Monday 27 October 2008
It's been a crazy few days. I pulled into Boston late Wednesday night. On Thursday I hung out at MIT. I visited my friend's quantum computation lab; lasers and liquid helium make science so much more interesting. I gave a talk about Chronicle and Chronomancer to a pretty good-sized CSAIL audience. I had the honour of being hassled by Richard Stallman for suggesting that there was synergy between Chronicle and VMWare's record-and-replay features. (VMWare, as non-free software, is apparently never the solution to any problem.)
On Friday morning I took the train to Stamford and then visited the IBM Hawthorne lab to talk about the future of the open Web platform. My talk was too long so I sped up and skipped the demos (contrary to my own point that visual gratification is the driving force behind platform evolution). Still, it went well and I enjoyed catching up with a lot of my old colleagues.
On Saturday I was at another friend's wedding. It was too much fun hailing friends I hadn't seen for years and watching the multi-second transition from unrecognition, to recognition, to shock and exclamation. I left the party around 3pm and arrived at my hotel in Mountain View 13 hours later.
When I'm in the Bay Area I get my Sunday fix at Home Of Christ 5. I go because a few very good friends go there, but also because "Home Of Christ Five" is the coolest name for a church ever (I'm not sure why). It's a very Silicon Valley church; they meet in a converted office building in an industrial park in Cupertino, right next to an Apple satellite. And this morning, the pastor compared the Christian struggle with sin to Boot Camp.
[Irony: a very attractive woman had just sat down next to me, and I was trying very hard to ignore this fact, when the pastor said "Now, turn to the person next to you and ask them if they struggle with sin!" You gotta be kidding me, Lord!]
Anyway, the HOC5 congregation is very friendly to newcomers. I know this because I only go there once or twice a year so naturally no-one ever remembers me and they're very nice every time :-).
I've watched some TV at times. The election coverage is appalling. Most of the "commentary" is clearly pushing one candidate or the other. Most of it's negative. I watched for hours and learned nothing about any significant differences between McCain and Obama's actual proposed policies. Most reporting is actually meta-news on the campaign itself, or even meta-meta-news on the media's coverage of the campaign. The worst is when pundits eat up screen time bemoaning the lack of meaningful coverage --- HELLO! Even the comic coverage isn't funny.
Another thing I noticed is that the news shows have so much animated rubbish --- scrolling tickers, bouncing icons, rotating stars. Larry King even has periodic full-screen zooming stars take over the screen, blotting out the actual picture, occurring seemingly at random while people are talking. It's impossible to concentrate on the actual content of the show (such as it is). What is the purpose of this?
Finally, in-flight movie summary:
- The Happening OK.
- The Forbidden Kingdom OK, but what a waste. Lose the white kid.
- Get Smart OK.
Thank goodness I didn't pay for those. Better luck on the way home, I hope.