Simon’s Backup Weblog

Desert skies

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 24, 2006

Desert skies
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Looking across the desert at Red Rock Canyon, with mountains and rock formations rising up from the flats. It’s warm down by the rocks, but there’s plenty snow only a thosand or so feet further up.

A beautiful, wild empty place, only a few minutes from the bright lights and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip. A welcome break from the crowds and noise.

Red Rock Canyon
March 2006



Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 24, 2006

Originally uploaded by sbisson.

A group of people watching the regular display of the Bellagio hotel’s famous fountains.

It’s one of those spots where it’s almost impossible to take a bad picture…

Las Vegas
March 2006

“Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 22, 2006

Sadly yesterday evening’s microformat birds of a feather session at MIX06 was moved on by casino security (dressed as a carabineri) just as the discussion was getting interesting…

Pity that there was no where better to hold it than the food court.

Shameless MIX06 self promotion

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 22, 2006

Here’s a piece of reportage I sent into the DevReg yesterday…

Microsoft’s sold-out MIX06 conference is a brave affair, attempting to bridge an almost impossible divide – the gap between developers and designers.

Under fake Italian skies, and hidden in the cavernous halls of Las Vegas’ Venetian hotel, 1700 attendees are learning about Microsoft’s new web technologies and, if all is going to plan, having a conversation about the future of the web. It’s different from the usual sort of Microsoft event – with more than half the speakers coming from outside the company and many, many shiny Powerbooks among the hordes of laptops.

It’s not the only piece on MIX06 I’ll be delivering – I’m also working on copy for Web Designer.

Oooh – it’s the second most popular piece in the section at the moment…

Death Valley and the High Desert

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 21, 2006

A maze of straight wide passages all alike

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 21, 2006

Mix06 is a strange hybrid of a conference, in a strange strange place. It’s in a huge three dimensional maze of corridors somewhere behind the fake Italian skies of the Venetian hotel’s interior Grand Canal. We walk in as the city wakes up, along strangely manicured streets and past theme hotels that flash bright neon in the morning light.

Despite all that, there’s a lot to learn here. I’ve been to sessions on designing AJAX applications that scale to millions of users, on working with new design tools, and a fascinating panel on the future of Internet Explorer. In between we’ve had interesting conversations with old and new Microsoft and Web 2.0 contacts, and spent a fascinating evening talking digital identity with Kim Cameron and a whole crowd of folk from all sides of the identity problem (I have to say, I still think of it as implementing zero knowledge cryptography properly).

I also had a good sit down chat with Scott Guthrie and Brian Goldfarb about the delights of Atlas and doing AJAX on ASP.NET 2.0. I think I need to get some ASP.NET web space and have a good play. I’m half wondering about building a site for the ASP.NET tutorials I wrote for Web Developer magazine that will never see the light of day.

Lots more to learn over the next couple of days, and then it’s off down to Dallas for another conference. Any pointers to things to see or do while there? Paging …

Time to Mix it…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 19, 2006

And so, at last, to Las Vegas for Microsoft’s Mix06 web development conference.

Yesterday was the longest drive of the trip so far, from Barstow to Baker (and “The Mad Greek”), before heading off into the desert and down into Death Valley. Rain showers followed us, leaving a fine trace of yellow desert flowers.

Death Valley is an amazing place – so many colours in such a desolate place. Pictures to follow when connected to a broadband network rather than GPRS…

Today’s random americana: a frame with today’s sports page proudly displayed over a gents urinal – something to do while otherwise occupied?

Today’s Lesson

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 18, 2006

Driving around LA in the rain and on a Friday is not a good idea.

However: the Getty Center is still one of the most amazing places on Earth, so all is not lost. Also, there is a Starbucks in Barstow that is open until well after midnight for when you need a chai to wind down at the end of a long and stressful drive.

Death Valley tomorrow. Yay.


Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 16, 2006

A day or so into the Great San Francisco To Las Vegas road trip, and we’re in the small town of Cambria, at the end of the Big Sur coast.

We spent a day slowly travelling down the spectacularly cliff hugging Highway One, stopping off at beaches, vista points and restaurants en route. The road twists and turns and rises and falls as it meanders south from Carmel. We stopped at various view points, marvelling at the wonderful land and seascapes, and watching for the distant spouts of migrating whales. A brief diversion took us down two miles of twisting road to the Pfeiffer State Beach, with its amazing purple sands (iron pyrites in the rocks). It has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Highly recommended, and well worth a quiet hour or two…

Then on down the coast to Rita Hayworth’s old stomping grounds at Nepenthe, where we had brunch at Cafe Kevah. The cafe is a terrace high above the coast, where we could look down on the passing eagles, and enjoy the company of blue jays. A dot and a spray turned out to be the first of several whales heading north, shortly followed by a more photogenic pair. They may have been mere dots, but the combination of nine megapixels and a 300mm zoom lens showed us the curves of their backs and the raised salute of their tail flukes.

The road continued its switch back route on down the mountains, until we arrived at the relative flat of Piedras Blancas, and its famous elephant seal colony. The word of the day was “cute”, as the month old seal pups played on the sands…

Then finally to Cambria and the glistening semi-precious pebbles of Moonstone Beach. No moonstones so far, but plenty of jade and agate.

Today it’s on south to Santa Barbara and LA…

“I am teh cute”

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on March 16, 2006

"I am teh cute"
Originally uploaded by sbisson.

Elephant seal pup on the beach at Piedras Blancas, its silver fur gilded by the setting sun.

Over the next two months it’ll lose half its body weight, learn to swim, and start braving the cold of the Pacific Ocean.

Less than a third survive to see their first birthday.

Big Sur
March 2006

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