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About alabaster

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    Grand Vizier
  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
  • Interests
    anime, duh.

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  1. alabaster

    New Book: Miyazaki World, A Life In Art

    We had Dr Napier here wayyyyy back in 2002, I believe. She was on the short list for the Super Sempai Squad I was attempting to put together a few years back. (Fred Schodt, Roland Kelts, Helen McCarthy, and Jonathan Clements were among the others) Still a little salty I couldn't make that work.
  2. My 93-year-old grandmother now has a smartphone. Just sayin'. depending on how you get your service, the cost is NOT that much more. On our family plan, it's a $10/month difference. (Assuming the phone is already paid for -- and some friend is bound to have an older one so you can get your feet wet without massive investment.)
  3. I'm pretty sure that's the main reason why we, and any other large event with a big dealer room queue, do it that way. Pulling you to the far end gives queue space and also ensures that the back of that huuuuuge hall doesn't become a dead space for traffic.
  4. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Maile's a friend and she's been fairly often -- I think we were one of her first cons. She's a hoot! Kojima....well, he's challenging.
  5. Lots of ideas for improving, and I'm sure the appropriate folks are considering them (in some cases I know we are). We have seen more use of slack recently, but let me share a story as to why those don't always work across the board. For guests and programming, you're talking about maybe a hundred staffers. Guests and industry number in the high dozens. Not everyone has everyone's contacts, nor should they, so you're going to need a couple of critical relay points -- usually managers or assistants. Several Japanese and Korean guests routinely use Line. Our Otakon phones were using Google Voice/Hangouts for a long time. Individuals use SMS. Various people prefer to use Skype, Slack, Facebook messenger, or other chat platforms. Iphones can use iMessage but only to other iPhones (making it super reliable between iphones, but tricky when there's an android user or two in the mix). There's also a wide range of carriers from Google Fi to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. and the networks don't all get good signal in the area nor penetration when deep in the convention center or hotels. At a certain point, it becomes ridiculous to keep half a dozen means of communication open and not have a preferred one. And each of them sucks battery life as badly as Pokemon Go. You kind of have to pick a common standard at least for staff communication so things are clear. Factor in changes in personnel across the board for industry and a lot of new people all over, and coordination becomes a real challenge. Personally, i tell people to text me; it's usually the most reliable way and the least disruptive, and my iWatch keeps me from missing calls or texts due to noise (by tapping my wrist), and when I was head of GR, I also had the Google one open as that was pretty reliable as well. (The con number was pointed at the app on my phone.) Between those two options, and occasionally checking FB, I was mostly able to stay in touch with anyone. Running out of juice was a real concern. BUT... android was almost always later in getting texts, and transit times could vary by minutes between carriers, especially as networks got slammed. It seems better now in DC, but there are still weird delays. I sent a phone number to someone twenty feet away and it took four minutes to get to his phone. Now compound that times a hundred, and even within the GR and Programming teams, you can see the problem. Now get an APB out to all staff.... Now multiply that times 25,000.
  6. alabaster

    The autograph line was a disaster.

    Right, and that was not the way it was supposed to go. With any luck, our signs and other supplies will turn up or get remade. That would help a lot.
  7. A few things worth noting. internally, we absolutely agree that we need to do better about communicating. It’s a struggle, even within staff, to get info out consistently and quickly to 700 people. We keep trying new things to improve this, but there isn’t a simple solution. When it comes to social media, that’s a constantly moving target. I miss posts from my own family on Facebook, as well as from the con, because it’s a constantly shifting target as they adapt the algorithms to try to squeeze more money out of advertisers. The only way to ensure your reach stays high is to post often npenough and generate likes often enough that the system thinks you are super engaged with your audience. Twitter, and all the others, do similar things to tweak what users see. They are not reliable ways to get information out quickly, because where and whether you see such updates varies so much from person to person, and they won’t let us just see newest stuff first by default. I am still just now seeing updates from a page that I help manage, and they are a week old. sending email to entire membership is not easy either —and it costs money to do, and your spam filters catch most of it anyway. during con (and for most of us, that’s Tuesday or Wednesday before, through the Monday or Tuesday after), the options can vary wildly, as people are in transit or busy moving boxes and setting up, or putting out other fires. We do have a virtual help desk that has people staffing it, but they don’t necessarily overlap with people who can post to all the social media or website. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep all my social media open all the time, especially when I am working in a big concrete bunker and need to have my battery last more than an hour between charges. Every year we meet up after the con to look over your feedback as well as our own. Every year we have attempted to address the issues we are aware of, and communication remains one of those thorny issues that will probably never have a perfect solution, especially as the world of options continues to evolve. As I noted early, one big challenge that probably won’t get immediately solved is how to notify you (and 700 staff) about changes that happen within a 10-15 minute window at con. Even if we could instantly radio back to Programming Ops that the 2pm panelist hasn’t shown up, and they instantly said “oh crap, right, they sent an email last night that I happened to see, but I forgot about it”, it would still take a few minutes to verify and then notify the folks who need to update it. By that time, it’s too late. So yeah, when we know, we need to get the word out better, but there will always be mistakes and last minute surprises, and they aren’t easily communicated with any speed, and they have to be verified before pushing out. Even if our internal processes were hyper efficient and foolproof (they aren’t, but they are still miles better than they were five years ago), it still probably wouldn’t get out instantly. i do still think, however, that there is a place for this BBS, where we can have a record of what is discussed, and respond with something more than a couple hundred characters. It’s kind of annoying to try to communicate complex ideas or have reasonable discussions within the bounds of social media.
  8. Sounds simple, but often isn't. Only a handful of people can throw things out to social media and an even smaller number can do more than one type. Most of us wear multiple hats. Depending on when they found out about the lanyards -- for example, if they were a Thursday morning surprise -- then you face the issue of key people either being in transit or absolutely slammed getting things ready for the con.
  9. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You and me both, buddy. We have come fairly close once or twice -- but that's a VERY tough nut to crack for many reasons. Closest I got personally was a direct conversation with her manager while she was performing twenty feet away.
  10. alabaster

    The autograph line was a disaster.

    In the end, it sounds like the initial line Friday was a mess -- which I'd heard -- but they quickly got it sorted for the remaining sessions. is that a fair assessment?
  11. Well, there SHOULD have been. Somehow they missed Main Events! I reported it up to Con Ops and I assume they sorted it out -- along with a few that needed refills that I encountered.
  12. alabaster

    The autograph line was a disaster.

    That part is predictable within a range. Whats not predictable, sadly, is how quickly they’ll get through that line. Kawamori was slow. Others were faster than expected. The rule of thumb is noted earlier, but as both Tim and I have said, that’s a big range.
  13. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Greg's good, and I don't disagree he'd be an asset. I'll pass along to the appropriate folks.
  14. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Guys, Steve's a personal friend as well as a great guest. He likes our event. We had him at Otakon Vegas a few years back, and he snuck by the following year to surprise us. Monica Rial was one of the first guests who left me a voicemail, nearly 15 years ago. We aren't ignoring your repeated requests -- but you have to understand that it's not about the staff "coming around". It's about bringing a mix of guests who appeal to particular groups or tie into particular properties, as well as some veterans that are good value throughout. AND we're competing with production schedules and other commitments, and we're balancing cost and value. And we're competing with dozens of other shows. Wanting a guest does not guarantee the guest is available, or affordable, or in synch with what the industry is promoting or what's launching at any given moment. Staff wanting a guest doesn't make it happen either -- there are plenty of folks I consider personal friends who simply aren't the right fit for a particular year, or can't make the scheduling work. For example, we've been talking to Kawamori for years and this was the first time everything lined up properly. It happens. I'm sure all of them will be here again.
  15. Blerdcon did a classy, classy thing -- they acknowledged the reality that our dates were contracted well before theirs, noted our overlapping missions, checked other weekend availability, and moved. As their message notes, it's far more possible for them, a single hotel convention, to move than it is for a behemoth like Otakon who contracts well in advance at multiple venues, to move. Trust me when we say that their team and ours (and the many overlapping folks) handled this properly, like actual grown-ups, and that we are fully supportive of each others' shows.