The Common Scold

The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!

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As the legal technology community gathers at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas for the opening day of the International Legal Technology Association's annual meeting, you might assume everyone would be absolutely abuzz about virtualization,
e-discovery tools, and SharePoint.

Nope. The number one topic of Monday conversations was room lighting. Or, should we say, the lack thereof. As Joni Mitchell says, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone."

The guest rooms at the Aria are proof positive that sometimes, you can have too much technology. Where do I start? Well, how about opening the door to your room (when you finally get your room, but that's a whole 'nother story) to be startled by the sound of curtains moving. No worries, it's just the sensors opening the blackout curtains (no doubt closed to save energy by keeping the 103-degree Vegas sun out of your room when you aren't in it). Score 1 point for Al Gore.

But then, you try to turn on the lights. Emphasis on "try." Logic and Pavlovian-dog experience dictate that when a light has a switch, you simple toggle the switch to turn on the light. Those rules don't apply in Vegas.

Turning on the lights at the Aria is like solving a Rubik's cube. There are eight different light panels --plus a device that looks like a counterfeit iPad on the nightstand of the bed. Theoretically, you control the lights from the fake-iPad "touch screen" or the television (IF you can get the television to turn on.)

For example, I could not figure out how to turn on the little desk light. I had to call the front desk twice -- and finally an "engineer" left me a note explaining that the "desk lamp is controlled by the touch panel between both beds. Both touch panel and switch on lamp must be on for it to work." O.K.

The good news: There are so many input/output jacks on the aforementioned desk, you could probably launch a rocket from your room: HDMI, VGA, S-video, video/audio in/out, iPod/iPhone and USB charger plugs, audio in (looks like it's for a mpg player), 2 power plugs, and a reset button.  And for a very reasonable $22 you can buy a tech kit with an ethernet cable, an iPod cable, and a PDA charger with 5 tips (but caveat, the box doesn't bother to tell you which PDAs are served by the 5 tips, you just have to guess by looking at the box).

But if you plan to actually sit at the desk and work, well, that's a problem. The chair is about high enough for a 5 year old. It's pretty, but functional -- not. (Fortunately, housekeeping brought me a grown-up chair).

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention. The Aria's internet service was down until 4 p.m. Monday and has been iffy all day Tuesday. Great!

Light There's even technology in the huge "mini-bar." It automatically charges you when you pull an item, so no sneaking out to the convenience store to substitute a $1 can for the Diet Coke that will cost you $4.50.

At least you could never starve in this room. There are four different Aria-branded nut choices ($10-$12); an Aria-branded Martini Shaker Kit (sans the vodka) ($35); numerous Aria-branded chocolates, including Aria chocolate poker chips ($20); and even a bag of Aria-branded "signature hand crafted" potato chips (no price listed). The mini bar includes even more branded sugar options and a "romance kit" (which for some reason they did not brand)($20).

But there is no coffee. I cannot remember the last time I stayed in a hotel where I could not make myself a cup of coffee. So at 5 a.m. this morning, I reached into the aforementioned mini-bar for a non-Aria-branded Diet Coke -- but I guess the faux-iPad had not permissioned the refrigerator to turn on. Oh well. Must be another hint they want me out of the room so the motion detector can close the curtains again.

Anybody got a flashlight?

P.S. A fellow disgruntled coffee addict said she called to complain, and was told that the reason for no coffee maker was that it was a fire hazard. I'm not kidding. Fire hazard. So why do they have an iron in the room? Oh please!


August 24, 2010 in Conventions, Meetings, Live Programs, Technology, Travel | Permalink


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Monica, thanks for the tip on the extra light thingee.

Last night I had to use my blackberry light to find the instructions to look for the red button...

Posted by: Mary Mack | Aug 25, 2010 12:10:02 PM

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