Tag Archives: san francisco

Startup Sleepbus Offers Comfortable, Affordable Overnight Rides From L.A. to San Francisco

Sleepbus LogoI live on California’s Central Coast, just about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. You’d think being in a location like this would make it easy to get to either of these urban centers. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. The process is somewhat manageable by car, but that’s not always an option. There’s a local bus service that does limited shuttle service to L.A. Institutions like Greyhound and Amtrak are available but they can be costly and slow. Many solutions have been proposed to try and make transiting across California easier, with the most recent being a bullet-train style rail system that may never see the light of day. Fortunately, there is a new startup taking this challenge head on.

Sleepbus is a new company that carries passengers between San Francisco and L.A. Sleepbus gets its name from the overnight timeframe the bus operates. The Sleepbus coach comes with sleeping berths for passengers, as well as onboard Wi-Fi, snacks, and assorted beverages. A Sleepbus ticket currently costs $48 but is expected to go up to $65 in the near future.

Sleebus is such a smart idea, it almost seems like a no-brainer. Make it affordable and convenient to travel between two of the Golden State’s biggest cities. Hopefully, Sleepbus will be a great success and add a stop or two between L.A. and San Francisco. Even tho I’d only need to ride for half of a typical Sleepbus trip, I’d gladly pay the full fair for such an easy way to travel.

Travel thru San Francisco History with OldSF’s Interactive Map

OldSFBay Area historical website OldSF has created an interactive map that makes it easier to see what certain parts of the city looked like, going all the way back to 1850. Just load the map and click on any black circle/section to see a list of photos for that location. A slider located in the upper right-hand section of the site allows you to refine the list of viewable photos. You can look at just photos from a certain year or you can select a range of different years.

Some tech sites have compared the OldSF interactive map to Google Street View. And while there are some similarities, OldSF doesn’t provide the same type of block-by-block, frame-by-frame coverage as Street View. Still, it is an easy way to look at how certain parts of San Francisco have changed over the years.

Images used by OldSF came from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection. It’s good to see a modern use for this vintage media. The Bay Area is known for its fostering of new technology. Most of the area’s resources are focused on developing “the next big thing.” But projects like OldSF show that there is still some appreciation for where the city has been, not just where it’s going.

San Francisco’s Alamo Square Declared “No-Tech” Zone?

Alamo Square signSan Francisco is often described as an “interesting” place. For decades, it was home to hippies, beatniks, and other counter-culture holdouts. In more recent times, the City By The Bay has seen an influx of tech-industry workers, causing the city to gentrify at a rapid pace.

It’s hard to say if a recent set of “No-Tech” signs around San Francisco’s Alamo Square were posted by merry pranksters, social commentators, or just some people who’d like everyone to stop looking at their iPhones for a minute. Earlier this week, these signs that depict a tablet/smartphone surrounded by a familiar circle-slash popped up around Alamo Park. The signs command, “No cell phones, tablets, laptops or smart devices are permitted,” and warn that violating this edict could result in a $300 fine. They’re very official looking but the signs weren’t placed there by the city.

So far, no one has come forward to claim ownership of the signs. And despite their rather sturdy-looking installations, the signs have already been taken down.

Original image by Andy Melton on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

Test Driving a Tesla



Imagine if the government had bailed out the horse-drawn carriage business in 1910. How much longer would it have been before the personal transportation industry advanced to the point that everyone could have an automobile? Perhaps the government shouldn’t have bailed out conventional gasoline-powered cars. Maybe it’s time to let the evolution of the automobile take another step forward. Telsa is leading the way for this new horizon and if you ever get a chance to drive one, you’ll quickly learn that you’ll never want to drive a gas vehicle again.

During a recent trip to San Francisco, I spent a day with some friends who were shopping for a new car. We went to dealer after dealer, studying prices and shapes and colors and of course gas mileage. We saw some pretty nice cars. And of course they wanted something affordable and reasonable, but not hideous or unsafe. At the end of the day they went home and I stopped at ONE more place – the Tesla dealership in Burlingame.  I asked to take a test drive and the friendly staff set me up in the Tesla Model S P85, which is the top of the three-car line-up in the Telsa fleet.

First of all, I’m not really a car guy. But that doesn’t matter. There were so many moments while driving this thing, where I found myself saying, “This is just so cool.”

The company is owned by Elon Musk, who also owns Space X, and this makes perfect sense when you climb aboard this space rocket of a car. As the salesman approached the car, it started automatically, sensing the key in his pocket. The door handles which were flush against the door, popped out and I couldn’t help but feel like they really wanted to make something efficient and powerful but, as I mentioned, really cool too.

The first thing I noticed when I sat down in the cockpit of this future car, was the massive 17” touch screen in the middle console. This is your control panel for music, navigation, internet, backup camera and phone.  No more dinking around with your tiny smart phone for that Pandora app, or Google map, this beast of a monitor makes access to these things extremely simple. One of the most important features the computer brings up, are all the Tesla Supercharger stations across the country and even the world. It shows how many are currently in existence but also how many are scheduled to be in place in the next year – which is considerably a lot more. Charging is free at any Tesla shop, and they’re currently spaced out appropriately across the US, so in theory, you could drive across the country for free. The car can also be charged at other non-Tesla chargers but a fee may be required.

After a quick lesson in where all the knobs and buttons were and a demo of the control panel screen, we were off. This car has power. Lots of power. A little acceleration goes a long way, and when you want to slow down (which ideally, you don’t) just letting up on the pedal slows the car down to a point where you may not even need to use the brake. This regenerative braking system is by design to save power. The amount the car slows down when not accelerating, can be adjusted via the control panel as per the driver’s preference.  The P85 is stocked with an 85 kWh battery giving it a range of 265 miles per charge. The 85 has the same battery while the base model 60 has a 60 kWh battery giving it a range of 208 miles per charge.

One of the next things I noticed was how smooth it was, but also how SILENT it was. Even when I was encouraged to give it a little more acceleration, there was no sound. The P85 can do 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds. I’m not sure I got it to that on the side roads but it made merging into traffic on the freeway, feel just fantastic. I was told the test car is limited to a mere 80 mph cap but if I had my own, I could get it to 130 mph. In Bay Area traffic, good luck getting anywhere at those speeds. But speaking of traffic – which tends to be a lot of stop and go – the Tesla will give your ankle a break from going back and forth on pedals, thanks to the regenerative braking.

During the drive we hit a rather bumpy road. I immediately noticed that this was no problem at all for the car, and this is due to its Smart Air Suspension. The system automatically adjusts and levels itself out as needed. This system can also be accessed through the control panel to raise or lower the rest of the vehicle if needed for an incline, snow driving or loading/unloading.

The tech of the Tesla S is state-of-the art. And the price tag reflects that. You’re looking at somewhere around $70k for this baby, but it IS a luxury vehicle. A very, very cool luxury vehicle. But if you feel like getting one, all you have to do is head over to teslamotors.com and build yourself a custom car. There is currently somewhere around a three-month wait on the S.

I found myself wanting to drive fast but was also conflicted as I didn’t want to be done with it too quickly either. After driving this car, I really felt like I was getting into a horse-drawn carriage when I finally had to return to my boring old gasoline car. Maybe it’s time to let those “analog” cars die and embrace the future of electric vehicles. If the future is Tesla, you’re going to love it.

Taskrabbit Gives You An Extra Set of Hands to Help

Taskrabbit will run errands if you need it

While I was in San Francisco a few weeks back, I learned about Taskrabbit. It’s a great way to get the help you need for certain projects. My friend, Adria was using this service to get shirts wrapped so she could hand them out at an event.

What is TaskRabbit

I talked with Jamie Viggiano, head of corporate Marketing for TaskRabbit – where I learned how the company came to be.

Task Rabbit was founded 2008 in Boston. Lea Buske – our founder and CEO – ran out of dog food one night for her hundred pound yellow lab. If you know Boston, it was cold, it was snowy in February. She needed to get dog food and she was actually on her way to dinner. She thought to herself, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place online where you can go, say you need dog food – she was sure there was someone in her local area (maybe even at the store at that moment) that could help her out. That’s when the concept started.

At TaskRabbit, you can outsource anything. From picking up items in the store to running your company (OK, an exaggerated stretch – but you could do it). Simply go to the site and enter the task you wanted to have accomplished. Set the price and wait for a rabbit to be assigned. When they complete the task you sign off on the work and they get paid.

About the TaskRabbits

Who Are Taskrabbits
Who Are Taskrabbits

Taskrabbits are people who have some extra time on their hands. Rabbits have to go through an employment application process to be hired. When you get accepted and complete the training program, you start doing tasks. When you are ranked on Taskrabbit, you get ranked on the Leaderboard. With this process you know your rabbit will work hard for you.

You Might Not Need to Be in a Taskrabbit Location to Get Certain Tasks Done

TaskRabbit is currently only in Boston, San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and New York City. However if you have a task that is not dependent on the city, you can use the service.

I have run a couple tasks already posting to websites. I had my rabbit do a specific article for four weeks – which she did without lots of direction. It was great to actually have some help when you need it.

So if you need to have someone run an errand, clean your house, write a blog post, make food, help with a party or whatever – Check out Taskrabbit for help!

Google Maps Goes into Malls, Airports

Google Maps before and after
Google Maps before and after

Google Maps announced the other day they will be extending their mapping service indoors. No, the Google street view cars are not going to be driving into your house, but they will be bringing their services into Malls and Airports, so you can get door-to-true end mapping.

According to the Google Blog, the new leg of this mapping service will bring that familiar “Blue Dot” (to indicate where you are) indoors to public spots. That way if you are in terminal G5 at Chicago – O’Hare, and need to get to terminal A15, you can map your destination and make sure you are going in the right direction.

“We’re thrilled Google Maps continues to provide you with new and helpful perspectives—whether you’re rushing through the airport or finding your way around a mall. ” says Brian McClendon – VP of engineering for Google Maps.

Google has partnered with Malls: Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, Daimaru, Takashimaya and Mitsukoshi locations. Mapped airports at this time include: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Narita International (NRT), among others. As time progresses, they will continue to map stores and other public locations.

Read the release here.