Cyber Corps Symposium Day 0: Blast from the Past

Prologue

Who here wants to read daily posts about my trip to this year’s Cyber Corps Symposium? Too bad, you’re doing it anyway.

[Editor's note: changed day from 1 to 0 to better fit the symposium's schedule]

DAY 0

11:08 am EDT

I’m sitting at BWI waiting for my flight up to Syracuse. There don’t seem to be any access points at all around here, so into vim this goes until whenever I post this.

There’s a nice thunderstorm going on right now, which may not bode well for my flight. One plane recently arrived at a gate here, but they can’t so much as let the passengers off until the storm passed. My flight’s not scheduled to leave for another hour, so we’ll see if this screws me up at all or not. Luckily, there isn’t much to speak of going on at Syracuse today besides check-in, so even being delayed several hours won’t be too big a deal.

It’s a good thing I went out to the bookstore last night to pick up some additional reading material. If I do get delayed, the one book I had been planning on bringing with me for this trip probably wouldn’t be enough. One may wonder at the wisdom of going to the bookstore when it’s demi-crowded because of some children’s book that was being released that midnight or something.

Whenever I travel, I always end up bringing way too much entertainment-type stuff with me. For example, right now I’m packing three books, plus the games and videos I have on kryten here, for a trip that lasts until Wednesday. (And, historically speaking, that’s fewer books per day than I normally bring.) It should hold out even if the worst case scenario of delayed flights and no Internet access at where they’re putting us up at comes to pass.

I hate airports. My flight itinerary says United, but their check-in terminal says that US Air is actually doing the flight (wha?), so go check in over there. US Air’s terminal is well aware of who I am and what flight I’m on, but refuses to give my a boarding pass unless I give it the credit card that purchased the flight (sorry if whoever at NSF scheduled all the flights didn’t lend it to me) or some other crazy identifiers. Of course, the confirmation number — which I do have, and whose stated purpose is to, you know, confirm things — isn’t one of the options. So I get into the normal line, but apparently half of the clerks at the desk only have the job of pointing to the automated terminals and telling you you can use those, instead of actually checking you in. Finally I got to the clerk who wasn’t useless and managed to check me in and give me my boarding pass faster than the automated system would have.

The D concourse has 47 gates. My flight leaves out of gate 45. Guess which end of the number sequence the security checkpoint is at?

It looks and sounds like the storm’s starting to let up, though the skies are still quite overcast and foggy, and the plane that came in a little while ago still hasn’t unloaded. (I refuse to use that stupid “deplane” non-word, as it implies that “plane” is a verb, and verbing nouns is dumb.)

Back to reading through a backlog of e-mail and probably hacking on some code.

12:04 pm EDT

Plane’s here. So is the storm. Back to waiting.

4:20 pm EDT

At Syracuse, finally.

The storm prevented us from boarding the plane until 20 minutes after scheduled departure time. Which doesn’t sound too bad, until you learn that a second storm was coming, which kept us on the ground for another hour. In a turboprop. But finally *that* storm passed, and we got off the ground.

Near the landing, the guy sitting next to me vomited. So, there’s that.

After arrival and checking in, they bussed us over to Syracuse University for the conference. That’s where the conference is being held, and also where we’ll be staying.

Specifically, they’re sticking us in the dorm.

Now, back in my undergrad days, I actually managed to live in the dorms for three years. Dorm living isn’t all that much fun. But that comes doubly so when you’re staying in an essentially unfurnished, un-air-conditioned (hello, middle of summer!), dorm room. There’s a bed, a dresser, a closet, two fams, and that’s about it. They had told us there would be TVs and DVD players. There are TVs — one per floor. We’ve even got the communal restroom thing going.

At least we’re not being forced to share the room without another attendee, and they did give us wired Internet access (apparently after everyone complained about the original no-connectivity plan), though they seem to be blocking my attempts to reach my mail server. (OK, I guess I can still reach Purdue’s webmail, but come on, I have my standards.)

Now before you accuse me of being too hard on our all-expense-spared lodging here, please keep in mind that in the January conference, they put us up in a swanky expensive four-star hotel in DC. This is the Bizarro version of that. Now I’m no economist or events planner or whatnot, but it seems that a more effective use of funds would be to spend half the money for moderate lodging in January, and the other half in July, than blowing it all on the first one and pinching pennies later on. I’m just saying. (I’m not saying the DC conference was great — far from it — but at least it had that going for it.)

And here’s what gets me. There *is* an actual hotel on campus here. On the other side of campus. Most of the conference events are being held there.

Let me repeat that. MOST OF THE CONFERENCE EVENTS ARE BEING HELD THERE.

So apparently we get to be at the hotel for almost everything except for the actual lodging.

They’re giving us a “buffet dinner” in about an hour or so. Hopefully it goes better than the one they tried to pull on us at the DC
conference — “here’s a few hors d’oeuvres and no seating.”

11:18 pm EDT

OK, after a meal, some good conversations, and a shower, I’m feeling less cranky.

The aforementioned dinner buffet turned out to be not too shabby. I was starving, what with my total food intake for the day having been a bowl of cereal and some orange juice. I was more than able to take care of that there. The only bad thing about it was that the canteloupe was, well, just not right. But on everything else, I was able to get up to the “comfortably full” state. Which is good.

During and afterwards, I met up with the rest of the Purdue delegation. Both of them. (By comparison, the University of Tulsa is bringing approximately 15,000 people.) Apparently the poster I was volunteered to present at Tuesday’s poster session turned out fine, which is good, since I hadn’t heard anything about it since I e-mailed it in. One less thing to worry about.

After much conversation with the delegation (isn’t it funny how saying “delegation” makes it sound way more formal than it is?) and one of the few, if only, hiring reps here already (the conference doesn’t begin in earnest until tomorrow), I returned to my room. I’ve learned that some people have double rooms, and some of them are compelled to have a roommate. I may not be a fan of the dorms, but I am a fan of not having to share a tiny room with someone I never met.

Oddly, there doesn’t seem to be any water fountains on my floor. There’s a sink in the communal area, but that’s it. I ended up having to shell out $1.25 for a bottle of Latham, NY municipal water, but I’ll bring back my old Wiley trick of using that as a tap water bottle for the rest of the conference.

Setting out to shower led me to realize what I forgot (as every trip requires me forgetting one item): my bath robe. Like Wiley, this place has a few shower stalls in the communal bathroom. I managed to change into my bedtime wear inside the stall after showering.

Man, showering while wearing shower sandals was one thing I never thought I’d have to do again.

I also learned a bit more about Syracuse’s draconian network filtering. Apparently, aside from web (duh) and AIM (lest the students mutiny) traffic, outgoing traffic to all other ports is blocked. Which is why I can’t download my e-mail from Purdue’s mail server. I can’t even SSH into one of Purdue’s servers to set up a tunnel to download it through. So much to sticking it to the man that way.

So, if you need to contact me while I’m here, it looks like replying here, AIM, or the cell phone are your three options.

4 Responses

  1. it’s not quite a children’s book. it’s Harry Potter for goodness sake!

  2. Like I said, a children’s book.

  3. It’s a children’s book. Moreover wearing shower shoes is by far one of the most interesting experiences I think a person can have. It feels inherently awkward but also so very needed. Finally, stop wearing a bathrobe and strut your stuff by sporting the towel-wrapped-around-the-waist look. In the words of the immortal Strong Bad, “the ladies will be all up ons.”

  4. The ladies being all up ons requires upon there being ladies up on this floor of the dorm.

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