Monday, November 27, 2006

Did you miss me?

I'm back after a hectic week in Dubai at the GITEX trade show. GITEX is the 3rd-largest IT trade show in the world, and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. On the Novell booth we were mostly promoting SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10: a low-cost Linux alternative to Windows Vista from Microsoft. I gave three demonstrations of SLED in the Dubai Internet City Community Zone, and over the week we generated a lot of interest in our new desktop operating system and gave away hundreds of evaluation DVDs.

The GITEX show floor. The Novell booth is on the left-hand side

My Linux Desktop demonstration

The team hard at work

On Tuesday evening we went to the Burj Al Arab -- probably the most famous and photographed hotel in the world and, so it is claimed, the world's only seven star hotel. The opulent lobby and shopping area has to be seen to be believed, as is the view standing looking up from the lobby to the roof. This was only a flying visit so we just had time to take some photos and then go up to the Sky Bar on the 27th floor for a drink before leaving for dinner -- somewhere else. We also managed to dodge the Microsoft Windows Vista launch event that was taking place at during our visit, but were unable to avoid seeing the Windows logo splashed all over the front of the hotel's "sail" -- how vulgar.

The Burj Al Arab, defaced by Microsoft

Luxurious and opulent, or tacky? You decide.

The nicest lift I've ever been in.

Drinking in the Sky Bar. Matchbooks, pens, napkins... if it wasn't bolted down we nicked it as a souvenir.

The show finished on Wednesday, and that evening Karen and the children flew out to meet me for the weekend, which we spent doing our favourite things: eating, drinking, shopping, and watching a movie. We saw the new Bond film, "Casino Royale" at the Grand Megaplex in Ibn Battuta Mall: an enchanting shopping mall divided into several areas each themed on a Middle-Eastern or Asian country. There is an Egyptian Court, Persian Court, China Court, India Court etc. As shopping malls go it is very pretty, although not a patch on the immense Mall of the Emirates in terms of sheer scale and choice.

I enjoyed Casino Royale. For those who haven't heard about it, it's a back-to-basics telling of the first Bond novel, in which James attains his "00" status. It is a darker, more serious film than the Bonds you're used to, with very few gadgets and one-liners in evidence. It's also the most violent by a long way. Daniel Craig gives a convincing, confident performance that bodes well for the next in the series.

Another discovery I made in Dubai (while shopping) is the Crocs range of footwear. These plastic beach shoes look decidedly dodgy (unless you're taken in by the "Chic Italian styling" hype), but I bought a pair anyway because they are without doubt the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.

Even if I don't wear them out and about (which I'm afraid I have done a couple of times) they make perfect house shoes / slippers. You know you're getting old when comfort matters more than looks!