Thursday, November 20, 2008

While in Paris...

My latest reason for being off the air has to do with the amazingly bad internet capabilities of Paris hotels. Yes, I'm in Paris, city of lovers, but certainly not of lovers of wifi. There are at least 30 networks visibile wherever you go, but they're all secure, so no mooching. The hotel-provided wifi is actually a generic service that costs 22 E/day for connectivity, with all kinds of bandwidth caps and a very slow connection. If I were to splurge for the "business" level, I get the luxury of paying 27 E/day, with unclear benefits (presumably I can now download my bootleg bittorrents (just kidding)).

Other things I've noticed since I last came to Paris: (which is not to say that they are new, just that I just noticed them):
  • Every second store on the podunk street my hotel is on is a fancy clothing store. Clearly the world-wide economic collapse has not hit.
  • Speaking of world-wide economic collapses, it really hurts to have a weak dollar. $7 espressos, sigh...
  • ....but it's always a pleasure to walk into a cafe and order a 'cafe' and just know that something good will appear. This is in contrast to the unbounded depth circuit needed to specify a proper cup of coffee at Starbucks.
  • Speaking of Starbucks, how on earth can they even survive in Paris ? I mean, you go to a Starbucks here, and you get the same experience as in the US, ending with a paper cup of coffee of questionable quality that you drink perched on a high bar stool. On the other hand, you go to a cafe, and they serve you with nice cups, and a little cookie, and let you sit there for hours nursing your coffee, and will even give you the WEP key for their secured WiFi. It's no contest !
  • You can change the world while nursing your coffee. I was staying in the 14th Arrondissement (the Montparnasse area) and had to have a coffee at the Dome cafe, a place apparently frequented by Lenin and Trotsky before the Revolution. I have to say that at the time I went, the clientele looked like they were plotting a revolution... in 1907.... I'd link to a verification of this, but I can't make any sense out of the search results on google.fr
  • Speaking of which, how does one tell google NOT to return results in french ? every time I edit the URL to go to google.com, it sends me back to google.fr. Suivant !!!
And why am I blogging from Paris, you might ask ? Well here's why. I'm an invited speaker, no less. Conference blogging was limited because there was no wifi at the conference site either. It's a long story involving military schools (and maybe even NASA). Details will appear shortly.
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