Tuesday, July 29, 2008

VMware ESXi Now Free

Breaking News: VMware ESXi Hypervisor is now available for free.

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 28, 2008 – VMware, Inc., (NYSE: VMW), the global leader in virtualization solutions from the desktop to the datacenter, today announced its stand-alone ESXi hypervisor will be available at no cost to help companies of all sizes experience the benefits of virtualization. Since 2001, VMware has provided the industry’s most popular and reliable hypervisor, which is now used by more than 120,000 customers. In December 2007, VMware announced significant improvements with ESXi – its third-generation stand-alone hypervisor. With the industry’s smallest footprint and OS-independence, ESXi sets a new bar for security and reliability. ESXi 3.5 update 2, available today, meets the criteria for mass distribution: (1) ease of use and (2) maturity and stability now having been ‘battle tested’ for six months with customers. The leading server manufacturers have all embedded VMware ESXi, including Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP, IBM, and NEC. ESXi can be downloaded now from www.vmware.com/products/esxi/

Raghu Raghuram, vice president of products and solutions for VMware, said "There are no strings attached. You can just get ESXi and use it, and we don't require you to say you have to move up to Windows 2008 or introduce a new operating system in your data center to get to virtualization. Hypervisors, at the end of the day, are just enabling technologies … but customers want full solutions and they want the benefits of what they can build on top of the hypervisor. The customers who want to do those things buy our Virtual Infrastructure, which helps them build on top of the hypervisor."

So, basically, VMware ESXi is very similar to the Hyper-V Hypervisor that Microsoft now sells, however it doesn't require you to buy a license for Windows Server 2008 to be able to install it - VMware ESXi runs on bare metal whereas Hyper-V runs on Windows Server 2008 Core (or a full OS install). VMware ESXi is a lightweight, fully functional Hypervisor with a 32 MB footprint.

Also Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager (US$499, no Australian pricing available I can find, but with the "let's shaft our clients with pricing" attitude Microsoft Australia has, likely to be over AU$1200) should be able to manage the Virtual Machines running under a VMware ESXi Hypervisor - so if you have VMware ESXi and Hyper-V throughout your organization, the one tool can be used to manage all of your virtual environments.


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, July 28, 2008

Upcoming Australian Partner Conference

Well, I'm looking forward to the Australian Partner Conference in Port Douglas next week. I really hope that this will be (and can't see how it cannot be) better than the WPC '08 recently held in Houston.

Whilst my time at the WPC '08 was beneficial because of the people I met, and aside from a very few sessions that were actually interesting, the conference as a whole wasn't what I'd expected - there was no real information we discovered about Microsoft's future plans, nothing at all about what they are doing to change the way Vista is portrayed and perceived (let alone about its real issues out there that we are all seeing on a daily basis), and only a little bit about their "Software + Services" plans - again catching up on what the market's been looking at for some time now.

Software + Services - right now in Australia, after the massive outage that Optus had a fortnight back and now the massive issues caused by their admin team's utter incompetence wrt patching for the actively exploited DNS Cache Poisoning vulnerabilities, I can see that a lot of people will be really wondering if this is a smart move - allowing you to be completely separated from your data by either a backhoe or a DNS vulnerability, or whatever is coming next week. Not to mention the attrocious Internet speeds a lot of Australians (and those from other countries such as South Africa, England, Ireland and so on) have to endure.

Anyway, I'm thinking positively about the APC next week and am looking forward to it. I'll be at the Virtualization Pre-Day as well as the WESS Pre-Day and the main Conference. And I'll report back on the sessions as well as the overall feeling about Microsoft's plans, if we actually get to hear any of them. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

One Has To Wonder

Please tell me that you'd not be the kind of IT company to request a client of yours has a new email account configured whilst ccing the email and therefore sending the requested password to 2 additional companies. I'd like to think - and am working hard to ensure - that we're above the oft-applied "used car salesman" label that IT consultants get stuck with.

There's only so much that good training and a good SBSC program can manage, however. We all have to think for ourselves in the end. I trust that you - and I - can think things like this through before putting our clients' data and security at risk like this.


The Outspoken Wookie

The Queen and Erick

After I left Orlando I flew to LAX and spent the next few nights on the Queen Mary. This was a great change from your regular hotel - staying on a luxury cruise ship that happened to once be a troop carrier (as the gun on her deck shows) with a Russian "Scorpion" Foxtrot-Class submarine also floating alongside her.

I also went on a Hollywood tour and a Star Homes tour which were both quite interesting. I didn't really plan on the Star Homes tour (as I really don't care), but as I was in the area, "do as Romans do" felt right. Because the two tour directors were completely bonkers, I really enjoyed them both - a good way to spend the day.

I also caught up with Erick Simpson of Managed Services Provider University in Garden Grove. Erick is another really nice guy who has a really good understanding of the SMB IT market space and also has a good understanding of the benefits being an MSP can provide for your company and also for your clients. He has a good working relationship with and knowledge of a lot of the products on offer and I suggest that if you're even vaguely interested in providing a better service to your clients whilst making your life at work a little easier you take a look at his offerings - especially if you're already an SBSC as he has a special bonus for SBSCs. MSPU has a lot of online free training material also, for those who are wanting to look first before outlaying their own hard earned cash.

I then waited for 3.5 hours after the 11:20pm flight was supposed to leave LAX before we started backing away from the concourse and making our way back to Brisbane - there was a delay in the NY - LA flight which kept us all sitting in the smallest international terminal part of a decent airport that you'd want to be in. I'd have thought LAX was bigger/better than that, but in the end, we all boarded, flew and landed, so all up, not that bad, considering. At least we didn't get one of the "cheap maintenance" Qantas planes. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

KSC And A Weekend With Scott

OK. So after the WPC '08 in Houston, I flew to Orlando to do two important things. The first was to visit Kennedy Space Center and the second was to catch up with Scott Cayouette. Scott lives in Miami, has been to Orlando a number of times, is interested in the space program, but had never been to KSC. So I decided that I should combine both of these reasons for going to Orlando and invite Scott to KSC for the weekend.

Well first, I don't know if I should post the photos of us there - we're kind of depressed about the size we're currently showing as on camera - we're both quite sure we're not actually that big. Well, at least those photos encouraged us to do something about that aspect of our lives! :)

Now, we went on the Then and Now tour on the Saturday where you get to go around and see a lot of the older launch sites, visit the space and missile museum and generally get a better feel for the history behing the Cape Canaveral site. Sunday was when we went on the NASA Up Close tour on which we got to see a lot more Shuttle related areas and got pretty close to the launch pads and the landing strip. Both days, both tours, to be honest, to a space nerd, were great. :)

After being on the Level 9 tour of JSC in Houston and now having been around KSC in Orlando, I can be almost happy with things. I really want to be at KSC to experience a Shuttle launch - preferably inside the vehicle, but that's pretty unlikely (despite the fact that a lot of people would be made very happy if this was to occur). Maybe Oct 8th for the STS-125 launch... We'll see.

Anyway, as Scott is on the SBS advisory board for Microsoft and has a good understanding of not only the SMB marketplace in Miami and Florida, but as a whole, it was good to catch up with him in person, chat about issues we're both encountering and talk about things that we'd like to see from both the SBSCs and also Microsoft in the SMB market space. We have a lot in common and I think we both benefitted from not only the visit to KSC (Scott now has himself an annual pass and isn't afraid to use it) but also from being able to talk about the SBSC program and SMB IT in general.

Scott's a nice guy and this was a good weekend. Time well spent, I'd say.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, July 19, 2008

WPC '08 Summary

Whilst there were a number of decent sessions at WPC '08, I don't think that WPC '08 in and of itself was a great success. Some of the Keynote addresses were good, one in particular was a spectacular flop. The networking in the corridors, WPC Connect and other areas (like the bars and clubs after the day's events) were by far the best thing about the event. It was an expensive networking session with a few event sessions thrown in.

Now, I must say that obviously I didn't attend *all* of the sessions as there were quite a number scheduled in each timeslot. I did have a bit of a look through the schedule before I arrived to see what looked interesting, and then had a more serious look on the night before it all started (6th July, the night before the Pre Day). Some of the sessions I originally thought about attending changed during the course of the Conference, as is often the case when attending these sort of events.

A number of community members presented sessions in the Small and Medium Business track, which was great. I attended a few of these sessions, but again due to scheduling conflicts was not able to attend more.

Now, as to the keynotes. Tuesday July 08 - Allison Watson and Stephen Elop started to lather on the KoolAid in a quite reasonable way. Allison presented every day (being the Corporate Vice President for the Worldwide Partner Group) and she was quite enthusiastic and a good presenter. Stephen Elop presented a general overview of the vision Microsoft has for the future. Although his presentation was quite interesting, I saw nothing new in this that wasn't already out there in the public arena.

Brad Brookes, the Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Marketing, got up in front of about 12,000 people, opened with a bad joke that went nowhere, made what was an obviously false statement about what his daughter apparently said to him before he left, then continued downhill from there. This had to be the worst keynote presentation I've ever attended, from any vendor, at any conference. He had an opportunity to show the thousands of Partners attending WPC '08 that Microsoft was finally (and rather belatedly) getting behind Vista and its Partners, but failed to do so. Utterly failed to do so. In a spectacular way. He then went from the Toyota Center and presented his "Business Opportunities with Windows" presentation (which I didn't attend) which was, from the reports I've heard, another flop and waste of potential. I don't know if this guy was put up as the sacrificial lamb, but I hope he tastes good with roast potatoes and a sprig of Rosemary!

If this is the best marketing that Microsoft has right now, well... I just don't know what to say!

Andrew Lees presented on Windows Mobile. The only issue is that until Microsoft takes Windows Mobile seriously and starts allowing it to integrate with the rest of their product suite properly, it will be almost a good product. I agree that it will add value to your clients, however it won't add the value it could add until Microsoft starts taking it seriously themselves.

Wednesday July 09

Steve Ballmer was a lot less "enthusiastic" than he has been in the past. His keynote was OK. It wasn't all that impressive. I was hoping that the guy in person would be better than this. I was hoping that he'd show me something to help change my mind - but he didn't. I still don't feel he's the right person to be leading Microsoft and I also feel that right now, with Microsoft as utterly directionless as it is, he needs to be asked to step down. I've said enough about this keynote in various other blog entries earlier this month, so I'll stop here before I get carried away. :) I did enjoy his presentation, though.

Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President of the Enterprise and Partner Group, presented about collaboration and communication and was rather enterprise focussed, so therefore, as good as his presentation was, it wasn't really all that relevant to we SBSCers.

Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President for Infrastructure Server Marketing, spoke about some of the new Server releases - nothing new here. However, his presentation was rather good (and compared to Brad's spectacular flop the previous day, it *needed* to be good), he spoke a bit about SBS 2008 and EBS 2008, Hyper-V and SQL 2008 and gave a rather nice demo of SCE VMM (System Center Essentials Virtual Machine Manager) which can manage both VMWare and Hyper-V environments - proof that Microsoft, even though rather late to the table (again) is taking virtualization seriously. We'll see just how seriously once SBS 2008 is released which SHOULD allow Core + Hyper-V and then SBS installed on that, using the one license. We'll see...

Thursday July 10

Kevin Turner, the Chief Operating Officer, continued to ramble on about how we should all be supporting Vista, how Vista is our future and so on. I did like Kevin's presentation, however this old "Vista is the shiznit" stuff is falling on the deaf ears of those of us who have to support it for our clients. On one hand Kevin is telling us that Vista is the most secure OS ever released, the most bestest OS we have today for business users, that 10,000 laptops get stolen and/or lost every day (I think he said every day) and that BitLocker will help protect your corporate data. On the other hand, there's the fact that Microsoft didn't include BitLocker in Vista Business (ie, a Business-focussed version of Vista) but included it in Vista Ultimate (ie, a home user focussed version of Vista) - now this simply does not make sense.

I'd rather run Vista Business on a client's network if I can actually run Vista, because it is a LOT more stable than Vista Ultimate. The "Media Center" features, even when not used, just aren't that stable - being included and installed seems to be enough to make a VU system a lot less stable than a VB system. And in choosing to run the more stable version of Vista - the one focussed at business users - Microsoft tells us in one breath that security is now important and tells us in the next that it isn't important to Vista Business users.


I emailed Kevin during his Keynote and raised this point. I'm yet to receive a reply. This shows me how concerned Microsoft really is about business users' security. :(

Dr Muhammad Yunus finished up with a very passionate and encouraging presentation. The work that Dr Yunus has done is, in a word, staggering. He's changed the lives of a lot of people in a very positive way and has no doubt gained himself enough Karma Credits that he could use an iPhone, Mac Airbook (or whatever it is called), Safari browser and have shares in Google and the Microsoft Karma Police couldn't touch him. :) I tip my hat to this man and what he's done with his life.

So - a summary of the summary. Was the trip worth it? Yes. For the Conference itself? No. For the people I met? Definitely. Would I go again? Well, for the networking and catching up with people to finish discussions we started, I'd definitely go again. However if Microsoft can't come up with better content, better people to try and promote the Windows ME of this Milennium, and something worth taking home from the Conference itself, I'm sure I could find myself more likely to attend Jeff Middleton's Swingin' New Orleans Conference than the New Orleans WPC '09.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SBSC PAL Pre Pre Day - Summary

Whilst there's a lot of the information that we discussed that I'm not at liberty to discuss outside, there is a lot of agreement between the SBSC PALs on a lot of topics.

It seems that Australia is not the only region with an apathetic SBSC community. After I posted, reposted and even blogged my call for input from the Australian SBSCs and received a whole 13 emails from around 500 SBSCs, I figured I was fighting an uphill battle moreso with our apathetic community than against Microsoft. It is a real shame to have a community so apathetic that I am trying to support and move forward to develop a better SBSC program with, however it is good to know that I am not the only one with such an SBSC community.

We also all agreed that even though Groove was nice in theory, it was close to unusable in practice due to its "Windows 3.1" look and feel. This is a product that will be good in a few revisions, or maybe once the MS Office team gets a chance to look at it.

We all agreed that Microsoft Licensing is a mess and needs to be cleaned up a lot so that it is understandable by the SBSCs and other MS Partners worldwide.

We all expressed our disappointment at Microsoft total departure from the security/gateway/firewall area in the SMB world. Not that I personally agreed (ever) that ISA on SBS was a good idea *unless* you had proper gateway firewall in front of it, but Microsoft's total vacating this area is somewhat of a concern.

There was discussion about Microsoft's lack of support for products such as Response Point and Office Accounting in non-US markets. We'll see what happens.

Aside from that, it was good to meet the other 2008-09 PALs and just talk about issues and see that we have so many similarities in our own thoughts about the SBSC program and with our own regions in general. There's definitely differences in all of our approaches, ideas and regions as well, which is great. Knowing that these PALs are here to support each other as well as to support the SBSC program is a very encouraging thing.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Steve Ballmer shows he has no idea III

Although not said in so many words, Steve Ballmer also implied that he was still interested in pursuing the Yahoo buyout. I mean, WTF?!?!?!

That was a bad idea right from the start. A really bad idea. No matter what the result it was ALWAYS going to be a publicity nightmare. How Steve ballmer couldn't see this - or, probably, more to the point, why he decided to go ahead with this clusterfuck of an idea after he was advised against doing it because of the bad publicity it would generate as well as the feelings of mistrust amongst the community it would generate is something the MS Board of Directors should really seriously look at.

As for Yahoo, I still strongly believe that they made the wrong decision - they made a religious decision (Microsoft is the devil) instead of a business decision (we're being paid a good price for our shares) - and they will likely regret it for quite some time to come, financially.

Microsoft should never, ever have considered buying them, however, from the publicity and community mistrust points of view.

But the utterly mindnumbingly stupid thing that Ballmer said yesterday in the Keynote about still looking to finish the deal, well, that's astounding. For a man who is supposed to have a clue, he keeps proving, time and again, that he really shouldn't be in the chair he's in. He may be the number two shareholder in Microsoft, but he needs to be asked to step aside and let someone with some clue about how to run a tech company lead the company on a forward direction into the future instead of his current "leading without steering in any direction" form of leadership.


The Outspoken Wookie

SQL 2008 in August Price Lists

It was also announced in this morning's '08 WPC keynote that SQL Server 2008 will be available in the August 2008 Price Lists. Of course, this doesn't mean it will physically available, just that pricing will be available next month.


The Outspoken Wookie

Steve Ballmer shows he has no idea II

"I'm talking about Small Businesses - most small businesses have 5 or less computers". That's not a direct quote as I didn't write that down as I was busy picking my jaw up off the floor, however that's pretty much what he said.

This was in response to a question about the "Call Microsoft for help with your Vista deployment" advert that hit major newspapers yesterday morning that totally failed to mention SBSCs or even Microsoft Partners in general.

Does he really have so little actual knowledge about who uses Microsoft products, apparently no knowledge at all about Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, and so much disrespect for Microsoft's partners who had to try and justify Vista to our clients and weather the brunt of the Vista storm from our clients?

Apparently so. And yet he's still the CEO of Microsoft. It does make me wonder...


The Outspoken Wookie

Steve Ballmer shows he has no idea I

"People love the ads in Search." That is a direct quote from the '08 WPC Keynote he delivered this morning. There were around 12,000 people in the room when he said that and I don't think a single person believed him. I sure didn't and nor did any of the attendees that I have spoken to. I can also guarantee that any of our clients and other colleagues I speak to will agree with that statement either.

Why is a person so focussed on something all of Microsoft's clients hate running the company?


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Partner Sales Resources

Have you, too, found that the number of Microsoft sales tools is outnumbered only by the number of sites you need to go to to access these tools?

Well, the only site you need to go to from now on is Microsoft Partner Sales Resources.


The Outspoken Wookie

EBS 2008

Announced in WPC today was the release of EBS 2008 RC1 - this is getting closer to release and the RC1 has a number of fixes. If you're looking at EBS for some of your clients, then start looking at it now to get to know it before it is released!


The Outspoken Wookie

Vodafone Sux

Vodafone sux. Really sux. Before I went to New Zealand in Nov/Dec last year (2007) I asked for International Roaming to be enabled and was assured it had been turned on. Then I left my phone in the car, so couldn't check this when in NZ, but it was no biggie as I had already sorted out a hire SIM.

Now that I'm in the USA, International Roaming would be handy. So I called to confirm it was enabled the week before I left. They assured me it was enabled and would be working. Excellent. Then I arrived in LAX and got no signal (and yes, it is a quad-band phone so should work fine). I asked Laz to confirm that international roaming was enabled, and when he finally got through to them, they said they were having some temporary partnering issues (I'd guess this means that they wanted to partner for a cheaper price and their partners said no). So I waited a day or two and still had the same issues. So I bought a T-Mobile pre-paid phone for US$30 with $10 credit. That worked fine.

And then I checked on the website whilst I was forwarding my Australian number to my US number and found out that International Roaming was not enabled. So Vodafone lied to both me and also to Laz. Color me impressed! :(

Now, the credit on the T-Mobile pre-paid ran out so I needed to top it up and rang the number to have $25 added and of course they can't accept Australian credit cards like almost every other company on the planet will. So I went back to Fry's to buy a refill card and guess what - Fry's don't sell refill cards for thre T-Mobile pre-paid phones they sell, but the helpful assistant said that there was a Sprint store out in front of Fry's. Of course, he said, they don't sell T-Mobile cards. I wonder why he didn't tell me about *all* of the irrelevant things nearby!

So, I eventually found a store who sold refills and I'm back with phone access. Why should this be so hard?

And yes, I'll be sending Vodafone an Invoice for the phone and the refill, and I'd be happy to send them the handset once they agree to pay for it. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, July 07, 2008

SBSC PAL Pre Pre Day

Well, we had the SBSC PAL Pre Pre Day at the Microsoft '08 WPC today and it looks like some of the stuff that came up in the SBSC RoundTables is exactly what MS is looking at also. So there should be some interesting changes ahead.

I'd like to see more than this done, but this is a good start.

I'll give more information when I can - but right now, just be prepared for some changes.

Also, The Grove is a rather nice restaurant here, right next to the Hilton and the George R. Brown Convention Center - they will be doing well this week! :)

Oh, yeah, before I forget, a few of us met up last night for dinner and a band was playing at the Sambuca Jazz Cafe - they did a number of covers that most bands should never, ever attempt, and they did them quite well. I'll find out who they were and blog their details. Chris Rue and I were both rather impressed with them. :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Houston, we have a Wookie!

Well, I arrived in Houston on 2 July, picked up the rental car and decided that as it was nearly 6pm, the best way to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road (which is the right side of the road, not the left side of the road (which is the right side of the road)) was to just do it. Somewhat like Nike!

So I just did it. And it wasn't anywhere near as freaky as I'd thought. I'd sat on the left side of any bus I'd caught over the past few days in preparation for this and made sure to pass people on sidewalks on the right side. So I think that must have been good prep as the actual driving wasn't really much of a headspin at all.

On Thursday (3rd) I went out for a bit of a drive and then headed into Johnson Space Center for the Level 9 tour. This was great - we got to see Shannon Walker (Andy Thomas' wife) in the floatation tank (ok, the Neutral Buoyancy Lab) getting her feet into the foot restraint that's used on the Canada Arm and various other places when there's the need to restrain an astronaut during an EVA - such as during the operation of any power tools. This was interesting to watch as there's simply no way an astronaut can see their feet during this procedure and they have to go by feel (through an EVA suit) and experience alone, and as this was her first time, it was all new to her.

We also went to Mission Control Center and saw the original Apollo Mission Control Room and walked around in it for a while, watched the Shuttle and ISS Mission Control Room and went into a few other areas of JSC that were not on the normal tours, including the shutrle/ISS testing facility where we saw interns working on the new moon rovers and a full size training mock up of the ISS and Shuttles.

The Level 9 tour was well and truly worth it and I'd recommend anyone as interested in space/NASA as I am does this tour. Next stop, KSC. :)

OK, next stop was actually back in Houston and we're almost ready for the 2008 WPC to get underway. The 2008 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (which is actually in 2008 - something unusual for those living in Microsoft Time) starts for the SBSC PALs this afternoon, and for all other participants - over 10,000 - tomorrow. This should definitely be an interesting experience, especially as I have a genetic resilience to KoolAid and after all, WPC and the .au Partner Conference (and all others) are Microsoft trying to sell Microsoft to their partners. Believe me, I'll be posting on this during the Conference. :)

Dean Calvert and I went into the "Chevy's Freedom Over Texas" event here in Houston on 4th July, then left around 9:00 for dinner with The Sarahs (Thiele and Arnold) which was good. LOADS of people in there, country music (it *IS* Texas) and seriously unhealthy food stands.

A few of the PALs caught up with Chris Rue for dinner last night and a good time was had by all. This should definitely be an interesting week.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Leaving Las Vegas

OK. Now I'm surprised. I was not really interested in Las Vegas before I left, but Laz and Damien (the other Quark Group directors) insisted I visit the place to see how "over the top" it was. So, well, why not. I was, however looking forward to the Grand Canyon plane, bus ride, chopper landing, pontoon and return - that should be cool.

So, Las Vegas. Ummm, in a word? WOW! That place is insane - "over the top" is about as much of an understatement as "when our Sun supernovas, the Earth may be a little different". I barely scratched the protective coating of the cover over the surface in the 3 days I was there.

I really, really have to go back sometime for a bit longer - but probably no longer than 2 weeks, as more than that will likely drive a sane (well, that's questionable) man over the edge.

And the Grand Canyon - what a totally amazing experience that was. The pilot couldn't keep the plane on the ground the first 2 landing attempts due to wind, but managed nicely the third time - after the first 2 touch and go attempts we went around for a second approach and saw some awesome scenery we'd not normally see during a regular landing. The chopper landing was called off due to the temp being 120F at the bottom of the canyon (the air was too thin to safely land or take off with a passenger load), so I went on the Skywalk instead. I wasn't really interested in this before finding out the chopper landing was canned, but I was there and it was there, so why not? Well, it was definitely worth doing - standing over the biggest natural canyon in the world and looking down at the floor is, well, an experience that cannot (obviously) be matched on this planet. If you're going to the Grand Canyon, take the SkyWalk! :)

The Bellagio Fountains really are amazing. Caesar's Palace is massive. Most everything on the strip is impressive in size, architecture, extravagance and many other ways. And with all of the works in progress now, in a year or so it will be all that more impressive to visit. I've seen it on telly and it looks like Vegas. But only Vegas feels like Vegas - and you cannot experience that without being there yourself!


The Outspoken Wookie

Leaving Los Angeles

OK. Now I'm disappointed. VERY disappointed. I went to all the effort of printing out my latest bank statements, printing out accomodation details, filling out (most of) my VISA Waiver Form and mentally preparing to unHiltonize myself until I pass through US Customs, and, well, I passed through security easily, without even a queue. Yes, I took "easy to remove" shoes and didn't bother wearing a belt.

Now comes the really disappointing bit - it took a whole < 5 minutes to get through Customs, and about 4 minutes of that was the queue. Customs was easy - wasn't asked if I had anything to declare (which, in hindsight, was probably good - I wasn't bringing anything illegal into the USA, but probably would have declared some things that the TSA would have taken offence to!), just asked why I was entering, what the business reason was, when I was leaving, how many days that was from now (and I could even see his calculator - he could have worked it out himself), and then was fingerprinted, photographed, stamped and sent on to to wait for my 11:30 flight from LAX to Las Vegas.

Yup - I now had arrived on the inside of America at about 07:45 after getting my baggage, getting through security and Customs and saying "hooroo" to John and Susan, my neighbors and the couple I slept with for the past 13 or so hours. And I had over 3 hours to pass - I decided that with a 7:00 scheduled landing, about 4.5h between landing and departing was a sensible timeframe, which was confirmed by quite a few others I knew who had done a similar thing recently.

So I wander up to LAX NWA departures to check the flight and it is now saying that I have a 12:00pm departure - not so bad in the overall scheme of things.

So, at 1:30pm we finally departed after waiting for 2 delayed flights that we had to interconnect with. *Sigh*.

At least I finally got in the air and on the way to Vegas!


The Outspoken Wookie

Leaving Brisbane

Well, I got to the check in about 9AM for my 11:05 flight from Brisbane to LAX (suggested check in time is 2h before departure) and proceeded to stand in a queue for 2 and a quarter hours. After we passed the baggage check in queue, we then queued to go through customs for another 10 minutes, then queued to go through the first security check for another 10 minutes and then queued to go through a second security check. After this, I was lucky enough to get felt up by a nice Customs bloke (well, they called it a "random pat down") just as the guy in front of me got. That was my excitement for the morning! :)

We finally boarded the QF175 from BNE to LAX and left just on one hour late. They added fuel so they could hit the "go fast" pedal and we landed at LAX about 15 minutes late, then had to queue waiting for a gate to disembark.

'Twas a decent flight - I got a decent hour or so of sleep, sat next to a decent Aussie couple who I may catch up with again at Orlando as they will likely be at KSC when I am, and landed as expected. Hopefully the late departures and queueing is over... oh, hang on, we're entering the USA - the Land of the Long Sweatty, Annoyed Customs Queue. :)


The Outspoken Wookie