17.5.06

The Journey begins

And so, the journey begins. As you know if you're a regular reader of this blog, I'm a Portuguese guy heading to XTech'06 in Amsterdam, that begun today with the tuturials and Ajax day, but I'm only going to attend to XTech conferences, from tomorrow (wednesday) until friday. It's also friday my flight back to Portugal, so unfortunately I'll have not much of a chance to know Amsterdam as I wanted to...

I had the information that I had to do my check-in until 13:30, but it seems that I have to do the check-in not until but after 13:30, so I'm still in Lisbon's airport having a meal and writting this... The laptop I'm going to use during this time had hard-drive problems, so it was re-instaled yesterday and today. It's the first time I'm using Fedora Core 5, but until now I saw no differences between it and FC4 - probably because this laptop is with Gnome and I'm a KDE user... And damn, I have 24 minutes of uptime and already miss KDE!

Wireless related, I have to say that acx drivers quite suck, but, well... at least they work. Thumbs up to Gnome's NetworkManager that knows how to deal with the drivers better than me doing it manually ;-) It seems (and this is news for me) that it is usual on Airports to have Wireless Access Points where you can see a limited amount of information for free, and then have connection to several (in this airport they are three) Internet Service Providers that will give you a wireless connection for a small price. Since I don't have (and don't want to) an account on any of those listed, I'm just writting this offline and I'll post it when I get a free Internet connection :-P

In the beggining of the day, since one meeting I had suffered a small delay, I got the time to update Planet Noori to show more info/posts about XTech '06. So, if you want to read more about this and I don't update my blog that often, take a look there! :-) And since Debconf is also running, you'll get the possibility to read about that too. At least that's what I'm doing now: since I have no internet connection on my laptop ATM, I'm just reading it from my cellphone, which reminds me that I really hate RSS feeds that don't feed the whole post but only the first 'x' words, for an allways smaller than good value of 'x'.

I intend to take some pictures on this trip, but those will only be uploaded when I get back to Portugal. Until now, I've just taken one to the Airport: after all I'll use the pictures as a "travel log".

Hmm, I should buy a souvenir of sorts from Amsterdam,... I wonder if I'll have the time to get something like that.

Note to self: next time I do something like this, I have to get the time to put some piece of software to hack on the laptop, so I can stop bitching about not having the time needed to contribute to OSS as much as I wanted to and, mainly, so I don't find myself testing the games that come in Gnome. :-P BTW - Don't you hate this games like nibbles that uses your login name as the name to which they attribute the hi-score? Sucks.

Some hours later, 21:31...

I just had some of the most stressfull moments of my life. To make a awfully long history short, I arrived at the airport and caught a cab to drive 30 Km's to the opposite side of Amsterdam, Leiderdorp, where I supposedly had a reservation on the Íbis hotel there for the night. Well, it seems that there should have been some kind of confirmation that wasn't made for people who would arrive past 18:00, so they had no rooms left. Furthermore, there were no rooms left there nor in any other Íbis hotel in the whole country. Furthermore, there were no hotels AT ALL in the whole country. It seems that there's happening a convention in Amsterdam about something that made the whole country full. So what could I do? The advice that they made me was to go to Amsterdam and crash in a bar or something like that until morning. WOW, amazing. Fortunately, for a strike of luck, there was a pension (where I am now) that got 5 vacant rooms from a canceled reservation. Now I'm there: the room sucks but has a nice view (which isn't surprising since everything here has a nice view, at least for all that I've seen - you've got to love this green areas!) and, at least, I have where to crash for the night. One problem is that I only have a slightlest clue of where the fuck I am: somewhere between southeast of Amsterdam and east of Leiden, and I can bet I can manage to get some Heinkein here at the bar (the restaurant closes at 8 o'clock!) since I have the idea (which isn't much fgor someone who lacks sense of orientation like me) that Heinkein is somewhere in between Leiden and Rijndijk, which is the nearest "populational center" from this hotel. Of course that not having internet here doesn't help much my orientation... And there are no AP's in the area (which means in the Hotel, since there's nothing in the Hotel's area anyway).

Well, at least I can look through the balcony (even if I don't want to, there's nothing separating my room from it) and watch the calm of that pair of horses just eating some grass... And I'm really much more relaxed now than I was half an hour ago.

At least I've brought lot's of SG Ventil (Portuguese cigarrettes) to take my stress out, so I guess I'll just smoke one and then I'll try to find what can I eat in the bar...

BTW - It seems that after all there's a wireless connection in this hotel. The signal sucks and it is one of those payed services, so I guess I'll wait until I am on XTech to get a connection...

Later yet, 23:13...

WTF? After all the restaurant here (and this hotel's restaurant is the only one here) closes at 19:00, and then you only have restaurants in Leiden, that closes at 22:00! As it was almost that when I knew it, I had to convince the bartender in the hotel's bar that, despite they usually not sell any kind of food, he had to make me a steak, which he did :-) As a matter of fact, if I'm only talking about the meat, it was the best steak I ever ate, but to compensate the rest just sucked. To add that, I got the confirmation that this country has an horrible coffee (and he was shocked to have someone asking him for coffee that wasn't Irish Coffee after dinner) and the beer was "Amstel", not the one I can find in Portugal, but one worse (and worse than Heinkein). BTW, if you ever come here, never ask a refill of beer: they not only refill it (using the same glass), but before that they do the most disgusting thing I ever saw happening to a glass of beer. So, breakfast tomorrow starts at 6am and ends at 7am, and I'll have to make sure I won't loose it. So, being this late (for their standards it's WAY LATE), I guess I'll just shutdown the laptop, set up the alarm clock and several alarms in my cellphone (btw, thumbs up to Õptimus and the way the agreement is between them and Orange), and read one more chapter of "The Big U" in hope that I'll get some sleep. Damn, it's not even 23 o'clock in Portugal!

The following day, 10:18

Well, as you can almost imagine, the problems were not the ones I already knew - as a matter of fact the problems were just starting to begin. But first let me get something straight: after all the place I was yesterday was really an hotel, as a matter of fact it was a 3 stars hotel. I never have been in a pension as bad as that hotel, 'tho... and, the funniest part comes now, I was in the supposedly best room, and guarenteedly the most expensive of the whole hotel, what they called the "double suite with jacuzzi" or something like that. They call jacuzzi to a regular bathtub when it is broken, it seems. After all that, having noise problems, passing throught a power shortage that turned the alarm clock off, having a nightmare for five minutes because one ATM was telling me that I couldn't withdraw any money, well - you name it - I made the best to be as soon as possible in Amsterdam (I still didn't had any breakfast - my stomach is aching), but still it was 10:15 in the morning when the train where I am departed, from Leiden Centraal to Amsterdam Centraal. I have no cle about how many time this train will take, but I certainly know that I've already lost two presentations and I'll probably loose the third. The first one (about startups), despite being quite interesting, wouldn't be giving me any usefull knowledge work-wise, but the others (about 'participation platform' and 'Ruby on Rails') would.

At the moment I'm stopped in Schiphol station (the Airport one), so I think there's only one station left to Amsterdam Centraal... Let's see if I can manage to attend to the rest of XTech's day, even knowing that I'll have to get out of Amsterdam again to today's hotel during lunch time, to check-in and leve there my bag... *sight* Until now, this travel was nothing but stressful.

At least, this country is beautiful...

Afternoon

With 41% of wireless signal I still didn't have enough stable connection to the internet to post this. Anyway, XTech is running and I think that I'll only compile the info about it at night, and try to post it tomorrow.