Saturday, January 11, 2014

And the winds blew

The panel on ethics in SF was proceeding nicely at illogicon iii earlier today. Moderator Metricula and panelists John Kessel, Jim Minz, Liz Woods, and I were ranging far and wide in our discussion of the topic, and the audience seemed to be engaged and enjoying the conversation. 

Then all the phones in the room went off, most buzzing, a few playing their ring tones.  All carried variations of the same message:  Tornado warning.  Severe storms were churning up our area as a front passed through.

No problem; just a warning.  We finished the panel, and all was well.

I moved immediately to my next panel, an in-con recording of the Baen Free Radio Hour.  Show host Tony Daniel had invited John Kessel, Jim Minz, Gray Rinehart, and me to discuss the future of the book.  By now the wind was whipping the trees and blowing the rain sideways.

All the phones went off again.  This time, though, the messages they carried all contained the same instructions:  Take cover.  The hotel had already spread through the con its instructions for safe (or, at least, as safe as possible) passage during tornadoes, which were basically to head to the ballroom, a large space with no exterior walls. 

So some of us did.  Most of the con did not.  Those of us who did enter that room sat there until the warning was over about ten minutes later.

The show resumed.  We did the podcast, which you should sometime soon be able to access via the link above.  I enjoyed the conversation, which was as wide-ranging as the first one.

As I was getting ready to leave the con, I ran into Steve, who said, "I hope your house is okay."  I had no idea why it wouldn't be, but Steve had heard that 85-mph (that's not a typo; eighty-five mile-per-hour) winds had knocked down a tree at the closest exit on I-540 to our house. 

The house proved to be fine.  Branches were down, but nothing particularly large.  Cone Man had fallen,

Click on the image to see a larger version.

but Allyn had already returned him to his standard standing pose. 

So, the winds blew, they blew really hard and really fast, but we're all fine.  For which I'm grateful. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lies with Words

is the title of the panel I did earlier tonight at illogiCon iiiLawrence Schoen, one of the con's guests of honor, hosted and ran the panel.  He did a great job.  Bill Ferris, Gray Rinehart, Ed Schubert, and Michael Williams were the other victims panelists. 

The concept was simple:  In a series of rounds, Lawrence handed us each a card with an obscure word on it.  In each round, he gave us all the same word.  One of the cards had the real definition on it.  The others were blank except for the word.  We made up and wrote on our cards definitions for each word, and then we read aloud our definitions.  The person with the card with the correct definition had to read that definition as if he'd written it.  After we'd all read our definitions, Lawrence took a vote of how many people in the audience believed each of us to be telling the word's real meaning.  We each got one point for each audience member who believed us.  At the end, Lawrence and a volunteer scorekeeper, Liz (sorry for not getting her last name), tallied the votes and declared a winner.

As you might imagine, many of the definitions we invented were funny, as were some of the real meanings.  Being funny proved to be irresistible to many of us with many words, even though it cost us points.

When the panel ended and the final votes appeared, Ed Schubert and I were vying for first place.  As Lawrence announced who would be the runner-up and who would be this year's winner, Ed and I held hands beauty-contestant-style.  When Lawrence announced Ed as the runner-up, we both shrieked and hugged, and then Ed put the crown--a large rubber band that happened to be sitting on a nearby table--on my head.

It was all very touching.

No, there are no photos and no videos of this particular pageant.

The panelists are given a list of obscure and/or obsolete words in advance. One person has the true meaning and the others compose false definition of each words, long or short, simple or complex, as they please. Can the audience tell which is which? Points are Awarded to each panelist for every audience member who buys into his/her lie. - See more at:
The panelists are given a list of obscure and/or obsolete words in advance. One person has the true meaning and the others compose false definition of each words, long or short, simple or complex, as they please. Can the audience tell which is which? Points are Awarded to each panelist for every audience member who buys into his/her lie. - See more at:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

On the road again: CES, Las Vegas, day 3

I know I've been shortchanging you with these mini blog entries, but, wow, have I had bandwidth troubles.  My excuse for today is simple fatigue:  I went to bed a little after 12:30 a.m. and got up at 3:30 a.m. to begin the process of traveling home.

Where I am now, thank goodness.  I'll be traveling more of this month than I'll be home, so it's good to get to be home.  Even though I'm exhausted, I'm happy because I'm no longer in a plane or an airport.

Now that I have real bandwidth, I can share a few happy snaps from the show.

The Sony booth was huge, a giant circus of electronics surrounded by a wall on which the firm was projecting a huge number of images.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

In a convention center full of viswalls, the LG booth sported what I believe was the largest, one that was, from some angles, sporting 3D images.

Ever wondered what that hot BMW i8 hybrid looks like in person?  I certainly did, which made seeing it a lot of fun. 

It is a beauty, though not quite as quick as my Tesla (sorry, but I couldn't resist the comparison). 

I mentioned in an earlier post that I got to ride in the BMW i3 electric car while Bill did a test drive.  Here's Bill behind the wheel of a demo version of what may well be his next ride.

The car is in the so-homely-it's-cute category.

Now, back to work. 

I'm out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

On the road again: CES, Las Vegas, day 2

The bandwidth, she is a cruel mistress.  Blogging is pain.  Web browsing is impossible.  So, today we talked, walked, looked, and did more of those.  Many interesting devices, though nothing earth-shattering.

Wake-up is at 3:30 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. flight.  Oh, goody!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

On the road again: CES, Las Vegas, day 1

I'm going to keep this way shorter than I'd planned because the bandwidth in my hotel room has turned so bad that I cannot maintain an email connection or download a Web page in anything resembling reasonable time.  (Example:  I tried to open Amazon's home page and gave up after 15 minutes of no progress.) 

The short form is that Bill and I spent the day meeting and discussing many different topics and walking the CES show floor.  In the course of all of that, we also had the chance to see and drive (Bill) and ride (me) in BMW's new electric car, the i3.  It's a weird-looking but fun and quite peppy little car. 

I hope to have pictures and more to say tomorrow, when perhaps some of my many fellow bandwidth-hungry CES attendees will have gone home.

Monday, January 6, 2014

On the road again: CES, Las Vegas, day 0

Today, we traveled to Las Vegas.  Our first flight didn't take off until the late morning, so I didn't have to head to the airport until a little before 10:00 a.m.  Our plane took off on schedule, and I spent too much time working in the Admirals' Club, so I ended up waiting until DFW to get any food.  Fortunately, we had enough time there that I could eat.

For the next flight, we boarded quickly and on time, and then...we waited.  After a half-hour delay, we headed to Las Vegas.  I learned that a plane full of people heading to CES can overload an airplane's bandwidth so much that every single email message is a pain to receive.  Still, I managed to finish a lot of work.

Once we arrived, we took our carry-on bags and joined the day's first long line.

Click on an image to see a larger version.

This one was to get our CES badges, so we could avoid the even crazier lines tomorrow. 

We then headed into the longer taxi line, a winding crowd of people waiting for a ride to the sparkling city. 

We were due to land at 4:25.  We hit our hotel rooms at 6:25.

For dinner, we grabbed a taxi to the Cosmopolitan and headed to the third level to Jose Andres' Jaleo.  The various tapas dishes we tasted were, as always, delicious.

On the way down and out of the hotel, we happened upon one of Liberace's cars.

Maybe my Tesla needs some rhinestones....

Tomorrow, we hit the CES show floor!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Catch me at CES next week

My business partner, Bill, and I are heading to Las Vegas tomorrow for the biggest U.S. trade show of our industry, CES.  We'll be spending two days walking the floor, handing out golden tickets (follow PT's Twitter feed for details) to some vendors of mobile devices, and checking out the many interesting products on offer.

I have no dinner or show reservations; the focus this trip is all work.  Still, I hope we get to eat somewhere interesting at least once.  I know we'll get to spend time talking and planning for our business future, and such time is always fruitful. 

I haven't been to CES in a few years, so I'm quite looking forward to checking out the show.  Bill and I should be easy to spot, so if you see us, come up and say hello.


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