June 7th, 2009


Jet-Setting. San Fran Day 1

Well, I'm in San Francisco!  Here's the first of hopefully a daily blog on my happenings and doings in the US of A.

The XPT trip to Sydney was pretty straight forward, there's not much to tell.  I ended trading SMS messages with my Dad on the way down, but it was getting a bit frustrating as the shielding on the train was stopping any sense of a signal getting through most of the way.  Once in Sydney, I made my way to the Marque Hotel, which is right next to Central on George Street.  

I was going to go see a movie while in Sydney, but I was disappointed to find that they no longer have the 11.30pm sessions at the George Street cinemas.  So, I just settled in for some TV watching and then sleep after calling Sal.

I got up around 9am the next morning, took my time and headed back to Central.  Grabbed some breakfast and spoke to my brother Andrew for a bit.  Caught the train from Central to the International Terminal at Sydney Airport and proceeded to check in to my flight.  Glad I saw the warning signs about what was prohibited, as I forgot I had a cigerette lighter in my shoulder bag from The LAN (for lighting BBQs!).  Once checked in, I checked out all the duty free shopping and wished I had a lot more money.  Three hours seemed to be just perfect for arriving at the airport before my flight, as while I was not pressed for time, I wasn't waiting around too long either for my boarding call.

The flight itself wasn't too bad.  I had a seat at an exit (I actually requested it due to my height and need for leg room), so it was pretty roomy.  It was a little bit on the noisy side because I was behind the wing, so got the noise from the engines.  With Qantas, I got to watch some movies on their little TV screens.  I watched 'Michael Clayton' and later on started to watch 'The Watchmen' but didn't get to finish it as we landed.  I was pretty impressed with the food in-flight, with the exception of the 'hot breakfast'.  The dinner they served was very nice, along with the snacks during the night. Breakfast was very ordinary.

I did get a little sleep during the night, but I think i was too wired being my first overseas trip and all.  After landing, all the passengers were directed through Customs, which is pretty tight security, requiring everyone to be finger printed and photographed and filling out 2 forms as well as the Visa waiver thing online before we left Sydney.  But once that was over, it was all good.  The person sitting next to me on the plane was going to WWDC as well, so we had been chatting on the plane the whole way and at San Francisco, we went and found the train into the city ($5 was a better option than a $50 taxi or $20 shuttle).  Once in the City, we parted ways, as my hotel was one way and his was the other.

After getting to the hotel, and finding my room (I'm sharing with jbekkema who had already checked in), spoke with James for a bit before going for a walk to find some lunch.  We walked to the Moscone Center where the conference will be held and then went and found a Subway.  We also went and found a supermarket to get some bottled water and some nibbles.  I will have to get used to the fact that the tax is added at the register, it caught me out today.  

After getting back to the hotel, I uploaded some photos, but couldn't stay awake any longer and crashed.  I woke up 9 hours later.  It's 2.15am right now, so hopefully I can go back to sleep.  I have a tour of San Francisco and Silicon Valley tomorrow (or today rather) leaving at 9am, so that should be fun.


Visiting the Mothership. San Fran Day 2

Today I joined the AUC (Apple University Consortium) bus tour that was organised to Silicon Valley.  A bright and sunny morning greeted us in San Francisco and we left the hotel at 9am. 

The first stop was Fry's Electronics.  This store was something else - the closest I could come to describing it is Jaycar + Dick Smiths + JB HiFi + Harvey Norman + Food.  It had everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.  From Paintball guns, BB guns and Tasers (!)  to computer parts to hifi to white goods.  We had a bit over an hour there and I only was able to go through three quarters of the isles.  Some people bought items, but I didn't (although I was tempted).

Next stop was the Computer History Museum after grabbing some lunch at a 7-Eleven store (the bus stopped at the museum, across the road there were some shops, I chose the 7-11 over Starbucks).  The museum was pretty interesting.  They had three main exhibits: one on computer chess and it's history, including one half of Deep Blue, the only computer to defeat a Grand Master of Chess; one on digital storage (which included a whole range of old computers and main frames - including Google's first production server, the Apollo Guidance Computer and other pioneering computers); and Charles Babbage's second Difference Engine.  The Difference Engine was a working machine and was demonstrated to everyone.  What I found amazing that Babbage didn't actually get around to making the second Difference Engine, he only designed it around 150 years ago.  It wasn't until last year that a couple of computer buffs decided to build it and it worked exactly to Babbage's intentions without any modification to the origianal design (apart from some minor engineering corrections due to modern materials).

After the museum, we called into Apple's main campus in Cupertino.  Funnily enough, Apple's campus is located on 'Infinite Loop'.  You can't get into the buildings due to the tight security in them, but they have a company store there, where you can buy merchandise which is not available at any official Apple store; such as 'I visited the Mothership' t-shirts.  I bought a couple of pressies for Caitlin and Laura there.  I resisted buying myself an Apple t-shirt as I'll probably get at least one from the conference.

Once everyone had finished buying items from the Apple store, we made our way back to San Francisco to the Moscone Center, where the conference is to be held to check in and get our passes.   Each delegate also received a t-shirt (photo probably tomorrow) and a wwdc09 branded bag.  Headed back to the hotel for the Australian and New Zealand delegate reception, where we could mingle and get to know the other Australian delegates here for WWDC.  

After the reception ended, I decided to head to an Irish pub with some other people and have a drink and some food, which was pretty good. I'm back here at the hotel mucking around on the internet before heading to bed.  Tomorrow we get up around 5ish to go line up for the Key Note address first thing tomorrow morning.  You literally need to get up this early so you get a seat in the auditorium as not everyone will get a seat.  Hopefully there's not many people who get up at this time.