The trouble with wireless and multi-tasking

Off to a slow start on the final day of the conference. I'm beat, and stayed up too late at a party last night talking with some really fascinating folks. I'm getting a little sad that the conference is ending today (at least for me, there's a day of tutorials tomorrow). Off to Boston this evening to visit family and friends.

At the conference there's wireless in all the conference rooms and public space. While it's wonderful to be able to pop open a laptop and be connected wherever one moves, the internet access in the actual conference rooms is a little distruptive. I've observed a good number of people (including myself) taking advantage of the web, email, and AIM during panels and presentations, which seems slightly rude to the speakers. Though people think they're listening as they code (yes, I saw someone programming), respond to mail, or carry on an IM conversation, they're really not listening as well as they could. Same goes for people who are trying to blog the session live (Wes and I were discussing the difficulty of doing this).

I'm not sure if anything should or could be done about this, of course. I don't think the solution is to remove the wireless access, because it's also really great to be able to pull up more information on something a speaker's referencing. I guess it's just important to be cognizant of the multi-tasking myth and be aware you can't really do two things well at the same time.

Meanwhile, I continue to be embarrassed by my laptop, which insists on hibernating when the battery level goes below 50%. Then when I try to restart, it craps out, emitting a high-pitched beep that turns heads, and serves up a display of strange colored lines. Only by removing the battery can I get it to respond and boot successfully. This, unfortunately, has happened several times in the middle of someone's session. Talk about rude!

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