Israel 2008: One Conference, a Few Friends, Many Startups & Some Observations

Just like that, it has been six months since I had my life-changing experience. And perhaps that’s why I was comfortable flying out to Tel-Aviv to attend Yaron Orenstein’s TWS 2008 conference, meeting with tons of startups and getting together with friends. The journey, not the visit to Israel, turned out to be quite arduous, mostly because of the modern air industry’s inability to observe punctuality and show any degree of respect for their customers. (Of course, if you follow my Twitter feed, then you are up on the news.)

Since coming home, I have been struggling with a jet lag and some other issues that have prevented me from writing my recap of the Israel 2008 trip. For the past two weeks I have struggled with the urge to smoke, for the heat has triggered memories of sitting at sidewalk cafes, drinking espressos and smoking with friends, watching life just take a lazy stroll. Fighting to stay the course and not smoke took all of my energy, so now you know the reason for my sporadic appearances on the blog, and not replying to your emails. Perhaps that is why the foggy weekend was a welcome opportunity to write about my visit. (The photo gallery of the trip is embedded at the bottom of the post.)

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Destination: San Francisco. And Still NoGoBoingo

The week-long whirlwind of a tour to Israel is finally over. Waiting for my flight, I’m wondering when I’m going to get to sleep in my own bed. It is about 18 hours of flying time — London and Philadelphia are two stops on the way — with about six hours of layovers. Given that I am going to be flying on US Airways — an airline with a patchy track record of timeliness and service — I’m not sure if everything is going to work out. Never mind the fact that both Heathrow and Philadelphia Airports are shining examples of tardiness.

The nightmare ahead not withstanding, I have to say, the trip has been quite satisfying, for I am always amazed by the tirelessness of Israeli people. Tel-Aviv is a unique place, almost matching the pervasiveness of technology (and tech startups). Twice I got pitched while waiting for cabs on the street, a scene right out of a random meeting in Palo Alto. (Check out TypeMock, one of the companies I got pitched on.)

One of the promises I made to myself on this trip was that I would keep my computer time to a bare minimum and rely almost entirely on my mobile device of the month, the Blackberry Curve. The reason for my computer-free diet was to get some downtime and enjoy the lovely beaches of this country. I also wanted to take some time to write a longer-form report from Israel. Read More about Destination: San Francisco. And Still NoGoBoingo

Destination Tel-Aviv: Some Work, Some Fun

Updated From Frankfurt: It has already been a long day! I got up at 3 a.m. to get ready and head to the San Francisco Airport in time to catch my early morning US Airways flight to Charlotte and then connect to Frankfurt and then to Tel-Aviv. US Airways doesn’t tell you that you that you’re flying through “some city” on your way to Europe, which was funny because I ended up at the International Airport and then had to head back to the domestic terminal.

I am going there for the TWS 2008 conference, where I am one of the judges. I fell in love with Tel-Aviv on my trip last year, but never got to really chill and enjoy the city very much. This year, I plan to enjoy the beaches and recover a little from Structure 08-related madness. I have to say, I am seriously nervous, because this is a long trip, my first one since my heart attack and my first attempt at normalcy.

While the first part of the journey turned out to be fine, at Charlotte I found out that the connecting flight was going to be late by three hours, so the day — which was going to be around 18 hours — is now going to be even longer. While waiting for the next flight, I tried to log into T-Mobile via Boingo, whose new offering, Go Boingo, is going to be released on Monday and I am testing out right now. You can try out their free day pass, and the best part is it’s ready for Mac users — and is pretty awesome. Read More about Destination Tel-Aviv: Some Work, Some Fun