Re: Orlando Conference and Exhibits (ramble)

Subject: Re: Orlando Conference and Exhibits (ramble)
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
To: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2000 10:22:22 -0500

Atrocious isn't the word I'd use to describe the hotel; overblown, pretentious,
overpriced, and an affront to good taste, yes, but not atrocious. I'm told it's
"entertainment architecture." Personally I'd rather have less entertainment and
more reasonable prices, especially since my company, which consists of me,
myself, and I, picks up the tab, she concluded in a dry voice. The
halls....well, they reminded me of the worst decorating schemes of the '50s.
And it didn't look good then, either!

Like Kevin, I attended some really great sessions and a few, "why did I bother?"
Ironically, Tuesday morning I had to sprint for a second choice only to find
myself in a session that was WONderful. The second session that morning was also
past overflowing; a friend and I looked about frantically, chose one with a
shrug and "well, let's hope we learn something" attitude and were glad we ended
up there. Both those sessions turned out to be among the best we attended.

Inevitably, one session period would have me wishing I could clone myself and
the next I'd be scanning the offerings wondering which one I would mind the
least, wishing the one I hadn't gone to the previous time was given at this
time. No way to avoid that, I suppose, not with the best planning in the world.

Being a Texas girl, I found the meeting rooms COLD. Fortunately, I'd brought a
sweat shirt, and ended up wearing it most of the time indoors. Outdoors...well,
the humidity is a lit-tle high compared to what I'm used to, but the temperature
itself wasn't bad.

Side note: my daughter is attending a certification program in the San Diego
area. A few weeks ago she laughed about everyone complaining about the heat (the
temperature was in the upper 80s). She had the attitude, "hot?! You think THIS
is hot? Honey, lemme tell ya hot! Try Texas in August!" And, yes, for those of
you who live in more northern climes, Texas in August is beastly!

Personally, I wish the conference planners would concentrate on having great
speakers and productive sessions and worry less about the "neat" location for
the conference. And keep in mind some of us have to pay for this ourselves!

Jo Byrd

KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com wrote:

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

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,

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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