Tagged: andala

OpenCoffee at Andala

I got a message from Si in London recommending that I check out this upcoming TweetUp in Cambridge.  Turns out it was at Andala Cafe, home of my favorite hummus plate and barely a block from limeduck world headquarters.  Once again, the internet pwnz geography.  The TweetUp, called OpenCoffee, happens Wednesdays at 8:30ish, and seems to be a global phenomenon that has somehow landed right in my back yard.

This week, OpenCoffee was pretty Twitter-centeric, with Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital and Sanjay Vakil of LuckyCal leading a loose discussion of location-based apps, twitter platforms, and using twitter either as a start point or an end point for aggregation of what can only be described as your “stuff.”

The session was well-attended with some 40+ tweeple stretching the limits of Andala’s front room.  You can catch up on some of the chatter via this twitter search.

There was some debate about the utility of hash tags as opposed to unhashed tags, and taxonomy vs folksonomy.  I came down on the side of getting it mostly right and keeping it simple, which seems to be the guiding principle of twitter.  And then I fell off a chair while trying to explain Pants Status to the assembled masses.  My point, such as it was, is that there seems to be apps (if you can call Pants Status an app) that use twitter without any special action on the user’s part.

On a side note, the frothy beverage pictured above is an Andala specialty, fresh apple ginger juice.  I highly recommend it.  iPhone not included, but if you come to OpenCoffee, I promise you’ll be near one.

Extraordinary hummus at Andala coffee house

I’ve mentioned this place in passing before, but after spending a couple of hours there the other night, I felt I really needed to write about it in detail, and declare my belief (and this is bound to generate controversy) that Andala serves up the best hummus in town.

Andala coffee house is at 286 Franklin Street in Central Square, Cambridge, just a block from scenic Cronin Park and within view of limeduck world headquarters. They offer the usual cafe stuff, some fresh-squeezed juices and some Arabic-accented specials such as msabaha and zeit u zaatar. They have no website that I can find, and are generally open until 11pm, which is pretty late for this town. Plus, you can suck on a shisha pipe (outside only) while your laptop sucks down free wifi. Service? Not so hot. But I keep coming back for the hummus plate.

About 20% of the 80+ yelpers who reviewed Andala mentioned the hummus, almost all positively.

It’s $7.95 and comes with a highly random selection of vegetables (I’ve had carrots and cucumbers most of the time, red and green bell peppers often, celery and onions on occasion, almost always olives, and this time, a big fat chili pepper) and some warm pita.

The hummus itself is always a little different, which makes me sure its house-made. Some days its very green, some days less so, but there’s always plenty of olive oil and paprika on it. The texture is not so smooth to as to remind you of store-extruded versions, but not too gritty or chunky either. I have to carefully monitor my pita usage so there’s enough left to mop up the dregs, but none left over. The portion is satisfying and you feel reasonably virtuous for having a vegetarian meal.

I usually get an espresso or some sparkling water, sometimes both. This time, instead of the usual Perrier or Pellegrino, I got a can of Market Basket Seltzer which says on the can, “made with sparkling water.” For some odd reason, that made me smile.

So go to Andala for the hummus and stay for the wifi, or vice versa. You won’t regret it.

In Praise of Index Cards

I was sitting in Andala Cafe eating amazing hummus while watching the sky turn from blue to white and I had an idea. I know, you’re stunned. This doesn’t happen often, and even less frequently outside the thinking room. So I grabbed an index card and just when I was about to write it down, I looked at the humble index card and thought, where have you been all my life, and promptly forgot the idea.

Where have index cards been all of our lives? Mostly, they’ve been right here and we are better off for it. I can’t believe I’ve only recently rediscovered what’s been around for ages. Over at 43 Folders, Merlin Mann praises his “Hipster PDA” and links it to all kinds of GTD (Getting Things Done) systems of organization.

The Hipster PDA (Parietal Disgorgement Aid) is a fully extensible system for coordinating incoming and outgoing data for any aspect of your life and work. It scales brilliantly, degrades gracefully, supports optional categories and “beaming,” and is configurable to an unlimited number of options. …

  1. get a bunch of 3″x5″ file cards
  2. clip them together with a binder clip
  3. there is no step 3

Actually, step 3 is where things get challenging, but at least you’ve built your PDA and you’re ready to start getting things done. And by “beaming” I suppose you mean “flinging”? For the less frugal and more stylish, there’s Levenger‘s cult of 3×5 cards for about $26 for 500 truly deluxue cards, described by the company as delivering these benefits:

  • Convenient vertical format
  • Easier to write on than standard 3 x 5 cards
  • Cards come in ruled, plain, grid and window styles
  • Printed on both sides
  • Made from the highest grade of white card stock
  • Made in the USA

It’s easy to make fun, but the cards – and the snazzy leather wallets and wooden “bleachers” – are truly premium quality and make writing on the cards a joy and tearing them in half a somewhat guilty luxury. And there must be something to it, since Staples has been seen hawking Levengeresque 3×5 card wallets under the “M” brand at a rate somewhat above the usual Staples price points.


One of the great benefits to index cards for organizing your thoughts is that you can stack them to focus on just one or array them to prioritize or sequence them. And there’s great satisfaction to just throwing a card away when the task is done. Although I have mixed feelings about Agile Development, I can say (and did – in this Ipswitch blog post) that the use of cork and cards has yet to be eclipsed by fancy computer technology. I’ve been a huge fan of the whiteboard, but I’m starting to wonder if the cork board – or at least the pile of index cards – isn’t starting to win me over. I might even crack and make a visit to the Levenger store.

One more note on index cards – if you haven’t already discovered the off-center geeky humor of Jessica Hagy and her blog Indexed – available soon in book form, oddly enough – you should check it out.