Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I got nothing, or, con app design

Usually by now the blog juices are flowing, but I'm not feeling the love tonight. Yet.

A couple good things happened today. I was about to load some stuff into Maximo, and discovered a bug in the software. I wasn't even testing. So that put that load off for a while, I only hope it doesn't go stale.

I had a completely nice run tonight, 5K, a hair over 34 minutes. The last 3 K were each exactly on 6:39. I've never run so consistently in my life. I haven't been out since weekend before last and was wondering how it would feel after all that time off. I think I needed the rest.

The Duffy trial is still sordid, but I'm hoping they can trace the trail of slime back to the lair of the controller in chief. I simply cannot believe that Harper didn't know all the details right from the start. The head of steam for a rant is building. Stay tuned.

I've been mulling over the When Words Collide weekend. Eleven streams of programming! There was something for everyone. Even the bit of a walk between the buildings wasn't a bad thing. It gave you a bit of fresh air. I'd looked for the +15 between the two buildings, but missed the stairway, and hate waiting for elevators. If there was a map to get there I didn't know of it.

Mostly my programming choices were pretty easy, but there were a few I had to think about. Some of the rooms, for some of the programing didn't have microphones. Mostly that was ok, as the people doing most of the panels are used to speaking up and projecting. I left one panel because the presenter was practically whispering, and what little I could hear wasn't making sense when compared to the mouse waving on the screen. So for me, one poor presentation, several that were excellent, out of about 20, all the rest were at least pretty good. That's a darn good batting average.

The registration process was a bit slow, considering that the only thing that needs to happen is to exchange a name for a badge, a program book, a map and program summary on one page, and sign a list. I think of race package pickups that go smooth as grass through a goose, and wonder if some of the same principles could apply. Rather than put the name cards in a card file box, put them and all the program stuff in an envelop, put a label on the envelop, and store the envelops in a box in alpha order. Person comes, gives their name and maybe a confirmation number. Volunteer hands them an envelop. Next! Or allow the attendees to print off their own card and provide a place to pick up the additional materials.

Here's an idea for a smart phone app. Come talk to me if you want some more formal business requirements. Not that I expect the con staff to develop it, but I wish it existed so that conventions could license the app, and download their information into it. The end result is that attendees get an app on their phone that lists all the programming information. As they select each panel, the information is added to their calendar. Everything is all linked together so that you can relate a room to all the panels and presenters, if you should want to not move much. Or click on a particular presenter to follow them around, you stalker you. See more information about the panelists, with links to their organizations. Search tags for topics of interest because of course, the various panels would be tagged.

Several times I found myself looking at a panel name on the schedule, then had to find it in the program book to get more info to decide if I wanted to attend. Then read the info about the panelists. Not particularly convenient. The app includes a map of the convention space. It would list the sellers in the dealer room, and tell you which table they're at. You could easily access hotel amenities. Report a problem to the con or hotel staff. Additional information such as slides or reference material from panelists could be loaded into the app before or after. Maybe include a place for the participant to make their own notes. If you gave it permission, the app should tell you which of your contacts are at the con, to make it easier to plan a meet up. Maybe even deal with registration stuff too.

Don't get the idea that I'm complaining! Not at all. I think the organizers and volunteers did a great job! From my perspective, things ran on time, and all the panelists I expected were there in the right place at the right time. The printed materials were good. I heard lots of people talking about good presentations, so it's not like I got lucky. I love that you can sign up for professional sessions with editors; you could probably put on as much of that as you can find editors willing to do it. There were panels for learning to write better, learning how to sell and market your book, to discuss topics of interest to writers, to buy books. What's not to like? I'm still willing to do a panel on Scrivener, since lots of people seem to be intimidated by it.

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