Scobleizer Weblog

Daily Permalink Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Ahh, poor little Windows enthusiast site gets kicked on by Microsoft. Hey, get a clue! If I register I will expect to get sued too. Heck, just visit -- they have the best Windows stuff anyway -- why do you need to copy someone else? Heck, my URL is so freaking bad that you'd expect no one would find it, right? But people do.

It always amazes me when I see who reads my crud here. Mary Jo Foley from Ziff Davis dropped by the other day and this news article on Microsoft getting rid of dual loads (which was linked to on came out.

Oh, I see the Mono project released something recently. The .NET blogs are all writing about it.

Oh, this is a good one. DevX sent out their email in HTML format. I have Office 11 set to only show Plain Text. So, I got the Plain Text underneath the HTML version. Ahh, Office 11 is gonna give email folks fits. Which is just fine anyway. If I want a Web page in my email, I'll visit the Web page. I still wish we could cut the nuts off of the guy who decided to put HTML into email (or, especially the guy who decided to make Outlook send it by default.

I should say that DevX should learn how to do email newsletters. The newsletter I just got was the most ugly plain-text thing I've ever seen. On the other hand, the title caught my eye, which led to the link below, so they did something right. My old UserLand email address gets several hundred spams a day. It's amazing anything gets noticed there.

DevX is writing about the top 10 technologies that you'll need to know to stay employed. What, you mean there's developers out there who are still gainfully employed?

I'm still having troubles with comments. HaloScan's server was down this morning for a short while and I think some comments on today's items have simply disappeared. I might just get rid of comments altogether. I need to think this through, though. I like seeing conversations start on my weblog (and others).

You know, the US Post Office is doing some innovative things. A friend told me that you can send Christmas Cards right from your computer now. Plus a whole lot more.

John Walkenbach says my RSS feed has no titles, which means that his aggregator (Newz Crawler) displays my description content as the title. Any hints on how to fix this?

I've given into the borg. I finally got a telephone headset. A cheapo device from Plantronics. It makes talking on the telephone a lot nicer. Now I gotta get a Web cam so you can see what I look like. My cube is starting to look like what a geek's cube should. Got two computers. A printer. A fax machine. A phone. A CD burner. A stack of Windows XP books (hey, what else will get my laptop up to the correct height?) A docking station for my PDA. And a stash of paper to keep my fax machine well stocked. It's messy. Just like life. Deal with it.

You know, of all the resellers that I deal with, CDW is my fav. They always are nice on the phone, they always return my emails, and I've never heard a complaint about them. Speaking of which, I love this list of PCMagazine's Technical Excellence winners. Nice and we didn't even need to buy any advertising to get that!

Over on Shelly Powers site someone recommended a University for a conference site. Awesome idea, but you need someone on the inside to make it happen. I tried doing an event at Stanford once and the rules and regulations there were too cumbersome to overcome. Does anyone work at a University that's interested in helping such an effort out? Let us know.

Interesting ideas on conference sites (Dave's linked to a bunch). OK, but you need to think about cost. Let's say we have a goal of keeping this at $200 or under. Now, what happens if Dave and I need to fly to New York twice to visit the site and plan the conference?

If you're gonna get me to attend, the cost must be under $200 (maybe $300). Any more than that and I won't be able to attend unless my company kicks money in (and in this economic time I seriously doubt that I'll get NEC to kick in for anything fun and not work related).

So, that means that every expense must be cut out. No travel for conference planners. Very few planning dinners, and those that happen must be somewhere reasonable like JingJing's, not at some expensive North Beach restaurant. That means that we must find a conference site that's hungry for business and works with us to find dates and ways to keep costs and risks down. That means that we need an all-volunteer staff (you think there's gonna be money to pay for speakers or marketing or any staff if we're only charging $200?).

In other words, we must completely change the business model of the traditional conference. I think that'll be the biggest challenge. How do you get 500 rabid attendees who'll help put the conference on themselves?

We also need someone to take some business risk. Hotels don't wanna deal with you unless you're willing to guarantee something like $25,000 in economic activity at the hotel (and that's for a cheap site). The business model of conferences is driven by the hotels. Anyone know of a hotel that would be willing to reduce its rates? That'd be a key point to starting this process off.

The traditional model is: for 500 people you need about 10,000 square feet for conference and meeting rooms. They want you to spend at least $10,000 in food and catering (er, that doesn't include their gratuity and taxes, so now we're up to $12,500). Oh, and they also want you to sell about 300 room nights at $100 a piece. Oh, that doesn't include AV or Internet fees. Or marketing (hey, it's a weblog conference, so we'll do it all via word of mouth, right). Or paying third-party registration Web sites. Or paying for staging. The list of fees can get pretty endless, which is why a lot of conferences end up charging more than $1000 per attendee.

Not to mention that many conferences give away up to 40 percent of their seats as freebies (the press usually doesn't pay).

Anyway, I don't want to put some stop energy into the mix. I just want to let everyone know the challenges that are ahead and why picking a site is so important to the business model.

I wanna be the first to go to the Weblogs in Meatspace conference that Dave Winer is proposing today. Hey, Dave, how about the San Francisco Airport Marriott? They have high-speed access in all rooms. Seem to be relatively moderately priced. They have space for such a conference in August/September (attendees would have to pay about $110 per night for their rooms, or maybe less, depending on dates). If we could get 400 people to pay $200 each, I think we could make the dream happen. Why the SF Airport Marriott? Well, it's cheaper than being downtown (plus attendees won't have distractions) but it's close enough to downtown -- 20 minutes away -- so we could visit there. Also, it's right next to the San Francisco airport. Very convenient to get to from almost anywhere in the world and great freeway access from anywhere in the Bay Area.

Why San Francisco? Easy. Dave's here. I've seen conference planning before and the closer the founder is to the site, the better the overall conference. We know the town. That makes a big difference in overall planning and making this a killer experience (UserLand's old offices were within two miles of the Marriott).

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Robert Scoble works at Microsoft. Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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© Copyright 2004 Robert Scoble Last updated: 1/3/2004; 1:52:06 AM.