Online To IRL

Last week was a delight.

I don’t have an editor for this personal blog and Ryan doesn’t want more email concerning my typos. So, please send those notes to henry@techcrunch.com.

I’m going to (hopefully) get off the Internet later today to stand around and talk to people for about 1.5 weeks. But before I try “not tweeting” and “conversation” I wanted to share a picture from last week that means a lot to me.

Here it is:

6/8ths of the News team, plus a child and a volleyball.

I’m part of the Crunchbase News team, an upstart newsroom focused on private companies. That’s a fancy way of saying that we’re a new-ish blog, punching above our weight, focused on my favorite niche. Essentially I get paid to write and edit coverage concerning the crossing of new tech and fast money. It’s great.

But the crew is largely remote. Hell, I’m 50 percent out of office. This means that I spend lots of time working with the above group, but vanishingly little with some them in the flesh.

The remote situation is good and bad. The good is that Crunchbase News gets to hire the people it wants to, regardless of where they pay rent. But the bad is that I don’t always get to hang out with the people I love.

That’s why the above snapshot matters so much to me. I spend lots of time with Savannah and Natasha in the SF office. But I spend effectively no time with Joanna or Holden or Jason and Mary Ann outside of Slack and Zoom. And I had never met Jenna offline before last week.

But we got some of us together last week in San Francisco, and it was fun as hell.

We didn’t manage a full quorum — Jason and Mary Ann couldn’t make it out for the Crunchbase picnic — but the embedded snap shows I think our biggest-ever offline meet up. It was special and I’m still laughing at our attempt to play sports.

I can’t wait to do it again next year.

K, that’s enough for now. No more posts here or on Crunchbase News until after the wedding. (See some of you so soon! Text me when you get to Providence!)

Saying Goodbye To 410 Townsend

In which I confess love for an inanimate object.

I’m a sentimental bastard and I refuse to feel bad about. So, let’s talk about a building that I love.

410 Townsend is a place where, until quite recently, I’ve had a relationship with in one way or another since I can recall. It’s in San Francisco, inside the city’s SoMa neighborhood. It’s near nothing aside from the train, the Creamery, Marlowe, and Bar Basic.

I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time at all of those places since I was 20 or so, because 410 kept dragging me back into its orbit.

History

When I was young, I drank whiskey on the roof of 410 with some friends who worked at Yammer. I actually fact-checked my memory on that one, but the Wall Street Journal confirms Yammer’s office address.

410’s roof is a good place. It was never maintained, per se, but there was a place where you could stand and drink and smoke and that was pretty much all that we wanted to do, so it was perfect.

You can watch Caltrain come and go from the top of 410. And see the highway wind its way into the guts of San Francisco. All the comings and goings, frozen in light as you watch from a building that felt like home.

Later on a friend of mine who worked at Ustream invited me to a party at 410. That was probably the first tech party I ever attended in San Francisco. I was what, 20, 21? Something like that. Young enough to find an office party at a tech company exciting.

Then I wound up in 410 Townsend when Evelyn Rusli, then of TechCrunch TV, showed me around her office. If my memory serves, that was the first day that I met my future boss, Alexia Tsotsis. (She later interviewed me for writing gig at TechCrunch inside of the building.)

But I got the job and started working out of 410 as part of the TechCrunch team. I sat next to Ryan Lawler. I got to know Cat Zakrzewski. I became friends with Henry and Yashad and Joey and Neesha and Lynley and Katie and Sarah and, well, a lot of people.

Then the drinking got to be a bit much, and I wound up outside the arms of 410 Townsend for a year. 2016.

But never-you-worry, I was right back in the building when I joined Crunchbase in early 2017. At that time Crunchbase was a far smaller company. We shared space with Engadget and some AOL effort that got shuttered.

During 2017 I also got to take part in starting the Equity podcast. That was great, and since TechCrunch was literally downstairs inside 410, commuting to take part on the show involved an elevator ride.

Then Crunchbase outgrew its slice of the building, and in late 2017 we moved to our new home. But I was still hanging out at 410 because every Thursday I’d make my way back to chat with, at various times, Roof and Matthew and Connie and Kate and Hank and Chris to do another taping.

The End

Until, that is, a few weeks ago. I took part in my very last Equity taping inside of 410 Townsend in mid-May. That was it, really.

TechCrunch moved, and I just got back from recording our first-ever Equity show with the whole crew in their new studio. It was fun. It’s out in the morning.

What a fucking long time to be in a single building. There’s too much to bring up, but we did have a picnic on the roof once that Andrew put together. And Nico and I rolled a keg back downstairs afterwards. Then we tried to re-tap it before it settled. So we essentially created a beer volcano in the kitchen, sending booze flying into the events team area of the office. (Never annoy the people who make all the money.)

Sorry about that. And there’s the video studio in there where Felicia and I and Yashad and Joe and the rest of the video team put together Bullish, a weekly show we had for a while. And the room where I first interviewed, which turned into the room where I interviewed endless ranks of other people for stories. And the room that I turned into a hidden bar. So many good times, and, frankly, a lot of bad ones too.

But I since I was just getting out of college I’ve had business at 410 Townsend. I noticed the changes in its decoration, and watched San Francisco turn its front stoop from a sidewalk into a bike sharing station into a protected lane and a bike station.

I’ve wound up helping drunk Beyonce fans figure out where they were that night when Bey was in town. The pair worked for Adobe, a tenant, but their phone died, and they couldn’t get into the show. That was a weird night. And on and on and on.

It’s just a building. But it’s one that I’ve walked into and out and back into and away from only to wind up back again, again. So, goodbye 410 Townsend. Someday I want to come back.

Some Pictures

Here’s a shot that Kate took of TechCrunch packing up:

And here’s Liza outside of it right before TechCrunch left:

And here’s our last guest on the show from the building, someone I’ve admired a long time: Om Malik!

And, my final bit of work in 410:

Why Is Software So Bad?

Speed > everything, or, why is everything iTunes now?

My work Mac has 16 gigs of RAM. It has a 3.1 ghz Intel Core i7. It is sturdy and I love it. And lots of the software on it runs terribly and slowly.

My main gaming rig has 16 gigs of RAM and an even faster Intel Core i7 processor (the i7-8700 at 3.2 ghz across six damn cores), along with whatever a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 is (it has 3 gigs of RAM on its own).

Both of the machines slow to a crawl on a regular basis, and not because I play games on them. The work machine is for work, and the gaming rig mostly plays CNBC on mute for me during the work day. Instead, it’s daily-driver, regular software that hampers them.

How the hell does that happen?

A grip of Chrome tabs on the Windows machine can suck down 4 gigabytes of RAM, and sometimes lag the whole machine. Spotify on the Mac is a real problem, and using Zoom turns the rest of the OS X machine’s open applications into sap.

Why?

Computers are more powerful than ever. Internet connections have never been faster in America (I get 200 mbps down on the wire-free laptop in the house, and 850 mbps down on the wired PC from the same connection), and yet software runs either as slowly, or more slowly than it ever has.

I presume that smart folks like @Ow can tell us that all this is due to one developer toolkit choice or another, that the reason why Slack and Spotify are monstrously heavy apps is due to some tradeoff in dev time. But it doesn’t feel like that should be the way the software world works.

Why isn’t speed prioritized over literally anything else? I never, ever want features at the expense of speed. I just want to get my work done now so that I can watch shows later about competitive baking.

Anyway instead of tweeting about this again (again? again!), I decided to write it down here instead. (Just wait until I tweet this.)

For the love of god, software world, please make things your apps lighter, and faster.

Three Years Of Not Drinking

woo-hoo

I don’t have a copy editor for this personal blog. Please send all typos and corrections to r.lawler@samsungnext.com. Thanks! - A

Like an idiot, I posted on this blog earlier in the week, so I’m sorry to land in your inbox again so quickly. But today’s my third not-drinking-aversary so I had to write something.

Three years is a long damn time. Change adds up. Given my final pace of consumption before quitting, I have now not drank around 1,000 bottles of whiskey. I apologize if you own stock in Jim Beam’s parent company.

This morning I’m thankful for waking up next to my partner, covered in dogs, with a lot of coffee ready to go; that I get to work all day with the Crunchbase News team from my home office. I’m lucky. I put extra brown sugar in my oatmeal this morning. Life is pretty good, and I intend on reveling in it.

I get to enjoy today because I stopped doing the thing that was killing me (there’s a picture of me in the hospital from three years ago that my big sister took, I’ll post if it I can find it). And even though it was an obvious choice, it wasn’t easy at all. A big thank you to everyone who propped me up and loved me before, during, and after May 24, 2016.

Anyway, AA kiddos would say that this is my third birthday, and that my impending 30th anniversary of being born is something smaller, my “belly button birthday” if I recall the phrase. Fuck all that, really, but it is very good to be alive and reading and writing with you.

If you are struggling with drinking or any other sort of substance, DM me. I’m here to listen. I owe a huge debt to others for helping me, so let me pay off a fraction of it by supporting you.

Hugs.

Cross-Country Survival Tips

Or, why it's better to live in one place.

I don’t have a copy editor for this personal blog. Please send all typos and corrections to r.lawler@samsungnext.com. Thanks! - A

Earlier today Max Cherney, a friend of mine, a fine reporter, and a very solid film companion asked a question that was made for this blog:

I am precisely self-interested enough to accept the challenge, especially after Max followed-up:

So let’s chat about surviving on two coasts.

There And Back Again (And Again)

I live 50 percent in San Francisco and 50 percent in Providence.

The former is a tech-ish faux-topia with even as many problems as it has advantages. It’s a city that I both love and don’t. It’s a sea of uncompromising contradictions, beauty and filth, hills and SOMA. It’s a city that still can’t decide if it’s a boom town or a hippie enclave. And since people in San Francisco dislikes other people in San Francisco, what we have in common doesn’t always bring us together.

I’ve lived in San Francisco for seven or eight years now, some of which actually went well. Most didn’t, but let’s chalk that up to being in my twenties.

I tell you all of that as it’s how I think about San Francisco when I’m there, and when I’m not.

Providence, in contrast, is a town for me that’s a refuge of sorts. Liza is there. Our dogs are there. I have lots of space, and quiet, and company. I cook for us, we spend time with Liza’s family. I have to take trash cans to the side of our little street. I have to replace heating filters in the house, and make sure to lock all the doors.

Living, for me then, is split in half. Not only geographically, but also in terms of lifestyle.:

  • In San Francisco I’m a hermetic bachelor, subsisting on a steady diet of Uber Eats and Whole Foods-brand fizzy water.

  • In Providence I’m part of a family, I am the best maker-of-pasta-sauce-from-scratch in the house, and I drink, well, the same damn water really.

That in hand, let’s answer Max’s question by talking logistics.

You Only Live Twice

Living in two places is expensive if you are going to do it for a while. If you only intend to divide your time for, say, half a year, you can set up an inexpensive home environment while putting up with a lot of annoyances; you might not need to put together a real household if the living situation will prove temporary.

As I’m long-term split, I have to have two fully lives stocked at all times. This means a lot of stupid purchases. I have two PS4s, for example. I have two distinct Internet connections. My library is cut in half, and I have more than once bought the same book twice, only to find a copy on the other coast when I flew home.

The more pedestrian items are worse, however, even if they are cheaper. For a long time nearly every sock I owned was wherever I was not. The same has happened with shirts. Now I try to keep lots of clothing in both places, avoiding the need to carry Crunchbase t-shirts through security for their 18th round-trip.

But what hits hardest isn’t anything physical or cost-oriented in a monetary sense. Instead, it’s the sharp re-adjustment of lifestyle and timezones that hurt the most.

Flying from Providence to San Francisco presents the following difficulties:

  • Returning to commuting, more time alone, re-adjusting to an all-burrito diet, the need to wake up earlier (but without someone reminding me to go to bed), and the return to using laundry facilities that are in the basement of an apartment building that hasn’t been properly cared for in half a decade.

Flying from San Francisco to Providence presents different challenges:

  • Occasional inability to get to bed on time leading to a lot of very tired days, remembering how to cook, re-learning how to be someone’s partner after two weeks of doing whatever the hell I wanted, taking care of two live animals, and planning a wedding.

On both coasts I have to get back into touch with my friends there, and try to get as many people on the books as I can. This is easier in Providence where I have fewer friends, but it’s still a process.

Let’s wrap with what Max brought in up particular. Let’s talk about sleep. It’s not what I’m best at, and I hate going to sleep, even if I also hate getting up when I have to.

But what I have worked on a lot over the past two years of living in both the West and East of the United States is how to get regular sleep. I use a hybrid of things to force myself into a good sleep cycle, my first priority when I land either here or there.

Here’s my routine:

  • Go to bed at the correct time, regardless of how tired you are. For me this is around 11 pm. If I go to bed at 9 pm and fall asleep, I’ll wake up at 4 or 5 AM which is no good. Make yourself stay up until the correct time.

  • Consume no caffeine after 2 pm. That’s my coffee bedtime.

  • Consume only water in the evenings. Sometimes I break this and have a Sprite, but I have cut out the sugar and extra bollocks. I don’t drink, but if you do, I’d keep it to a minimum.

  • Small amounts of safe drugs are good. Find your combination. I love a Benadryl or a PM-themed Ibuprofen (depending on if I have been working out or not). Many folks love small amounts of CBD or THC. (Watch the latter two to prevent tolerance accretion. Once you get into that game, you’re going to chase yourself downward.)

  • External light and sound mitigation. Set up your sleep area to be as quiet and dark as possible.

  • White noise is your friend. I run fans at night in San Francisco and Providence. This gives me some workable consistency to my sleep environment and drowns out cars and the rest.

  • Forced wake up on Morning One. Finally, the worst part. On your first morning, make yourself get up on time. It’s always awful. But doing this will help you get sufficiently tired to go to bed at the correct time that night. Hard measures up front lead to softer landings later.

And make sure you have a damn good reason for living in two places. I do, and that makes all the expense and bother worth it. Liza’s residency isn’t over for three more years, and my San Francisco-based job has taught me more than any other role I’ve had.

Long live the United Economy life.

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