Heading home

It seems like a long time since I went away on holiday, and it is. Since the middle of July I’ve been to Latitude (great), Madeira (great), IamLUG (great) and run an XPages101 day (seemed to go well). So all in all it’s been a really enjoyable few weeks.

I’m sat in JFK airport in New York waiting to start the final leg of the journey home and much as it’s been a great couple of weeks away, I am *really* looking forward to getting back home and just decompressing for a couple of days before getting back into the real world with a vengeance on Monday morning.

IamLUG was a really superb event, Chris and the rest of the team do put on a good show. Everything was run incredibly smoothly, the content was very good indeed and, as ever, the people were great company. I presented my “Ten XPages Design Patterns” session, probably for the last time as I’ve used it for a year now. So I need to start thinking about future sessions pretty seriously now. (Bet you can’t guess what I plan to speak about next time!).

After IamLUG, we had the inaugural “Tack It On” day, and I’d really like to thank David Leedy for his invaluable assistance during the day. I had been rather lax and not given him a huge amount of guidance before the day itself but he dealt with all of the questions with good grace and humour. Things really wouldn’t have run as smoothly without him there. Overall I think the day went pretty well. I’m sure there’ll be more of these sorts of things happening in the future.

Gone fishing

Well it doesn’t happen very often (it’s over two years since I last took a proper holiday), but I’m off on holidays for the next two weeks. This weekend we’re heading up to Suffolk to the Latitude Festival and then later next week it’s off to Madeira for a family trip where we’ll be celebrating important birthdays for my parents amongst other things.

When I get back from holidays I literally switch airports and fly straight off to St Louis for the IamLUG conference. (If you’ve not registered for it and the Tack It On day which follows then what have you been doing?)

So all in all it’s going to be a fun few weeks. But if I don’t respond to your email you’ll know why.

The great geek escape

As you may know if you follow Warren or myself on Twitter, we reached the point on Saturday morning where it became fairly obvious (to us at least) that we weren’t going to get home by plane from Copenhagen any time soon. The only option that was available to us was a Eurostar journey from Paris to London on Monday evening. So after booking various train tickets (Thalys from Brussels to Paris, Eurostar from Paris to London), extending the car hire and making it a one way rental that we could drop in Brussels, buying supplies for the trip, we set out early on Sunday morning for the #greatgeekescape.

The plan was simple, drive from Copenhagen to Brussels, drop the car there, sleep, train to Paris, train to London and then home (for me at least, Warren still has to get to Edinburgh from there). So Sunday was spent driving… a long way. 1050km (650 miles). In a Fiat 500. It took us 12 hours, but we finally made it at around 8pm, absolutely exhausted, but a lot closer to home.

This whole episode has raised several points and questions…

  1. Danish drivers are scarily aggressive, for such a relaxed nation I have no idea where this trait comes from.
  2. “East bound and down”, the theme from Smokey and the Bandit, is a perfect tune to play loud while blatting along German autobahns in an Italian car while trying to get to Belgium.
  3. It is inconsiderate of the Dutch road building authorities to redesign their road system without checking with us first, we saw entirely too much of the Eindhoven ring road. 🙂
  4. When you have two laptops, two smartphones, and a GPS system you can navigate your way around unexpectedly changed Dutch roads in a pinch!
  5. It’s useful having Twitter and SMS to help us out with support from friends, and also people to answer questions for us.
  6. We were very very lucky that we had the funds and opportunity to decide to get ourselves home. Not everyone was in the same position and I can’t imagine how bad this would have been otherwise.
  7. There is absolutely no way I could do any serious amount of travel on a regular basis. Even before this whole escapade I was knackered from trips to Belgium, Amsterdam and Newcastle earlier in the month. I really just want to get home.
  8. In all of the people we encountered on phones, in hotels, in bars, across multiple countries, the single common factor was unfailing helpfulness and, given the stress some were under, a cheerful response to questions. Sometimes your faith in humanity can get a welcome boost.

All being well, and I hope I’m not tempting fate here, the Eurostar will get us back to St Pancras at 10pm this evening. I can get home in 30 minutes from there and Warren has another night away from home with friends as he continues up to Edinburgh.

All in all it’s been an eventful and memorable trip away from home. Not one I’d like to repeat any time soon though!

Dannotes and a long journey home

I’ve been in Denmark for a couple of days now at the wonderful Dannotes event. It’s a slightly different setup compared to other user groups that I’ve been to, but as with all user groups, the organisation behind the scenes is amazing, the people are interesting and good company, and there are interesting conversations happening everywhere you look.

I ended up presenting the full version of Tim Clark and my Lotusphere session. If you saw it in Florida then you’ll know that we had too much content to get through. Well luckily here I had three hours to speak so was able to finish the entire presentation for the first time. It seemed to go pretty well with some interesting questions and only one mistake from me. My lesson from the afternoon is that talking and coding for three hours is really hard work, though I suppose I should have been able to guess that beforehand.

We’ve been looked after by the organisers here really well. The hotel is ideal for a user group meeting, the restaurant was very nice and the beer and wine flowed freely (possibly a little too freely judging by some people this morning).

And then we get onto the volcanic eruption. The upshot of several hours on the phone and internet is that we’re stuck here until Saturday. So given that I am travelling with Warren “Mr Lego” Elsmore, I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to find we’re heading to Legoland after Dannotes wraps up for an impromptu visit. Then tomorrow it’s into Copenhagen before, hopefully, heading home on Saturday. At the moment that is all entirely theoretical as the airlines don’t know when they’ll be able to operate again. I suppose you just have to make the most of an unexpected opportunity.

XPages Workshop in Amsterdam

I flew over from to Amsterdam from London this morning (easiest journey ever by the way, City airport shows that it is possible to have a vaguely pleasant travel experience still) to prepare for the two day XPages course which I’m helping to run with Clear IT Consulting this week.

I’ve not been to Amsterdam for about 18 months, and I suspect I won’t see much of the city this trip, but I do like it a lot over here.

This is continuing what is, for me at least, a busy month of travel with Belgium last week, a trip to Newcastle this weekend on which I’m sure you’ll hear more (although not maybe in the blogosphere), and then Denmark next week. It’s good to do travel some times and I’m lucky enough to be an infrequent enough flyer that it’s still a novelty for me. So I’m planted in the hotel this afternoon just continuing with my normal development work and then heading over the training room this evening to make sure everything is set up for tomorrow morning.

As Ben says, “Ah the life of the jet setting freelancer”. Indeed.

Cannon Beach x 2

We headed out to the Stephanie Inn at Cannon Beach for the weekend and had the most relaxing few days of the year so far, wine, good company and just general chill-axing.

So relaxing, in fact, that I managed to forget my jacket which I had left my passport in! So after heading back to Bruce and Gayle’s house yesterday, this morning it was up early to head back out to the beach to get the passport so I can get home later in the week. To be honest, it wasn’t a bad thing to happen as the drive through the hills outside Portland was stunning and it meant I got to enjoy even more of Route 101 which runs right down the west coast of the States. Lots of cliffs, beaches, forests and sun make for an interesting and enjoyable drive.

I really am going to struggle to get my head back in gear when I get home on Thursday. But until then I have another couple of days to enjoy. So back to the balcony here in Gold Beach to watch the sunset.

GSX Day, travelling and Portland

After IamLUG finished up about 30 people stayed on for the GSX Day which was all about setting up your environment to monitor what’s going on, prevent significant outages and make everything run smoothly in your organisation. Even for a lowly developer such as myself this is useful content to know. The GSX software itself looks very interesting from a performance monitoring and scalability planning point of view and of course now that Elguji is running more and more hosted sites we need to make sure that our servers are in tip top shape.

The day itself was very well planned to not be a sales pitch, so the presentations were valid even without the GSX software. A very clever way of doing marketing I’d say.

Then yesterday really was the end of the trip to St Louis, with a very relaxed start to the day and some fun and games on the travel following that. US Airways cancelled the second leg of my flight to Portland so when I got to the front of the queue to re-book the lady looked a little shocked and said “But you’ve been booked onto the flight that leaves in 45 minutes from Terminal 2!”. Oh it was very entertaining getting my bags, changing terminals (in 111 degree heat), checking in, getting through security and boarding all within 30 minutes. But I did manage it at least so I was only half an hour late to meet Bruce and Gayle, so ultimately a successful day.

Today we head off to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast to relax, catch up and spend some quality time working on IQJam. Interestingly, this is the first time that Bruce and I have actually worked in the same place before in the two years that we’ve been working together. Either we’ll get lots done or I’ll need to go back to being 5000 miles away 🙂