Things to do in Denver when you're alive

I’m sitting here in Denver International Airport, en route to Aspen, Colorado. I’m headed to the Aspen Institute’s annual summer telecommunications workshop, which should be quite stimulating. This year it’s focused on spectrum policy, and participants include FCC Chairman Michael Powell and NTIA head Nancy Victory, as well as execs from important telecom and tech companies.

I have a three hour layover, and I thought I’d try to go online. The terminal maps showed “Internet access kiosks” throughout the concourse, which got me excited. Turns out these are hard-wired PCs, which presumably you can rent to get online. Not now, though — all the kiosks had signs saying “Pardon the inconvenience. Not available yet.” There were also “Public Phone 2000i” payphones, the new NCR-branded AT&T phones with a screen and Internet capability. Only they don’t have a data port. As with the kiosks, you can only get online through the local machine. They have an infra-red port, though I’m not sure why. For downloading information to handheld devices? At least the old Public Phone 2000’s had a modem port.

I figured I’d just find a place to use my laptop, Internet or no Internet. Interestingly, it was harder to find a power outlet than to get online. The battery in my Thinkpad is dead. I thought it was just experiencing “memory”, where the battery thinks it has less juice than it actually does, but now I can’t even put the machine in suspend mode when it’s unplugged. Like most airports, DIA has a limited supply of power outlets reachable from specific seats in the boarding gate lounges. It took ten minutes of walking around to find one of these magic seats that was available. Most of them, not surprisingly, were occupied by people with laptops. Memo to airports (and airlines, and conference organizers): Put in more power outlets! Laptops are here to stay.

Once I found an outlet, I was pleasantly surprised to find an available WiFi network. The splash screen says it’s a trial, sponsored by AT&T Wireless and Nokia. Free for now, with no word on whether that will change. Cool. So here I am, blogging away.