Friday, 10 July 2015

Seattle Day 3 (Wednesday): Intel, Museum, Space Needle

Yesterday we did quite a lot, although we got a late start. I got up around half eight and had a smoothie, then hung out on the landing for a bit until Mam and I went down for breakfast in Splash at 11, though it was closer to lunch. Mam insisted I not order chips so I got a Caesar salad, fruit and a milkshake. She had something with a side of guacamole, which I only recently discovered. 

I ran out to the concierge to get her to call us a cab to Intel, feeling bad because she'd put so much effort into finding us bus schedules etc., but she sorted it out as always. I have to say, she really is an incredible concierge and has been super helpful and enthusiastic. Go you, Sue Marie. Whether you need tablets or plasters or sun cream or bus routes, she's got you.  

ANYWAY. We had a meeting with Margaret Burgraff, global VP of Intel Software & Systems Group, at 1 on Seattle, so we got a taxi from the hotel a bit past 12. I didn't know I'd be paying the entire $34 bill - if I had I'd have got the bus. So I was quite disgruntled about that. 

Anyway, I had an amazing time at Intel. Margaret's technical assistant showed us around while she was in the meeting (he was actually waiting in the lobby for us early, which was an ego boost). When she came out we hugged and talked to some people about the Greek debt crisis. Anyway, it's pretty late on Thursday and I probably can't do this whole thing justice, so let me be quick. Margaret introduced me to her whole team and we sat down casually in an open room with great views and chatted. 

They're really such interesting people, it was great to meet with them all. Margaret told me I actually came to her attention through my tweet about Brianna Wu, which was news to me. She seemed to admire a lot of qualities that a lot of people don't in me. That was pretty cool. She introduced me to a similar guy who talked to me about his niece who's already in college at 15 (feeling inadequate!). We talked about the future of technology and a whole bunch of interesting things around big data and the Internet of things - besides just the buzzwords. We also got pictures. 

I'm a big fan of the arms-folded pose, as you may have noticed. Margaret also talked to me about professional development and networking, and invited me to a tour of the Intel Leixlip campus with Lauren Boyle. Thanks to everyone at Intel who hosted me, I had a great time. And I learned a ton about Intel and their involvement in industries I had no idea of - there's definitely a problem with people thinking they're just chip manufacturers. 

After that, Margaret called us an Uber (a black car, which is apparently fancy) and we went to the Living  Computer   Museum, where they display working computers from the last few decades. Here are mam and the Uber driver. Thanks to Margaret for ordering it!

The guy was really nice. So yeah, when we got to the computer museum it turned out it was actually closed, but we still managed to get a tour from the lovely though probably harried staff. No really, they were brilliant and very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all the old computers. We saw old storage media like these:

Look at these cool books. 

I think this is a Cray supercomputer. So powerful for its time, but pathetic compared to a smartphone. Cray had a supercomputer monopoly. We learned that Paul Allen owns a lot of amenities in Seattle and is buds with Bill Gates. Not sure which one, but they said one of the computers had so many wires and was too heavy for the lift so they had to actually dig a hole in the side of the building to get it into MIT. 

Thanks for the tour, guys!

Those guys directed us to the train station because Mam wanted to go to the Space Needle, although on the way she found an antiques shop and - of course - detoured there. I waited at the door like the stereotypical bored husband most of the time. 

Here's a picture of me beside Starbucks HQ. 

The dreamy look wasn't intentional. So then we got on the light rail at SoDo, which had one cancellation and one delay, but eventually we found the monorail. This was a totally new form of transport to me. It seems to just cling onto this, well, rail - in the sky. 

So finally we went to the space needle, and discovered it cost $20 per person. So I didn't want to go because that is an exorbitant price. Mam wanted to though, so we did. The tower is indeed tall. 

The railings were so annoying. 

On the way back we asked a few people for directions to a bus, but the most memorable had to be this anti-capitalism protestor. Also, we saw a guy smoking a joint. Apparently legal here. Got the us back and eventually a town car, and ordered room service since everything was closed. 

We are such tourists. 

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