Going paperless: one year later

As I’ve been packing for my move, one thing that I haven’t been packing is papers. About a year ago, I posted about going paperless after I ordered a Fujitsu ScanSnap, the amazing little document scanner. I haven’t discussed the outcome of my paperless quest since then, but here’s the verdict (and I’m typing in all caps for the first time on my blog because this is just how emphatically I feel about it): BUY A SCANSNAP AND GO PAPERLESS NOW. THE IPHONE HAS NOTHING ON THE SCANSNAP. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

The utter awesomeness of having everything available digitially didn’t truly hit me until I started packing for the move. I have one single thin folder of papers that can’t be scanned for one reason or another (e.g. a certified birth certificate that has embossed). Everything else fits on a thumb drive: receipts and tax materials for the past seven years, copies of loan papers, business cards, user manuals for various products I own that aren’t available online. . . . you name it.

Once I got these “official” papers all scanned, I started scanning various mementos of sentimental value that I didn’t want to throw away: old clippings from college, concert and sports tickets, the original copy of my valedictory speech at my high school graduation, bad poetry and song lyrics over the years, etc. These are things I didn’t want to throw away completely, but don’t deserve box space. The same goes for things like paper take-out menus for favorite restaurants. With experiences like Cover Flow in OS X, I even have the same experience of flipping through a shoebox of mementos or a stack of take-out menus.

So — in case I wasn’t clear, you should get a ScanSnap. That’s all I’m saying.

Want to buy my Subaru? (2005 Outback Ltd XT Turbo)

(Note: SOLD!! I ended up selling the car via Craigslist, so please don’t inquire. When someone showed up with good money 36 hours before the auction ended, I didn’t have the stomach to see if I could make a few hundred extra bucks. I cancelled my eBay auction and ate the listing fee. Still, it was pretty exciting watching the process.)

Since I won’t be needing a car in New York, I’m selling my Subaru. As Subarus go, this is a top-end model — all-leather interior, giant moon roof, all weather package (heated seats/mirrors), dual climate control for AC/heat, bike rack, etc. It’s a perfect car if you have kids, like to go skiing or snowboarding at Tahoe, mountain-biking, or just need to run errands around town. It’s in really great shape and I wouldn’t consider selling it if I wasn’t moving to a place where I don’t need a car.

I decided to give eBay a try out of curiosity more than anything else. If you’re interested, email me for more info (chad at the domain of this blog) and/or go bid on eBay — here is the listing and here are some photos:

Best broadband ISP in NYC (Brooklyn)?

I’m getting down to brass tacks on my move to Brooklyn (just ordered the gas and electric hookup this morning) and I’m ready to set up my broadband account. For the past several years, I have been a happy customer of Speakeasy’s OneLink Select Plus service. It’s more expensive than the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world, but I’ve never had a single problem in four years as a customer, which is remarkable. Here’s what I get:

  • 6mbps down / 768 kbps up
  • 4 static IPs
  • great customer service (very rarely used, but when I call, the person on the other end of the line is smart and empowered)

So, I could re-up with Speakeasy in NY (which I’m leaning towards, but don’t know if their quality is better/worse out there), or I could consider other options. The high-speed Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-Verse services are not available in my area. Any thoughts?

Etsy is looking for a VP of Product

Fred Wilson posted today about Etsy looking for a VP of Product (description here) and described why he believes in Etsy:

There are some companies that are just different, special, and doing something important. Etsy sort of defines that kind of company to me. They are trying to make it possible for creative people to make a living off of the things they make. And in the process, they have built a market where you can find amazing one of kind items that make great gifts or things you can wear with a smile on your face.

When companies say they are “special” and “different,” sometimes they just mean they have a ping-pong table and they let you bring your dog to work. Etsy truly is special and different in a way that one very rarely sees (just search for “etsy addictive” or “etsy love” to see for yourself). I just spent several days in New York, mostly looking for a place to live and working out logistics for my impending move (I officially begin on 9/2), but also spending time with members of the Etsy team. Etsy is unmistakably an Internet company, but one that is connected to basic forms of human expression and social interaction that go back to the beginnings of human economies.

This is an incredibly unique opportunity and someone with whom I would be working very closely. If the people you’ve worked with would describe you as the best product manager they’ve ever seen, send your resume to work@etsy.com.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “Etsy and the role sound amazing, but I love the Bay Area,” (or LA or Seattle or wherever you live) drop me a line (chad @ the domain of this blog). I was in your shoes not that many weeks ago. Moving to NY (hell, even to another house within the Bay Area!) seemed almost absurd. I had just begun some major renovations on my house in anticipation of establishing even deeper roots in the Bay Area. I had a great gig at Yahoo! and the phone was ringing off the hook with recruiting calls from interesting companies all over SF and Silicon Valley. My wife and I felt very established in the area after 10+ years, with a great group of friends and we enjoyed regularly running into people we knew walking around SF. On a purely mundane level, I had even ordered something fairly large (i.e. the kind of thing you wouldn’t move cross-country) online that would be delivered in three weeks just days before I visited Etsy. By the time that package arrived, I had already announced my decision. I was that inspired by Etsy, and am even moreso after this recent visit.

Fire Eagle launches

Fire Eagle launched today. My favorite and most succinct quote in the extensive coverage about Fire Eagle was on VentureBeat from Mike Malone (developer at Pownce, one of the launch partners): “Location is hard, Fire Eagle is easy.” Very simply, Fire Eagle makes it simple for developers to build a wide array of location-aware applications and services without dealing with the hard parts.

The developer side is only half the story, though. For end users, Fire Eagle delivers on privacy. When Fire Eagle first went into beta back in early March, Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb really nailed the importance of Fire Eagle’s focus on end user privacy in combination with the developer platform:

Yahoo! put privacy right out front. Many people want their data to be portable from service to service and many people want that to include their location data from mobile or other interfaces. I personally don’t want my location broadcast automatically, at all, to anyone thank you very much. Fire Eagle has privacy and user control of data written all over it.

Users have the option to hide themselves with a single click, they can click to purge all their data from the Fire Eagle databases, the service even lets you select how often you’d like to receive an email reminding you that it is tracking your location as asking you to confirm that you want tracking to continue. By default you’re emailed once a month for consent to be reconfirmed! Hello trust building measures! It’s almost enough to make me interested in exposing my location, selectively.

. . . .

Standards based platform plus strong privacy equals the best scenario I can imagine for a location tracking service.

Indeed. Check out the Application Gallery to see what kinds of applications are being built around Fire Eagle. I’m sure the number will be growing quickly in the coming weeks and months, and I’ll be watching.

In any case, a huge congrats to the Fire Eagle team is in order — nice work!

Carroll Gardens: my new home in Brooklyn

Carroll GardensAfter what I’m told is by NY standards an unusually short search for a place to live (it was the second place we looked and on our first day of looking), we found a place in Carroll Gardens, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Our place is the top floor of a brownstone built around 1900, similar to the ones you see in the photo at the bottom of this post. I’ll be out here (i.e. NY) for good by September 1.

The landlord is very friendly and lives three doors down (we signed the lease at her kitchen table, which was filled with photos of her with her family). We were warmly welcomed to the neighborhood by both the merchant at the corner store and the kind folks at Moonshine (which is officially in Red Hook, but a short walk).

All in all, it’s been a surprisingly delightful experience after I had spent the last few weeks bracing for a brutal apartment search. Since we booked over a week in NY, we are using the found time to catch up with friends here and do the kind of things you do in New York. While we still have to pack up our stuff back in the Bay Area and move cross-country, knowing exactly where we’re going to land makes the whole process a lot simpler.

Carroll Gardens brownstones

(Photo of Carroll Gardens district by Fecki, brownstones by wallyg)

And in the end. . .

Today is my last day at Yahoo! and last night what I thought was going to be a small gathering of friends for drinks at 21st Amendment blew up into a bona fide party. At some moment during the party, I realized that four former Brickhouse leaders were all there (Scott Gatz, Salim Ismail, and Bradley Horowitz), then the Beatles popped into my head, and then I remembered the crosswalk out on 2nd Street that I’ve walked through so many times. Hmmmm. . . . .

Within minutes, I had gathered Scott, Salim, and Bradley outside and I started taking my shoes off. Bradley looked up the real Abbey Road cover on his iPhone while we were standing in the middle of the street. Sara Wood stopped traffic briefly and Ricky Montalvo took the shot (and later made it incredibly stylish). I can’t imagine a more memorable and playful image to mark the end of my time at Yahoo — thanks, Bradley, Salim, Scott, Ricky, and Sara!

brickhouse abbey road