Sunday, August 08, 2010

Using my Apple iPhone on Microsoft's Campus

My first computer was an Apple IIGS, but that's the last Apple computer that I've owned. Since then, it's been mostly HP or Compaq computers running the Windows operating system. I currently have Windows XP at home, and develop software using Microsoft tools at work.

My company sent me to a conference on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington, so I could learn how to utilize those tools to their full potential. And yet, to just find where we needed to drive, I had to use probably the most helpful computing tool that I own:

My Apple iPhone.

Shuttle buses ran every fifteen minutes between my hotel (the Marriott) to the convention center on Microsoft's campus. Unfortunately, it turned out that none of the bus drivers had ever been to the Microsoft convention center before. On two different occasions our bus driver turned to us for help, at which point several left-brained computer nerds started shouting out instructions read verbatim from their iPhones and Droids. When our bus driver radioed another bus driver for help, it turned out that the other bus driver had been randomly driving around for twenty minutes trying to find the convention center himself. One of the bus drivers even had a GPS device, which totally failed him.

Then there was a shuttle that caught fire on a highway. Luckily I wasn't on that shuttle, although it would have probably made for a great blog post. When that happened, all of the shuttle buses were temporarily shut down, probably because they couldn't get through all the traffic created by the flaming corpse of the burnt out shuttle bus.

When all of that was going on, one of the people at the Marriott who was in charge of herding folks onto the shuttles actually offered to give conference attendees a ride to Microsoft in his personal vehicle. I have to say, that's customer service! The guy made three trips before my buddy Brannon and I decided to just drive there ourselves. The mapping feature of our iPhones definitely helped get us to where we needed to go - which, incidentally, happened to not be the same path that the buses were taking, but ended up being about ten minutes faster.

Our Apple iPhones weren't only useful for actually finding the Microsoft campus - they were also useful on the Microsoft campus. Even though I was at a conference, I was still on call at work and was expected to respond to any urgent requests. I checked my iPhone regularly before and after (and, okay, sometimes during) the sessions. I also used my phone's camera to capture pictures of the presenters.

My hotel was called the Marriott Town Center, because it was right next to the "Town Center" shopping mall in Redmond. And in Redmond's main shopping center, guess what store was there?

You guessed it, the Apple Store.

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