My quick trip to Campinas and Sao Paulo, Brazil [photos]

Billboard on the drive from Sao Paulo to Campinas.

Billboard on the drive from Sao Paulo to Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

SLR selfie

SLR selfie

Driving around Campinas.

Driving around Campinas.

The rolling hills of Campinas taken from the car.

The rolling hills of Campinas taken from the car.

American corporate hegemony (aka Walmart)

American corporate hegemony (aka Walmart)

Billboard in Campinas (the majority of cars in Brazil are small)

Billboard in Campinas (the majority of cars in Brazil are small)

A pet store in Campinas

A pet store in Campinas

Crossfit in Campinas

Crossfit in Campinas

Street market on Saturday morning in Campinas

Street market on Saturday morning in Campinas

Juice stall in the Saturday open market in Campinas

Juice stall in the Saturday open market in Campinas

This one's in Sao Paulo... Pao de Queijo is to Brazil as Bagels are to New York.  It's basically this puffy bread (Pao) filled with cheese (Queijo). Good stuff.

This one’s in Sao Paulo… Pao de Queijo is to Brazil as Bagels are to New York. It’s basically this puffy bread (Pao) filled with cheese (Queijo). Good stuff.

Local art-- necklaces made from recycled Nespresso capsules.

Local art– necklaces made from recycled Nespresso capsules.

Local art-- necklaces made from recycled Nespresso capsules (I used to consume a lot of these)

Local art– necklaces made from recycled Nespresso capsules (I used to consume a lot of these)

Market off Paulista in Sao Paulo

Market off Paulista in Sao Paulo

Phone booth in Sao Paulo on Paulista

Phone booth in Sao Paulo on Paulista

Lots of people (probably 100 of them) collecting FIFA world cup stickers outside of MASP on Paulista in Sao Paulo.

Lots of people (probably 100 of them) collecting FIFA world cup stickers outside of MASP on Paulista in Sao Paulo.

Someone texting with a friend telling them which world cup stickers cards they had traded and which they were still missing.

Someone texting with a friend telling them which world cup stickers cards they had traded and which they were still missing.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

More FIFA sticker counting and collecting and trading.

The ubiquitous American coffee shop. Happy to say that I didn't have a single coffee here.

The ubiquitous American coffee shop. Happy to say that I didn’t have a single coffee here.

Radio tower in the shape of the Eiffel Tower on Paulista.

Radio tower in the shape of the Eiffel Tower on Paulista.

Street performer on Paulista

Street performer on Paulista

Drive in and reverse out car wash in Sao Paulo (not a drive through)

Drive in and reverse out car wash in Sao Paulo (not a drive through)

In what must have been a rush to be "green", most trashbags in Sao Paulo aren't black plastic, but plastic with this green leaf print. This amused me.

In what must have been a rush to be “green”, most trashbags in Sao Paulo aren’t black plastic, but plastic with this green leaf print. This amused me.

Garbage man

Garbage man

On one of the streets off of Paulista (an area called Jardim, I think)

On one of the streets off of Paulista (an area called Jardim, I think)

In the window of a bar

In the window of a bar

In the window of a bar

In the window of a bar

Brazilian doll in a toy store (was one of the few non-US toys, like Dora and Boots and Caillou)

Brazilian doll in a toy store (was one of the few non-US toys, like Dora and Boots and Caillou)

Street market

Street market

The US isn't the only place that's lazy about cutting their vegetables (Central Market here in Houston sells similar packages of diced vegetables for us yuppie cooks)

The US isn’t the only place that’s lazy about cutting their vegetables (Central Market here in Houston sells similar packages of diced vegetables for us yuppie cooks)

This woman was very carefully picking her eggs out, I think she had just finished touching every egg on the table.

This woman was very carefully picking her eggs out, I think she had just finished touching every egg on the table.

The sidewalk in front of every driveway in Sao Paulo had one of these flashing light thingies. A pedestrian must have been injured by a car backing out of one of the many driveways around this area of Sao Paulo and this must have been enacted as a requirement. They flash whether a car is coming out or not. Yeah, that means everyone ignores them.

The sidewalk in front of every driveway in Sao Paulo had one of these flashing light thingies. A pedestrian must have been injured by a car backing out of one of the many driveways around this area of Sao Paulo and this must have been enacted as a requirement. They flash whether a car is coming out or not. Yeah, that means everyone ignores them.

Restaurant that's built around a fig tree.

Restaurant that’s built around a fig tree.

Restaurant that's built around a fig tree.

Restaurant that’s built around a fig tree.

Fancy boutique in Sao Paulo

Fancy boutique in Sao Paulo

Little bakery that must have been popular for pao de queijo. Had a line extending outside.

Little bakery that must have been popular for pao de queijo. Had a line extending outside.

Every market had one of these pastel stalls. Pastels are Brazilian fast food.  Basically, a flour pocket filled with something (cheese, meat, etc) and then deep fried.

Every market had one of these pastel stalls. Pastels are Brazilian fast food. Basically, a flour pocket filled with something (cheese, meat, etc) and then deep fried.

Italian restaurant that our hosts took us to.  Food in Brazil was expensive! A single pasta dish was 100 Brazilian real (equal to 50 USD).  The bill for three of us was USD $200.

Italian restaurant that our hosts took us to. Food in Brazil was expensive! A single pasta dish was 100 Brazilian real (equal to 50 USD). The bill for three of us was USD $200.

Great ice cream shop.

Great ice cream shop.

English school?

English school?

Some guys enjoying three wheelers around the tourist part of Sao Paulo (Paulista Street)

Some guys enjoying three wheelers around the tourist part of Sao Paulo (Paulista Street)

Elvis!

Elvis!

One of the many news stands selling FIFA 2014 sticker books and stickers.  I bought a bunch of these as gifts for friends.  And I discovered that the stickers are available here in the States at dollar stores, Walmart and on amazon.com.  My girls have really gotten into collecting these stickers.

One of the many news stands selling FIFA 2014 sticker books and stickers. I bought a bunch of these as gifts for friends. And I discovered that the stickers are available here in the States at dollar stores, Walmart and on amazon.com. My girls have really gotten into collecting these stickers.

Down a street in Sao Paulo.

Down a street in Sao Paulo.

Cool VW van/bus.

Cool VW van/bus.

Nice art against the wall of the subway.

Nice art against the wall of the subway.

One Direction was staying at the hotel next to mine so there were probably 100 girls camped out outside that hotel waiting to get a glimpse and screaming every so often when they thought the boy band was about to make an appearance.

One Direction was staying at the hotel next to mine so there were probably 100 girls camped out outside that hotel waiting to get a glimpse and screaming every so often when they thought the boy band was about to make an appearance.

FIFA mania

FIFA mania

Facebook (not Twitter) in an ad on the subway.

Facebook (not Twitter) in an ad on the subway.

In a less touristy part of Sao Paulo...

In a less touristy part of Sao Paulo…

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

The museum of the Portuguese language, a few art pieces I liked.

Some boys on the piano at the subway + train station.

Some boys on the piano at the subway + train station.

Train station

Train station

City sewage, I think?

City sewage, I think?

Another view of the city

Another view of the city

This was the other neighborhood I visited. On Sunday, it was nearly uninhabited and wasn't as clean as the area that I was staying in.  Lots of trash strewn on the streets and quite a few homeless people sleeping up against the walls.

This was the other neighborhood I visited. On Sunday, it was nearly uninhabited and wasn’t as clean as the area that I was staying in. Lots of trash strewn on the streets and quite a few homeless people sleeping up against the walls.

This was the other neighborhood I visited. On Sunday, it was nearly uninhabited and wasn't as clean as the area that I was staying in.  Lots of trash strewn on the streets and quite a few homeless people sleeping up against the walls.

This was the other neighborhood I visited. On Sunday, it was nearly uninhabited and wasn’t as clean as the area that I was staying in. Lots of trash strewn on the streets and quite a few homeless people sleeping up against the walls.

Recycling in Sao Paulo's subway station.

Recycling in Sao Paulo’s subway station.

Sign on the subway in Sao Paulo.

Sign on the subway in Sao Paulo.

 

 

Get the Houston 311 app to get a quick response to problems from the city

Tip for fellow Houstonians: download the Houston 311 app. I used it to submit a ticket (with photographs and geolocation) about five really bad potholes near my office. And I circulated the link around my office to get the ticket upvoted. Less than two weeks later, no more potholes.

Before and after:

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20140508-144550.jpg

Houston limo drivers are afraid of Uber… they say Uber is like “child pornographers” [video]

A few weeks ago, I happened to catch a Houston City Council meeting where a bunch of Houston limo operators spoke out against Uber (thanks to Evan Mintz tweeting about it). Their arguments (if they could be called that) were mostly protectionist and some were more vehement than others. But none of the remarks were more ridiculous than those of Joe Jordan, the President of the Houston Limousine Operators Networking Group. He somehow managed to compare Uber to child pornographers! Here’s a video clip of his remarks:

“The problem with a company like Uber, they only exist in cyberspace. They’re like people who do child pornography or people who do online gambling. They simply move their websites to South America or China.” -Joe Jordan, President, Houston Limo Operators Networking Group.

Like child pornographers? Move their servers to China??

Incredible how uninformed this guy is. Chris Sacca hit the nail on the head in a back and forth on twitter while this was happening:

Details of Tesla Superchargers in Texas – August 2013

After the news on Sunday that Tesla’s 1st supercharging station in Texas will be in San Marcos, Texas, some Tesla owners did some further sleuthing and here’s what the map looks like for the 1st 4 Tesla Superchargers in Texas:


View Texas Tesla Superchargers Map in a larger map

So that’s four Tesla Superchargers in Texas with known locations:

  • San Marcos, TX – at the Tanger’s Outlet mall (more on this one below and here)
  • Columbus, TX – at the Comfort Inn there — perfect for Houston to Austin
  • Huntsville, TX – exact location unknown — perfect for Houston to Dallas
  • Waco, TX – exact location unknown — perfect for Dallas to Austin

Here are the details from Dr. William Jones on Sunday August 11, 2013:

This morning, just for fun, I drove down to the Outlet Mall at San Marcos to see if I could find the Superchargers. I did.

While taking the pix below I casually chatted up the workman. The spoke openly, answered all my “casual” question, and had apparently not been sworn to secrecy. Here’s what they said:

1. They are here from Florida and work for a Florida company that is the subcontractor for the six Texas SC stations.
2. Their company is also going to be installing Superchargers from Florida all the way to Maine. There are other subs for other parts of the country.
3. They will finish San Marcos this week, then move up to Waco to begin work there. That job should take 3-4 weeks. The guy wasn’t sure exactly where in Waco they would be (he already had the plans but hadn’t looked at them and didn’t have them at hand).
4. At about the time they start in Waco, another team should be starting the installation at Columbus at a “Comfort Suites or something like that.” I’m guessing it will be here: http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-columbus-texas-TXF22/Hotel-Map?maphotel=TXF22&country=US
5. Next installations after that will be Huntsville – after that he had no info except there are six total in the works.

About San Marcos:
The chargers are in a large parking lot to the east of the main mall buildings and Neiman-Marcus Last Call

Note that there are 5 chargers in place. Each of those two wood enclosures in the background contains 3 cabinets (6 in all), and each cabinet is capable of supporting two Superchargers eventually, total of twelve.
Charger-Stations
Those two green transformers in the background were just installed by the power company, one for each of the two groups of cabinets. That’s some SERIOUS power coming in!
Tesla Supercharger, San Marcos, TX
Note that they’ve already re-sodded the lawn. You can see that everything has been dug up for the big underground conduits which also go under the street to the actual charging stations (after which they repaved the street).
Transformers

Details of the first Tesla Supercharging Station in Texas [photos]

If you’re like me, you’ve been wondering where Tesla’s Texas Supercharging Stations will be located. Well, from the Tesla Motors Club forums, we now know the location of Tesla’s first supercharging station in Texas… the Tanger Outlet Malls in San Marcos, TX, between Austin and San Antonio:


View Larger Map

I did a quick check and here’s how far it is from other cities in Texas:

172 miles from Houston, TX (which makes it perfect for Houston-Austin and Houston-San Antonio trips)
232 miles from Dallas, TX (Dallas-Austin drivers will just barely make it?)
37 miles from Austin, TX
45 miles from San Antonio, TX

The Tesla Supercharging station appears to be behind the outlet malls — 5 chargers in all — the green arrow in this image from Google Maps shows the actual location:

Exact location of the first TX Tesla Supercharger

(image credit to TMC user ZestyChicken)

IMG_0368

IMG_0371

(photo credits to TMC user TexasEV)

App ideas for my car, the Tesla Model S

As I wrote about in my detailed Tesla Model S, the Tesla’s in car computer is brilliant, one of the car’s greatest features. Second only to the fact that the car runs entirely on electricity.

So it got me thinking about the inevitable future where anyone can build apps on Tesla’s platform. What apps (or types of apps) would be useful in one’s car?

For example, slacker radio is already available as an app in the car and it proves the “music app” category of apps.

In contrast, I find the web browser app (which is also already there) to be pretty useless beyond being a novelty during demos… “Hey look you can even browse the web from the car!

So here are some of my ideas:

  • Flight status app: whether I’m going to pick someone up from the airport or I’m flying out of town myself, the status of a particular flight is a piece of information that’s uniquely valuable to me when I’m driving in my car to get to the airport in time.
  • Calendar app I want read only access to my calendar while I’m driving. I’m heading into the office. What’s on the sched for today? Make each meeting’s location something that I can use to drive a search (and/or navigate) in the car’s existing maps app.
  • Nest thermostat control. I’m headed home and I want to set my home thermostat on my– turn on my home heating or cooling.
  • Directory of locations: I drive to my daughter’s dance class in Sugarland. I eat out at a few restaurants on a frequent basis (Chuy’s, a hotel near the office, etc). I frequently travel to my offices. Like your phone has a phone book of numbers, my car needs a directory of locations. It should be able to build the skeleton for this without much user input– just using GPS data and location name information from google maps. Then I want to search nearby these places and navigate to these places.
  • Google Now: as @existentialism pointed out on twitter, Google Now would be absolutely perfect for use in the car. Requires almost no input after it’s been setup and delivers useful information on the go.
  • Other music apps: as I mentioned in my review, Slacker Radio is a huge hit in my car. My girls LOVE being able to listen to anything they can think of when we go places. There’s no reason Pandora and Rhapsody and iTunes shouldn’t be side by side with Slacker in my car.

Making your company’s product or service seem like magic

This is a good, simple way to think about making your company a “purple cow”, something that stands out in the crowd, something that looks to customers like “magic”:

Sometimes magic is just someone spending more time on something than anyone else might reasonably expect.” –Teller (of the magician duo, Penn & Teller)