Monday, April 1, 2019
Travellers walk past stopped cars to try to make their flight.

The April fool’s day joke on Berlin this year is a full-on BVG strike, shutting down the U-Bahn, tram, and bus systems in the city. The resulting rush for taxis left my friend without a way to get to the airport this morning, so I drove her there. At least I attempted to. It’s usually a twenty-minute drive to Tegal. After almost an hour, however, we got stuck on a highway offramp for a half hour just a kilometer away from the terminal.

Totally stuck. We maybe moved 50 meters.

People started getting out of their cars and walking to the airport. At first by ones and twos and then as a flood. At some point, my friend said, “Ok, I’m out.” She hopped out, grabbed her bag and joined the hikers, and rushed to make her flight. Me, I stayed on that overpass for more than another half hour watching people stream by.

11:30 UTC
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cambridge-based Wayve is taking an approach to autonomous driving that can drive on roads it hasn’t seen before.

We don’t tell the car how to drive with hand coded rules: everything is learned from data. This allows us to navigate complex, narrow urban European streets for the first time.

It’s fascinating to watch the people working on autonomous driving iterating on their approaches over time. Watching the videos of the test cars driving through Cambridge is also pretty cool.

17:25 UTC
Thursday, April 4, 2019

In preparation for the upcoming Create tour for startups, I’ve been challenging our speakers to do something a bit unusual for most of them: Draft their talks out longhand.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got some great speakers who can show up to an event cold and improve a presentation better than most people can do a talk that’s been worked on for months. And, they speak so often, they all have several slide decks ready to go for their areas of expertise and can mix or match as needed. For this tour, however, we’re asking many of them to bring their knowledge about their topic area, focus it for the needs of early- to mid-phase startups, and to do it in a way that’s useful for our audience of startup developers and technical founders.

For example, Phoummala Schmitt is giving a talk about governance at our first two stops in New York and Toronto next week. This isn’t a typical topic for a startup conference. Having worked at startups who grow up and end up as (or part of) bigger companies, however, I’ve run into many topics around governance and compliance that not only did we not think about, we made decisions that were counter to being able to handle our requirements later on. So, we’re going to try to bring a bit of this kind of perspective back to startups.

No, we’re not going to tell you to do things the way Microsoft does it. That would be patently ridiculous. What Phoummala will do, however, is give the audience some tools and techniques that can help determine what the starting guardrails for a startup should be. Ones that can develop over time as needed.

Tricky, right? It’d be straightforward for us to come in talking about ISO-standard this and compliance that and totally lose the audience in less than two minutes flat.

That’s where drafting the talk out longhand comes in. As we’ve worked the last few weeks together over Phoummala’s words, we’ve talked about examples we can use, what concepts feel right for the audience we expect, and what we should cut because it would distract from the core takeaways we want to leave with our audience.

It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when a speaker is used to throwing some slides together, showing up, and pushing play on themselves. But the effort is worth it. In this case, I think we’ve now got a talk that will be useful to developers at a startup. One that will leave them with some of the things I wish I’d known a while ago.

If you want to see how it turned out, along with the rest of the presentations we’ve been working on, please join us in New York or Toronto next week.

11:30 UTC
Seen randomly somewhere in Berlin.
13:45 UTC
Friday, April 5, 2019

The reported discrimination and sexual harrassment behavior at Microsoft is unacceptable, needs to be accounted for, and made right.

15:20 UTC
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

With the completion of our event in New York yesterday, the Create tour is well and truly underway.

We’ve got 11 more stops planned before the end of June around the world, but it feels really good to get this first one done, to connect with the attendees in New York, and to get their feedback on how we did. We’ll be taking that feedback and rolling it in, adjusting as we go. Iteration is the key, right?

Next stop: tomorrow in Toronto.

17:00 UTC
The Butcher’s Daughter in NYC
19:00 UTC
In flight over the Netherlands
20:00 UTC
Friday, April 12, 2019
View from the twenty-second floor of the Sheraton Hotel in Toronto

Traveling west means waking up early and enjoying sunrises, as long as there’s a good view and you have time to enjoy it. I wanted to watch this sunrise unfold and watch people start their day, but I had to start my own day, get a move on, and go to the venue for Create in Toronto.

19:15 UTC
Saturday, April 13, 2019

You wake up in Toronto a bit jet lagged at 5 in the morning. You take a shower, pack, and order room service breakfast. Then it’s 7. Time to check out.

The guy driving the Uber to the airport is nice, and the trip is smooth with only a little bit of traffic. You’re there in thirty minutes and checking in a few minutes later. The lady at the counter is super helpful and checks your bag to your final destination even though you’re flying on two different bookings.

The airport seems pleasantly calm until you go down the hallway towards the gate and suddenly see a huge line winding its way through the U.S. border check. It’s at least a two-hour wait to get through it. Maybe more. You have never been so happy to have a Global Entry membership as when you see a little sign with the logo on it that lets you skip past the massive queue. Fifteen minutes later you’re through with forty-five minutes to boarding time to do something with.

Oh look, there’s one of those places where you can get a chair massage. That’s an excellent way to spend a bit of time and do something nice for yourself.

After that, it’s boarding time. As you queue up, you hear an announcement with a colleague’s name. “Christina Warren, please report to your gate. Your flight is leaving.” She was one of the speakers at the event you organized yesterday and is going to Seattle this morning. You hear the announcement calling for her repeated a few times.

Shit. You ping Christina on Slack to see what’s up.

She’s stuck in that massive queue at the border checkpoint that you got to whiz by and has been for a long time. Her Global Entry application got delayed by the last government shutdown, and she doesn’t have her magic pass yet. You feel pretty sorry about that. Right before you shut your phone off, you see that the airline has rebooked her through Vancouver. Good, she’ll be home tonight, at least.

An hour and a half later, you’re arriving at JFK and have a bit of time on your hands before your next flight. Ok, more than a bit of time. Almost eight hours. How did that happen? Oh yeah, you saved your company a lot of money by taking this way home instead of flying directly to Europe from Toronto. It’s ok. You’ve got a lot of work to do, and the lounge isn’t a bad place to do it.

Seven hours and more than a few calls later, you head to the gate for your next flight. It starts raining hard outside. People are pushing in line like they’re going to miss their flight or somehow make the process go faster by acting like assholes. It’s not like everyone isn’t going to end up on the same aircraft. You get on board, settle into your seat and do some more work on your phone.

By the time the jet is closed up and pushed back, the airport is down to one operational runway, and your plane is number 25 for departure. All you want to do is recline your chair and snooze, but you’re still on the ground and just have to wait it out as you taxi your way to what feels like the far end of Long Island.

They delay drags on. And on. You make use of the time composing and sending out one more email. A few minutes after you hit send on this last message, your aircraft turns onto the runway and accelerates up into the sky. Finally.

You lean your chair back, take some melatonin, put on an eye mask, and let sleep take you. Seven and a half hours later, it’s morning, and you’re in Amsterdam.

The delay in New York means that there’s not enough time to get through passport control and on board. As you head down the concourse, your phone dings. It’s your friend Bryan Jones. He’s at the airport in Amsterdam too and has just boarded a flight that coincidentally is going to Berlin. The same plane you’re supposed to be on. The one you’re missing.

Bummer. That would have been a wonderful coincidence.

Instead, there are another two hours to do something with before the next flight to Berlin. So you do a bit of shopping, find a trinket or three for the family, then hit the lounge, and recheck your email.

Twenty four hours after you left the hotel, you get onto your final flight. It’s completely full, of course, which means that people are annoyed, pushy, and trying to take seats that aren’t theirs. You don’t care. You close your eyes as the plane pushed back from the gate.

Only an hour more till you land in Berlin.

17:15 UTC
Monday, April 15, 2019
9/11 Memorial

My hotel last week in New York was just around the corner from where the twin towers once stood. I didn’t have much spare time during my stay there, but I was able to steal a few minutes the night before I left to go visit the memorial.

I still can’t think quite straight when I’m there. My thoughts are consumed with the discontinuity of what was once there and no longer is with us except in our memories.

07:40 UTC

“Daddy, don’t leave again!”

“Trust me kiddo, I don’t want to. I just got back, and I was planning on spending a lot of time with you this week. But, grandpa is sick.”

“No, don’t go!”

“But, it’s my daddy, and he’s really sick, and I need to go see him.”

“I don’t want you to go!”

“I know. I know. But, when I’m older, and I get sick sometime, you’ll come and see me, won’t you?”

“Yeah! When you’re sick I’ll come to see you.”

”Thank you. I love you kiddo.”

“I love you too!”

08:30 UTC

Istanbul’s new opened mega-airport is open, and it’s massive. Purposefully massive. The kind of massive that seems to say, “Yes, we built this huge place because we could.” There’s still a lot of work to be done to finish it, but it’s quite the upgrade over the old airport.

Just get ready for a lot of walking if you transit through. It took almost a half hour to get to my gate at the end of one of the concourses from the center of the terminal.

21:20 UTC
Friday, April 19, 2019

An evening with James Gosling, Guido van Rossum, Anders Hejslberg, and Larry Wall? Four individuals who have profoundly impacted the world?

Yes please.

19:30 UTC

C’mon Texas. If you have to put these kind of notices up everywhere, that’s a sign of something. The Texas I was born in didn’t need ’em.

19:35 UTC
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Diversity where I work is important to me. Full stop.

Yes, I’m referring to the Microsoft discussions where some people are questioning whether it’s important or not.

18:00 UTC
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Time inside a hospital moves in rhythms that have only a vague resemblence with the outside world. Hours stretch into days, yet days can pass in what fees like hours.

Limbo.

You sit with your loved one waiting. Waiting for a doctor to come sometime during the day to tell you the latest news. Waiting for a nurse to do her rounds. Waiting for the next meal to be come.

You don’t know what time anything happens, just that it will probably happen sometime. If you get up to go do something else, then what you were waiting on will almost certainly happen while you’re gone.

Especially if you’re waiting on the latest updates from one of your loved one’s doctors.

So you stay. Just to make sure. And, time stretches on.

17:00 UTC
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Construction everywhere you look at Istanbul’s new airport
12:00 UTC
Berlin Germany
18:00 UTC

Duncan Davidson is a software developer, startup advocate, speaker, book author, and photographer living in Berlin.