Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge

I bought a new bike two weeks ago. Its a hybrid Trek and I am loving it. We started biking to work (except for early morning meetings – I need every minute on those days).

Last weekend we rode our bikes to Ocean Beach. We took the Wiggle (a non hilly route to get from Duboce to Panhandle through Lower Haight – and I learnt that its a San Francisco biking landmark), through the Golden Gate to Ocean Beach and back.

This week was more adventuerous – we rode our bikes through Soma, Embarcadero, Marina and across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were exhausted by the time we got there, so we biked to the Sausalito Ferry and took that back (map of route embedded below).

Today, I have aches and pains all over. But it was exhilarating biking across the city along the water (I enjoyed that more than the Golden Gate Bridge). I do need to get better at biking over hills though.

Startups are hard. Putting your body under some stress during the weekend – the way your mind is stressed over the week – is a good way to restore balance. As I keep reminding myself, startups are a marathon, not a sprint.

When men break up (in public, on their blogs)

The Jason Calacanis – Dave Winer breakup news popped in my bloglines (its on the top page on TechMeme!). Does anyone else think that blogs have unleashed something in men? They have a tiff, sometimes there are hysterics, sometimes its more dignified. But these disagreements, tiffs, ends of friendships are all laid out for us to view, comment on, support or not. I don’t know about you, but I think this is different than what I have observed with men in my private life (many a time I would have appreciated more openness) :-) Has anyone else noticed this trend – men being more open on their blogs?

Heading to the Big Apple this week!

My spate of never-ending travel continues. Tomorrow, I head to New York for the rest of the week. Its some Slideshare, and some MindCanvas related business. And of course, I get to catch up with many of my New York friends who I have not seen in years. While planning this visit, I realized that so many of my good friends, especially from grad school, are all in New York.

My New York geography sucks, but many of my meetings are in Manhattan, near the Times Square area. Ping me if you have something to discuss or just want to say hi. And there are some plans to meet up with some UX types folks on the evening of Thursday the 22nd if you want to join that. (Email me for details if interested).

RIght now, I am enjoying my day before travel. Everytime I have to leave, I realize just how much I enjoy just being in the office, wandering over to my favorite cafe. Nothing like constant travel to let you realize the value of what you have!

Back in the Bay Area, resolutions for 2007

I got back to the Bay Area on the 4th after spending more than a month in New Delhi. I had a really good time working in our New Delhi office and travelling around Northern India. It was the first time I spent more than a week working in India ever (I left India as a student, so never did a job there). It was interesting getting used to working life there. Our Delhi office is a fun place to be, full of energy. If you are in Delhi and want to visit, give a shout.

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Of running and sprained ankles

I have been getting more and more into running recently. Mostly I go along Stevens Creek, slowly increasing the number of miles I run. Yesterday was my first real running injury – the left ankle is pretty badly sprained. So, I am immobile for the time being, which has its brighter side – I cannot make it to the office or to any meetings! Its going to be a weekend of books and web surfing – I am finally getting around to reading Wisdom of Crowds, and just started with Martin Amis’s Money.

The wonders of Skype

When I first came to the USA ten years ago (yes, its been ten years), I used to spend more than 50 cents per minute calling India. A fair proportion of my small graduate research assistant salary was spent on international calls. Over the years, the phone call rate to India has progressively gone down (currently I am paying 11 cents for phone calls). Since i was introduced to Skype (which uses P2P technology to offer free internet calling), the cost for much of my international calling has reduced to zero. The sound quality is far superior than for most international phone calls. There is almost no time lag (which makes a huge difference).

Right now, I am in Boston for the Internet and Society conference. From my hotel room, I have already had two international conversations, one with someone in India, another with someone in Brazil. I am also using Skype for communicating with my colleagues back in California (why pay roaming charges on a cell phone, or outrageous hotel phone bills).

Apart from the slight disruption in sleep cycle (with the three hour difference), I can work from my hotel room in Boston, as if I was back at my desk in California. And that’s primarily because of Skype. The sound quality on Yahoo and MSN audio chat just does not measure up. Also, I like Skype’s use of the phone icon for showing active calls, and the sound of the phone ring when someone calls you on Skype. I even like seeing the number of Skype users online (1,002,689 right now).

Yes, there are some usability issues. And the Skype conferencing facility still needs a lot of work. But Skype is living proof of the fact that usefulness can trump everything else. Skype fulfills a real, long-unmet need, and fulfills it better than anything else out there.

If you are still using Yahoo/MSN/AOL for voice chats, then give Skype a try. You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference.

Back to blogging again

I am blogging again after a gap of almost two years. Its been busy, but I plan to make the time for blogging again. Have many unfinished articles and half-formed theories lying around…

And in case, you missed the news, I started a Customer Research Consulting company, Uzanto Consulting along with Jonathan Boutelle. Uzanto means “user” in Esperanto. (The name comes from a childhood fascination with Esperanto)

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