We learned a lot this weekend. It was the first time we deployed the CONGO Kiosk terminals for at-con registration of attendees. We needed to make some functional changes in the code at the event, but for the most part, it worked pretty well. The Kiosks allowed people who were not pre-registered to enter in their contact / regsitration information themselves, and get a printed receipt. This meant the operators didn’t need to re-key all the data into CONGO, and slow down processing. For a first time out, I’m really pleased with the results. There were no disasterous failures (in fact, I can’t think of a failure beyond ‘we’re out of paper’), and folks seemed to like the kiosks, modulo the normal kvetching that’s pretty much unavoidable.
Gateway Operator terminals
This was also the first time we used the Gateway terminals for cashier / operator use. This was a HUGE win for the operators, as the terminals are MUCH faster than the iOpeners for general data access and work. Not to mention the fact that when things slowed down, the operators could play games on them 🙂
We ran all badges ‘on the fly’, meaning that even pre-registered attendees had their badges printed as they showed up. This allowed us to make minor changes to information before we wasted a badge (such as a spelling of a badgename, etc).
We had no delays and no problems with the printers. One other thing we did was used blank white badge stock, so we were printing the -entire- badge image on the fly. It was a black ‘stippled’ image (not grey scale, but ‘screened’ to look like it was grey), using an image from our artist guest of honor. They came out great! We had to hand-punch the stock before running it through the printer to get the slots on them, but with a pair of new slot punches, that was really no big problem.
All in all, a very successful event, despite the snowstorm. All the work that went into CONGO in the last 2 months since our previous large event was well worth it, and made the product even better.
Credit where Credit is due
I would like to thank all the folks that made this possible. Without this team of folks volunteering many many many hours of work to the process, we never would have had such a smooth running registration:
Sarah Twichell – Killer answerer-of-email and registrar-on-the-ball. Sarah answered registration requests and paypal registrations within minutes of receiving them. The database was always up to date whenever I needed to find someone.
Lisa Wilson – Database geek extraordinaire. Lisa kept the database sane and was also on the front lines of requests and registrations. We had tons of comp lists, updates, and changes going on, and Lisa helped plow through them all, even though she was 2000 miles away in Colorado!
Yonah Schmeidler – Yonah showed up to help with Arisia last year and ended up staying til 4am helping with some database and postscript issues. This year again he helped all through Thursday doing database updates and maintenance just for the heck of it. He also plays a mean FreeCIV 🙂
Katy (Pancua) – Katy was the badge goddess all through the mayhem on Friday, and helped out all weekend with things that Just Needed To Be Done. She brought a lot of energy to the whole situation, something we all need after spending days in a coat room 🙂
Ben Cordes – Ben is sort of the unofficial roadie for Stonekeep Consulting. He’s worked with me at a ton of events, and not only knows the systems and the processes well, he also knows my quirky management style. Even in spite of that, he keeps coming back for more. This weekend Ben was a great help with setup and maintenance of all the system components, not to mention being a great crowd wrangler.
Catya – I can’t leave Cat out of this thanks. She puts up with an awful lot to let me do these events – and I love her dearly for it. Thanks!