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Final diary from my exploration tour
Content February 97
Updated by Richard Gatarski, 1997-02-27 at 14:30 local time

Extra Extra, the travel quiz "what is the picture of", and the winner is...

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24

Welcome to the on-the-fly updates from my exploration tour. Updates are in order of appearance, starting from start. All times are local. The updates are more spontaneous than reflected, edited and well designed.
Any comments or questions? Please mail me at: richard.gatarski@bat.se

Monday 3d

Left Arlanda 11.15 with SK 531, on time!

Had on board lunch one hour later. Read two papers from Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 1997: "The four faces of Mass Customization" by Gilmore and Pine. And "The coming Battle for Customer Information" by Hagel and Rayport. (My bet is that they have never used cookies, but they write about them).

Arrived on time in London

United Airlines 935 to Los Angeles is delayed to 15.30 (from 14.15). Bought a soda, mailed a postcard, wrote this and wondered if I could upload it on the phone you can see at the picture.

Nope, did not work. UK Telephone, Win95 dialup, TDK Global Class modem together with CompuServe UK did not like each other. Spent about US$ 10 on trying to connect. Left London two hours delayed. Up with the friendly skies - UA 935.

Talked about complex theories, communication design and other things with Julia from Hamburg (see the picture). Meal OK, "grilled" salmon. Read .net, a few magazines and sort of slept for four-five hours. Found a GTE Airfone at the toilet. Decided to try it. Did not work att 11:50, Pacific Time (no satellites available). New try at 18:15, now the phone said it communicates. Something my modem never understood.

Left the LA airport in a rented Hertz car. Ordered it over a touch screen self-service terminal. The pick-up bus driver ran around with a palmtop computer and got everybody's last names. At arrival the first stop was for Hertz #1 Club Gold card members only. And their last names were displayed on electronic billboards, cars ready and everything. Fun, read about this face of customization less than 15 hours ago, here it was.

Took some uninteresting detours while trying to find my hotel. Arrived 22:00 and called my home over a Plain Old Telephone. Edited this, uploaded it (as you can see). Went to bed.

Tuesday 4th

Went up, had breakfast. Got some mail, Eva at the office wrote about their bad weather - wet snow. So I decided to take some pictures. The first one is my view from the hotel room.
Drove to Santa Monica. Shopped at the mall. Ended up with two books, "The Digital Economy" by Don Tapscott, and "The New Positioning" by Jack Trout. Took a walk. Had lunch, chicken burrito. Tried to find a new modem. No luck. There must be 1000 car outlets to 1 computer store in West LA!

Returned to the hotel. Turned some e-mails around. Posted this and started to write on my eler.

Wednesday 5th

The conference Autonomous Agents ´97 has started. Loooooong lines at registration. Pattie Maes is sick, but she should show up on Friday. (Meanwhile, I am here). Met and listened to interesting people. To early to write something intellectual here. Agents are more than I initially considered! I constructed a new tag line for Xerox that might replace "the document company".

Today's first picture shows Yoda and a journalist from CNN. The journalist is to the left and Yoda is the robot to the right. I.e. the cameras, the round table on wheels and a bowl of M&M. The guy behind Yoda is one of Yodas creators.
This is a robot that performs an inverted Turing test. Whenever somebody comes nearby, Yoda asks a question. And after the answer Yoda decides if somebody is a robot or a human. The former is offered M&M. The latter is ignored :-)
This "dog" is one of six from Sony´s lab. They have proposed an Open Architecture for Robots in an entertaining environment. I have this cute guy on video, will digitize it when I return. Until then you have to imagine how interesting this is. Even though the robots did not play soccer today, they did other wonderful things. And robots do not pee on the carpet!

Thursday 6th

Well, well. I have a cold. Nice weather, but mean air conditioner. Otherwise things are very nice. It sort of feels great when I realize thirty minutes into the main conference that it has already been worth going here. In addition to Danny´s introduction I learned a lot more about how agents reason and how and why we should make them life like. The day started and ended with remarks that we should not strive after technological perfection, but life likeness. Which is not like life.

This is a picture of Danny Hillis from Walt Disney Imagineering. He built his wonderful presentation on three grand challenges:
  • We need a science of emotions
  • Virtual Actors
  • Interactive Storytelling
Maybe you want to see where part of this page is created. If not, don´t look left.

Friday 7th

My namesday!

And my brother Henrik mailed this beautiful, although virtual, bag of Twist (a Swedish candy).

Sometimes I tell other people not to base their business on the internet. I must expand that statement into, don´t base your communication on the internet. Our server is out, I do not know why. Nobody can mail me, I cannot mail anybody. I cannot plan my trip because my contacts cannot contact me. The world is not perfect.

Decided to do some shopping. Drove over to Beverly Hills where Tandy´s computer store had a close-out sale. Bought a lot of stuff with a great discount.

Stopped by at Circuit City on my way back to the hotel. They sold Web TV´s. Here is a screen shot on how the page you are reading right now looks in WebTV.

Had "dinner" at Danny´s. Virtually a real trip to the 50´s

 

Saturday 8th

This shows the ending panel session at the conference. From left to right are: George Bekey (hardbots), Oren Etzioni (softbots), Anand Rao (expert assistants) and Joseph Bates (synthetic agents).
Two conclusions: more of interdisciplinary cooperation, and agents have to handle emotions as well as believability.

Sunday 9th

Long live technology. At the airport you can rent cell phones in vending machines. Isn´t that wonderful?

Left LAX at 7.15 with Hawaiian air. Landed in Vegas about an hour later. Decided on the spot to try Luxor for a few days, major mistake!

In room 7306 at Luxor hotel they are currently showing "The Miserable". The 20 hour play shows Richard in bed. A few times the scene is interrupted by room service. In short, I am trying to get rid of the flu/cold/whatever it is I have. It sort of erupted when I had to wait for a room here. (Took about 4 hours). It is not worth it. Anyway, my window view is left.
Phone (702) 262-4000, Fax (702) 262-4405 (no home page)

Monday 10th

Feels a little better. In the morning our server is still down. Starts to write on my eler. Stays in my room.

Later I learn that the server was disconnected by Telia. They accidentally cut off the cable while digging around!

Tuesday 11th

Designing an eler. Stays in my room at Luxor. Will never stay at Luxor again. Will probably not go to Vegas again.

Wednesday 12th

Moved to Sahara Hotel.

Decided to cheer myself up. So I bought a trip over Grand Canyon.
YES!
I needed that. Wonderful. Could do this for hours.
Took this just before landing again.
The tower is Stratosphere (with a rollercoaster on top).

The think on the ground to the left is Sahara.

Thursday 13th

This is the seat in front of me when I flew with America West. Every seat had their own little screen. With shopping, telecommunication, video games, you name it. And the best thing was that you could have urgent messages routed from your pager to your screen while in air.
That´s enlightenment!

Boy, did that feel good? Leaving Vegas. But flying up to Redmond just to visit the Microsoft Museum?. No way, I was hoping for Microsoft Network.

Rented a car at Avis. NEVER EVER HERTZ again, they really screwed me. Oh, I like Avis, they act nicer. This time I asked for a subcompact, and they guy upgraded me for free. To a brand new Buick Saber, nice...

Met with Bob Bejan (left) and Dewey Reid (right).
Bob is executive producer for MSN. Wearing vibrant eyewear. Dewey is creative director. Impressive stuff they do.
Then down to meet Björn Hovstadius, an old acquaintance from Sweden. Here with beautiful wife Anne-Marie and bilingual daughter Emma. Emma´s current favorite is Bamse.
If you do not know who he is, maybe you know one of Clinton´s ties. Bamse is on it.

Friday 14th

The morning started bad. A hoped for lunch meeting with a guy at Microsoft failed. He was occupied with more important stuff ?-) Decided to take a chance and drive down to the airport without a flight in sight. Had luck and got a board the second United Shuttle to San Francisco. Tried AGAIN, to upload this page over GTE Airfone. Didn´t work. That was my final attempt. And it´s only 2.400 baud. The stewardesses said that they had seen people connect their computer. But they probably saw guys like me, trying...

You probably think that an explorer´s life is luxury, entertainment, fine food and excellent lodging. Wrong!
Let me show you how it really is.
This is my breakfast this morning. At 12.20 PM. Nothing before that, except for waiting lines and security checks.

Arrived at SFO and started to find a hotel. Fat chance. Valentines day, AND conference convergence. Everybody is sold out. Great thing to travel unplanned.

When I was in SF the last time, 2 years ago I stayed at Triton (see picture). Cool place.
This time I am staying across the street corner. 1/3 the price, 1/2 the bathroom (=shared) and 1/1 the location. Interesting place,
the Hotel Astoria, Tel (415) 434-8889, Fax (415) 434-8919.
I will probably stay here until Tuesday morning.

Picked up the latest issue of SF Week at Tritons coffee bar. Browsed through it (yes, I found out that it is possible to browse papers too). A Theatre performance named Blake 20/20 caught my attention. Managed to get a ticket and whow! I have never seen anything like it. 3D stuff, with actors, musicians, projections, poetry, performances - incredible.

Then went to some bars at Folsom. Bought a gift to Henrik Uggla on the way back. Now bedtime.

But before that I am calling home. My beloved girlfriend and our son will visit friends, i.e. Micke, Astrid, Mimmi and X-et (http://www.culinaire.se) this weekend. And they are connected to the net. So this picture is for them.

p.s. I threw in a thing about the day before yesterday d.s.

Saturday 15th

Walked, walked and walked. Shopped, shopped and shopped.

I can´t wait to show you the cool stuff I bought. So here is some of it.
I bought the book at City Lights bookshop in North Beach. Right across the street there was a book store with more adult content. Please note how they have evolved into new media, while City Lights still stick to printed books.

Sunday 16h

Was lucky enough to be offered a left-over ticket to Stomp. Really great show!

Then did some more shopping and read books.

Monday 17th

Started to install MS-Office ´97. Decided to postpone it a little. The stuff I think I need wants 120Mbyte HD disk space. Where should I have that? My disk is more stuffed than my suitcase! Then met with BG Wennersten. We cruised around trying to find parking spaces. Occasionally stopping for a shopping stroll or a lunch bite. The KaosPilots had realized that today is Presidents day. So they cancelled our meeting with them. Chaotic :-?

This is how it looks like when I write this.
Here is the quiz of this trip.
Can you see what the picture shows?
Mail your answers to me.
First correct answer will be rewarded with a gift.

Tuesday 18th

Installed MS Office ´97 while packing my luggage. Noticed that my HD light was continuously on. Turned out to be a new thing in Office called FastFind. Stupid MS to put that there without me knowing it. Managed to get rid of that shit, I think.

BG and I Met with Tine Beyer and Hans Ohlsson at the KaosPilots.
Fascinating experience, although too short. They have expanded their activities from Denmark towards San Francisco.
For more info, http://www.well.com/user/kaos
Of course, what KaosPilots do is more interesting than how their office is designed. But the latter is much easier to document.
The office looks and feels like a re-cycled airplane. Desk as wings, lockers as food bins and windows as air-plane ditto.
Then I went to Avis again. First at http://www.avis.com to make a reservation. Then to their downtown office to pick up my car. Great stuff internet, gave me a 10% discount. Then they upgraded me again, had no compact cars available. Too bad :-)
This is how it looked like on 101 South.

I had a meeting scheduled at Stanford Research Institute ( http://www.sri.com ). Again I was able to pick driving directions from a homepage and paste that into my Pilot 5000 (PDA). In addition I picked one of the motels, the Mermaid Inn from SRI´s recommended places to stay at. But I had to call them over the phone, to far off to be on the net.

A brief, but very rewarding meeting with Eilif Trondsen. He is research director for SRI´s BIP-program (http://future.sri.com). I was very impressed with Eilif´s well grounded and balanced skepticism about all the overhyped information technology.

After that I went to Fry´s electronics. Sorry folks, I am not so impressed this time either. We have the same stuff in Sweden at comparable prices. Noticed a new model of IBM. Black aesthetic design. AND the desk top wall paper had a matching look.

Now back at Mermaid, writing this and watching one of the near 100 TV-channels. The one currently tuned is MSNBC. Strange experience, doing this homepage in MS FrontPage 97, watching people in TV surfing the Internet, mainly MSN stuff.
Good night!

EXTRA

There is one thing I forgot. While browsing around in miscellaneous computer stores I have seen a wireless modem. I thought it was something of no use for me, since I can´t use it in Sweden. So I did not bother to check it out.

BAD mistake, Ricochet is a great thing.

Hans Ohlsson at the KaosPilots told me the fact. He pays $40 a month for an unlimited wireless 38.400 BPS internet access. Including the lease for the hardware and an e-mail account. Telia, Personal Internet, Algonet, Europolitan, Tele2 and Comviq (providers in Sweden) eat shit. Okay, Ricochet do not cover every part of the state, not even the whole Bay area, so what?

Wednesday 19th

Went up late :-)
Took a 2 minute look at Stanford University. Then drove down to Great Mall of the Bay Area. Only 185 factory outlet stores. Not to mention the eateries and the entertainment stuff. Strolled around and wondered why I shopped in San Francisco.

Drove down Highway 1, passing Santa Cruz. Checked in at the DoubleTree Hotel in Monterey. Felt god to be back, and to have time to see what I missed during my last visit here.

The fish tank, with my friends.
Here is one of the guys living in the Monterey Aquarium. Really a nice "museum". Very much like the one in Bergen, Norway. But I guess Monterey was first.
After the Aquarium I walked back to the hotel. On the way back I took this picture. This is a really nice little town.

Back at the hotel I f ound out that it was a stupid decision to pack a bottle of mango juice in my "content" bag. Two pair of Levi's jeans, a pile of books and a pack of CD-ROM boxes were "juiced". Spent almost an hour to clean up the mess.

Then registered at TED7. Talked to a guy from Disney Imagineering and 3 people from the University of Cincinnati. Then Dana Atchley, a Digital Storyteller, gave us almost an hour full of digitized and analog emotions. Thank you Dana!!!

Thursday 20th

So, TED7 has begun on Thursday http://www.ted.com/ted7.shtml#thurs

Am I happy guy?
This is me and Richard, i.e. Richard Saul Wurman - RSW.
Richard is the one to the left, and Richard is the one to the right.

The next two pictures shows Nathan Myhrvold, Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft. In case you wonder what we do at TED conferences, this might be it. Nathan ended his presentation with whip-lashing.

One of the interesting things that happens at TED meetings, is that one can play with the stuff presented. So Kai Krause from MetaTools presented their miracles. I took a picture of us, then a few beers later, and with the help of Goo, we looked like this.

Now it´s bedtime for me. It´s like when I was an even smaller boy. I knew if I went to bed early, tomorrow would come faster. And I am really eager to get into tomorrow.

Friday 21st

TED Friday http://www.ted.com/ted7.shtml#fri

Next morning I did not feel SO eager to get into it, but after reasoning with myself I became at least upright. Took a cold shower, not because I wanted, there simply was no hot water in the pipe :-((

Of course a lot of presentations with a high intellectual value occurred before lunch. But then it was lunch. And after the lunch I chatted (yes, you can do that over a REAL table) with June Kinoshita and Pattie Maes.
Right after that Makoto Ozone and Gary Burton taught us about musical conversation and racing. I found an Olympus Note Corder 100 in my bag. So I used that to record a few seconds of Makotos piece.
The one person I think we all will remember most is Li Lu. Li was one of the principle leaders in the 1989 Tianenmen Uprising in China. And he calmly took us back to basics and real values with a story touching parts of his life. A story that ended with a passionate appeal for what we should use our technology for - global history maintenance and communication.

The day ended with Herbie Hancock, Jeff Littleton and Ralph Penland playing Jazz.

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23d

TED Saturday http://www.ted.com/ted7.shtml#sat , what a day!

This 40 feet (13m) Anaconda is a virtual star in an upcoming motion picture. All rubber, steel and supercomputers.
But the real things are more exciting. At least when they are Bobcats, Eagles, Falcons, Alpacas, Snakes etc.
All introduced by Jim Fowler who reminded us that the ecological environment is for us humans.
At least for these rather heavy guys. Ranging from Nicholas Negroponte to Richard Saul Wurman. And of course, the live Anaconda they are holding.
This is not Richard Saul Wurman.
This is Nicholas Negroponte, dressed up as RSW.
My camera cannot do miracles, e.g. take pictures without light. But these hands make miracles. They belong to Herbie Hancock who performed once again. This time for an enthusiastic, screaming and digging little crowd at the end of Richards dinner party.

Richard, thank you so much for this years TED. /richard

The next morning I picked up another Avis car, again reserved on their web site, and drove up to San Francisco. The flight back to Europe begun. Two hours after takeoff United Airlines served lunch. (The first thing they did was to hand out landing cards). After lunch I dropped dead.

Monday 24

Changed plane at London Heathrow, took off towards Sweden. SAS inflight phone said "not available" when I tried to used it for data communication.

Who met at Arlanda, if not Milton...
...who at home decided that the coolest place was to share a Samsonite with this years TED-bear.

Follow up

Carl-Johan Westin, consultant at CEPRO, is the winner of the quiz "what is the picture showing?". Her Carl-Johan (right) is a happy guy receiving the first and only price "Kai´s Power GOO" software from MetaTools.

The right answer, Nordstrom´s department store in down town San Francisco. More precisely, it is the store´s escalator´s.


end-of-report