Friday, 3 April 2009

On the road with an old computer

Phew. I am one exhausted screencaster.

I only heard on Monday that there was a place for me on ScotlandIS's SaaS event, taking place in Edinburgh that Thursday afternoon (yesterday).

Quick change of plans for the week to include a trip to Edinburgh, including making sure that Matt didn't need our one and only car.

But then I remembered I'd already booked to attend a Skype conference call demo of Pearl Software at 11am on the Thursday morning.

No problem, I thought. I'll take my laptop and Skype phone, find a hotel near Edinburgh with WiFi access and view the demo there. Then I'll go to the event in the afternoon.

So yesterday morning, I dropped Matt off at work and off I went. Gorgeous drive over the hills to Edinburgh in the sun. I love living in the North.

I got to the hotel, bought a WiFi voucher, set up my laptop in the hotel reception - and could I connect to the Web? Could I heck. When I tried to view the available wireless networks, the computer kept telling me, "An unexpected error has occurred." Reboot x 3. Still no luck. And it didn't tell me what the error was or how to fix it. Oh no. Just that there was one.

It was now 10.50 and I was panicking - and shouting at the computer!

At the reception desk was standing one of the hotel's systems team, whose badge read "David".

Hearing my yells, he came over and tried to get my laptop working, with no more luck than I'd had. So he not only lent me his laptop to attend the demo, but also downloaded Skype on it so I could take the conference call. What a kind man. David, if you're reading this, thanks again, and there's a box of chocs on its way to you.

The demo went really well. I was extremely impressed by the look and feel of Pearl. More on that soon.

Quick nip to the hotel bar for lunch (they burnt my toasted sandwich - black mark).

Then over to the SaaS event. I really enjoyed that (even though it was held in a building with no car parking and I ended up parking in worryingly close proximity to a pile of earth). Lots of friendly people, and some great presenters, including Roan from FreeAgent.

What perplexed some of the people I spoke to was that I'd come to the event when I'm not running a SaaS business myself. My reason was - because several of my customers sell SaaS. I wanted to get a more thorough understanding of their market. And it worked.

5.15 - on my way home in a glorious red sunset over the hills - steadily getting tireder. I stopped in Biggar for a delicious meal at The Elphinstone Hotel and a chat with Dennis Howlett on my mobile. Calling a number in Spain gobbled up my credit and we got cut off. The trials of pay-as-you-go mobiles.

By the time I got home (8.45) I was very sleepy. Almost certainly too sleepy to drive safely. But I got back with both me and the car in one piece.

Lessons learnt from yesterday:
  • Invest in either a new laptop or a Palm Treo - sharpish.
  • Do not phone abroad with only £10 credit on the mobile.
  • Going somewhere that would mean driving > 2 hours each way in one day = go by train!

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