Mar 20

Austin to Vegas – last day and Snow Patrol


Originally uploaded by RachelC.

I’m now leaving Austin to travel to Las Vegas. Austin was great..and weird. Apparently an island of sanity in the state of Texas. Not having chance to visit the rest of the state, I’ll stay happy in my ignorance of what the rest of it is like.

Austin was laid back and pretty welcoming to the 10000 visitors that appeared to descend on it over the last week. Everything seemed to run well. i’d recommend the buses – 50c to anywhere, even on the one I caught tonight to the airport.

I caught my final gig yesterday afternoon; The Subways, Nine Black Alps and the best one I say all week – a ‘surprise’ acoustic set by Snowpatrol, who were just brilliant.

Now I’m off to Vegas for Mix06, the Microsft ’72 hour conversation’. Again, I have a complimentary ticket, through the kindness of Tara Hunt who passed her complimentary ticket onto me. So there will be a fiar bit of blogging from that conference as well as my planned trip to the Grand Canyon.

Mar 08


In one of those co-incidences, I arrived at the airport lounge yesterday and smiled and said hello to someone I recognised. Nothing unusual in that, I’m used to seeing people all the time on the NYC flight – there was usually at least one person from Diageo on the flight. This time though it turned out to be one of the people who catch the same train as me every morning – so he looked at me very weirdly as I greeted him as though I knew him.

But this post is not about that kind of localisation, where the world is getting smaller (or is that globalisation), it’s more about the kind of localisation that puts an independently owned motorway service station at the top of a Which Poll (I can’t find a decent link to the story this morning). Many services in the UK are owned by chains, they’re dull, plastic, too expensive for what you get but Westmorland has always provided something different. Started by the landowner when the motorway was built across his land, the services foucs on providing local produce and employment for locals. People go out of their way to visit the farm shop and restaurant, it does not jsut rely on passing trade.

So here you have an occasion where staying true to initial values and focusing on excellence provides a service that consistently comes out top in polls such as this.

Feb 26


Finally arrived…a good trip, just marred by the longest wait and lines I’ve had at JFK. SItting in a very cool hotel in Manhattan where at least the wifi is free in the lobby bar- where a drink is just marginally cheaper than paying for the connection in the room. Seems like Nicole is also travelling. However, it looks like she lost her luggage and got stopped in customs for bringing in some dangerous merchandise – apples and bananas. I thought we may have been crossing paths at some point, but she’s off to different things.

Once I get back from this work trip, I turn around in 24 hours and fly back to the US, this time San Francisco, then Austin, Las Vegas and Seattle and back to San Fran for a final few days. A nice little holiday before I need to look for some paying work

Dec 20

Need a Place to Stay?

Travelling to a conference or a geek dinner? Low budget? Need a place to stay? Try canicrash, a wiki put together by Henriette Weber Anderson to share details of people who are willing to let their couch or spare room to bloggers.


for the travelling blogger ( the crasher):
– you get to stay a place for free ( or minor costs)
– you get to meet fellow bloggers and see the place from a local point of view.
– you might even make some friends!

for the person who lets his/her home on the roll ( the crashee):
– you get to met fellow bloggers
– somebody will do the same for you if you ask for it ( in my theory maybe not in real life. But it’s worth a try don’t you think?)
– maybe you will get gifts from strange countries.. nice one.
– you get to blog about another blogger staying with you

A useful resource to keep the costs down…just take note of the guidelines.

Dec 14

Germ and Squirrel Free

A couple of articles caugh tmy eye in today’s Evening Standard. The first is about c2c who have just announced a new service (although not, apparently, in the news section of their website). They are going to provide cough-free carriages for the next few months, to allow their commuters to stay germ free. If a traveller starts coughing they are supposed to leave the carriages.

In another story, a man named Tufty could do with a few doses of Panexa to encourge Excessive Floppy Tail Syndrome in the squirrels in his garden, as he has set up, to encourage the culling of grey squirrels which are perceived as a nuisance and a threat to the native red squirrels. Whilst suggesting that you avoid the brains, there are a few recipes that could provide alternatives to your normal Christmas fare and there are updated reports from the battlefronts; or you could go and comment on the forum. A growing, slightly worrying, campaign.

Aug 18

BA Service

When I eventually got on a plane back from New York, the BA catering issue had not been resolved. Luckily, the lounge was serving breakfast, but there was to be no food on the plane. We got handed a pack as we boarded, containing cheese and biscuits, chocolate, a brownie and some pretzels. Although they had plenty of water, there was no alcohol served (some foresighted people had bought their own bottles)

We all got handed complaint forms to complete and return; I was expecting to still have to go into a battle to get compensation for the delay and the lack of service. I still need to send my receipts in, but today, it seems I have recieved a whole load of additional airmiles to my account, the equivalent of a free business class trip back to the US. Now all I need to do now is plan where I’m going ;o)

Aug 14

Too hot

It’s been hot in the city today. Wandering around, slowly as there was no incentive to rush, I visited a street fair. It was called a UN fair, to celebration of difversity, but I guess it’s the same stalls that comeout every time for the large number of fairs this city has. For 10 blocks along Madison Avenue, the street was lined with stalls. There was little variation on offerings, with many stalls repeated about every 2 blocks. Some kind of cartel operating – you could tell by the signs. Only one kind of kebab stall, one kind of smoothy stall. Looking at the goods on offer as well, the same thing was happening here. The Chinese masseurs were the worst – they hung out in the middle of the street, trying to grab and manhandle you to have a ‘free trial’. Stern words were required to keep them off.

Moving onwards, the best way to keep cool was to keep going into shops. The expensive ones, the ones that can afford to turn the air conditioning way up so that it can be felt 10 feet away through the dorr, across the pavement.

Finally, back along to 6th Avenue, where there was a long parade for Dominica Day. Confusingly, the parade came along sporadically over a few hours, with something like 30 minutes between the first ones and later one. First up was Mike Bloomberg, the Mayor of NYC who is up for re-election. I’d like to know what he has to do with a Dominican Day parade, but he had a lot of support. At the top of the avenue, there were a set of TV interviewers and the politician came to the fore as he dived in for an interview, leaving the rest of the parade stranded, waiting for him.

The first load of floats/groups all appeared to be politician running for various elections. They were all spaced out, guess they got separated along the long parade. What was really weird for me is that many appeared to be running for the same elections. The parade was still going on 2 hours later, the floats at this point separated by the sonic bubbles that surrounded the floats and their massive sound systems.

I’ve got some great pictures, that will be up once I get the USB cable I left at home. One of them is of the police getting ready at the start of the day, probably around 100 lined up. I realised, watching them. that it’s more guns than I’ve ever seen in one place, which is quite scary. Armed police are unusual in the UK; let’s hope it stays that way.

Aug 12

WiFi Service

I read Doc Searls post about free wifi/connectivity the other day. I stayed at a Marriott with free connection but currently I’m in a W hotel which charges $17 dollars for 24 hours connection. Expensive, but the company is paying!

However, this evening I got a call from the hotel Customer Services performing a satisfaction survey. Now, this is the first time I’ve been subject to this – a small annoyance but at least they are trying to establish what their customers think. I mentioned my annoyance over paying for connectivity and how many other hotels don’t, then thought nothing more of it. But then there was a follow up call 30 minutes later from another section of staff just to checkup on my complaint. After informing me there was free wi-fi in the ground floor public areas he then proceeded to remove the charges from the bill and promise to take up with the manager.

So I can carry on reading feeds whilst watching TV…and numerous ads. WHich does lead to one observation – I’m surprised at the lack of URLS on US TV ads compared to waht I’ve experienced from UK ads.

Aug 08


I actually managed to get a massage at the Spa in the airport lounge; with that and the champagne I was all set up for the flight. Pity about the hours delay sitting on the tarmac at the other end when they couldn’t find somewhere to park.

Meanwhile, here’s Fruitstock, a free festival in Regent’s Park held over the weekend;


Aug 02

New York

I’m back there next week so intend to do my usual and spend a day or two sightseeing. Time to dig outt he guide book again.

Jun 25

Tourists and Security

In my effort to be a tourist I decided I would go up the Empire State Building. Having heard nightmare stories about the queues, I decided I would be there nice and early, so I got to the doors at 8.05 (I’m only one block away from it) to find around 100 people already in front of me. But the queue mobed quickly to the first barrier, the security check. Bags went though the xray machine, but all other things were meant to go in a box before you went through the metal detector. Before you got to the screening, one person was going up and down the line telling people nopt to take jackets off or anything like that, just put the bag through. So they didn’t..and went through the detector with keys,phones etc in pockets and were then yelled at by a women who did nothing but yell. One guy in front of me tried to take off his jacket to put through the machine as he obviously had lots of things in the multitude of pockets; he got told to put it back on, then got repeatedly sent back and forth through the detector until he found every single thing that was setting it off. At no point did the guard stop and tlak to him, see what he had or run over him with one of the personal detectors, just kept yelling. I;ve siad it before – what is it with the guards here, did they all go to the same school of discourtesy?

After security, everything went very smoothly and I got to the top with no more waiting. The view was superb and i took lots of photos. Somehow the numbers were controlled so that there was always ‘just enough’ people up there, I could always find somewhere to stand and stare. I hired one of the audio tour sets they have – I guess if I had looked hard enough I could have foind the whole thing as a podcast for free.

For the rest of the day I visited Times Square, had brunch in Bryant Square and took a 3 hour open-topped bus tour around the lower half of Manhattan. So now I’m dehydrated and slight burnt, as it is very hot here – time to rest, top up the liquid and think if I want to do anything else this visit.

Jun 24

Wireless in Manhattan

Sitting here in a friend’s apartment smack bang in the centre of Manhattan I find 6 open wireless networks,all for the taking. Beats anywhere I’ve been in London.

Jun 24

Time Zones

I’m definitely in the wrong timezone. The day started with a 7.30am work call. I’m not too bad on doing late calls with the US when I’m in the UK but early calls with the UK is just difficult. I;ve then spent 4 hours with an agency in an assessment, to see if they are going to be doing one of our websites. Finally got a chance to relax and prepare for my all-on day of sightseeing tomorrow!

Jun 22

USA Today

Hey Richard, I arrived. I’m sure IM or mobile would have been a lot more efficient that this though!!!

Jun 15

Travel thoughts

I walk through Waterloo Station nearly every weekday. In the 3-4 minutes I’m in the concourse, the announcer never shuts up, running through all the departures in an endless repetitive loop. Obviously, at some point, there was one massive recording session to get everything taped (digitised, recorded..) Do you think they have to go and find the guy again everytime a new train journey is added? But most important – do you think he gets residuals for everytime the recording is used???

The other thing that struck me was the status board at the entrance to the Jubilee line. It lists all the tube lines and has a number of sticky signs that can be added to the board to give the travel status of each line – saves the staff writing things out. Occasionally, everything is running OK on every single line, but they do not have enough signs to tell us this. The staff either have to space out the little signs evenly across the board or write the additonal ‘good service’ reports on their. So why is this important? It’s telling me that this is an organisation that expects to fail, when its staff will not produce enough status markers to say everything is OK.

May 22

Reboot 7.0

I believe I’ve signed up for Reboot7.0 taking place in June in Copenhagen. I say believed as, so far, no invoice or confirmation has been received after a week. In this I’m the same as Tom, as well as a few other people. Trusting that all is well, everything else is booked – flights, hotels etc – so now I just need to turn up and enjoy (hopefully…)

Apr 26

Too late

Day trip to Edinburgh and three hour delay in getting back. Stuck at the airport lounge with a laptop which has a battery life of about 20 seconds and not able to drink as had to drive when I get back to Heathrow. Long, boring evening.

Apr 25

Security Cameras

Due to the Jubilee line been messed up this evening, ended up going to Vauxhall to catch the train. So for 10 minutes I sat, starring at the MI6 building opposite the station. A very imposing building, minimal windows, full of cameras covering multiple approaches. Except for one, at the top of the building. I’m convinced the security team using it are train fans. As the trains went through the station, the camera kept tracking them back and forth. left to right. I’m pretty sure they got most of the engine numbers!