Posts from Blogging On The Road

A Better Way To Do Bike Share

I’m a big Citibike user in NYC. I take it to and from work sometimes. I take it to and from the ferries a lot. And I use it to get twenty or thirty blocks in 5-10 mins when I don’t have the time to walk it.

But one thing I don’t like about Citibike is the anxiety around having an empty docking spot at your preferred destination kiosk. If there are no empty docks, you have to go to the nearest one in search of an empty dock. I’ve sometimes had to try three or four kiosks which is very frustrating.

Here in Shanghai, they do things a bit differently, and I think a bit better.

The bike share bikes are everywhere that we’ve been in Shangahi but they don’t dock in kiosks. They just lock up when you end your ride and the next person unlocks them with an app on their phone.

Here are what the bikes look like when they are waiting for someone to take them out.

Sometimes they are lined up almost like a Citibike kiosk.

And sometimes they are just dropped off a bit more randomly.

And here is the QR code you read into an app on your phone to get the code to unlock the bike.

I sure hope that the NYC Citibike system moves to this approach as soon as practical. It would make the system a lot better.

Southeast Asia

We spent the last nine days in Southeast Asia, in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. If you want the play by play version of our trip, head on over to the Gotham Gal’s blog where she does that and has has done for every trip we’ve taken over the last fifteen years.

As an aside, if you ever want travel tips to many destinations around the world just Google for the city and add gothamgal.com to the end of the search query and there’s a good chance you will find a host of blog posts that she has written about that location.

But I digress.

Throughout our trip in Southeast Asia over the last nine days, I was struck by the palpable feeling of economic growth and entrepreneurship. It felt like a region that is pulling itself out out of poverty by it’s bootstraps.

There is a long way to go for sure. Annual per capita GDP in Vietnam is roughly $7000US, that number is roughly $6000US in Laos, and roughly $4000US in Cambodia.

But there is a vitality everywhere you go. People are on the go. Construction projects abound. Commerce is everywhere. People have phones and motor scooters.

Most of all you see children and young adults. This is a region that lost much of my generation to war and genocide. But they are regenerating their families and societies. In Vietnam, 50% of the population is under 30. In Cambodia, 70% are under 22.

The people are nice. They welcome the tourists and understand the economic support it brings to their cities and country.

So I’m very optimistic about these countries. They are on the move. It was exciting to see that.

Managing Time Zones

I find managing time zones really hard when the differences are large.

Eleven or twelve hours is particularly difficult for me. I have missed a couple of scheduled calls this week because I thought they were happing at entirely different times of day.

I am curious what tips and techniques all of you use to manage this sort of thing? I’m really struggling with it.

Locked and Unlocked Phones

We landed in Vietnam yesterday and immediately got a text from TMobile that they don’t offer data roaming in Vietnam. They do offer basic voice and SMS.

So we bought two 10GB data only SIM cards in the airport for 300,000 dong (about $13 US) each.

I took out my TMobile SIM of my Google Pixel and inserted the 10GB SIM and was good to go. I can use data for voice and messaging so the data only thing is no big deal to me.

I did the same on the Gotham Gal’s iPhone and after going through a restart of some sort it reported that the SIM card was not supported on the phone. I suspect her iPhone, which she got from TMobile a couple years ago, is locked.

So she’s doing the voice and SMS only thing and I’m roaming on a super cheap data plan.

I know I’ve written about this issue dozens of times here at AVC but I find the idea that the phone provider can somehow dictate what SIM you put into it is nuts.

I also know that it’s easy to buy an unlocked iPhone these days and it is easy to get an iPhone unlocked post purchase. But even so, it seems crazy that this is how the phone market works in this day and age.

Our friends who we are traveling with are on a different carrier, either ATT or Verizon I suspect, and they too are not getting data roaming in Vietnam from their provider.

So if you plan to travel to Vietnam from the US, bring an unlocked phone and buy a SIM card at the airport. The coverage and speed on my data only SIM is great so far and it seems like a bargain, like most everything here in Vietnam which is an amazing country.

Fun Friday: Jet Lag

I always struggle with jet lag but the Asia trip kills me like no other.

I’ve heard all sorts of suggestions like work out as soon as you arrive, swim every morning, start getting on Asia time a few days before you leave, and take Melatonin or even stronger drugs.

I have tried most of those suggestions over the years and while I feel like they all work to some degree I’ve come to the conclusion that it just takes time.

We are three days in and I’m hoping the worst is over.

Of course there is the jet lag upon return to deal with too.

Since it’s Friday (here in Asia), I thought we could discuss this topic in the comments and see what the AVC community does to handle jet lag.

New Time Zone

We are in Asia for the next three weeks and I will likely be posting in the mornings Asia time which means late afternoon/evenings in the US.

As much as I would love to meet regular readers on this side of the world, this is a long planned vacation with my wife and some good friends so I won’t be working or taking meetings.

But I do plan to blog. Some habits die hard and that is one of them.

Paris

The Gotham Gal and I have been coming to Paris for close to thirty years. We started coming with our family a little more than fifteen years ago and spent one summer here as a family about ten years ago. We bought an apartment here around five years ago and we try to be here two to four weeks a year. Needless to say, we love Paris.

We have been in Paris three times in the past month and just arrived back yesterday. Every time I arrive here I marvel at the beauty of the city. It’s not just the architecture and scale (no skyscrapers) and light, all of which contribute to the beauty of Paris, it is the people, the stores, the sidewalk cafes, the parks, and much more. I have been to hundreds of cities around the world and I have never been to a city as beautiful as Paris.

I have noticed a lot of changes in Paris over the years we have been coming. The Parisians are much more tolerant of English and English speakers these days. Their English is generally better than my French. 

Paris has always had great transportation with it’s amazing Metro system, and the best thing to do in Paris is walk, but Velib and a host of ride sharing apps have made getting around even eaiser.

Paris continues to reinvent itself. There are new neighborhoods to explore, new shops to buy from, and new restaurants that continue to push the cuisine forward. That is not true of many cities in Europe these days and is a testament to the city and its citizens.

The new French leader Emmanuel Macron wants France to act like a startup. From what I see in Paris these days, that is already happening although leadership at the top can and will certainly help.

And speaking of startups, there are plenty of good ones in France and specifically in Paris. We have one of them, LaRuche, in our portfolio and I know of many great entrepreneurs, startups, and VCs in Paris.

I also know of a few big tech companies in the Bay Area that are eyeing Paris for a remote engineering location. The French have a great education system and produce a lot of engineers. It makes a lot of sense that companies looking to access new talent pools would come here.

There are, of course, challenges doing business in France. It’s hard to rapidly scale up and down your workforces here. The labor laws are challenging for high growth volatile companies to deal with. And it’s too complicated to conclude financings quickly in France (and Germany and other European countries). Macron and his team would be wise to move these laws closer to the US model.

But all in all, Paris is a thriving, bustling, innovative place that is lovely to be in and I am very bullish on it and the new French leadership.

Here’s a photo I took on our walk home from dinner last night along the river that captures what a lovely place Paris is.

A Return To Eastern Time

For the past few months, I’ve been living and posting from the west coast, as has become our routine during the winter months. Regular readers have likely noticed that new posts show up around 9am/10am ET instead of 6am/7am ET. This will be the last post from the west coast this winter as we are returning home to NYC this afternoon.

I am not entirely sure how I’m going to get a blog post in tomorrow morning as we arrive late and I’ve got an early breakfast, but I always seem to find a way. It certainly will have to be posted by 7:30am ET before I start my day. Maybe I will write it on the plane home this evening.

The winter out west routine works really well for me. It gets me away from the hustle and bustle of NYC and in a bit more reflective and relaxed mood. It’s not a vacation. I work ten hour days, but I start them at 5am and end them mid/late afternoon, in time for a bike ride or a late afternoon yoga class.

I am going to miss all of our friends and family in LA and the incredible weather, vegetation, sights, and smells. Here’s a photo I took from a sunset walk on the bluff with my friend Mark last week.

I will miss this place, but I’m also eager to get back to the big apple.

Getting Into The Vacation Groove

I woke up late (for me) this morning, worked out, and when I got around to posting here, my web host (bluehost) was down for what seemed to be like 30-45mins. I’m deep into the vacation groove and wasn’t the least bit bothered by being down.

Now that it’s back up, I’m onto other things. So I’m not going to post anything today.

Here’s Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney on SNL last weekend. I watched it today while waiting for AVC to come back up and thought you all might enjoy it too.

Google Photos Magic

The new Google Photos is a much needed improvement over the prior version. My favorite feature is what I call “magic” but they call it something else. Every once in a while I will get a notification that Google has created a new enhanced version of a photo I took and when I click on it, the photo is much improved.

But yesterday, they took this magic to another level.

We arrived in Vienna late in the day, checked into our room, I opened the door to what looked like a balcony, it was, I stepped out and shot three pictures of our view. That was that.

A few minutes later I got a notification that Google had enhanced the photos and when I clicked on it, Google had stitched all three into this panorama.

panorama

Now there is nothing special about stitching three photos together to make a panorama. That technology has been around for years.

What is special is that a machine decided that my three photos were suitable for making a panorama and did it for me.

In case you are curious, here are the three photos I took.

shot 1shot 3shot 2

That green roofed building is the Opera House. We are going to see an Opera there tonight. It’s not our normal thing to go to Opera but we figured it would be a nice thing to do in Vienna.