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Archive for the ‘Austin Life’ Category

Getting the most out of SXSW in March (all year round)

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Dan Chuparkof makes the bold claim of writing ‘The Definitive Guide To Hacking SXSW’, and while I can see a few things I would add (which downgrades definitive to comprehensive) there’s still a lot going on in this post. It’s actually geared up to looking at SXSW as a year-long adventure (that sounds familiar) but his advice for March is perfect.

For example, take his backpack advice for prowling around Austin:

  • A refillable water bottle & snacks: 11:00 & 12:30 sessions are some of the best of SouthBy. You might not be able to squeeze lunch in without missing something awesome. Bring some food. There’s a pretty good chance, you’ll also be dehydrated from the night before, so bring some H2O.
  • An external phone battery: You will run out of juice. You’ll be downloading apps all day, tweeting, taking video, and struggling to get a wifi/cell signal all day. Nothing kills nighttime fun worse than a dead phone. If you forgot this part, head to the SXSW expo on Saturday, Mophie will have a booth and they’ll sell JuicePacks.
  • An umbrella & poncho: Don’t bother checking the weather. I promise it rains every March in Austin.
  • Other essentials: Aspirin, Vitamin-C, business cards, extra room for free t-shirts & swag.

All that and more can be found here.

How to get around Austin

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Richard Bagdonas is an Austin-based entrepreneur, and he knows his city. So his guide to getting around the Texan capital during SXSW is probably worth your time if you are coming from out of town:

Having lived just south of the downtown skyscrapers for a decade, I can tell you that driving during SXSWi is a cluster of epic proportions. The other reason that driving is tough is because the city of Austin always decides to close lanes on roads leading into downtown because it is the time of year that directly follows heavy rains and bitter cold: two things that wreak havoc on asphalt, pipes, electrical lines, etc.

Add to that the numerous rental cars and buses (or what we politely refer to as “rolling detours”) and you have the makings for one heck of a standstill on all major roads.

My best advice is to ditch vehicle transportation all together. No bus, taxi, Uber, Lyft or anything over 150cc.

I still think B-Cycle is your best option with a dash of walking at either side of the journey, but if you;ve got any tips, let everyone know in the comments.

SXSW Baby’s ‘Thirty Days To Go’ Checklist

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Assuming you’ve singed up to one of the many SXSW mailing lists, you’ll know that it’s ‘Thirty Days To go’ until we all descend on Austin and the residents boost their pension funds with some strategic AirBNB listing. So here’s The Baby’s thirty day checklist.

  • SXSW Badge purchased, flights book, hotel confirmed?
    You might as well make sure of the basics, otherwise it will be quite embarrassing when March comes round.
  • Valid passport? Visas and ESTAs up to date?
    The international traveller needs to navigate the border, so check the paperwork is in order.
  • Break in your boots.
    There’s a lot of walking at SXSW and if you’ve bought a nice new pair of shoes, can we suggest you start breaking them in now to prevent blisters once the SXSW fun gets under way. And if you’re stuck behind a desk, start doing some endurance training.
  • Buy your earplugs.
    Because much as you all love music, your ears have to last you a lifetime.
  • Business cards, stickers, and any other tat.
    Even if you’re going to SXSW on your own, you’ll soon realise business cards rule. Get to the printers now and stock up before the rush order pricing takes hold.

What else have we missed? Have you got something you always do ahead of time that you never forget?

SouthBites Trailer Park-Because You Gotta Eat, Too!

Monday, February 8th, 2016

As much fun as it is trying to drink your way through the madness that is SXSW-you really really really need to eat something. So why not eat something yummy and convenient?

The SouthBites Trailer Park, located at 604 DRISKILL ST, is mere steps off of 6th Street, so there is absolutely no excuse to not partake in the deliciousness.

Hometown favorite, Chi’Lantro is not to be missed, and how can you pass up an opportunity to eat at East Side King, the brainchild of Motoyasu and Top Chef winner Paul Qui. Not to mention trucks from Houston, Charleston, and Portland, OR, to name a few more.

SouthBites at SXSW 2015. Photo by Merrick Ales.

Take me to the the Trailer Park! Click here to get going.

Take a few minutes to grab a nosh. Your stomach, and liver, will thank you.  See you soon, Babies!

Can SXSW Carry On Growing?

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

An interesting debate has started on the Austin American Statesman. Gissela Santacruz asks about the size of SXSW as an event, compares it to the explosive growth of Sundance,  and openly asks if it is simply too big:

It’s no secret that similar negative observations have been pointed out about SXSW. Austin residents and festivalgoers have been complaining for a few years now about public safety, traffic and the effect they have on the quality of a SXSW experience. Then, critics had more to make their case against SXSW growth after a tragic crash killed four people during SXSW in 2014. While enhancements to public safety measures have been made since the accident — measures applauded by the American-Statesman editorial board — it will be necessary for festival organizers to be more proactive in their planning to prevent more tragedies.

What started in 1987 as a stage to showcase independent musicians — adding film and interactive branches in 1994 — has exploded into a one Texas’ biggest Spring Break gatherings full of big names, big parties and bigger headaches for those who live and work in downtown where most of the official and unofficial SXSW gigs take place.

How long can SXSW continue to grow?  Hoel and bedspace has always been a major issue with the ‘walking distance’ hotels sold out months in advance (and that’s a a European walking distance), but infrastructure for transport around the city, the space required for events, presentations, showcases, and everything else… Austin is getting a bit cramped.

Can SXSW keep growing, or will more events like V2V be spun out of the SXSW ‘week’ in March to try and control the numbers?

Just How Important Is SXSW To Austin?

Friday, September 18th, 2015

The simple answer is “about two-thirds of a Superbowl”, according to the annual Business Impact Survey commissioned by SXSW and put together by Greyhill Advisors. Chad Swiatecki writing for the Austin Business Journal looks at the report and pulls out the numbers:

The economic impact directly attributed to official SXSW events was $211 million, with the remainder in economic impact being generated by the tourism and cultural activities at the fringe. In terms of media exposure for Austin, the festival generated $90.6 million worth of media coverage. More than 60,000 hotel room nights were booked during the festival.

Growth in terms of income was up 0.7%, but the actual growth of three three main strands was higher, with Interactive up 3.1%, Film up 8%, and music up 8.2%, in terms of attendance. SO Austin has more people coming, but the gains are a bout more marginal.

Still worth it, Austinites?

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?