 2014 by Ryan Ozawa · Technology, Television, Video

On this week’s “Geek Beat” segment on Hawaii News Now, we featured more locally-grown apps. Of course, we could barely scratch the surface in explaining each, so here’s more background on RouteView HNL, Pic-A-Papaya, and The Plant Doctor.

RouteView HNL

RouteViewThis app for iOS allows a simple and elegant way to check the view from the City & County of Honolulu’s traffic cameras. The original RouteView app was a web-based app, born of one of the state’s first “hackathons” (and supported by open data), and part of a slate of citizen apps promoted by the city.

But RouteView HNL, created by James Wang‘s local mobile development shop Slickage, moves the app onto iOS. For $0.99, you can easily scan the roads between you and your destination (provided it’s covered by the city’s camera network), and even save your regular drives for easy reference.

Pic-a-Papaya

Pic-a-PapayaPapaya ringspot virus, that wiped out half the Big Island crop of papayas in the 1990s, is now relatively rare. But researchers at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources want to know where the disease still persists in Honolulu. So they’ve created the ‘Pic-a-Papaya” app for both iOS and Android to help papaya growers to send in photos of their plants for a free diagnosis of papaya ringspot virus, or PRSV, and help create a map to show the distribution of infected plants.

The app (and accompanying outreach program, which includes the ability to request free papaya plant seeds) is aimed at determining how many papaya plants growing in home gardens or public areas are infected with PRSV, susceptible to the disease, or are genetically engineered.

The Plant Doctor

The Plant DoctorAlso from CTAHR, The Plant Doctor is a free app for iOS and Android that allows users to take photographs and submit descriptions of sick plants anywhere in the world, and get a free diagnosis and suggestions to manage the problem.

The immensely simple app basically prompts you to take photos of the plant in question and send them in via e-mail. At the other end is just one person, Scott Nelson of CTAHR. It’s not a particularly scalable arrangement, but it’s pretty cool to know that you can get free information and advice from “a professional plant pathologist with a Ph.D. and more than 20 years of experience in the science.”

We talked to Nelson along with Julia Parish of the Oahu Invasive Species Committee on this week’s Bytemarks Cafe, exploring how technology can help address invasive species in Hawaii.

Bonus: Photo Play Hawaii

While we were at the Hawaii News Now studios, they were a couple of other interesting guests. First, they were hosting the Harlem Globetrotters, who are performing and visiting schools across the state this week. And they were also playing with a cool slow-motion video photobooth from Photo Play Hawaii. As you might guess, mayhem ensued.

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