Fleeing the snow

As yet another coating of snow gets dumped on the Boston area, I have fled to warmer climes – California, as is my wont; Silicon Valley, to be more precise. I shall be down in Santa Clara for a few days, then move up to San Francisco for the CEC conference that a number of my colleagues have blogged about. I return to Boston on the Sunday night red-eye.
A few more or less random observations. First, my ticket today was on US Airways, but the flight was actually a United one – ah, the joys of code sharing. I found myself wondering if I could use United FF miles to upgrade, given that I wasn’t actually on a United ticket. Of course that would require that I talk to a human being, and these days things like checkin are handled by robots. (Kiosks plus unskilled baggage handlers.)
The flight was uneventful, but spoilt by the presence of a number of small children who had not yet reached the age at which they have any sense of personal space. I gave up trying to sleep after being elbowed in the ribs by a 6 year old girl for the seventh or eighth time. Her father didn’t help: this was clearly a custody transfer trip (it’s his ex-wife’s turn), and he wanted this to be Quality Time the whole way. His voice droned on all through the flight, reading to his daughter, helping her with math problems, playing games (educational, needless to day), reading again (this time some wretched story-book in which the Fibonacci series played a key role – almost as weird as that TV program “Numbers” last week, where the plot revolved around a failed attempt to prove Riemann’s Hypothesis). My nice Bose noise-cancelling headphones do a good job of blocking out the noise of a 757’s engines, but they were no match for this dutiful father’s insistent voice. And on top of this there was a 4 year old behind me who relieved his obvious boredom by kicking my seat every so often.
Two technical notes. First, I find that I can read both my Sun email and my ISP mail through my Treo. This is very cool; I have only to sort out access to Gmail and I’m all set. I picked up both a case and an SD Card for the Treo today. (Memo: PalmOne asks $99 for a 512MB SD card; Fry’s in Santa Clara had a 1GB SD card for $89. A gigabyte cellphone…. /me shakes head in disbelief) Secondly, this is the first trip for many years when I don’t have my Mac (iBook or PowerBook); I’m using my Acer Ferrari running Solaris 10. I miss all my blogging tools, not to mention a decent PDF toolset. (I’m not impressed by the Gnome PDF viewer. Font substitution isn’t that hard.)