The Null Device
San Francisco (2)
The reason that this blog was quiet for the best part of a week was that your humble correspondent was on vacation in San Francisco. A few observations:
- Heathrow Terminal 5 is, now that the bugs appear to be ironed out, quite a decent airport terminal to depart from and arrive at; the architecture is at once striking (particularly in first impressions, when ascending in the lift from the tube) and practical, and there are plenty of amenities. Getting through immigration was very fast (in contrast, the last time I went through one of the last terminals, I spent an hour queueing at passport control).
- Similarly, I had no problems getting into (or out of) the US. My checked-in possessions weren't stolen by corrupt minimum-waged baggage-screening staff, and nor did I at any time feel intimidated. The entry process was much the same as it is in the UK.
- There is WiFi reachable from almost every café or bar in San Francisco proper, and it's invariably free. None of the miserly paywalling that's the norm in flint-hearted London. Also, people carry and use laptops everywhere; even on commuter trains at 10pm when no-one without a death wish would do so in London. The cafés (from countercultural establishments in the Haight to corporate chains with earth-toned seating and all-Kenny-G music policies) are full of laptops, with a definite majority being Apples. I saw more glowing Apple logos in my six days in the Bay Area than in the entire rest of the year.
- The Tenori-On launch in San Francisco was great; Toshio Iwai's talk was much the same as in London last year, though the guest musicians were different; in particular, I Am Robot And Proud's set (featuring Tenori-On and live piano) was very impressive. (Those hoping for a price cut, though, will be disappointed; the US price is $1,200.)
- On Tuesday, I went to Ignite SF, a geek show-and-tell organised by some of the O'Reilly people, at the infamous DNA Lounge. It was quite interesting, with topics varying from web 2.0 stuff (user-generated content, social software anti-patterns, and so on) to the more outré (robots, giant monsters, and the (briefly) user-accessible LED sign at the DNA Lounge that fell prey to trolls). It was rather interesting; like a briefer, more theory-focussed Dorkbot.
A few things I picked up in San Francisco: a copy of Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody
(which, so far, is proving very interesting), a number of graphic novels (several Adrian Tomine titles—Sleepwalk
, Summer Blonde
— Lars Martinson's "Tomoharu" and the 2007 Best American Comics anthology), a copy of the World Music Garageband Jam Pack (which was considerably cheaper than in the UK) and a 160Gb iPod Classic (ditto), as well as a stack of CDs as long as your arm.
I also took some photos, which are being uploaded to my Flickr page, and will be added to this set.
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