Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Austin - we have a problem

Sadly I have not posted anything for one week which is partly to blame on extensive travel over the last week but primarily due to the very poor Internet access I had at the Radisson Hotel in Austin, Texas. After spending two hours talking with six different staff people and moving to three different rooms trying to see where high speed Internet access would work I was resigned to using a low quality wireless service in the hotel lobby.

Why is this significant beyond the fact that they wasted a lot of my time and deprived my loyal readers of exciting conversation :) ? It is significant because Austin was the host city for the World Congress on Information Technology, http://www.wcit2006.org, (WCIT) for 2006 so I think my expectations for modern day Internet access were appropriate. I was discouraged to hear from the Radisson staff that they kept a list of rooms at the front desk detailing which guest rooms did not have properly functioning Internet access.

The WCIT happens every two years and the 2006 version was attended by nearly 4,000 techies, venture capitalists, etc. from around the world. Sometimes it felt like an infomercial as various tech companies CEOs gave keynote speeches but two panel discussions really stood out for me:

1.) Youth -- a panel focused on how today's "Net Generation" uses technology with the speakers ranging in age from 16 to 23. Little did I know email is considered to be very formal and out of date by today's youth.


2.) Health care -- a video dramatization showing a hospital situation without and then with technology tools. It was actually scary to see how out of date ("analog") today's healthcare system is in reality. My immediate thought was - "my grocery store uses bar codes on everything but (most) hospitals don't even use bar codes on patient ID tags thus relying on staff to copy records. Given my poor handwriting quality I would no doubt endanger any patients I was watching were I working in healthcare!!

Austin itself is a lovely city especially its trail system along the Town Lake where I went jogging. Since the WCIT conference dominated my time I can only offer two restaurant reviews:

1.) Louie's 106 -- an Italian restaurant on 6th Street in Austin. I had a very nice beef carpaccio and spinach salad. Overall the food was very good and the ambiance was nice but the service was lacking since management assigned my waiter to a "big party on the second floor" thus as a single diner I was overlooked. I will have to rate them with a "3" on my 5 point scale.

2.) Manuel's Downtown -- This is a Mexican restaurant on Congress Avenue near the Radisson hotel. I did not really care for the huge open space in the middle of the restaurant and it had too many "after work, loud drunks" at the table next to me but the service staff was excellent and the food was very good especially the "cactus salad" I had as a starter. This is the first time I have eaten cactus so I am now confident I would survive if I am ever stranded in a dessert. I want to give them a "4" rating but the ambiance reduces them to a "3.5".

From Austin I traveled through Atlanta on my way to think tank conference in Ottawa but that is another story since I did not make it due to some challenges at Delta Airlines but that is another posting perhaps if I care to revisit that bad customer service experience.

Happy trails,


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