Plans for giant San Francisco Apple Store hit tulip trees roadblock

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Forget about Google -- is Apple set to go "thermonuclear war" on tulip trees? Photo: torbakhopper HE DEAD/Flickr
Forget about Google -- is Apple set to go "thermonuclear war" on tulip trees? Photo: torbakhopper HE DEAD/Flickr

A massive new Apple Store planned for downtown San Francisco is being held up by… tulip trees?

The site in question overlooks Union Square, with Apple planning to demolish a large existing building and replace it with a giant, two-storey glass structure reminiscent of the iconic New York Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. However, in order for work to commence on the building Apple needs to bring in the right equipment, which necessitates the removal of seven tulip trees currently blocking the path.

Trouble is, things aren’t as straightforward as they might seem.

Apple’s own security guards stage protest outside San Francisco Apple Store

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Protestors blocked the door
Protestors blocked the door of Apple's flagship San Francisco retail store for around an hour. Picture: Julia Carrie Wong

A protest involving around 50 people blocked customers from entering the main doors of Apple’s flagship San Francisco Union Square retail store yesterday.

The protest was related to service employees claiming to be underpaid. Organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), they staged a sit-in for nearly an hour. While the Apple Store remained opened during this time, customers had to enter through a side door.

One of the protestors, describing himself as an Apple security guard, decried the firm for its lack of job protection. “If [security officers] miss a day of work, they don’t know if they’ll have the job the next day,” he told Business Insider.

Scenes from a pivot: Making lemonade when your first app turns sour

Sweetch's home/office.Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Inside the Sweetch home office, where five French entrepreneurs did an about-face after their parking app drew the ire of San Francisco officials. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare: The app you’ve spent hours developing gets shut down before it even really launches.

It’s been a rocky road for four young French entrepreneurs who hoped to make their mark with a parking app called Sweetch. Their idea was to alert prospective parkers that spots on the street were freeing up, exchanging a nominal fee between drivers that could be donated to local charities. But instead of paving the road to fame by clearing the city’s congested streets, they ended up pulling their app from the Apple store under threat of litigation from San Francisco’s City Attorney.

“We helped five or 10 people a day, we brought value to them, but the city didn’t even try to understand that,” co-founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi says, speaking to Cult of Mac in the sunny, immaculate and modern apartment the guys call both home and office in the city’s Mission District. “We were lumped in with the other apps that definitely had a predatory model and it was toxic for us.”

He says that despite a meeting with San Francisco officials, the entrepreneurs weren’t really give a chance: “It was just, ‘Here’s your deadline.’”

Cryptic Twitter account sparks hunt for hidden Bitcoin

sfhiddenbitcoin

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a new kind of gold hidden in the hills of this city: A mysterious Twitter account is leading locals on a treasure hunt for Bitcoin.

The folks behind @SFHiddenBitcoin, which has been active since July 1, are hot on the heels of @HiddenCash, the Twitter account that made news doling out the dough of a real estate mogul.

While judges debate whether Bitcoin is money and crashing economies around the globe fear the virtual currency’s wake, it’s the coin of the realm in certain circles here. If you can handle being a “cyphervegan,” you can basically already live on Bitcoin.

9 things every Apple fan should do at WWDC 2014

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WWDC 2014 is nearly here.

The finishing touches are being put on Moscone West before the invasion of Apple developers hit. Here's what to do when you're not busy coding.

Image: KeilO

Tour SF on an iPhone-controlled scooter

Segway tours are so last year now that Scoot has come out with iPhone-locked scooters. Not only is a scooter the best way to see San Francisco's landmarks, the tiny two-wheelers are more environmentally friendly than those huge double-decker tour buses. Just remember to book your reservation in advance because spots fill up quickly.

Location: 756 Natoma St., San Francisco

Image: Scoot Networks

Visit the Mothership

Ditch the San Francisco fog for a few hours and head down the Peninsula to Apple’s headquarters in sunny Cupertino, California. Sneaking past security at the main entrance can be tricky if you’re dying to get a bite at Caffè Macs, but the Company Store is open to the public and it’s the only place in the world that sells Apple T-shirts, hats and other odd accessories.

Location: 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino

Image: Ryan B

Stump the Experts

Think you know absolutely everything there is to know about Apple hardware and software? Test your knowledge against Apple’s panel of experts at Stump the Experts, the weird WWDC quiz show where Apple employees (both current and former) take on your questions and award you with T-shirts and other swag if you manage to sneak a clever question past them.

Location: Tuesday, June 3, 6:30 p.m. in the Presidio Room

Image: Sebastian Müller

Grab some VC-funded coffee

All that coding and partying means your java intake will hit all new highs during WWDC week, so why not duck into the trendiest coffee chain in San Francisco for a breather? Blue Bottle has some of the tastiest brew around and is VC-funded by the same dudes you'd love to have buy your app. Plus, there's an outpost within walking distance of Moscone Center. Be prepared to wait, though, as lines at this tiny shop can take 15 minutes or longer.

Location: 66 Mint Plaza, San Francisco

Image: Niall Kennedy

Hobnob with Apple employees

After keynotes at Moscone Center, you can often bump into off-duty Apple employees minglingat the W Hotel bar just across the street. Devs tell us The Chieftain bar is another popular watering hole during WWDC festivities. Keep a look out for unattended iPhone prototypes.

Location: W Hotel, 181 Third St., San Francisco

Image: The W San Francisco

Envision the future

Apple isn't expected to complete construction of its new spaceship campus until 2016. But if you want a peek at what the future holds, you can see the spot 13,000 Apple employees will call home with a quick drive-by tour of the former Hewlett-Packard grounds.

Location: 19091 Pruneridge Ave., Cupertino, California

Image: Ron Cervi

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Meet a Jedi

WWDC sessions will turn even the most feeble coders into app-making powerhouses, but this year Apple is relying on the power of the Force by bringing in David Filoni -- director of Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels -- to talk about his journey from fan to becoming one of the key creatives at Lucasfilm.

Location: Moscone West's Presidio Room, Friday, 12:45 p.m.

Image:Toonami

Party at the Bash

WWDC's culminating event is not to be missed, as Apple locks down Yerba Buena Gardens with its own concert full of food, drinks and thousands of devs looking to make connections. Ok Go, Neon Trees, and Vampire Weekend have been among the list of previous performers.

Location:750 Howard St, San Francisco

Image: Stefan Haubold

See where it all started

Back when Apple was just Steve and Woz, the first 50 Apple 1s were assembled in the spare bedroom of this unassuming ranch house owned by Steve's parents. The operation expanded to the garage in 1975 before finding its first real office space. The iconic house is just a 10-minute drive from Apple HQ.

Location: 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California

Image:Eric Johnson

Coding marathons, packed parties and more fanboys than should be legally permissible in one building await developers when Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off in San Francisco next week, and while the conference is serious business for most devs, who says you can’t have a little bit of fun too?

WWDC rips into high gear with a keynote on June 2nd followed by days of coding sessions, high-profile speakers, hands-on labs and tons of get togethers for developers of all sizes and backgrounds.

Sneaking in time to tour San Francisco is nearly impossible thanks to the stuffed scheduled at WWDC and nearby AltConf, but whether you’re coming to WWDC as a first timer or a seasoned vet, here are nine things every Apple fan must do at least once while visiting the Bay Area.