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I am quartered in a Holiday Inn somewhere in Santa Clara, California, attending a conference about MySQL, the database technology. There’s something of a long story as to how I came to be here, which would involve of details about my current work situation, my new job, new company, and so on. Better to jump right in. Come play along.
There are people blogging about the conference. There is an aggregator of blogs here. Go take a peek, if you are interested in things like database clustering, or new features in MySQL 5. There are photo galleries as well.

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Scattered about my hotel room are a dozen placards which contain informative messages. Some of the placards are of the “table tent” variety – card stock folded into a tall isosceles triangle. Others are made of hard but bendable plastic shaped in an inverted “7″. By the sink were two of these plastic placards. One reads:

Towels Are Expensive
Missing towels will be billed directly or charged to your credit card. Thank you.

The other reads:

Going To Our Pool?
Pool towels are available at pool side. Please do not remove room towels. Thank You.

There’s an interesting logic there. Taking a towel to the pool is almost as bad a stealing a towel, because if the towel isn’t in your room it will be considered missing. Either way, the management sure is expressing a lot of gratitude about this whole situation. Thank You.
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Monday was the day for tutorials. We payed extra for these, or at least my company did. My morning tutorial was on MySQL Core Certification. As part of the drive to turn MySQL into a business friendly tool they have decided to start a certification program which will, oh how would you describe it, help to identify workers who have a certifiable level of experience with MySQL. This is all part of the vocationalization of computer programming.
My afternoon tutorial was on database warehousing. I had read pretty much all the same books at the instructor, however. I took some notes in my PDA, and the two most notable things about the session were 1) the Asian man behind me who had an unhealthy cough, but rejected my offered cough drop, and 2) the visually depressing slides used by the speaker, who, instead of using PowerPoint, generated them (somehow) as HTML web pages and had chosen Times as his font, and where the slide window was not set to full screen but was 80% of the screen, and everything was a bullet point list with absolutely no graphics or diagrams of any kind.
I later said to my coworker that I think the lack of visual skills should be considered a kind of handicap. It isn’t a matter of creativity, either, but a matter of communication, a kind of communication where you should at least make a half-way attempt.
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Should I add my blog to the aggregator? On the one hand, the conference is over tomorrow. On the other hand, it would be good for my vanity. I’d have to set up a special feed, or at least a new category, to make it work, and I’d rather not.
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Monday night I had dinner with Anne, an old friend of mine from college. We get in touch every couple of years, when I’m up in the Bay Area or if she is down in Los Angeles. In addition, our dinner was a welcome respite from the realm of airports and hotels and conference rooms where I had spent the previous 24 hours. After dinner she drove me around to the corner from my hotel where there is a giant metal sculpture of the Virgin Mary. She had discovered the statue while searching for a geocache. That was two years ago, and the fake log where the cache was hidden no longer appears to be there. If you’re reading this, and you are in charge of this particular cache, consider this a head’s up.
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I bought a PDA, a Tungsten E, to bring on this trip. For one thing, I thought it would be nice to be able to take notes without having to lug around a laptop all day. I’ve also got one of those little fold-out keyboards that communicates with the device using IR. My secondary reason for getting the device — I don’t have the kind of complicated work schedule which necessitates a daily organizer — is to have something to use for NaNoWriMo in the fall.
I seem to be the only person at the conference with this kind of setup. Everyone is lugging a laptop. My favorite are the people who have Mac laptops, and they’ve got that little felt nappy they use to protect the keyboard when the screen is folded down. Or maybe it protects the screen from the keys?
I specifically didn’t get a PDA that had wireless capability. This means that I can’t take advantage of the free wireless network that surrounds me. Actually I did bring my laptop, but I’ve been leaving it at the hotel. Which means I can’t do the kind of live, on-the-scene blogging which others are doing.

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