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Programming Meeting: May 18, 2008


  • Matt Arnold: Con Chair
  • Randy Bradakis: Scheduling wrangler, loaner of computer to note taker (Thank you!)
  • Limey Zrnich: Costuming track, guild liaison
  • Austin Howard: Science track
  • Casey Cavenaugh, w/ Austin, will help out where he can.
  • Sheryl Bradakis: Violence
  • Trevor Jagoda: Technically
  • Sarah Slovik: Green/vegan/natural track
    • James: Helper of Sarah
  • Bill Korsak: Game track
  • Jess Zerwas: Treasurer
  • Mara: Note taker
  • Kyla: Along for the ride; extraordinary volunteered
  • Amy Zrnich: TBD, making brownies for every single meeting
  • Jer Lance: Hotel liaison
  • Gerlyn Eadie: Not specified

Schedule wrangler & interaction with track heads

Randy's job: making everything work together. Administer system for how we will avoid tripping over each other.

2007 & prior methodology review

  • Dabble web editable database, & Google spreadsheet
  • Shouldn't have tried using them both last year; Some people used spreadsheet and not database, and vice versa.
  • Spreadsheet: advantage is that each cell is a time and place and a room, allowing for easier tracking of conflicts
  • Dabble: Have a field for room & time, but two entries can have same room and time, requiring manual check for conflicts.
  • Dabble has reporting advantages
  • Customizable fields
  • Which events have no time?
  • Which events have no room?
  • Amazingly sortable
  • Trevor: Couldn't figure out how to query it to get the “spreadsheet view” of weekend events; times on left side, rooms on top row, etc.
  • Matt: It just doesn't do it. We could try to export it and get a chart like that
  • Aaron Thul had an online web editable database used in year 4. Not as customizable, but it did track conflicts.


Need to know when program participants are heard of and need a way to inform everyone else through the web system. Need documentation & sign off of schedule. Some program participants also volunteer to cook breakfasts or other staff tasks which could conflict with their event. Volunteer handling doesn't to fall to the scheduling wrangler; should be handled by volunteer wrangler. Need these two to talk to each other.


Use database for ideas, but master list is the spreadsheet. Only confirmed items are added to the spreadsheet. Only the scheduling wrangler will have access to spreadsheet. Everyone else will put their stuff into Dabble, Randy will review to see where it fits. Could we use Aaron's software? He's trying to stay as far from programming as possible. Per Jer_, it's still worth talking with him to get a copy, and then tweak it on our own to make it do what we currently need. Aaron has mentioned that this software has turned into a community project now, and he's not certain where it has been taken.

Dabble database pros / cons: Matt could make a Dabble tutorial.

Have entries for events and program participant (PP). Each PP will have a database item about them. Name, a bit about them, why they are doing this. Contact information should not be included, because all information has to be publicly viewable to qualify for the free account. Track heads will track this information instead.

Checking of Dabble pricing ensued, with the conclusion that it is too expensive for the number of users we'd need.

- Use a database or web page, but put [B] before any item that is just a brainstorming item.

- Have a page on with a list format that will be the brainstorm page. Leave everything that is not official there. Randy can move items from there to online system. Randy wants to make certain we go with what is best for everyone else, not merely what is best for him. Jer_ counters that it needs to be best for Randy as well, not just everyone else, lest Randy gets fed up and quits 8 months from now.

- Randy's preference: Have a collaborative communication page for events before they are confirmed. Randy rubber stamps and moves confirmed things to the official database.

- Request that track heads log in to add things to ensure we know who added things. It's important to know who came up with what, so that we can ask what things mean down the road. (And find out why they didn't share what they were smoking when they first wrote whatever they added.)

Benefits: This prevents the database from being cluttered with a mixture of real/not real items.

How does Randy feel about an automatic sync of the database with the page? Could be done with simple SQL pulls.

- Have one comprehensive brainstorm page, or separate by track? Latter is hard, due to crossover. Potentially use tags to be able to track ideas.

Things to remember

  • Some tech track presenters don't believe something is scheduled/real until they have a time. Lit. track people, for instance, are more flexible.
  • Each track head gets a <name_of_track> email address. Serves as login to .info site for making updates. Each will receive an invitation to update programming information in the selected location.
  • When writing event blurbs, think about newcomers, who may not have heard of these things / people / events / jargon before.
  • When writing biographies, focus more on accomplishments, and less on their cats. Need more of a marketing focus, not fan focus, so should be readable by the ¾ of people who have never heard of them.


Switch from dabble to Aaron's db, and send everyone an invite to it. Reasons: It's free, and everyone can have an account! (Matt mentioned that everyone was taken off Dabble to ensure that no changes could be made while the program book was printed.)

Expectations for track heads

Job of track head is to design track, but we want to encourage as much cross over as possible. Schedule wrangler comes in to make sure there are no conflicts with said cross overs. In many cases (eg. Gaming) can take place in one room.

How many projector capable rooms are there? We can potentially put a projector in any room, though. All are interior rooms. (No need to be concerned with glare from windows.) Game room is restaurant, so that would be a “non-projector friendly room”. Rooms off balcony have interior sliding doors, but curtains covering them.

Need to make a push toward better estimating even attendance to ensure appropriate rooms are allocated. This is where Program Ops report will come in handy.

Challenge: So few large rooms, and so many small rooms. We'll probably have a lot of events that will be standing room only. Will need track heads to provide attendance projections, and Randy will have to parcel out rooms.

Try to think of stuff that will be smaller. OK to think less of how many people will be drawn to a specific event. Even if it will be only 5 people, we have space. Focus primarily on what would be fun for a niche rather than what would draw a huge crowd.

Look for balance when coming up with new topic ideas. If it is a really cool idea, but no participant is interested, don't rail road someone into doing it. Try to ask right.

Do we want to put warm bodies into seats? Cancel if no one is really interested. Or, turn it into a solo talk.

Things that seem like can be left until later (e.g. blurb) are not things you will ever do later. Take the time now to put the blurb together. Also better to do it now so that you can remember the brilliant ideas you have. This is also a good way to “sell” a panel to a potential panelist, as well as to ensure that the panelists all have a similar understanding of what they are expected to talk about.

If someone has an idea, but we have no idea where it fits at Penguicon? Think about how it can be related to computers. Think about how it can be related to the future.

Example: Veterinarian wants to talk about pets. Possibilities: Talk about pets in the future. Talk about software for pet owners.

Participation Levels & Compensation Matt reviewed the participation levels, to ensure that all track heads are consistent in what we promise presenters. Also, we want to prevent the scenario where people lie and claim to want to do programming they really have no interest in, just to meet the 3 hours to get a discount.

Guest of Honor (GoH) 5 or 6 per year All expenses paid for them and a companion Free attendance badge for life

Nifty Guest Free admission biography in program book green room access

Program participants (GMs, Tech presenters, panelists, even organizers, everyone confirmed in advance) Nada, unless applying for creative commons discount

Request papers or equivalent, creative common (CC) license, and provide to track head. If track head agrees to include in track, they will get a discount to present. Example: For costuming track, perhaps a costume pattern will serve as a “paper”

Creative Commons Discount

What is it? A request for paper or equivalent source material (based upon track, & track head determination of what is appropriate), with a creative commons license to use/share. If track head agrees to include the presentation in the track, the submitter will receive a discount to make the presentation.

How much is the CC discount? $10.

Matt: Fewer people will get a discount, perhaps fewer program participants, but we'll have the ones we really want to keep. Still preserving the community concept. If one doesn't want to do a paper/ everything in advance, still ok to show up, pay full price, and do your thing.

What about Ars folks? They have lots of things to talk about, but generally put it together at the end.

Gaming demo companies: Sound like staff, based upon hours expected.

Discussion of Admission Prices

Matt mentioned that registration for 2008 is being bumped up by $5.00, with the following cut offs:

Now: $35.00
October 1: $40.00
January: $45.00
At the door: $50.00

Discussion of ConCom price

Should ConCom also pay an additional $5.00? ConCom will go regardless.

Definition of event types (for consistency)

Game: Self explanatory Panel: Has more than one person. Involves discussion, taking questions from audience. Solo talk: Single person talking with slides Demo: Someone showing hands on how to do something Workshop: Demo, where participants are also doing the something Round table: No one committed in advance. People just decide to talk about something.

On asking for donations

Sylvia: Tasked with asking Nerf to be a sponsor. (Followed Trevor mentioning he got the circuit cards for free, just by asking.) Even if we can't use something for a workshop, we can use it as a gift for someone. May also use for charity auction this year. David Adams will be running the auction. Beneficiary is still to be decided.

Call for Papers

We need a call for papers for the Tech track. Per Jer_, Landley (?) knows how to do a call for papers. Per Matt, he wrote the call currently on the website. Need to decide deadlines for proposals, papers, length. Rich Elswick is interested in reading papers.

Each track will have a different standard for what people would expect for the papers. Tech track requirements are different to get schools, journals, etc. to run the call for papers (RFP).

We have not yet contacted universities, etc. about this. Need at least one person who knows how to run this to take care of the RFP. If the paper is accepted, topic & presenter are added to the program.

Discussion ensued regarding the discount offered for providing the papers, vs. the time required to both write them and for Penguicon staff to review them. The current request is for 6 – 15 pages, which may take a participant 1 – 2 weeks to write. Depending upon the topic, we may or may not have staff who have enough knowledge of the subject area to do an adequate assessment of the paper.

Why would a participant put together such a paper for a discount of only $10?

Decision: rewrite the paper requirements such that they are in line with what is worth a $10 discount. Assigned to Trevor.

Other topics, from random points within the meeting Does anyone know of someone who can handle the Brazilian beef cookout? Maybe Ron?

Next year's website needs to be ready to launch on the day, though Matt noted that he's not ConChair for 2010, so it's not his job.

Matt's challenge to the group: We have twice as many rooms this year; there is no earthly way we can fill them. will have a page with what people are committed to do work at the convention, allowing volunteer wrangler to keep a spreadsheet of volunteer schedules, and checking for conflicts.

Anyone want to be assistant con chair?

Need to set a deadline by which things just have to be done or the door to Noah's Ark is closed. (Matt's Biblical reference count: 1)

Jay McGonigal: will do cookie rolling (?) this year. Buy local cookies, and bite/arrange into the next word from the Myth of Sisyphus.

Wish we had recorded whether people showed up to the events/panels they said they'd do. Some panelists just didn't show up, but we have no record of who/which events.

Note: Trevor was disappointed there were no Penguin mints in the Con Suite.

Doesn't Impressions 5 (science museum in Lansing) do slime? Hands on making of slime in a chemistry lab type environment.

Is there a letter template for asking for free things?

We want more hacks. Due to work required, cost in shipping, and risk of being completely destroyed at the convention, we should give these folks a steep discount. (Matt thumbs through Make magazine. DIY magazine also recommended.)

Want to get Joseph Jackson, Network for Open Scientific Innovation, applies principle of openness in intellectual property to genetics, science so that everyone can share scientific knowledge.

Major decisions

Offer people nothing, unless they go with the creative commons license concept. Keep brainstorming & confirmed events separate.

Follow up items

  1. Matt may send email out to panelists requesting info as to their experience at their events, and whether their fellow panelists showed up. Jer_ recommends adding a request for their feedback on room for improvements, general recommendations, interest in future participation, etc. Matt will send out. If he gets feedback saying someone didn't show up, Matt will forward to relevant track heads.
  2. Trevor will rewrite the paper requirements such that they are in line with what is worth a $10 discount.
  3. We need a sign for the hot tub that says, “Don't panic!” Matt will add this to the back burner.
penguicon7.0/minutes/2008-05-18-programmingmeeting.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/14 11:24 (external edit)