We asked: Do you have any other comments related to conference logistics? We're especially interested in things that future conference organizers should definitely repeat or definitely avoid.
From a local standpoint, logistics were pretty good. I might have more suggestions if I had been traveling.
Brilliant, pretty much all around. Great email and wiki/web info in advance. The opening ice breaker was great and the loose structuring of evening social events (neighborhood with list of restaurants/bars) was terrific, too -- helps mix it up, bring new comers in and softens cliques. I wasn't crazy about the BOF's competing with the Lighting Talks, but realize scheduling is tight. The quality of the brochure/schedule -- stellar, and makes a difference! Eben Moglen's keynote ... beyond inspiring, and reminded us all why we there. I liked that it came when it did, too. Appreciated the Foundation Membership meeting. But one small thing: not all nonprofits are NGO's! Cultural and arts orgs deserve Plone, too. :)
- Rows of chairs up front (instead of everybody sitting at tables) seems successful. - Overall timing of talks (length of talks, length of breaks) seemed about right - Having the longest session right after lunch is tough - Ideally, BOFs shouldn't conflict w/ lightening talks
To be fair, it sounds like many of the Internet connectivity issues weren't your fault ;-) The use of the wiki and mailing list was really good and should definitely be repeated - a little bit hampered by the occsionally poor connectivity though. Registration process needs to accept purchase orders and the like - this is an issue for government departments and maybe some NGOs I guess. Videoing sessions for later viewing is also a great idea, especially when there are scheduling conflicts.
It was hard to find dates and times of conference events far enough in advance to make accurate travel arrangements. Less people on panels or more time for panels is the only way to make useful information result More non-developer ways to contribute to the community would be great
Need to confirm pre-conference training emails go out - we didn't get any at all :( Signage for initial day would be helpful - when we did get there for the training sessions it was not easily apparent which room for what course.
share your action plan with next conf. organizers, everything was great. The only thing i would suggest is a progressive staggering of start times for the day starting slightly later each day (9 wed, 9:30 thurs, 10:00 friday) but maybe that is just me.
For tutorial sessions, it may be better to ask for pre-registration so that the sessions are not over-crowded, especially for the sessions which would require some hands on practice.
The internet access really needs to be reliable. It not only affects the presenters who are depending on 'net access for their talks/tutorials, it's also hard for those of us taking a week off from work who need to be able to check email. more evening social events to see the city would have been good. the informal dinners were fine but might have been good to arrange some other activities.
Somehow I missed what the sprints were about. I'd never heard the term used before and thought someone told me they were for hard core techie types. I then learned there was a 'sprint' on documentation, and I was so mad at myself for missing out. During the conference, everyone's input and reciprocity was so wonderful, I can only imagine what a whole day getting to know people doing the same kind of writing for Plone must have been. ...oops! just realized this for logistics --maybe you can transfer it to the appropriate entry form.
All in all: excellent! One small point: Send out receipts to everybody automatically, many people need them.
The Internet access needed to be improved.
The pub crawl on friday was probably the least organized event. No one knew where to go (much easier to crawl in New Orleans ;) The food was ok but could have used some labels on the food. I didn't know what some of the stuff was. And there was OJ in tha big water jug? i couldn't have known :)
Improvements on confrence wifi, so that speakers could place their slides online to act as notepad for attendees
It only took me a couple days to figure it out, but the Best Western Executive Inn had a shuttle to get me to/from the sprint and other events I would have otherwise taken a cab or bus to. I recommend noting this for others in the future, as their hotel might offer the same. Although, next time, I'd definitely prefer to stay closer to the conference center (Mediteranean or Queen Ann.)
Need water. No bottled water was offered during breaks other than in the water cooler. Need more spring water/bottled water and less carbonated soda pop/filtered water. But even filtered water is preferred over soda. No social events were planned other than dinner BOF's and impromptu gatherings. More social events need to be planned ahead. Rent a bar or hire a dj and empty out one of the conf rooms.
Would like more food & drink options which are not sweet and/or starchy. I think the Seattle catering was excellent, but the morning options were still on the junk-food breakfast side. Generally, having said that, this is possibly the best I've seen at any conference so far! The sodas were all sugar based. Better to also have some sparkling waters...
The printed schedule was very nice. Strongly recommend that presenters have materials posted to the conference site before their presentations begin. Forcefully recommend that tutorial presenters have practice-along files posted to the conference site before their presentations begin.
Lightning talks are a perrenial favorite. BOFs at the same time was tricky.... Scheduling is tough, but at PyCon nothing else happens during lightings.
Maillist communication should be definitely repeated. Wiki helped a lot, however it would be great to have it Frozen and archived in some moment. It would be good to have Video of all sessions, not only one or two as I was attending the conference but couldn't be phisically present on sessions I wanted to be at (and usually it was at least 2 of them, and on Friday I had to make 3 replications of myself to be at 4 sessions simultaneously :). As I hadn't any prior arrangements with folks, the open unofficial meetings (lunch/dinner) should start more officially, like announcing them more centrally and designating the exact gather points for different interest groups.
I've helped to arrange a number of similar events, and thought you did a much better job of it that we usually do. Well done!! The spotty and unpredictable internet access was the only downside, and I don't blame you for that.
Set up food prior to time when attendees are ready to eat. The long lines to get food seemed to disrupt several sessions that were happening in the main hall.
should continue to be organized : - preconference training sessions - after conference sprints add an evening conference diner (or buffet). The important point is not the food quality but to be in a place were informal meetings can continue.
have food outside speakers room
Keep choosing locations with the same variety of food, retail and accommodations in close proximity to the meeting location.
I had a great time. I appreciated the variety in talks. I tried a long session, and then decided to vork for variety and stick to the shorter sessions.
The conference communications for 2006 were very good. emails, wiki and website.
Visual accessibility of the video projection system. Set a standard for letter size on the screen. For example 1em=2cm. I left one presentation because I could not read the screen.
The "neighbourhood advice" per day was a good idea, it sort of took care of the lack of large dinner/drinking venues that could be designated "THE" place to go to that night.
The promise of videotapes was reassuring. Also, getting the conference presentations as soon as possible is always a good thing.
need to make sure wifi can handle everyone.
I like that the nearby hotels and food options were already looked up for us. It saved me a ton of time and made it easier to plan my budget.
I think I was not informed about the presence of the morning and afternoon food & drink
if there were social events I missed the announcements. I was going to suggest having an end of day cash bar happy hour type thing where we could all just chat for a while.
One day can be devoted to unconference style of conducting sessions. Please do not overlap Lightning talks and BOFs. It is difficult to choose between one and the other. Both informal and formal BOFs should be announced on some kind of grid. Some kind of "connections" as is done in many conferences will be good. This way you know who is coming to the conference before and arrange to meet instead of discovering them by accident at the sessions.
It might be nice to flesh out the conference packet with hardcopies of a few critical items from the conference web pages that would be immediately useful throughout the day to those without a laptop at hand. A small pad of paper and pen would top the package off nicely.
I'd suggest having a bulletin board posted near the main meeting area for people to post messages. (yes, I realize this is very 20th century, but still effective)
stable wireless for 350+ people is really really hard to get right.
The network caused considerable pain, including being out of contact with work (network so slow that email would timeout) and dropping out in the middle of an OS upgrade causing my laptop to become unusable. As with every conference, afterwards I'm looking for poeple I talked to but there is no roster of participants and their affiliations as any professional conference should have. Make the snacks simpler so they can be self-catered and thereby show up on time. Portable finger foods like packaged granola bars, sodas, and bottled water are sufficient.
Separate the snack buffet lines so that drinks, e.g. coffee and tea are accessible without waiting in the long food line.
Session titles / descriptions. A couple of the sessions I attended did not match my interpritation of the session title. Better / more descriptive session descriptions would enable everyone to get more "bang for the buck".
Repeat everything. Seriously. Great job. Flawless.
Love the suggested hotels and how many blocks away they were. This helped alot on the decission making for where to stay. Also would like to see this being held in a place that has food options with in the building. I noticed that when everyone went to lunch many of us just walked in many different directions. If there was a place to eat right at the conference it would give us all more opertunity to connect and converse.
It was great as it was.
Location was good, not too expensive to get to from europe.
The morning food was late to be set up and caterers were somewhat rude.
The venue itself, though adequate, lacked the style or panache that I've experienced at similarly sized conferences. The Northwest Rooms at the Seattle Center overall seemed somewhat dingy. The neighborhood, however, was outstanding. There were delightful speciality shops, easily walkable destinations, and off-the-hizzy dining. I'm absolutely enamored of the Queen Anne neighborhood.
The food queues often got quite long, meaning missing food or the start of the talk. Either bring the food in earlier (maybe setup in a different room) or have two buffet tables.
The food was most excellent; But don't have it in a conference room with sessions. It was very distracting. Put the food in a neutral place.
if the food could be in a room by itself it would help to grab a cup of coffee without interrupting a session. would like to have water more readily available. the emphasis on meeting fellow ploners right from the beginning set a nice tone for easy interactions.
Would be nice to have one shared social event. Nothing fancy like a dinner, but a location where you can have a drink and char. Maybe some, not too loud, music.
The internet access problems are obvious, but luckily were resolved quickly. I would recommmend having signups for all panels so that it is easier to gauge if a larger space is needed. Also, larger screens -- if at all possible -- would be nice. I attended Trey's skinning class and was unable to see what he was doing on screen, but the running dialogue enabled me to follow along.
Just make sure to have enough IP's available :)
Make the shirts pre-shrunk. This reduces uncertainty as to whether it will fit after washing. While I understand that going out drinking and bar-hopping is a favorite activity for many of the community members, it seemed as though that kind of social activity was being privileged over other options. An organized dinner (along the lines of what many of the BOFs did informally, but larger) would have been very welcome.
definately you guys should organize a conference again. you guys rock!
My only real complaint is that on several days I had problems locating drinks during the conference. It would have been nice if there were even a vending machine.
The morning & afternoon snacks were an excellent idea and should continue to be included.
get a new isp;-)
The use of the Wiki during the conference was brilliant, and the use of the mailing list kept everyone in touch. This should now be the standard. One issue in the conf rooms was the level of lighting wasn't great, either too bright or too dark. But this is venue dependent obviously.
I liked the locale - the whole feel of the area around the Seattle Center, the ability to walk from my accommodations, and the comfortable feel of the venue.
The 5-minute breaks between shorter sessions were problematic as it is not enough time to move between rooms. Next time, I would hand out T-shirt at initial registration to alleviate the need to go back twice. Also would put the break food in a central location instead at the back of one of the rooms. Nit picky logistical stuff, though. All in all it went great!
I think the net access was spotty, but it did not degrade at all from the conference as a whole. i.e., I would go to this conference under less optimal networking conditions as well.
A more coherent registration process should be come up with - especially in cases where attendees need to have someone else pay for them. (My department administrator had to keep forwarding important emails to me because we had used her Paypal account to pay, and the registration desk didn't have my name, they had hers.) The pre-conference training class would have gotten an 'Excellent' rating from me if I'd a) known where I needed to be on Monday morning and when I needed to be there, and b) been able to be prepared with the right versions of Zope/Plone on my laptop beforehand. (I think I heard the mailing list was broken?)
Setup a room with just chairs and tables, where people can hang out and go get food, use their computers etc.
* Clearly label food choices rather than have one menu at the opposite end of the table.
* Bigger and brighter projectors. This is one thing they got right at the 2nd Vienna conference, they had huge canvases that were lit from the back (!), so you could easily walk in front of the picture and explain things. * Video-tape (and perhaps even video-stream) *every* talk. No need for fancy post-production (unless someone from the community wants to do it), but let's at least preserve those fantastic talks! * Never trust anyone except yourself with the WiFi. Everyone's just been bitten by that too often. People simply don't get it that 300 people will be using their WiFi AT THE SAME TIME (e.g. a C-Class network for a 360 people conference???) If necessary, get a dedicated broadband line just for the conference and set up your own routers.
Even more power plugs. Less chairs that don't have tables. More "talk to your neighbour" games (if you have an excellent facilitator like Jon). Get bus and local maps (e.g. from the public library) and make them available at the registration desk, or at least point us there.
Lightning talks and BOFs _should_not_ happen at the same time. More organized social events are good; otherwise, it just becomes core-developers and other 'in-the-know' people meeting at bars, and everyone else on their own.
The food lines took too long. Moving the table out from the wall on the last day definitely improved the situation. I recommend having more, smaller tables that can process people more quickly.
I thought the lousy wifi wasn't the worst thing in the world - probably led to more personal interaction between participants, since we couldn't be buried in our email at every pause in the action.
Internet connection was of course a problem
more juice less soda. needed a little longer between talks, more than 5 minutes.