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Random Non-Tech Musings about MIX10

3/31/2010 4:36:47 PM

Since MIX10 conference was my first trip to MIX (… and Las Vegas, and USA) I’ve read some non-tech info prior to going there. Good starting points are Thomas Lewis’s “The Devil’s Field Guide to MIX” series and Sean Gerety’s “So you want to go to a conference”. These are very good but I think I can add my 2 cents to what’s written there based on my first time experiences.

Dress Code

No, it’s not about general dress code. It’s about facilitating conversation. If you are nicely dressed like a regular guy and you aren’t anyone important (known face) it’s perfectly fine, but you’ll have to start your own conversations, introduce yourself to people. Even those who are your virtual friends.

By the end of day one I was so tired of “I’m ailon on Twitter” phrase absolutely required to get attention of people who actually know you there and have no idea who you are by looking straight into your eyes or even your attendee badge with your name on it. BTW it would be great if organizers let you include your nick or some misc. info along with your name and company on the badge (or we can just write it with markers, or bring some stickers).

So, if I go to the next MIX (or actually any other conference of that type) I’m making a couple of t-shirts with “@ailon” on them. If you consider your trip more business than pleasure, then wear clothes with your company name, logo, product name, etc.

Hotel

Sean Gerety writes:

Remember that in Vegas, you can’t cut it close when it comes to getting a taxi or thinking that you’ll just walk from the Tropicana to the Mandalay Bay is not just a short walk.  You walk all the way from your room to the lobby, then down the street to the hotel, then through the lobby of the Mandalay Bay to the back where their conference center is located.  This could take you quite a while.

While I partially agree with what’s written there I’ve stayed in Tropicana anyway :) The reason is simple: no one paid for my hotel and I paid for 5 nights in Tropicana roughly the same amount I would pay for one night in Mandalay Bay. Yes, Mandalay Bay is fancier, nicer, closer to the conference center, etc. but I’m convinced my decision was right for me (provided I was there without my family). As I said it’s cheaper, it was clean, the room was big, the bed was big and comfortable. And I even had a mirror on the ceiling above my bed (ha-ha!). And I guess I had a better view from my window than most of those who stayed in Mandalay:

And the walk was actually reasonably short. There’s even a free train/tram from Excalibur (which is across the street from Tropicana) to Mandalay Bay if you are too tired to walk 500 meters. And, btw, if you want to go for walk on the Strip you’ll end up walking exactly the same path but in opposite direction.

That said there are 2 extra factors you might want to consider before going with cheaper alternative:

  1. Weather. If the weather isn’t right you may have to put extra clothes on and you’ll be stuck with them for the day at the conference (pretty inconvinient). There’s actually an indoor passage from Excalibur to Mandalay Bay but you still have to make it over the open overpass from Tropicana to Excalibur.
  2. Swagger. When you say goodbye to people at the end of the day almost every time it ends with people explaining to which hotel they are going. So, if staying in cheaper hotel may affect your or your company’s image you may want to think twice.

Downtown & Gambling

Thomas Lewis suggests going downtown to gamble:

As you know, times are tight. You need to find values in Vegas. I recommend taking a bus downtown to some of the old-school  casinos. I have a hiding place where the shrimp cocktail is as big as your head (disclaimer: slight exaggeration) for a couple bucks. The slots and tables are cheap to buy in and it will remind you of the days of yore, instead of the fancy $25 dollar minimum tables you will find up the street. You also will more than likely sit next to old people, and old people are totally cool and have awesome stories about Vegas!

Well, if you aren’t a gambler and just want to check the checkbox next to “Gambled in Vegas”, don’t. It’s actually quite a long ride with bus stopping very often and for quite long periods of time. It took us close to an hour to go from Tropicana to Downtown. And most importantly there’s nothing you absolutely must see. Sure, it might be worth a visit if you have time to spare but if your schedule is tightly packed, just skip it. I’ve seen 1 cent slot machines in even the fanciest casinos on the Strip and there are $5 tables in Excalibur which were fine by me for a/m checkmark.

Also if you are coming from a very different time zone (Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.) you may have some troubles sleeping at night. When I woke up at 4am for the second night in a row I realized that there’s no better time to gamble for a non-gambler than this. You’ll have your days and evenings packed at such an eventful conference and you don’t want to waste that time for obligatory visit to casino. So, rather than trying to force your body and soul to sleep for an extra hour or two, just go down to casino in your hotel and do the deed.

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