Minicon Volunteering

Mostly a memo to myself; to keep track of what I actually did, and things I learned and will need to look up in the future.


For programming, I printed badge-back labels (with people’s schedules on them), tent cards (for each panelist on each panel), and door signs.

Data Receipt

I got a table in a Word document, which I turned into a spreadsheet, massaged some, and eventually made into an Access database.

It’s important to put day or date, start time, and end time in separate columns. The times should have colons in them. Without, they weren’t recognized as times. So I had to transform them manually, and apparently I made one search and replace error (that’s where the one consistent time error came from).

Tried using the HSQLDB support in Open Office, but it’s not up to this yet.  Maybe by next year. Looked at an open source report writer on Sourceforge (OpenRT?) but it wasn’t able to connect to a local file via ODBC the way Access can, or at least it doesn’t help you.

Schedule Labels

I couldn’t get Access 97 to respect label boundaries; specifying that each group started a new page started a new full page. So I printed these on full-page labels and cut them out by hand. Furthermore, I had to piece together two of them that wrapped columns.

This was done late enough that finding new software wasn’t a reasonable option, and I’m not buying a new version of Office for any trivial reason.

Tent Cards

I couldn’t get Access 97 to rotate text, so the information used to sort (and find) the tent cards was upside down to the participants. This was just a minor annoyance, since that information isn’t there for them. However, putting upside-down text in front of people when you can avoid it is a bad thing.

Room Signs

Turns out the sign holders are landscape format, not portrait format as I was told. (Veranda rooms)

Artist Guest Presentation

I got called on to help transfer a 250MB file from out east, in time for a presentation that afternoon.

First try: created an FTP user on my Dreamhost account, and tried to upload into it using the Macintosh ftp client that you get to through “Connect to server” using an ftp URL. Juan told me later he thinks it’s read-only, but the error you get when you try to write looks like a weird protocol error rather than the Mac refusing to do what you want.

Second try: Another convenient geek created an account on a server. Same problem.

Third try: command-line scp. This eventually works, but it turns out to be quite hard to talk somebody not used to it through cding to the correct directory and then typing the correct command (mostly the filename was hard; for example it included spaces, and there was resistance to using tab completion which is the good way to do it).

Juan told me later that dragging a directory to a terminal window pastes in the path to that directory; that would have helped. I wonder if dragging the filename works too?

Other people ran around coordinating laptop, cable, and software, and that all came together too.

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