Monday, September 12, 2005

PDC 2005 Blog: Day 0 (Monday)

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11:13 am (PST). I'm in LA after a wonderful flight on Delta's Song. I had never flown Song before, but the experience was great, and I finally got to see Delta's new Terminal A at Logan Airport, which is also nice. Non-stop rules.

I only got three hours of sleep last night, so I didn't even try to work on the plane. Instead, I watched the TV shows I had downloaded from my Media Center PC late last night: The season premieres of The Simpsons, Family Guy, and American Dad, all of which were funny but not spectacular. I dozed off a few times, read the latest Bob Woodward book and generally relaxed. Finally.

And then .... Los Angeles. What a wonderful place. I've been here a number of times, and it's always been great. The weather is perfect, the people are perfect, and there's lots to do (Flipside: $40 for a cab from the airport is excessive). Stupidly, my rolling laptop bag broke in Boston, so I'll need to find a replacement today while I have time. That's next on my list. Then PDC registration.

12:38 pm.
Things are proceeding slowly. I had to wait until 12 to get online (because the hotel charges $9.99 for 24 hours of access, which begins at noon each day) and then get through emails. There was a glaring error in one of the articles that went out in WinInfo Monday, but the long and the short of it is that Windows Vista Home Basic Edition will not include the Aero user interface. Sorry for the confusion.

I see that Microsoft is indeed giving out Windows Vista build 5219 at the show, as I reported over two weeks ago. This build is, as you might expect, that old as well, but that's what happens when you fork the code tree to make special versions. I'll have to grab my goodie bag and register soon.

Since I had to kill some time anyway, I ordered lunch and watched CNBC over some food--a California Cobb Salad--that you just can't get in New England. I see that eBay has purchased Skype, which is interesting. Apparently, Google was interested as well. And Steve Ballmer claims he has never thrown a chair in his life. I'm not positive if I've ever thrown one either. I wonder what I'd say about that under oath?

My SuperSite showcase, "Windows Vista Product Editions Preview," is up. It includes a nice table that spells out which features are included in which Vista editions. Check it out.

OK. Time to shower and head out in search of a new rolling laptop bag and the PDC registration stuff. Not much going on today, as you can see, but that's just fine with me. Tomorrow, Microsoft unleashes hell.

8:23 pm.
Turns out it was an interesting day after all. Where to start?

First off, Los Angeles suffered from a sudden and unexpected city-wide power failure, which I found out about because I was in the hotel elevator at the time. After waiting a few minutes after the power stopped, taking the elevator's mobility with it, I picked up the phone in the elevator and called the front desk. "I'm stuck in your elevator," is an almost exact quote. I was told that the hotel had suffered a small power failure--they didn't yet realize it was city-wide yet--and that the backup system would kick in and the elevator would work again. Sure enough, about a minute later, the lights came on and the elevator started moving again. There was just one problem. Now it was going up, and it was going fast. Really fast. Frantically hitting random floor buttons, I was unable to stop the elevator's progress, but then I realized I was hitting buttons for floors we had already passed, so I hit one of the top floor buttons, and the elevator did stop there with a shudder. So I got out, waited a bit, and then hit the down button, hoping I'd summon a different elevator. No such luck. Figuring the chances were good that these things were designed to handle power failures, I got in, punched up the ground floor and headed down as is nothing had happened. At the bottom, waiting for me, were three security guards, armed with walkie-talkies and looking pretty concerned. "Are you OK??" one of them asked. "Yeah, I just went for a little ride," I said and walked away. Actually, I'm pretty sure I soiled myself.

Once I got to the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC), I had heard that the power failure wasn't isolated and was thus not surprised to discover that I couldn't register and pick up my name badge, because that's done by computer, which of course requires electricity. So I took a mini-tour of the LACC, reminding myself of the events of two years ago and bumping into a few familiar faces along the way. I ended spending the next couple of hours with an old friend from Microsoft, and as the power returned, I did finally get my name badge and goodies (sans build 5219, which will be provided tomorrow after the Gates keynote).

Finally, I headed back to downtown Los Angeles, went for a short walk, and picked up my replacement rolling laptop bag (at 50 percent no less). Then it was back to the LACC again, this time to meet up with some friends from Hardware Geeks. Together, we proceeded to get into a bit of trouble checking out build 5219, which includes a number of previously non-disclosed or little-known features, including a new ALT+TAB functionality that provides live application thumbnails, a new thumbnail application preview when you mouse over taskbar buttons, new taskbar translucency, a general cleaning up of the Aero UI with less "muddy" translucencies and cleaner window borders, and applications such as Ad-Hoc Meetings, Windows Collaboration, Microsoft Command Shell, Windows Photo Library (based on Microsoft Digital Image Suite Library), Phone Book Service, Windows Calendar, Microsoft Expression, and Microsoft Max (a photo blogging service).

I had dinner with my bud Karen Forster, who convinced me to try sushi for the first time in over 7 years and--shocker--I liked all of it. Huh. And here I was denying myself this whole time. Fool.

Now I can just look forward to tomorrow, which starts at 8:30 with the Gates keynote and ends around 9:00 pm if I'm lucky. And let's face it, I'm rarely lucky.

Time for sleep.