iOS 9 Organizes Our Narcissistic Traits…So We Don’t Have To

woody-selfie

On Saturday morning as I sipped my coffee and did my morning news skimming on my iPad, I decided to update my iPhone 6 to the much-touted iOS 9 release. I had deliberately steered clear of articles detailing the new iOS 9 features and enhancements, preferring to play around to discover the new stuff organically as a measure of the overall user experience and usability.

The update went smoothly and quickly (as it typically does, thanks, Apple) and soon I was playing around with the enhanced interface and new apps. In between the interesting new keyboard font and caps toggle controls (thumbs up on the readability and usability) and the new card-stack behavior of the Home screen button (jury’s still out on whether this is enhanced usability or not), lay an enhancement to the Photos app that nearly made me spit out my espresso.

A new folder was now in my Photo Albums lineup, innocuously named:

Selfies

It had a photo count of 747.

747 photos??? I felt a little woozy.

After getting over the initial surprise and confusion that such a boldly-labeled folder would exist, I ruled out that I had somehow semi-accidentally created the “Selfies” folder myself during a cold-medicine fugue episode where I decided that 12,000+ photos in a single folder was just finally TOO MUCH. (After all, I had been on Dayquil most of the week due to a nasty little virus I picked up on a recent trip to St. Petersburg, and to be honest, I’ve had some blurry moments these past few days as a result. But still…).

It then dawned on me that this was clearly an iOS 9 “enhancement.”

Holy Kardashians, Batman — how could the count be so high??!!!?

Had I really snapped over 700 pics of my own mug and failed to delete them?

But then I got suspicious. And a little scared.

For as I scrolled through the contact sheet view, looking at pic after pic that included my own face (or part of it, as my selfie game has never really been that hot), I realized that I’d personally never tagged any of these selfie photos with my name.

As a matter of record, about 95% of them had never been seen beyond the confines of my iPhone screen — never having been posted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media or otherwise public forum.

These were truly my private photos, spanning the past 3 years and often taken after I’d had my hair styled or was checking out my makeup, a new hat, outfit, or some other shiny accessory I was thinking of buying. Others involved selfies with my partner, friends, family, pets, or just random moments in time that I hadn’t bothered ever looking at again but hadn’t bothered deleting yet, either.

Was it: Algorithms? Facial recognition software?  How did iOS 9 know it was ME????

And after about 3 minutes of muttering to myself about Big Brother and the dangers of technology, it finally dawned on me:

The damn front-facing camera.

Minus an error rate of about 2% (where the pics weren’t actually taken by me but were sent to me via text), the contents of my auto-generated “Selfies” folder were solely pics I’d taken using the front-facing camera on my phone.

A Google search quickly confirmed my breakfast hypothesis.

I felt slightly let down at the news. Despite my initial fearful flutters about how advanced facial recognition software must be or Apple to be using so casually in this consumer context, I actually wanted this latest iOS to be *that* clever.

Because I’m inherently lazy about organizing my own burgeoning collection photos, I wanted my phone to be smart enough to do the work for me, even if it meant introducing a bit of creepy technology to do it.

And while iOS 9 can certainly help organize photos based on geo-tags, e.g. Siri very helpfully found all my photos that were taken on multiple trips I’ve taken to say, Milwaukee, it’s still a far cry from the more granular organization of pictures by other topics and objects (A request to Siri to find my photos of “cats” returned no results; my kittens will attest to the fact that there are definitely a number of photos of them in existence.)

In the meantime, though, I guess I’ll take this incremental advancement that Apple has given us towards organizing our own narcissism as a handy “usability” feature. After all, it not only organizes all those spur-of-the-moment salon shots into a single location, but it enables me to delete them much more quickly.

And perhaps I’ll think twice about how much I use the front-facing camera going forward. But likely not.

~~~

When not contemplating whether to put out a book of her worst selfies, Sarah Kling enjoys designing and delivering great products. Follow her on Twitter at @uevision

JUST IN: “LOL” out, Traditional “Haha” Back In

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According to a new Facebook study, online laughter has devolved from the modern “lol” to a more traditional “haha.”

“As denizens of the Internet will know, laughter is quite common: 15 percent of people included laughter in a post or comment that week,” a Facebook blog post said.

The classic “haha” prevailed, followed by different emoji and the giggling “hehe”; “lol” and variations thereof, meanwhile, were scarce.(Source: http://bit.ly/1DId5EY)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

San Francisco, California (August 10, 2015) — According to a new and completely non-scientifically-validated Facebook study, traditional word-based expressions are making a comeback in the online world.

According to Facebook rep ROTFL_LOL, “Apparently, users of Facebook (“humans”) are finding that their ability to communicate using rudimentary miniature hieroglyphs and bizarre letter sequences is creating a less rich, expressive forms of communication, making us feel more isolated and alone in a digital crowd.

He continued: “We were shocked. I mean, who knew words were more expressive than symbols and letter sequences??”

In case excessive online acronym and emoji usage has caused your language capabilities to atrophy, we’ve compiled a helpful guide to word-based expressions you may run across online so you, too, can participate in a “traditional” conversation.  

1. Emotional Expressions

    • “That’s funny.” Your humorous joke / story / wry observation of modern life made this person feel mirth at your attempts at humor and they are driven to express it. Generally, this delightful feeling is expressed through laughter, but it may also result in the slightly less intense reaction known as a “smile.”
  • “I’m sad.” This person is experiencing emotions that center around sadness, a feeling on the darker side of the emotional spectrum and one that most digital devices cannot actually decode. May occur in response to an event or action, or possibly just because s/he is feeling, well, sad.
  • “I’m having a bad day.” This person had a day that, for some reason, is not going well.
  • “That makes me angry.” This person is experiencing feelings of anger over something that has happened. See also, “That really chaps my hide” and “I’m seeing red” or “WTF??”  (Editor’s note: We apologize for the rogue acronym. It won’t happen again.)
  • “I’m a Happy Camper” This person is one who feels joy and / or elation around a campsite. Also an expression of general happiness.

2. Commands and Exclamations 

  • “Sit down.” Sit the rear end of your body (also known as your behind, booty, or caboose) down onto a chair or similar furniture. Also a statement sarcastically directed at Kanye West when he attempts to pseudo-intellectually rant and ramble during a music concert.
  • “Help!” This person needs assistance of some sort. More specific details to follow but be prepared to react quickly.
  • “Go away!” This person has no interest in interacting with you, now or possibly ever. Best to leave them alone before they throw a digital device at your head.
  • “No really, please just go away.” See above; clearly, this person does not want to interact with you. Ever.
  • “Sigh.” An vocal expression that no words can actually convey; more a sound than a specific word. If this sound is directed at you, it typically means that your audience’s patience has probably been worn thin by A) your excessive use of LOL, OMG, and ROTFL or B) your excessive use of emojis instead of actual words or c) both A and B.

3. Environmental Hazards

  • “Slippery when wet.” The floor may be covered with a liquid substance. Be careful. Also a classic Bon Jovi album from the ‘80s that is still in frequent rotation in New Jersey bars.
  • “Danger” Hopefully self-explanatory. Otherwise, get the HELL out, girl! And be careful on that wet floor.
  • “Charge fully before first use.” A very annoying state that most shiny digital devices show up in. Typically, first use charge takes anywhere from 4 to 234 hours.
  • “Do not use in the bathtub.” If you need a definition of this one…then please, by all means, use it in the bathtub.

Despite any dependence on elementary-school acronyms and the modern equivalent of cave-man scratchings, we believe you, too, can learn show a full range of emotions online using W-O-R-D-S. We hope this simple guide to basic human word-based expressions serves you well in your endeavors.

And if not, we’ll be ROTFL LOL’ing….hahahahahahahahahahaha.

Haha. 🙂

Kittens 2.0 to Launch SnapCat

Closeup_062215

PURRNewswire – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Francisco, CA — June 30, 2015

Kittens 2.0, the latest entry in a long line of cat-run Internet ventures, has officially launched, with first product offering SnapCat currently in beta.

Kittens 2.0 aims to disrupt the existing cat-driven internet by bringing more ridiculously cute kitten-focused content to the masses, while simultaneously enabling younger cats to connect with the world that frankly adores them.

Says their spokes-human and lead investor, Sarah Kling: “We’re really excited to have the kittens enter this market. The Kittens 2.0 team found through research that the current cat-loving market is underserved by today’s technology solutions because younger cats find the current solutions to be daunting.”

“Younger cats are simply not using such social media tools as Twitter, where the bird logo is too distracting, and Facebook, where too many pictures of homely dogs and sticky toddlers dominate horribly-organized news streams.

“And as for YouTube and Google+:  The Kittens’ deep market research re-affirmed other human’s findings that the UX is too complicated for younger cats to navigate the steps it takes to create a channel and post content.”

“They’d rather be stalking their own tails or learning to scratch on the forbidden new furniture in mommy’s living room than to sign up for a Google+ account.”

She added while attempting to lure our the founders with a fleece-on-a-stick toy:

“Younger cats simply lack the focus it takes to wade through traditional social media channels.”

When finally reached for comment under the living room sofa, Kittens 2.0 founder and CEO Harley states, “Our focus is to really expand the reach of the younger cat audience by exploring new channels through our mobile and web offerings. We’ve found that the Internet is saturated by images and videos of entertaining older cats, doing things that older cats can do, which we as kittens find….[big yawn and stretch]…

“Do you have any tuna-flavored treats? I love tuna-flavored treats!”

Says co-founder and VP of Marketing, Ringo, who was reached for comment while crouching under a bathmat: “Frankly, everyone knows that the kitten population is underserved by today’s mobile and social media offerings. But what’s weird is that, as kittens, we alone possess the absolute maximum amount of that critical “aww, so cute!” adorableness factor.

“We believe we can leverage our cuteness to disrupt the existing cat-driven internet.”

Chimed in CEO Harley, while pouncing on the bathmat: “It’s kind of shocking, really: There are NO kitten-specific apps currently in either the App Store or the Google Play Store, and frankly, we think this is a missed opportunity. We know from our research in the incubator that kittens are very capable of using touch-screen devices. Think about it…all that tapping. It just comes naturally to us.”

Kittens 2.0’s first product offering, SnapCat, is currently in limited beta testing in the living room, and is expected to be available for general release later this summer.

So far, the Kittens 2.0 team is keeping the details of that product secret, but they do expect the features to be very “kitten-user-friendly, with lots of quick tapping and pouncing interactions supported.”

Kittens 2.0 is currently in an explosive growth phase, with expansion plans including the hiring of more humans to “handle the more mundane tasks such as procuring snacks and tuna, and doing things around the office that require opposable thumbs.”

Originally created in a field near Petaluma, California, Kittens 2.0 was then incubated for several weeks in a Petaluma “tech shelter” before moving last week to their new offices in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco.

To learn more about Kittens 2.0 or to book an interview with them while they’re crouching under an ottoman, contact spokes-human Sarah Kling at sarah@kittens20.com.

Hillary’s Emails: An Origin Story

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“When I got to work as secretary of state, I opted, for convenience, to use my personal email account.”
 — Hillary Clinton, March 10, 2015
~~~~~~

To: State Department – IT Help Desk
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 21, 2009 11:04 am EDT

Subject: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry

Dear IT Help Desk:

It’s come to my attention that I will need your assistance to set up multiple email accounts on my BlackBerry device.

(It’s my first day on the job and I thought I’d take the initiative of asking for this myself, as I am someone who takes great initiative in getting things done. Like universal healthcare.)

At this time, I seek to keep my personal and professional emails separate but would prefer the convenience of a single device as I find having two mobile devices to be a burden.

Can your team please assist me in setting up my private email on the device?

Thanks in advance for your prompt response.

Regards,
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

~~~

To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
From: State Department – IT Help Desk
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 21, 2009 11:12 am EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Hey there, Hil,

Welcome aboard! (Or should I say, welcome back. ;[))

I’ve assigned a case number to your request – please reference this number in any follow up emails. (Case #200456)
I’ll respond your case within 24 hours once I’ve had a chance to research how it’s done, since it’s been a few years since I’ve supported a device as old as you…rs.

BTW – have ya thought about getting an iPhone? They’re super-cool and much easier to set up for multiple email addresses, especially for non-techies.

Just a thought.

Peace out,

Justin
IT Help Desk – Support Analyst Level I

~~~
To: State Department – IT Help Desk
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: Barak.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 8:15 am EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Dear Justin / IT Help Desk:

To follow up on my original request (Case #200456) – it’s been 48 hours and I’ve not gotten any response from your team.

Please have a rep call my office at (202) 555-1313 as soon as possible. Thank you.

Also, we are not actually friends, so I’d prefer if it you referred to me as Mrs. Clinton or Madame Secretary rather than using my first name or an abbreviation for it.

Regards,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
~~~

To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
From: State Department – IT Help Desk
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 8:16 am EDT

Subject: (AUTO-REPLY) RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

To whom it may concern:

Help Desk support hours are between 9 am and 5 pm Central Time.
A support analyst will respond to you between those hours. Please call us if you have questions.

Very truly yours,

IT Help Desk

~~~
To: State Department – IT Help Desk
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 8:22 am EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Dear IT Help Desk:

Was that auto-reply really necessary? You know how I hate waste in government. Also, your message says to call but never once provided an actual phone number where we can reach your team.

And why are you on Central Time instead of Eastern Time? (My god, we’ve inherited such a mess….)

What I would really like is to get a response to email configuration question.

When can I expect that resolution?

Again, please have an analyst call my office to walk my staff through it – our phone number is (202) 555-1313.

Regards,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

~~~

To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton
From: State Department – IT Help Desk
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 11:33 am EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Hiya Hillary,

Our call center is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin (go Packers!), so naturally we’re on Central Time.

But I’m totally thrilled to let you know that we’ve elevated the priority of your case (Case #200456) to be higher in our case queue.

Your case is now in position #981. (Vice President Biden’s occupying the first 980 requests — he’s asking us to “pipe in” all the “original Love Boat and Fantasy Island episodes” from the ’70s on “the YouTube.” We’re still researching what those are, actually, since none of us was born before 1979.)

As you can imagine, we are working as quickly as possible to resolve the cases in front of yours and will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you have any questions, please contact our help desk between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm CENTRAL TIME.

Cheers,

Kylie
IT Help Desk – Support Analyst Level I

~~~
To: State Department – IT Help Desk
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 11:42 am EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Dear Kylie:

Again with the first name stuff.
And I thought Justin was my IT support rep?

Regardless, I would like to escalate this request – I’m attempting to stay within government guidelines for handling emails and currently am carrying multiple mobile phones to handle my emails, which I find very inconvenient.

I’ve been told there’s a way around this inconvenience. I’ve tried Googling email set up on a BlackBerry, but the documentation I’ve found was written in 2003, which I’m told was the actual heydey of BlackBerry (apparently, the company isn’t doing so well now – I think we can all agree that’s the fault of the outgoing administration’s contribution to this world recession we’re in).

Also, I don’t have a phone number for the help desk – can you please provide it so that my staff can call to resolve this quickly? Thank you!

Or, if you have a link to a website with instructions, we can just do self-service. My goal is to get this resolved – hopefully you can appreciate that.

Regards,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

~~~

To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
From: State Department – IT Help Desk
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 3:46 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Hey there, Madame Hilary,

Hey, it’s me, Justin again. I heard you were asking for me as your rep. Awesome.

Anyway, I Googled around and found ya a link to some BlackBerry configuration stuff. Sorry, the latest I could find was from 2003 (you guys are on some seriously old hardware over there @State.)

Anyhoo, give it a try and let me know if it works and we’ll close our yer case.

http://www.google.com/blackberry4000/email_configuration/POP_IMAP_SETUP_PHONE/SECUREDocument123456.html

Peace out,

Justin
IT Help Desk – Support Analyst Level I

~~~
To: State Department – IT Help Desk
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
January 23, 2009 4:02 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Dear Justin:

The link didn’t work.
This is getting very frustrating.
Can you please call my staff at (202) 555-1313 to walk us through this?

Regards,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

~~~~
To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton
From: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
CC: State Department – IT Help Desk
January 23, 2009 4:07 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

HRC:

Do you mind taking me off the CC on this thread?

I’m sure you can figure out a way to negotiate a way to get your private and business emails conveniently.

Remember, I “hired” you for those amazing problem-solving skills of yours. 🙂 😉

~ B

~~~
To: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: TheHllinator@yahoo.com
January 23, 2009 4:09 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

Mr. President:

Just out of curiosity – have *you *ever tried filing a support request with our IT people? It’s maddening. I’m thinking I’ll have Bill call – if I can ever get a phone number, that is. He’s so much better with people than I am.

Anyway, I take it that you’ll be okay with whatever solution I come up with?

HRC

~~~
To: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
From: Barak.Obama@whitehouse.gov
CC: TheHllinator@yahoo.com
January 23, 2009 4:11 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

No, I let Joe Biden handle the IT stuff – gotta give him something to do besides winking and smiling and that weird pointing thing he does. JK!

Seriously, yes – do whatever is necessary and just get ‘er done as we’ve got a few other big things to deal with…. 😉

BTW, have you seen the new iPhone? It’s so much easier to configure than those old BBs, especially for multiple email addresses. Even Joe figured it out.

~ B

PS: The Hillinator?

~~~
To: Barack.Obama@whitehouse.gov
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov
CC: TheHllinator@yahoo.com
January 23, 2009 4:17 pm EDT

Subject: RE: Configuring multiple email addresses on my BlackBerry (Case #200456)

B:

Ok, my team will problem-solve.

And I’m looking at the iPhone tonight after work – I hear it’s great with music and videos but the business features like email and calendars are a bit subpar.

HRC

PS: Yep, old college nickname. I was The Hillinator when Arnold was still entering body-building contests. Ha!

~~~
To: All State Department, All White House, All Congress. All HRC Staff
From: Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@clintonemail.com
CC: William.Bubba.Clinton@clintonemail.com, Chelsea.Clinton@clintonemail.com, Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov, TheHillinator@yahoo.com
January 28, 2009 10:37 am EDT

Subject: NEW EMAIL ADDRESS – Please update your address book

All:

Please be sure to update your contact lists and address books with my new official email address to be used for all official government correspondence, yoga information, and Chelsea’s wedding planning:

Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@clintonemail.com

Or alternately, for cat videos, chain letters, and Evites, please use:

TheHillinator@yahoo.com

In a dire emergency (I can’t think of what that would be), please use my government-issued email:

Hillary.Rodham.Clinton@state.gov

Regards,

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

PS: Please do not share this email address with any members of Bill’s extended family. We all remember what happened the last time…

For Real? Estate – Part 1: The “No Es Bueno” San Francisco Land Grab

It all started wwhitebagith a plastic bag last winter.

“I think you’ll REALLY like this place over the others we’ve looked at — it’s right in your price range and they’re even willing to wait 3 months for you to start the lease until your other lease is up!”

My commercial broker, Amy, was her usual perky, peppy self as she maneuvered her late model BWW X5 slowly the narrow alleyway that passed for a street near San Francisco’s courthouse / jail complex oBryant and 8th Streets in SoMA.

As we slowly drifted past a motley assortment of buildings in the street, I kept sinking down further into my seat and even contemplated refusing to get out of the car when it stopped at our destination.

The back alley buildings themselves held the businesses one would expect in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the local pokey – bail bondsmen after bail bondsmen, followed by shingle after shingle advertising criminal defense attorneys (“Available 24/7!”). And let’s not forget the tasty side of other sketchy-looking services that cater to the patrons of the court system and jail. Bail_bonds

Amy squeezed her large SUV into a small, cracked driveway next to a pale pink rock-facade 1960s era apartment building; we slid out gingerly onto the broken pavement, looking furtively from side to side for I don’t know what.

Across the driveway, a lean, blonde, very-tanned man greeted us energetically – Charlie, the broker from the “other side”, i.e. the guy who represented the landlord in a commercial rental transaction.

As Charlie thrust a lean, tanned hand toward us, Amy stage-whispered to my partner and me, “It was so nice of him to come out to show this. Most brokers are already done for the week. But he and I go way back and so it’s a favor.”

It was only 10 am. On a Friday.

So it made sense that he would be done for the day….if his clients were vampires.

The property itself was one of the oddest office buildings I’d seen in San Francisco. Badly weathered aluminum siding covered on the upper part of the building above a layer of pastel faux-rocks. A large external cement staircase in the front led up to each of the 6 units, 2 per floor.  They all looked like apartments rather than offices, each featuring a very homey front door with a knocker and a large picture window next to it.

Charlie bounded up the stairs in front of us, casually announcing over his shoulder that all the other tenants were defense attorneys.

Naturally.

And then I saw it.  The bag.

As I lifted up my foot to take my first step onto the staircase, I noticed the small, white, lumpy bag on the ground at the base, with a neatly tied bow — it was a bag that looked grossly familiar to anyone who has ever owned a dog.

I froze, my stomach lurching ever so slightly, and quickly side-eyed my partner, seeking some reassurance that that bag was not what my stomach and nostrils were perceiving.

Without missing a step, he whispered as he passed me and stepped onto the staircase, “Yes, that is exactly what you think it is.”

Our tour of the apartment / office turned out to be just as disheartening as our trip up the staircase. Charlie pleasantly pointed out the features: 3 beige separate (bed)rooms, beige in-suite bathroom, beige kitchen, beige wall to wall carpet, beige linen closets, fire escape access in the back down to the garbage cans….yes, garbage cans. In the back, where garbage goes.

At this point, there was no shaking the apartment-complex feel to it, although when asked, both Charlie and Amy swore it had always been a commercial property. They both gamely attempted to sell the highlights of the space’s 3 bedroom floor plan — more privacy because of the separate rooms, all new kitchen appliances, a shower in the bathroom, large closets for coats….by the end, I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to work there or make a happy home.

But even if the doggie welcome bag hadn’t been there, the office space was simply not at all what we could move our tech product design firm into. As I’d emphasized to Amy many times, our must-have requirements, after price range and square footage, included an office with natural light, and parking, both for me and my staff and for our Silicon Valley clients, many of whom had to drive into San Francisco for business meetings. (But not typically criminal court dates.)

Needless to say, we said our goodbyes to Amy and her services later that day. While I certainly didn’t hold her responsible for the doo-doo bag, I did let her know that we had higher hopes for her meeting our office requirements. But given the commercial real estate market, perhaps I was overly harsh on her on even that front. After all, Amy was only able to show us inventory that was available. And the inventory pickens were indeed slim.

While it was to be the last, tDIAKADI_Fitness_Performance_Life_-_Google_Mapshis wasn’t our first disappointing office visit to San Francisco commercial space within our size and price range. The other visits, while not as notably colorful as the Bail Bondsmen Backalley, all seemed wrought with similarly fatal flaws — one building was a converted warehouse that had a single tiny bathroom per floor of 8 offices.

And then there was the Peruvian startup attempting to run an illegal co-working space out of their offices. Although we were initially excited about their bright, IKEA-decorated sublet, the dreamy deal started falling apart when we started asking several tough, probing questions such as, “Has your landlord actually given you permission to sublet the space?” These were met with a lot of blank stares, and a few “Es bueno, es all bueno, no problem, no worries. Deal?”, which we met with a corresponding, “Nooooo, no es bueno. Noooooo deal.”

I could go on about ore dire properties we viewed, but it just takes me back to the sadder place to recount the weird, cavelike, or just downright depressing office spaces for rent.

Soma_StreatFood

Basically, though, I was starting to believe that we’d be better off pitching a tent in the SoMA Streat Food lot next to the food trucks and turning that into an office space with tasty snacks nearby.

Wondering what happened next? Check out more about my roller-coaster experiences in the San Francisco land grab in Part 2: Why can’t I just work in my car??

 

For Real? Estate – Part 2: Why can’t I just work in my car?

TransamericaBld(To recap just how this all started with a plastic bag of poo, please see Part 1: The “No Es Bueno” San Francisco Land Grab )

The crazy commercial and residential land grab in San Francisco is not new news to anyone who lives in the Bay Area. It was just my personal first brush with how insane it’s all gotten in the run up of the past 6 years since we first took a commercial lease. Ah, those were the salad days of early 2008, where SF office space hovered at “bargain” prices of $30 / square foot

For those of you (well, okay, maybe it’s just me) who find the price-per-square-foot number a little inscrutable — it’s basically the annualized cost per square foot for a rental. So an office space of 10,000 square feet at $30 / square foot will cost your firm a nifty $300,000 to rent for the year.

How little I realized what a bargain those olden days were.

I learned quickly, for when our office lease was about 6 months away from expiring, we started conversation with our current building management team about the potential cost of renewing. I nearly fainted in my chair when I was told that current market for our building and spaces like it was running between $52 and $60 a square foot in our neighborhood

Just based on the sheer 80-100% increase in rent alone, it was becoming clear for our bottom line that we’d need to look around for a new office space.At this point, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve only helped create this quasi-dire office space situation by limiting my search area to the side of San Francisco that is absolutely the most competitive for commercial space currently, thanks to the tech boom. It’s the area known as SoMA (South of Market) combined with a few nearby streets in the Mission district.

While I’ve never been one to be driven by tech trendiness in making business decisions, there are truthfully some solid reasons why tech startup companies flocked to the SoMA area (and it’s not because of the SF Giants home ballpark).

att_parkThe major commuter train transportation hub, otherwise known as Caltrain, comes to rest in the heart of SoMA, which enables numerous non-SF dwellers to commute from as far as San Jose 45 miles away as it travels up through the Silicon Valley and Peninsula corridor. It’s also close-ish to the BART stations lining Market Street as well.  And it features a number of funky, trendy smaller office spaces in unique buildings with lots of light and architectural features, the kind of space that suits both unconventional start ups and also my firm, a design firm with Silicon Valley clients.

In short, for my business, SoMA was and still is best area of San Francisco for an office space.

And yet, despite having run my business successfully in San Francisco for over 9 years, it seems that we, too, were now being priced out of the market (or forced to downgrade significantly).

While I’ll refrain from making any poor-me comparisons to the truly displaced residents, I have to admit that I can feel a few twinges of the frustration of having been based in a place as both a resident and a business owner (the latter activity which created jobs), of paying local taxes, and of generally contributing to the local economy by patronizing other local small businesses.

After contributing productively as such for 9 years, I suddenly found my ability to rent a suitable office in my home city becoming more and more difficult, priced out by small startups whose biggest contribution to the world so far, besides creating a mobile app that let’s them rent the air around their apartment, is that they believe they’re “disrupting disruption” and that they are proudly developing a corporate culture based on “awesome snacks.” (I am not making any of this up, although I may have combined a few startups.)

This whole experience has a distinct quality of what I imagine it would feel like to wake up one morning and find out every apartment in your building was rented at ridiculously high rents to spendthrift 13-year olds; these youngsters were given a wad of cash and no adult supervision. Sure, they might do *alright* for a while, until they spend all their cash on shiny new MacBooks and In-and-Out Burger and Twizzlers and can no longer afford the rent, at which point they flee and leave the mess for someone else to clean up. And your rent’s 45% higher than before and not going down.

But lest you worry – I’m far less likely to protest my commercial situation by throwing rocks at a Google bus, or by picketing the Twitter offices; however, I haven’t ruled out asking those companies to let us sublet for a while…after all, they both have SOOOOO much more room, and we don’t need much space at all and will keep very quiet, I promise.

GoogleBusAnd more importantly, did we find a new space? More on that in another post, but I promise you, this story DOES have a happy ending…stay tuned for this to all be wrapped up neatly with a sparkly bow in Part 3: I do have a Real Estate Fairy Godmother After All…

WFH or WTF? Diary of the “Working From Home” Silicon Valley Productivity Myth

“From 2005 to 2012, the U.S. workforce grew 3%, and regular telecommuters grew 66%. An impressive 64 million U.S. employees–that’s half the workforce–have the option of working from home part time.”  — From Fast Company Co.Exist
Couch

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses. “We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”  — From AllThingsD


Dear Tumblr Diary:

OMG – I am soooo excited to be in my new role at WhizBangMobile. Today was my very first day in the office. I can tell that the team works really hard here – they’re super-bonded and spend all their time together in the office and even outside of it.

And everyone is sooooo nice – they somehow knew to order me my own vegan gluten-free burrito for company-catered lunch without even asking asking (like someone’s been stalking my Instagram – #VeganGlutenFreeMexicanFood rules!!)

I was also invited to play in the team’s ping pong tournament – they’re taking on the Marketing team and it’s beyond awesome that I can bring in that personalized handmade bamboo-shoot paddle that I got at my last company (also in my Instagram – #YOLO). There’s even a spot for my environmentally-and-commuter-friendly folding bike – so cool to “park” my wheels inside.

I can’t wait to see what cool stuff tomorrow brings.

#LoveMyNewJob


Dear Tumblr Diary:

Still loving the new gig, but I’m kinda bummed –  the team isn’t in the office as much as I hoped and so I’m not getting the bonding (or the ping pong) time I was angling for when I accepted the offer (J/k!).  I’ve noticed a trend…there seems to be one or two people doing the work from home (aka “WFH”) thang each day.

It’s a little…umm…odd. They send out almost uncomfortably detailed emails about why they aren’t in the office. Like, too much detail??

E.g.

Hi team,

Unfortunately I am not feeling well today. Feeling very weak and dizzy. Need to take rest and take many medicines which makes me feel sleepy. Hopefully tomorrow, I should be able to come to office. But maybe not. I may still feel weak and dizzy. Wish me luck! 

Oh, I might be able to work later today. Will be  available on chat/email phone then. But still may feel weak and dizzy.

Later,
D

Maybe I’m just being picky…he’s probably got that nasty Guatemalan-Peruvian-Mexican throat bug that’s been going around the New England states.

#StillLikingIt


Dear Tumblr Diary:

After biking in a foggy rainstorm today and nearly getting rundown by no less that three Priuses (Pri-ii?), I arrived at the office to find that I am the only person on my 10-person team here.

Since I couldn’t even find my boss, I asked the receptionist if I was missing an offsite meeting and, after he looked up from playing CandyCrush (soooo last year) on his S4 (also soooo last year), he stared at me blankly, looking confused. After a super long pause he finally said, “Dunno, but I’m supposed to put a lunch order in for everyone on staff today so, like…?”

When I logged into my Mac, I noticed a string of WFH emails from team members – that explains it, I guess:

—-
Hey all,

I’m going to be WFH today due to sheer and utter exhaustion from all the work I’ve been thinking about doing this week. I need to be well-rested for my personal life. Just let me know if there are any issues that need to be tackled.

~W
—–
Hello team,

My GF got a Wednesday part-time job. I need to drive her to work and will WFH afterwards. For the next 3 days, possibly. 

—–
Hello everyone on the team,

With my recent travel to Bakersfield and the huge weather difference there from Sunnyvale, I had very high fever and cold in the night. Had to go to ER yesterday.
I am working from my bathroom today when I’m not vomiting.

Very truly yours,
D
——
Bros and hos, aka my teammates – You all rock. Totally. So much that I need to get a break from your awesomeness and throw back some top-shelf Margaritas (no salt – yeah, baby!) See you mañana!
Rock on, Lance

PS: I’ll be on Google Hangouts, Skype, ChatRoulette, and the usual “other” online spots (wink) if you wanna video chat (wink 2x).

—-
All,
Will work from home this Wednesday and Friday to give my body and my back a break.
For those of you who didn’t know, my regular daily commute is ~ 4 hours each day that makes me very tired each day for work.

With rain it is 6 hours.. I hate rain.

Whatever,
M
—-
Hmm…could this really be just about the weather or is there something else….??? Nah, everyone here works really hard and loves each other. Must be just a fluke.

#FeelingLonelyAtWork


Dear Tumblr Diary:

Okay, this is just getting to be too much. It’s the third day in a row that I’ve been the only person working in the office. This place is a freakin’ ghost town from 9 to 5. I feel like I’m the only one who makes the effort to come in.

The WFH log is getting more and more…well…here’s a sampling; you be the judge:

—–
Hello again everyone on the team,

I woke up today with a sinus pain that made me think I had a brain injury when I went to Bakersfield as there was turbulence on the plane.

I am seeing double and sometimes triple. Also I have constipation. ;(

My mother says to go to the ER again because I may have a concussion or a bowel obstruction. I will keep you posted on any scans and tests and will send pics.

Very truly yours,
D
——
Dude Bros —

I’m having a killer time getting my work done at the beach with my dog hanging out with me (he’s a serious chick magnet). I’ll be hangin’ on the line in the usual spots (get it – on the line? Like Vince Vaughan in that Google flick from last year?) I crack myself up!

LOL Lance

——
All,

I will WFH this week to focus more time on the work than on the commute of 3-4+ hours. That is when the weather is good. When it is not good, remember, it is almost 6, sometimes 8 hours in traffic. And that’s if there’s no accidents anywhere along the route.

Thanks for being so understanding because The Traffic isn’t,
M

__
Hello Team,

My GF’s parents are going to arrive from Topeka this morning. I need to pick them up then and prepare tons of things for them. Will work from home once they are settled.
I also need to drop her off and pick her up from her part-time Wed job today and tomorrow. And her parents. 

~~~~
And what’s worse – no one’s ever “online” (or “on the line, Lance”) when they say the will be – they’re all permanently in a state of “away.”

I’m starting to feel isolated.

I’m also starting to feel like the only person who’s doing any work around here….

#Where_IS_EVERYONE_DAMMIT


Dear Tumblr Diary:

I think I may have actually had it. Not only were we supposed to have a huge IN PERSON team planning meeting this morning, for which I brought my favorite vegan gluten-free bagels and soy cheese topping, but we had our first big ping-pong match with the Marketers this afternoon. So I was stuck with 20 bagels going stale and a bunch of gloating marketeers as we were forced to forfeit the match.

I was the ONLY person in the conference room, with the rest of my team all connecting into a Google Hangout and getting disconnected at random times; and of course, no one could really hear anyone else because the sound and video quality frankly sucks hard.

But that’s not even the point. Why is the company even bothering to rent office space if no one ever comes in (no one but me, it seems).

Even Mr. CandyCrush Receptionist wasn’t in today – he emailed in a WFH day (how on earth do you WFH when you’re the company receptionist??? Video cam? Really.)

My boss did stop in today to ask me how things were going (I haven’t actually physically seen him since my first day here).

When I asked him if I could work from home, he got a little uncomfortable and said, “Well, not yet – we really need you to be in the office full-time since you’re new – you gotta bond with the team and learn to collaborate with everyone.”

#WTF_WFH


Dear Tumblr Diary:

Today is my first WFH day. My boss finally relented after I promised, PROMISED, that I’d be online the entire time, collaborating for the full 8 hours with the other team members. images

While I can’t actually connect with anyone online to collaborate (they’re all in an “away” state and no one’s responding to email or What’sApp), I have to say that I’m loving this “WFH” thing. I’m still in my pajamas at 1 pm, haven’t showered, and can watch all the streamed Hulu and Netflix shows I want.

And I feel SOOOO much more productive this way. I mean, I don’t even have to change into real clothes.

Here’s the message I sent out to the team – I think it’s a good balance of “professional meets whimsical”

Dear truly awesome, hard-working rockstar teammates,

I will be working at home today where I plan to log my usual 14+ hours of concentrated work. I’ll also be cooking a full vegan turkey dinner while listening to Shakespeare on Pandora (haha! J/K about the dinner – it’s full vegan chicken!)

Please contact me in any one of the following ways:

Skype: WhizBangMobile_MyTeamSux
G+: BiteMe_WhizBangMobile_Team
AIM: Who uses AIM???
Email: SRogers@WhizBangMobile.com
Email 2: SRogers_Hates_WhizBangMobile@gmail.com
Email 3: WhizBangMobile_Sux@gmail.com
Twitter: @FakeWhizBangMobile_Sux
Mobile (text only, please): 415-555-1211

NOW I really feel like I’m part of the team here!

This is going to be such a great LinkedIn profile builder job for me!

#LoveMyJob_WFH_Rules