Saturday Grab Bag: A Product & Services Edition

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Besides the Red Sox clinching a playoff berth, what’s going on? Too much. I’m so behind on posting that I don’t quite know where to begin. I’ll have thoughts on Salesforce.com’s conference – which was even more interesting than I’d anticipated – along with a couple of other subjects hopefully Monday/Tuesday.

My glacial posting schedule of late mostly comes down to one thing: travel. Often the bane of my existence, I’ve been on the road every week in September, will be the last week, and October looks just as miserable. Well, miserable’s probably not the right word as I get to see cool people and attend interesting events, but you know what I mean. Plane time isn’t fun time, and the less that’s said about airport time the better.

Anyhow, the usual random grab bag items that don’t deserve entries of their own – this time with a special focus on products/services.


If you’re not using BART to get to and from SFO, I’d ask why? Couldn’t be any easier, particularly if you’re flying JetBlue as they operate out of the International Terminal as does BART. The only time I use cabs any longer is for late night arrivals.

Cingular Wireless Broadband

Alex is right – it was stupid of me not to have done this a long time ago. Not having to rely on expensive, unreliable hotel and airport wireless has been a godsend.


This is hilarious. I hope you all clicked on the ad multiple times to run up Gartner’s AdWords bill šŸ˜‰

Patagonia MLC

Another decision I should have made a while back. This is far easier to pack than my last few roller bags, and with the backpack straps it’s far easier to truck around a city or an airport. The arguments for the bag apparently worked for Gordon as well, because he’s picking one up.

Songbird iPod Plugin

While Apple is doing its best to discourage me from buying another iPod, I finally made the cut over to using my iPod on Linux. Linux (first Gentoo, more recently Ubuntu) has been my primary desktop for over three years now, but I’ve always kept a Windows machine around to load and manage my iPod. But after tiring of maintaining two separate sets of playlists and so on, I finally cut over and am fully native with my iPod Video on Linux. Rather than GTKPod or something similar, I use Songbird plus Windjay’s iPod Extension. The only downside so far is speed; the initial load brough my admittedly underpowered laptop to its knees, and syncs still tend to slow things down for 30 seconds or so. But not having to keep a vestigial copy of Windows around just for iTunes any longer is wonderful.


Just thought it was worth mentioning that two weeks or so ago Az knocked half of a Champagne of Beers onto my X40, which immediately shut itself off. Fearing the worst, I tilted it such that the beer poured out and put a fan on it for several hours. The net result? It’s worked just fine since. Cheers to Thinkpad – literally – for making hardy machines.

Speaking of the Thinkpad, I might also point out that Ubuntu Gutsy runs this machine perfectly. Everything – and I mean everything – works more or less flawlessly. Suspend/resume, bluetooth, wifi – everything.


Until Forrester’s Frank Gillette mentioned this at a VMWorld dinner a couple of weeks ago, I’d never really heard of the service before. But like Cingular, I should have done this before.

Basically, Zipcar has a wide variety of cars available in select cities (Boston and San Francisco, to name two) that you reserve online and rent hourly. Costs are $75 for a business membership and cars run the gamut from $8/hr (Volvo S40) to $13/hr (BMW 325).

It’s not economical if, as an example, you need to travel up and down the valley for a couple of days. But if you’ll be spending the bulk of your time in one of the cities you cover, and need to make day trips it’s far cheaper and less hassle, because you only pay for the time you actually use the car and you don’t have to worry about finding and paying for a lot to park in while you stay in the city.

The technology is also pretty interesting. To get a car, you visit the website, see what they have available near you, pick the specific car you want, and schedule a time to reserve it. When you need it, you show up at the designated lot, wave your Zipcard at a sensor to unlock the vehicle, and drive away. No fuss, no talking to people, no signing anything.

Gas and insurance is covered in your hourly cost as well. So far, I’m a big fan. I wouldn’t give up my car for the service – mostly because I love it, but I think it makes a ton of sense as a second car for couples in cities or for business travelers that will be primarily working out of one of the coverage areas.


  1. ThinkPads are pretty hardy against water spills, and the ?60 line is even more so as there are drainage points under the keyboard so that water will run through and out the bottom.

    A few months ago I managed to knock a glass of Turbo Pimms (Pimms, lemonade, vodka) over a X40. It turned off straight away but was working again, although with sticky keys, within two hours.

  2. The problem with BART is that at many stations (particularly in the evenings) there is no reliable taxi service, so unless you’re within walking distance from the station, you’ve got to cross your fingers and pray that you’ll get a taxi (or have someone pick you up.)

    Zipcar, on the other hand, is full of awesome if you live in or work in a coverage area.

  3. Ross: indeed. i’d heard tales of various beverages spilled on laptops, but this is my first first-hand experience of the quality. hope to avoid it in future, but grateful for it now.

    Luis: you can always get out at New Montgomery, though, and grab one at the Palace Hotel right there.

  4. So then I can bring my x61s to the breweries when I’m in Portland next week. Surf ‘n suds. Gotta get Gutsy.

  5. […] thanked them for a great summer of baseball. After spending so much time in San Francisco, I began using Zipcar. Late in the season, I caught a game at Fenway: Sox vs Oakland. Lastly, I proposed that Sun enter […]

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