Presidential Web Challenge welcome/skateboard break

To kick off Web Challenge weekend, Nerdery President Tom O’Neill wrote the message below to teams, nonprofits, sponsors and volunteers. But the key to any 24-hour workday is making time for simple pleasures – like skateboarding. Enjoy your weekend. Let’s ride.

“On any given Monday morning when people ask me if I had a good weekend, my answer is consistent. I can find something to like about any weekend – haven’t had a truly bad one yet. But the annual weekend of our Overnight Website Challenge is one that I get especially stoked about.

“My utility as a programmer wore off at The Nerdery a few years back, but I still dabbled in software development during Web Challenge weekends until finally being sentenced to the sidelines, where I now gladly root for all of you. As cheerleader-in-chief, I play no favorites at these nerdathons for nonprofits. I see you all as generous champions of worthy causes, and friendly rivals, and winners. I have all due respect for all of you.

“If you’re participating in the Twin Cities, expect to be high fived by me at some point in the next 24 hours. If you’re in Chicago or Kansas City, expect your high five another time. Our Phoenix Nerds can expect that our Web Challenge will go west next spring.

“But for now, with 31 pairs of nonprofits and teams in three cities this weekend – Chicago, Kansas City and St. Paul – I want to thank you all for being an important part of this growing community initiative. Nonprofits, nerds, sponsors, friends, thanks.”

– Tom O’Neill, President, The Nerdery

True Romance at the Overnight Website Challenge

You can’t make up a how-we-met story quite like the romantic Web Challenge tale of Angie Sheldon and Reed Enger – a happy couple who returned to the Web Challenge last weekend as guests of honor to relive their memories of meeting-cute three years ago at our pre-Challenge needy-meets-nerdy speed-dating mixer – and getting paired-up from thereon.


Pre-Web Challenge advice for nerds & nonprofits

New-and-improved, “What to expect when expecting to be at The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge.” Over the years we’ve culled quite a bit of advice from web pros, nonprofits, and our own nerds alike. Every year, in an effort to help you be as prepared as possible for the 24-hour nerd-a-thon, we update this post and share it with you.

Continue reading Pre-Web Challenge advice for nerds & nonprofits

Crowd-surfing Mayor RT Rybak “seen” at Web Challenge


We invited Mayor Rybak to the Web Challenge before his keynote at Minnesota Business mag’s Community Impact Awards but we understand he has a city to run (and we’re across the river). But he’s with us in spirit (a.k.a. Photoshop).

Congrats CHICAGO GATEWAY GREEN & Silverline Creative, Winners of Chicago 2012 Webchallenge

While nonprofits, webpros, and our Nerds recover from their 24-hour webchallenge, we thought we’d let you know the Chicago Gateway Green website created by Silverline Creative won the Chicago 2012 Overnight Website Challenge.

Also, you should head on over to Facebook to see a few of the funny Webchallenge tweets & a bunch of pictures from the event.

Nonprofits win nerds, nerds win toys

Winning the Web Challenge is no less glorious than summiting Mount Everest to earn a Super Bowl championship in thin air before safely descending on a waterslide while high-fiving everyone in your path. But winning fabulous prizes is nice, too. Volunteers spend raffle tickets in pursuit of these treasures:

New New iPad: Were you one of those suckers who bought the “New” iPad a scant seven months ago? Sooth your anger at Apple by winning this NEWER New iPad and go back to your rightful spot of having the shiniest, newest toy available.

Lego Death Star: Bored on the weekends with nothing to do? This 3,800 piece LEGO Death Star may be for you. At 16” tall and 16” wide, it’s an imposing addition to any LEGO collection. Get yours now before the Death Star is permanently “upgraded” to include mouse ears.

Fitbit + Sleep Tracker Thingee + Scale + Belt: While programming is hard work, it unfortunately doesn’t come with the same physical fitness benefits that a career in logging does. Win this prize package and you’ll have more data on your health than you can shake an empty Pringles can at. It tracks steps, stairs climbed, distance, calories burned and measures how long and well you sleep. The  Nathan Shadow Pak (it’s NOT a fanny pack, ok!?) discreetly carries your personal items while you run.

Minecraft package: Not sure how to properly express to your special someone that you have an unhealthy obsession for Minecraft? Winning this prize pack should do the trick. If assembling your brand new Minecraft LEGO set while wearing the Creeper cardboard mask doesn’t do it, perhaps the magnets, pins and note cube will. If all else fails, perform a one-person Minecraft reenactment around the house with your foam Minecraft pickaxe and sword as props. They’ll surely get the message then.

Etsy Giftcard – $250: For when you can’t justifying buying a walnut baguette cutting board, a vintage brass camel figurine and a beaded crochet bracelet on your own dime.

Nest: Thermostats. BORING, right? Not so. This beauty will make your home look like it’s out of the Jetsons as it learns your schedule. Trust us, this little guy isn’t sentient, so there’s no danger of it taking control of your home appliances – what it will do is help you take control of your monthly utility bills by changing temperatures based on when you’re home and away. Coming home early? Use the mobile app to connect to your thermostat. No SkyNet here!

Apple Thunderbolt Display: For work or for play, everyone can use a bigger monitor. This 27-inch model by Apple also manages to pack in some extra whiz-bang features like LED backlighting, a FaceTime HD camera, 3 USB 2.0 ports and more.

Intuos5 Touch Medium: Sometimes a mouse and MS Paint just won’t do. When that situation arises you’ll be happy to have this powerful multi-touch surface tablet. With 48.8 square inches of working area, this is perfect for designers and illustrators alike.

Canon Rebel T4: If it’s good enough for a paid celebrity endorsement from Andre Agassi, then it should be good enough for you. Fault!

Wii U Deluxe Set (not pictured): Do you find today’s consoles too boring for your tastes? Wish that you had more screens to look at? Never fear, for the Wii U is (nearly) here. As soon as your copy arrives at Nerdery HQ, we’ll send it off to you to enjoy this all new gaming experience. And then maybe you can explain it to us… we’re not entirely sure how it works.

Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge clock ticking

2012 Chicago Overnight Website Challenge from The Nerdery on Vimeo.

And we’re off. This weekend at The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, 115 volunteer web pros will give a dozen nonprofits more than 2,700 hours of their time and a ridiculous amount of their talent. The same judges who selected 12 Illinois nonprofits (from 61 applicants) will return to assess the nerdy deeds/pro bono service of 12 development teams – at 9 a.m. Sunday they’ll award bragging rights to team that’s best served their assigned nonprofit. Until then there’s considerable needy-meets-nerdy buzz in the air at Roosevelt.

Nonprofits & Web Pros Chosen for Chicago 2012 Overnight Website Challenge

Ladies & Gentlemen, we’d like to present to you the 12 nonprofits chosen to take part in The 2012 Chicago Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge!

Eligible nonprofits (501c3-registered organizations in IL) applied by articulating their vision of how nerds could further their mission through better use of interactive technology. Nonprofits selected:

And the web professionals volunteering to spend 24 hours (in a row) helping them create better websites at during the weekend of November 17-18 are:

Get the full scoop on who chose the nonprofits & the schedule of upcoming Chicago Webchallenge Events over in the News section.

We’re bringing the Overnight Website Challenge back to Chicago!

Illinois, give us your needy, your awful, your ugly nonprofit websites yearning to be better, because we’re coming back for the Overnight Website Challenge.

That’s right, we’ve opened registration for the second coming to Chicago of the Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, our annual 24-hour event providing pro-bono interactive services to nonprofit organizations.

We’re looking for like-minded web professionals to again join in giving their time and talent during the weekend of November 17-18. Nonprofits apply by articulating their vision of how nerds could further their mission through better use of interactive technology.

At last year’s Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge in Chicago, about a hundred web developers and designers freely gave 10 nonprofits well over two-thousand hours of professional services.

Nonprofits & Nerds alike can get all the details on the Overnight Website Challenge site.

Here’s the important dates to remember:

  • October 19: Application deadline for volunteers and nonprofits
  • October 29: Selected nonprofits and teams announced
  • November 7: Needy-meets-nerdy pre-Challenge mixer, at The Nerdery’s Chicago office, 300 N Elizabeth St, Chicago
  • November 17-18: The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday, at Roosevelt University, Congress Lounge, 4300 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago. This is not a function of Roosevelt University. (There, we had to say that – but we’re stoked to bring our nerdathon to Roosevelt’s Chicago campus.)

Good luck to all!

Thanks a gazillion to a long list of Web Challenge players

After a long Overnight Website Challenge weekend, it can take a few days to re-gather your wits enough to think of everyone you should thank for playing their part.Behold, if you missed yesterday’s post on eyesores and thank-worthy eye candy. Due credit goes to all teams and every nonprofit for all you accomplished last weekend. Thanks for your service and your selfless collaboration:

  • Twin Cities EE, serving Franconia Sculpture Park

  • The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen, serving Little Voyageurs Montessori School

  • Team Pegacorn, serving Metro CISM Team

  • The Return of the Team Redundancy Team Part 2, serving  Minnesota Environmental Partnership

  • CodeX, serving Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless

  • Push N Run, serving Hourcar

  • Raxacoricofallapatorius, serving The Windmill Project

  • PHP Nerds- Beta, serving Answer

  • Drupal Rocks!, serving Bakken Museum

  • Full Court WordPress, serving Youth Performance Company

  • Ruby.MN, serving Career Solutions Inc

  • Team BIOS, serving Community Neighborhood Housing Services

  • Drop Shadows Not Bombs, serving North Star Therapy Animals

  • Run PHP,  Cancer Legal Line

  • Get Off My LAN, serving TVBYGIRLS

  • Ruby Off Rails, serving Center for Homicide Research

  • Sleep-Deprivation Research Team #4, serving The Valley Friendship Club

Extra credit goes to rightful-braggers Two Unicorns, One Moon for their pro bono work on behalf of West African Medical Missions. Team captain Jason Reed is a four-time Web Challenge veteran, and a champion of this initiative in every sense of the word. Thanks, and special congrats to the returning volunteers from last year’s winning TST Media team.

Moving on, thanks for letting us rock-star your rooms, Continuing Education Conference Center – particular thanks to all-night go-to-guy extraordinaire Mike Wybierala.

Thanks, judges Christine Durand, Christian Erickson, Dana Nelson and Jamey Erickson, for assessing the applications of 68 eligible orgs to pick this year’s nonprofits, and for joining us Sunday morning to assess overnight accomplishments.

Caffeine … I’m getting emotional here – expect to be hugged for pulling me through, again. I won’t forget this.

For supporting our nerdathon since it began, thanks to event sponsors VISI (offering free hosting to nonprofits) and Benchmark Learning (gracious hosts of our pre-Challenge needy-meets-nerdy speed-dating ritual).

In-kind supporters, thanks for all you’ve contributed, like:

  • Arthouse: branded SWAG design, logistics and support
  • Bacio, and Zelo: in unison ringing the dinner bell with salads and lasagna
  • Crave: fresh/free fish via gift cards
  • Espresso Royale: first breakfast, generously baked
  • GitHub: private repos for any team interested
  • Gyropolis: a whole-lotta-lamb and gyro fixins
  • Jimmy Johns: veggie/gluten-free lunch fare
  • The Lacek Group: helping us help vols from their company help nonprofits
  • MinneWebCon: building community among nerds through education
  • Peace Coffee: our cup runneth over with steamy goodness
  • Pizza Luce’: midnight meal, deliciously repeated at 2 a.m.
  • Red Bull: hundreds of cool silver cans and a wee-hour visit from mobile team
  • Sopranos Kitchen: gift cards for post-Challenge fine dining
  • St. Agnes Baking Co.: second breakfast, still arguably the most important meal of the day

Thanks also:

  • Unwind Within for chair massages from four therapists beyond normal hours
  • Nerds from 17 tech user groups who hosted tables during viewing hours
  • Mustache Mike for stylish primping
  • Kai Esbensen for 250 (new record, 238 last year) aeropressed coffees
  • MCAD artists for caricature sketches
  • Metro Ice Sculpture for the Donkey Kong luge
  • Izzy’s Ice Cream: for 30-odd flavors and then some
  • Molly Bush for leading yoga

Thanks, food fetchers: Kristen Schell; Diane Yang; Tracy Fuller; Cassi Hansen; John O’Neill; Sean Latterner; Eric Johnson; Tor Swanson; Jeremy Como; Jim Martin; Erica Tava

Other volunteers, all of them up for whatever, many of them up all night: Dave Kam; Jodi Chromey; Ericka, Ben, Max, & Jaycie Kimball; Gillian Reynolds; Eric Myers; Josh Klun; John Krenz; Wade Kallhoff; Dave Bucklin; Kris Szafranski; Ken Sykora; Mitch Buckland; Heather Keller; Janet Waack; David Medwid; Jon Huff; Katie O’Neill; Tom O’Neill; Mike Derheim; Mike Schmidt; Phillip Brand; Michelle Fuller; Matthew Alden; Jay Peyer; Greg Wurm; Lindsey Hagan; Eve Poeschl; Jamie Lindquist; Ginger Bucklin; Mary Ann Bucklin; Caleb Newby; Karsten Lundquist; Alyssa Fuller; Leah Otto;  Matt Tonak; Hillary Heinz; Tom Johnson; Mark Hurlburt; and Jessica Mogen.

Nerds are grateful to Nerdery founders Mike Derheim, Mike Schmidt and Luke Bucklin for creating a company where good ideas are given time to get even better.

For spreading the word on nerdy deeds – and future such opportunities, thanks to MPR, WCCO, KSTP, KARE 11, FOX 9, Star Tribune, Biz Journal, Pioneer Press, Tech.MN, MPLS Egotist, and others.

Nonprofits, please measure the success of your new site any way you can, and let us know how it helps your organization “move the needle.” Keep in touch.

Nerds, tell us what can we do better or differently to lure you back next time.

Finally, an extra special thank you for anyone I may have fool-heartedly forgotten. C’mere, you…