A Personal Journal of Notes and Thoughts


Macromedia UCON99:
The San Francisco Treat

In late May of 1999 I had the opportunity to fly down to San Francisco, California for the 1999 Macromedia User's Conference. The following is the day-by-day journal of that jouney. It was written on a Tandy Model 102 laptop.


Prelude: Monday Night  


10:00pm, Home. It's the night before the trip to SF. I'm still not packed and I've got a paragraph to write for the class at PSU I'm teaching this summer, my dad to call for his birthday, and crazy little kittens to watch.

ucon.gifThe season finale of Suddenly Susan was just on, which was a tribute to David Stricklan. Then came the final episode of Mad About You, a series that I think many couples have identified with over it's (7? 8? year) run.

Then it came time for Amy and I to discuss how we're going to handle the money over the next week. The obvious answer is for me to take one check card and for her to keep the regular one. Sounds good to me. Boy I'm glad I jumped on that conversation ahead of time...

Now I've got to get packed. I've supposed to get up at 5 tomorrow morning. The plane leaves at 6:30am.

I'm really excited about the trip. Macromedia just announced that they will be opening the source code for the Flash client. Now every browser can support Flash... and every e-mail client, and every... let's see, Television? I can just imagine a TV that can tune into a digital music channel that download Flash art and files. Plus the music can be in MP3. Let's hope that the encoding system for MP3 get's released into the public domain soon.

TV? Cable? Channels? Hell, I want to have a low-wattage digital radio station that can broadcast MP3s and Flash movies. Then there'd be a hand-held device that can display the the Flash files _and_ save the MP3 audio...

I love the future.



Tuesday: A Frustrating Arrival  


8:00am, PDX. Getting places a little late is a trick I pull out of my sleeve every once in a while. It's not my best, but I often seem to have that bit of magic handy. Today was no different, but it was a bit more serious.

alaska.jpegFor some reason I thought that leaving the apartment at 6:20am would be fine to get me to a 6:40 flight. That was a major mistake, and I really wonder what I was thinking. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep over the weekend, but whatever the reason, I missed the flight. It's not like I don't understand the time that I should be there. Patricia, Amy and I flew to Prague just last September and didn't miss any of those flights.

I was fortunate enough to grab another flight just an hour and a half later, this one taking me directly into SF, rather than Oakland like I had planned. This will get me to the conference a bit quicker with any luck, and possibly to the Abigale where I'll be able to check in quickly, then head over to the conference at the Moscone Center.

I'm really enjoying having 'Slim' along with me, even just to take notes and keep this log.

10:45am, Somewhere over Oregon. I wished she hadn't, but Amy was blaming herself for not having driven fast enough to the airport. I called shortly after I made the new arrangements and grabbed some breakfast. "I would have driven faster if you had told me what time your flight was!"

"This is not in any way, shape or form your fault. You're driving an extra 10 miles an hour would have made me 28 minutes late rather than 30."

As I was looking for something to read on the trip before we left, Amy handed me To Kill A Mockingbird. She had recently read it, and just loved it. I remembered reading it in high school, and I've got to say it sounded more appealing than another book on Perl.

So far I've gotten to page 56 as Jem is trying to pass a note to Boo Radley. The pace, style and description reminds me why I took a Southern Lit course as an elective with Mr. Eikleberry in high school. TKAM is a fine book, and well worth the re-read even just this short way into the story.

I know I was supposed to travel with Nancy on the way down, but traveling alone has a real adventure feel to it. I'm not headed to a completely unknown city, but I've certainly not studied up for this trip at all. I'll be winging it, and loving it.

Though I'm a bit sad. This is the longest that Amy and I have been separated in... 2? 3 years? I'll be calling her each day, if just to hear her voice. I should have had her record the outgoing message on the answering machine for me.

The plane's descending. It shouldn't be long now.

2:30pm or so, Moscone Center. I'm on the exhibit floor. I checked into the hotel around 12:30. Things are looking okay. I've done a once around the show floor, and now I want to get a hold of Nancy to make sure everything else is in order for the trip. The badge I got says 'Exhibits Only'. That's a bad sign. I hope I can find Nancy quick and figure out our situation.

Slim is running out of RAM quite quickly. I'll have to delete my Adventure Castle game from RAM if Dan doesn't get here soon. But I've got it backed up at home, so it's no big loss.

The show floor is a lot smaller than I expected, though I guess my hopes were a bit higher than they should have been. Let's hope Nancy can pull some strings and get me into some sessions.

3:30pm, Moscone Center. I found Nancy and her husband. She hasn't been able to contact her people down here yet but it doesn't look like we'll get the full comp passes we expected. I then ran into Darrel Plant who's helping us on our promo CD. It's nice to see someone outside of our company's contingent.

My feet are in bad shape. Walking to the hotel from the Moscone Center where I was dropped off by the shuttle took a while. I, as usual, turned off of Market too soon and was off by a couple of blocks on the way back. Remember, I was carrying my luggage through the hills of SF. This was no walk in the park.

I'm in better shape than I was on the trip to Prague by virtue that I've got cotton socks, and, lo and behold, I packed an extra pair. Though I should have packed a few more. Changing socks when I got to the hotel was what gave my feet the strength to get me back to the Moscone Center.

I just got my first 'Oh my god' about Slim. The guy at the booth next to the 'couch booth' was sitting in a bit of awe. I extolled the virtues of the my mighty mite of a machine, and he was naturally impressed. Score.

Let's hope I can get Dan a copy of ZTerm on his machine before I run out of space here...

12:20am, Abigail Hotel. I'm back at the Abigail Hotel after having spent the evening with Arron. We met up at the corner of Castro and Market being that it was the location that I was best able to find and was half way between our respective locales.

He looks great, though a bit tired. It's been 4 years since we've seen each other, and with my amazing skill of conversation, I was able to only ask factual questions of his whereabouts and time lines over the years.

(I've never been good at conversation. I'm pretty good at asking questions and then shutting up, but that's less of a conversation and more of an interview. Some sort of wall there, I think.)

We had dinner at a nice little Chinese place. There we caught up on all the broad strokes of the facts. Afterwards we headed back to his apartment. I can't tell if he's got 2 or 3 roommates, but there were up to 7 people there at any one time. They all seemed nice enough and I even got the chance to take a look at my e-mail, make a journal entry on Dwelling and watch John Water's Pecker.

It's quiet in the hotel room. I miss Amy.

(Edit note: Darrel Plant's name corrected, 2003)



Wednesday: A Taste of Victory  


10:15pm, Abigail Hotel. I woke up late this morning, around 9:00. I hadn't set an alarm so I guess I got what I deserved. I headed to the shower once I had gotten through some of the morning fog.

Dan and Eric arrived in the room as I was taking a bath. (The shower wasn't working.) After dressing and minor bickering, we had the continental breakfast downstairs. I'm now waiting for them to come back down from the room so we can head over the Moscone Center and meet up with Nancy.

Moscone Center11:20am, Moscone Center. We're here and Dan has a cell phone so if I stick with him, we should be in touch with the whole group: Nancy, Dan, Eric and myself.

Now I've just gotta figure out how to get into the Navigation and Information Design session. My feet are already hurting just from the walk over here. I should have soaked them last night. I'll probably run back to the room and do that sometime today. Or at least change socks.

12:30pm, Moscone Center. Nancy hasn't responded to any of Dan's calls so we're still stuck with the "Exhibit Only" passes. This is getting really frustrating. Fortunately Eric was able to wrangle a full-on comp pass because of some cracks in the registration process and I'll use his ID for getting into that session that I wanted. So I'll get one good class in.

Dan and I are waiting for Nancy to call, and Dan's talking with one of our clients from Portland who happened to be in the Bay area this week. My feet are killing me unless I'm sitting down, so the comfy chairs have been my friends.

I need fooooooood.

4:00pm, Moscone Center. I got into the Info design session and it was worth it. There were three guys up front, two of them were actual designers. Though I disagreed with them on some points, they presented some concepts in a pretty clear manner and sparked me into developing a classification system for web sites and sub-sites, based on the purpose of the sites: Informational, Recreational, and Transactional. God I love parallel structure.

I made a comment (in the form of a question) to point out to these people that we're stuck with the standard of using underlines to tell the users where to link. People are alway going on about getting rid of underlines, mostly because they're ugly. Yes, they are ugly but their one of the few real standards we have for infonav design. You don't throw out something so significant just because it doesn't fit in with your design.. After my comment, the guy directing the show pointed out Slim to the rest of the audience. I got a few bonus points for that.

After the session, a guy came up to me and asked me about Slim. He's got one and is looking for people to help him utilize it. I pointed him toward Club 100 and some other sites out there.

Afterwards I passed the badge to Dan who used it to get into a marketing oriented session. Eric and I went to grab a bite of lunch for me as I hadn't gotten into the convention's provided lunch as Eric had. A good sized cheeseburger, fries and a Snapple was good to tide me over. We sat outside in the sun which was a nice change from the high-powered mercury-vapor lights in the conference hall.

It doesn't look like Nancy's going to be able to get us the full-on passes, so this sharing thing will be our best bet. For tomorrow, we'll look over the schedule and arrange times for people to look at particular sessions. Fortunately we don't have to share with Nancy as she's got business outside of the conference.

My feet are hanging in there, though Slim is running low on memory again. I need to get some way of using the Cassette port to record stuff onto something like my Minidisc player or something. But that's going to require more money, and I'm not sure how useful it will be at this point considering I'm not away from home often enough to make it useful.

11:30pm, Abigail Hotel. Dan, Eric and I went with Dan's friend Abby to get some food at this mexican place on Polk. It's got some great Mayan pictographs pointed on the walls. Afterwards they headed off to a bar, but I came back to the hotel to relax, giving my feet a rest. 1 of 2 things have to change: either I need better shoes or I need to walk more. Both would be good. Dan let me use his phone to call Amy which was really nice. Tomorrow I'll try to get a hold of Ryan.

I'll soak my feet in the bath and head to bed, after watching a bit of CNN.



Thursday: Paydirt!  


9:15am, Moscone Center. I got out of bed at 7:30am in order to get a good start on the day and to take Eric's badge to the conference. The 3 of us will meet up at 12:30, after I grab some lunch.

lynda.gifI'm waiting for the Lynda Weinman/Jeff Veen session to start up. "Designing the Web". It should be a good session. Let's hope I've got enough space on this thing to take notes. I'm quickly dwindling in that department.

Looks like I might get some other session in today... I just found a full pass badge in a chair outside. I figure the guy who left it can get a replacement and either Eric or Dan can use it today once I meet up with them at 12:30.

10:45am, Moscone Center The first session was great! Jeff Veen didn't show, but I got some great quotes from Lynda, and I think I'm a Lynda believer now. I got a chance to ask a question about leaving Flash movies unlocked so others can deconstruct them and learn. Lynda agreed with me, but one of her guests said that people rip him of too often and wouldn't do it. I talked to Lynda personally afterwards and she gave me a core concept for my class this summer.

7:00pm, Outside of the Moscone Center The conference has wrapped up. I used the found tag to get into all the sessions I could today: Generator Project, Flash Websites, and Advanced Dreamweaver. Most were great sessions and I'm glad I went to them, though I didn't take any real notes for the last few because my batteries were dying. For the first trip I've taken Slim on, I've done pretty well. Notes for next time: have spare batteries on you, keep a pen and paper handy as well.

I'm sitting at the corner of Howard and 3rd waiting for Ryan. It's getting awfully cold, and I didn't pick a spot with much shelter from the wind. This will be a short entry before my fingers freeze up.

I dropped into the training rooms after all the sessions were done and stuffed and ftp'd a copy of the Shockmachine and the Flash 4 beta up to the zephyr account. I had to download both DropStuff and Fetch in order to get things moving. For some reason powertalk wasn't responding. I don't know why but I hope they're online again soon. It felt like a very Mission: Impossible situation, with security around and such, minus the trip lasers.

Ryan just honked at me so I'll stop here.

1:40am, Abigail Hotel. I met Ryan shortly after finishing the last entry. He didn't have any plans so we drove back to San Jose and had dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. I thought we'd drop by his place, but he wanted to head back into SF. That was cool, but he wanted to take a way-out route, over some highway, over the mountains over to Highway 1, then up the coast to SF. It was a loooonnng ride, but we had great conversation the entire time.



Friday: Recovery  


6:45am, Abigail Hotel. I'm feeling awful from the lack of sleep. Dan and I stayed up far too late talking about Exact. He really sees me as a right hand man, but I feel really limited in my ability to see a vision of for the division. It seems like I'm waiting for him and he's waiting for Aaron to finish off the market research. That's great, but until then I've got my nose held to the grindstone, pounding out everyday problems. So far so good, but I hope the research comes together soon. Then we can really see where to steer this ship.

Dan didn't bring a floppy drive for his Powerbook, so I have yet to upload the files from this beast. Let's hope I can get Slim home before he gets overstuffed. Just 2000 bytes left. I better make them good.

Oakland InternationalWell, my plane leaves at 10 or so and I have no idea how to get to the airport so I've got to get some chow and head out to Oakland... BART here I come.

8:30am, Abigail Hotel. I agreed to take a piece of Dan's luggage back to PDX with me, so I'll take a shuttle to Oakland. He first asked me if I could take a 'bag' back with me. Sure a bag of conference materials right? Then he leaves this full-on piece of luggage on my bed last night as he's gone off for some nocturnal activities. The 'bag' has to weigh a good 30 pounds. There's no way I'm going to risk a hernia, so the shuttle I await.

It was great talking Ryan last night. We chattered nearly non-stop about music, the west coast, mutual friends, our respective employments and the details of the Interstate Freeway system. The kind of converstation you'd expect from a web developer and an elctromech engineer.

I walked to Walgreens to pick up some batteries for Slim. I figured I could edit some of these notes on the way back to Portland if I had some juice. On the walk back I had a real pang of homesickness. Though it wasn't for a particular city or apartment. It was for my Amy.

2:30am, Home It seems fitting that I should end this set of logs by typing on Slim rather than on my Mac. After all this machine held up very well in SF, and deserves to see this project through.

The flight home went well enough though Amy had to wait at the airport for 2 hours extra because I gave her my departure time from Oakland rather than my arrival time in PDX. I think she forgave me.

A shower and a bit of a nap later, Amy and I went over to her parent's house to visit with some relatives that were in town for the first time in years.

It's nice to be home and it's nice to be able to finally relax. Lots of e-mail to catch up on and lots of journal entries to get sorted and posted.


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