I’m down at IBM Almaden (IBM’s Silicon Valley R&D facility) for the NPUC (New Paradigms for Using Computers ) 2004 (2004) conference. I’ve long heard good things about the conference, and finally managed to get it together and register.

I drove down this morning, and had an experience that should no longer surprise me: the realization that, for reasons I haven’t been able to divine, the city of San Jose is roughly the size of Kentucky.

It took forever to get down here, and had I not had the windows rolled up and my iPod playing (I have one of those little FM broadcast things, I don’t just put on the headphones while driving), I’m sure I would have heard the opening bars of “Dueling Banjos” from houses by the highway.

I think you can get to within five miles of LA, and technically you’re still in the city limits. Weird.

On the other hand, IBM Almaden itself is a really cool place, one of those true “we’re inventing the future here, people” places. It’s somewhat like Xerox PARC, except with a somewhat lower profile. There’s one other PARC-like feature, at least of this conference: a stunning number of them seem to be ex-Apple people. I see Bruce Horn, Ted Kaehler, Harvey Lehtmann (who seems to know everyone), and a bunch of other Apple alums.

I’ll be writing about the conference itself on Future Now.