[openbeos] Re: way to go on waltercon ... linuxworld

  • From: "DarkWyrm" <darkwyrm@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 16:19:37 -0400 EDT

I just got home from out-of-town in the last couple hours and it took 
some time before I could sit down to my e-mail. My apologies in coming 
late to the discussion.

The short version about what happened with this year's WalterCon is 
this: This was the Bermuda Triangle of WalterCons. We _all_ got 
shafted.

Here's the long version of what happened:

(BTW, if you want transparency from Haiku, here it is. :)

Michael was worried that if he organized WC this year, it wouldn't 
happen at all. He had major time constraints because of Real Life and 
asked me to organize it. After the experience he had with Vegas and 
Orlando, he expected that getting a hotel would be easy. We talked on 
the phone quite a bit and I agreed to do what I could, which turned out 
to be a lot more than I initially thought I could pull off.

The San Franciso Chamber of Commerce IMO is just another club that you 
pay to get into. Like Michael said, they'd give me 3 contacts and 
that's it. What a crock. The day after I talked to Michael about it 
all, I started calling hotels. I put in literally hours and hours doing 
research and making phone calls to find a hotel that would fit 40 
people over the course of the next week. If it wasn't one thing about a 
hotel, it was another. In fact, I probably could have more easily found 
one if I didn't care about costs. The easiest hotels to book probably 
would have been the ones that were $150+ per night.

There was _one_ non-outrageous hotel that was not booked for the 
weekend of 8/4 that fit our needs, and it *barely* would work. The guy 
in sales was a real piece of work, so we ended up going with the 
Conference Center and the Four Points Sheraton on the weekend of 8/11. 
Because of having to have a different weekend than the original, I 
suddenly couldn't go because of scheduling problems. Needless to say, I 
was *not* pleased.

The guy at the Conference Center was hard to get a hold of, but once I 
was able to talk with him, it was great working with him -- one of the 
few bright spots in the whole deal for me. I had the contract to 
Michael (who was the only one who could sign for that one) weeks ago. 
OTOH, the Sheraton _still_ has not gotten the contract, even after 
repeated phone calls. Ironically, I had about 3 messages on my 
answering machine from them about how _they_ need the contract back 
from _me_. I won't even comment on that one.

Then there was the website. Waldemar and Koki set it up. Making all the 
changes for this year's also took hours, but not nearly on par as with 
finding a hotel. Koki had installed a registration module that worked 
beautifully with our old Site5 host, but for whatever reason, it didn't 
work at all with our new host. I asked Koki for help and he and I put 
our heads together and came up with nothing for why it wasn't working. 
I even looked at the PHP database code and it looked right, but, then 
again, I'm no PHP wizard, either. Koki contacted the module author and 
the answer we got was something to the tune of "That's a beta version. 
Upgrade to the newest one," which, given the lack of time to poke, 
prod, and do all the other tweaks involved in a major upgrade (which 
AFAICT was required for the latest version) boils down to "I don't feel 
like helping you. Go away." Gee, thanks. :( 

Then I sat down and came up with sessions that just about anyone could 
walk away with something from, from users to developers to 
businesspeople, etc. and posted it, too. From there, I tried to find 
some people to present, so that it wasn't just Michael all day long. 
Axel couldn't because of a scheduling conflict. I volunteered to speak 
on Haiku advocacy because I think right now, that's what we need as a 
project. I didn't hear from anyone else on the project. Later on, Isaac 
volunteered to speak, which I was happy about.

Since registration opened, I have received e-mail from 3 people: Bryan, 
Isaac, and Gabe. Michael, when you mentioned sending me an e-mail, I 
couldn't believe my eyes. I never got it. I did some looking around 
and, lo and behold, Google's spam filter thought it was a piece of 
spam. *sigh* Google bit both of us in the rear on that one. Everyone 
who e-mailed that account got a reply, but you couldn't have known 
that.

After registration opened, I expected that I'd at least hear from 
people saying something like "hey, I'm not sure, but I might be going" 
or "Yep, count me in." I could hear the crickets chirping over the e-
mail. Maybe I was wrong to expect that. I don't know. As time went on, 
I eventually heard from Bryan and then Isaac and... that's it. I was 
working with Urias on something for my presentation and he mentioned 
that he might be going, but IIRC that's all that he mentioned and his 
post in this thread mentions something like that. I did go through my 
GMail account and your one e-mail was the only one I saw in the Spam 
folder.

Michael and I decided to drag our heels on the contracts until after 
the registration period officially ended. The guy from the Conference 
Center e-mailed me Friday and told me that the contract / payment were 
due 7/13 but we had until 7/25 before they'd consider it canceled. I e-
mailed Michael about this Saturday (I think) and we decided that unless 
we had at least 15 people for the conference by then that we would have 
to cancel. We, as a group, made the decision Monday night based on the 
number that had come in and the great unlikelihood that we'd suddenly 
get 12 more people in 2 days.

Haiku as a project had 2 options:

1) Canceling the conference before the cutoff. 3 people get left 
holding the bag (1 is too many, if you asked me) and Haiku looks bad.
2) Do the conference regardless of the number of people. If not enough 
people register, then the difference from hotel rooms and the 
conference room come out of Haiku's pocket (Haiku gets shafted), and 
both Haiku and WalterCon look bad from lack of attendance and seemingly 
poor management of people's donations to Haiku.

In either case, someone loses, and I HATE that. Since Monday's meeting, 
I have been going over in my head what I could have done differently 
and I honestly can't come up with anything. This isn't my first 
WalterCon that I had a hand in organizing, either. I helped put 
together 2004, and it was quite successful.

I can't put into words how I feel right now. I had a sinking feeling 
that the announcement would cause hardship. Like I said at the 
beginning of this e-mail, this was the Bermuda Triangle of WalterCons. 
We _all_ got shafted and I feel awful about it. If something could go 
wrong, it did, and often multiple times.

I wouldn't blame you if you were mad at me, Michael, and/or Haiku about 
all this. While I have a clear conscience as to having done my absolute 
best to make WC a success this year, if I have a blind spot and I've 
done something to bring about its downfall, I am dearly sorry and would 
ask you to forgive me.

If it's any consolation to you, I've already started work for next year 
so this doesn't happen again. Ever.  I wish it hadn't happened in the 
first place.

As a music teacher, planning and organization are major components of 
what I do when I get ready for Christmas programs. I haven't had a bad 
one in almost 10 years. I want to make 2008 different. The first couple 
generated a big buzz in the community. Last year's was the first that I 
didn't get to go to and I felt like everyone that didn't/couldn't go 
didn't hear anything about any of what went on, including me.

If any of you guys on this list would like to help me work on it, I 
would welcome it -- e-mail me off-list. Coding skills are not necessary 
and you don't have to live in the U.S., either.

DarkWyrm


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