Drone Flying at Dreamforce 2014

Dreamforce, San Francisco and Drones. What could be better?

My official purpose of being out here is to get feedback and engagement about the product my new, and still somewhat stealthy company is working on. And you know what? The feedback has been awesome. It’s extremely gratifying.

I’ve had two moments when I was able to sneak away and get the drone flying in the air to take some arial shots of the 100,000 crowded into SOMA for Dreamforce.

At Dreamforce, looking down on Howard Street
At Dreamforce, looking down on Howard Street

First flight went great, but the second flight, I guess I was a bit too ambitious and flew the drone up into the fog of San Francisco.

The Fog of Dreamforce
The Fog of Dreamforce

This then broke the connection with my remote controller and the drone – while the drone was at about 400 feet! Luckily the drone has a ‘return to home‘ mode, so it flew back to me and auto-landed in a crowd of about 100 people. I was really worried it would hit someone, or cause damage, but it didn’t. Whew!

I’m not going to fly it today — too many people to meet with — perhaps tomorrow again.

Two Weeks in St. John USVI

Wonderful view from our villa
The view from Chez Shell, St John, USVI

At the beach every day for two weeks, snorkeling with Veronica and the kids, Yoga in the afternoon, teaching the kids the ways of the Force. Thinking to myself, “what a great and relaxing time.” Two weeks in St. John, USVI highly recommended for those in need of a complete mental refresh. Any thought that brought me out of the moment, went immediately onto my reminders app, and out of my mind. Photos soon to be up on Flickr.

The weather was perfect, if you ask me. It was partly cloudy every day, and rained occasionally, but otherwise it would have been too much sun for the family. Our villa, Chez Shell, was so perfect it’s sort of hard to describe. Great location, two decks overlooking Great Cruz Bay (picture above is from our deck), pool small enough that the kids can easily swim it in all directions, cooled by the island breeze, and plenty of modern amenities for cooking, etc.

Cute kids on the beach

Each morning we’d make a lunch and take off to one perfect beach after another: Trunk Bay, Maho Bay, Cinnamon Bay or Hawksnest. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and most of them had great snorkeling options. I was a bit skeptical when we bought the kids snorkel gear before we left Boston, but they really took to it! Oh sure, we had to basically push them through the water, but they wore their little masks and got into looking at the fish.

I can’t wait to see the photos we took from our disposable underwater camera. The kids were quite vexed by the fact that they couldn’t preview the pictures immediately after taking them. I struggled to explain “chemical photography” to them.

Angry Birds Star Wars drawn by handAfter about four hours on the beach the kids would be wiped out, so we’d head back to the villa, and they would play their favorite game of all time (for at least right now): Angry Birds Star Wars. It’s a great game, and very addictive, and the kids surprised me again by showing that they could think through and develop new strategies for getting those darn pigs. We also became very obsessed with drawing pictures of the characters in the game, and taking them with us wherever we went.

Veronica found and engaged a yoga instructor named Suki to visit us every afternoon and guide us through yoga and breathing exercises. (I did this every other day, and Veronica every day.) Suki was great, and over the past few weeks we got to be friends with her and her very engaging husband as well. We’re leaving St. John more flexible than we arrived for sure!

Towards the end of our trip, we took a boat trip on the Lion in Da Sun which was one of the highlights of the trip. We motored with Captain Rick out to a place called Turtle Cove (I think) and swam with a whole bunch of turtles, then snorkeled over a wrecked ship, went to St Thomas for lunch, and then toured the bays and harbors of St John. Veronica fell in love with a very tiny beach called Mermaid Bay, which she has declared her favorite place on earth:

SONY DSC

Another interesting development during the trip was our discovery (on Spotify) of a Hawaiian artist named Sashamon, whose album One Day Maybe became the official soundtrack of our trip. He’s sort of a Jack Johnson crossed with Bob Marley sound. Here is his best song, in my opinion, Japanese Squeeze:

Surf all day. Polka all night

Everything is alright with me

and my Japanese Squeeze

Yes, everything is definitely all right.

Where Did I Go in 2013?

Where did Adam go in 2013

According to my records, and those of TripIt, I traveled 118 days this year, not quite the 120 that I was expecting. This is down from the crazy travel years of 2005, 2006 when I would routinely hit 200 days. (Barring a major emergency, I’m done traveling for the year.)

I wish that TripIt would use all the data that they have on my travels to create an interesting document the way that Dopplr used to. (Dopplr, by the way just seemed to stop at some point. No explanation given.)

Travel stats

If you believe the miles traveled figure from TripIt, I traveled an average of 32 miles per hour this year.

Top places visited in 2013 were London and New York — as always — and Philadelphia. For the first time in a while, I went West quite a bit with four trips to San Francisco and two to southern California.. While I didn’t make it to Rochester, NY this year, I manage to visit Harrisburg, PA twice.

My prediction is that 2014 is going to see me traveling quite a bit less.

Year in Numbers #2: Traveled Only 66 Days in 2010

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It turns out that this was a record low travel year for me.  Only 66 days away from home, which is down from 99 days in 2009. The place I visited the most in 2010: New York and the surrounding area, specifically Upper Saddle River, NJ.

I’ve been tracking my travel for some time on Dopplr (who kindly provided the picture above), but as the site seems pretty dead, I think I’m going to stop that and fully focus on TripIt. This is a bit of a shame, because though TripIt is more functionally rich, Dopplr is much more stylish.

What to do when you’re stuck in the Mumbai airport for 8 hours

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Of course it’s advisable to arrive 3 hours before your flight to Europe from Mumbai. Who knows how long the queue will be for security, and perhaps they might even give away your seat if you’re not there very promptly. And since my flight was due to depart at 2:30am, I arrived at 11pm.
It’s now 5:30am and the plane that we’re going to depart on has landed. We estimate a 6:30am or 7am departure.

I don’t know what I would have done with out Cyclomaniacs. (And of course the only plug in the airport which is located on a column near Gate 7 — it looks broken, but don’t be fooled.) I’ve managed to make it through about 1/3 of the levels in this extremely engaging bicycle racing and stunt biking game.

I’m not sure if you’re aware that Download Squad publishes a series of ‘Time Waster‘ games, and that’s where I found this one. Bravo, Download Squad! I wasted about 4 hours with your help this evening and might have even given myself a sprained index finger in the process.

My 36 Hours in Doha

Museum of Islamic Art Detail
Like the NY Times travel section article, I had the opportunity to land Saturday morning, and depart Sunday night from the capital of Qatar. My friends Alex and Gligor had recommending it as a good place to stop between London and Mumbai for the weekend.

The thing that sealed the deal for me for Doha verses the other places I considered was the new, I. M. Pei designed Museum of Islamic Art. It has been featured in the Times as well as The Economist, and looked pretty cool. After refreshing myself from the overnight flight from London, I headed there first.

The building is spectacular. It has a vaguely arabesque style – something of a mix between mosque and ancient palace — as you would expect, but done in a very modern way. It juts out into the bay as you can see from this photo, and has many nice views of the newly emerging “downtown” of Doha.

The collection on display was interesting, but struck me as more artifacts of the ancient Islamic civilizations than the type of art I am more used to seeing displayed.

Ancient Jug Filters
The photo above is of filters from some ancient jugs, the one below the statue of a blue monkey, and everywhere there were fragments and mosaics of tiles. I think the most recent part of the collection was created in the 18th century.
Monkey Statue at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

Following the museum, I walked down the Corniche back to my hotel, taking in the breeze from the bay which made the temperature feel like 90 degrees instead of the 100 that it was.

That evening, I met up with some friends of Gligor, learned a bit more about what life is like in Doha and also about the Macedonian diaspora. Who knew there were so many Macedonians in Doha?

Souk Waqif at Night
That evening we explored the Souk Waqif, which for my money was the best spot in Doha. A ‘bazaar’ not dissimilar to the ones in Turkey or Egypt that I’ve been to, but this one was modernized sometime in the past ten years. It seemed that while there were standard tourist kitsch for sale there, there were also many things that regular people would buy: cooking pots, hardware supplies, etc. There was almost no hawking of goods as we walked around. Two ‘blocks’ of the souk were devoted to restaurants, all of which had outside seating, and many rooftop dining options as well.

The next day was a bit more relaxed for me. My hotel had a beach, which I sat out and read for a while before the sun became to unbearable. Then I went off to a modern mall out in the desert which had been created to look like Venice, and had some lunch there. Finding myself with more time than things to do, I returned to the souk and had some strong coffee, and took in the scene there during the day before heading to the airport for my flight to Bombay.