New York and some friends

I really love the big apple. There is a great feeling you get when visiting the city. The architecture, the infrastructure, the people, the places, the nightlife, and the attractions – there isn’t one single thing that stands out among everything else – I suppose because everything is competing for attention as it is.

In new York, one of my favorite things to do it to bike around Central Park. There are countless bike rental places in the outer vicinity of Central park, in many cases, they will come to find you (carrying big signs and soliciting bike rentals indiscriminately). I should mention that I really love to bike – I’m pretty extreme in that often in the summer months I will bike 100+ km per week and sometimes over 100km on a weekend. So biking circles around the perimeter of central park is an experience I really cherish. Throughout central park there are various water fountains which are helpful for hot days of biking laps around the park. Be careful with biking using the standard rented equipment as not all bikes are routinely checked and service – you may find your tire lose air or a problem with the gear shifting.

Of course so many people in New York travel by taxi and the underground (they refer to it locally as the “train”). However, you will enjoy walking most places (if you are fit) and taking in the atmosphere consisting of diverse people, architecture, and commerce. Only take a taxi or train if you are dressed for business and on a timeline. Otherwise, if you are just visiting for fun (and fit), walking wherever you need to go is very enjoyable.

Times square has a great feel to it – however, the excitement and magic is enhanced much more when you visit the area at night. Seeing the lights and interacting with people who are just having a good time feels great is an excellent way to experience New York. There is also so much packed into the times square area. If you have some time, check out the information center to see what things you can do. I took in a comedy show at Carolines once on a night where there were very few people in attendance. In contrast to what you’d expect, a comedy club with few in attendance is a very enjoyable experience. It almost felt like sitting at a table with friends and building excellent jokes off of each other. I would say that it was probably one of my most favorite comedy club experiences of all time. I highly recommend you try to attend a similar event.

The train (subway) system is very extensive in NYC. You can get anywhere very quickly and it can be more comfortable and even faster in some cases than a taxi. If you are fit and love to walk, the train system can be more enjoyable overall.

There is a PATH train system which connects NYC with neighbouring cities. Visiting Hoboken or other locations in Long Island are great ways to experience the rest of the NY area. Hoboken has a lot of touristy areas too and has a pleasant area near the waterfront just north of the train station. Newark is quite far from NYC by train. Newark does have many nice restaurants in the downtown area and it is a pleasant place to visit for business. Going the other direction, further into long island, presents a different atmosphere of communities which are growing in different ways. In the Brentwood area, there was a very well done redevelopment of a commercial center which created a very pleasant feel. While there are fewer attractions further out in Long Island, you will be inspired by experiencing the work ethic of New York outside of the city proper and seeing how things are done a little bit differently.

Escaping from the NYC area, the smaller towns outside of the region also have a nice charm and appeal to them. I visited a friend who lives in Old Bridge NJ. Old Bridge is a far distance away from NYC, and it feels very much like a suburb. Transportation out this far without a car can be troublesome.

Lastly, there is a common stereotype about rude and pushy New Yorkers – while I can’t say that it’s not true, I can say, that so many people in New York are very kind, courteous and polite people. In fact, many are so kind and helpful, that I would like to debunk the aforementioned myth. I’m convinced that most of the rudeness and pushiness comes from tourists who are so eager to take in all that NYC has to offer that they forget their manners. (And its difficult to tell the tourists from the residents sometimes – unless you listen to them speak)

Here’s one to New York City – one of my most favorite urban centers.

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Peachy in Atlanta

Atlanta is a very appealing place to visit. I had the pleasure of staying in the Dunwoody area of Atlanta (near Perimeter Summit). This area is very well maintained and the landscaping is fantastic. Leisure walking along the undulating terrain is very pleasurable and can be an excellent work-out if you are up for a jog.

The concentration of business parks, nature areas and consumer stores are done in a way that is uncommon elsewhere. Nature is allowed to flow through the area and it seems that much care has been taken to preserve a lot of the original feel of the area before the development came in.

The culture in Atlanta is very charming and this appeal combined with their love of driving creates a unique atmosphere – and make visiting Atlanta a required stop in one’s life-journey.

Be sure to check out the Coke store in Atlanta and don’t mention the “P” word when ordering a drink – it’s definitely called “Coke” there.

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A Persian Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay is an excellent semi-remote city in Ontario. Although many people have mentioned the great outdoors experience in the surrounding area, I haven’t experienced it. I do know that the temperature can drop very low in Thunder Bay. I had the experience of -40 deg. C! Stepping out of the airport felt like walking into a deep freezer.

The city exhibits the norther Canadian city feel. (Difficult to describe, so you really need to experience it first hand). Indoor malls are common as the city gets quite a lot of very cold weather in the winter time.

A popular type of pastry is “the Persian” which is like a flat cinnamon bun with pink icing on it. I understand that The Persian originated in Thunder Bay – and many people tell me that you HAVE to eat a Persian in Thunder Bay. (Add it to your bucket list if you are keeping one!)

I would absolutely love to return to Thunder Bay and especially to explore the surrounding vast tracts of nature.

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Edmonton and a Mall

Edmonton is a city I’ve had the pleasure to visit multiple times. Unlike the characteristics of Calgary (cowboy, BBQ and steak), Edmonton exhibits more of a large northern Canadian city feel (think indoor malls and Canadian consumer culture). An interesting stop for me was at the West Edmonton Mall.

The West Edmonton Mall is very large and ranks among the worlds largest. Aside from a lot of stores, there is also a hockey rink, and waterpark. I’ve heard of a submarine too, but I didn’t seek it out when I was there. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and all the hustle and bustle in the large mall. Even surrounding the mall is an ecosystem of other stores and business catering to those coming and going to the mall.

A nice touch is the musical acts performing at the Edmonton Airport. I’m not sure if the live piano or small bands are regular or permanent fixtures in the airport. However, the live music certainly makes the wait at the airport more enjoyable.

I really look forward to returning to Edmonton in the future. There is so much more to experience there and just a few weeks wasn’t enough for me to really do it all.

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A Calgarian Stampede

I like Calgary – it has many of the qualities of a major city, but something is different. The city is situated on the flat prairie lands but to the west the Rock Mountains are visible. With the Bow and Elbow rivers, the environment comes together to give a unique appeal even within the city’s core. Of Particular interest in downtown Calgary is the pedestrian focused “Stephen Avenue” – it has an appeal similar to that of “Sparks Street” in Ottawa.

When arriving in Calgary, I did see many people with Cowboy Hats in the airport. But even more interesting was the decorations with historical basis in the settling of the prairies – including both references for native populations/settlements and those of european settlers and cowboys. The results is a hint of the wild-west and Canadian culture.

The downtown area of Calgary is a pleasant walkable zone with fascinating architecture and very a enjoyable riverfront walk. Office buildings downtown are named for some of the major industries in Calgary namely oil industry, banking and telecommunications.

The city overall is well situated and feels well designed. I do look forward to returning. (especially in warm weather!)

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Second day in The Second City

I’d like to point out that Chicago “The Second City” has not been been windy at all – I’m told that it’s really only windy in the winter time. These first two conference days, my wake-up call included a brief overview of the weather. Each time it called for Thundershowers, yet there was no rain on either day save for a brief 1 hour downpour late last night.Good food from a local Chicago Deli

The conference really started to gear up on Tuesday. The booths opened, and it seemed that more people arrived. I again had breakfast at a local deli and then walked to the first session by Troy Augustine President & CEO of iNet Interactive. The future of hosted services survey Presentation by Troy was very informative and interesting. Of particular note was the growing consumer demand for hosted social networking applications. This is particularly interesting to phpFoX as we provide a way to help hosting companies support the software and reach out to those who want to differentiate, improve revenue per customer, and standardize on an integration that does not cause extra support or maintenance load. Troy also summed up the market well from the the perspective of service providers and the need gaps between providers and consumers is particularly interesting. I have signed up to receive more detailed information about the survey which I hope to digest further.

I met up with Nicole Hutzul from WebVisible and we spoke about integration opportunities with their service. I can see a great fit with new phpFoX sites who want to jump-start their member base and grow their communities rapidly from the onset. Nicole was very warm and friendly and I look forward to doing further business with WebVisible.A view from the grandballroom at the Navy Pier

(caution, the following paragraph is very long and could be very boring if I did not meet you and talk to you today. If I did meet you and you are not listed, it’s just a time constraint and is totally random)
Once the booths opened, I made great progress in meeting new people and reaching out to new contacts. In all, I have a huge stack of business cards some of whom, I’ll mention here (remember something we talked about): Kelly Kleiner of iNet Interactive, along with Troy Augustine, we talked about some new changes with iNet Interactive as well as doing some new business with phpFoX. Kelly will connect me with Eric Gilley to work on some business development. I spoke briefly with Juliet Morris from enom regarding some fits with phpFoX and Pluck. I look forward to working with enom & Pluck. I met a fellow Canadian Christopher Niedojadli of Carat Networks and was fortunate to also meet Christopher that evening at the W hotel’s Wave lounge. I hope to meet Christopher again. Dave Parish from Hivelocity stood a solid few feet taller than me, had suggested the strategic parters program with regards to a phpFoX integration. Dave or an associate had heard of phpFoX before and I look forward to working with them in the future. Tom from soholaunch has a well refined product pitch and description. I can tell that he has spent much time using and talking about his product. I hope to attend one of his product webinars and build a great integration with their product. Richard Jones, a fellow Canadian from Tophosts.com with which I look forward to doing business with. I had a nice friendly chat with Sam Fleitman and others from Softlayer and look forward speaking with them in more in the future. Hostoptia’s Donald Bishop will be connecting me with Brookes and I see great potential with a phpFoX fit – Donald was very receptive to this potential arrangement and I look forwards to working out the details with Brookes. MarcBollinger of 10TB.com was quite generous in giving away a shirt, usb drive and a beer that their booth. Marc really knows his stuff well and I look forward to making great business with him after the conference. I spoke with Dan Garon of AIHSP and Press Advance about their new Association internet and hosting service providers. I like the concept and look forward to following up with Dan on the progress. Daniel Dent of OmegaSphere and Mailchannels gave me a Nerf toy gun for filling out a survey. I will definitely need to visit Mailchannels if I’m in the Vancouver area in the future.
The Grand ball room Navy Pier
There is still a stack of cards left, but I would be here all day if I tried to list them all and recount the details.

The Luncheon today was a chicken and fish buffet with some good dessets. (I usually don’t eat dessert, but this one was good) I sat down with Charles Bird and Tony Valenti of PowerDNN and we chatted at length about various hosting related topics, Omaha weather, and where we see ourselves in 5 years. I also saw Charles again throughout the day as well as at the W later that night. I look forward to keeping in touch with Charles and Tony.

I met with marketing expert Amy Armitage of Lunarpages after lunch and was glad to have done so. I look forward to chatting with Amy in the future.

I attended an interesting conference session from AWS regarding Amazon’s S3 could service. It’s an interesting platform and has potential to be very useful for a large number of resource intensive operations.

The final session of the day was a marketing talk with panelists from the Search engine Optimization and Marketing industry. My good friend Hamlet Batista showcased his Ranksense software. One of the other panelists, Guillaume Bouchard of Interactive Strategy began speaking French and I felt like I was the only one in the room who understood. I may have been the lone audience participant of his initial joke in French.
Mark Rogers of Microsoft
I had dinner at Riva on the Navy pier with Hamlet, and later that night went to the W hotel for a HostingCon themed party. I met up with the gentlemen from UbiquityHosting and had great time. We later ordered some authentic Chicago style pizza. Great experience! Thanks for the good times!

My stomach is currently rumbling so I must run and get something to eat. I hope to expand further on this day’s activities in great detail at a later time.

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I’m settling down after a long pleasant day in Chicago. While I visited the Sears tower yesterday, today I spent much time at the Navy Pier for HostingCon.

Chicago DeliThis morning I had a healthy meal at a local Chicago deli and then walked a few blocks to the Navy Pier. Walking the length of the Navy Pier itself is a solid 10 to 15 minute walk. If I had more time I would certainly check out the attractions or even bring the family for a vacation.

After getting my badge and swag from the registration desk, I attended the “Marketing Round Table” moderated by Brett Tabke. The information was nothing new to me but, I found the insightful angles from the panelists (all respected professionals in their field) to be of notable value. I joked with Michael Muise of Rconnection (of Register.com) about the uptime track record for twitter, before running to my next destination.

I met with Rob Ninow and Chris Finken from OrangeSoda to discuss some business development topics and get warmed up to the conference itself. Who knows, maybe soon phpFoX will be a suggested offering in the OrangeSoda promotion package? ;)

I arrived late to the next session titled “How to Measure Recurring Revenue and Increase Profits by Design”. While I did not gather as much useful information as I had hoped, I think the e-onlinedata Dashboard platform has a solid potential to be an important piece of software for any business decision maker. I hope to talk directly with the speaker Marci Gagnon more in the future.

For the Conference Luncheon, I randomly met up with Rodney Giles from Eleven2 as well as a cadre of similarly minded individuals with which we talked about some challenges facing webhosts as well as various solutions and opportunities in the space. Rodney, as it turns out was on my train in from Midway Airport. I hope to talk with Rodney & friends more throughout the conference.

Mike walks through the secure zoneAfter lunch Corey and Mike from Ubiquity Hosting, brought me to their new state of the art Oak Brook IL data center. Biometrics, shiny surfaces and decorative lights really gave the center a clean, polished and futuristic appeal. I will be spending some more time with Corey and Mike this week.

The Conference networking reception was a relaxed atmosphere and very friendly all around. I met with some conference goers to talk about various web hosting related items: Richard Powell from Hostpond, Ryan M. Gyure from Fusionxhost, Martin J. Horan from ftpToday, Chris Merriman, Maha Kashani of GramTel, Rob Moore of Demo Wolf, Someone from GoDaddy’s security team, Ed Baker and Troy Augustine of iNet Interactive. (Not to mention several others which I did not record their names nor exchange cards – whom I have remembered their faces and I will see them tomorrow at their booths – I do hope the two jet lagged gentlemen from Ireland get some solid sleep for tomorrow!)

Chicago in the late afternoonI’m very happy with the conference thus far. I look forward to touring the booths tomorrow, meeting more contacts and making new acquaintances.

edit: fixed the glorious spelling error in the post title!

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Going to the Windy City

Chicago at night
I’m looking forward to meeting several contacts in Chicago. Plane leaves in about 2 hours and Melissa has me fully packed and ready in record time (as usual). If anyone wants to get in touch in Chicago, please call me at 519-496-7873 (leave a message) or email me. I look forward to an exciting time with all my contacts (new & old).

See you soon!

Quick Chicago facts:

  • Metro Population: Almost 10 Million (almost 3 million in the city proper)
  • Settled: 1770
  • Home to many supertall buildings including the Famous Sears Tower.
  • Chicago means “wild leek” (after a few rough translations. The original meaning and intention is likely lost to time)

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My friend Hamlet Batista is visiting me here in Canada. I’m sure he had to endure some rush hour traffic on the 401 (busiest highway in the world) to get here from the airport. We even had the opportunity to cruise around University of Waterloo with the convertible roof down during a brief downpour. Hamlet is a very smart guy – one I would consider a first mover with many internet marketing related ideas. He is also very scientific and methodical with his approach. We were talking about some great strategy & marketing ideas and Hamlet has a wealth of information; if you have the chance to hear him speak or meet with him, I strongly recommend it. Hamlet is also a great mentor, be sure to follow Hamlet on twitter.

Hamlet is the reason I’ve started blogging today. Included in his pitch for me to do so is a short story about his time at customs. Long story short: the customs officer did a Google search for “Hamlet Batista” – saw his blog and his status as a successful entreprenuer and internet marketing professional. “Personal branding” – It’s important so people know who you are, know what you think and provides a great starting point for future success.

We had a great time we had and I look forward to meeting with Hamlet again soon!

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New blog

Look for some good information to come across this space.

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