The problem with travelling so much is it takes up so much time. The other problem is that network access is very limited (non-existent on planes unless you're flying on some Lufthansa or Emirates routes), expensive in airports and prohibitively expensive in hotels ($25 per day for 512kb access, I pay less than that a month for 2Mb broadband!) Add to this the fact that they want me to work when I get somewhere and the net effect is it's been waaay too long since my last blog entry.
So what have I been up to I hear everyone ask (or at least the ten or so people who'll read my blog).
In May I reached a fairly big milestone in life: my 40th birthday. Given that the average life expectancy in the UK for a man is 78 this would mean I'm now officially past the half way mark and therefore it's all downhill from here. Of course, a lot of people say life begins at 40, although I suspect that that is spread by people who've past 40 and want to convince those under 40 they're not past it. Anyway, I spent my birthday in Tuscanny, courtesy of my girlfriend Elaine who organised for us to stay at a villa which also ran a cooking school. Very relaxed, great food, great wine and I finally know how to make gnochi. We also spent the weekend in Florence and went up the leaning tower of Pisa before returning home.
The next day I left for Bangalore in India where we had the last TechDay event of this financial year. It had been a while since I'd been to India and the enthusiasm of developers there hasn't diminished one bit. 2200 people turned up and it was a packed and enjoyable two days. I did one presentation on Solaris 10, focusing on DTrace and zones. The presentation was an hour long and I spent another hour aftewrwards answering a lot of in-depth technical questions, many of which really stretched my knowledge. The travel was pretty brutal as there is no direct flight from Heathrow to Bangalore. I ended up going via Chennai (or Madras as it used to be known). This wasn't too bad on the way out, but on the way back my evening flight that was supposed to leave Bangalore at 9.30pm didn't leave until 11.45pm. I'd booked a hotel in Chennai since the connecting flight didn't leave until 8am the following morning. This is the last time I trust a website that says, "conveniently located for the airport", as this one was a 40 minute drive (even at 1am). Needless to say I only ended up in the hotel for about 5 hours. The funniest thing about the delay in Bangalore was that this happened to be the day of the FA cup final in the UK. Due to the time difference the game was on while I was in the airport. All the monitors that were used to display the flight departures got changed to show the football, so you had to guess when your flight might be leaving. There we were, in the middle of the penalties, Arsenal ahead by one, two more to shoot. What do they do? Switch to adverts!! Talk about an unnatural break.
Having survived India and eaten a lot of great Indian food it was off to Russia for developer events in Moscow and St Petersburg. Great turnout in both cities, I think we had over 500 people in Moscow and about 300 in St Petersburg. Again, very keen developers with lots of great questions. When we were in St Petersburg we went out with some of the people from the Sun office who took us to a local micro-brewery. Very easy to drink too much beer here. I turned up at the airport to get my flight home and the man checking passports spent a lot of time looking at my passport and checking the four Russian visas in my passport very carefully. Eventually he looked at me and said, "Your visa has expired". When I had submitted my visa application I'd put the right dates on it and submitted all the appropriate paperwork. The Russian embassy, in their infinite wisdom, had ignored the dates on the form and the paperwork for St Petersburg and simply issued the visa based on the Moscow part of the trip. Stupid me hadn't though to check that, so the visa had expired two days earlier. No problem in the newly capitalist post-Soviet era. For the princely (and frankly outrageous) sum of ninety US dollars (various currencies and credit cards accepted) I could get my two day extension. Faced with a choice of paying up or spending time in a gulag, I paid up.
After that we had a few events in the UK talking to financial institutions about latest Java technologies. Thankfully the travel for that was using London public transport, which can actually be quite good so long as you don't want to travel at peak times.
This week and next I'm preparing for JavaOne. More on that later.