Yet another post before getting into actual MeeGo Conference coverage. I’ll share some logistics lessons in the hope that some will find them helpful, along with some related details. I’ve written on this subject before but there’s more and newer stuff to cover now.
Lack of a personal credit card tends to trip me up when it comes to purchasing airline tickets. This time good friend and conference roommate Jens Wiik stepped up and covered the upfront cost. As it turns out, though, roundtrip airfare from DFW to SFO and back was just under $240 USD, and we wound up having enough to cover it after all. Still, many thanks to Jens for the help! Moral: one can never have too many friends.
One of my biggest out-of-pocket expenses tends to be food, so I try to limit this as much as possible. That means bringing some cheap breakfast bars and similar snacks, and taking advantage of every free meal. Of course, no price can be put on the value of socializing so outings can be unavoidable. Just make sure to expect higher-then-home costs and budget accordingly.
Past device failures and access issues have led me to print out all logistics info ahead of time. Plane tickets, hotel info, maps, event stuff, whatever. If I’m taking 2 separate bags then that’s two copies. I’ll also leave my wife with printouts of air and hotel arrangements, tacked prominently to the refrigerator.
I find that I forget one item when attending events, so I get religious about preparations. For this trip I started a week in advance, setting up a staging area in our living room much to the dismay of my wife. After all these years and trips she has not yet adjusted to my peculiar habits and coping mechanisms. Maybe we just need a bigger house, with a room I can mess up without her ever seeing. Anyway, as it turns out, I only forgot my Nokia “barrel” connector adapter, which adapts chargers from the old larger size to the more recent narrower diameter. That was a minor inconvenience, as I made sure to have more than one mode of charging devices. A hard lesson learned before!
I also make sure to pack an extra phone. That has proven to be a lifesaver at so many events (including this one, where my N900′s SIM connection failed) that I might as well just leave one in my backpack. For this trip I brought along my E71x, the AT&T variant of Nokia’s slick little business phone.
Speaking of backpacks, on my trip to MIX11 I was informed by American Airlines that my smallest roll-around luggage was just a bit too big to fit in overhead storage on the way to Las Vegas. That was confirmed on the trip back, where they let me carry it on only to find it had to be jammed into the compartment. In addition, I tend to add a backpack or computer bag and lugging both can get awkward.
So prior to flying out this time I ordered the ideal luggage for my domestic trips. It’s a combination 22-inch roll-around plus daypack from High Sierra; the latter can be zipped onto the main bag for easy hauling. It wound up being almost perfect. You can find my review on this great little set at Amazon.com.
Another area of preparation is making sure I provide and retrieve contact info with necessary parties beforehand. That meant starting with co-presenters of the local community talk and extending to many other MeeGo community members. One helpful trick is to go through the attendee list and enable Twitter’s “tweet-to-SMS” for each one. See the first round green icon just to the right of the Following button? That turns on the feature. Makes it easy to keep track of friends at the event. When you return home, just unselect those you no longer need echoed to your SMS list.
It’s always a good idea to know the destination transportation options before traveling. San Francisco is one of the better-equipped US cities with its extensive Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. BART rail can get visitors from either of the two major airports (SFO, OAK) to many of the major sites in San Francisco, including hotels. I printed out the main route and marked my stops before leaving DFW. The ride was only $8 and very convenient, delivering myself and friend Arek within a short distance of our hotel. Kudos to the city for maintaining such an excellent resource!
Long Walk, Short Pier
But you can’t take the train everywhere. On my last trip to California my good friend Henri Bergius put my poor feet through the wringer on the crazy-steep streets of San Francisco. So this time I was determined to be prepared for his wickedness. I spent weeks searching and researching the best shoe for the occasion. Just before flying out, I believed I had found it: the Propét Summit Walker.
This shoe has everything. Support, protection, laces to the toe and a convenient zipper just perfect for quick removal at airports. I decided to place an order and have them shipped to my hotel, where they were scheduled to arrive the same day I did. I wore some old, tight shoes there with the intent of donating them to a local charity.
Unfortunately there was an inventory feed count error from the distributor to Amazon, and there were no shoes to ship. Result: one unhappy customer. I ended up buying some Skecher Flex tennis shoes at a local SF discount store (and of course leaving the old ones behind for donation) but I still want a pair of those Propéts.
I’ll cover the MeeGo Conference itself in more detail in my next article. Yes, I’m a bit late but I had intended to do it in retrospect anyway. But in summary, the venue was perfect for the size and nature of the conference. Suffice to say for now that the organizers got the important details right.