Back in the USSA

Berliner Fahr Bar
I’m back in Las Vegas after spending six weeks in Europe. Actually, time of writing I’m still on the twelve hour plane flight home. I lucked out and got an exit row seat, so I COULD be getting stuff done comfortably, but I’ve mostly been slipping in and out of consciousness. That’s either from a lack of sleep or because I finally decided to start on the number theory/cryptography book Fabienne gave me. Multiplying two three-digit base seven numbers together isn’t so easy on the idle brain. Luckily my rowmate had been snagging me food boxen, etc while I snoozed, so I’m not starving.

Jeff speculated last night (very early this morning?) that the first nuisance I’d notice after returning would be when I stepped outside the house and realized there is no tram in Las Vegas. East Berlin has nice wide streets and is covered with a great tram system. I think that disappointment will pass once I realize that I can drive to any grocery store and it will be open 24 hours instead of 8-8. I found the 23 hour store around the corner from our place on pretty much the last day I was in Berlin. Esther also introduced us to a falafel place with a large vegetarian menu on New Year’s Eve as well. Too late smart.

My New Year’s Eve was fairly calm, well at least my contribution, Berlin was absolutely nuts. The streets were full of rolling smoke from everyone setting of fireworks. The mortars barely cleared the rooftops. You’d have exploding things thrown at you and bouncing off your legs from people driving by or just crossing the street. On the elevated train, you would see rockets whizzing parallel to the train travel. The underground stations were especially smoky and had way too many explosions.

We went to Tim Pritlove’s for NYE and then I headed out with GRL Vienna afterwards to find a specific club. Finding the place was a pain in the ass since it was named “West Germany”. The number wasn’t visible from the street; the name wasn’t posted anywhere. You just walk up some random stairwell till you find people standing at a door and ask them if this is the right place. We did that three times. The “club” was just a partially demoed office complex. All the hanging ceiling panels were gone and you could see where the drywall framing had been removed with a sledge or something. The edges were lined with soon to be broken bottles and people guarding piles of coats. It was a good time but I don’t think there was a single berliner there.

Fabienne rented the “Berliner Fahr Bar” near the end of congress for a handful of us to celebrate on. It’s a two car tram that has a bar built into. So, you just cruise around Berlin drinking on the tram and giggling excessively every time it comes to a sudden stop and everyone nearly falls over. It has “Drink ‘N’ Drive” emblazoned inside and out. It’s not near as interesting as it would be in the US, because people in Berlin can drink legally on the public transportation anyway.

Congress was interesting and I did a handful of posts for Hack-A-Day about it. I found it fairly stressful. I think most of that was due to it falling right at the end of this long trip plus having 7 people sleeping in a 1bdr apartment. Also, once I found out that every session was being streamed online, I just wanted to stay home and watch them all, since my goal is to report on the most interesting ones.

My Nokia N95 did a great job as a camera on this trip. It takes 5mp pictures and once I got back to my apartment each night it uploaded them to Flickr without any prompting. Only problem being that they’re generically numbered till I go through and label them. So most people see them before explanation has been added. I hope to get it on a US data plan soon (once I figure out how to get my number ported).

Next up is CES in Las Vegas. Engadget is bringing the team again and I hope to meet up with them. I won’t be reporting, but I’ll probably try scouting for some HMDs and similar devices.

I’m probably going to Shmoocon in DC for my third year in Feb. Definitely going to SXSW in Austin in March followed by a trip home to Nebraska. Fabienne is hosting hardhack in Berlin some time in April, but there’s also ROFLCon in Boston, and ToorCon Seattle some time around that time. I’m also considering Ars Electronica next fall in Linz, AT. We’ll see what I’m able to make it to this year.


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