Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for March, 2009

Unique and useful stores around the Moscone Center in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 31, 2009

In this post I will highlight a number of my favorite little hidden gems of stores in SF which are a short walking distance from the Moscone Center and/or near to hotels where people often stay when in SF for a conference. This is a sister post to my post yesterday about where to eat, drink and entertain around the Moscone. I have also included a number of stores which while not exciting are useful to know about for last minute needs when in town for a conference. This post is not intended to comprehensive nor does it highlight the dozens of great stores in the various neighborhoods of San Francisco

Of course I will have missed many great stores, please add your favorites and your experiences in the comments below

Useful stores to know where they are located

Near to the Moscone Center are two great resources for last minute computer emergancies. For Mac users, the large Apple Store San Francisco (1 Stockton at the corner of Market near 4th St, Mon-Sat 10-9, Sun 11-7) is one of Apple’s flagship stores with well trained Genuis bar staff, frequent events and most importantly for conference attendees with last minute tech needs a deep inventory.

For PC users Central Computers (837 Howard St between 4th and 5th, Mon-Fri 9-7:30, Sat-Sun 10:30-6) offers a good selection of PC hardware and parts at competive, if not always the absolute lowest prices. But if you need a replacement monitor, an extra hard drive, a PC cable or the like they are just a half block from the Moscone Center. 

Cole Hardware (70 4th St between Mission and Market, Mon-Fri 7-7:30, Sat-Sun 8-7) is a local San Francisco institution and a great local resource for hardware. If you need last minute hardware or items to fix your tradeshow booth they are just a block away from the Moscone and have friendly and knowledgable staff.

Utrecht Art Supplies (149 New Montgomery between Howard and Mission, Mon-Fri 8:30-7, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6) ) is small national chain, based out of NYC which offers a range of art supplies catering to the needs of San Francisco’s art schools and local artists. For a conference attendee they are a great alternative to an office supply store for last minute needs at a conference. I recommend the small leather bound Rhodia notebooks they stock, I carry the reporter’s notebook size in my back pocket at conferences for when there is no substitute for a pad of paper. For last minute booth needs they can offer a wide range of useful items. 

Fun, unique independant stores of San Francisco

Blocks from the Moscone Center is Union Square and Grant Street which are the heart of San Francisco’s tourism and high end retail shopping, all of the major national chains, luxury stores and retailers can be found either around Union Square, along Grant St, or in the nearby large Westfield Center. However scattered nearby are a few local and more unique gems which I would recommend checking out over the stores and retailers that can be found in any major city (and indeed many small suburban malls). 

While the long time San Francisco institution Stacy’s has now closed, a few blocks from the Moscone Center is a truly wonderful new San Francisco store Fog City News (455 Market St between 1st and Fremont, Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 12-4, Sun closed) offers 1000’s of magazines from around the world and hundreds of carefully chosen premium chocolate bars. When I travel and stay with friends I nearly always stop in at Fog City News first and purchase chocolates to bring as gifts, nearly always also picking up a new magazine or two to read on the plane. 

Gumps (135 Post St, Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5) is a San Francisco retailer with nearly 150 years of history as a purveyor of luxury goods. Shopping at Gumps is a small piece of San Francisco history updated with highly modern works. This is luxury goods shopping with many one-of-a-kind items and designer goods. I enjoy browsing for inspiration, though my budget hasn’t allowed me to buy at Gumps frequently. 

In my last post I mentioned the Ferry Building, if you are at all interested in great food a visit to the Ferry Building is well worth it. If you can get there on Saturday morning during the Farmer’s Market (Sat 8-2, with a much smaller market Tues 10-2) you are in for a treat. While nearly every store in the Ferry Building is worth a visit a few of my favorites are: Frog Hollow Farms – amazing jams, world renowned orchard; Far East Fungi – I buy mushrooms from among the some 40+ varieties of fresh, many wild, mushrooms they sell for non-locals they also have a great selection of dried mushrooms; Cowgirl Creamery – one of the best cheese shops in the world. Be sure to ask to taste a few cheeses and get recomendations then go next door to Acme Bakery and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread then go to Boccalone Salumeria and pick up a selection of locally made (pork based) cured meats. 

The result is a nearly perfect picnic lunch. 

And if you need wine, the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant offers a wide selection of wines for any price point or need. They also have a great wine bar with snacks provided from nearby merchants.

For your speciality drink needs I recommend Cask Spirits (17 3rd St between Market and Mission, Mon-Sat 11-7, Sun Closed) They are the retail branch of the rather unique Bourbon and Branch and offer a carefully currated selection of small maker distillers and bar equipment. I am not a drinker so there isn’t much for me personally to buy here but as an example of a store run with passion and with a very carefully selected inventory they are a great and unique to San Francisco new retail store, worth a visit by anyone interested in how great retail can and should work. 

There are many other great stores in San Francisco, many in the various great neighborhoods of San Francisco. In particular if you have some time I recommend exploring the small shops of Hayes Valley, most of which are unique and local to San Francisco. Scattered throughout the Mission District are also many great and also uniquely local stores and there are many others in other neighborhoods. 

Have I missed any great retail shops in SOMA (near the Moscone) or just across Market? Shops which are unique to San Francisco or which are great resources to know about if you are here for a conference? If so, please leave a comment below.

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Where to eat, drink & entertain around the Moscone Center in SF

Posted by shannonclark on March 30, 2009

Last year as part of my coverage of Web 2.0 Expo for Centernetworks I wrote a post offering a guide to San Francisco near the Moscone Center. This post is an updated version of that post, written in advance of the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco but I hope it will be a resource for anyone visiting San Francisco for a conference. Please add other finds and feedback in the comments below.

This is not intended to be comprehensive there are literally 100’s of restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels within a half mile of the Moscone Center in San Franciso.  Rather this guide is a list of a small, selective set of restaurants, cafes, and a few bars which are notable and worth trying. These are places that as a local to San Francisco I return to frequently, these are the restaurants where I personally entertain – whether it be for an afternoon meeting over coffee, a light dinner with friends, a professional working dinner or a business entertaining event. My focus is mostly on great spots for coffee or daytime meetings and on dinner. I will include a few suggestions for lunch but often at a conference lunch is part of the conference – and since the networking over confernce lunches can often be the most valuable networking I would, reluctantly, recommend that you eat the bad food in the interest of the networking.

But perhaps chase the conference lunch with great coffee or tea at one of the places I suggest below. 

With one exception I am also concentrating on locations which work well for events during the week, most of these places are open every day during the week (but I would always recommend calling and making a reservation for professional dinners).

Breakfast meetings 

Around the Moscone Center is not the best of places in San Francisco for working breakfasts, any number of local hotels offer acceptable business breakfast meeting options, near to the Moscone I would recommend XYZ at the W hotel (181 3rd St – 3rd & Howard inside of the W Hotel). 

A less formal and lighter option, but one I would highly recommend, is the nearby Blue Bottle Cafe (66 Mint St – corner of Mint & Jessie, between Mission & Market just after 5th St, Mon-Fri 7-7, Sat  8-6, Sun 8-4) which offers a small but seasonal and very good selection of breakfast food along with their world renowned coffee. This is serious, film crews come from Japan to shoot all day long, barrista’s compete in national competitions level coffee and they offer coffee & preparations to serve all tastes. One strong suggestion taste the cappucino’s and lattes before you doctor them – they really don’t need any sugar. Blue Bottle’s Cafe is, I think, one of the absolute best cafes anywhere in the world. I have been known to take multiple contacts to Blue Bottle in the course of a single conference day – last year I went there at least three times in one day with three different business contacts.  Besides great breakfast foods they offer great if also highly selective food options (always light and seasonal) during the course of the day.

If your conference continues into the weekend my suggestion is that you take some time on Saturday morning to get breakfast at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market (Building with a big clock tower at the end of Market St on the water. A short taxi ride or a manageable walk from most conference hotels or the Moscone Center). Widely considered one of the finest farmer’s markets in the country the market starts at 8:30, though some stalls will be set up earlier. I highly recommend arriving before 10am as the market quickly gets crowded. It continues until 2pm on Saturday. Inside of the Ferry Building are many great local shops and markets which are open 7 days a week. Blue Bottle Coffee has kiosks they operate during the Farmers Market (and they are opening up a full cafe in the Ferry Building later in 2009). Of course you can spend hours shopping at the many local (and mostly all organic) stalls each with a seasonal selection. A few highlights I recommend to my guests: Flying Disc Ranch – for an amazing selection of locally grown dates; Frog Hollow Farms – they have a stall inside so are available 7 days a week, Frog Hollow is I think the best orchard in the Bay Area and offer amazing seasonal stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots), pears, Meyer lemons and more. Year round they have great jams and marmalades which I frequently give as gifts; Primavera – a locally run organic Mexican restaurant only open on Saturdays during the Farmer’s Market (located in the far corner by the water) they offer a small selection of handmade from market ingrediants Mexican breakfast and lunch items each day (homemade tamales, varieties of chiliquiles and much more). This is regional Mexican cooking most likely unlike anything you have had unless you have traveled extensively in Mexico.

A breakfast meeting at the Farmer’s Market will not be a quite or entirely private one but I can think of few better or more energizing ways to start my Saturday morning. 

Meetings during the daytime

As I noted above, Blue Bottle Cafe is a great option, one I turn to frequently. 

For non-coffee drinkers, or just for a great change of pace, I recommend Samovar Tea Room inside of Yerba Beuna Gardens (730 Howard St. Literally above the Moscone North, stairs are just to the left of the conference entrance. Sun – Wed 10-8, Thurs-Sat 10-9). Samovar serves amazing teas accompanied by a great selection of light food. This is a calm, peaceful oasis above the Yerba Beuna Waterfall and sitting above the Moscone North entrance. This is not where to go for a fast, quick, hurried meal. But it is a great spot to take a break from a conference and to have a highly civilized and usually productive business conversation. My personal preference is to meet at Somovar in the afternoon, after lunchtime. For small groups Samovar is also a good option for post-conference dinner. Not a heavy meal but a tasty one and not a place to drink (other than great teas). 

For a great lunch option, as well as a good place to have daytime working lunch during a conference I have three suggestions just a few blocks from the Moscone Center. All three are part of the Westfield San Francisco which is just blocks from the Moscone between 4th & 5th and between Market & Mission.

First, ‘Wichcraft (866 Mission St at 5th) which though it is a small scale national chain and owned by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio (of Bravo’s Top Chef fame) is also a purveyer of amazingly tasty sandwiches. For the quality and flavor, one of the real bargains for lunch in the city. They close relatively early but are a great option for lunch or a quick, early casual dinner. They have plenty of seating and even a large party can usually seat together at one of their large communal tables. 

Second, Out the Door (basement level of the Westfield Center). Ignore the minimalist website, Out the Door is the more casual spinoff of the world renowned Slanted Door restaurant, one of the finest Vietnamese restaurants in the country (and also at times one of the hardest to get a reservation at). Out the Door offers quick and very tasty Vietnamese food, prepared artfully and skillfully and served in their large and spacious dining room. A great option for a group of nearly any size for lunch and just blocks from the Moscone. They are also open for early dinner, though I prefer them for lunch. The food court in the basement level of the Westfield Center is a very good one (much better I think than the food court in the Metreon) with options for any palate. I personally like Coriander which offers very tasty Thai food, had lunch there today in fact. 

Third, Straits (4th floor of the Westfield Center). Straits offers upscale Singaporan food, though it is a small scale chain (here in CA, Atlanta and later in 2009 Houston) I highly recommend them for great and unusual food. In particular I like Straits for working business lunches. They are not cheap, but the quality is very high and though they are in a Mall (albeit a mall which cost some $440M to rennovate) once inside Straits is a great restaurant for working lunches (not working as in open up the laptops, working as in serious conversations over good food and if you want great drinks). They are open for dinner, though I prefer them as a working lunch venue (late night at times they turn into a nightclub). 

Dinner

San Francisco is a food and restaurant town, there are 100’s of restaurants, dozens of great ones throughout San Francisco. Here are a few of my absolute favorites, places I take people to frequently. 

For a serious dinner with clients, over great food and drink, here are my top suggestions in SOMA.

Town Hall (343 Howard on the corner of Fremont, Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, Sun-Thur 5;30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-11). Townhall offers amazing, contemporary food in a venue that is also exceptionally well designed. Great food at a price which is a great value for the quality and service. They also have a private dining room which can handle up to 40 people seated or 80 people for a standing reception ($1000 min for lunch, $2000 min for dinner, offers full audio-visual capabilities and Internet access). One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco and a place I suggest to locals and visators alike.

Salt House (Mission between 1st & 2nd; open Mon-Thur 11:30-11, Fri 11:30-12, Sat 5:30-12, Sun 5-9:30). Salthouse offers contemporary American food, locally and seasonally sourced, with a fantastic selection and level of quality. It can be a bit loud so is best for relatively small groups, no more than about 6, but offers some of the absolute best food in San Francisco. I have business contacts who insist on a visit to Salt House everytime they are in San Francisco and I’m more than happy to comply. 

or Anchor & Hope (83 Minna St, just off of 2nd, Mon-Fri 11:30-2, Sun-Thur 5;30-10, Fri-Sat 5:30-11). The third restaurant from the trio who founded Town Hall and Salt House, this is their take on a contempory American seafood shack. Currently top on my list of restaurants to try next, given the amazing quality of their other two restaurants I feel very comfortable recommending Anchor and Hope. 

There are other great options, but these are three of my favorites in SOMA for serious food all great options for a small business dinner.

For a large group dinner, especially on a budget, my goto suggestion in SOMA is Canton Seafood and Dim Sum (655 Folsom St on the corner of Hawthorne betwee 3rd and 2nd, Mon-Sun 10:30-9:30). For lunch and on the weekends they offer cart service Dim Sum at very reasonable prices and of exceptional quality. But what I really love going to Canton for is to bring a large group for a banquet. They can almost literally accomodate any sized group (upstairs they have a dining room that seats up to 450+ people, downstairs they seat up to 300, though a reservation is advised). I generally modify one of the banquet menus ending up with a 7+ course feast, including Dim Sum (which I request as a substitute for other appetizers and fried rice) for a price of about $25/person. Typically this feast includes a whole fish, Peking Duck, Salt & Pepper Crabs and more. Amazing, tasty food, very reasonably priced with inexpensive drinks and friendly service. I’ve had dozens of groups events at Canton Seafood over the past few years and have never once been disappointed – and they have done great whether I’m dining with a few friends or have brought 100+ people. 

Professional networking quality drinks

San Francisco has many great bars and has become well known for some of the most serious wine bars and serious mixed drink bars in the country. If that interests you, I encourage you to do further research (or leave suggestions here as a comment) but here are a few great to know about venues nearby to the Moscone Center. 

House of Shields (39 New Mongomery between Market and Mission, New Montgomery is between 3rd and 2nd, Mon-Fri 2pm-2am, Sat 7pm-2am, closed Sun). A 100+ year old San Francisco institution. Not the fanciest of drinking estabilishments by far, but a goto establishment for afterwork, post-conference networking over cheap drinks. Not fancy, but also likely a spot where many speakers at tech conferences may end up (and certainly a spot favored by locals).

The Press Club SF (20 Yerba Beuna Lane, just off of Market across from Yerba Beuna Gardens between 3rd and New Montgomery, tasting room hours Mon-Thur 4-9, Fri 4-10, Sat 2-10, closed Sun). An urban wine tasting room, this large space features 8 bars serving wines from 8 different wineries, with representatives from each winery pouring the wine. They also have a selection of light foods to pair with the wines and upstairs a retail store featuring wines from all 8 wineries. For business purposes besides being a very upscale place for after conference drinks and conversations, they also have a private dining room/boardroom with full a/v which can be rented for private events. During Web 2.0 Expo they are closed for a private event on April 1st. 

These are my suggestions. As I stated, I’m sure many of you reading this have others. I hope this is helpful, please leave your own experiences and suggestions below in the comments.

Posted in personal, restaurants, reviews, San Francisco, web2.0 | 24 Comments »

Musical discoveries at SXSW 2009

Posted by shannonclark on March 26, 2009

This year I stayed at SXSW for two days of the Music part of the festival and I’m really happy that I did, next year I hope to stay for the whole festival (though I won’t stay at a hotel across the river if I do so, the time it took to get back to/from my hotel this year was a bummer). I heard 9 full performances of bands I sought out over the two days of Music and many partial sets. Of the nine full sets all of them were fantastic (a record I suspect I won’t be able to sustain in future years). It says a lot that Amanda Palmer’s afternoon set at the Paste Showcase was my least favorite of the nine sets. (look at the photos on her blog – I was there for the Paste Showcase though not in that shot I think and I was walking past the same intersection as she was taking the photo of her lying down in the street, that’s SXSW for you!)

Amanda Palmer at Paste Showcase SXSW 2009

Now I should be clear – I really enjoyed Amanda Palmer’s show – and I plan on seeing her again and getting her music (both her latest album Who Killed Amanda Palmer and probably her earlier work with the Dresden Dolls) it is just that I really saw some truly amazing music this year at SXSW. Her show was good – some of the other sets were astounding and transendent. 

Vivian Girls at SXSW 2009Vivian Girls at SXSW 2009

On Wednesday afternoon I bounced around between a number of the day parties – caught full sets by Amanda Palmer at the Paste Showcase and a full set by The Vivian Girls and many partial sets. Then in the evening I saw five out of the six acts at the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic Showcase (slightly inaccurate post about the showcase w/many links). I really wanted to see The Vivian Girls and they did not disappoint, though the set I caught was on the shorter side. 

The KCRW showcase was so amazing that next year my plan is to find that showcase and spend my entire evening at that showcase from start to finish. Sure, as I did this year that may mean I miss a great concert such as the Decemberists playing their new album live, but based on this year’s showcase, it will be an amazing evening of music. More importantly it will be an evening exactly suited to my tastes in music – eclectic but in my opinion great sounds, writing and performing from the start to finish. And you can, as I have already, download the full Decemberists’ concert from NPR Music. 

Writing almost a week after the KCRW showcase I’m not sure I can do each performance justice – they were all different and all great. But a few highlights. Angus and Julia Stone were a revalation, I had not previously heard them (or indeed heard much about them) but I really enjoyed their performance. School of Seven Bells, which was the group that more than any other was why I wanted to attend the KCRW showcase did not disapoint – a truly amazing show (I agree with the Entertainment Weekly reporter who called it the best performance of the day) though it was then followed by a really great show by Zee Avi which was to a then nearly empty room (the fact that she started at 1am may have been the reason) but she was well worth staying up late for (and heck, I’m a night owl and was still on CA time). Again, I agree with the EW reporter’s assessment of her show and I’m eagerly awaiting Zee Avi’s album when it comes out in May. Rhapsody Rocks SXSW 2009

On Thursday I started the afternoon by exploring a number of venues and events, then ended the afternoon at the Rhapsody Rocks concert at The Mohawk. I caught the very last song of School of Seven Bells then heard performances by Glasvegas  followed by … and you will know us by the trail of dead. (links are to appropriately Rhapsody pages for those bands – on the Rhapsody Rocks page see a link for a free 14 day trial)

Here is the full list of acts I saw full sets of this year:

when I can find a good way to link to tracks from each artist I will update this post – suggestions for the best way to do that are more than welcome – please leave them as a comment below!

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SXSW – Music events I suggest – Wed & Thurs

Posted by shannonclark on March 15, 2009

I recieved a seriously useful list from a friend – 36+ pages of events which are happening (showcases and parties) at SXSW Music 2009 here in Austin.

It is a private document which I can’t forward or share – but reading over it I have seen a number of showcases which I will try to attend – showcases full of bands I love, or bands I know people who’s taste I trust love (and yes, these often are “buzzed” highly – so get there early and/or RSVP in advance.

I will only be in Austin until Thursday evening this year, but plan on getting as much great music in as I can possibly get to in the short time I have.

But here they are, hope these are helpful (and please leave comments with other showcases I should try to attend!)

Wednesday Mar 18th

My notes are in italics

11:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Spaceland SXSW Party at Maggie Mae’s, 323 E/ 6th St., Austin, free.

STAGE ONE: (Gibson stage)

11:30 – 12:00 Black Gold
12:20 – 12:50 The Boxing Lesson
1:10 – 1:40 tbd
2:00 – 2:30 Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head
2:50 – 3:20 Yelle
3:40 – 4:10 Cut Off Your Hands
4:30 – 5:00 The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
5:20 – 5:50 Other Lives

STAGE TWO: (Deck)
11:45 – 12:15 Lovvers
12:35 – 1:05 The Mae Shi
1:25 – 1:55 Future of the Left
2:15 – 2:45 Marnie Stern
3:05 – 3:35 Vivian Girls
3:55 – 4:25 Mapei
4:45 – 5:15 Nico Vega
5:30 – 6:00 Wavves

STAGE THREE: (Les Paul stage)
12:00 – 12:30 Local Natives
12:50 – 1:20 Gavin Castleton with Meiko
1:40 – 2:10 Bad Veins
2:30 – 3:00 We Were Promised Jet Packs
3:20 – 3:50 Harlem Shakes
4:10 – 4:40 Titus Andronicus
5:00 – 5:45 Garotas Suecas

This is an amazing lineup. Every other band is one which has been getting a ton of buzz and in most cases make some great music. I’ve heard great things about Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head; Vivian Girls (extremely great things about them); and Titus Andronicus

12 noon – 6 p.m. – Paste Magazine Day Party at Radio Room (formerly Bourbon Rocks), 507 E. 6th St., RSVP: http://www.pastemagazine.com/app/rsvp/new/17

Indoor: 12 Greg Laswell, 2 Port O’Brien, 3 Loney Dear, 4 Wild Light, 5 M. Ward; Outdoor: 12:30 Anathello, 1:30, Amanda Palmer, 2:30 Heartless Bastards, 3:30 Black Joe Lewis, 4:30 Superdrag

Most people know M. Ward (and indeed he’s quite good) but it is Amanda Palmer whom I am particular interested in getting in and hearing (Neil Gaiman is a big fan)

12 noon – 6 p.m. – Force Field PR and Terrorbird Media Party, Red 7, Red River & 7th Sts., Austin, free, all ages, open to the public.

In particular note The Vivian Girls playing at 5:20pm

STAGE A – RED 7

12:15 – 12:45- LAKE
1:00 – 1:30 – WAVVES
1:45 – 2:15 – LONEY DEAR
2:30 – 3:00 – THE THERMALS
3:15 – 3:35- YONI WOLF OF WHY?
3:50 – 4:20 – FOL CHEN
4:35 – 5:05- THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART
5:20 – 5:55 – VIVIAN GIRLS

STAGE B – RED 7
12:30 – 1:00 – LARYTTA
1:15-1:45 – SHOUT OUT OUT OUT OUT
2:00 – 2:30 – MAX TUNDRA
2:45- 3:15 – DMG$
3:35 – 4:05 – THEMSELVES
4:20 – 4:50 – RAINBOW ARABIA

5:05 – 5:35 – BEACH HOUSE

12:30 – 6 p.m. – Little Radio 3 Day Event, Red Eyed Fly, 715 Red River St., Austin, bloody marys and beer, free.

In particular note Amanda Palmer performing at 2:50

12:40-01:00 The Upside Down

01:20-02:00 Whispertown2000

01:50-02:20 Youngmond Grand

02:20-03:00 Evangelicals

02:50-03:20 Amanda Palmer

03:20-04:00 The Von Bondies

03:50-04:20 Dawes

04:20-05:00 Megafaun

04:50-05:20 Tallest Man on Earth

5 – 6:30 p.m. – A Tribute to Leonard Cohen at Waterloo Records, 600A N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, free/open:

I am a fan of Lenoard Cohen, so may try to stop by this as it could be a lot of fun

5PM: David Garza

5:05: Southeast Engine
5:10: Laura Gibson
5:15: Kevin Devine
5:20: Buck 65
5:30: Loney Dear

Thursday March 19th 2009

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Taping of KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic at Buffalo Billiards, Austin.

Possibly the best music radio show now running and quite seriously an argument for living in LA (and if in LA for where to live based on if the reception is good)***** CORRECTION ******** this is NOT at Buffalo Billards but at a local Austin studio.KCRW Has a showcase WED night at Buffalo Billards (which I am at)


12 noon – 6 p.m. – Discover The Wine, Discover The Music Wine Bus, will hit the day parties. Backed by Wente Vineyards with pourings by fifth generation winemaker Karl Wente.Leaves from the Whole Foods Parking Lot at 525 N. Lamar (across from Waterloo Records) at noon, ME Television at 12 noon – 6 p.m. –Discover The Wine, Discover http://www.DiscovertheWineDiscovertheMusic.ning.com

This is organized by a friend of a friend and I will probably hop on it for a bit

reapandsow, Remix Magazine, Electronic Musician Magazine, Batter Blaster & DataPipe present a day of music, sun, and drinks at SXSW 2009

This is organized in part by my good friend Corey Denis, I will probably spend a lot of time here
Free. 2 Stages of music! You do not need a wristband or badge to attend.

Batter Blaster will also be there flipping free flap jacks

Outside Stage
5:15 Red Cortez
4:15 Ian Moore w/ Oranger
3:00 The Mother Hips
2:05 Royal Bangs
1:20 Brothers and Sisters
12:30 Milton

Inside Stage
5:25 Milton
4:50 Beast
4:10 Honey Claws
3:25 Rotary Downs
2:35 Loquat
1:45 Katy Mae
1:00 Pink Nasty
12:15 Kevin Seconds

Event Details:
Event: “Electronic Musician Magazine” Showcase
Date: Thursday, March 19th, 2009
Location: Habana Calle 6, 709 E 6th St, Austin, TX
Time: 12:15pm – 6:00pm
Tickets: Admission is FREE
Event Sponsors: Electronic Musician Magazine, (www.emusician.com), Batter Blaster (www.batterblaster.com), Datapipe (http://datapipe.com/), Cerwin Vega (http://www.cerwinvega.com/), Leighelena (http://www.leighelena.com), and reapandsow (www.reapandsow.com)

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SXSWi Nate Silver Keynote and other thoughts

Posted by shannonclark on March 15, 2009

I am at SXSWi this week. I have gone every year since my first time in 2007 and it is always among the very best tech conferences of the year. My blogging (and for that matter time spent in front of my computer) will be and has been quite light, though on the very plus side, this is both one of the largest tech conferences in the world – scattered throughout a very large conference center – and has some of the fastest and most reliable WIFI I have ever seen at a tech conference – knock on wood but so far I have no problems at all connecting – and once connected have found the speed to be quite good (very high in fact).

At the moment I am listening to Nate Silver talk about his recent history starting the site FiveThirtyEight.com – best quote “If you know you are going to be wrong, keep working on your fucking model”

I hope to ask him a question or two – though I suspect I won’t be alone in trying – my first question – “Will you be changing your site name when the new Representatives from DC & Utah are seated”

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Sessions and Keynotes to attend at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I generally attend only a few sessions at most conferences – especially most multi-track conferences with many keynotes and speakers, conferences such as SXSWi and Web 2.0 Ezpo. Instead my usually way of “working” such a conference is to spend most of my time talking with people in the hallways or in blogger or press lounges – attending the occasional “big” keynote, a friend’s panel (or less often a panel or session with a speaker I really want to meet). 

In part this is because most of the time I could be a speaker at such events – and often I have as much (or more) experience as most of the speakers, not to mention in many cases the speakers are friends and will be talking about topics we likely have gone over privately months earlier.

But this is not uniformly the case and this year I am looking forward a number of the sessions at Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. Here is a short list of a few of the sessions I personally find of interest – these are in no particular order and by no means are complete – as new sessions and tracks continue to be announced my actual plans will definitely change. 

And a reminder – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package!

Technical Sessions:

Drizzle – rethinking mySQL for the web – 1:30 pm on Thursday April 2nd. Brian Aker from mySQL will talk about Drizzle which is a fork of mySQL designed for multi-core, cloud computing applications. Since I am both thinking of and working on a number of cloud based applications myself as well as advising companies who may also, this is of a great deal of interest to me. Both to see if it may help as I design my own solutions – but equally to be well informed about an emerging development in a core component of much application development – the database, which has not seen a great deal of innovation to keep up with the pace of changing applications and use cases (i.e. web 2.0, web services based, cloud deployed applications). I’m also curious if and how they are solving for the needs of applications which have to scale very highly very quickly (i.e. in response to a Twitter, Digg or other rapid spike in interest and users)

Visualizing a web of data 11:00am on Thursday April 2nd. Michal Migurski of Stamen Design will talk about approaches to visualise the torrent of data available on the Internet (and as a result of the Internet). I am always interested in hearing (and seeing) the latest visualizations of large quanities of data. In my own conference organizing I have always had speakers who spoke about various visualization efforts around showing large, complex datasets. While I am not a designer myself, I am deeply interseted in the challenge of visualizing data in ways that are both accurate and which can assist in making sense of that data, ways which help see patterns, trends and potential issues. All while keeping an eye out for issues of scale or hidden assumptions which might make false patterns or cause people to draw errant conclusions. 

From AD-versity comes Opportunity 2;40pm Wednesday April 1st. My friend Scott Rafer of Lookery and Ted Cadogan of OpenX will speak about the current state of the online advertising market. Since my main project for the past year has been working on getting an Ad network started (slowly and fitfully at times) this is a topic of great interest to me.

Meet the New Boss – The FCC, Net Neutrality and Web 2.0 1:30pm on Thursday April 2nd. Unfortunately scheduled againzt another session I want to also attend (which happens often) but this is a chance to hear from Bill Maher of Morrison & Foerester [full disclosure – MoFo is a past client of mine] talk about the changes at the FCC and what recent rulings and new ground rules have been established which impact many Web 2.0 businesses. This is the type of detailed and vital discussion which I really enjoy hearing at conferences – not sexy and perhaps at times a bit dull, but done well it is a chance to hear a real, up to date expert distill a lot of information into a consise and digestible form – and then a chance to ask follow up questions to explore issues which are raised. 

And finally pretty much the entire Marketing and Community track  which is a chance to hear from a mix of many of my friends as well as many others whom I know of but haven’t yet met in person speak about the current state of marketing and community online. Since this is an area I spend a great deal of time working in and thinking about – indeed much of my own consulting practice today is related to advising startups around Social Media related issues, this is a track of sessions which interest me greatly. Plus unlike many recent conferences this is a series of talks by friends of mine which I haven’t actually heard before – Scott Monty of Ford Motors talking about their brand engagement, Tara Hunt talking about Wuffie (and her new book & job at Intuit) and much much more. If I had to pick, I think this may be the strongest track at Web 2.0 – and it will definitely be my default track during timeslots I don’t otherwise have a session I want to attend. 

And a few other parts of Web 2.0 Expo I will be attending:

The Heather Gold Show keynote on Friday April 3rd morning at 8:55am. My friend Heather Gold’s shows are always interesting and engaging – each is different but each is also a chance to hear great, diverse guests peak in a casual almost Oprah like manner and format. 

Douglass Rushkoff’s Keynote on Thursday April 2nd at 8:55am. Douglass is another friend of mine and his talks are always engaging and interesting. He and I don’t always agree on everything – but he is one speaker I will block out time to listen to, confident it will be engaging and challenging – even if I don’t agree with him on every point. 

Jeff Veen’s Keynote on Friday Aptil 3rd at 10:15am. Jeff Veen is a highly respected designer, formerly of Google, and someone whom I have met many times here in San Francisco, however I have actually never had a chance to hear him talk about his work – I’m looking forward to this opportunity to hear what he is thinking about these days post-Google. 

Ignite at DNA Lounge on Wednesday April 1st at 7:30pm. This year, for the first time I will even try to submit my own talk in time to potentially be among the speakers at Ignite. Past Ignite events have been among my favorite evening networking/tech events ever – the format forces people to distill their talks down, removing the cruft and getting to the heart of the story and point they want to make – in nearly every case the result is a better, more engaging talk. However in past years I have been negligent in submitting my own talks to Ignite – this year i hope to make up for that and will be submitting my own talk.

And of course I’ll wander through the booths, attend (and perhaps host) the Birds of  Feather sessions in the evenings, as well as the many parties – official and unofficial. There will be a bunch of other things that I will almost certainly attend – but this is the rough outline of the talks and sessions which most interest me at the moment – and which I feel are particular highlights of this year’s show – which is, I think, a highly impressive show schedule indeed!

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, networks, San Francisco, web2.0 | 2 Comments »

March conferences – SXSWi & Web 2.0 Expo SF

Posted by shannonclark on March 10, 2009

I will be attending two major conferences this month – SXSWi in Austin and then at the end of the month Web 2.0 Expo here in San Francisco. I almost decided not to attend SXSWi this year, due to the current economic situation, but I am attending because, as I noted in a conversation just this week, nearly 100% of ALL my business opportunities come from in person networking

Occasionally this is immediate – I attended a one day conference years ago in NYC where I met a future client during a lunch roundtable, spoke with him briefly during a break, then met with him after the conference and closed a 5 figure consulting project to start nearly immediately the next day. 

SXSWi

More typically conversations and interactions at a conference lead to follow meetings and emails, to discussions, to introductions and in turn these turn into very real business. What makes SXSWi so valuable is that it is long, it is insanely social, and as a result it offers a nearly endless opportunity to network – dozens of chances to grab coffee, brunch, lunch, dinner, or to get pulled into a hallway conversation. Not to mention some of the best parties of any tech conference (especially if, as I do, you know most of the party organizers and can get into them with VIP passes).  

But I don’t drink very much – so for me these parties are mostly an excuse to get to know people in a casual, laid back manner, to engage socially with people whom I may later work with (or more likely refer others to and occasionally get referrals from). 

For me this year at SXSWi I will be focusing on two main things. 

  1. Promoting tbnl. I will have a basic web presense for tbnl before SXSWi and at SXSWi I will be looking for subscribers, advertisers, supporters/sponsors, and most importantly great writers and content sources. I’ll be following up with the dozens of writer friends whom I will see at SXSWi and will be asking them to submit a story (fiction or non-fiction) to tbnl. 
  2. Expanding my consulting practice. In 2009 I am looking to do more significent consulting engagements, especially paid work helping startups (or large more established companies) explore their business strategy and opportunities – especially focused on how technology & social media can help. I am one part McKinsey and one part a tech system integrator/custom architect sprinkled with more than a bit of social media expertise (since 1991). 

I will be arriving in Austin on Friday March 13th in the afternoon and will be in town until the evening of Thursday March 19th. If you are in Austin and want to meet up and grab coffee follow me on Twitter (@rycaut) and feel free to dm me or call me directly. 

Web 2.0 Expo

This will be my third year attending the Web 2.0 Expo which will be held March 31st to April 3rd at the Moscone Center West here in San Francisco. I’m one of the official blog partners for Web 2.0 Expo and will be covering the conference both here and at my other blog on Branding – Slow Brand

As a blog partner I can offer you my readers a discount – Use code websf09trt12 at online registration for 30% off any registration package.

I am really looking forward to Web 2.0 Expo this year, in part because the “buzz” about Web 2.0 is muted at the moment due to the economy, what I’m looking forward to seeing is who is still standing, what they are working on and launching, and how the general audiance is approaching the current changes in the economy. I am a huge believer in the transformative power of the web and especially the revoluation represented by Web 2.0. 

I am also a believer that downturns, such as right now, are some of the best times to start a company. All of the necessary parts are cheaper and more available – from office space to employees to partners and service providers. All are more willing to negotiate and more willing to devote themselves to helping you succeed. In turn it is a great time to build relationships – helping people make money in the current economy will result in very real and significent rewards in the future. 

For myself I am looking at a lot of opportunities at the moment – advising startups as well as dusting off technologies and ideas I have had in the past and seeing if there are ways to implement and launch them in today’s economy to be positioned strongly for the future.

So I hope you can join me at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco at the end of the month – I will probably be organizing a dinner or two during the conference as well as other meetups and like SXSWi I’m always happy to grab coffee and meet up with readers.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, geeks, internet, San Francisco, web2.0 | Leave a Comment »