Some random observations of my first few days in Oz:
First, how is it Qantas can serve a free hot meal and free beverages on a 55 minute trip from Melbourne to Sydney when most US airlines I fly on can barely provide a cold, stale sandwich on a cross country flight? It’s also cool, by the way, that the people meeting you off the flight can do so at the gate instead of being relegated to baggage claim. Overall, flying has been much more pleasant here, kiss of death I know for tonight’s flight back to Melbourne.
Surprisingly, what hasn’t been great is the Internet. The connection at my workshops thus far has been spotty or nearly non-existent, and buying it in airports or hotels is insanely expensive. From everything I’ve heard from folks here and others answering questions on Twitter, access is very uneven and, in general, pricey. In fact, many state right out that they are worse off than some third world countries in the connection respect.
As always, the Aussies that I’ve met have been exceedingly generous, helpful, and complimentary. Just like our trip here last year, I’ve felt very welcomed. It’s definitely a place that I would highly recommend making a journey to, despite the fact that our currencies have almost reached parity making things a bit more expensive here than in the past. (Obviously, that’s the case for us Yanks no matter where we go these days.)
While the new government has allocated some significant funds to getting all high school students on a computer in short order, the amazing thing from what I hear is those computers are going to be desktops. Just as in the states, there is not a lot of vision at the top in terms of where to spend technology dollars and what the future might look like.
My “Small World” moment came when my phone suddenly rang and it was Tess calling from back home. Nothing special these days, I know, but a first for me. I just can’t get my brain around how many wireless signals we must be floating in if her phone call found me here in Sydney. Amazing.
And one last: when I was in Brisbane the other day, I was walking down the street when I saw a long line slinking around the corner, dozens of people queued up to get, believe it or not, Krispy Kreme donuts. I kid you not. People were walking out of the store with boxed dozens of the things, and apparently, it is the latest American sensation to hit the continent. Let’s hope it’s not followed by those other sensations that we’re getting more and more famous for: obesity and diabetes.
Finally, one very cool moment: when in my keynote I was discussing the fact that my kids had been taught to use Scratch by Neil Winton’s son Andrew from Scotland during one of our “extended classroom” sessions, it turned out that Neil and Andrew were watching live from Scotland. I only wish I would have known when it happened; what a great model-able moment that would have been.
I’ll try to carve out a few more observations this weekend before my final presentation in Melbourne on Monday. Then back to the states on Tuesday.