Conventions


Conventions15 Nov 2019 11:18 am

It’s been over a week since I got back from attending Anime Weekend Atlanta for the 16th year in a row, and if I had to be honest with myself, this really was the best one ever. It had nothing to do with the convention’s content but rather had to do with getting to hang out with two friends I’ve not seen in over a decade, one of whom has become a lot closer as of late.

In the weeks leading up to the con, I had been planning my outfits for the weekend and settled on pseudo cosplay of a specific character each day with proper cosplay of that character on Saturday. It worked significantly better for me personally than I thought! Plus, I stepped so far out of my comfort zone that it was, well, a bit euphoric. More on that later.

The weekend started early Thursday morning, October 31, when I departed my home around 8:30 to pick the first person up at the airport as his flight was landing at 9ish. I was already in pseudo cosplay as mentioned, so I was quite self-conscious on the ride down, but once I met up with my friend all that disappeared. I probably shouldn’t have been, as it was Halloween, but whatever. We headed up to the Galleria area for brunch, and I phoned up the hotel to see if we could go ahead and get checked in: they said we could, and we got the first-floor room another friend wanted. We brought our stuff in, I set Internet in a Box up, and we were online.

We killed about an hour or so then headed back to the airport to grab the next two arrivals, who were within minutes of each other. We stopped by the Publix on Powers Ferry by 285 for supplies then headed to the room, where they unpacked their stuff and we started settling in.

I headed back out around 3:45 to get the last one as she had to change flights, and by that time the temperature had dropped significantly. I stepped out of the room and was immediately faced with what seemed like an arctic blast: I immediately had second thoughts on my choice of clothing but decided to just grin and bear it since the car has heat. I got to the airport and was greeted by a bear hug from my friend: things were definitely going to be great this year.
We headed to my car and started heading back to the hotel; however, at some point a text came across on the group text I put together for the weekend telling us to hit Micro Center for plug strips, so we had a slight detour before heading back to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 5:30 or so, and finally we could start the weekend in earnest.

After everyone had their stuff unpacked sufficiently we stepped next door to Cinco for dinner, making a stop at Total Wine for additional supplies: sadly that particular Total Wine only had wine and beer, so we planned to hit the package store near the Publix we went to, and Publix itself again, the next day. We finally wandered over to the Waverly at this point for people to pick up badges and for 3 of us to hit the MOGRA Halloween Party, which we stayed at until just before midnight when things started to get stupid.

The next morning, Friday, November 1, we all woke up in time for breakfast which typically doesn’t happen, but I guess we’re older and more responsible now? After breakfast we headed back to the room and got ready for the day. My choice of clothing this day actually worked: temperatures weren’t too cold so I was fine. Once everyone was ready we headed out to hit Publix and the package store then headed to the mall for lunch and a Costco run. We grabbed lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings before hitting up Costco: I remember getting dinner there on a cold, wet night 3 years ago during the con… Oh well. Once all this admin stuff had been taken care of we finally ventured over to the con and made a pass through the dealers room then wandered around before heading over to the mall around 8:30 to get dinner there. After that we headed back to the room,and chilled for a while before crashing.

Saturday morning rolled around and after breakfast we headed back to the room to get ready: I was actually fully cosplaying today, which made for a really fun day actually! Nobody wanted to take my picture, which I’m 100% okay with. Anyway, we made another pass through the dealer’s room, which was actually really packed so it was quite warm, so we escaped pretty rapidly and grabbed lunch from Subway and continued to wander before heading back to the hotel room to make dinner plans, which we settled on Maggiano’s at the mall for. I made a reservation on OpenTable at 6:30, so we left out around 6 and arrived at 6:20 or so. I was still in costume which lead to some hilarity: some randoms that were at the restaurant were staring at me trying to figure me out. I successfully confused normies: weekend made. After dinner we headed back to the con to wander a bit then headed back to the hotel for the night, but I couldn’t personally get in yet: there was a notice on my car that it would be towed. After I changed shirts I moved it over to the Galleria parking deck for the evening.

We were all a bit tired Sunday morning but were able to get breakfast again, and after we all got ready we headed over to the con to get my car and make one more run through the dealer’s room, then back to the hotel for a little while. I headed back over with one of my friends to do one final true pass through the dealer’s room, and we stopped by one of the food trucks that were posted outside the Waverly for a hot dog around 3 so we would last until dinner later that evening. After this we headed back to the room and killed time until dinner. Three of us went to the hotel bar to get drinks before dinner then were prompted around 7 if we were going for dinner. I replied “give us a sec” then we headed back to the room and over to the mall. We were planning on hitting Ted’s as is our tradition, but the wait was too long, so we headed over to Stoney River, where there was no wait. Good food and good drinks later we headed back to the room to prepack as we were checking out the next day.

I’m awoken around 4a Monday morning as the last arrival was the first to depart: her outbound flight was at 6a, so she grabbed an Uber to the airport. I rolled over and went back to bed. I woke up around 7 and proceeded to get ready. The others awoke not long after and we began the arduous process of cleanup after everyone was packed. After this we grabbed one of the luggage carts and took our stuff out to the car: one person’s luggage would not fit, and thankfully their flight was much later in the day. He dropped it at the front desk and we headed to the airport. We dropped the two first flights off and headed back to the hotel to fetch the last one’s luggage before heading to the Mall of Georgia for lunch. We got lunch at Smokey Bones then proceeded to walk around the mall and poke our head in a couple of stores: Character World and ThinkGeek. We didn’t see anything we couldn’t live without, so we left around 3 to head to the airport. I dropped my friend off, hit the head on the way out, then headed home, arriving around 6. Funny, a day off and I arrive home around the same time as I do on a work day. I emptied my suitcase and moved items back to my work backpack that I had taken with me then settled back into my chair and ate a light dinner. The weekend was over…

Something interesting happened on Monday: as I said before the weekend was euphoric as I’d stepped well outside of my comfort zone. I was on a big high all weekend and having to go back to “street clothes” brought me from way high to, well, really low. So low that when I made the pit stop at the airport I nearly broke down in tears. I managed to compose myself and headed back to the car to head home. I was a bit down the rest of that week and here, nearly two weeks later, I’m still a little down but getting better. Things will be just fine, and before I know it next year’s con season will be upon us…

Conventions09 Dec 2017 11:23 pm

I was at one of my company’s clients in 900 Circle 75 Parkway one day this past week, and the office I was working in overlooked the pedestrian bridge between the Cobb Galleria Centre and the Battery Atlanta. Within view as well was the Hampton Inn and Suites Atlanta-Galleria, one of the hotels listed on the convention’s “Hotels” page.

During last year’s convention, I walked over to the Battery with a friend one day for lunch, and I reflected on that while I was looking at the bridge. Because AWA is a local con for me, I pick my friends up at the airport, and we drive to the site, making stops along the way for supplies for the weekend usually. Having a vehicle during the con weekend is certainly convenient, of course, but what if you’re attending the con via aircraft and don’t want to rent a car?

It all depends on where you end up staying: if you’re in one of the four closest hotels, the Renaissance Waverly, Embassy Suites, Sheraton Suites, and the aforementioned Hampton Inn, then walking to the convention is quite doable. I’ve only ever stayed in the Waverly and the Embassy, both of which have on-site restaurants, and I’d imagine the other two have at the very least breakfast. However, if one wishes to walk, the choices for food in the area around the convention are many: restaurants in the Cobb Galleria Centre itself, restaurants across 41 at Cumberland Mall, and the ones at the Battery. Further out are a movie theatre and Taco Mac, and with Uber the range is extended.

The conclusion is that yes, despite Metro Atlanta being a heavily car-centric area, it’s possible to attend AWA without renting a vehicle.

Cellular and Computers and Conventions and Embedded and Networking07 Sep 2012 09:39 pm

Every year I’ve looked at Anime Weekend Atlanta as more than a chance to hang out with friends from out of town because of the rather unique situation having several laptop wielders in the same hotel room can present. Therefore, I come up with all sorts of hair-brained network schemes to get everyone online from the same connection, be it the wired connection in the hotel room or using a Yagi antenna to grab free WiFi from the lobby thru skylights or the floor. Last year’s was probably the most amusing: a Clear WiMax USB card plugged into a Cradlepoint router, connected to a normal wireless router with a Yagi antenna pointed downstairs to con ops where another router with a high-gain vertical antenna received the signal which was then repeated by a fourth router with an even higher-gain vertical. It was as insane as you can imagine!

This year, however, I’ve decided to just be “normal” and scale everything back to a reasonable level: I’ll use my T-Mobile 3.75G card with the aforementioned Cradlepoint for the precious little time I plan to spend in the hotel room.

It’s fortunate, as it saves a lot of room because I won’t be dragging a 16x16x10 or 20x20x12 box with stuff in it with me.

Guess I’m getting old. 😉

Conventions27 Sep 2010 10:20 pm

It’s been a week since I returned from Anime Weekend Atlanta 16, so I figure it’s time to make the yearly post about the con.

Play-by-play begins here↓

Thursday, September 16:

I woke up a lot earlier this year than the previous years, excepting the two years I worked on Thursday, mostly because I needed to track down our air compressor to insure my tires were inflated full. Only one of them needed it, so I departed the house around 11:00 to run by Micro Center to grab yet another USB IDE enclosure (because one can never have too many) before grabbing lunch and heading to the airport. I hit the Chick-fil-A on US 78 that some of my high school classmates used to work at around noon then proceeded onwards to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to pick up my friends who were flying in.

We arrived in Cobb around 3 and checked into the Embassy Suites Galleria Atlanta, our chosen hotel for the weekend. I set up the aircard then headed over to conspace to assist with the setup of communications. Once the majority had been done, the three of us meandered over to Cumberland Mall for dinner, then on the way back to the room, I stopped by registration and got my con bag, as I had used the Early Start service to get my badge ahead of time.

Once we had returned to our hotel room, we did the usual playing of games and chilling until the early hours of the morning. Thus ended “Day 0.”

Friday, September 17:

Running theme of this convention: my waking up earlier than required. Realized I forgot my deodorant, and one of my friends needed to pick up a new hard drive, so we meandered up to the Marietta Micro Center for him to grab that, and as we had had some connectivity issues, I picked up a cheap wireless router to throw in line. After that we were going to get lunch at Umezono Japanese Restaurant, but they were not open yet, so we hit Walgreen’s, returned to the hotel so I could apply said destinkifier, and by the time we had returned up 41 to Umezono, they were open. Their menu is the same as Sushi Yoko’s, so I had my usual gyūdon (beef bowl). After lunch, we headed into the convention. We hit the dealer’s room, and upon discovering a distinct lack of Sasuga Books, who I later found out are closed, and one or two of the vendors with import games either not having what I was hunting or having crazy high prices, we meandered back to the other part of the con. One major find was Pokémon Black and White, Japanese edition of course, on release weekend in the US. But for $70, I opted against buying either. After just milling around for a while we returned to our hotel for the nightly Manager’s Reception. Not long after that two of my other friends joined us and the usual crew was assembled. Evening was rounded out with even more gaming and proceeding to decimate my aircard’s 5GB of 3.75G by transferring a 1.4GB video from my desktop, among other things. Oops. Good thing it’s overage free!

Saturday, September 18:

Woke up early yet again. What is wrong with me. Actually sat in on a screening today, catching the tail end of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise and the movie version of Gunbuster. After this we milled around the con again and did another few walkthroughs of the dealer’s room. I picked up the box sets of Hidamari Sketch and Hidamari Sketch x365. Rounded the day out with the reception and caught dinner afterwards.

Sunday, September 19:

Up early, but with good reason this time. Sat in on MX Media’s panel then caught lunch at the mall and made one final once-over of the convention before heading back to the room to hang out until the reception. Got dinner at the hotel’s restaurant then went back to the room to play horrible horrible horrible NES games for most of the night. We did try an all-white mage game of Final Fantasy but quickly gave up.

I crashed the earliest of us but woke up ill not too long afterwards. Apparently dinner and what I had to drink didn’t agree with me at all.

Monday, September 20:

I woke up waaay early today and spent a good bit of the early morning in the bathroom. Didn’t feel well at all, so upon departing the hotel around 11, I decided to just take my friends to the airport so I could get home and get some plain food into my system. I headed back to Gwinnett and stopped in at one of the other in-town friends to drop off the extra food we had and hang out for a little while. Discussed next year’s plans then I finally returned home, fixed some plain rice, and sat in my chair and took a power nap. I was better by the next day, but I definitely will be more careful with my intake of drinks next year.

Conclusions:

1. When heat is in effect, waiting forever for an elevator or climbing lots of stairs > walking a quarter mile.
2. Drink less.
3. Get back in the Waverly if at all possible.

One funny tidbit: the escalators in the Waverly’s lobby worked all weekend. All of us were in extreme shock.

This year’s convention was underwhelming at best in terms of stuff to do at the convention proper, but as always, it was a good distraction from reality for a few days. I’m considering going ahead and preregistering for next year, but until the convention announces availability of rooms in the Waverly, I might just wait. I think I’ve got my group convinced to return to the Waverly, and I’m plotting some network tricks to try.

But hey, it’s a year away, and a lot can change between now and then, so we shall see.

Conventions and Hamfests11 May 2010 05:44 pm

Here’s a scenario: you’ve found a {convention|hamfest|trade show|conference} you want to attend, have a hotel picked out, and have your method of transportation picked out. What you don’t know, though, is if you want to leave out Sunday evening or Monday morning. This was the scenario I ended up with in 2005 when it was decided that my group was going to get a room for Anime Weekend Atlanta.

I made reservations at the Renaissance Waverly earlier in the year and decided to go from Thursday to Sunday in my naïveté. As we rushed to exit the room Sunday morning, I decided that next year I would reserve from Thursday to Monday. I think that the tremendous crowd at the front desk Sunday morning was enough to dissuade me from booking for Sunday departure the next year. Furthermore, the rush to exit conspace to take a friend to the airport to catch his flight home wasn’t fun either.

I do a small amount of travel for my job, attending hamfests throughout the Southeast. In every case, we’re checking out of the hotel early Sunday morning to work the day and go home. This is to streamline the “putting the store back together” process.

In 2008, I went to three out-of-down conventions: Anime Boston, A-Kon, and Otakon. In each of these, I chose to fly home on Sunday. At AB and Otakon, I had access to public transit, so getting home wasn’t too big of a deal. At A-Kon, I had to rely on a longtime friend of mine to get me around. Fortunately, we decided after checking out that the con wasn’t worth staying at, so we dropped his wife off at their house then went and hung out for a bit before I departed.

All in all, I’ve determined over the past few years that whenever it’s feasible financially to stay over an extra day. I especially see this at AWA as I get to hang out with both my out-of-town friends and local friends at the same time. This leads to much random awesome that usually ends up with us being up half the night. Therefore, waking up at 8 or 9 on Sunday only to rush like madmen to get out of the hotel is usually deemed a bad idea.

As September rapidly approaches and this year’s plans for AWA continue to be set in motion, I prepare myself mentally, physically, financially, and emotionally for that weekend. I will definitely relish checking out on Monday instead of Sunday this year yet again.

Cellular and Conventions and Embedded and Hamfests and Networking24 Apr 2010 12:16 pm

Earlier this week, I read on TmoNews.com that T-Mobile was making another promo on their webConnect (aircard) service. I had cashed in on a promo plan towards the end of last year for $50/mo instead of $60/mo, but this one is even more awesome: “Overage Free” rate plan for $40/mo. What this means is that while the (now) soft cap of 5GB exists, past that they may throttle you down to EDGE speeds. I can live with that, and the fact that it isn’t a guaranteed throttle makes it even better.

What does this mean for the net-in-a-box project? It means EPIC AWESOME. I no longer have to worry too much about whether or not it goes over 5GB, and even if we go over 5GB at a con, I’m certain that EDGE speeds are still faster than a hotel connection shared with a full hotel. That’s assuming they enforce it heavily.

Needless to say, I phoned up 611 yesterday morning and got the plan switched over. I definitely await the forthcoming summer activities with this semi-unlimited data plan!

Conventions18 Mar 2007 06:57 pm

So, I finally made it back to MomoCon this year after missing it last year (due to needing to buy tires :/). Arrived at the con last night around 6:15 or so, grabbed dinner with a friend, then proceeded to wander around for a bit. I got there after the dealers room had already closed, so after about an hour and a half or so, we headed out to go raid the CompUSA up this way that’s closing. Snagged a book on J2ME for cheap.

I headed back down there this afternoon to hit the dealers room to see if anything struck my fancy. I got Hameln OST 2 & 3 for $5/ea, so that was a good deal. After I did that, I headed out to track down another friend of mine at the AMV workshop he said he was going to. I caught the last part of it, and it gave me some ideas that might eventually have to be put into practice.

After that was done, we were going to head back to the dealer’s room to get the con shirt then probably head out. That’s when things went south. Turned out that some jerks wanted to set off firecrackers inside the GT Student Center, so GTPD came in and we had to leave the building. My friend headed out, so I decided to stay and see what the deal was.

All I have to say right now is that whoever did that deserves to never attend another con in their life. Ruining a free con is just plain low.

I suppose we can just hope that there will be a MomoCon 2008. I wish the staff and directors well and applaud their thinking of the other con attendees’ safety in closing the con. I hope I would have done the same in their position.

At any rate, after departing from downtown, I headed up to meet with said friend at MicroCenter. He had some coupons, so I picked up a 160GB IDE drive and another external enclosure along with more thinpack jewel cases as I am presently out of them.

It’s one thing to shout “MARCO! POLO!” across the hotel at AWA, which is just marginally annoying, but it’s another thing to have to have the directors of a con close the con because of your stupid terrorist-like (THERE I SAID IT) actions. :/

Conventions and Embedded and Networking and UNIX13 Oct 2006 06:05 pm

It’s fairly common knowledge that most hotels these days have free WiFi in at least part of the hotel. The hotel in question is the Renaissance Waverly that Anime Weekend Atlanta has been at the past three years. Their free WiFi is in the lobby/convention center area (basically the first two floors of the hotel) only. The hotel rooms on floors 3-14 can’t access it directly (believe me, we tried. both on the 4th floor last year and the 11th this year), so either you pay the $10/night to use the wired access, gimp it using a cell phone (be it GPRS, EDGE, 1xRTT, 1xEV-DO, or God forbid CSD or CDMA data) or do without.

We’d already decided to not do the $10/night and were just going to use my cell or something for access. Then I had a brainstorm the weekend before the con. I realized I could do basically a “reverse AP” by setting a wireless network interface as the “WAN” interface and then run the regular ethernet jack into a switch or hub. Not to mention that I’d recently picked up a 15dBi 2.4GHz Yagi antenna and have a Netgear MA311 PCI 802.11b network card, which is based on the Prism2 chipset.

Add all those together and what do you get? A semi-portable “OK let’s get these workstations on the wireless here STAT” setup. I say semi-portable because the board we pulled from a decomissioned firewall went in a rather heavy small form factor case. Definitely not light enough to toss in a laptop bag or a “Go Pack.”

I loaded m0n0wall on the machine for the sake of time. Had I had more time, I’d probably have done a “proper” setup on OpenBSD or whatever, but for our purpose, m0n0wall worked flawlessly. I’d be running it here if it let me assign the same static DHCP mapping to multiple MAC addresses (as I do like to sometimes pick my laptop off my desk and go to another room to access the net). Other than that one little quirk, which is a bit of a nonissue for most people, I like it.

At any rate, the final result looked like this. We had a clear line of sight to the skylights in what was Artists’ Alley that weekend (really the main convention area) and it worked wonderfully.

Because it worked so well, I’m going to be picking up a Soekris net4501 just for that purpose. It will end up living in my laptop bag and will serve as quick and dirty AP or quick and dirty “reverse AP” for a multitude of purposes. Not to mention giving my laptop bag a bit more “sturdiness” since I’m no longer carrying a notebook and textbooks in it in addition to my laptop.

If it works out well enough, I’ll probably pick up another net4501 or a higher model to replace my rapidly aging router machine. Or I’ll migrate it to a CF based setup. Right now I dunno for sure, but it should be fun either way. IPCop is small enough to fit on a 1GB CF card, so I may just do that. Though the Soekris is a lot smaller and wallmountable and would free up some desk space. But for now I’ll stick with IPCop on this old Deskpro 2000.

Conventions20 Sep 2006 02:53 pm

Hour and 40 minutes til I’m out for a few days.

Con tomorrow \(^_^)/

Conventions and Networking and UNIX17 Sep 2006 06:11 pm

Router machine works! Should have wireless in the hotel room for access from PS2 and laptops.

Next on the agenda is the acquisition of a box to carry stuff… that will be remedied tomorrow.

After that… waiting for Thursday to do the final grabbing of stuff before airport→hotel→dinner→hotel+registration→???→PROFIT! …or something like that.

At least preliminary schedules for events and the video rooms are up on the AWA site now.

That’s all for now… back to listening to shoutcast while waiting for people to show up here orz.

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