SXSW 2013: Hanging Out on Sixth Street with Richard Hay

Written by Richard Hay

Our Richard Hay is exploring SxSW 2013 after hours — on Sixth Street. What are the odds he’d meet a fellow Ingress player from Down Under and get the opportunity to exchange Ingress portal keys there? Pretty high. Here’s a gallery of Richard Hay’s SxSW 2013 adventures …Ingress portal hacking details and all. Here at the SxSW 2013 film, music and interactive tech festival,  there’s a lot going down. And I don’t mean at just the events, panels and festivals, either. 

When all is said and done, conference goers end up the same place local students from the University of Texas at Austin do. They all head to Sixth Street.

Sixth Street amazing music and club scene destination. And this year, during SxSW 2013, the cops even blocked it off to car traffic. Check out my photos. You’ll see SxSW 2013 has even invaded this enclave — and find out about my bizarre encounter with a hot shot Australian fellow Ingress player along the way. If you’re not up to speed on Ingress, check out Ant Pruitt’s how to play Ingress tips and explainer here.

Back to Sixth Street …

Sixth Street Blocked Off

Sixth Street Blocked Off — Richard Hay for

You see the effects of SXSW everywhere.  Someone totally reserved Buffalo Billiards — a prominent restaurant and bar on Sixth Street — for a private, invite-only event. Good thing the Iron Cactus was open to the public as usual.

Order the Strawberry Cactus. That drink alone, a blend of El Jimador Silver tequila, Cointreau, Prickly Pear Puree and fresh strawberries, will make your trip to Austin worth it.

Flashy guerrilla marketing efforts abound here during the SxSW 2013 — even on Sixth Street. Check out the HootSuite converted van.


Photo above: The Hootsuitemobile: Richard Hay for

Speaking just for myself, I’m not nuts about HootSuite’s decision to buy Seismic and drop its Android support.

It could well have everything to do with Twitter API restrictions and tokens — or whatever mechanism the company is using to restrict third party user interface developers. But I’m all for the converted van. It reminds me of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.

Speaking of vehicles, on Sixth Street I also spotted this Monster-branded truck. Reps were using it give away t-shirts.  My first thought was that was staging a comeback — out to reclaim its former glory as the go-to resume site from its current owner, LinkedIn. But I date myself. It turned out be a truck representing Monster — as in, hello, the energy drink that competes with Red Bull.


Photo of MonsterMobile at SXSW 2013 on Sixth Street: Richard Hay for

While I was snapping these shots and just generally hanging out, something interesting happened. You see, I was playing Ingress and hacking portals at the time, too. And a stranger approached and asked me if I was “tamos.”

That’s the name of my player in the online game.  I said that I was. He then identified himself as Kirby, an Australian representative of an entirely online bank with no physical branches.

We discussed how all electronics are twice as expensive in Australia — I mean, a Chromebook Pixel costs $2400 down under. Ouch.

Anyway, After trading Ingress stories I learned that he got his Ingress invite at the end of February and that he is already L4. Obviously, he plays a lot more than I do.

I had a clever idea of how to commemorate our meeting.  He dropped a portal key from the General Post Office in Melbourne for me to pick up and I dropped one for him from the San Jose City Hall.

In Ingress, portal keys are not useful for building links when you’re 14,000 KM away. I think the max link distance for L8 portals is a couple hundred kilometers. But because the only way to get a portal key is to hack the portal — and the only way to hack the portal is to be within 40m or so of it — you have to travel across the world or be physically close to someone who’s been halfway across the world to get a portal key.

Lucky for us, two Ingress players from opposite sides of the Earth who just happened upon each other at Sixth Street in Austin during SxSW 2013 — we were at the right place at the right time.


Screenshot: Richard Hay for

Despite or maybe because of the SXSW madness surrounding Sixth Street, he usual shops, bars and tattoo parlors are open for business and, even, catering to SXSW 2013 attendees.

My favorite was the All Saints Tattoo. It looks cool.


From the sidewalks of Sixth Street in Austin, I’m Richard Hay and this is

A senior contributor at who specializes in science coverage for the site, Richard Hay has a day job as an engineer at Google and composed this piece, so he says, on a Chromebook Pixel.

1 Comment

  • Glad you spotted the HootBus at SXSW and thanks for the feedback about the Seesmic Android app – We know its loved by many users so we’re listening carefully and keeping the app available.