Austin: Day Two

SPF: 50+, Hotter’n’Houston

It hit 97°F outside with 80% humidity and an “Ernie” UV rating yesterday, with the same forecast for today. This is normal for this time of year. Inside the exhibition room, possibly in anticipation of throngs of conference attendees heating up the place, near-winter conditions prevailed as the fifty-megaton air conditioning array created local weather patterns.

So far, the exhibit area, where I’m stationed, has been busy only when giveaways are happening between sessions.
Most of the attendees are from academia, which I know based on the enthusiasm for authographed
technical
books.
I appreciate this as I was a graduate student once. (Well, twice.) If I had won something like that, and was unlikely to break the spine, so to speak, I’d hock it on Amazon.com to supplement my graduate stipend.

Occasionally, eye contact with someone triggers a defensive change in body language, as if a klaxon were going off:

whoop! whoop! Salescritter — Be alert

Their urge to flee is overcome by the potential that I might be giving away more free stuff. I’m not. The hesitation is long enough that I can flash my business card with the T-word, but without the S-word and find out what kind of research they’re doing.

The two people who obviously weren’t researchers turned out to be quasi-competitors trying to pump me for information. Even that interaction was fun as I subtly provoked them back.
(Am I going to sunburn in heck for disinformation?)

Last night the show sponsors held an appreciation dinner for attendees, including exhibitors. After nine hours of being in the booth, the last thing I wanted to do was spend three more being bussed around and listening to speeches. Instead,
I walked back to my hotel to decompress.

My appetite is still on left coast time. While I waited, I watched two hours of Discovery Channel programming on the specialized technolgies and methods developed for the Tour de France.

When that got redundant, I sauntered a couple of blocks down the street to Guero’s for fajitas and limonade take-out. With the sun down and squadrons of mosquito-eating bats fully deployed, sitting at the picnic table in the San Jose hotel courtyard was downright pleasant.

Before I retired for the night, I surfed all 76 channels, settling on the Weather Channel’s discourse on the record heat followed by a segment on the strict guidelines NASA uses for shuttle launches was fascinating … as spooky as being fascinated by the weather may seem.

This morning, before the first giveaway started, I was chatting with the three — yes, three — people in the vendor next to me who also blew off the official dinner festivities for an evening itinerary identical to mine.

The show producers are concerned about the perceived light attendance in the exhibition halls. Yesterday, they gave me a large vase of flowers. Today, they came by and offered a fancy gift pack with locally made stuff like pralines, fudge, and aromatic candles.


Geeky side tangent. I saw where Microsoft’s Virtual Earth was launched and Google countered with hybrid road/satellite maps. Here’s my hotel in Austin from google and Virtual earth. Virtual Earth was very fussy about address format. For example, if specify what the San Jose Hotel reports on their web site, e.g. “1316 S. Congress, Austin, TX”, Google finds it right off and rearranges the address into a standard format to “1316 Congress Ave S.” Virtual Earth gets confused, and reports a location in San Antonio. However, if I type the corrected format that I got from Google, Virtual Earth finds the location. This would have been very cool a year ago, but now it’s disappointing.

8 thoughts on “Austin: Day Two”

  1. If you zoom in 2 more levels on the Google image, it appears you’re living on the sidewalk, Jim.

  2. Excuse me? You got a free large vase of flowers, pralines, fudge, and aromatic candles??? Man, I was working the wrong shows.

    What I’m finding amusing though is I’m betting the male/female total attendance ratio is very high, in which case the giveaway list is an interesting choice.

  3. i agree that the address pickiness is annoying with virtual earth, but try the ‘locate me’ function. it’s nice not to have to type in the address of your hotel. if you are using a wireless connection at the convention center, virtual earth should find you without you having to know your address.

  4. The “Locate Me” is an interesting feature. I like that they have an IP address only version for non-IE browsers. Thanks for pointing it out.

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