Tara Tiger Brown


just prowling around

Post Mortem: SF Week Two, Topspin Week One

I just finished week two in San Francisco and week one at Topspin Media and and I thought I would summarize what went down.

This is round two for me living in San Francisco and things are a tad easier this time. Granted the first time I was also moving from a far-away country (Canadia) and there was a lot of process involved – thankfully this time I got to skip all the red tape.  Also lucky for me I have friends in SF like Angela Baxley that took me in so that I had plenty of time to find a place to live.

I had big plans to relax and take things easy during my first week in the City by the Bay because I needed to mentally disengage from the Borg and get prepared for switching gears to a totally different environment.  That was the plan but I hate feeling unsettled so I went gang bangers trying to find an apartment and a roommate.  At first I wanted 1 bedroom and live solo, but the pocketbook didn’t agree.  I still own a house in Seattle that I pay a mortgage on and the idea of living paycheck to paycheck didn’t excite me too much so the logical conclusion was to pool my money with some poor sap and get a two bedroom.

After posting an ad on Craigslist and  using my friend network, I came up with quite a few roomie options.  BTW: I highly recommend casting a wide net when looking for a roommate and/or an apartment. Add a status on Facebook, Tweet a couple of times, send emails to friends, post an ad on CL, and attend a Roommate meetup.  I met up with two different girls that already had apartments, but I felt uncomfortable moving into someone else’s place because I would always feel like a guest, so I decided to find a roomie with a similar budget and requirements and then look for a place together.  I found my new roomie, Eva through Craigslist, or rather she found me through my ad that she responded to.  We decided to meet while looking at a couple of apartments so we could get a feel for what the other likes and chat at the same time.  We pretty much instantly had a connection and lots of similarities including age, the love for the outdoors, and exes.

Our criteria included a budget of $1600/each, near enough so I could walk to work in Potrero, parking for Eva’s car, and would accept Funston and her cat.  We looked at some amazing places and then came across a place in the Mission that we both fell in love with right away.  It’s the upper floor of a house that is fully gated and has both a frontyard, backyard, and a driveway.  It is amazing.  We didn’t think we had a chance in hell of getting it because there were a lot of applicants, so we decided to keep looking.  At one of the places we looked at we met a guy named Dave that was looking for a roommate so we decided to try and look for a 3 bedroom place with him   The three of us looked at some places together but while out viewing, Eva and I found out we got our dream place in the Mission and we just had to accept it.

As of the 15th of August I will be a resident of the Mission.  I have lived in the Haight and Potrero Hill previously so this is a great new experience.  I can’t wait to move all of my belongings from Seattle and settle in.  I know that Funston really needs to have a home because he has been quite stressed with all the traveling and living in strange places.

It was a huge relief to get an apartment the day before I started at Topspin Media and I think it made it a heck of a lot easier to focus right away.  My first day started exceptionally well because I walked to work in the sunshine.  I had my iPod blaring a hip hop mix, my sneakers on and pretty much beamed from ear to ear for the entire 15 minute walk.  When I arrived at the Topspin office my desk was ready for me and I already had my Macbook Pro because I had picked it up a week earlier.  I met a couple peeps that were already in the office and did some more setup on my laptop.  I navigated around the web centric document management system (very cool that everything is in a wiki) and tried to setup Entourage against Gmail.  (If anyone knows a good way of getting the Calendar to sync, please let me know).  I participated in a video teleconference (VTC) with the peeps in Santa Monica and was comforted when I found out other companies besides Microsoft have a crappy VTC experience – is there any reliable hardware/software out there????

After I spent a couple of days getting a lay for the land, I felt comfortable enough to start putting a program management plan together.  The good news about working in software, specifically the web since ’95, is that its very easy to get up to speed with any sort of software being being built and recommend a process to manage the resources and get things shipped.

Some of the differences that aren’t good or bad, just different from working at Microsoft and my other previous jobs include:  working together in a big open workspace and hearing everything that is going on which can lead to getting involved in everything and anything that may or may not be work related.  The flipside of that is knowing pretty much everything going on and not having to repeat conversations.  I like it better than being closed up in my office at Microsoft as I like the collaborative feel of an open floor plan.  For real-time communication between San Francisco and Santa Monica, Topspin uses IRC and I can’t believe how much better it is to communicate than e-mail or even IM.  I was planning on writing a post about Chatterous because I was using it almost the same way for BarCampSeattle and with my Social Productivity team at Microsoft and I highly recommend both it and IRC for collaborating with remote associates.  The Colloquy client is really easy to use and you can also have private conversations if need be.  The last thing would be working with way less resources than I’m used to for building similar services but for some reason the same work gets cranked out in less time.  This is a mystery to me that I’m baffled by and will definitely get to the bottom of.  I know that large organizations like Microsoft have overhead and more dependencies between software components, but it is quite staggering.

I’m really excited about all the musicians that are already using Topspin including David Byrne and Brian Eno’s new “Everything That Happens Today” release and all the others in the pipeline.  I really look forward to meeting some of the artists because it was obviously a motivator for me to take the job. 🙂

To sum things up, I can’t be happier about moving to San Francisco and I’m ecstatic about working at Topspin.



Filed under: life, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. Colin H. says:

    Tara using IRC how very deep geek…. and web 1.0. 😉
    Sounds like you’re having a blast down there, couldn’t be happier for you.

  2. Erica says:

    I also happy for you, Tara! This is all so positive and exciting!

  3. Try http://spanningsync.com/ for google sync. This syncs to your Mac. Turn on sync in Entourage to also sync with your Mac. You’re using your Mac to be the go-between. Kinda complex, but it should work. YMMV.

    Good luck with the new job!

  4. Dmitry says:

    Hehe, the euphoria of switching a job. It wears off fast, but it’s great while it lasts. Have fun.

  5. Your Raconteur says:

    Wow! Your euphoria seems to be infectious all the way over on the other side of the planet!

    Heartiest congratulations!

    I’m thinkin’ that you deserve this… 😀



  6. Devon says:

    Hi Tara. You don’t know me but the girlfriend was randomly pulling up blogs on a boring Tuesday evening and stumbled across yours. You see, we too are moving to the Bay in a few months, so I think she was looking for some empathetic spirits who know about the experience of finding the right apartment in San Francisco.

    Anyways, she sent me the link because I’ve been contemplating the various places to work and she looked at Topspin and thought it might be something I’d be interested in. How do you like it? Any inside facts you can give me on the company (like “Devon, run for the hills?!?!”)? Maybe if you get bored on your Tuesday night you could shoot me an email? That’d be swell and I’d really appreciated it. Thanks and keep up the good work.


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