So here I sit in the Toronto airport—YYZ to those who travel a lot—wrapping up my first business trip (if you don’t count interviewing trips) since I left iPass, and the first as part of my new position at SOMA Networks (www.somanetworks.com); more about that in another post.
First, some Wi-Fi observations. Call it the residue of caring about this sort of thing at iPass…
- “Free” as a Wi-Fi business model continues to gain ground.
o While in the Denver airport (DIA… I hope there’s not an airport code of DOA) I was able to log onto the airport network, which was (ahem) ad-supported. OK, so I have to pretend to pay attention to the thirty-second ad before they connect me to the Internet. This is no worse that pretending to pay attention to the teacher’s boring stories in high school. What’s more annoying is that I discover that I have to use the DIA browser/search engine to get anywhere. You can log onto Google, but you never (and never is defined as something longer than 60 seconds) get a page served. It’s definitely on the far edges of what I’ll put up with for “free” access.
o Much nicer is the free Wi-Fi I get on the airport bus into downtown Toronto. You log in, and away you go. No ads, no nothing. And in the 30 minutes it takes to get downtown, I’ve been able to dispatch all the key e-mail and such.
And Toronto… except for airline connections, I don’t think I’ve spent any time in Toronto in ten years. “Skydome” is now the “Rogers Centre”. Condos are going up everywhere, so I guess there’s a lot of growth. It’s a long way since virtually my first business trip to the Toronto area (good for a future post), when I was upgraded to a suite at the Four Seasons.
Now I’m at the other end of University Ave. Actually, there and then west a bit, in the Chinatown district. There’s some sort of conference that has taken up all the hotel rooms, so my best offer is a room at the Super 8 Hotel (that would be “motel” in the states) for nearly $200 Canadian… which is probably more than $200 US thanks to our deficit-financed war. Except for the fleas, the too-short bed and the couple screaming (not in ecstasy) next door, it was fine. The good news was I was able to go out to authentic Asian restaurants—the kind that serve chopsticks by default—for some great dim sum.
There are some great non-chain coffee shops on the way to the SOMA Networks office, and it’s quite fun to hang with the university crowd sipping my coffee. This section of Toronto must be the fur district; there are probably a dozen furriers between my hotel and the company office. No spattered blood to be found, though it would be hard to distinguish from the ambient levels of graffiti.
The mix of cuisines is wonderful here. Across the street from the SOMA Networks office is an old-time (when was the last time you saw that poster of James Dean playing pool with Frank Sinatra and co., while Marilyn Monroe demurs in the background?) corned beef sandwich joint. Upon a recommendation, I opted for the Montreal smoked meat sandwich, which was great. And if you have to ask what kind of meat, you probably shouldn’t order it. Another time we go around the corner for falafel, every bit as good as the Falafel Drive-In in San Jose. And anytime you pass two Jamaican joints you know the cuisine is diverse.
And now I’m sitting in the airport watching the news clips of the Chinese group taking the Olympic torch to the top of Mt. Everest. Is Everest now that easy to climb, that we can use it for a photo-op? Good thing they’re not holding a Democratic primary there.
And by the way, Canadians are still crazy about hockey. There are all sorts of pre- and post-game hockey shows, even though Canadian representation in the Stanley Cup playoffs is absent. The Toronto radio people acknowledged that the benefit of having other Canadian teams in the playoffs (now that the Maple Leafs have been eliminated) is that you have someone to root against. Apparently, some people find the Montreal Canadiens annoying.
All in all, a good first trip. I can tell I’m a bit rusty (getting confused about where to check in being one example), and having been downgraded to “Premier” status by United (also known as “deserving no special treatment”) made things a bit different. But I got to exit onto the tarmac at San Jose, a quaint custom that will pass into memory before long as the airport modernizes. No doubt I’ll soon be off to other SOMA Networks locations around the world… bringing wireless communications and its attendant economic development to my “premier” brethren around the world.