brianjschneider.com

HealHoboken.org

November 6th, 2012

As just about everyone knows, Hoboken, NJ got hit really hard during Hurricane Sandy last week. The storm surges caused massive flooding throughout the town. Over 50% of the streets had flooding. Some families and small businesses in basement and first floor units lost everything. The evidence of this is everywhere when you walk down the street and see piles of furniture, clothes, carpets, toys and photographs destroyed by the waters that were waist-high on some streets.

It’s been a tough last 7 days, but this is Hoboken. This is a town occupied by a bunch of people who aren’t just going to quit when things get tough. My wife and I dropped off bags of supplies to the high school on Saturday and Sunday and were thrilled by the outpouring of generosity in the form of volunteering and donated items that we saw. It’s crazy that one day we may ignore someone in the crosswalk while driving, but the next day we’ll donate food and clothing to them and their family. It’s a bizarre, but oddly beautiful dichotomy that helps to make New Jersey, and in particular Hoboken, an amazing place.

We’re all still a bit shell-shocked from last week, but we’re slowly getting back to normal (despite this completely unnecessary Nor’easter that should be hitting us on Wednesday), but we could still use your help. Aaron Price, the founder of the NJ Tech Meetup started HealHoboken.org. The site is selling some sweet tshirts and hoodies and the proceeds from those sales will go to the Hoboken Relief Fund. There is a lot of repair work ahead of us. There was damage to parks, schools, piers, the Boys and Girls club as well as many residential buildings and small businesses. The money raised selling these shirts will help get those folks the funds and help they need to rebuild.

So go ahead and pick up a shirt or two. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll be helping some people who really need your help. Added bonus, if you wear your shirt in Hoboken, you will instantly have some major street cred. This means we residents will actually restrain ourselves and not walk through your family photo in front of Carlo’s Bake Shop…well, maybe.

Heal Hoboken tshirt

September 6th, 2012

Hey Bernardsville, not only do you have the 10th highest per-capita income in the state of New Jersey, you also get to honor of being the first to experience Oink & Moo BBQ’s debut to the NJ food truck landscape! That’s right, fresh from the vinyl wrappers to your stomach, the Oink & Moo BBQ truck will be at Bernardsville High School from 5-10pm. Check out oinkandmoobbq.com and follow them on Twitter at @oinkandmoobbq. The ribs are fantastic and I’ve been jonesin’ to try the pulled pork tacos. Here’s the first photo of the truck:
Oink and Moo BBQ Truck

I’m so proud of the work Josh and I did on the the site and the truck and I can’t wait to see it in action. Best of Luck, Josh!

June 10th, 2012

One of the best things about liking smaller, independent bands is that when tickets go on sale, it’s usually quite easy to get tickets. Say I wanted to go see a show at the famous Maxwell’s in Hoboken, I would just go to their site, find the show I want to see, click on the “buy tickets” link, put in my credit card information and it would be done. Nice and simple.

When you want to go see Radiohead, it’s a different story. You have the pleasure of dealing with Ticketmaster and the digital barrage when tickets go on sale, which is always a day when it’s utterly inconvenient.

But it’s Radiohead, so you do what you have to do.

Tickets

It was cool, sunny Saturday morning in March when the Radiohead tickets went on sale for the two shows at Newark, NJ’s Prudential Center. My wife and I had plans to be at friends’ house for brunch by 10:30 which I thought would be no trouble thanks to the painless and futuristic transaction process the internet allows. When the clock struck 10:00am I was ready for battle logged in to my Ticketmaster account on both my phone and iPad. There had been shows scheduled for Thursday and Friday and I was trying to get Friday tickets, since Friday > Thursday. I clicked through all the steps, furiously trying to secure just one pair of tickets. All I saw were animated gifs symbolizing the ticket overlord’s digital brain thinking, trying to process my humble request. The process had completed on the iPad and it showed that I had secured seats, all I needed to do was hit the confirmation button and we’d be set, so I hit the button.

Error

What? What do you mean error??? Panic started to set in. It was already 10:10 at this point and all the good tickets were surely gone by now, plus my lovely wife was reminding me how late we were going to be to our brunch. I restarted the ticket search on the iPad and got the mocking animated gif again, so I checked on my phone. Nice, a different pair of tickets had come up, all I needed to do was hit the confirm button and they were ours, so I hit the button.

Error

Oh come on, this is ridiculous! Curses began flying around, the wife continued to look at me impatiently, but I still had no tickets, so I had to keep trying. Both devices were searching and the phone came back with another pair of tickets. All I needed to do was hit the confirm button and they would be mine, so I hit the button.

Thank you for your purchase Mr. Schneider, here is your confirmation number.

It worked! It had taken until almost 10:30, but I had my pair of tickets and we could now continue with the lovely day we had planned.

A few hours later I check my email on my phone and noticed a Ticketmaster confirmation email…

and another…

and another.

Apparently, those other two requests ended up going through, so now I had 3 pairs of tickets. No bother, the concert is almost 3 months away, I’ll surely find a way to unload them.

The first pair arrived via USPS about a week later, but only that one pair. I found that strange, so I logged into my Ticketmaster account to see where the other ones were, since I always opt for having the tickets mailed to me. Much to my surprise, only two pairs had been for the Friday night show of which one pair had been mailed to me and the other would need to be picked up at will-call. The final pair was for the Thursday night show and were in e-ticket form and to be printed out.

The Day of the Show

Fast forward three months, one week before the show and I’m still sitting on all six tickets. I put up an ad on Craigslist and notifications on Facebook and Twitter but couldn’t unload these tickets. The day before the Thursday show my wife had managed to unload the extra Friday tickets, but not the Thursday. She decided that she was going to take the train from NYC to Newark and try to sell the tickets outside the arena. I wasn’t comfortable letting her do that on her own, so I drove there after work to help her in her endeavor. After 10 minutes of walking around, we realized it was a lost cause. Our tickets weren’t good enough and everybody who was there already had tickets. We were both annoyed and I suggested, “why don’t we just go to the show tonight?” So that’s exactly what we did.

Radiohead – Night #1

The Prudential Center is a great place to watch a hockey game, but I’d never been there for anything else. When I looked at our tickets and saw we were in section 109, I was excited and thought we would down pretty low. Not so much. We weren’t in the tippy-top, but we were up there. The good thing was we were closer to the stage than a lot of others.

I’ve seen Radiohead perform before and I was most certainly excited to see them, but as soon as they started playing I realized how much I love this band and how they are completely in their own league. Their sound is very complex, with several layers of sound and when you hear it on an album you assume it’s overdubbing and other sound engineering terms that I don’t understand, but somehow Radiohead is able to replicate these sounds live and sound even better. It’s almost as if it was created on another planet and only Radiohead have the ability to translate to us earthlings. At one point they had 4 drummers on stage and when they performed “The Gloaming” the bass was so crisp and deep, it felt like it was trying to gently rearrange your organs, but in a good way.

Not only was the sound fantastic, the visual displays were dynamic and entertaining as well. The entire backdrop was lit and changed colors from song to song to reflect different tempos and moods. In addition, they had about 16 individual flat screen montiors displaying video footage of band members from cameras perched on the stage and on different pieces of equipment that were raised, lowered and tilted for each song. What I wasn’t quite expecting was how animated Thom Yorke was going to be on stage. Last time we had seen them was at the All Points West Festival in 2008, where he did a bit of dancing in place, but at this show whenever he wasn’t behind a piano or keyboard he was all over the stage spasticly dancing about.

Their first set was about an hour and a half and when they came out for the encore I suggested to my wife that we leave before the end of the encore since we’d be coming back tomorrow and probably won’t miss much, even though I didn’t really want to leave. As we were contemplating our move we hear Thom on the piano playing a slowed down rendition of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love,” which I found a bit strange, but the chills began to creep up my neck when I realized where they were going with this. All of a sudden he broke into the intro to “Everything In Its Right Place,” which is probably my favorite Radiohead song. We started jumping around, clapping and enjoying the moment. I was so happy we got to hear that, so I was ready to leave after, which after a very short break was when they started their second encore. People were running back from the bathrooms and exits surprised they were coming out again. From our seats to the entrance was a good 5 minute journey, and I told my wife how happy I was that we came and that the only song I wish I could still see them play was “The National Anthem” which they probably wouldn’t play anyway. As we get off the elevator about the exit the arena I hear that reverb-y guitar lick that’s, yup your guessed it, the intro to “The National Anthem.” We dart back up the steps and sneak into the first section that we find. Unfortunately, the usher of that section wasn’t happy that 15 people just ducked into her section who didn’t belong there and had to leave, but at least we got to hear most of the song from the concourse area. It was a fantastic show and I can’t believe that I almost ate those tickets to play pick-up roller hockey instead.

Their playlist was very heavy with King of Limbs and In Rainbows material (as Thom Yorke said after the first few track “we’re not ready for the greatest hits just yet”), but they sprinkled in some older hits as well. Here is the playlist:

  • Bloom
  • 15 Step
  • Bodysnatchers
  • Staircase
  • The Daily Mail
  • Myxomatosis
  • The Gloaming
  • Separator
  • Nude
  • Morning Mr. Magpie
  • Identikit
  • Lotus Flower
  • There There
  • Karma Police
  • Feral
  • Idioteque
Encore:
  • You and Whose Army?
  • Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  • Supercollider
  • Everything In Its Right Place
Encore 2:
  • Give Up the Ghost
  • The National Anthem
  • Reckoner

Here are the photos:
Radiohead - 5-31-12 Prudential Center Newark, NJRadiohead - 5-31-12 Prudential Center Newark, NJRadiohead - 5-31-12 Prudential Center Newark, NJ

Radiohead – Night #2

Radiohead isn’t one of those bands who would mail-it-in the second night at a venue so we were excited to see them the second night. For us, everything was different this evening. Instead of us driving to the show, we were taking the train from Penn Station in New York and this time we had friends who were coming with us. The train lines at Penn Station were insane due to the show and the fact that it was a Friday night in New York. After a frightening trip to Penn Station bathroom, we all boarded the train to Newark. It was very easy taking NJ Transit to Newark Penn Station, only taking about 15 minutes. Once we got there the arena was only 3 blocks away, making it very easy to get to.

One thing they’re finally rectifying around the Prudential Center is opening some decent bars and restaurants that you can go to before and after events. We popped into the Edison Ale House for a quick drink before heading across the street to the concert. Tonight we had general admission tickets which means we were going to be on the floor. Instead of looking down at Radiohead, today we’d be looking up.

We got into the arena just as Radiohead was starting. I feel bad missing Caribou, the opening band, because I really like their music, too. The way they had the general admission floor set up, they had aisles on the sides where people could walk out to if they needed to use the bathroom or get refreshments. There was a white line that separated the floor from the aisle. We ended up walking down the aisle pretty far and got a great spot no more than 40 feet away from the stage, not bad for coming in at the last minute.

The set started off identical to the night before, but from this different vantage point, it all felt completely different. The sound on the floor was just as spectacular as from the seats, but you didn’t feel the bass as much on floor. The crowd was great too, everyone was just having a good time, singing along and cheering. Thom’s dancing was toned down a bit from the night before, but he was still animated. He did admit later on that he had quite sick, so for him to have put on a performance like that was incredible. It’s so amazing watching them perform live, especially Thom who, in addition to singing played guitar, piano, keyboard and maracas. I was so happy when they played “The National Anthem” towards the end of the first set since I had missed most of it the night before. It sounds great!

Despite the great first set, there was a bit of a screw up at the end during “Ideoteque.” Johnny Greenwood was working his magical recording devices, but something must have gone awry to the point where Thom said “Fuck It” and just walked off stage. Fortunately, that was the end of the set and not during the second song of the night.

With the exception of “Supercollider,” their 4 song first encore was different than the one from the night before, finishing off with “Go to Sleep” and “Paranoid Android,” which both had the crowd going crazy. Thom messed up the lyrics to “Paranoid Android,” but no one seemed to upset about it.

Two-thirds of the previous night’s final encore were the same with the exception being the final song which was R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” into “Everything In Its Right Place.” Everybody in the arena was clapping, dancing and loving the final song of the evening. It was amazing getting to see such a complex song being done live and so well! Here is the playlist:

  • Bloom
  • 15 Step
  • Bodysnatchers
  • Kid A
  • Staircase
  • The Daily Mail
  • Myxomatosis
  • The Gloaming
  • Separator
  • Pyramid Song
  • Morning Mr. Magpie
  • Identikit
  • Lotus Flower
  • The National Anthem
  • Feral
  • Idioteque
Encore:
  • How to Disappear Completely
  • Supercollider
  • Go to Sleep
  • Paranoid Android 

Encore 2:
  • Give Up the Ghost
  • Reckoner
  • The One I Love/Everything In Its Right Place

Here are the photos:

The Path Train

After the show, we figured it would be a piece of cake to get home, just walk those same three blocks back to the train station, hop on the Path and be home in lovely Hoboken in new time. That would only make sense. Having extra trains running back to New York on a night where there’s a concert with over 15,000 people would only make sense.

I’m proposing a new slogan for the Path – “It doesn’t make sense, but what are you gonna do about it?”

So after the show, the majority of people who had gone to the concert were trying to get back to the New York City area, since the two shows at the Prudential Center were the only shows in the New York City area. The Path train platform was packed, so when a train showed up at 11:30, we all hopped on board, completely filling the train like within two minutes. One would think, the folks at the Path would know they would have significantly higher ridership with the concert and try to add an extra train or two when the concert was scheduled to get out. If you thought so, you’d be wrong. We all sad on that packed, stuffy train for almost 30 minutes before we left the station. What made it worse, was the night before, when we had a vehicle and had left a few minutes before the show was over, we were home in 22 minutes.

Conclusion

Nothing could take away the fact that the Friday night show was in my top 5 concerts of all time. Radiohead is one of the best bands of our generation. They’re always evolving their sound, trying new things and pushing the boundaries of their art, not only their music, but how it’s distributed. “In Rainbows” was originally distributed as using an unheard of pay-what-want model, while “King of Limbs,” presented as the world’s first “newspaper album” was originally set to be released February 19th, 2011, but figured since it was ready the day before, all those who had pre-ordered could download it now. They’re a band always challenging themselves and the status quo, which is something, as designers, we should think about doing to (see, I made it related to design…sort of). I can’t wait to see them next time their back in the area and I’m already looking forward to whatever they’re up to next, which could be something with Jack White. My mind is patiently waiting to be blown.

February 26th, 2012

For months now I’ve been trying to find some local tech Meetup groups that had real meetings where you could meet real people. I was lucky enough to meet an entrepreneur at the ski house I’ve been going to this year who also lived in Hoboken and turned me on to the New Jersey Tech Meetup. So this past Thursday I attended my first meet-up at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. It blew me away what a large and vibrant start-up community there was right in my backyard that I had no idea existed.

The meeting started with a networking session while we all munched some of the worst pizza I’ve had from North Jersey. I mean, I’m sure that pizza in California would be a crowning achievement, but we’re quite spoiled in this neck of the woods, but I digress. I only got to speak with one additional person outside my original little group, but was amazed at the diversity of people who attended the meeting. There were developers, designers, inventors, lawyers, venture capitalists, among others. The first part of the meeting involved having 4 different start-ups giving a presentation of their company. Each pitch was timed to be 5 minutes followed by a no-holds barred Q&A session. I was surprised at how brutal and to-the-point the questions to the presenter were. One of the presenters looked like they were going to cry trying to defend themselves and their business. The crowd favorite was by a Stevens Senior who created a wearable heads-up display that connected to your phone. He even had a working prototype. It was a bit crude, but it was a working prototype which was very impressive.

The main event was the presentation by Andrew Weinreich, a well-known NYC entrepreneur who talked about some of the events that occurred on his journey to success. It was quite interesting. Here were a few of the tidbits that stuck out for me:

  • Winning decisions will offend people
  • Always be iterating
  • Focus groups are a waste of time
  • Success is all about waiting for the right wave
  • We choose to build things

After Andrew’s presentation there was a trivia competition based on the presentations of the evening. The technology used was very impressive. To compete, all you had to do was call the number displayed on the screen and enter your answers in real-time using the keypad on your phone. All of the statistics for how many people were competing and how many right answers were all tabulated on the screen and the high scores were shown next to the corresponding phone number, all in real time. The scores were weighted based on how quickly you answered in relation to the rest of the competitors and your score was immediately posted on the screen. I was pleasantly surprised that I got 3rd place out of about 90+ participants. I didn’t win a prize, but the thrill of “medaling” was exciting in its own regard.

For me, the absolute highlight was reconnecting with a friend I hadn’t seen since high school. Before the meeting I had perused the list of attendees and noticed saw a name and face that looked very familiar. He was in rather high demand after the meeting so it took me a while to get the chance to speak to him. Once he figured out who I was, he was ecstatic and we had a great conversation about life and WordPress.

To sum it up, it was a great experience. I’m already looking forward to next months meeting. Hopefully one day in the near future, I’ll have something to present at one of these meetings.

August 30th, 2011

What a week it’s been in the New York City area.

It was a week ago that we got hit with an earthquake, the first one that I’ve ever felt, and then Saturday, we got hit dead-on by Hurricane Irene, the first Hurricane to hit within 75 miles of New York City since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

We live right across the Hudson River in Hoboken, so whatever is happening in New York is happening to us. One advantage that New York has over us is that 90% of their city isn’t a flood zone, like ours is. As great as Hoboken its, there are certain parts that when it rains, it always floods, so the idea of a hurricane was rather frightening.

My wife works in the financial services industry and her job involves settling large institutional trades for banks. It’s the kind of job needs signatures and approvals and isn’t something can be done remotely. Between her and her manager, one of them needs to be on site to complete their processes and make sure the trades can be completed. Unfortunately for my wife, her manager was on vacation starting Tuesday the 23rd and wasn’t due to fly home until Sunday.

With the hurricane heading right for the city, that flight home wasn’t going to happen.

The wife’s company decided that they would put up a small group of people in a hotel one block from the office over the weekend to ensure that they would be able to make it in first thing Monday morning. I guess they figured spending a few thousand dollars was better than the company losing millions of dollars in trades that couldn’t get processed. As much as we think that when New York is out of commission, the rest of the world is too, that isn’t the case with investing. People all over the world are trying to get rich, or in these cases, stay rich.

Sleeping Friday night wasn’t easy. I woke up on and off throughout the night and just couldn’t relax, thinking about the potential destruction and doom that was a few hundred miles away and barreling up the coast. The first thing I did was put on the TV and get the latest on what was going on with the storm. The report was the same as it was when I went to bed the night before – it’s coming right for us. I packed all the things I needed – clothes, toiletries, water and snacks, laptop for work and things I thought I’d need – flashlight, books, DVDs.

As we were almost ready to go, we saw that Hoboken mayor Dawn Zimmer announced that they ordered an evacuation of all first floor units in town. Fortunately, we are on the 5th floor, but our building’s first floor is the garage where we have our car and storage unit. Before heading out I made a last feeble effort to get the car to higher ground by inquiring at a local parking garage to see if they’d have parking available for the weekend. Not surprising, they were all filled up, so we were going to roll the dice and leave the car in our garage.

There was a very creepy feeling in the air as we walked to the bus stop. On any Saturday in Hoboken the town is bustling with people, whether it’s new parents walking their new borns and infants around town, outdoor cafes full of people or people just doing their thing around town…but not today. People were leaving for fear of the worst.

NJ Transit and Port Authority had announced that they would shutting down train and PATH service at 12pm on Saturday. We were going to take the bus to Port Authority Bus Terminal, which was going to be running until 6pm, but thought that if we could get there sooner we could get situated and hunker down for the worst. We were the only ones at the bus stop for about five minutes until a grey Honda Pilot pulled up dropping of a guy in probably his early-to-mid-30s and the driver, whom upon exiting we could see, was pregnant woman and from what we could determine, was the guy’s wife. He had his bags packed and you could tell immediately that he was going in to the city and she was not. She stayed and waited for him and he frequently would step into the street and check to see if the bus was coming, returning to his wife and either hugging her or grabbing her hand in a way that made you wonder why is he leaving her in this state? The bus finally came up the road and the two gave each other one last hug and the guy completed the nearly impossible act of disengaging and making is way onto the bus. None of us on that bus knew what to expect, but we were all going to be front and center for a history making event in New York City.