Author Topic: Comments: General, reg, hotel, pawpets, policies, security and auction  (Read 2987 times)

Offline DHWinterWolf

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Hello,

My apologies if I've failed to follow etiquette correctly; I'm not a fan of forums, but this appears to be the way forward for this, so here goes. If I should have split this into multiple posts for different areas, sorry, I can re-format this, just let me know. Also, this might get a TL;DR response, but hey, those who know me know what my emails are like, and I try to include as much information as possible.

Okay, that over, let's get on with the feedback:

Summary (yeah, it's fairly long so I've pretty much got a table of contents so you can see if there's anything you're interested in):

  • General: Thanks (all positive here!).
  • Internet registration: Bug report and offer to help/test.
  • Physical registration: Thanks.
  • Hotel general: Great!
  • Hotel dining: Both ends of the spectrum.
  • Hotel lighting: Seems to have been playing on my mind.
  • Pawpets: Light-hearted geeky comments.
  • Consistency of admission policies: Variable.
  • Local area information: Does anyone else miss it?
  • Security: Took some getting used to!
  • Auction: Possible format tweaks.
  • Conclusion

General:

Thank you. I know the staff and crew put it a lot of work (I know some of them fairly well), your dedication is amazing, and I'm really appreciative of it. More than that, thanks to all the attendees. If it weren't for like minded people, it would all be a total waste of time. Everyone seemed to be having fun most of the time, and the staff went out of their way to make the experience as good as possible.

I get nervous before social situations (I do try to hide it well, but it's a definite fact). You all showed I had no reason to be. I met friends from over a decade ago, and made new friends. My only concern here was not being able to spend as much time as I'd like with everyone, or indeed any in some cases, but that's not a fault of the convention.

Thank you all, so much.

Internet registration:

Initial online registration was actually the only thing that has annoyed me about the convention. It kept failing, returning me to the first registration page after seemingly random amounts of progress through the form. Eventually, I tracked this down to load balancing (we had an ADSL and a VDSL connection, balanced 1:10 on new connections, each with a /29 although each internal host would get a deterministic address depending on which external interface it was balanced out to for that connection). We had a solution - since I'd set up the load balancing, I was able to put a rule in to force everything to one interface if it was going to the registration server. The three people we had trying to register were then able to do so without problem.

Hey, it's not the end of the world, these things happen. I was able to put in a workaround to complete registration. I reported the issue, which causes registration to reset to page 1 if the IP address changes during a registration session. After discussion, I was told this was a security feature and would not be changed.

That's what annoyed me, but I didn't want to push it. We were done. It was the first night, the people behind the scenes were busy, it wasn't the right time to push this. However, I'd like to bring it up again now, I feel this is a serious deficiency that needs addressing. IP addresses change, often. Load balancing occurs frequently (maybe not often in residential situations, but certainly in commercial ones). People on mobile devices switch cells, providers, countries, and swap addresses frequently. IPv6 (I know the registration server didn't give an AAAA address, but think of the future!) extensions can deliberately change addresses. People roam across multiple wireless networks. All of these things and more would cause problems.

Session tracking is really a solved problem. No other services I'd tried to use had a problem with this (even a certain bank who would have difficulty in finding their own back side with a flag in it). The rest of the system worked perfectly, I think we should treat this as a bug, and I think it should be fixable.

I'd like to offer to help wherever possible if you'd like me to. We no longer load balance at home as standard, having dropped the ADSL line, but I still have an IPv4 /29 pool so can easily simulate this again for testing. If you still feel it's not an issue, okay, but at least I've laid my points out. If I've not done so clearly, let me know and I can expand on anything.

Physical registration:

This was amazing. Three minutes from joining the queue (about 13:30 on the Friday) to getting my badge. Great work, thank you so much!

Hotel general:

Generally, I loved the staff's attitude. They seemed to really get into the spirit of things, and I was treated courteously and professionally throughout the stay. Great choice, excellent work on the part of Rizzo (and anyone else who was involved) getting things arranged, and thanks very much to the hotel staff for being as flexible as they were.

Hotel dining:

This is a really odd mix for me. The first day, breakfast was excellent in the "normal" breakfast room. Great service, great food. Second day, still great service (as it always was at breakfast), but in what I assume to be the overflow room, great food, though a couple of items missing. Not by any means the end of the world, maybe it changes each
day anyway. Third morning, a very odd taste to some of the cooked items, everything else was fine. Last morning was back to top quality all around again.

The real split in experience, though, come with The Lounge. Ordering was at best disorganised most of the time, often chaotic. Cut off times for ordering were not enforced uniformly, and with 30 minute waits to order one could try to order well before the cut off times, but be told the kitchen had closed. Mysteriously, though, others seemed able to orderthe same things we wanted after us without issue.

This appears to be a common experience, and given the general attitude of the hotel, I'd like to think this is something that will be treated as a learning experience. It's also the only place that the staff had been less than friendly on occasion, though they seemed so rushed and disoriented most of the time I really felt sorry for them.

Hotel lights:

This was quite an unusual one — I don't think I've ever been into a hotel toilet with only mood lighting before! I commend the hotel formoving over to LED lighting, but can't help but feel they did so too  quickly. LED lighting has improve immensely over the last few years and more powerful phosphors and more efficient cooling systems have come on. It looks like they've done a general theoretical calculation for halogen or standard tungsten to LED, without looking at the luminous flux of the lamps they've used.

It wasn't the end of the world, it was just a little odd. However, some of the lamps in the room were not securely attached to their fittings, which was a little more concerning. The one above my bed fell out one night, for example. It had a perfectly safe GU10 fitting on it so it wasn't electrically dangerous, but it shouldn't have happened. Combined with the public lighting, again, it's not the end of the world but it did strike me as a little odd — it's not until recently that I realised it's been playing on my mind!

Pawpets:

This is a lot of the reason I come to the conventions - I know it's not for everyone, but I love the PawPets show, have done since I was convinced to come to CF for the first time right at the last minute by a certain blue otter. This time was no exception.However, I really have to take exception with your pronunciation of "Я", after getting told off during my GCSE Russian lessons for pronouncing it like that! But hey, it was funny for the rest of the convention, and this is me being silly.

Consistency of admissions policies:

There seemed to be some kind of issue with consistently applying rules of what was permitted into some places. Again, not the end of the world, it just held us up at times a little. For example, in the art show we went in as a group of four, two with tails — one was asked to remove the tail, the other told it was okay! I'm sure it'll be sorted out next year just by giving those working the door a checklist or similar.

Location and local area information:

I noticed at the last Confuzzled I attended (2012) there was a section on the local area, the facilities therein and the available public transport. This wasn't such an issue for me this time, as my room mate used to live in Birmingham so we had a fair bit of local knowledge, and bought a pass that allowed us to go pretty much anywhere in the vicinity during the period of the convention. At Hinckley, where I didn't have the local knowledge, I found the local information page really useful — I wondered if others might find it useful for the West Midlands.

Security:

Wow, lots! A very visible presence! At first, I'll have to say I was somewhat intimidated, but I think when they were trying to clear paths I just happened to be right next to whoever was making the announcement, so got it particularly loud! But after getting used to everyone around,it seemed like you were really looking out for us.

Auction:

It seemed a little quieter this year, possibly not helped by a fairly slow start. I was wondering if anyone has considered changing to a more traditional auction format, which might help keep the pace up and increase the bids along with it.

By this, I mean have the auctioneer offer the next price, and the punters can elect to bid that price or reject it. Two people bidding against each other get to finish their exchange, then other bidders get a chance to enter when that runs to completion. There's also the chance for bidders to offer a price above the current bid but below the auctioneers request if they feel they want to, so you don't lose the  flexibility of the current system (though you still risk the wrath of Bariki if you put in a stupid bid).

Conclusion:

I honestly had a great time. I've debated many times whether I should post my thoughts on improvement, but on the grounds that if positions were reversed I'd always want to hear people's suggestions, I've decided to. And face my fear of Internet forums at the same time.

All the best,
-DH.

Offline Dhary Montecore

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Hello and thank you for your feedback! We value your opinion and will make sure to work on problems you point out.

Consistency of admissions policies:

There seemed to be some kind of issue with consistently applying rules of what was permitted into some places. Again, not the end of the world, it just held us up at times a little. For example, in the art show we went in as a group of four, two with tails — one was asked to remove the tail, the other told it was okay! I'm sure it'll be sorted out next year just by giving those working the door a checklist or similar.

Actually, our checkpoints at the convention had checklists for exactly that reason. The problem is, that they are logical to us, but I can see that some of the decisions may seem odd to some attendees. The reason why one person is asked to remove the tail and the other is not is rather simple: The size/stiffness of the tail is the criteria. You see, the Art Show crew (or the Dealer's Den crew, Nightclub and so on) gives us their instructions what we allow in and what we don't. Now our instructions were "Keep big/stiff/long tails out, to avoid them swishing down exhibits in accident".

Now the threshold for "too big" is hard to determine and I can only assume, that the security guard on duty deemed one of the tails as too large for the room and the other as okay.

May I offer my sincere apologies if this caused any inconvenience to you or your friends.


Security:

Wow, lots! A very visible presence! At first, I'll have to say I was somewhat intimidated, but I think when they were trying to clear paths I just happened to be right next to whoever was making the announcement, so got it particularly loud! But after getting used to everyone around,it seemed like you were really looking out for us.

Again, I apologise if you felt intimidated. I know that a group of security guards can look a bit threatening, especially if they don't smile since they are in stress, trying to get a clean queue.

Now I vow that I would never tolerate any member of my team to be intimidating or even impolite to any of our attendees, but like I just explained, there are situations, where a bunch of security come together in a single space.

If I understand your feedback correctly, you seemed to feel safer though, once you got used to their presence? Our highest goal is to ensure our attendees fun and well being. They are all furs themselves and the most important thing I demand of them is polite, helpful and friendly behaviour. Please do not hesitate to tell me if you felt threatened by any member of my team or if you encountered any of them being rude.

Again, I apologise, if this caused any inconvenience.

Offline Nidonocu

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Online Reg
Sorry about the issues you ran in to trying to register but despite what you say you're the only person who's ever run in to this and your networking situation is definitely not a normal one we expected to deal with! Changing the code on what is now quite an old system for us is very tricky and given we were right in the middle of the first rush I believe, we weren't keen to push a change. Back in 2010 when the system was created, frequent IP changes weren't so common but its fair to say that's changed with more people using phones.

While we can't promise the new system will be ready for next year, there are plans for a brand new registration system with better mobile support so for that version, when it goes live, we shall probably remove the IP restriction on cookies.

Pawpets
I blame the internet for bad information on how to pronounce Я. ;) The 'Who's on first' style gag was a cheap one. XD
Nidonocu C:\>

Offline James The Dog

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The way Яwas pronounced most certainly wasn't a Star Trek reference, no siree bob.

Offline DHWinterWolf

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Dhary,

You've really not got anything to apologise for. Your explanation about the tails make perfect sense, and my comment about feeling a bit intimidated at first was just that, an initial feeling — I was quite clear that you were here for everyone's benefit. The main message I'd like to get across was my thanks. I didn't feel personally threatened at all, nobody was rude to me, it all worked well after the initial surprise settled down.

Nido,

I accept your arguments, my standards in such things are often different to those of others. I assume when you say the only person, you meant the three of us trying to register from this network as a single entity? Hey, in the end we were able to work around it, and just to prove it, we were there! On a side note, I'm quite good at coming up with good (and often still technically valid) networking setups, and am always available as a test case if desired.

Again, I'd like to reiterate that it is not my intention to put down anyone's hard work. Far from it, you all do an excellent job. I'm just trying to think of ways to be even better. This mindset is pretty much why I'm an engineer.

All the best,
-DH.

Offline Tungro

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I'm glad we did manage to work out what was causing it! And yeah, as you said, it would be a problem for those on mobile networks etc unless they're using proxies... I guess that when the reg system was first conceived, nobody thought of that. But yeah, we're going to do things differently in the new system :D

Glad I managed to convince you to come to CFz!