Googling San Francisco

23 May 2011

Last week I headed off to San Francisco, California to attend one of my most favourite conferences, Google I/O. This was my second time going to it after I had to skip last year due to my moving, and it was just as good as I remembered.

After turning in my last final for my postgraduate programme, I headed off to the airport to catch my late evening flight. I decided it was a good idea to spend the extra $10 to upgrade to stretch seating, and ended up have both extra leg room and an empty middle seat next to me. The flight was one of the turbulent ones I have been on in a few years, but with all my flying, it really did not phase me. Landing in SF just after 6pm, it was a quick ride into the city on BART and walk to the Marriott across from the Moscone Center. Checking in, I was excited to get put on the 37th of 40 floors in a corner room, the view of the city was magnificent.

While it was still early I headed out into the city to grab a drink before turning into the night. I immediately headed towards one of my favourite bar/coffee shops, the Sugar Cafe. Not only do they have $3 delicious mojito (which I promptly downed two of), but it is exactly the type of cafe that I would open myself. I spent most of the time browsing the feed of the conference hashtag to see what everyone else was doing that night, and ended up stopping by another bar cat-corner to the hotel before turning in for the night.

The next morning it was off to get my badge and day one of the conference. Since the last time I went, not only had they made the registration process much simpler, but there was at least a few less lines to stand in. Walking into the keynote hall, I was lucky enough to grab a seat only about 20 rows back and watched the giant countdown wind down to the kickoff. Day one was on the Android cell phone operating system, but I will not bore you with the details. Half surprised, at the end of the keynote we were all told that we would be receiving our own tablet.

After a few of the morning sessions on JS and HTML5 it was off to lunch. Lunch is where you can really notice the type of conference you are at. For example, at DrupalCon (a community conference) I probably made over 100 connections while sitting around eating, however at Google I/O (a developers conference) only one or two people would ever talk at a table. While I enjoy both kinds, I feel as if I make much better connections at conferences that are not just developers.

After the afternoon sessions, I headed back to the hotel room to drop off my bag full of stickers and t-shirts that I had picked up. After doing a bit of shopping on Market, I headed off to the after-party and dinner they were having back at Google. As the time before there were lots of snacks, ice cream and of course the open bar. I wandered amongst the exhibits that various companies had setup ranging from a local Boulder company that I knew of to the now infamous Google self-driving car. Then the main musical came on stage, Jane’s Addiction, quite the choice for a nerd conference.

While I went to grab another beer I got into a conversation with a few people in line with me and ended up following them back towards the stage. I then kept following them, getting onto the edge of the stage with them, thinking that it was what anyone could do. When some lady asked if I was with them, I just did yelled yes. How little did I know that everyone else I was standing with was assisting with the DJ. In the end I got to watch Jane’s Addiction from the stage, got some awesome video and ended up talking with some awesome people.

After sneaking off stage since I had no idea if they were going to ask me to help them, I went and started talking with another group of people. This time I ended up talking with five people from the Google Checkout team and a few people that worked for a company in SLC. We shared a few more drinks, and they decided that we should head out for some Thai food. We talked over the food until around 1am when I finally decided to head back to the hotel to get some rest before the next day.

The second day was much like the first, with the focus being more on Chrome and web stuff. During the keynote we were all told that we were going to get a Chromebook (Google’s computer), it honestly felt like we were on Oprah. After a few more sessions and lunch all over again, I started getting ready to head to the airport. That is when I received the notification that might flight was already delayed an hour.

I killed some more time watching the last session that I thought I would be missing and then headed to the airport as slow as possible, knowing that I was going to have to sit around there anyway. When the BART train came out of the tunnel near the airport, my phone chimed again, 120 minutes delayed. Just to my luck I was one of two people in the security line and I quickly made it to the gate where 50+ people were already lounging around. I made for the airport bar and ordered a light dinner and beer while I charged all of my devices on the floor next to me (note to travelers: airport bars always have the most plugs).

The ground crew did a great job of keeping us up to date, however boarding was even further delayed when a larger woman fainted getting off the plane. After they finally got us all on board, I was once again relived to have the seat next to me as we taxied towards the runway. However, then we just sat there. About five minutes later the pilot came on saying that we had been told to wait in SF because Denver had closed due to snow (yes, in mid-May).

Thankfully we all had free TVs and I had all of my electronics charged, but we ended up waiting at the edge of the runway for over an hour. Finally, the pilot came on one final time and said we would be leaving in 15 minutes. Not even five minutes later, the plane started moving and the pilot informed everyone to be seated immediately, we actually started to accelerate down the runway as a flight attendant made her way back to her seat. We later found out that we had been given a minute opening to either leave or wait even longer.

Once on the ground in Denver, the pilot was not kidding as there was over three inches of fresh, wet snow on everything and it was pouring rain. I trudged through my car in linen shoes, shoveled my car off and made it home to Boulder right after 2:15am, over four hours late. However, a little snow did not damper my amazing and fun trip back to Google and San Francisco.

Comments