Mar 06

What’s in My Bag

I’ve copied Roo and put a ‘What’s in My Bag’ photo up. This is the handluggage for the SXSW travel, where I put in all the electronics (hate putting them in the hold). Quite useful to do, as I realise I’ve left out notebook, pen and keys.

What's in my Bag

Click through to see the notes on what’s there.

Nov 27

A week in London

I spent last week in London, the first time I’d been back since I moved to New York. A great week was had, a combination of work and pleasure.

  • had some interviews and met up with some headhunters. I’m back in London permanently from January and this was setting up some things. No idea how it will pan out yet.
  • had drinks with Suw where we chatted about life, work and all things weddingy.
  • Had coffee with Jeremy, one of the panelists with me at SXSW, just connecting and chatting.
  • Had coffee and yummy dimsum with Adam, where publishing was onthe agenda.
  • randomly bumped into Rebecca and had coffee later, looking at the workshops she has been running. I also randomly bumped into Lloyd whilst going to meet Adam; the development of the Tuttle club looks interesting.
  • Went to BarcampLondon3 and had a blast. I was staying with Ian Forrester for that part of the week and ended up having a unsettling scooter ride through London to get to and from the camp. I’ve only ever been on the back of a bike twice before, so not the most comfortable experience – enjoyable in hindsight but a the time I got rather worried for my knees! There were around 130 people at the camp, hosted by Google. Did not make too many of the talks as spent a lot of time just chatting with cool new people. Gave a talk on Games in Advertising and things to watch out for (using this year’s Court TV Save My Husband as an example). Had my first ride on a Segway. Indulged in the food and drink that was provided – definitely the best ‘work canteen’ food I’ve ever had. Watched multiple games of Werewolf. All in all, a superb weekend, thanks to Ian, Amy, the BBC and Google for putting it on.

I think I’m getting paid back for having a good time though. Suffered a a bad nose bleed and nearly managed to not pay for a drink as I was dealing with that instead of thinking of paying. The servers were not too sympathetic when I got back, even though I was dripping blood! They were far more interested in getting their money. Broke the screen on my phone – bad news as it is on load from Palm, so am going to have to pay for that. Have a horrible cold. And the toilet flooded all over the bathroom this morning so spent an hour cleaning that lot up. I think I need to just hibernate for the next few days

Nov 07

Million Dollar Spaceship

The Million Dollar Homepage was successful and was immediately followed by plenty of imitators, none of whom achieved the same notoriety. No-one had a really new take on it. But now I think we have one in Your Name into Space.

MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and the Georgia Institute of Technology Space Systems Design Lab are designing a satellite which will be launched into space in 2010. To support the development they are selling advertising on the satellite, at 1cm3 spaces.

In return for your donation (tax-deductible of course) you will either get a photo of the logo from space. If you spend the big bucks and get a place inside, you’ll get back the piece of the satellite. Anybody looking for an unusual Christmas present?

YNIS Satellite

Jul 13

Royalton Service..or lack of it

Richard is in town from London at the moment, so last night we had dinner at his hotel, the Royalton. On the surface, a typical New York hotel with a lounge/bar in the reception room, cool furnishings, cool people, good cocktails. I had a great pomegranite marguerita that was far better than the one I had at the Rosa Mexicano the other week. the food was also pretty tasty. But everything would have been far better is there had been service, of any kind. We were obviously not the right type of people, as the waiters continously glanced past us trying to order new drinks. After ordering a glass of wine with the food, they whipped away the glass withpout even trying to offer me another one. Next time, we’ll go somewhere which can pay us slightly more attentions

Jun 26

BA Support

I’m currently trying to change some travel plans. but the British Airways website keeps giving me this error : “We are encountering a temporary fault, please try again. If the problem persists, please contact your booking agent.” So I ring up the number I find, choose the only option that appears to lead me to a live person and find this message: ” due to website technical problems this call line is closed” (this is slightly paraphased). I wonder if the same people working on both problems?

Mar 28


Nice….sometimes, things are good – an upgrade to first class!. I’m going to have to come back to happened the last time I was there as well. I guess business was overbooked and I had the most points or something like that to get the upgrade

But what do you get for first class on BA? A bigger flatbed, far comfier than business. Better food and more choice. More ‘personalised service’. Choice of film over and above that of the entertainment system – but there appear to be only one copy of each. Virgin have a digital choice system which is far better. It’s twice the price of business…not sure it’s worth it if I actually had to pay for it -but ohh, to be able to afford it 😉

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.