Deano’s answer to: “Are Sunnyvale and San Jose geek/nerd places?”

Both are “geek/nerd places” in terms of residential density of Ruby/Python/Java/PHP developers, but neither is a “geek/nerd place” in terms of atmosphere…

San Jose has a bit of a “true town”, but is still a lot of highways and strip malls – shops/restaurants/bars that close down comparatively early, and the exceptions tend to have a more “townie”, or even worse “hipster” vibe.

(Liar! The Winchester Mystery House is open til midnight around Halloween!)

Sunnyvale, CA is a great place to live if you like biking to work for a valley startup in the neighborhood, and not much else. Much moreso than ‘San Jo’, Sunnyvale basically lives and breathes the corporate daily schedule, and while it may have its share of decent lunch/dinner spots, and some fairly nerd-friendly coffee shops, there just isn’t enough of that “late night, burning the Mt. Dew” coder-feel to the place.

(Sunnyvale makes Redwood City look positively thrilling)

As Robert Scoble says, Palo Alto has a lot more of the “hacker vibe”, though it’s seriously hamstrung in that it does double-duty as a college town, so it’s a bit of a mixed bag for community nerd-support, especially in the coffee shops (which are just as full with PoliSci majors and Soccer Jocks as engineers)… Still, make a few Stanfordian friends, and you’ll have your “in” for those passionate coding discussions at venues and events on/just off campus.

(BTW, Google “Palo Alto excitement”, this is the result…)

All is not lost, however – there are several co-working spaces in the area, and for as little as $100/month membership (or $10 a visit), you can get all the “coder-nerd” lifestyle, conversation, and energy you could possibly want from places like the Hacker Dojo[*] and SemanticSeed[†].

(That looks a little more like it, non? Hacker Dojo FTW!)

[* In Mountain View – hackerdojo.com ]
[† In San Jose – semanticseed.com ]

This answer originally appeared on Quora: Are Sunnyvale and San Jose geek/nerd places?

Deano’s answer to: “My co-founder just had a baby. What would be a nice present to get him?”

Dean’s official short list of great presents that no one else will probably give new parents, which they nonetheless really need:

  • A Nerf Football ($10 http://amzn.to/jJE1LE). Babies like to play with balls regardless of gender. Footballs have an odd shape that allows babies to learn more about their world – you can roll it along the floor along its widest point, tilted so it wobbles side to side, or even end-over-end. Various types of spins are also really easy to do. A lot more variety in the ways it can entertain compared to a simple sphere. Also, I only advise Nerf because it’s soft enough for newborns. Leather footballs have vastly superior rolling ability, and are potentially safer/more durable chewables.
  • A Large Box Spool of Bubble Wrap ($16 http://amzn.to/ldX5Ml). It kills the Earth with indestructible plastic waste. It has the potential to suffocate your child. Still, babies are stressful. They drive you insane sometimes. For the first year, having that box as a way to “pop out” the everyday stresses of parenthood will be a surprisingly effective balm for most that ails. Then, once the little duffer can get in on the action, it’s one of the cheapest babysitters-per-foot money can buy. GREAT FOR BIRTHDAY PARTIES.
  • Baby Signing Time DVDs ($17 ea. http://amzn.to/mowa2e). Not Singing, Signing. Crying is great the first few months, because you know it means one of two things. But, eventually, those screeches become “one word that means everything”… Sometimes it’s hard to know what an older baby wants, because they simply cannot speak yet. Enter simplified ASL sign language! Once they get the motions down, you’ll revel in the ability to have actual conversations with your kid, and if you’re lucky, see them make their first pre-verbal joke! Really cool stuff… And yes, putting that DVD on might earn you a 15 minute nap as an extra bonus.
  • A Bubble Machine (~$20 http://amzn.to/jo6qHY). I recommend the Gazillion Typhoon, but it’s nearly impossible to find (Try Costco). More on why it is the best here: http://www.waynesthisandthat.com…This guy is a one-man Quora of bubble machines. Simply put, babies love bubbles. Battery powered (8xAA, WTF?!?), so you can take it to the park. Rock the coolest stroller in mommy-land.
  • A WeeRide Kangaroo Bike Seat ($50 http://amzn.to/mN2vtz). Okay, it’s not really a “birth-age” item, but if the parents like to bike, this will work from whenever their kid’s neck will support the weight of the head, and is legal not too terribly long after that. The central placement makes biking less of a struggle compared to rear seats, allows you to keep the extra weight entirely within your center of gravity, and the lil’ tike can take in the scenery, instead of an increasingly-sweat-stained view of your back.
  • A Roomba Cleaning Robot ($200-600 http://amzn.to/iZTXWR). This is pretty straightforward: parents got no time for cleaning, and yet need everything to be cleaned and disinfected constantly. Also, babies tend to be at least somewhat enthralled by anything that moves and doesn’t try (hard) to eat them. It’s the priciest item on my list, good as a “group buy” within an office/team. These are great for crumbs and dust, the higher end ($300+) models are programmable, and can be set to vacuum just before wakeup, while you’re out of the house during the day, or even overnight.

I wouldn’t worry too much about giving a gift that pays off 6-12 months down the line. New parents are constantly tired, busy, and stressed. Having toys and distractions that their kid can “grow into” will be a total relief… Plus, odds are they’ll probably get all the newborn stuff elsewhere. 😉

This answer originally appeared on Quora: My co-founder just had a baby. What would be a nice present to get him?