Scene: I’m stuck on El Camino Real at the stop light on Stanford Avenue, right next to that Starbucks. I pull up right next to this Piece Of Shit bright orange Eclipse. A moment later, a gorgeous, jet-black Audi R8 pulls up right behind the Eclipse.
I always love to see guys in piddly wannabe sports cars like The Eclipse get p0wned. I pray for a badass machine like the R8 to pull up alongside, simply daring The Eclipse to a Fast And Furious kind of race. So in anticipation of The Eclipse Boys eating crow, I roll down the window and peer slyly into the car, past the eye-gougeworthy orange color.
A couple of young neighborhood “toughs” blaring indistinguishable hip hop. What a surprise. Windows rolled down…this ought to be good.
But instead of focusing on their rearview mirror with a clear visual of the Audi, they’re trying to read a damn bumper sticker…on the minivan in front. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
And then all of a sudden, one of them goes, “You Can Bomb The World Into Pieces…But You Can’t Bomb The World Into Peace”. And the other one pipes up, instantly, “Actually I’d argue against that…if there’s no one left to bomb, wouldn’t we have peace after all?!”
Struck by the profundity of the argument, and disgusted at the quality of Palo Alto’s teenage thugs, I roll up my windows and wait. I miss rough-and-tumble Kansas City sometimes.
The whiteboard is a sacred Silicon Valley office artifact. No matter how scrappy your startup, if you ain’t got 2 whiteboards for every warm body in the office/garage/homeless-box, you ain’t a real company.
The whiteboard is a company’s mission statement, its values, its creed and its soul rolled into a smooth white surface. Whenever I walk into a startup’s office, I look at their whiteboards like women look at their date’s shoes. Are they squeaky clean because the admin has a mild case of OCD (no joking matter, btw)? Are they littered with pseudocode scribbles because some engineer drank down a 40 and decided to show off? Did someone draw a naughty version of Dijkstra’s shortest path (don’t ask)?
As with shoes and men, you can tell a lot about a company from their whiteboards.
That’s why I’m pissed off when people use whiteboards for stupid, obvious shit that discredits the written form. I’m in a meeting and we’re brainstorming ideas, discussing tasks for a project, figuring out timelines. Someone will invariably stand up suddenly and motion excitably with a hand wave; they’re looking for a marker.
At this point, I get myself primed! I clear my brain; something interesting is about to happen. Maybe he’ll write down an algorithm that will solve my problem. Maybe he’ll just scrawl a mathematical formula John Nash-like and demonstrate to me superior intellect while I nod along like a chump. Sometimes, I just blank my brain and get ready to be schooled like I’m back in junior high.
But then they pick up the stupid marker and start making a dumb list. Or put down a stupid non sequitur like “Its about persistence”. Or start drawing a crude Gantt chart, which just makes my head explode.
People: whiteboards are for math, code and software architecture diagrams that are simply too beautiful to be put down on Visio. Do NOT draw dumb “strategy boxes” on them.
This shit has to stop (random aside, I’m thinking about copyrighting that line. Idea of the year?).
Update: It’s all over, kids. This place is shutting down, soon to be replaced, I’m sure by one of the following:
- trendy furniture store that charges 400 dollars for a chair that looks like it was built in Sweden in the 70s.
- restaurant that charges 15 bucks for an entree
Despite Palo Alto’s vaunted claims to tech supremacy in Silicon Valley, anyone who has walked down University Ave with a laptop knows that finding wireless access is a *huge* pain in the ass.
Starbucks, in all their wisdom, still charges thirty bucks a month for shitty T-Mobile access. Coupa Cafe is so overrun with Macbook-toting yuppies like myself that they unplug their router over the weekend! Then there’s Peets Coffee – crappy coffee combined with no wireless. Yay! Finally, don’t forget about Neotte tea bar – one of those pretentious places that would go out of business anywhere except for in Palo Alto. In good ol’ Palo Alto, however, people flock to the New Age nonsense joint and sip six dollar teas that are supposedly from China but taste distinctively like they were plucked in Bakersfield, CA. Nice. Oh yeah, and the wireless is spotty as all hell.
It was a great pleasure, then, to discover Sehbali Cafe today on the corner of Ramona and University Ave. This is the best-kept secret on this street; plentiful seating, a quiet atmosphere ideal for work and blazing-fast WiFi. Woohoo! Score, baby.
The obvious reason no one knows about this place is because the same parcel of land is used for a coffee shop, a hookah shop AND a florist. I’m sure the guy who runs it has a Harvard MBA; what else could explain such synergistic endeavors and such diverse core competencies!?
Anyhow, check Sehbali out; you wont be disappointed.
Yes, I like alliterations – so sue me.
But back to the point at hand. I’m a recent convert to the wonderfully ADD-riddled world of Twitter. While a lot of tweets are horribly lame, all it takes (for a web junkie like me, anyways) is one visit to the http://www.twittervision.com to be convinced of the flood of topical, local information that a service like Twitter is managing on a constant basis.
So it makes perfect sense, then, that Twitter would build an opt-in feature that allows users to “follow” or track topics instead of your alcoholic friend with a, ahem, handsy problem while under the influence. Wanna know what people are saying about Halo3? Track it on Twitter! Wanna find out the latest dish on Stanford? Watch the tweets, baby.
As an experiment, I signed up to track “Stanford” and expected a deluge of lame tweets from sketchy grad students complaining about their helmet reflectors. Or something.
Instead, I’ve read two tweets about people bitching about the Stanford Facebook Apps class. Sweet! Now that is useful information. The third tweet was someone trying to use Twitter as Craigslist by listing an apartment rental. Sneaky!
I’ll report more as I get lambasted with tweets over the next few days.