MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World

In San Francisco again - Part 3

Posted on 2010-08-09 18:00:00
Tags: Travelling, San Francisco, Rant, TV

The hotel I stayed in last time has changed only a little bit. Was there a small TV last time, this time there was a huge LCD TV. Was there a video-player last time, this time there was a DVD player. Was there a wall with videos for lend last time, this time there was... NOTHING! Okay, that sucks big time because last time I spend some serious time watching different kind of movies than I normally watch and learned a couple of nice actors.

Because of the absence of videos, I had to watch TV. So I checked Discovery Channel, which didn't really have anything attractive on in the evenings. Next one is History Channel, which had two interesting programs which reminded me of the program "Tussen kunst and kitsch" (Between art and kitsch), about two people (sorry I forgot their names) who went through old collector places to find interesting stuff. The story of the two was boring, the knowledge they had about things was massive. The second one was pawnbrokers, instead of hunting for treasures they waited for them to be delivered. The story of the pawnshop was boring, the knowledge of things was again massive. And I found a channel which had Star Trek: The Next Generation on at 22:00 so I could watch it and go to sleep while dreaming of Q and the Borg.

Weather-wise: It was cold. Warmer than San Francisco, but cold for a summer for a country which lies at the same height as Spain! I met up with Jos Backus, again this time, and he showed me again the nice places around Sunnyvale. Thanks Jos!

The week I spend at the Riverbed TAC in Sunnyvale was a good experience, meeting up with new and working together with my old colleagues, experiencing a different style of how a TAC is managed, having the fun of handing over cases to my colleagues in Sydney (did I actually do this or was it just wishful thinking?) and spending some time with former colleagues who left for other roles.

Before I went back I noticed that my bag was falling apart and that it needed a replacement otherwise all my clothes would end up over the landingstrip! On the way back on the plane I was pre-warned this time and got myself eye-patches and a neck-pillow and I slept for about 60% of the time and dozed for a couple of more hours. The plane left two hours late (after they let us on!) because of a missing or failing crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie. So instead of arriving at 06:15 I arrived at the reasonable time of 08:15. No hassle with customs, no hassle with quarantine.

So, is United Airlines really that bad? Yes. With a capital B and A and D. They were before taking off already out of apple-juice and they have absolutely no control over the inside of the plane, more than once I was woken up by the speaker system begging the people to stay in their chairs because the seat-belt sign was on. It is times like that that you wish that the broken crewmember-oxygene-bottle-pressure-measuring-device-button-light-switch-thingie would cause some airbubbles and that everybody without the seatbelts on would end up in a negative G situation and then with their face flat on the floor. It is a way to learn that there is a reason these seatbelts are there :-)

Anyway, I'm safely on the ground again and have my three loved ones around me again!

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From: Jac Goudsmit
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Posted on: 2010-08-10 09:36:46
CommentThe Bay Area is not as hot as the rest of California; that's probably why there are so many people living there. Most appartments don't even have air conditioning (at least not in 2000/2001 when we lived in Sunnyvale). And around this time often get fog in the mornings or even all day.

In most hotels in the USA they use special hotel TVs (usually Philips, interestingly enough) that have custom firmware and custom remote controls (the remote control will often say "don't bother taking this home, it won't work on your TV"). The hotel cable system redistributes about 20 analog channels of TV that they get from the open air or via a BUD (Big Ugly Dish - old analog satellite system), and they have a server that lets you watch pay-per-view movies, or play video games, all billed to your room of course. Modified TVs that use this system usually won't even let you connect your own DVD player or video game, even if the connectors are there they simply won't work.

Apparently some hotels are moving away from this system. For one thing, HDTV is a selling point (just like color TV and a pool used to be a selling point until every hotel had them), but also because the CRT TV's are dusty, take up a lot of space and apparently have to be bolted down to prevent people from putting them in their suitcases, and also (maybe) because they finally understand that people want to make, bring and watch their own movies.

The hotel in Bishop CA where we stayed recently didn't have HDTV but they did have standard (non customized, Philips) TV's connected to the city cable system (about 100 channels -- which doesn't mean that there was anything interesting to watch by the way :-) and working external inputs. I had never seen that in a hotel in the USA before! I wondered if it was just a temporary replacement for a previously broken custom hotel TV until they have the money to put in flat screens with custom firmware again so they can charge through the nose for extra services that cost them next to nothing.

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