Final Countdown to Google I/O as it Starts Today!

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Google I/O 2011 About to Begin!

Here it is!

While I didn't pick up any juicy rumors from being here in person (we were all getting them off the same Twitter feeds the folks at home were using), I did get a few pictures to share as Google I/O 2011 gets ready to open this morning.

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Even an entity as cool as Google manages to have a couple of organization hiccups that I noticed.  I got to deal with some delightful bureacracy when I checked in.  The helpful event person showed me my "Gear ticket," which I was to take to the press lounge and turn in for my official T-shirt.  However, they had a security guard at the escalator making sure nobody went up the escalator who wasn't supposed to be there, and press weren't to climb to the second floor today.  It took a few minutes for them to work out that they could, and I realize this is a rather complex solution, send one of their people upstairs to retrieve the shirt for me. The whole time they were keeping me waiting for the shirt, I had a lovely view of… this large T-shirt and other Gear dispensing center.

Turns out there was a reason I could not have those shirts.  Here is the shirt the developers get.

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And here is the shirt that the Press gets (yes, I finally got my shirt).  As I noted when tweeting all this earlier today, I like the developer shirt a lot better.  Black is more my color.

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Here is what else they were giving out at that Gear Pickup Center: these adorable Android Plushies.  They weren't for sale, they were a goodie for I/ONs, people who had attended all four Google I/O conferences.  The I/ONs were given the Special Treatment from the moment they arrived:

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They get their own dedicated registration area with the fancy carpet!

Well, I am all registered and I have gotten my (not black) T-shirt and admired the plushie Android and chatted up some speakers and found out that they are rehearsing the Keynote upstairs where the press is welcome tomorrow but not now.  So I now try to see how well these QR codes on our badges work, is exchanging contact info as simple as scanning each others' badges?

Well, yes, as long as it isn't my badge.  Turns out mine isn't working, and for a while we thought it was my newfound colleagues' old phones.  No, it wasn't their phones as I found when I tried scanning my own badge.

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Eventually we figure it out, but it involves going back to Press checkin and their calling yet another troubleshooter.  That pretty little colored line atop my badge also ran right through my QR code, rendering it unreadable.  And rendering another press member's badge unreadable too, as they must be using the same batch of misaligned badges for us media types.  (I deliberately cut the QR code off, as much as I enjoy hearing from readers, I would prefer you all didn't have my cell phone number.)

Another interesting thing in the badge packet is an NFC sticker.  Fortunately Press Dude has a Nexus S and can read the NFC tag in the sticker, except it points to http://nfc.android.com/googleio/, which gave an Error 404.  It's working now, though, at 1 am.  That means expect some discussion of Near Fear Communication technology at Google I/O.

After admiring a few more early arrivers register on the CR-48s the Event Staff is using for checkin, I head back to my hotel to see if my room is ready, and follow the rumors on twitter.  There's a notice of where some parties would be held, and I manage to snag a conditional invitation to one if I can show up in 15 minutes to register, so off I go (managing to forget, let's see, extra phone battery, business cards, and hotel room keys).

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This event is hosted by Silicon Valley Android Meetup and is held at Adobe.  So we get to see some of the tools used with developing using Adobe AIR and Adobe Flex, which the demos make look fairly spiffy, but a good demo can do that.  Lee Brimelow from Adobe gives a good overview, then we hear from Sony Ericsson, PayPal, InMobi, Papaya Mobile, and Motorola Mobility.  Alas, the Motorola demo is a complete failure to launch, right in time for my phone to run out of power, and that on the new extended battery, yet.  Here's a few shots of the speakers.

At least I found it amusing that the InMobi rep was preaching to the Google I/O choir why Android was so much better a platform for developers than the one that runs on some phone named after fruit.

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Good swag was rumored to be in the offering, but my late inclusion at the event didn't merit a raffle ticket.  There was a Motorola Atrix and two Sony Ericsson Xperia Plays offered up, as well as some Adobe software and a number of O'Reilly books.  Least favorite book, based on what was left over, was Developing Android with Adobe AIR. Bear in mind who was hosting this shindig, which featured beer front and center next to the nibbles, and soft drinks hidden in an alcove well away from the flow, almost as if making them available was an embarrassment.

Then there was an event hosted by Samsung, featuring their Galaxy Tab 10.1. The Samsung reps say they reconfigured it to make it lighter and thinner, but when I asked for some specs they were mysteriously not available.  Here's a piece we did with specs from when it was announced, and it would be interesting to see if they really have changed the form factor since then.  I will say it was quite comfortable to hold, and here's a few pictures of it as well, including one that managed to become temporarily unusable.  To be fair, merely power-cycling the tablet fixed the problem, but none of us chickens knew where the power button was and it did sit looking like that for quite a while.

Google I/O 2011 begins today, and we're expecting plenty of Android news.  For example, Google Music seems to be turning into Music Beta by Google, holding 20,000 songs for free.  Sounds pretty sweet, except first to participate will be Motorola Xoom owners.  We'll be keeping you up to date with the news as we hear it.

Be sure to follow us on twitter as well, @Androidheadline, for breaking news.