Simon’s Backup Weblog


Living la vida Worldcon

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 31, 2002

A US Worldcon is a bustling place, full of people wandering around and looking as if they know where they’re going. At least they would be if they were looking in the densely packed programme book…

We’re now two days into the con, and we’re finding our feet, and our way around the San Jose convention centre (no, I would not have expected to find room E hidden behind the whole A section…). We’ve been buying books – and I’ve completed my errand for the s – and other stuff in the dealers rooms, we’ve been sitting in panel audiences, we’ve been up the Fairmont tower in parties, and we’ve been heckling …

Sure, there have been clashes with events we’ve wanted to see, but all in all the scheduling is pretty good. The dealer’s room is huge – we’ve not seen it all yet – and we’ve still managed to buy loads of books (mainly small press stuff from NESFA, Golden Gryphon and Meisha Merlin).

Highlights so far? Gregory Benford’s hilarious interview of Vernor Vinge, Cory Doctorow on distributed computing, and a 1940s radio play of “The Adventures of Luke Skywalker” starring many, many famous actors (so how come there were only 8 people on stage?). Even the last minute appearance by Patrick Stewart wasn’t the Star Trek fan fest you would have expected, with him doing a credible one man performance. Much more to come, of course, including a panel today with Woz. Wave those Apples with pride, my friends!

Lots of the usual British fannish suspects here of course, including several members of . In fact, the only real difference between a US con and British con is there’s little or no beer…

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More fun in the Bay and the Valley

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 29, 2002

Tuesday, and I spent exploring more of SF (after another brunch at Cafe Flore!) This time we went by bus to Golden Gate Park, heading down Haight. There were lovely houses all along that route, and the weather was glorious. We had a happy few hours wandering round the park, including the Japanese tea gardens. We took another bus on out to the Golden Gate, and into the Marina district, before traveling up over the hills again, and back to Rick’s place. The MUNI buses are excellent, and well worth the extremely low fares. London really needs to take a leaf out of the San Francisco book and roll out electric trolley buses – with front bike racks.

Rick took us on to our next port of call, ‘s house in San Jose. We’re going to be staying here for Worldcon. And there’s wifi, so the iBook’s online… We had dinner that night in the local Mexican place, just round the corner.

The next morning turned up to take us to her old stamping grounds in Berkeley. It’s a lovely place, and we pottered round second hand bookstores and cafes, along with detours to parks and gardens. We also spent some time in a second hand record shop…

As our native guide had a massage appointment that evening, and I took the opportunity for a soak in a hot tub. It was nice and relaxing. We certainly slept well last night.

Today the con starts…

Just walk on by…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 29, 2002

Warren Ellis is blogging: http://www.diepunyhumans.com/

The Valley Cola Report

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 28, 2002

So, here I am in the Bay Area, the hub of all things geek, and there’s one thing I really have to do.

No, it’s not hitting Fry’s or the biggest CompUSA I can find. It’s not a pilgrimage up to Mountain View, or to the Stanford campus.

It’s quite simple. I have to try the two new caffeinated beverages from Coke and Pepsi.

Vanilla Coke is probably the more interesting of the two. It’s got a good strong flavour, with plenty of vanilla. In fact it tastes just like a good old fashioned coke float, after the ice cream has melted its way into the drink. Not bad, actually, and a taste that bears trying again.

The same can’t be said for Pepsi Blue. The “Berry Cola Fusion” doesn’t fuse at all. If anything the insipid blue raspberry flavour overwhelms the normally strong Pepsi cola taste, turning what could have been up there with the classic Cherry Pepsi of the mid 1980s into a sad reflection of Gatorade…

Around the North Bay

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 27, 2002

Sunday took us out of San Francisco, through the Golden Gate fog and up through Marin to the Sonoma valley. We stopped for brunch at a place just outside Marin, off the 101, called the Wild Fox. Excellent food, and it turned out the chef came from Carlisle, so she sent us free sticky toffee pudding… Mmmm….

Rick took us to see two of his favourite wineries, in the Glen Ellen area: Benziger and Imagery. Excellent wines, and for once I wasn’t driving, so I could, err, partake in the tastings. We really liked the Imagery port, and their staff were really friendly. We also popped in on a friend of Rick’s at their country spread… A lovely house in the woods. We paddled our hot feet in the pool.

We drove back via Sausalito – a lovely little bayside town – and stopped for dinner at a place called Scoma’s, on a little pier out in the bay. It’s a fish restaurant, and very good indeed…

Yesterday and I went into SF. We stopped at Cafe Flore on Market for brunch, and then took the F-line into the city. The preserved streetcars that run this line are beautiful, and we rode all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. We stopped and watched the sealions at Pier 39 for a while, before wandering up the bay side walks to Aquatic Park, where we sat and watched the ships go in and out of the Golden Gate in a the warm sunshine.

As we were playing tourist, we took the Powell and Hyde cable car up over the hills back down to market and Powell. Wonderful views, and a fun ride. Not bad for a $10 3-day MUNI pass… We pottered around the shops for a bit, before taking the same cable car journey back to Aquatic Park. We wandered through the Cannery before grabbing another F-line back up Market to Rick’s place for the evening…

London, San Francisco and points west

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 25, 2002

Well, we made it safely across, despite the air rage incident in another cabin and the arrival of immigration on the plane to tale someone off in handcuffs… It would make a better story if we actually knew what had gone on, rather than guessing from overhearing the flight attendants.

Rick picked us up at the airport, and drove us into the city. We’re staying for the first few nights in his condo. It’s a lovely place, just a few blocks from Market and Castro. We walked down to Castro last night, popping into shops along the way to buy coffee for this morning, and stopping in a lovely little bar in a greenhouse which stocked one of my favourite northern California microbrews, Blue Heron. Then on to Chows for dinner, which was excellent – good, solid food and the usual US style portions. had a really nice looking aubergine parmegiano.

Early to bed, and not so early to rise. We’re off up to the wine country today. And I’ve already seen a hummingbird…

Off to look for America

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 24, 2002

The taxi’s due in 15 minutes, and then we’re off to sunny California and the Worldcon. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some WiFi in SF or San Jose, so I’ll be blogging from the other side of the world…

Getting ready for Jaguar

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 23, 2002

Well, tonight’s the night, and Mac OS X 10.2 is shipping. It’s going to be a fairly major upgrade for the Mac, and it’s going to be a welcome upgrade for this iBook. I’ve taken the opportunity to find an appropriate hard drive icon and get it installed…

Now what’s the point of THAT?

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 23, 2002

Channel 5 is being rebranded as Five. Surely if no one watched it under the old name, they’re not going to change their viewing habits because of a new name and logo. The one thing that has really changed the way we watch TV is our Sky+ box. Now we control our viewing schedule – not some corporate planner somewhere…

Time to make ANOTHER noise…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on August 22, 2002

Read this analysis of the UK’s implementation of the EUCD and think about what you can do to make sure that the UK Government puts back in the exemptions for research that it’s removed in its implementation.

I guess we have to get writing again.

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