Posts from Blogging On The Road

Gone Skiing

We arrived in paradise (as this photo shows) last night and we will be here with our family and friends for the next ten days.

I plan to write daily but maybe not about tech and startups as much as I usually do.

It has been an eventful year and next one is shaping up to be a doozy. So I am looking forward to some time to relax and reflect and recover before things get crazy again.

Navigating Blogging Across Time Zones

I like this blog to come out in the morning east coast time. 

I am a big fan of a routine, a ritual, a cadence.

That is partly why I blog every day, and that is why I like the blog to come out at roughly the same time every day.

It is also true that I have the most free time right after I wake up and then things get busy. So if I don’t blog right away, it is possible that I won’t find time to write that day.

When we go west for the winter, I do the same thing, writing as soon as I wake up, but 5am PT is 8am ET so readers will notice, and have noticed, that AVC comes out later in the winter months.

Traveling poses a bigger challenge. The last two Octobers, we have spent considerable parts of the month in Asia, twelve to fourteen hours ahead of NYC and even further ahead of the west coast of the US.

If I wrote my daily posts when I woke up in Asia, as I was tempted to do, they would have posted the night before in the US. And I didn’t want that.

So I waited until late afternoon, in the lull before heading out to dinner, and wrote then. That resulted in them posting early morning east coast time and the middle of the night on the west coast.

Honestly, that was not ideal for me. I found writing late in the day much harder with a full day of activity in my head. It was very challenging for me and I think the blogging suffered from that.

I’m back in the US now and yesterday’s post, which got a lot of pickup, was my first back in my regular ritual. 

I am glad to be back and I think this blog is too.

Bird Scooters

Everywhere I look on the west side of Los Angeles, I see Bird Scooters.

These are electric scooters you can rent from your mobile phone.

They look like this:

I finally got around to taking a ride on a Bird today.

After you download the app on your phone, you snap a picture of your credit card and your drivers license and sign a waiver, all on your phone, and you are good to go.

Then the app shows you where there are available Birds near you. That looks like this.

When you click the Ride button, the app asks you to scan the Bird’s QR code, which looks like this:

And then off you go.

My friend David snapped these photos of me arriving for our meeting.

It was a lot of fun.

I plan to ride them a bunch more while we are in LA this month.

Driving Yourself vs Being Driven

Living in LA has always meant owning a car. I remember when the Gotham Gal was a senior in college and got a semester long internship in LA. Her first comment to me back then was “now I have to get a car.” She got one. It was a little Datsun two door. I can’t remember the make and model but she drove it back and forth to work and then sold it before coming back to the east coast to finish college.

I’m writing this in an Uber going from the west side of LA to downtown LA to see the Jasper Johns show at The Broad.

Last night we went out all over LA and took Ubers everywhere. The cars stayed home and we went out.

Ride-sharing has changed LA a lot. We have friends our age who live here, in Hollywood, and don’t own a car.

We went to dinner last night with friends who have a son who is a senior in high school and doesn’t drive and has no real interest in learning how. This young man grew up in LA!

We did the math and his parents save money because the cost of ride-sharing when he can’t take the bus to school is a lot less than the cost to lease and insure a car for him.

Right now, in LA, this is a fringe lifestyle. Most everyone out here owns a car and drives themselves.

But I can see and feel that things are changing. To start we take ride-sharing when we don’t want to drive or it’s more convenient to not drive. But over time, we are choosing to drive ourselves less and have someone drive us more.

The auto industry is right to be concerned about this. Change is afoot and it is going to impact our car purchasing behavior at some point.

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.