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Archive for the ‘Austin Life’ Category

Will SXSW See A New Way To Get Around Austin?

Monday, August 31st, 2015

It might not strictly be SXSW, but with the news that Google is planning to send its self-driving cars out on the streets of Austin, there’s every chance that the Mountain View based company will use the March Madness to promote it;s automotive ambitions.

Choosing Austin is a pretty smart move – there’s a tech stronghold in the city that the local council would love to compare to Silicon Valley, and with Google Fibre already under the streets of the State Capital Google has a lot invested in the city., So why not roll out the cars as well? Steve Dent reports for Engadget:

Plenty of folks in Austin, Texas have spotted Google’s distinctive self-driving Lexus cars recently, and now we know why. The company revealed that it’s now rolling the vehicles in downtown Austin in order to “(test) our software in different driving environments, traffic patterns and road conditions.” While Google could also test its self-driving cars in Nevada and elsewhere, Austin is the first city outside of Mountain View where it’s actually done so. The reason? “We’ve loved how much Austin embraces innovation,” a Google spokesperson told the Austin American-Statesmen. She added that with Google Fiber and several company offices in the city, it was a natural fit for self-driving cars.

I still think I’ll go with the B-Cycles come March. What about you?

SXSW Baby Podcast: The Ninja’s Guide To SXSW 2015

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

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In our final preview podcast (the ‘ninja’ level), Ewan takes a look at ‘Five Ways To Get Away For A Bit’ as well as the hints and tips that SXSW ninjas use to survive the event.

Support for this year’s podcasts comes from HipChat. Bring your team to life, with group and private chat, file sharing, and integrations, all at hipchat.com.

Follow the SXSW Baby! blog for more South by Southwest fun, and what we’re up to as we get ready for Austin via Twitter at @SXSWbaby. Got news about SXSW for us? Get in touch via SXSW Baby’s contact form! Don’t forget to follow the podcast via the RSS feed.

Hands Free in Austin This Year

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

For all the out-of-towners coming to SXSW (and there are a few I imagine) you should know that the City of Austin has passed a new ordinance *banning* the use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle or bike.

I know you are all thinking, “WHAT?! How am I supposed to update my lunch pic to Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Foursquare/My FoodPr0n site?”

It’s go hands free. I admit I have been guilty of near constant use of my mobile device (my nose print is etched in the screen), but have discovered the “Hey Siri” functionality while charging is very handy to have the AI read my messages and allow me to dictate replies while having both hands on the wheel.

Here is an excerpt from the ordinance below, full deets can be found here

Unless using a hands-free system such as Bluetooth or headphones, or a GPS system, use of portable devices while driving a car or operating a bike will be a citable offense beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

As defined in Ordinance No. 20140828-041, portable electronic device means a hand-held,

  • Mobile telephone
  • personal digital assistant
  • MP3 or other hand-held music player
  • electronic reading device
  • laptop computer
  • pager
  • broadband personal communication device
  • GPS or navigation system
  • electronic gaming device
  • portable computing device

Hand-held cell phone use is permitted in the event of an emergency such calling 9-1-1 or 3-1-1 to report a crime or an accident. Even in an emergency situation, it is best to pull over and come to a complete stop before using or operating any mobile or hand-held device.

The fine can be up to $500, so either curtail your use while driving or budget for the fine.

Is Downtown Going To Be A Bit Less Crowded This Year?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

And by crowded we mean commercialised.

Chad Swiatecki writes of the lower demand for commercial spaces in Austin for SXSW Week. Over in the Austin Business Journal, he notes lower number of permits available between March 13-22 (around 25%) and the reduced demand for event co-ordinators.

The goal of the move is to ensure public safety officials have enough time to review safety plans and prevent the total effect of multiple large activations throughout downtown from creating a public hazard.

Bill Manno, the city’s corporate special events program manager, said there’s no set number that would cause the city to stop accepting applications, saying the combined size of events for all applications would be the determining factor. He told me the city would likely stop taking applications by the end of the first week of February.

The decrease in major brands flocking to SXSW will almost certainly impact the event’s local economic impact, which was found to be $315 million in 2014.

While the financial bottom line might be affected, the idea that the SXSW pendulum is swinging back towards the attendees and making stuff up as we go along (rather than try to compose an Instagram pic to get a Lady Gaga ticket) is a good thing.

What Not To Do In Austin

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Congratulations to the team over at The Thrillist, who have managed to put together a useful list of dos and don’ts for anyone visiting Austin. To be fair, once SXSW gets under way the majority of locals are a bit more forthcoming (mostly because they don’t want to annoy anyone spending $1200 a night via AirBNB for their loft apartment). Still, you can’t go far wrong with their 20 things not to do in Austin.

“Hey, wanna go see a movie at Alamo Drafthouse today?”
Everyone else had this idea. Before you. When they bought all the tickets. Enjoy that front row!

All their contrary advice is over here.

No more giant vending machines in Austin?

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Okay, over the festive period we missed this one, but the SXSW team has confirmed to the press that Doritos will not be involved at this year’s SXSW.

That means no giant vending machine, no demands to do silly viral videos for tickets, and no great big beacon of commercial sponsors towering over Sixth Street and downtown Austin. Which is probably for the best.

What happens to you when you stay at SXSW for too long?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

I know that you don’t actually move to Austin for SXSW, you just stay there for a little less than two weeks, but with such an intense experience it can feel like you are anchored in the Texan state capital. Perhaps that’s why after so many years of attending SXSW, this Scotsman has a lot of affinity for Postgrad Problem’s ‘27 Things That Will Happen When You Move To Austin‘ article. For example:

6. The first place you got drunk was somewhere on Sixth Street, but you had trouble remembering which part of Sixth Street you got drunk on.

24. If your first festival experience was ACL, people told you, “Just wait ’til SXSW…”

25. If your first festival experience was SXSW, people told you, “Just wait ’til ACL…”

Read on at Post Grad Problems.