RE: Orlando Conference and Exhibits (ramble)

Subject: RE: Orlando Conference and Exhibits (ramble)
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2000 10:20:34 -0400

As I mentioned on another list, I thought the hotels
were expensive for what they offered in the way of
accommodation. You'd get the exact same room (or
perhaps better?) at a Day's Inn or Travelers -- and
a corporate rate well under USD $100. They kept the
rooms clean, but I was annoyed that room-service trays
would linger on the hall floors for 8 or 10 hours
before being cleared... every day.

The "decoration" in the halls WAS absolutely an atrocity.
Sean probably stayed in the public areas and never had
to endure the several-times-daily trek to-and-from the
hotel room. "Hideous" would be a generous understatement.

But unlike Marilynne, I didn't find the architecture to
be all that atrocious. Overblown in the exterior decoration,
to be sure -- well hey, it's Disney after all -- but
constructed and laid out in a way that was quite practical
while being twisty-windy enough to be non-boring. That is,
you could take more than one path to get where you wanted
to go. Where the layout -- specifically the conference
area -- was not intuitively obvious, they supplied wall-
mounted maps. A blatant exception was the "Tubbi's Bruncheteria"
or whatever they called it. Many guests NEVER found it...
Buying a hot meal there was a pointless exercise. By the
time you got through the checkout line, you were carrying
a cold meal. Breakfast at USD $8.00 was a tad steep --
any road-house restaurant or greasy-spoon would sell you
a standard breakfast AND serve it to you (not make you
run the cafeteria gauntlet) for half that, or less.
The "Coral Cafe" made it obvious THEY knew they were
serving a captive market. Serving staff were ok, but the
cook wouldn't even get hired as an apprentice in Montreal
or Ottawa.

If you discovered "Juan and Only's" restaurant, you could
eat well (and I did, thankyewverymuch), in pleasant
surroundings, with excellent service, though for more
than your finance department may wish to re-imburse...
I made the case that my company put me IN that hotel
complex and that going to cheaper (but of a suitable
standard) restaurant would have necessitated them paying
for cabs or rental cars). I'll learn how persuasive
that argument was, when the re-imbursement check appears.

Indoors held SO many fake plants, where live plants could
have thrived, that I literally checked the outdoor grass
and shrubbery to see if they were real. Ah, Disney.

We were warned that the conference areas would be chilly,
but I never had a problem, wearing shorts, sandals and
golf shirts the whole time. But then, I'm from Canada
and I found it a smidgen warm OUTSIDE -- especially that
noon-hour I went jogging around the enclave -- but we'd
only just finished with winter up here, so I'm biased...

Regarding the conference itself, I thought the Exhibit
Hall was lame. Sparse, actually. I remember going to
the first couple of Jack Rickard's ONE BBS-CONs (in
connection with Boardwatch Magazine (about ten years
ago)) and they were HUGE, saturated with vendors and
overflowing larger halls than the STC thingy. The
entire audience was owners and Sysops of BBSs, and I
doubt that they outnumbered technical writers in
North America. So, I was surprised that the STC in
its 47th year of doing conferences, wasn't bigger and
wasn't swamped with eager vendors. The hours, and the
early break-up of the exhibit area were not endearing,
either. The Adobe offering was laughable (on the
principle that you might as well laugh as cry, I guess).

The presentations that I managed to attend were all
over the map. None were truly polished, but many were
done by people who were obviously experienced, confident
and well-versed in both their material and their skills.
Others were... not :-)

Overall, I managed about 8 or 9 good ones and a couple
of duds. I also got locked out of a couple I wanted to
see, but hadn't realized they'd be way, way "oversold"
for the size of room they'd booked. Oh well.

Picture me, sprinting down the halls to get to my
second-choice seminar after the first choice was
packed beyond standing-room.

Back to the quality of presentations: I suggest
that STC provide some coaching for the unsure...
things like... either learn to talk at a decent
volume, or learn to keep your mouth near the mike.
If you are too tall for the mike-mount, or if your
belly keeps you too far from it, please develop
the arm-strength to hold the mike up. Perhaps you
could use your beer-hoisting arm. Ahem!
And, fergawdsake remove "Y'know" from your vocabulary.

The post-conference full-day Information Design
workshop by Saul Carliner was certainly worth my
while. I only wish my company and the travel agent
had not booked me on a flight at 18h25. I had to
skip the last hour-and-a-half. Damn. Then, flight
delays till the next day made the departure time
pointless, anyway. Damn! :-)

The proceedings are something of a goldmine, but
not all the presentations are equally well represented
in print. Overall, a good resource, though.

I think I got my company's money's worth from the
whole affair, and I'll certainly try to get to next
year's event. At least I won't have to miss a
connecting flight at O'Hare. :-)
And maybe the cabby that gets me from the airport
to the hotel won't get lost next time. :-)


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