Commuting by bike vs. public transport

tl;dr – I swapped the train with a bike for my daily commute in Sydney. My health is improving and am (about to start) saving money.

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June 2016: I’m a fat guy with very high cholesterol. I need to try to be more active, or I’ll be young(ish) dead dad. Both my wife and a good mate (who’s into cycling) start encouraging me to jump on the bike and start riding for part of my commute…


Saved by LPs

I only seriously re-embarked on collecting records the recent five or so years. I was buying albums I really loved on wax back in the 90s, and I’ve always bought Pearl Jam records (which I’m now extremely grateful for given the prices a lot of them are fetching these days). But the real journey is only recent.


Boeing, and Farewell

The day started with a farewell to Tim, another drive. First we stopped for coffee are Caffé Fioré for the first decent coffee i’d had since SF. Then, Trader Joe’s. Gabs and Tim had served me a delicious, smokey BBQ sauce with the BBQ the night before that i just had to take some home. Sweet.

Then a good drive to Everett for a tour of the Boeing factory! Talk about awe inspiring. We weren’t allowed to take cameras on the tour, which is a real shame, but understandable. To be in a room with several Dreamliners being constructed at once. The scale is astounding.

After the tour, Gabs picked me up yet again, and dropped me at the shops in Queen Anne to do some final shopping. First stop, Safeway (for American chocolate), then lunch at Elliott Bay Pizza. I’d wanted to have real american pizza since i arrived, and final i could cross that off the list. Then to a little gift store called Three Birds for necklaces for Soph and Alison.

My final sight seeing moment in Seattle was the walk down the hill from the Queen Anne shops back to Gabs & Tim’s house. This was my first real opportunity to see the real, stereotypical suburban America. It was beautiful. Yes, it’s a higher socio-economic area, but the architecture of each home, and the gardens and trees, it just felt so warm and homely. What a beautiful area.

We got in the car and drove to the airport where i discovered i was close to 20 kg over my baggage limit. Yes, i panicked. Greatly. Bought another bag, sorted it out. Farewells with Gabs and Lucy, and off to my gate.

Everything was shut. My last meal in the USA was a filthy prepackaged caesar salad. Poor judgement. My flight was delayed. Apparently somebody had “caused a large mess” in the toilet which required a “specialist cleaning team”. 3 hour delay due to dirty toilet? Ew.

The flight home was good. Sat next to a couple who worked at Google who were moving to the Sydney office. Watched a bit of a movie. Barely slept. International flights are hard!

Getting to Sydney was amazing. Al and the kids met me, and everything was right in the world. Got home and gave them their presents.

It was an amazing couple of weeks, but even better to be back with my family.

Easy Street, Hendrix, EMP

Nice lazy morning this morning. Spent some good time hanging out and reading with little Lucy. Cuteness.

Back into the car again, this time to Easy Street Records in West Seattle. Breathtaking. Being a relatively new vinyl lover, i was way in over my head. I had no idea where to start. Saw a bunch of stuff i loved, but i was on a tight budget so i was restrained. I ended up grabbing 80s “Wally” pressings of Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery tour. Additionally, this is another Pearl Jam landmark for me. The location of their Live at Easy Street set in April 2005. These walls are steeped with rock n roll history. The staff were SUPER nice too. None of this JB Hi-Fi snobbery, instead, happy to talk for hours to a novice like myself. Gabs & Lucy joined me an hour or so later and we had lunch in the ESR cafe. People say US food is horrible, but so far most of what i’ve eaten has been awesome.

Back in the car, and this time i’m dropped off in Capitol Hill. This stop, The Jimi Hendrix Statue. I put in my earbuds, and blasted Voodoo Chile, and just touched the statue. I was kind of expecting Jimi to be in a nice park somewhere. But no. It’s on the sidewalk in front of an art supplies warehouse.

Walked down Pine Street towards CBD. Past the Paramount Theater, the location of many famous live performances, including many by Pearl Jam. Continued through the CBD, i finally ended up at the Space Needle where the view was spectacular.

After some looking around, I headed back down to EMP. On entry, the first thing you notice is the insane 60-foot 500-instrument guitar tower that spans multiple levels. It is insane. Then onto the Nirvana exhibit. Was pretty amazing seeing Kurt & Dave’s instruments, clothing and artwork etc. first hand (sorry Krist). Then the Hendrix exhibit. Man. Actual small broken artefacts of his guitars that had been burned or smashed. Very awe inspiring to see his actual instruments.

And then, there it was. The olympic white 1968 Fender Stratocaster. The very one that played the “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969. I must’ve spent half an hour staring and caressing the thick perspex that held it. It was a moment i’ll never forget.

More guitar exhibits… the history of the electric guitar and amps and effects was damned cool.

I grabbed some gifts from the EMP shop, then had a coffee with Gabs & Lucy on the grass in the sun under the Space Needle.

We headed off to pick Tim up from work, then headed down to a Mexican restaurant Agua Verde in the University District. A delicious meal in an incredible location on the beautiful Lake Washington.

I love this place.

Exploring Seattle

Tim was off to work, so Gabs, Lucy and I set off for downtown Seattle. Gabs had a terrible headache so we went and grabbed a coffee from Starbucks, and found some pain killers.

We went to some clothing and food shops (trying to find stuff for Alison). Carrying Lucy around on my shoulders was a blast 🙂 I miss my kids though 🙁

We headed down to the Now Make Me A Sandwich food truck to get pulled pork sandwiches, and meet up with Tim at Amazon for lunch. Holy hell American pulled pork is something else. Combined with icy cold Dr Pepper, i’m in heaven.

Gabs took Lucy home for her afternoon sleep, so i stayed on to wander around. Went and sussed out EMP (Experience Music Project) which is underneath the Space Needle, then jumped on the Monorail into the City.

Since Seattle is the home of Starbucks, I grabbed a horrendous frappuccino type thing, and headed out to see the landmarks i had always wanted to visit.

First stop, Benaroya Hall. The place where Pearl Jam recorded their brilliant acoustic album, which i am extremely luck to own on vinyl. Next, Hard Rock Cafe. Pretty underwhelmed here. I thought i’d see some cool memorabilia etc, but perhaps i completely missed the point.

Next stop, Pike Place Market. Very cool. Wandered around the stores and food outlets, ate some cookies, bought some Hendrix / Cobain earrings for Alison. I could spend all day here.

I to Wholefoods to wait for Gabs, and had a couple of local beers at the bar there. A bar at a supermarket? Now you’re talking. Gabs arrived, we had another drink and then shopped for dinner supplies. My word, i love this place. Bought cakes, steaks, and Hendricks for Alison.
Went back to Gabs and Tim’s and had steaks cooked on the Webber for dinner. My first American backyard BBQ. It just feels different. The trees and the birds are so foreign. The architecture is different. It really is beautiful. I could easily live here.

Cakes from Wholefoods for desert. Then watched some American TV and bed. I like it here.

Hello Seattle!

Arrived in Seattle just before 9pm. Flying into Seattle was pretty exciting. It was still quite light outside… looking at the city from the air, knowing that this is where Pearl Jam and other historic artists were born and bread made me giddy with excitement.

I was met by Gabs (who was heavily pregnant) at the airport, and we headed back to their place in Queen Anne (northwest of downtown).

Was fantastic to catch up with Gabs and Tim and to see little Lucy who’d grown so much since i’d last seen them.

Enjoyed a delicious local beer with Tim, and retired to my room.

Farewell San Francisco

Last day in SF! Checked out of the hotel and had a final coffee with Marc, Sean and Tony at Blue Bottle Coffee before saying farewell and heading out on my lonesome. Thanks again to Tony for a terrific week.

I’ve always wanted to see Alcatraz, however I hadn’t pre-purchased a ticket, so i’d missed. I thought i’d rock up at the office just incase they had some cancellations and try my luck.

I jumped on the famous SF cable car and made my way down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Tried my luck with a last minute ticket, but the only opening would have made me miss my flight. Bugger!

This gave me time however to take things easy, so I had a wander around the pier, and I came across In-N-Out burger! Best.

More sight seeing and back to Friedel Kulssman Turnaround to wait for the cable car. Such a long line up, but it’s in a big park in front of a beautiful view of the bridge in the SF sun, so the wait was very picturesque. At this point i was starting to get nervous that I’d be late to the airport, but i made it back to the hotel to get my bags just in the nick of time.

I bid a fond farewell to Market Street, and headed to the BART to head to SFO.

Exploring SF

First thing. Need MOAR DATA. Off to AT&T to buy a few more GB.

Tony and I went for a wander to find breakfast and found a cafe called Mo’z, where i had a mexican omelette. 5/5 would eat again.

We booked ourselves in for the most touristy of things… an open roof bus ride to explore all that San Fran has to offer.

First, downtown SF, then up into the hills. Red light district, Lombard, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Landing, Pier 39, The Cannery, the original Mel’s, then onto the Golden Gate Bridge. Amazing seeing it first hand. It was extremely foggy over the bridge, and we froze our nuts off. But great to experience it first hand.

On the other side of the bridge, we stopped for a few hours in Sausalito which is a beautiful picturesque little community, perched on the hillside between the San Francisco Bay and the Marin Headlands. Houses here start in the millions. And you can see why. Apparently it used to be a little hippy village in the 60s. We had a wander around the shops, I grabbed a pizza. Then back in the bus to head back to downtown, via Presidio (a former military base). Probably the most American looking place I saw on my whole journey. Then, back via the financial district.

When we got back, Tony took me to the famous Mel’s Diner for an early dinner, where i had a Rueben and apple pie. Was fantastic to experience a real USA style diner. So much food. So cheap. So full.

It was my last evening in San Francisco, so i headed out for one last evening walk around downtown to take it all in. I bought another pair of Vans and some undies, then off to Target to buy batteries. Target here also sells fresh fruit and veg which was rather odd. Took lots of photos to try and capture the downtown night atmosphere. It’s wonderful.

And so ends my final night here.

Last day at Moscone West

It’s the last day here, and it’s sad! Will I ever attend WWDC again? I’m not sure, but it’s been an amazing week. I’m tired, but I need to ensure I make the most of the last bits that Apple has to offer me.

Went to some sessions on TextKit and UI Design, then lunch in the hall to use the fat internet pipe to leech all of the HD session videos.

After lunch, i headed to the Integrating Web Technologies in Native Apps lab. I’d never been 100% confident about the fact that we based our content on HTML, but the lab really reinforced that we’d done an awesome job of implementing it, and the guy showed me some ways i could use Instruments to try to speed a few things up a little. But all in all… good!

WWDC is over. Post dubdub depression is really starting to sink in now. I had a long stroll down the halls of Moscone West to take photos of the banners and soak it all in for one last time. What a week it has been. Massive thank you to Wax for making it happen.

After saying our good-byes to Moscone West, Tony and I headed to AMC to see Man of Steel in IMAX and Dolby ATMOS 3D. It won’t be out in Australia for months. Awesome. And what an experience. The biggest cinema i’ve ever seen. Everything is big. The candy bar sells pizza and burritos. And the sizes are massive. One great thing about the cinema here however is that you can kicked out for looking at your phone. I wish Australian cinemas would take on this rule.

After the movie, i headed off to go clothes shopping on my own. Old Navy was amazing. Great T-shirts for $10. Jeans for $20-$30. I’m only clothes shopping in America from now on.

Plans are to head out for a giant end-of-WWDC meal of German sausage and beers… we grabbed a beer downstairs at the hotel where we waited for the the rest of the guys to join us. We met up and all wandered down to the Financial District where we grabbed a table at Schroeder’s. We ordered 3L Das Boots each. Yes. 3L of beer in a glass boot. It was delicious, but I felt WRONG by the time i had 500mL left.

Then, we apparently had an invite to a party from some dudes in Melbourne. They had a company called that had just received funding. We jumped in a cab to head down to the Mission, and saw the results of VC funding in SF. Craziness.

I was done. We had another invite to head to GitHub for the night. I was too exhausted, so i bailed back to the hotel. I regret not going now. The place sounds amazing. But the drinking there was apparently intense, and i’m proud to say that I have never needed to vomit in the US. I can’t speak for Tony however…

Grabbed a packed of Cheese Fix Munchies from 7-Eleven at 1am, and lights out.

UIViewController containment

Today at WWDC I took a bunch of code to one of the Cocoa Touch frameworks labs to have one of the engineers look over a framework we’ve been produced which involves a massive amount of UIViewControllers.

Suffering from a healthy case of Imposter Syndrome, I was expecting a good smack with the wooden paddle, and a few minutes in time-out. Instead, everything looked AOK. However, he did pick up on one thing – I should’ve been using view controller containment.


The Bash

Another day at WWDC. Went to some morning sessions on various new iOS 7 features. Had lunch on the hill at Yerba Buena Gardens with a few of the guys again.

More afternoon sessions then it was time to head to The Bash. Thousands of developers descend on Yerba Buena Gardens for free food and beer, and to watch a big-name band perform. This year: Vampire Weekend. Quite an odd night. There was a constant stream of beer and ice cream, and I was full of both.

After the Bash was done, we headed back to the W Hotel for a few drinks, and retired relatively early.

WWDC is just about over, and i’m starting to get sad!

Labs, beers, bikie bars

I was keen to get to some labs during the week, and it seems today’s the day. I got up super early to try and get a spot in UI design lab. These labs are extremely popular and have a huge lineup, so I skipped breakfast as i wanted to get in early.

I took in the Wax eDetailing framework and sat with an Apple UI designer who went over everything and gave a whole heap of really valuable feedback, particularly regarding the UX. She was awesome!

Had lunch in the mess hall today. It has rows and rows of tables, each with blisteringly fast Ethernet / internet connections. I connected my Mac and completed the remaining 250GB of my CrashPlan backup in less than an hour. What the what.

After lunch was the Debugging with Xcode session, and then the UI Views lab where we went over our eDetailer framework and was given a few pointers (mainly relating to view containment).

Went and dumped my gear back at the hotel (it really is in such an awesome central location) and headed off to Thirsty Bear for beers with Tony, Dan Nolan and some others. One of the beers there contained cocoa nibs!

After beer, we jumped in an über with the Itty Bitty Apps guys. über is awesome! This dude rocks up in this CIA style 4×4 thing and races us down to the Mission.

We headed to a bar called Zeitgeist where we met with some Apple engineers. Zeitgeist feels like some homoerotic bikie bar where i was going to get wither shived, or gangbanged. I felt so out of place at first, but once settled in, it was really great. One of the Apple guys was the soul developer of the Core Bluetooth stack. Was fascinating listening to their stories and hearing about what it’s really like to work at Apple. These guys really work hard.

We über’d back downtown, and went for a stroll past Yerba Buena Gardens to see things being set up for The Bash tomorrow night. We tried to find Shifty Hamilton, but no dice.

Back to the hotel, via 7-Eleven for an ice cream cookie sandwich, before heading back out for the amazing garlic fries at super duper. What a day!


First morning of WWDC session is here. We hit the hotel breakfast buffet again for some more of that sweet sweet bacon. This is going to be an abusive relationship. The bacon is bad for me but i just can’t leave it.

Hit the first lot of sessions about the new features in Xcode 5, and new user interface design features. This stuff is rad.

For lunch we grabbed a lunch box and headed to Yerba Buena gardens with Tony and Tim to soak in the SF sun. It’s sinking in. I’m in SF at WWDC fulfilling a dream. I’m so incredibly lucky.

More sessions in the afternoon on the new multitasking features and UIDynamics. Afterwards I headed back to the hotel for a bit of chill time, then a few quiet beers in the bar downstairs. I need my alone time, especially when around a LOT of new faces. A few hours later we met up at Chipotle for Tony’s birthday dinner where we were joined by Marc, Alex, Jeff and Russ.

Following that we headed to W Hotel. Jim Dalrymple (aka The Beard) was hosting his Beard Bash, and I was lucky enough to score tickets from him. Alex stayed as my plus-one, and I managed to persuade the doorman to let Marc in (who was supposed to have an invite but wasn’t on the list for some reason).

It was loud, and boring. Met a few people but it was all the elitist types trying to show they were more elite than the next. This was the moment I realised what bullshit the Apple blogger / social scene is. Meh.

I headed back to Moscone West for a bit of a look around, and then back to the hotel.

Ducked down to 7-Eleven for an ice cream run. One thing about San Fran is that there are SO many beggars. Everywhere. They hold the door open at shops for you, then jiggle their cup. They follow you. They constantly talk to you. But they’re unlike the Sydney crazies. They’re generally really nice and fun. But persistent. I didn’t give in though.

I returned to the hotel with Klondlike ice cream tacos. Was not disappointed.

I am so tired.

iMore + Debug + Iterate + teriyaki

After the first day at WWDC, we did a bit more local exploring / wandering around, and headed over to 111 Minna Gallery for the iMore podcast recording party (featuring Rene Ritchie, Guy English, Marc Edwards plus others). The place was very busy, and very loud. Free booze, free food, and a bunch of Aussies in there looking quite out of place. I did take my stubby holder after all.

The podcast itself was really good, however all of the elite types stayed up the back drinking and talking extremely loudly. Felt super bad for the guys recording the podcast. It was just rude. I sat down the front and soaked it in, and felt like i should be respectful to the people paying for my bar tab.

Afterwards, we escaped the noise and hung outside a little. I went back in to take a leak, and saw Dan Benjamin, Marco Ament, and John Gruber huddled together having a chat. I thought i’d go say hi to Dan, as i’m a big fan of his podcast network, however Gruber saw me approaching, offered me a limp hand, then blocked me getting past. The nerve of the guy assuming that i wanted to talk to him… It really put me in a shitty mood.

We got the hell outta there and headed to a teriyaki restaurant with Tony, Alex, Russell and Graeme. Teriyaki salmon. Delicious.

Night done, and i’m wasted. Back to the hotel for sleeeeeeeep.

The Keynote

I woke up at 2:30am, way before my alarm. Anxiousness / anticipation was just far too great to sleep. I hit the shower to get ready to head to the keynote line.

I got to the line around 3:15am. Was about 200th I reckon. Met up with a bunch of dudes, including Galvin, Matt, Alex, Tim, Jeff, Russell etc. The wait went really quickly, thanks to the company of the guys in the line. Loads of sponsors came around giving out free crap. The best free stuff was a fold out seat. That was amazing. The worst? One company had people with vats of hot coffee on their backs. They’d use a hose to spray the coffee into foam cups. Problem was that the pressure was so great that they sprayed everyone with scolding coffee. So stupid.

I wore the TestFlight shirt that I scored the day before to get a free breakfast burrito. It was the worst. Gonna burn that shirt purely because of that burrito. First horrible American food experience.

We moved inside Moscone around 7ish, and were herded upstairs to wait outside Presidio. Apple provided breakfast which were donuts and sweet sugary pastry. Gross.

Just before 9am the mad rush into the hall began. Jeff played the “me no speaka da English” card and pushed right past the usher trying to stop us getting too close to the stage. Awesome seats!

The keynote was so exciting. Watching Tim, Phil, Craig and Eddy hit the stage was awe inspiring. The emotive videos, and the suspenseful reveals were amazing to witness first hand, especially due to the excitement that had filled the air for the past 8 hours. Schiller’s “can’t innovate my ass” after the Mac Pro reveal was superb. iOS 7 and Mavericks truly look wonderful.

Afterwards we flooded out into the common area to see the newly uncovered banners throughout Moscone and the Mac Pro’s under glass. I was feeling giddy.

Grabbed an Apple provided lunchbox down in the hall and ran back to the hotel to get out of my gross clothes, then straight back to Moscone to line up for the State of the Union, which is basically the under-NDA keynote aimed at developers. Some very exciting stuff!

Burgers and shoes

Back in town, we headed back to Westfield to meetup with Alex, Russell and Marc to go shoe shopping at Vans. Got myself a pair, as well as some cute red slip ons for Al. I didn’t realise how damn comfy Vans are! Up yours, Converse. I went back to the hotel to sort out cash etc.

On the way out to meet Tony I bumped into Alex, Russell and Jeff who were headed to Super Duper. Hot damn. That could be the best burger I’ve ever eaten. “Mini” cheeseburger and garlic fries. And of course, Dr Pepper. Post mix. This is heaven.

After dinner, headed back to the hotel for a bit, then back out to Sushi Club to meet Tony, Saul Mora and another guy for a 22. Back to the Westin for an early night. Tomorrow morning is an EARLY start for the keynote line. Who knows when I’ll ever get to attend an Apple keynote again. I’m going to get as close to the stage as possible.

The pilgrimage

We’d resigned to the fact that everyone had already found their way to Cupertino, and that we’d missed out. You imagine Apple would be easy to get to from San Fran, but no. It’s a long car ride. You can’t just get a bus. Often someone organises a bus trip, but not this year. Sigh.

After lunch however, I received a DM from Matt Bauer mentioning that he and two other dudes, Quentin and Nicholas, were hiring a car to head out there. Bingo! We headed back to Moscone and waited for them.

They rocked up and we squeezed into the back of this tiny little hatchback. I’m not small. It was a tight fit.

A 40 min geeky road trip on an typical US motorway that seemed to be 40 lanes wide, and we were there. 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino. The promised land. So very cool to arrive at the place that creates the products that are our livelihood.

The company store was cool. I wish I took photos there. Lots of Apple merch that can only be purchased at this physical store. Got a few clothes for myself, the kids and Al.

Then, outside for the obligatory photos with the 1 Infinite Loop sign.

Packed back into the car, then the long drive back to downtown SF.

Stopped for petrol (or should I say gas) on the way back. None of us could work out how to operate the thing. Turns out, you have to prepay for petrol. Our AU cards don’t work on the US pumps, so have to leave cash with the cashier, go fill up, ten back inside to collect the change. This is a weird country.