San Jose, Day One

San Jose, Day One
San Jose, Day One

So, my day-job boss asks me last week if I’m interested in learning more about Apple’s Mac OS X Server, Xserve and XRAID products. I say I am, and he asks if my family would mind me being away for, oh say, 4 or 5 days. A phone call later to my wife (who says she’ll horribly miss me, but that she’s ultimately “okey” with it), and I’m committed to a trip out to San Jose, California, near Cupertino, the home of Apple, and “in the heart of Silicon Valley,” or so I’m told.

A short while later, we’ve booked flights for me into and out of Oakland International Airport (jetBlue doesn’t fly to San Jose… yet), and are debating the merits of getting a rental car vs. a half-hour cab ride, and looking for a hotel room. The car gets nixed because it’s going to be “so much more expensive than the cab ride.” This will prove to be a foolish assumption. The hotel room search comes down to the fact that it’s “too expensive” and no-one has any empty rooms, it seems. The decision is made to put me up in a room with a rep from another Mac reseller (based in Youngtown, PA, I believe), and everything is assumed to be set up and ready to go.

Jump to 6pm monday afternoon, 24 February.

A coworker came to pick me up at home (after a few “early” hours at home, spending some time with my family, and… well, packing) and drop me off at Dulles Airport, since he lives very near it. Along the way, we chatted about movies, cars, the (probably) coming war in Iraq, and other little things. Around 7pm, I arrived at the jetBlue counter at Dulles, and quickly checked in without even showing my ID— until the lady at the counter caught me at the last second with “Oh! Can I see your ID?” Warms the heart, that does.

So anyway, a short shuttle ride to the terminal, a short dinner, and a short wait later, I’m boarding the glorious jetBlue plane, and I notice— there’s no First Class. Very democratic. In fact, all of the seats are leather and have 5″ LCD screens embedded in the back, for your in-flight viewing pleasure. You have your choice of “up to 24” DirecTV channels, or a jetBlue advertising channel that occasionally shows the plane superimposed on a map of these United States of America, showing location and direction, and listing the altitude and speed below the map— very cool for a flying geek like myself.

Everyone who heard I was flying jetBlue warned me that the plane would be packed, but I had checked the online jetBlue seat allocator thingy before the flight, and the plane looked pretty non-packed. As it turned out, I had the window seat, and another guy had the aisle seat, and we both got to really stretch out an enjoy the flight. I watched an hour of Food TV and an hour of some pool trick shot championship from Baltimore on ESPN2, and slept the rest of the four hours or so to our destination.

Once we got to Oakland, I wandered around trying to find a cheaper shuttle to San Jose, but after about 15 minutes, got frustrated and went ahead and took a cab. Yes— a positively bad idea. The driver got us lost (even relying on the Mapquest directions that I miraculously had the foresight to print out before leaving), and as we pulled up at the DoubleTree San Jose, the meter read a whopping $94.40. Had I known it would be that painful, I could have spent that money on the plane ticket, and come straight in to San Jose and the free shuttle to the Doubletree. Of course, then I would have missed the great jetBlue experience. Maybe I can find a cheaper way back for the return trip.

Anyway— The DoubleTree. When I walked into the hotel (seemingly the highest building in the area, the rest being a maximum of two floors) there turned out to be no reservation under my name. Great. I showed the courteous lady at the counter the guy’s name who was supposed to be my roomie, and she pulled him up, but there was no note of me on his ticket. In any case, he had earlier been walked over to the Hyatt next door, since the Doubletree was overbooked. After a bit of hemming and hawing and a phone call, she agreed to do the same for me, seeing how Apple gives them so much good business and all.

She gave me a voucher letter, a small envelope with a delicious chocolate chip cookie inside (and several more with which to gift the Hyatt desk clerk) and sent me over with one of her shuttle drivers who, once on the road for the three-block drive, took it upon himself to apologize profusely for the very light rain that was “really pouring down,” and assured me that “yesterday, it was much nicer.” In fact, the earlier cab driver, and the golf-cart driver to my one of many 2-story buildings at the Hyatt also both seemed to feel the need to personally defend the virtuous weather reputation of the left coast. I assured them all that I was used to much worse, having come from a recent rare dump of two-plus feet of snow in Maryland, and that I’m sure it wouldn’t adversely affect my opinion of their fair city, state and their associated weather patterns.

Anyway, the voucher was accepted, and I got a small comfortable room where would get to sleep by myself for at least one night, which was a bit of a relief. So, to celebrate my independence, I ran downstairs and got a Reese’s FastBreak (in a blue wrapper, oddly enough, instead of the usual “east coast” orange) and sat down to enjoy that along with some complementary in-room decaf and enjoyed an entertaining in-room movie. Ahhh… peace at last.