Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco event scene – the place to meet everybody who is anybody?

My summer in San Francisco is now over  and it was a blast. Today I want to briefly comment on the events, meetups and other social events that social media and tech geeks organize over there.

Essentially we have a number of different style of events (from largest to smallest): conferences with expo floors, conferences, massive parties/launch events, networking/pitching events, unconference style events or hack days, evening hack meetups, talks and finally lunches and dinners that were loosely organized over Twitter.

There is nothing inherently special about these events, besides the fact that there are so many of them, happening all the time and that you can easilly bump into people that are very passionate about their subjects and that they’ve often also invented the field or at least made buzzwords in it stick.

The good: conversations, brain-stormings and presentations are more often than not incredibly inspiring, thought provoking and a pure joy to experience. Throw a bit of drinks into it, a pizza or Thai restaurant and it’s a great geek night that fully challenges you beliefs and makes you back to the drawing board and build even greater things.

The bad: there are just too many events and people to meet. Once you extend this to the whole Valley and also throw in all of the less official events, it just gets crazy. On top of that, there’s always a large local community that you don’t know and don’t have shared history with. It gets easier after the third monthly meetup but you need to give a few months and relationships usually can’t be rushed.

The ugly: you’re nobody and there are plenty of people around that talk buzzwords or just leech on the difference communities, without contributing anything back. Unless you have something to contribute on the topic, the community don’t really take you too seriously.

To be honest, the only real way to get noticed is to be involved with one of the hot startups, either as a founder, founding engineer or their advisor. The only alternative is to be a one of those people, that always seems to speak or organize events, knows everyone and is connecting people together.

Lessons learnt

You have to specialize. This way you can present on the subject, help drafting standards and not just lurk everywhere.

It helps to have a startup/company behind you. At that point you’re not really presenting yourself but the whole team and people judge you (in the beginning), mostly on the public perception of your company/product.

Know what you want and what you’re doing. While social events are great learning opportunity, it’s only really rewarding when you have a goal that everyone helps you achieve.

It also means that you have to stop wandering around different events and invest your evenings into building cool things to show off at those few events that actually matter.

In short: community really rewards and helps bold people that go out and ask the world for impossible, but you have to know what you want and you have to be able to demonstrate that you deserve it.

Silent Film – The Fall of the House of Usher

Best tips for things you have to see in a foreign city are always given at 2 AM in the morning in another far away city, this one came from @emmapersky and @emp one rainy night in London, that there is a film theater in San Francisco that plays silent movies with live background music.

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Image by Gandalfar via Flickr

I totally forgot about this until I noticed posters for The San Francisco Silent Film festival across the city, with a bit of good luck I then managed to go and see a show – The Fall of the House of Usher, directed by Jean Epstein and based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

I don’t know much about surrealism and the movies of the time, but I truly enjoyed the whole experience around the movie. Castro Theater is a beautiful old theater that makes the whole experience very authentic. In addition to that, lots of people in the audience dressed-up in the clothes from the era making it even more magical.

The film was accompanied by by a pianist, who made such a good effort that it felt like it was a really well produced soundtrack that was part of the movie. Additional narration and translation of subtitles into English (they were in French) made it also very unique.

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Image by Gandalfar via Flickr

I still haven’t found the original Silent theater location, but this was close enough. Go see a silent movie next time a festival is in town, it’s magical.

Shabu-shabu

San Francisco is one of those cities that restaurants with cousine from all over the world and also have enough people from that area living here that they have to make sure it’s good and authentic.Shabu-Shabu

My current travel/summer plans include a dinner or two each week, trying new foods and restaurants as recommended by locals on Yelp, and to also blog about a few of them.

The pick of this week was Happy Shabu-Shabu that serves Shabu-Shabu :) Wikipedia describes the dish (more the whole experience of eating as):

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces. However, it is starkly different in taste; shabu-shabu is more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki. It is considered a winter dish but is eaten year-round.

Shabu-shabu
Image via Wikipedia

Source

In the beginning the experience is a bit funny. It’s one of those more involved dishes where you have to actively work during the meal in order to have food. In this case, it involves quickly cooking different vegetables and meats in the pot, that you add extra spices and sauces for the taste. After it’s cooked, which usually takes less than a minute, you can dip it in on of the additional dipping sauces.

A great experience overall and something to keep coming back to in San Francisco.

Running in San Francisco

Running in San Francisco is very much fun. I’d say much more than back in Ljubljana, because of all the hills that make the whole experience much more vibrant.

In one aspect it’s exactly like in intro from the TV show Weeds:

Lots of houses that look similar and pavement all around. You just need to add a bit of hills into the mix:

San Francisco Hills
Image by hao$ via Flickr

It’s then up to the runner to decide how far you want to get. Personally I quite enjoy climbing up and then slowly descending over the longer route.

The other I noticed is that people are much friendlier to runners around here. Lots of them give you a positive smile or greet you while you run by them and you get similar response from other runners. Maybe it’s just my neighborhood like that, but I’m not used to such welcome feeling at home.

The best part of running here is probably the weather. Pretty constant 12-16C makes it enjoyable while not too hot and light breeze from the ocean makes it even better.

For now, running is a much bigger win over here than roller skating.

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Exploratorium: hooray for tacticle science

I visited Exploratorium with the idea that this is yet another science museum with a bit more hands on approach. I was very positively surprised to discovered that it’s far from that. Instead of being classical museum it’s a giant ‘playground’ where each exhibit offers you an interactive experience around some concept, mostly from physics.

Whirlpool
Image by AGrinberg via Flickr

Exhibits are designed to be interacted by and you soon find yourself touching everything around you and just trying to learn by feeling and doing things. There were lots of super-excited kids running around which further hyped up the whole experience.

Two interesting things to note about the whole experience:

  • Some exhibits were video taped in order to be able to optimize the exhibits. I find this very refereshing as it shows that the staff here really cares about the experience and that they’re willing to go that extra mile to make it really enjoyable for the visitors. They also nicely solved the problem of privacy as they’ve clearly marked the times when the exhibit will be under video survailance so you could come later.
  • They build the exhibits themselves. Their workshop is part of the scenery and while they don’t actively work on the weekend, I imagine it has to be very interesting if you’re there during the week.

Example view:

Legalize Happiness
Image by AGrinberg via Flickr

There are also a few elements that are a nice touch, like this piano with an X underneath:

piano

Image by Gandalfar via Flickr

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Overall, a very fun thing to do in San Francisco and you should check it out next time you’re around.

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