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moving on

Funny:  I’m publishing this on December 18th, the same date I posted about the first few months of my new life in San Francisco.  I indeed made it to Laguna Seca and Infineon (now Sonoma Raceway);  CA-35 and CA-84 are still my second home.  The fact that Caltrain is still – still – diesel and not electric still bothers me.  The IKEA furniture I bought at the start of the decade is still with me.  I’m still in SoMa not far from Townsend Street.

I’m about to move on from the last part.  2020 will take me to a new address and it won’t be in San Francisco.

When Ashley wrote about her year in New York, I felt like ten years in San Francisco probably deserves some words. On the other hand, “Why I’m Leaving San Francisco” posts are already in vast oversupply. I don’t have anything unique to add there. Instead, I’m trying to think of this as “Not Why I’m Leaving San Francisco.” So, take a look.

It’s Not Money

I’m lucky that I get to choose to live pretty much wherever I want. I have no rent control, but I’m okay spending money to live in a place I like. My rent doubled since I moved here, but I am fortunate to have few obligations in my life – no kids being the operative one in this situation, but also no debt and no need to work in an office every day. Not everyone is so lucky, and I wish the city could be more affordable to the folks who have families to take care of or debts to pay, among other obligations, if they want to live here.

It’s Not The Streets

I don’t see any reason to re-hash what’s happening on the sidewalks. It’s a complete failure of politics at several levels. That’s maybe the only exception to the next topic:

It’s Not The Politics

I have long since learned that I can’t agree with everyone around me on everything. It’s hard because I naturally seek consensus. I hate to watch the city shoot itself in the foot at every available opportunity, but I also am at peace with the fact that I have done what I can.

okay so what is it then kiel

It’s The Scarcity – Real and Manufactured

I thought about saying “it’s the people.” Considering how many friends I’ve made here, I was shocked by this conclusion and eventually walked it back. The language here betrays the meaning: it’s _some_ of the people. Just as it only takes a small number of toxic people to bring down a team in sports, or at work, or in anything, it only takes a few truly repugnant folks to ruin a city.

I can’t find any one persona that sums it up, either, which is maybe why it’s so hard to deal with. The common thread is instead an attribute found – pretty randomly distributed, to my perception – across a plethora of San Francisco archetypes: scarcity.

And that attribute can be related back to each of the typical reasons folks are bailing out: money, the condition of the streets, the voraciousness and ultimate ineptitude of the politics. The way people act when the things they need are scarce is very different and very unpleasant.

All of that leads to a lot of selfishness. It’s sort of amazing that a place that prides itself on being the origin, and to some the ongoing home, of counterculture can manage to distill and concentrate the attribute that makes our nation, and perhaps mankind, a bit of a disappointment.

Competition can be sporting and make us all better. But when the winner takes all, competition can show that darkness is inside all of us. So, then, that seems to be what I’m after: a healthy balance of competition and cooperation that highlights the best in people.

I’m not sure where I’ll find that, but I’m going to start looking.

One More Thing

I would, in the light of all evidence that this place is less than moldable, encourage everyone to remember that Good Things Can Happen In Other Places too. There’s no reason, to my eyes, that requires all other cities to fail in order for San Francisco to succeed, and the same goes for the reverse.

San Francisco Will Be Fine

I know a lot of folks are leaving.  I don’t see that as a permanent problem.  This is not a cataclysm. Certainly, it feels like this iteration has peaked. Some dark clouds will move in. It will be probably get tough for a while. Summer has come and gone; winter is coming. But rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have rebuilt San Francisco, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.

What I Thank This City (well, its people) For

  • My first job out of college: Eventbrite. Ten years well-spent.
  • Caring about preserving great things
  • Showing me that there’s more than one right way to do just about everything
  • Letting me be your guest for a decade

It’s been a long time since I’ve wrote about Apple. I last wrote about the 1-year anniversary of the iPad; before that, I wrote some first thoughts on the iPhone 4. Lately everything I write seems to start with a history lesson, and this is no different.

My first iOS device was the first-generation iPod touch, followed shortly by an iPhone on loan from my employer of the time. My first personal iPhone was the 3G, followed by the nearly-perfect-in-my-eyes 3GS, the stunning display of the 4, a curiosity for speech in the 4S, and a now mildly larger screen for the 5. I skipped the 5S – since the 4, I’ve always purchased the largest storage option, and it was starting to get a little out of hand financially. I’ve also not been a huge fan of AT&T lately, so signing another two-year agreement was not appealing. Since then I’ve also been using a Moto G on occasion: its 4.5″ display is almost exactly the right size for my hands.

To my eyes, new models have always been obviously better than their predecessors in every way… until now.

For the first time, I’m not utterly thrilled with the physical form of the device. It is absolutely beautiful to look at, the hardware is fast, the display is gorgeous, the camera is amazing, and the build quality is nearly perfection. I’m very excited about Apple Pay. This is my first device with Touch ID and it works great. But I can’t get over the implications the 4.7″ display has on how I use my device.

The moment I saw Reachability, my heart sank. It’s a great implementation of the idea, and it works as well as you can possibly expect, but merely having to do it on any regular basis has been frustrating.

This is compounded by how difficult it is for my hands to hold a wider device securely. I developed a habit of supporting the phone from the bottom with my pinky when I got the iPhone 5, and that helps a lot, but it’s psychologically taxing to have the center of mass be so far from the center of your grip.

iPhone 4 moment: maybe I’m just holding it wrong?

The competition in the mobile phone market has been immensely beneficial to consumers. The hardware of my Moto G is better than just about any phone built five years ago at a fraction of the price. We’re at a point where we are out of the revolution and into refinement. Small details begin to matter immensely. Apple excels at this: all the details of this phone are amazing.

Because of those details, I think everyone who worked on this phone did a fantastic job. The real question is whether they were building the right thing to begin with. This phone is a huge bet that Reachability will work well for everyone. My first impressions are that it won’t be a seamless transition, but I’m not going to give up on it after just a day.

It’s worth recognizing that I am a pretty middle-of-the-road sized human. People with larger hands might find this device natural. People with smaller hands – and there are many of them, particularly with XX chromosomes – might be even more put-off by this than I am, and anecdotally, they are and want to stick to an iPhone 5 sized device. It’s a shame there is no updated iPhone for them this year: I think the bottom line here is that next year, we need a 4″ display version of current hardware for those folks.

Postscript 1

I spent some time using the iPhone 6 Plus yesterday. It was about as enormous as expected and I couldn’t stand it. That’s fine: if people want that, and clearly they do, let them have it. It’s not for me and that’s not a problem.

Postscript 2

Reactions from the office yesterday on the 6 Plus were fascinating: every iOS developer said some variation of “what the hell is that?”; every Android developer loved it. Mesh this with the Apple marketing slides on the growth of large-screen devices and the growth of Android as a platform in the last few years: it paints a very compelling economic picture for the 6 Plus.

Postscript 3

Ultimate first-world problem: upgrade fatigue. This is the eighth iPhone announcement. It feels a bit like the scene from Apollo 13: there’s nothing routine about flying to the moon. We live in an age of unprecedented technological progress that is more accessible than ever. It’s sad how quickly we can forget about that in the cacophony of launch day.