Those who have listened to the podcast will have already heard my thoughts, but those who choose not to listen or who would like to read a report rather than hear it may find this useful.
I attempted to leave Dallas for Houston a little after 3PM on Thursday, but before I got more than three miles from the apartment I remembered something and had to turn around and take care of it, which added at least a few minutes to the trip. It took two hours to finally get away from the Houston area (including The Woodlands) and I don’t think those 10 minutes were the entire problem, but they certainly contributed. By the time I got out of Houston I was beginning to fret because I was not sure if registration would still be open by the time I got there nearly six hours later.
They also had quite a lot working against them because as a rule I am biased against hotel conventions, finding them somewhat dull most of the time and not something I like to submit myself to. But I was quite happy with my decision to go.
Rather than give you a daily play-by-play of events, I would rather mention a few things and say what I did and did not like about them (consider this my late contribution to the similarly-themed panel at the end of the con, which I couldn’t make since I had to leave at lunch Sunday).
Registration: As alluded to, this went quite smoothly. Since I got in late there was not much of a line, so that sped things up even more. It also helped that I had the paperwork already printed and signed. What surprised me was being able to choose the badge design, which I had never encountered before and momentarily confused me.
The Hotel: My understanding is this is the first year in this particular hotel. I had no complaints about it, or anything particularly great to say about it either. I’ve been in a lot of hotels thanks to business and so they all start running together after a while. As long as the basic needs are met, I’m fine.
The Convention Space: I liked the layout. Although the convention had a lot of attendees (upwards of 1800), it didn’t seem crowded and it was not hard to navigate. Most of the main events were on a floor easy to get to.
The Elevators: Perhaps I just instinctively know the best time to go to the elevators because I never had any trouble. There was never a wait of more than about five minutes. Granted, the last day was nightmarish since everyone was trying to leave. I waited probably thirty minutes or more then.
Food: Possibly my one gripe. There were many options but they were not all easy to get to and required crossing a busy street.
Panels: I didn’t go to many this year.
Communication: This is where things were lacking. They did communicate what was needed eventually, but there was a little bit of confusion as to just what was where and when. Perhaps gag the hyena during the convention so he can’t say things?
This con had the distinction of being one where I actually knew several people attending and was making tentative plans to meet up with a few of them (not all were a success). It makes quite a difference when you know people, and it is always the determining factor in whether or not I will even try to attend. Did I enjoy this year? Without a doubt. Will I go next year? I’m not sure. I will consider it, and there was nothing that made me not want to return (unlike FWA which I have no desire to go to again no matter how much you pay me, or AC which has grown too busy and crowded for my liking).
As long as getting the time off is not a problem and I can find someone to room with, odds are good I will be back.