Despite my increasing aversion to long haul flights, I’ve dragged my suitcase down from the cupboard and set off for sunny Chicago for the Adobe Max 2007 conference. The conference doesn’t start till later today so it remains to be seen whether it justifies the trip, but till then a few random observations from the trip so far:-
- Flying from Birmingham and changing in Europe beats going from Heathrow or changing at Newark by a mile, IMHO. There was literally nobody queuing at the check-in desk at Birmingham, and I’d checked in and cleared customs in less than fifteen minutes. Sweet.
- But Charles de Gaulle airport took the shine off a little bit. Three transfer buses; one from the plane to the terminal, another from one terminal to another, and the last one back out to the next plane. I didn’t know big airports still did this sort of thing. Plus I’m 90% sure that I walked in pretty much a big circle inside the arrival terminal and got on my second bus thirty yards away from where I’d got off the first. And by golly, the CdG designers sure liked their concrete.
- Queuing on the steps of the plane out of CdG, it was clear that the stewards greeted each person with “Hello” or “Bonjour” depending on whether they estimated the person to be English or French. I was obscurely pleased to be greeted with “Bonjour”. Perhaps it was my stylish man bag.
- The plane had seat back video and multiple start times for all their content, which is great. But they still used those lame-ass double-plug headphone outlets which meant that I couldn’t use my noise-reducing headphones because I’d forgotten its double-plug adaptor. Bah. Luckily, though, I’d popped two movies on to my laptop so I still had something to do. (Noise reducing headphones on a long-haul flight, though, are pure gold. Totally worth it.)
- It’s nice to be back in Chicago again. I came here quite often in the early nineties and it’s a lovely city. I particularly enjoy the train into the city from the airport, not least because it’s both a tiny fraction of the cost of a shuttle bus or a taxi, and at busy times of day (6pm for me) it’s faster. Thoughtfully, the train line runs overground and right between the lanes of the expressway for the first part of the journey, so you can actually watch the stationary traffic as you cruise past.
- Wandering around yesterday, I noticed that the Sony store on North Michigan (the big shopping street) is gone, and an Apple store has sprung up in its place. Nice physical metaphor.
- (I wandered in and tried an iPod touch and an iPhone for interest, though, but I’m not feeling it. For the first time ever I think the new generation of iPod hardware is no kind of advance at all on the previous generation. The physical form factor is fine, but the UI felt as though they were aiming for visual style rather than usability. No hardware controls for volume or play/pause or next/previous? Bonkers.)
- I liked the labelling I saw on some trousers; they had “regular” fit, “slim” fit, or if you wanted something on the other side of regular, “husky” fit.
Next up: Why the Adobe conference?