MavEtJu's Distorted View of the World - 2010-07
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In San Francisco again - Part 2
Unlike last trip to San Francisco, when I had a free day before the course started, the free day was on Saturday after the course this time. So nothing spectacular (well, except for the course :-) happened in the first couple of days. I spent one day in the San Francisco office, re-meeting friends and colleagues like Amanda and Kimberly of the RMA team and Carson and Matt of the IT Support group. After that I sat and exchanged ideas with the TAC team. The good news for my productivity was that until Friday afternoon I wasn't aware of a The Adams Family pinball machine on the fifth floor kitchen/relaxing area, I surely would have spend more time there if I had known.
The course itself, the Advanced Steelhead Configuration and Troubleshooting course, was great. It was about 25% new stuff for me, after all I've been supporting these devices for the last one-and-a-half years and I have had the course materials about a year ago, and it put everything into perspective. Since it was 30% theory and 70% lab, I made sure to make about every mistake there could have be made (unvolunteraly!), so that I know about all the issues which could go wrong with it and how to spot them.
On Saturday I rented a bike and cycled over the bridge (again) towards Sausalito (again). It is a nice way to get the wind through your hair and get your brains cleaned up. It was the first bicycle trip after my flu-attack three weeks ago and I felt it in my legs.
It was a french day: In the morning I had breakfast at Cafe de la Presse and I went to to the Museum du Automatique, which is a collection of old mechanical amusement systems, varying from "simple" (but at that time high-tech) dancing puppets to fortune tellers to giant replicas of farms and amusements parks. Also old videogames were there, like the Atari Battle Zone, the Star Wars flying game, an original two player Galagah-table and of course pinball machines like the Indiana Jones and the Adams Familiy ones.
On the way back I visited Fort Point, under the bridge, which is an old fortress from the 1850 - 1900 era.
The hotel I stayed in, The Triton Hotel, is a very colourful hotel: Lots of bright colours of paint, lots of modern paintings on the wall, paintings in the rooms. No guest-laundry though, and no waterboiler in the room for tea or coffee.
So, how is San Francisco rated this time? It was as warm as it was last time I was there, which was in winter (Or like Mark Twain said: The coldest winter I experiences was summer in San Francisco). The amount of homeless people and beggars seem to have doubled or gotten even higher. Starbucks has free Wifi internet access now, and still has hot white chocolate milk. When walking on the street, people don't see each other; Well, they do spot each other but don't look at each other.
Today (=Sunday) I went on the CalTrain towards Sunnyvale where I will hopefully meet up with Jos Backus (again), former colleague at Atos Origin. The CalTrain smells the same as an airplane smells :-) Right now I am on my way through famous names like Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale! In Sunnyvale it is about 23 degrees Celcius, warmer than in San Francisco but still not making me want to take off my singlet from under my shirt.
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In San Francisco again
As stated before, I'm in San Francisco right now. And the flight to here with United Airlines was kind of a nightmare...
I might be spoiled, but with in the travelling I've done in the last ten years, I didn't encounter an airliner which on its long haul flights didn't come with complementary eye-patches and inflatable neck pillow. Oh, I did this time, and it sucked.
Also the "entertainment system", for a lack of better word, were old-fashioned TVs hanging on the roof and a projected on the wall in front of me. So, no eye-patches and this light constantly flashing in front of my closed eyes: To sleep you don't need brain-stimulation like that! Getting rid of these TVs would be a good thing.
The people in the plane where acting like they were on a school trip with zero clue of what was going to happen. The plane left at 14:00 Body Time, which means that it got dark at 17:00 Body Time. So far so good. The cabin crew turned off the main lights and everywhere the reading lights went on and people started to talk loudly and laugh. Did I tell you that there were no eye-patches? AAAAAAAAAARGH! So at 23:00 Body Time everybody kind of fell asleep (finally), but then at 01:00 Body Time the guy next me opened the plastic cover in front of the window and kept it open because he wanted to see the sun. Still two hours to go and had barely any sleep.
Now the good news... I digged up a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones before I went, new battery in it and oh man, that noise-cancelling works great. Too bad I didn't have an inflatable neck-pillow so I couldn't easily wear it, but the quietness was kind of what prevented me from going totally insane on the plane.
The flights I had went from Sydney to Los Angeles and from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The transfer time I had in Los Angeles was 60 minutes before boarding and 90 minutes before take-off. That was a close call... First you have to go through the DHS checks, which takes 25 minutes before it is your turn, then you have to get your luggage and go through customs, another 20 minutes. Then it's getting rid of the luggage and run towards terminal 7 (It is warm in LA, so my jacket and shirt and singlet were way too much, huff puff). And then you see this huge queue in front of the security check to get towards the gates again. And you hear in the distance "Flight UAsomething to San Francisco is now boarding". Talking to customer representatives doesn't help, the queue is one giant string of people and you just have to wait until it is your turn. Tick tick tick... And finally when they announce the final final boarding call for flight UAsomething, it is my turn and I woosh through. With my laptop and my belt in my left hand and my backback and jacket in the my right hand (I know that it sounds impossible, but that it how it happened) I ran towards the gate and was the second last person to enter the plane. Just in time!
And then San Francisco... Covered in brownish clouds (ugh). They still haven't fixed the awful sounds on the BART trains, I wonder if people who travel daily with it wear earplugs or get compensation or just go deaf early...
But now everything is fine. The hotel is close to Chinatown, so the food will be good, and I had a walk through the area (more or less randomlay walked from the hotel to the west and to the south and to the east until we came to the water and then back to via the Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument and the Villancount Fountain while lots and lots of water was pouring out from it. Very impressive.
Later this week more.
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3, iPhone and international roaming
While being in San Francisco this week and in Sunnyvale next week, I informed with my provider, 3 in this case, about the charges for access to the 3G network internationally. That was kind of a shock, they wanted to have AU$ 20 per megabyte. I quickly rejected that option :-)
But I did enable roaming for my voice calls, so imagine my annoyance when I came here and the telephone said "No Carrier" (which brought a lot of memories back about the time I played with modems :-). So I called the 3 helpdesk (via Skype, charging me 10 cents per minute (still cheaper than the GSM call :-) and they said I had to change from "Automatic selection" to a manual select of "AT&T" and it all worked.
still some wires which need to be crossed manually for this, but at least I am reachable again!
Next trick is to find out why I'm awake in the middle of the night. Oh yeah, jetlag :-(
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