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Where's Andy been for the last month?

It's been another fantastically busy spell. The Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles was quite an adventure. As if things hadn't been hectic enough getting everything ready to launch on day one (when, conveniently, most folks were going to be out of town), the journey down there proved equally challenging. How wonderful that ATC for the entire LA basin had to shut down for several hours while relocating to avoid the rampant wild fires. Pure resourcefulness could be seen everywhere; some decided to fly to San Francisco and drive (5 hours, nice), some decided to just drive (18 hours, nicer), and some decided to give up (0 hours, where's the fun?). But not us. Suffice it to say, we found some sneaky seats on a flight to Palm Springs and the rest is history, as chronicled by CNET.The conference was a blast. The keynotes were really well executed and the sessions were heavily attended. There seemed to be a genuine excitement in the air, and rightly so. This has never been a technical journal, so cut to the really fun bits. A party on the top of the Standard (pool, waterbeds, Band on the Runtime and all), a quite accidental (and cheap!) massive suite at the top of the Westin, lots of talking to people and an information overload made for a great week.A few days back in Seattle to pick up the pieces, and then back on a plane. This time to Philadelphia. Two things are particularly remarkable; it's been over two years since I last saw Bob, and over five since he muttered the immortal words "Hi, I'm Bob Wilson" the first time we met as room mates.Philly is a great place. Arriving on Friday afternoon, we had just enough time to wander the streets of America's birthplace, nearly seeing the Liberty Bell, eating cheese steaks opposite Penn's Landing and generally drinking some beer. Good times.And then it was Saturday. Just ninety minutes after leaving Philadelphia, where else does one find themselves, but New York. We ambled through the madness to Grand Central Station (magnificent!) to meet Catherine. Many attribute New York's buzz to the sheer number of people, but there's something else. LA has lots of people, but it doesn't even come close to the same feeling. The sights had to be seen - Times Square, Chrysler Tower, Empire State Building, Rockerfeller Plaza, Radio City Music Hall, outside the Time and Life building (as in the backdrop you always see behind the windows on CNN), Flat Iron building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, Central Park, a road quite close to Wall Street, a massive bull statue that we think was significant and an elevator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that lead to a great view, but was closed for the winter. I heart NY.A good dinner in Greenwich Village, a second stop at the Empire State building to decide again not to queue, to buy their entire supply of tonic water (advanced planning) and to collect ingredients for making s'mores. Someone mentioned there was a view there, but I didn't see it.Sunday in Philly saw us following in Rocky Balboa's footsteps, running the steps to the top of the Art Museum and walking the banks of the Schuylkill. Redeye back to Seattle and work first thing.What an adventure.Pictures in the gallery.

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The day of rest

A slow couple of days has made for a good change from the last few weeks. Plenty of time to watch the (American) football today, which is a habit I'm really starting to take to. The Seahawks ended their 3-0 standing with a rather conclusive defeat by the Packers, and the Drunken Brits might just be within reach of their first win of the season.

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The joy of the written word

Books are great. When travelling, it's going to take a huge amount of technological development before I'm willing to part with any bound volumes of paper.

  • Brave New World (Aldous Huxley). Well worth reading, certainly food for thought. Amidst the lively delivery, there is quite a scary idea lurking just beneath the surface. Given its age (1932), it's quite amazing to see how some things have come true (and thankfully, many others have not). I still wonder whether it was ever considered possible (and on the same note, 1984) when it was first received, or whether it was thought far-fetched as such a book would be labelled today. I'm on the lookout for any recent works that compare.
  • Life of Pi. Great book for a long plane flight and it inspired my last trip to London Zoo. Sadly, it didn't provide the proof of the existence of God as implied on the back cover, so the last page only brought a hollow victory.
  • Man and Wife (Tony Parsons). A good sequel to Man and Boy, but didn't quite match up to the original story. Even with its shortcomings, a good plane read.
I started reading Catch-22 on the way back from the UK this time. Enjoying it so far, although I can't seem to dodge the notion that it's going to turn into "MAS*H: The Novel". We'll see.
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The moral victory

Emily puts it so eloquently:

just a point to the boys - if you add up the times, Caius did 225.34 secs in total and we did 223.45, so if it had been on times (as I though it was...) we should have won - so the moral victory, if not the two bottles of Veuve Cliquot, remains with us!
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As seasons go by

It's a misty morning in Seattle. On the tail end of what has definitely been a great summer, I'm actually quite looking forward to the next few months. When it doesn't rain, the cold air, the evergreen trees, the snow in the mountains and the mystery of the mist (20 yard visible on the bus right now), ah yes. 'Fall' is a good season in the Northwest.

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Out of time

I'm back after a break from blogging for a bit. It didn't seem to have been too long, until I noticed my last post was on July 1, now three months ago. I guess I got busy doing some other things, which I'm now going to try and remember.JulyI seem to recall the first couple of weeks being somewhat rushed, leading up to a little vacation back to Blighty. With my brother turning 21, it seemed only right to go back home for a while. And what a good decision that was, good to see the family again, and what fun surprising my dear mother by turning up on the doorstep unannounced. It's terribly convenient having friends that blog, now with months gone by I still know I drank some beer in some country pubs and went on a late night shopping spree. Good times indeed.A few days in London before my flight back, and a night at the Proms, a trip to London Zoo and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and a night out in Angel. With just an hours sleep the night before and a rather furious battle going on in my left temple, my memories of the 5am tube ride out to Heathrow and sitting curled up in terminal 3 were invaluable in strengthening my character.AugustI'm not sure what happened to the entire month of August. The only event that I can really remember was my birthday, on which I'd been planning to summarize the twenty third year of my life (maybe I'll do that this week instead). We ate Ethiopian food for dinner, followed by wholly too much gin in the Rosebud in Capital Hill. Amidst fine company we decided to retire for a tasty breakfast at IHOP where we feasted. When we finished, the clock showed one and, since it was my birthday no more, I had the pleasure of paying the check. What great friends.SeptemberFast drawing to a close after another busy spell. Just got back from three days in Cambridge for the Alumni Weekend. Left work on Thursday, hopped on a flight through Chicago and was sitting on Primrose Hill only hours (well, eighteen hours) later. The JCBC alumni put on a good show at the morning regatta on Saturday, losing closely to Caius (in fairness, we didn't actually know where the finish line was) and beating Girton, proving that we could still remember how to row. Hands shredded and body exhausted (really exhausted), the scene was set for a great black tie dinner in hall. A toast to the Queen in a five hundred year old college and plenty of drinks and conversation in the renovated bar and my weekend of reminiscence was complete. With not a moment to waste, back to London, lunch in All Bar One and back on a plane. Which brings me to now.Yes, on reflection, I've been rather busy. It's good to be back.

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Racism in advertising?

King County is running a series of posters on the metro at the moment aiming to raise awareness of HIV.

Leading with the question "Who is affected by HIV?", the ad features a 'cross-section' consisting of eight people, all African-American.Seems like someone forgot to check for the subliminal message in that one.
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It recently dawned on me that I can't actually remember the last time I heard silence - absolutely nothing, pure calm. By day, I enjoy air conditioning and the whirring of five computer fans and by night, the noise of traffic that never stops. Pins could be dropping everywhere and I simply wouldn't notice. I have some memory, without place or time, of being in a farmhouse at night. It was so dark I couldn't tell whether my eyes were open and every movement came with a jarring sound. I wonder whether there's a market to sell the experience like the oxygen bars in Tokyo.