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Monday, February 23, 2009

3rd/4th Day in San Francisco - MAAWG Conference

Thursday morning hit the fitness center, showered and dressed, then went to breakfast and let Gretchen know I'd be back to go over my presentation and our panel that afternoon. I went to "play tourist" for the morning and walked down to Union Square for a free shuttle on a double-decker bus I'd gotten with my airline ticket when I booked it through Expedia. I won't mention the company, but the tour guide, Phillip, was an ass. He was British and bad-mouthed the other tour bus companies and was not only really boring in his "narration," but was kinda condescending. I didn't leave him a tip.

Got off at Pier 39/Fisherman's Wharf and visited the aquarium first. I will be posting some cool photos and videos I took there later. It was a small aquarium, but interesting. Next was the Hard Rock Cafe - I have an "all access" pass and found out I had $40 to spend on it, so I got Chris a t-shirt and a little nightie set for me and only had to pay $7 out of my own pocket for it all - yippee!

Walked through the pier and past Fisherman's Wharf, window shopping and just enjoying the gorgeous weather. A guy all in silver pretended to be a statue, then reached out to people walking by, scaring the daylights out of them. I have photos of him I'll post later, too.

Walked down to Hyde Street, where the cable care turnaround is. And when they say turnaround, they mean it - when a cable car pulls in, it heads to a giant turntable, then several men physically turn it so that the cable car faces the other direction. It was something else to watch that.

Rode the cable car back to the hotel and headed right for lunch. Sat at a table filled with Germans who were very funny and entertaining, then went to the club room to print out my boarding passes for the next day. Gretchen caught up with me there and I let her use my laptop to print out her boarding passes as well, then showed her my PowerPoint presentation. She gave it a thumbs up.

Since our panel was now down to just the two of us (Dennis' wife was seriously ill and he couldn't come to the conference at all and Neil got sick from someone who had come to the conference ill), so we just decided to wing it.

I went to my room to shower, change and then head back downstairs to set up for my presentation.

Since the attendees were mainly reps from ISPs, ESPs (e-mail service providers), web sites that are consumer-oriented such as Facebook, Myspace, American Greetings, etc, I focused on how I got into cyber crime, a little about WHOA, then a case I've been working on where the primary ISP has been less than cooperative. I closed with my "wish list" of what I'd like to see from ISPs, etc. That opened the discussion for our panel.

I was pleasantly surprised at the reaction to my presentation and the extremely well thought out and good questions. . .and comments. I got some good ideas, a web site to check out and promises of helping WHOA in the future with any sticky cases we may get.

I was more than happy! I also got a few good laughs, a couple from Gretchen on our panel, and overall had a good time.

I don't know why I always get all worked up before giving a presentation. I have it in my head everyone will hate me and the presentation, then it all goes well and I breathe a sigh of relief. I guess it's just good ol' fashioned stage fright.

After it all, Jerry, the "big boss" of the conference, kicked us off the stage and I had a group of people follow me out of the room to ask me more questions, give me their business cards, give me compliments and basically made me feel fantastic! Later, Jerry said I looked like the queen bee with all the people around me, ha ha.

Seriously, any ISP or web site that has customers on it needs to become a member of MAAWG. Their intro reads:

The Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group is a global organization focusing on preserving electronic messaging from online exploits and abuse with the goal of enhancing user trust and confidence, while ensuring the deliverability of legitimate messages. With a broad base of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and network operators representing almost one billion mailboxes, key technology providers and senders, MAAWG works to address messaging abuse by focusing on technology, industry collaboration and public policy initiatives.

I don't know what their membership rate is, but they have different levels and I'm sure they're affordable. They're an organization that deserves a lot of credit for everything they do and I was proud to be part of their conference. (no, I'm not getting any kickbacks, ha ha)

Gretchen and I decided to opt for a quiet night out and went up to The Top of the Mark at the hotel. It's a wonderful restaurant with 360 degree views of San Francisco - you could even see the Golden Gate bridge! We ordered a meat/pate appetizer and some drinks, relaxed and just talked - you know, girl stuff. Gretchen reminds me of an old friend I knew growing up, so it was an enjoyable evening.

The next morning, hit the fitness center, packed and waited for the shuttle. Guess who the driver was? Yep, the guy who laughed when I was on the phone with Chris about the cable TV. He asked how my husband was, LOL.

My flight to Newark was delayed a couple of hours due to winds in Newark. I checked and my connecting flight was delayed, so I would be all set to get home that night. I was called to the gate agent and it turned out a mom with two kids wanted to know if I'd swap seats so that she could be with her kids. Sure, I said.

Now I wish I hadn't. Her son, although cute, kicked my seat almost the entire 5 1/2 hour flight. Thank goodness I had a neck pillow and my iPod to sleep what little I could. Then two women with head scarves sitting next to me began text messaging on their cell phones. If I hadn't been on the window, extremely tired and annoyed with the boy behind me, I would have politely said something. But I was so cranked up, I knew I'd lose my temper and you all would have read about the out of control redhead on the Continental flight that had to be restrained. Seriously.

The boy kind of redeemed himself as we were landing in Newark when he sang, "I weft my haart in San Fwancisco." Cute.

The flight home was delayed longer. It was only an hour flight, but once we landed in Manchester, NH, the walkway that connects to the plane wouldn't move. A half hour later, they decided to bring the rollaway stairs to the plane - duh! I have photos I'll post later. Got off and hit the restroom, then went to baggage claim because our gate-checked stuff didn't come off because of the walkway being stuck. Another half an hour goes by. It's almost 1 in the morning now and TSA is locking up and leaving. No one from Continental is around. One woman began running towards the ticket counters screaming, "Is there anyone here who can help us?"

I called the Continental 1-800 number and the guy was ready to dial the airport when the baggage claim lit up and our bags started coming out.

I finally got to my car, turned it on to warm up and called Chris. It was 1:15 am.

I got home at 2:15 am and Phoebe laid her ears back and wiggled when she saw me. When Bandit realized I was home, he wiggled too and I scratched their heads. Chris was asleep on the couch, so I woke him up to go to bed. I was wide awake, so I sat in bed and watched TV until I finally fell asleep around 330 am.

Chris had to take his son, M, home at 930 am, so when I ran to the bathroom at 730, I said hello and goodbye to M and crashed.

I loved San Francisco, but I hated the long flight and was so glad to be home.

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