“Preview Night” is about as accurate as “Comic-Con” these days.  They might as well call it a 4½-day convention. Wednesday night was surprisingly crowded (though it’ll get a lot worse by Saturday), and it started from the moment we arrived at the convention center.

It took an hour and a half on the freeway to come within sight of the buildings of Downtown San Diego, and possibly another half hour to make it to our hotel.  Once we checked in, we set about unpacking for our 4-day stay, then headed over to Dussini for dinner.  Afterward, we went straight to the convention.

This is the first year we’ve stayed somewhere close enough to the convention center to walk, and it was very nice not to have to wait for a shuttle or a trolley — either going to the con or coming back to the hotel.  Of course, since you can only cross the tracks at either end of the convention center, that means you need to walk at least half the length.

Our first hint of con culture came on the walk from the hotel to the restaurant.  Someone dressed as a giant donut in a sombrero was walking the streets as part of a promotion for some movie.  [Edit: apparently the movie was Sex Drive.] A little boy of around 5 or so turned to his mother and said, “I don’t like him.”  Kid, you’ve got the right idea.

We arrived at the convention center around 7:45 and discovered two disturbing things:

  • The line to get in and pick up badges went all the way down to the end of the center, then looped around in the sculpture garden.  (At least it moved fast.)
  • People were camping out for Hall H.  Which doesn’t open until tomorrow.

The big usable promo items this year seem to be the giant Wonder Woman bags (following up on the Superman: Doomsday/Smallville bags from last year, which makes me wonder how long it’ll be before we see them converted into aprons, dresses, etc.) and the giant “Big Frakkin Bag” — which is a big purple bag with the words “Big Frakkin Bag” on the side.

Katie noticed that it seems to be all about buying stuff today — being the first to get some item, etc. Partly because everything’s discounted, and partly because there’s essentially nothing else to do until programming starts tomorrow.

I went straight to the Image booth to see what I could find out about the Tori Amos signing — it turns out there was a snafu with getting the books, and the organizer of the event was really annoyed that several boxes had gone missing.  The first however-many people in line, after the one box ran out, got vouchers instead.

I also went over to Colleen Doran’s table, talked with her briefly, and bought a set of Reign of the Zodiac, which she signed for me.  I’d brought Orbiter and A Distant Soil, vol.1, but managed to leave them in the hotel.

I didn’t spot the DC booth until right before closing, but I noticed something interesting: all the staff were wearing Flash symbol T-shirts. (This probably doesn’t mean anything — they’ll probably all be in GL shirts tomorrow, Wonder Woman on Friday, Superman on Saturday, and Batman on Sunday. But I found it interesting.) I also spotted Ethan van Sciver as he drew a sketch for the last person in the line.

Overheard through the window just now: “Don’t get run over, people!” Always good advice!

Edit: In the time it took me to write this, Katie crocheted herself a lanyard for her badge.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I want some sort of mobile internet access for San Diego Comic-Con so that I can post at least some stuff from the convention itself, instead of waiting until I get back to the hotel. Since the con has never offered wi-fi (except, IIRC, in the press room — which I just realized I could have used last year, since I got a press badge for CBR/Comics Should Be Good), I was looking into phone-based solutions.

Phoning it In

I experimented with post-by-email (not sufficient), with post-through-Flickr (slightly better, but only really suitable for image posts and still missing things like, oh, titles), and with using WPhone to provide a stripped-down admin interface in the hopes that my phone’s built-in browser could handle it (no such luck). No, I was clearly going to need a better web browser — one way or another.

Yesterday I went into a T-Mobile store, partly to look at the smartphones they had, and partly to ask about what data plan would allow me to use Opera Mini on my current phone. The guy tried to sell me a Blackberry, but I have to admit the Wing looked really nice, if expensive.

Opera Mini - The free Web browser for nearly any phoneI asked about getting the Internet plan, and while the sales clerk was familiar with Opera Mini (he uses it on his own Blackberry), he was convinced it wouldn’t run on my RAZR V3t. I’d used an early version of it during a brief window in which T-Mobile allowed access even for phones with the T-Zones plan.  But he seemed convinced there would be no point, so I walked out without having changed anything.  30 seconds of Internet searching reveals that yes, Opera Mini is in fact known to work on the RAZR V3t.

Free WiFi

Today, the news started making the rounds that the con will have free wi-fi everywhere except the exhibit hall itself, sponsored by the film, Eagle Eye. (Which, now that I think about it, is oddly appropriate and somewhat disturbing.)   This is a huge relief, and makes the phone access much less critical. Though it would still be nice…

Sure, it’s going to be a very busy network. But I figure I’ll type things up in TextWrangler and load up the web just long enough to post. Gears will cut down on the amount of bandwidth needed for the admin interface.  And I’ll save any serious emailing or forum visits for the hotel room.  Actually, I’ll probably stay off the forums during most of the con, unless I have the opportunity to post “Hey, look what I just found out!”

At lunch today, I saw a woman, probably in her 50s, wearing a fitted black T-shirt that said, in sparkly letters, “BOTOX”. Srsly. I couldn’t find any pictures of the design, but a commenter here says it’s a promo handed out to staff at plastic surgery clinics.

Comic-Con has completely sold out. Hmm, let me rephrase that. There are no more memberships available for this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.

Spam Karma has gone GPL — After years of support Dr. Dave has decided to stop maintaining his spam plugin and turn it over to the open-source community. The project is now on Google Code. Update 2015: And now it’s on GitHub.

I’d been trying to decide whether to pre-order Comic Book Tattoo (the graphic novel anthology based on Tori Amos songs) or pick it up at San Diego Comic-Con next month. Now I know.

Colleen Doran reports that Tori Amos will be signing the book on Saturday. Tickets for the signing — just 200 of them — will be given to people who purchase the book at the con (limited each day, so that they don’t all go on Wednesday).

She’ll also be on a panel on Saturday from 11:30–12:30. Here’s hoping DC doesn’t schedule a “What’s really happening with the Flash” panel at the same time, ’cause if they do, I’m skipping the Flash news. Someone’ll post it online. (Oh, wait…)

I am so looking forward to this…

TigerDirect keeps sending me ads for widescreen LCD monitors. I’d love to pick up a 22″ widescreen (right now I’ve got a 17″ LCD that runs 1280×1024), but my computer is in much more need of a mobo+processor upgrade. Especially since something on the system — and not the video card or the monitor — went bad recently and is preventing it from running at any resolution higher than 1024×768, leaving me stuck with a blurry screen on the monitor I’ve got. So I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of a new monitor anyway.

I’m putting that off mainly because I need to do make the time to research what I’m going to get. I’ve narrowed it down to a dual-core AMD, but then I have to balance which processor, motherboard, and memory to get.

Also, at this point, I may as well go 64-bit, which is going to mean reinstalling Fedora. Though in theory I should be able to run the 32-bit OS to start with, which means I could do the hardware upgrade one weekend, and the OS reinstall the next.

The other tech upgrade I’m desperate to get is a new phone. While my ideal phone doesn’t quite exist yet, I’d really like something with better mobile internet access than my RAZR V3T — particularly with Comic-Con coming up next month. They’re usually good at keeping you informed of scheduling changes (unlike Wizard World), but now that I’ve got SpeedForce.org, I’d like to be able to do at least minimal blogging from the convention floor rather than waiting until I get back to the hotel. Posting by email doesn’t cut it, and even with the WPhone Plugin providing a stripped-down admin interface, half the time the built-in browser tells me it can’t display the page. I may bite the bullet and pay T-Mobile the extra $20/month for a data plan so that I can run Opera Mini.

On the plus side, I’ve at least found a way to post photos directly using Flickr.