What's new from last year?Changelog
This document is intended to answer some of the questions attendees and presenters had after last year's event in regards to how Notacon will be different and/or better this year. As these kinds of things usually go, you can be sure that we will likely change our minds continually up to and probably through the event to make it worth your while to attend and fun as well.
I, Froggy, personally read and thought about each one of the feedback forms we collected during closing ceremonies last year. Thankfully, most of the response was overwhelmingly positive. A few people offered some much appreciated constructive criticism. Only one or two offered only what at best can be described as "stern advice" that was warranted. However, in even those cases, they had legitimate questions and concerns. While it's not possible to appease everyone, we're going to do our best this year to address some of the big stuff. We hope you will be pleasantly surprised and will find even more reasons to make the trek to Cleveland for Notacon
Room layout / space utilization
We admit that space utilization last year kind of sucked. We honestly expected a lot more LAN party kids and others to simply plop down in the network room all weekend. We were wrong. Not that that's bad, it's just not what we expected. Likewise, we recognize that the BOAF / impromptu room just didn't fly. It wasn't near the rest of the event rooms and was relatively hard to find and get to. Hence, it wasn't used and cost us money that would have been better spent elsewhere.
First, we are going to do away with the whole third track thing for now. We have plenty of other great presentations and if people want to have break-out sessions, they'll do what they did last year; namely, talk in the hallway and in the hangout room.
Next, we are going to move the hangout room from the big room (Lakeside) to the room right next to where registration was (Superior). That way, once you register, you can immediately walk into a smaller, cozier room and hangout with some of your old friends. The room will be furnished with plenty of tables and power and should reach the hotel's wireless network just fine.
This now means that we will able to bring some of our bigger presenters and events into the huge room! No more having to tear down a wall to have the presentation!
Finally, we are going to attempt to make the talk rooms more hospitable to laptop users by lining the perimeter (of the Lakeside, at least) with tables and power so that attendees can get work done while listening to the talks without having to worry about where they're getting power from and without burning their laps.
Friday morning/afternoon professional track sessions
We recognized that there was a lot of content we wanted to present that might not fit well into a one hour time-slot. Likewise, we recognized a desire by our attendees to have something more substantial by which they could justify their the time and money spent to their employer in order to attend Notacon. Finally, we recognized that we were renting the space all day Friday anyway and probably should do something meaningful with it.
In order to fulfill these goals, we are working at putting together two tracks of serious, in depth professional-oriented tracks consisting of three talks each on Friday. These talks would be rolled into the umbrella Notacon registration fee. If you're not a professional, you're welcome to attend. Likewise, professionals are free to enjoy the rest of Notacon.
More information on who will be presenting in these tracks is forthcoming, but we intend on keeping the mix interesting, with talks ranging from software engineering and testing to security and everything outside of those bounds.
We hope you will find this a welcome addition to our schedule. We also hope this will help "bridge the gap" between professionals and those who aspire to that level of knowledge. After all, that's part of what Notacon is all about; sharing information and forming community!
We had some awesome musicians last year. This year we intend to have more, and we plan on not having them compete time-wise as much with some of our other activities! We are already coordinating with a group here in the Cleveland area to help organize and manage our musical line-up. You will be blown away by what we have in store.
Last year we had a couple unusual features including Kevin S. O'Brien's "Bread" films and Jason Scott's Meme Stream. We hope to take the idea and take it a step further by showcasing more local independent and experimental films. Have a suggestion? Fire it our way!
Better t-shirts and shwag!
We heard you loud and clear. Have t-shirts in other colors than black. Fine. That we can do!
We have also heard from a number of you about offering things such as hats and visors, etc. We will certainly look into seeing if we can produce something of this nature that actually looks cool. I didn't last year because, honestly, I feared that they would look lame. The last thing I want is to produce something lame that no one in their right mind would wear or, worse yet, would wear such that the event itself look lame. However, we have some new ideas that might make this feasible
Of course, we still have left overs of some of the stuff we sold last year, and as always this can be purchased in the Notacon store.
New pricing structure / No student rate
"Student" Rate? Nope. Not this year, sorry.
Why? To be honest, it was a pain in the rear, easy to exploit and, due to turnout, resulted in us barely making enough to throw the event again this year. However, we persevered and worked out a new structure that should allow us to still have a lower barrier for entry while still allowing us to attempt to break even. Over 60% of all of the paid attendees claimed the student rate. This was way far off of what we expected.
On the upside, we have opened pre-registration early and at the low price of $45. This gets you into Notacon as well as the Notacon professional tracks on Friday. Even after early pre-registration is over we will continue to offer a discounted registration rate. Likewise, motivated students are always welcome to prepare and submit talk proposals.