In Portland for Ubuntu Live

Ubuntu Live kicks off tomorrow in Portland, OR, USA, back to back with OSCON.

The tale of air travel

I left London yesterday morning (after my brother accidentally woke me up an hour early), and almost didn't make it out of Gatwick - due to terrible weather, all flights were delayed, and many cancelled. I went through the Trainee security queue, and they all ogled my laptop bag on the Xray machine (filled to the brim with interesting equipment, power supplies, and adaptors, as usual). The lad who frisked me was clearly very green, and I don't think I could have got an unauthorised toothpick through ;-) Thankfully I wasn't picked out for "special attention" again after that, although maybe 10% of people got taken away from the Immigration queue, in at Newark, New York. It's quite a scary process - the queue moves very slowly, because everyone gets interviewed for 2-10 minutes. People with children get a long interview, and if you didn't dot every I and cross every T on your forms, you get sent away, dismissively. Then, as I said, about 10% of passengers fail their interview (or are just unlucky), their papers are put in a big, zip lock bag, and the immigration official shouts for an "ESCORT!" to take them away, down the white corridor, from whence we presume they will never return... There were only 2 escorts, and they were working flat out...

Oh, btw, I'm a huge fan of the air power wiki. My laptop has a negligible battery life, and likes being tethered to the mains. Talking of which, on the 767 from London to New York, there were 110V power sockets under the seats - w00t :-)

My plane to Portland was packed, and delayed for almost 2hrs, in the Friday rush. :-( But I got there mostly on time, and crawled into my hotel bed before midnight, after, literally, a 24hr day. The hotel is dingy, but cheap & clean. And right next door to the convention centre, and a MAX tram stop.

The tale of dodgy wifi

I get free wifi from the Hotel across the street (they have an agreement with mine), but it's dodgy as hell. It just dies without warning, and when it's dead, it's AP seems to cause havoc (when I try and associate with other networks, I always end up connecting to it).

Portland has a free MetroFi service, ad-supported. Which sucks - badly. The signal is mostly pretty poor (I can only get it with my laptop screen right against the window in my room), and when I'm around the town there is normally little signal. They've spread their APs over all 4 non-overlapping channels, polluting the spectrum. When you do have signal, the ad system means you get lots of 302 redirects, which don't agree with my RSS reader, or me. I find myself proxying out over an SSH tunnel, for my sanity. :-( MetroFi--

Portland so far

Portland is nice enough. There is free public transport inside the city centre, it's leafy, and the people seem friendly enough. But I haven't really got a feel for it yet.

I poked around the Saturday market this morning, which could have been just about anywhere in the world (excepting the men selling US flags, and almost all the stalls having credit card facilities :-) ). Some nice work, and some good food (I had a spectacular omlette). I left when it started raining.

I went to see the Body Worlds 3 exhibition at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Very interesting. You get a good feeling for human anatomy and muscle structure. The exhibits of tumours and healthy body parts were quite enlightening. The posed, plastinated cadavers got rather repetitive, although all well worth a close look. I found the exhibits of blood vessels only to be the most beautiful. But overall, I didn't find it to be as mind-blowing or offensive as the media has made it out to be.

Tonight, I'm off to find some fellow Ubuntu Live'ers, unless the Jetlag gets to me first.