Long weekend in Portland

Wednesday night: Delta non-stop flight from JFK to PDX. Michelle got a bulkhead seat, and I an exit row, so she traded the guy sitting next to me.

Thursday: few calls in the morning, purchased new running shoes, hour swim at The MAC, delicious lunch at Paragon in the Pearl, haircut with Brenda, drive to Eugene, and dinner at Pizza Research Institute with Shane, Hugh, and Michelle (both the chef’s special and the pear and pesto one were superb).

Friday: Breakfast at the Glenwood, drive back to Portland, afternoon nap, Prosperity Park out and back run with mom, and family picnic dinner in the park.

Saturday: 30 minute swim at The MAC, walking in Forest Park with Andrew, lunch and a Digital Journalism Portland sesh, hanging out downtown with Michelle and her sister, and a wonderful salmon dinner at home.

Relaxing weekend was just what I needed. Next trip I’m bringing my nice camera.

Where I’ve been: NYC, PDX, and EUG

Heatmap visualization of where I’ve been in three cities I most commonly visit, based on 1030 check-ins on Foursquare and a neat tool called Where Do You Go found via Zach Seward.

New York



Pretty neat. The hotspots in each city are most commonly where I live and work. Unlike Zach, I check-in copiously, even at private residences, as a way of logging where I’ve been. The most unexpected insight from building these heatmaps is the sheer distance between Portland-area check-ins. It makes sense, but also is surprising compared to the other two cities.

Virtual rummage sale

I’m moving to Brooklyn at the end of the month, more on that later, and need to unload the bulky household items I’ve accumulated over the past few years. These include:

If you know of anyone looking for home furniture in very good condition, I’d be willing to make a deal.

One thing I’ve observed: the market is absolutely flooded with second-hand furniture right now. I imagine this happens every June. I also know that it was nearly impossible to find the things I needed when I moved down here last August or September. This smells like a market opportunity to me.

The idea that came to mind immediately was a centralized solution: the enterprising entrepreneur would rent an empty house or storage unit, pick up all of the furniture on the market at depressed prices, store it for a couple of months, and then resell when the demand picks up again. I’d imagine that most items listed on Craigslist or on display at garage sales in June are discounted at least 50%, if not more. The biggest issue with this model, although, is that there are serious costs associated with moving the furniture twice, first to storage and then to the buyer’s home, that might well cancel out any margins.

There’s got to be a cleverer solution.

Nature’s bounty

Creativity tip: if you have a hankering for a massive salad, but don’t know what to put on it, go to the salad bar and make a list of everything available. Then, go to the veggie section of the grocery store, and buy everything on that list and then some. With luck, you should end up with a delicious mix of beets, baby corn, carrots, cucumber, chard, olives, peas, avocado, potatoes, and tofu.

Covering Science and Technology: So you want to be a tech writer?

David Wolman and Marshall Kirkpatrick (@marshallk) led the conversation for the last panel this afternoon.

Informational interviews are a key part of finding stories, David says. He consumes a lot of coffee, talks with people about what they’re working on, and then also asks about what else they’re working on. That secondary information can lead to interesting pieces down the road.

Marshall has a detailed workflow for tracking down stories in the tech sector. He’s been working for ReadWriteWeb for the last year and a half, and is responsible for two to three posts a day. Most of the time, stories are “interrupt-driven” or dependent on the news of the day. The whole staff logs into a single Fever account to share RSS reading responsibilities.

One source of feeds is pretty ingenious. A research assistant dug up people who first linked popular web services such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. on Delicious. He did so for a number of startups over the last couple of years and put all of that information on a spreadsheet. Based on this aggregate information, he was able to identify 15 or so people who regularly link upcoming web services before anyone else. Subscribing to these Delicious accounts has multiple stories a week about hot new startups.

Most of the ReadWriteWeb writers use Tweetdeck for Twitter. Marshall has the 4,000+ people he’s following organized into different categories, including NY Times, analysts, augmented reality, etc. The team has a Skype chat they keep open 24 hours for coordinating on stories. They use hashtags within the conversation to enable people to find information of a specific type (i.e. which stories need editing with #edit).

For tracking reactions to pieces he’s written, Marshall searches for conversations based on a specific URL with Friendfeed, based on the ReadWriteWeb domain in Digg, and recently favorited tweets.

Libby Tucker notes that the differences between David and Marshall’s reporting styles. David flies to Urbana, Illinois to interview a scientist, whereas Marshall notes that if he has to put his pants on, it’s a big day.