The first observation is how awful the air quality is. Holy cow. This report from Plume Labs (snapshot from the time when I took this above photo of the skyline) tells the story:
While the air quality has made it a bit difficult to get around (no views, but more importantly, you just start to feel sick after a while), something else here has made it tremendously easy to get around: the Octopus Card.
The Octopus Card is a reusable, contactless smart card used for payments throughout Hong Kong, which most importantly works for nearly all modes of transportation. Yesterday, I traveled by high-speed train, subway, streetcar, bus, tram and ferry, and used my Octopus Card to pay every time (it also works in some, but not all, taxis).
It is hard to overstate how much of a convenience this is, especially to a visitor to a foreign city. I traveled by seven different modes of public transportation yesterday, and had zero cognitive overhead trying to figure out tickets, rates, etc. It is really liberating and makes exploring a new city so easy and so much fun.
Similar systems exist in other cities (Oyster Card in London, UPass in Seoul). It really makes the city so much more accessible, both for residents and for tourists.
Experiencing infrastructure like this makes me realize how broken and unusable most of the US equivalents are. Imagine if you could pay for a train, subway, bike, and ferry in NYC using one system? It is a shame we can’t make investments like that work (by and large) — the closest is perhaps EZPass, which in the American tradition works for cars.
USV’s book club book for this month is Drug Dealer, MD, by Dr. Anna Lembke, Director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford Hospital – so we have spent a bunch of time recently talking about addiction. It is not a stretch to hypothesize that we, as a society, are at a moment of heightened addiction, generally… Read more »
Debt is a complicated subject. On the one hand, it is empowering — it lets you get a quick start on something, and lets you do things that would not be possible otherwise. There are times when it is useful, necessary, and unavoidable. I think about “debt” in the broadest possible terms: times when you… Read more »
For the past week or so, I have been experimenting with the Pixel Slate, Google’s new hybrid tablet/laptop. Here is me typing this blog post right now, on the train to NYC. For a longer, more technical analysis, this review from The Verge is good. The Pixel Slate is an odd machine, and I am still… Read more »
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I am not your lawyer. I have been in an uncountable number of conversations over the past few years discussing the question of what defines a “security” in the context of cryptocurrencies, cryptonetworks, and token offerings. Here is my current understanding, including a number of key questions I… Read more »
Our good friend Chris Burniske was on Squawk Box this morning. I got up and watched it. You can see the video here. Of course there is interest in the crypto market right now, as it is falling hard. I suspect there are many out there who are enjoying the drop, waiting for the bubble… Read more »
One of my favorite things to do is get my hands into something and figure out how it works, whether that’s an app, or a gadget, or a house. For example, over the past few months I have been renovating our basement, turning an unfinished, dank storage area into a playroom for the kids. Here… Read more »
With real-time, interconnected, self-executing systems, sometimes when things wrong, they go really wrong. I wrote about this general idea previously here. Yesterday, while I was writing my post on Trusted Brands, I was doing a little searching through my blog archives, so as to link back to all the posts categorized under “Trust”. In the… Read more »
Today is election day. I’m on a plane today, so I voted early, a few days ago. I cast my vote and it felt good. I marked my paper ballot with a marker (for optical scanning) glued it shut into a sealed envelope, and handed it to a volunteer who placed it in a secure… Read more »
The massacre in Pittsburgh is heartbreaking and awful, and another example of the extent to which society seems to be fraying. The Pittsburgh attacker spent a lot of time on social media sites that stoked his fear, isolation and anger. I think about the internet a lot, and while the internet has the ability to… Read more »
I wrote recently about the challenge of turning plans into routines. One of the activities that is the most impactful for me is meditation. I cannot say that I have a perfect meditation routine, but I can absolutely say that when I do do it, it makes me feel great, immediately. There are a bunch… Read more »
Just about two years ago, my wife’s parents were hit by a truck while crossing the street. The past two years have been both difficult and wonderful. Wonderful in that two people who were on the brink of death following the accident are still with us (her mother in particular has had a miraculous if… Read more »
Sunday night over dinner, my son, parents and I were discussing the saving / investing system we set up for our kids in the spring. The idea was/is: set a monthly budget for purchases (in their case, mostly online movies, tv shows and games), and include a really healthy interest rate (20% monthly) to encourage… Read more »
Dani and I have been spending a bunch of time recently thinking about the relationship between applications and infrastructure. It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg situation. You need infrastructure to build apps, but often times you don’t really know what kind of infrastructure is needed until you build some apps. For example, we… Read more »
One of the greatest things Frannie and I have in common is that we get the chills from music — typically at the exact same time, triggered by the same musical… something. For me it starts at the back of my neck, and if it’s really good, it spreads all over my back, head, and… Read more »
My favorite baseball player is Brock Holt, and has been since his first season with the Red Sox back in 2013. Here is me last month wearing my Holt jersey that I wear to every game (note the #26 that he started out with, before it was retired for Wade Boggs a few years ago… Read more »
I have been helping my son, who is in 4th grade, with his math — specifically, multiplication. He feels like he is a little bit behind, so we are working on it so he can get more comfortable. It is going well now — we have gotten into a routine of spending 15 minutes per… Read more »
Over the past few weeks, I have varied up my computing habits a bit. For a laptop, I have been using a Pixelbook, and I have also been spending more timing using an iPad Pro for work (vs my default of using a Mac laptop for everything). What I have discovered is that the form… Read more »
Back in May, I had what ended up being a major hand surgery — repairing a torn tendon and in the process reconstructing the end of my pinkie by grafting tendons borrowed from my ring finger. As a result, I am now recovering from two injuries — the pinkie itself and the ring finger that… Read more »
A central concept on the internet is Layering. Each of the protocols in the internet stack talks to the layer directly above and below it — new protocols can be added as long as they speak the language of their layer. Protocols at one layer can be upgraded so long as they don’t break compatibility… Read more »