Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Hypertext 2004 so far

Finally seem to be acclimatised to local time, and I'm sitting in a live hypertext reading session at the conference, more of which as we go along.

The flight over was fantastic. I'll type that again, but louder: FANTASTIC. Our route took us over Iceland, Greenland, across northern Canada and down through the Dakotas, Montana, Utah and Nevada. The weather was clear with only a slight haze for most of the journey, so got some stunning photographs of glaciers, icebergs, the Grand Canyon, the Mojave Desert, Lake Mead, and so on. Photos will have to wait until I return, since I am an IDIOT, and forgot to pack the USB cable for the camera. Landed in LA for the commuter hop to San Jose. LA from the air is deeply, deeply scary. Saw a sixteen-lane highway. Enough said.

The drive from San Jose to Santa Cruz was uneventful. Failed to get a photo of the only good bumper sticker I saw ("YOGHURT KILLS"), which was a shame. The final stretch into SC would have been a lovely, winding forest road, had it not been a four-lane highway. As it was, it was a lovely, winding four-lane highway surrounded by trees. Is this normal for Northern California

Santa Cruz is rather pretty; my first night was spent in a hotel right on the shore, so I had a good view of the whole of Santa Cruz bay, the wharf and the boardwalk. As an aside, it has been pointed out to me that having Santa Cruz as my first exposure to California is a sure recipe for future disappointment by the remainder of the state. However, since my first and still only experience of Italy has been Florence, I've already set a precedent for this sort of let-down.

When the fog burned through the next morning, I could just about see the far side of Monterey Bay. Lovely. Was woken up by the sound of the surf, and the honking of sea lions. Noisy beasts.

[ the first hypertext reading has just finished - a presentation of the Soothcircuit. Jolly, but a bit too reminiscent of the web toys that we've been known to knock together for totl.net ]

Monday was a free day for me. I wasn't at any of the tutorials or workshops, so Dave (who did his PhD at the same time as me) and I hit the tourist attractions. Following a light breakfast of huevos rancheros (!), we went for a stroll on the pier to help digestion, before hitting the boardwalk for a few hours. I haven't been to an amusement park for YEARS - I think the last time was Alton Towers in 1993. The Santa Cruz boardwalk has a big wooden rollercoaster which was built in 1922 and is FAB, in addition to the usual selection of other rides, so there was something for everyone. We had decided to go on a boat trip around the bay at 3pm, and since two $25 all-day passes seemed a bit extravagant, we settled for $30 of tickets between us. Little did we know that Monday was 1907 night, in which all rides after 6pm cost only 65c each. $30 goes a long way under those circumstances. Also of note on the boardwalk were the video arcades. I'm a sucker for retro video games, as ias will attest. I think that video arcade games went through a low point of playability and creativity during the 1990s (wall-to-wall beat-em-ups) which they're only just starting to climb out of, largely thanks to the importing of wacky Namco titles. The arcades on the boardwalk were a goldmine of late 1970s and early 1980s games, from an early Pong clone, through Asteroid, Space Invaders, Centipede, Galaxian, Gorf, Tempest, Battlezone, and a host of others. I have not lost my touch at some of these, which is most pleasing.

[ the second hypertext reading has just finished - Judy Molloy reading Canto Seven, which was rather good ]

The trip round the bay was fun, with good closeups of sea lions and sea otters. No dolphins, alas. The change in temperature on the water was also pleasantly refreshing. The morning had started out quite cool and misty, so I was wearing my usual black 501s and big boots. By lunchtime, the temperature had hit the high 70s, so I went off and bought a panama hat (essential) and a pair of shorts. Unfortunately, I could have done with the hat a few hours earlier; I had assiduously been slopping on the suncream everywhere else, but managed to get a rather nice case of sunburn on my parting that's only just beginning to fade.

[ we're now onto the third hypertext reading, by Jim Rosenberg, which I'd swear was a homage to the beat poetry cafe in Grim Fandango, if only it weren't being presented in such a deadpan manner. There's a Java version of this hypertext online, which should give you an idea of his work ]

Went out to dinner with some of the other Southampton folks (Hugh, Les, and Dave) and Mark Bernstein of Eastgate Systems. Finally got to campus to check into my campus room at 11pm, by which time the conference office had closed and the campus was deserted. Walked the half mile back down the steep hill to the security gate with my suitcase in tow (the security guard was the only person I'd seen on campus), then half a mile back up a steep hill to the college where I was staying to be let into my room. To cut a long story short, I didn't get settled until ong after midnight, by which time I was well and truly shattered.

[ the last hypertext reading now, which is a video of an immersive CAVE 3D hypertext by Noah Wardrip-Fruin involving flying, spinning words that peel off a text and break apart when you swat at them with your hand. Cool, but bewildering. I want one of these to play with. ]

Tuesday was back to work, since I was giving a full day of Semantic Web tutorials at the conference. Was woken up at 7.30am by Sigi, an Austrian who was a visiting academic at Southampton a few years ago, and who had managed to lock himself out of his room while wearing only his pants and a t-shirt. Must be the effect of living in student accomodation. The tutorials went well, although I really want to revise the advanced tutorial to make it more interactive. Ended up drinking on campus at the scheduled social event in the evening, which was good beer (Anchor Steam and Sieraa Nevada Pale Ale) and nibbles (reasonable guacamole, olives and cheese). Finished off by going round to a flat full of Nottingham people who had more beer. Been regretting this decision for most of today. Beer is good, hangover is bad.

Enough for now, since the session is over...