How To Buy a Used Car in Bulgaria

I *thought* I had bought my last combustion engine automobile years ago in San Francisco. The city of San Francisco and the state of California have done a good job of making the environmental impact of using a car commensurate with the price of operating one. I love biking, and I never thought I would buy another car. But priorities change. In Bulgaria it doesn’t make sense to buy a new car. The quality of…

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Get Out of the Muddy Middle

Look at your feature roadmap (the list of all the features you think are integral to your mature product, as you see it now). Now divide that feature list into three columns. The first column consists of features that you understand very well, that are unique and core to your product. You invented, or intend to invent, or otherwise acquire those solutions. You have either 1. assessed the feasibility of building those things, and you…

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Why We Should Have Flown to Istanbul (or Ten Reasons Not to Drive to Istanbul)

Recently my dad and his wife visited Bulgaria, and we decided to go to Istanbul as part of the fun, and step foot in Asia as part of their Southern European itinerary. With a new car, I was excited to drive there, in order to see more of Bulgaria and Turkey along the way. In roughly reverse order of importance, here are the reasons we should have flown instead: Parking. It was actually pretty convenient…

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What I Learned about VAT Producing Goods in the EU

You’ve been to Europe as a tourist. You walk for endless thirsty hours. You would sell your mother for a bench to nap on. You get home after dark and you pee for the first time of the day. And you have what seems like a hundred tiny paper receipts in your pocket. Have a look. They all have something called ‘VAT’ on them. VAT stands for ‘Value-Added Tax’. Twenty percent! Holy smokes–what a racket.…

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At webit: in ‘Sofia Digital Capital’

Sofia has a lot to offer tech entrepreneurs. One thing I didn’t expect to find is an event that attracts startups, sponsors and investors from all over Europe, and speakers and attractions from all over the world. I was really impressed with the physical prototypes of assistive technology. Here is a company iRise (I think they’ll run into problems with this name in the US) that’s building great stuff. Their very first prototype is in…

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Become Twice as Interesting by Being From Someplace Else

Stateside folks know the phenomenon: native English speakers from anywhere outside the US get at least thirty extra IQ points when they pass through customs. It doesn’t matter if you’re English, Irish, Aussie, Kiwi, South African: you get smarter, better looking, more persuasive just by being from someplace else. As a youngster in Western Europe, there was cachet attached to Americans. That’s gone now, for the most part. But in Eastern Europe there are still remnants…

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The Joy of Making

(or, the joy of trying to make, and failing, and trying again) For the last fifteen years, I’ve always had a day job and a night job. I’ve been lucky that my day job has allowed me to travel. And until recently, I didn’t make the connection that travel might also benefit my ‘night job’. I got my first taste of prototyping on vacation in China, when I tried to have this thing made: Did…

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I Didn’t Make It To Bucharest

In those few hours I had in my ‘layover’ in Sofia, I wanted to connect with whatever bit of Maker culture there was. In my first outing, I found myself in an apartment where twenty young people had taken over and were teaching themselves MySQL. One thing leads to another. By stumbling across this community tech teach-in, I got an introduction by text to a guy named Rado, a hardware engineer who supposedly had a…

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Bucharest

March, 2014. I was tacking some leisure travel onto a wedding trip from San Francisco to Finland, and decided to go to Eastern Europe in the off-season to see what it was like without tourists. (In the time I spent in Prague and Budapest, I knew there was something about the East that I liked, and I suspected that I would like it even better in the winter–so maybe Bucharest?) I had in mind to…

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