In the spirit of NYC’s bike to work week, here’s some guidance around buying your first bike. Like most things you read on the internet, please take this with a grain of salt, but know that I’ve been riding a bike to work for about 7 years (5 in SF and 2 in NY).
First of all, get excited!
Riding a bike is incredibly freeing. What used to be a 45 minute G train ride from Williamsburg to Prospect Park is now a 25 minute cruise with plenty of scenic brownstones in between. And with the immutable presence of fried chicken in this town, we could all benefit from more exercise.
But aren’t bikes expensive? Not really! Depending on whether you want a used or new bike, you can find yourself a reliable steed in the range of $500. If you consider a monthly metro pass is $116 or even the cost of owning and maintaining a car (gulp!), bikes offer incredible value.
Buying a Bike
Option one – go analog (also known as, support your local bike shop):
Physically going into a bike shop and actually checking out the models is a great way to get to know what you like and see what’s out there. Bicycling.com recommends calling two or three different shops to get a sense of the styles and brands they carry in advance to save time. You can also get a sense of how amenable the shops are to first-time bike owners.
Two bike shops I’ve found to be very good are Velo in the East Village and Bicycle Habitat in Soho. Even if you don’t end up buying your bike there, you can patronize these shops by picking up a light, or a lock there.
For a great first commuter bike, I recommend going single speed. New York is relatively flat, and single speed bikes are easy to maintain with less moving parts to break or have stolen. A bike with a flip-flop hub will enable you to switch to fixed gear. Even if you have greater aspirations of going from being commuter to a proper cyclist, the single speed will carry you through many a long ride up the Westside Highway or around Prospect Park.
Option two – the Internet:
Once you begin to familiarize yourself with brands, you can read up on various reviews. Bike forums are chock full of information and personal feedback around different brands so its easy to start to learn how models stack up in terms of quality.
Option two and a half – Craigslist is your friend:
Once have an understanding of what brands are good and pricing, you can take a much more targeted approach to your Craigslist search. For someone on a budget, Craigslist can be a great path to getting value. Just understand like anything else from Craiglist, caveat emptor.
In my experience – some of the most important factors that play in when owning a good commuter bike are having a good comfortable seat, good wheels and durable tires (saving the headache of a flat).
For seats I really like the Fizik Arione, but everyone’s ‘seats’ are different. You can always go the route of the classic Brooks saddle, but don’t forget the not so classic Nylon chain to help keep it from being stolen.
As far as helmets, my number one recommendation is to wear one. After that, buy something comfortable and not too expensive, because that way you can lock it to your bike without feeling nervous. Giro makes a nice range at accessible prices and if you are looking for something more urban check out Bern.
Comfortable sneakers with a hard rubber sole like Vans, Superga or Chrome will do you right. If you’re aiming for a bit of a higher rung on the style ladder, maybe a good wedge sole will catch the discerning lense of The Sartorialist
Overall – Get a bike you like, that feels good to ride and you’ll be excited to hop on in the morning, or after a long day of work.
So, I’ve Bought a Bike. Now What?
My Go to Streets for Navigating Manhattan are:
North: 1st ave, 6th ave & 8th ave
South: 2nd ave, Broadway & 9th ave
West: Spring Street , 9th St. & 21st St.
East: Grand St, Stanton St., Bleecker St. & 20th St.
A PDF of the 2013 Bike Map for New York can be found here.
Tips & Tricks?
Don’t be a jerk. Running red lights into oncoming traffic, darting in front of pedestrians and riding the wrong way is a fast path to getting hit, or at the least bad karma. And don’t get frustrated with salmon, those impatient cyclists or even roller bladers who feel the need to go the wrong way in the bike lanes.
Reward your new purchase by riding to Ferdinando’s in Red Hook and having their focaccia sandwich. It’s not easy to get to by subway and you’ll never look at ricotta cheese the same way again.
There are no shortage of jaywalkers, double parked delivery vans, and errant food carts to complicate your ride, but if you ride with respect and keep aware of your surroundings, you’ll do great and have a blast. Now get out there and enjoy yourself!
Questions? Say hi on Twitter. I’m @brosbeshow.
Have you ever tried to learn a new skill that you know to be valuable, but you can’t find the motivation to follow through? I’m remembering a time when I tried to learn piano and harmonica and guitar, but not only was I mediocre, that’s generous, there was no concert, no group band, no end goal that encouraged me to trudge through the difficulties of learning a new skill. Although, I’d like to argue that I’m simply better at enjoying music more so than I am at making music.
If you read my last post about interning at Percolate, you’ll know that I have been learning about marketing and branding–both new skills with definite end goals of getting better at my job. Since getting hired full-time, I have been assisting in measuring our clients success across platforms, a process that requires an in-depth understanding of the posting and engagement metrics of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, of our tools at Percolate, and of the programming design of our tools.
As was true when I started interning at Percolate, I realized that once full-time I would have to learn a new skill in order to be better at what I do. Fortunately, Percolate is swimming with intelligent people, so I asked our ever-knowing product manager Stacy where I could a) stay updated on the changes made to social platforms’ APIs and interfaces, and b) learn the basics about markup language and coding. She gave great direction.
What is most thrilling about learning to read and speak these languages (forgive me for continuing the language metaphor from my last post) is that there is an end goal: delivering report cards to clients. In order to confidently deliver the data on these report cards, I need to understand how Facebook formats a user ID and a post ID in a single URL. If Twitter makes changes to its API, I need to know what effect that will have on the data we can deliver to clients. By understanding basic markup language I can read raw stats on a post or a user. And once I know these things, I can comprehend the capabilities and limitations of our tools in relation to the platforms that are most important to Percolate. When I encounter a problem or a difficulty, I have the resources–both in people at Percolate and in what I’ve already learned–to power through to find the bug, understand it and fix it.
Unlike piano, I’m still learning about changes to social platforms and markup language. The goal of delivering report cards is real, and they keep coming in. So whenever a developer on Team Percolate feigns being impressed by my work, I take a little victory lap to celebrate that I’ve learned a new skill. And I have to say–it’s pretty fun.
Sound fun? We’re hiring. Come join us.
On Friday, the teams at Percolate – business and product – assembled for #hackpercolate 2013.
Nourished by a delicious and healthy breakfast and raring to go, we divvied up into teams to work on projects ranging from a mobile site to a dashboard view of key metrics in Percolate to an internal website that showed the occupancy state of the bathroom. Yes, you read that correctly and can read the dedicated post for how well that went.
Dispatch from Team Aroma (Arduino Light)
Team Aroma started with the bare materials of Arduino and ended with a product that shows – via LED smiley face – 1. when a client logs in and 2. when a client post is published via Percolate. Erik taught Sarah, Song, and Max to solder, which was key to connecting the circuits so that the display would work. Meanwhile, JOB and Luke worked on programming for the Arduino device (after Max did the original Arduino set-up), enabling it to communicate with the server and display a corresponding bitmap image. On the back end for the server, Danny checked for new posts and logins with Max’s help.
Great news, the team’s prototype worked on the first try–boom! Currently, we are trying to be fancy and get usernames to scroll that will correspond to the login. Sarah christened this project with the name “Aroma.” Erin also made an excellent presentation to showoff everyone’s hardwork. And, in the end, JOB cleaned up our mess. Thank you sir.
Dispatch from Team Perco-Users
The Perco-user team was comprised of two developers, one designer and five business folks with a shared goal of making it easier for all Percolate employees to understand the frequency of client usage. Peter, an account manager at Percolate, tracks and analyzes client usage data daily. He knows this information like the back of his hand. However, Percolators in other functions don’t have easy access to this data. Our goal was to fix that. We set out to build an internal dashboard that easily communicates software usage. The ultimate objective is to understand client behavior to improve our product.
We began the brainstorm to find a balance between business need, creativity and product feasibility. Once we had the general concept, each discipline got to work. With a framework for the dashboard, we needed to understand how to best represent the data to keep it easily consumable. We decided it should be represented in two forms; an aggregate snapshot of all business, and a detailed breakout of each client.
In the end, the output was a blend of our unique perspectives from across the business. Now, everyone can understand software usage and work together – product and business – to get clients Percolating to their full potential. Because the more you Percolate, the happier you are!
And, a very special thanks to Kate Whitlow for her fantastic and healthy catering services.
As a startup grows, so does the bathroom line.
Percolate has outgrown our office space, so the mention of Arduino technology during Hack Day kick-off quickly birthed an idea. We can build a way to check if the bathroom’s vacant from the comfort of your desk.
When Team Bathroom assembled–near the bathroom, of course–the first move was out the door. A shopping trip was in order.
At Canal Alarm Devices, the team picked up magnetic sensors to detect when the bathroom door opens.
Say hi everybody! From left above: April, Percolate office manager; Ian W, ops; Erik, mathematician; and Noah, co-founder and head of product.
There was a moment of reflection on Canal Street: How is this going to work exactly? The magnets tell a website if the toliet was vacant or occupied, if the door is open or closed. Visit a website to see and, if the door is closed, put your name–better yet, your Twitter handle–in the queue. When it’s your turn, you receive a tweet.
Then it was time to execute. Back at the office, April learned to code for the first time.
And Ian and Erik got to programming the Arduino.
Clearly, more field trips were eventually in order.
Meanwhile Brand Strategists Kunur and Jo selected the Twitter handle @PercolateWC and eventually wrangled a designer, Erin, for a crash-course in wireframing.
It took a bit of time for Kunur and Jo to find the wireframing templates.
At lunch, the team got a visit from Noah’s wife Leila. Clearly the Twitter bathroom reporter idea was born years ago: At Naked Communications, back when Twitter was first taking off, Noah sat near the loo and kept the office informed: “available,” “not available,” “hold off, someone took a while in there.”
Soon enough, Ian got the hardware working. Kunur, otherwise useless in these situations, put it on Vine.
And a working prototype was born in one working day. Awesome job Team Bathroom and on-the-fly recruits Doug and James OB.
A few months ago, Percolate launched SPEAKEASY, a monthly happy hour for community managers, to bring the community together. Tonight, we took it one step further and debuted the SPEAKEASYCM blog to educate, inspire and delight community managers.
SPEAKEASYCM celebrates the great work community managers do everyday and shares inspiration, the latest updates from social platforms and tips and tricks to make their job easier. We’ll be featuring great events and job openings, too. On the site, you can submit to our job board to post great opportunities at your company.
Monday marked a day that many who live on the internet have had on their calendars for months, Community Manager Appreciation Day.
It’s the little things that make a community manager’s job worthwhile and on the fourth Monday of January 2013, those little things transformed into a flowing river of appreciation if you followed the Twitter hashtag #CMAD.
Percolate celebrated community managers by hosting #SPEAKEASY #CMAD. A mix of brands, platforms and agencies presented their learnings on community building and social to a room full of eager community managers.
If you weren’t able to join us or want to review the presentations once more, we’ve archived the slides below with links and brief descriptions of the presenters and their presentations.
Noah Brier, Percolate co-founder, presented the Evolution of Social Content.
Summary: The endless information ‘stream’ which has proliferated across social channels means that no one thing defines a brand anymore. Social platforms are mirrors reflecting consumer attention in real time, and good content lives at the intersection of brand message and cultural relevance.
Keith Cowing from LinkedIn presented marketing solutions for brands on the LinkedIn platform.
Summary: LinkedIn has evolved from being “who I am at work” to a much broader personalized professional content source. In fact, LinkedIn content creates five times the activity that job postings do. LinkedIn’s newest features, like LinkedIn Today, Groups, Slideshare and Network Updates, all aim at bringing the platform towards recognition as a community for professional content.
Tyler Fonda, Strategy Director at Gotham Inc., presented on the learnings of Denny’s social strategy “Cats and Babies.”
Summary: To create content, community managers and all social publishers need to optimize through experimentation: the risk is simply too low not to (no one will view the content). Gotham was able to experiment with content creation for its client, Denny’s, by creating memes around cats and babies. Here, and on other campaigns, Gotham has successfully used memes as trojan horses for getting into people’s facebook feeds.
Danielle Strle of Tumblr presented “why Tumblr should be your brand’s social hub”.
Summary: Tumblr is a special platform because brands can post anything they want and customize the look and feel. Many brands are seeing unmatched longevity and engagement around their content on Tumblr and the best examples of brands using the platform are available at http://brands.tumblr.com/.
Adam Sandler of American Express presented on how they’re building a community from scratch.
Summary: While a community is united around a certain shared interest, a social network is defined by shared existing relationships. The purpose of Amex’s OPEN Forum was to create a community of thought-leaders to drive “engagement, endorsement, and loyalty” around topics relevant to small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Jon Lombardo of GE presented on “How General Electric became a content company”.
Summary: GE has fascinating social content across virtually all the platforms and they achieved this by knowing their context, thinking about why people share and letting go of the brand (kind of). The result has been increased engagement and content creation across all their social presences.
Jennifer Stalzer of MasterCard talked about the evolution of their corporate newsroom.
Summary: Corporate Communications is currently at the intersection of content and code. In its strategy for building its own corporate newsroom, MasterCard focused on integrating its various social channels, curating content to fuel conversations around context, and creating content with third-party validation. For Mastercard, content creation is never a “one n’ done” process, and MasterCard uses the Percolate Brew to syndicate its content around owned media, bringing new relevancy to dated stock media content.
Matthew Murray of Getty Images showed how brands can co-create with Getty Images. To view please enter your email and password Percolate2013.
Summary: Getty Images now provides brands with a digital, rights-free multimedia library to assist in the content creation process.
Kristin Maverick of The Barbarian Group discussed how Pepsi NEXT and TaskRabbit tested the boundaries of community sampling in their latest campaign.
Summary: To introduce Pepsi NEXT on digital channels, the Barbarian Group partnered with an up-and-coming startup called TaskRabbit, an online marketplace for users to outsource their simple errands and tasks to local trustworthy people. Select contest winners outsourced their errands/tasks for an hour and spent their newfound extra time sampling Pepsi’s new low-sugar product.
Jack Pollock of IPG Media Labs talked about how they’re employees are signals for innovation externally.
Summary: Building an internal community within your own company can be difficult, yet it relies on bringing together technology, content, and audience and avoiding the challenge of diversification. IPG Media Labs consists of 60 thought-leaders across five continents vetting potential media technologies for use at scale.
After a day full of information sharing, Noah concluded with the following threads for the audience to consider: the evolving role of the community manager; the proliferation of new platforms; the diversification of social media presence; how brands are turning user-experiences into user-generated content; and how the industry has moved away from talk of ‘influence’.
Did you attend the event? Let us know your thoughts.
Thanks again to those who attended, presented and our friends, partner and sponsor Tumblr for helping make #SPEAKEASY #CMAD a success. We’re looking forward to doing it again next year and we’ll be post details for the next #SPEAKEASY community manager happy hour soon.
Last night we held our first happy hour specifically for community managers, SPEAKEASY. We had an incredible turnout at Percolate HQ, especially for a night packed with holiday parties across the city.
Our celebrity photographer Dom Goodrum was on hand to document the night’s festivities:
Thanks to everyone who came out including our co-hosts Kristine Michelsen-Correa, bitly; Lauren Cucinotta, TEDx; and Allie MacPherson, TEXT100. We hope you enjoyed meeting team Percolate and other like-minded folk.
We’re busy planning the next SPEAKEASY so look for invites just after the New Year.
As the brand pioneers on Facebook and Twitter, community managers have it tough. Yes, running social pages for the world’s biggest brands looks like warm-fuzzy photos and thousands of likes on the outside, but it’s also uncharted territory, new questions and new paradigms in marketing.
Knowing that, we’d like to share a few things we hope can make their jobs easier and more fun.
First off, our friends over at 360i have posted some great tips for community managers. It’s an excellent guide on how to equip yourself to build compelling, human brands in social.
Next, to bring a sense of community to the growing ranks of community managers, we’re kicking off a monthly happy hour specifically for this set at Percolate HQ called SPEAKEASY. Please join us on Thursday, December 6 from 7-9pm for the first of many happy hours hosted by Percolate. We’ll feature special guest hosts so community managers can have a drink on us and talk with like-minded folk.
All the details are available at http://percolate.eventbrite.
Since a bunch of us Percolators are working out of Downtown Brooklyn (and we’re not alone) we thought it might be fun to get folks together for drinks tonight.
So, if you’re around Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn or anywhere else within walking distance and want to come hang out, here’s the details for our impromptu meetup:
Where: O’Keefe’s Tavern, 62 Court Street (between Livingston & Joralemon)
Who: Anyone. Bring your friends. Bring their friends. Let’s have a fun night.
Excellent. Feel free to share this around and hope to see you later.
[Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a series in which we gather some audio preferences from teams here at Percolate. This time: Business. Want to know what product jams to? Here you go.]
If music be the food of sales, play on.
Percolate’s business team – from client experiences to sales, via account management – has eclectic musical tastes.
Here’s a sampling.
Passion Pit on pandora
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Peter Bjorn and John
This is about the height of smooth
Favorite artist, Sean Price… easy
Sean Price feat. Block McCloud of Brooklyn Academy – Mess You Made – Clean
Sean Price – Violent – Clean
Rodan – who has a law degree, because, why not – gets her kicks on Pandora:
I listen to The Band Perry + Pretty Lights + The Head and The Heart stations frequently. Country + Electronic / House + Indie Folk Pop gives you an interesting mix.
C-raig thinks “The Coast is Never Clear” is an album that more people should know about:
Summers usually tend towards feel good jamz, of which Beulah is featured in pretty heavy rotation. For something a little more recent, I’ve been giving the latest Hot Chip a listen or two.
I’ve also got an R. Kelly thing going on recently, which is mildly concerning as I try to determine whether it’s a guilty pleasure or an actual pleasure. Trapped in the Closet is equal parts amazing and hilarious.
Oh, also Gramatik if I need to jam through some emails… he’s on the same label as Pretty Lights and gives out all his music for free.
But Ian “Hang on while I close this deal” Hopping notes:
James doesn’t approve of music. We’re only allowed to listen to Donald Trump’s “It’s Time to Get Tough” audio book, read by Donald Trump…..there a minimum requirement of ten listens\week against our quarterlies.
Sometimes I sneak in Four Tet, Bonobo, Explosions in the Sky, and Tiny Victories. Tallest Man on Earth, Hospitality, and Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” when I need to take things down a notch.
As for James, we’re pretty sure he just goes for ambient waves on repeat.
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