Archive for December, 2007

Merry Christmas

…now back to Rock Band with the kids.

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Holiday greeting (Soulja Bird)

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Conference review: Green Lake, WI

Campus Web Council of Wisconsin (CWCW) Fall Conference, November 12-13, 2007

Location/weather (0.2 out of 1 point)
Scenic Green Lake, Wisconsin—I’m sure it’s lovely during our month of summer, but it loses some charm in November. Cold and windy.

Hotel room (0.1 out of 1 point)
The Heidel House Resort has seen better days. While others in my group checked in at 9am and got room keys (actual keys made of metal, no need for fancy swipe cards here), I had to wait until 2pm. Perhaps the wait was so they could clean the Presidential Suite to my liking, or so I was hoping. Turns out, they must have been airing out the chemical spill in my room, I really do think they were storing pool supplies in there—very interesting aroma. Bonus, this time around my phone worked. Making matters worse, I had just stayed at the St. Julien in Boulder so my palate was a little warped.

Food (0.1 out of 1 point)
Breakfast buffet, turkey sandwich, Italian dinner buffet, breakfast buffet, Culvers sourdough melt with cheese curds. By no means were the meals anyone’s fault, they were typical conference-planned meals and provided nutrition. If it weren’t for Culvers there would be no points awarded.

Drinking opportunities (1 out of 1 point)
Stumbled back to the room a few hours before sunrise (a common theme). Social hour was nice, good conversation. Monday Night Football in the hotel bar was a blow out, luckily we were able to watch the Phoenix take on The Ohio State University Buckeyes on ESPN2 on a smaller screen off to the side. Beer was cold, so were my pool skills.

Rating: 1.4 out of 4

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Conference review: Boulder, CO

Increasing Enrollment and Retention via Technology: Recruit, Retain, Reconnect, November 7- 9, 2007

Location/weather (1 out of 1 point)
In lovely Boulder, CO close to Pearl Street Mall, temps in the 70s, clear sky, big mountains.

Hotel room (1 out of 1 point)
St. Julien Hotel and Spa was quite swanky. Best bathroom I’ve sat in, hotel or home. Night I arrived, turned on the TV and the Packers vs. Chiefs game was playing on NFL Network, how did they know. Huge bed with four big, fluffy pillows. Cordless phone for me to misplace.

Food
(1 out of 1 point)
Lunch at The Kitchen was great—so was my conversation. Jax Fish House did the trick, I had no idea Boulder was so close to the ocean (really, the seafood was great).

Drinking opportunities (1 out of 1 point)
Stumbled back to the room a few hours before sunrise every night. The official social hours were lovely (thanks Val, Erin and Pam – and thanks Traci Metzger) and the unofficial ones were a great time, too! Met lots of great people, and even had the chance to hang out with some Googlebots. No matter how great you think your life is going, it’s always nice to compare notes with those who call the Googleplex home. Turns out I’m grosely underpaid, not very efficient, and spend way too much money on lunch.

Rating: 4 out of 4

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Best conference… ever

How do you judge the success of a conference?

For me there are four areas to rate:

  • Location/weather
  • Hotel room
  • Food
  • Drinking opportunities

Yes, absent from my list is any mention of knowledge gained or networking. To me, all conferences that I’ve sought out and traveled to better provide me with some knowledge, if not, it’s my fault for picking them (research, research, research). And the networking thing just isn’t my cup of tea—at least, not when I’m sober.

Location/weather
Doesn’t have to be an exotic location, I’m sure fall time in Rochester, NY is just as lovely as Springfield, MO—thing is, I don’t think it’s much different than Green Bay, WI so I can follow such conferences from the sideline in the comfort of my office thanks to the power of Interwebs/bloggers. Unseasonably warm weather is always a plus, the mention of record-breaking high temps is sweet. Weather happens long after the registration for the conference takes place, so this one is all about luck.

Hotel room
Gun shots and the smell of urine on your pillow = bad
Mozart on the CD player and chocolate covered cookies on your pillow = good

Food
I love food. I’m not fat, well, I’m not really fat—but someday I will be. Great food is awesome. Living in Green Bay great food is hard to find, so I create great food at home. It’s always a pleasure to travel to a conference located in a town where food is great. Fresh seafood is a big bonus.

Drinking opportunities

I guess this is what the rest of you call networking. For me it’s free beer during “social hour” or the hastily formed group of conference attendees who enjoy their x amount of days of freedom (from work and family) to act like they were back in college. Any conference night that ends early in the AM is great. Talk to these recently acquired drinking buddies about life, if work comes up, listen, but don’t turn fun into “networking”—it’s not cool, excuse yourself and return with more drinks.

For me, conferences are a great escape from the daily grind, a chance to re-energize my batteries, form new ideas and rediscover the joy of flying without children. And while Academic Impressions in New Orleans and Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco were very highly rated, my recent trip to Boulder for an Innovative Educators conference blows them away (review coming soon).

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Fear and loathing in Boulder

I was given a wonderful opportunity to present at the Innovative Educators conference in Boulder, Colorado. Sounds cool. Only problem, a fear of public speaking and my theory that high ed folks just don’t get it.

The public speaking thing stems from a bad childhood experience on the playground. I challenged a member of the opposite sex to a foot race, the entire school took timeout from the swings, teeter-totters and witch’s wheel to watch me get smoked. Pointing and laughing ensued, and I was forever cursed with the fear of speaking in public and being chased by fierce animals, who much like females as it turns out, are much faster than me.

The high ed folks thing is just a theory. But, more times than not, it feels like a rule. Come up with a great idea, and wait for people to tell you why it wouldn’t work. Or even worse, have them say it’s a great idea, and do nothing to make it a reality. Is it the fear of failure? Breaking status quo? Making more work? Not sure why, but it seems that creative thinking (I’m talking marketing/communications/web stuff) doesn’t have a place on campus. Or maybe it’s because this Web thing is so new and we’re living in a slow world that was exclusively print just a decade ago.

So, how’d the presentation go? People were laughing when they were supposed to, and asking questions right on cue. To me, it was a success. I had a great time explaining what I was doing, and I think those in the room were getting the message – have fun, do new things, don’t be afraid to fail. I really think some people will take this back to their campuses and implement similar projects. And that’s really cool—they got it!

So while I still have a great fear of public speaking, I have a new found hope that high ed folks aren’t as clueless as I once perceived. No matter what your fear, stepping up and facing it on occasion can be a good thing. The world is your playground, have fun, do new things, don’t be afraid to fail – and if you ever challenge someone to a race, make sure they’re slow.

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