Tag Archive: Silicon Valley



Yes, this is what I was doing while I was supposed to be writing. I’m totally eating my last words from the previous post! If a shame face emoticon exists, it would go here. But I don’t regret it.

I went to Pier 39 and Union Square and did lots of cool stuff with a friend who’s here from SoCal. Then when I came back to my suburban, 80-odd percent Caucasian corner of Silicon Valley, I realized that the more often I go to SF, the more convinced I am that I need to live there.

It was amazingly warm and beautiful when we went (a rarity in itself) and it’s still prime tourist season so I’ll admit I didn’t get much of a glimpse of what the city is really like. Whenever I go with my family they always want to do canned, middle-aged-tourists-with-kids kind of stuff, so there’s a very real chance that I’m completely deluded and might end up being miserable in the city if I ever do move there.

But whenever I’ve been there alone, I’ve always felt a sense of contentment that I haven’t found anywhere else. I used to go by myself all the time when I was in high school and things got too much for me (I went to a very academically high-pressured and competitive school, so it happened at least a few times a year). I love that it has a city atmosphere, but an optimistic one. Opportunity in San Francisco isn’t overshadowed by competition, and that feeling of being able to do anything is still there. The architecture is whimsical and fun but still economical in most of the places I’ve been. And the sidewalks sparkle!!! I’ve never gotten over that. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful community teeming with cultural and creative richness. This is the place to go for everything from civil rights activism to a festival for whatever obscure genre of music floats your boat. One of my professors told me he used to work at a caviar bar in San Francisco, and I’d never even thought that such a thing would exist. There’s so many unique things there that you can’t find anywhere else.

But every place has its dark side, and because SF is such a major metropolitan city, the amount of unpleasantness that goes on is correspondingly larger. I’ve heard some horror stories that almost scared me off. It gets pretty gritty when sun sets and the tourists go back to their hotel rooms, and you can’t do much there unless you have a secure, well-paying job or rich parents. It’s cold and windy most of the time, and the cost of living in SF is ludicrously high. There’s traffic and crime and the idea of owning a car here is laughable. I’ve known many people who ventured out to the city convinced that they were in for a treat, and quite a few came back to the South Bay suburbs with their tails between their legs. The only ones who made it there were resourceful, resilient, and quick to learn the ropes and think on their feet. To put it simply, if you can’t make do without a GPS or cell phone navigation and are comfortable in a town where you’re part of the vast majority, SF won’t make a very nice home for you.

I’m not one of those people. I’ve lived in three different countries and moved around a lot all my life, and I want to be around other people with the same diversity of perspective. I would take a dose of reality over the synthetic safety of places like Los Gatos or Palo Alto any day, and when it comes with all the benefits San Francisco has to offer, well, it’s a done deal. I feel like I’m living in a bubble and miss out on a lot of stuff I care about because I live so far.

I think everyone should spend some time in San Francisco at least once in their lives. I haven’t been around enough to say that there’s no other city like it, but I’m sure that whoever you are, you’ll find something awesome to do there. I’ve resigned myself to sticking around San Jose until I graduate college in another year, but after that, I’m making a beeline straight for SF.

That’s what I spent most of the last week doing, and there’s not much else on my mind at the moment so this is going to be my post for now. It sucks coming back from the bright and busy heart of the Bay Area to the sleepy crook of its knee and it’s put me in a strange mood, so that’s why this post is so weird. (I have no excuse for the super lame title, though.)

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Once upon a time, people said mobile payment was going to be the next big thing. Well, the time has come when it is THE big thing, and the battle is between Google and Ebay (PayPal).

Google is becoming like the glitter of all technology. It gets everywhere. It got into social networking with Orkut and then Google+, the mobile market with Android (whom they purchased in 2005), and I can’t even name everything else. All I know is, you could probably put together my life story since I turned 15 by looking at everything I’ve done that somehow goes through Google.

That’s why I’m not keen on giving them my financial information as well.

For a while, I didn’t want that particular information floating around on the internet at all. My parents even started using PayPal before I did. I finally ended up giving in just last year, because it’s been around for long enough without any major damage for me to finally start trusting it. In contrast, Google Wallet is, like, one year old.

I know, I know…Google itself has been around long enough that I can’t imagine my life without it, and their Wallet’s rate of expansion is a pretty convincing argument to get on that boat. And don’t get me wrong, I love Google. Google Maps > everything else ever. But dang, talk about too many eggs in one basket. The last time this much of my life was in one online place was when I started using Facebook, and look how well it turned out (don’t worry Zuck, you’ll have another post all to yourself later).

Another pro for PayPal is that it does what it says it will do and leaves it there. It’s clean, simple, and gets the job done in the most efficient way possible. No frills, none of the fancy-pants add-ons Google keeps insisting upon. Seriously, every time I log in to Google it seems like there’s some kind of update for something or other. Google Docs will soon be upgraded to Google Drive. Google Calendar now has some ostentatious new way to dress up your events and invitations. Their innovation is inspiring, I depend on it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but as far as my money’s concerned, I’d rather know exactly what I’m gonna get. Of course PayPal will have to become “new and improved” just as often in order to stay competitive and keep things exciting for the hackers, but I’m less scared of them making promises they can’t keep than Google.

The worst part, though, is you can’t use Google Wallet unless you have an NFC-enabled phone (whatever that means), which only Sprint seems to work with at the moment. I’m sure that’s going to change real fast – I’d imagine much of Silicon Valley is eager to jump on this opportunity, which basically guarantees that the technology will become available soon – but still, it just reinforces my earlier point of PayPal being more user-friendly. You don’t have to have a certain service provider or cell phone model to use PayPal. If you have any kind of phone that can download and use apps, chances are you’re good to go. That goes a long way in my book.

But all said and done, I still want Google Wallet to have a significant presence. I don’t want PayPal to become complacent, because I feel like they could get too big for their britches just as fast as Google. PayPal announced in May that it is now working with 15 new national retailers and they’re just warming up, but, well…it’s Google. I really want to see what they’ll do.