Penguicon 6.0

(FAQ) Frequently Asked Questions


Updated: 23 November, 2010 @ 01:38pm

Ask a Question of the Minister of Communications, Matt Arnold

I WANT TO...

HOW CAN I...

WHAT'S...

Do you have a policy on children?

Do you have a fiction reading list especially for hackers?

Why have a sponsorship program?

Why is your mascot a penguin?

When I attend, what will be my "total cost to pwn"?

Am I going to appear on the internet in photos, videos, or voice recordings of Penguicon?

Who was at the last Penguicon?

Can I wear the Penguin costume?


I Want To...

I want to register online for Penguicon.

Here is the page of registration details and the online registration form.

I want to register online for a seat at the LAN party.

This is done through the same online registration form through which you register for Penguicon. If you already registered for the convention and want to add a seat at the LAN party, email Registration.

I want to register online for Brazilian Beef.

This is done through the same online registration form through which you register for Penguicon. If you already registered and want to add a plate of Brazilian Beef, email Registration.

I want to register online for Geeks With Guns.

This is done through the same online registration form through which you register for Penguicon. If you already registered and want to add the gun range outing, email Registration.

I want to be a Program Participant at Penguicon.

Do you want to be a member of a discussion panel, deliver a talk or slide presentation, teach a class, or commit to create any other scheduled activity at Penguicon? Good! We encourage this. Use the event suggestion form to give your name and contact info.

I want to email a staff member.

Here is our contact form. If you send an email and don't get a response, email the communication officer Matt Arnold directly.

I want to get on the sign-up list for a free event.

Usually there will be a sign-up sheet on the front desk of Ops, assuming an event needs a sign-up sheet at all. Ops (the convention operations center) is in the coat room off the Assembly area in front of the main ballrooms. If an event is going to be popular enough to need a sign-up online in advance of the convention, we might not realize yet that. Email the Head of Programming and let us know that you want to get in line for it.

I want a free advance taste of Penguicon.

Here are photo, video, and audio recordings of past Penguicons.


How Can I...

Q: How can I post to the Penguicon blog?

A:

First, you'll need to have an account on Livejournal. If you don't, go to Livejournal.com and click "Create Account". Once you have an account, log in.

Once you're logged in, you need to join the Livejournal community. To go to the Penguicon community information page, you can click this link right here. You'll see the phrase, "to join this community, click here." Use that link. You don't want to click the button that shows a person's head with a plus sign. That would just make you a watcher of the page, without editing rights.

Farther down the Penguicon community information page, there is a list of all Livejournal users who are members with editing rights, and another list of all Livejournal users who are just watching the Penguicon community's posts without asking for editing rights. After you've joined, your name will appear in the former one.

Also, on your own personal user information page, you have a list of all the communities you are a member of. You should see the word "penguicon" in it.

You're now ready to post to the Penguicon blog. Go to the menu item "Post An Entry".

Below the field where you type your post, there is a selection menu in which you choose where to post it. You want to choose "penguicon", or the entry would only go on your own personal Livejournal.

When you've typed your entry and set that menu, click the "Update Journal" button. Congratulations! You have posted to the Penguicon blog!

Q: How can I travel to Troy from outside southeast Michigan?

A:

See the Travel section of our How To Attend page.

Q: How can I split costs?

A:

The Ride Or Room Share Request Form lets you give someone a ride in your vehicle to or from the convention, ride in their vehicle and split fuel expenses, share their hotel room arrangements with you, or stay in the hotel room you've reserved and split the cost.

Q: How can I get financial assistance?

A:

See the Volunteering section of our How To Attend page.

Q: How can I help make Penguicon happen?

A:

More than anything else, you need the ability to answer your email, phone, or whatever is your preferred means of communication. Other than that, what you need will depend on which job you do and which level of responsibility you take as described on the following list. The important thing is to know which one of these characters best describes you, and make it fairly clear to us. Don't let us overwhelm you.

The one thing that is not OK is to make us think you'll do a job, and when we ask you about it you claim it's going fine, when in reality you aren't doing it. Then all you have done is prevented the job from getting done because you wouldn't let someone else do it. Do not do that. We are perfectly fine with people stepping down when they realize that they incorrectly estimated whether they would complete the task.

1. Penguins (other conventions call them Gophers) are volunteers who sign up at the convention in the lobby. (See the Volunteering section of our How To Attend page.) Penguins do things like:

  • sit in front of a door checking attendance badges.
  • carry things upstairs.
  • load the truck.
  • watch the Anime room and change DVDs.

2. Crowdsourcing is like outsourcing, but from within our attendees. They are like the users who upload content to a website. Penguicon has a giant crowd who comes forward for a multitude of small contributions in the month leading up to the event. But it's never too early. There's a handy online form.

3. Staff show up to some concom meetings, but would rather not be responsible with authority. They just want to be pointed in a direction and told what to do. It is vital to give this person a detailed, clearly-defined job description. Most problems with Staff happen when expectations were not made clear to them by the Convention Chair or their department head.

4. Concom (Convention Committee) members have a vision for a department, and do it with staff and crowdsourcing. Concom are the kind of workers who core leaders trust to get their tasks done without supervision, so core leaders give them the authority to do it their way. If the drive to get something done comes from you, you're Concom. If somebody else is reminding you that you need to do it, you're Staff.

5. The Favor is a person who is doing a task only because someone they like asked them to do it, not because they care about it. The important distinction is this: a Concom member does something because if it doesn't get done, or if it gets done badly, they would be personally disappointed. A Favor only does the favor because if it weren't done, a Concom member would be disappointed. The quality of the convention is not really the Favor's problem. The Favor can do a fine job, depending on what the task is. This is an incredibly important distinction, so if it is the case, please make sure the convention Chair understands and accepts this when you are recruited.

6. Consultants feel confident that they know best how to do something, but are too busy doing things other than Penguicon to actually implement the vision. Gives good advice to the Core Leaders sometimes based on deep expertise, then gallops off into the sunset. Please tell us if you agreed to do something but realize you overcommitted. So long as you tell us, it's OK!

7. Core leaders. Not only do they do the lion's share of the work, they pick up what other people drop. It can be anybody who is respected, regardless of formal title (although the convention Chair is obviously one of them). One way to tell the core leaders is that they show up to most of the Concom meetings and/or SMOS dinners. If one of them has to drop out in an emergency, another one has been talking to them about Penguicon sufficiently often that they can take over.

Q: How can I get a table to sell things in the Dealers Room?

A:

See our Dealers page.

Q: How can I advertise in the program book?

A:

See our Advertising page.

Q: How can my company sponsor Penguicon?

A:

See our Sponsorship page.

Q: How can I participate in the Masquerade?

A:

MASQUERADE RULES
Definitions – pinatariders.org uses the following definitions within the Competition Rules:

Masquerade – an orderly stage presentation of costumes and awards. This does not include the Dance.
Muster – A gathering of all Masquerade participants prior to the complete stage presentation.
Costume – A combination of Worn Garments, Makeup, Accessories, and In-character Thematic Presentation.
Category – A subgrouping of costumes based on specific judging criteria. Division – A separation of costumes by age or experience level.
Contestant – The “Creator” of a competitive Costume Entry. Model – Wearer of any Costume. May be a person other than its Creator.
Costume Entry – a Costume or ensemble of costumes, worn by an individual or group of Models.

QUALIFYING

1. All Masquerade Models and Contestants must be members of this convention. Participants will be asked to show their badges at the Muster.
2. Costumes must be enrolled by Saturday at the convention, at the Masquerade Muster. Enrollment is also possible at Convention Operations until the Saturday Muster.
3. Appear at the appointed time. Costume Entries are scheduled to muster on time and complete their presentation during the Competition. All times will be published in the Program Schedule.
4. Complete costumes which have been purchased or rented are not allowed in competition. Commissioned costumes (purchased and modeled for a Contestant) or select purchased pieces in a costume are allowable, but the costume as a whole must be a work of individual creation.
5. One Model per Costume Entry. There are no dress-changes during this competition. Models are identified on stage by their Badge nickname or first name only. The “Creator” is fully identified in all cases.

CLASSIFICATIONS

6. Masquerade Award Categories are:
Re-creation - Entries based on a visual source (anime, comics, media, art, book cover, etc.) . Entries in the re-creation stream are advised to provide a clear copy of visual documentation for judges who may not be familiar with the source.
Original – Entries with no specific visual media source or basis. Interpretations of literary sources may be included as Original at the sole discretion of the Masquerade Director.
Divisions by Experience: If warranted by Costumer turnout, entries may be grouped and presented (but not necessarily judged) by the Contestant’s experience level to provide a more consistent playing field and an organized progression of modeled costumes. The Divisions open upward; a Contestant can field entries in any Division at or above their current stated division.
Professional costumers, fashion designers, or textile artists must enter in the Master division. In Division Competition, each entry will compete in one of the following divisions, which will be presented in this order:
Novice - Contestant who has never won an award in a Masquerade or similar costume competition
Journeyman - Contestant who has won at least one award (but fewer than three awards)
Artisan - Contestant who has won three or more awards
Master - Contestant who has either won three or more awards in the Artisan division or is fielding multiple non-ensemble models, or any Professional Costumer.
(Depending on turnout, the Artisan and Master divisions may also be combined.)

7. Entries Per Contestant Are Limited. The number of entries fielded by any individual Contestant is subject to approval of the Masquerade Director in fairness to single-entry Contestants. If divisions by experience level are used in the Masquerade, all multiple non-ensemble entries fielded by individual Contestants will be automatically placed in the Master Division of competition and presented consecutively.

JUDGING

8. Costumes will be judged during the Masquerade after all presentations by a panel of judges. Judges make 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place decisions based primarily on the following criteria:
Creativity (for original designs) or Faithfulness to the source (for re-creations)
Theme/concept – Appropriateness to any announced theme of the Masquerade
Presentation / audience impact, Overall look and consistency , and Technical Accomplishment

9. Lightning Round Judging by audience response will be used in the event of any tied scores.

STAGE PRESENTATION

10. All Costumes will be introduced by the Masquerade M.C. Any and all information an entry needs to accompany the M.C.’s intro of a stage presentation MUST be provided with the entry’s enrollment form. If a prepared introduction is not furnished, the M.C. is free to adlib a reaction, after announcing only the costume’s entry number, division, and title at the beginning, and credits at the end of each presentation. Presentations are limited to one minute on stage. Additional time or any need for an entry to involve the M.C. in its presentation is subject to review with the Masquerade Director and the M.C. in advance of the Masquerade Muster. Remember that all entries must remove their membership badge before going on stage.

11. No microphone will be available to contestants. In preparing presentations, bear in mind that the Masquerade will take place in a large room. Be prepared to project.

12. Costumes must be stageworthy. The standard path for the Masquerade involves entering the Ballroom catering access, climbing stairs to reach the stage, crossing the stage, walking down stairs to leave the stage, and exiting the room. Special arrangements to accommodate mobility or vision restrictions must be requested in advance and noted on the entry’s Enrollment form.

13. Miscellaneous Event Rules. The following standard Masquerade restrictions apply absolutely. Breaking any of the following rules results in but is not limited to disqualification:
No Nudity or Explicit Sexual Content. No costume is not a costume. The Masquerade’s policy on nudity is not above the laws of the state or the mores of the convention.
No Pyrotechnics. Open flame, explosives, flash powder, or flash paper are not allowed in any presentation. Sealed electronic flashes and strobes are permitted if they are declared.
No Messy Substances, such as liquids, peanut butter, powders, gels, slimes, Styrofoam peanuts, chocolate pudding, ketchup and anything that may damage another entry costume or create a hazard on the stage.
No Authentic Firearms, functional or nonfunctional. Any other Weapons in the Masquerade are subject to the Penguicon weapons policy. Weapons drawn, brandished, trained upon and/or dry-fired at targets or individuals in any threatening or ad lib (unexpected) manner is forbidden.
No projectiles.

All judging is final. The Convention Masquerade Director reserves the option to eliminate anyone from competition on the basis of danger to the audience or other contestants, or any reasonable consideration including tardiness or unsportsmanlike behavior.

These Costume Masquerade Rules were provided by the Great Pinata Riders Costuming Guild.

Q: How can I make ice cream with liquid nitrogen at Penguicon?

A:

  1. If you are already LN2Ready=1, then go to step 3. If you are at LN2Ready=0 go to step 2.
  2. Go to LN2 training session, then go to 4. (Training sessions will probably take place the evening of Thursday, April 17, and the afternoon of Friday, April 18. Watch the blog for the announcement of confirmed times and locations, which will also be added to this FAQ.)
  3. Find Molly at con to pick up a badge ribbon reading "LN2 Ready", then go to 4
  4. Find Molly starting Thursday and sign up for a session
  5. Make ice cream, make friends, enjoy.

Q: How do I order badge ribbons?

A:

Read this blog post about pricing, options, and deadlines and then send an e-mail to ribbons@penguicon.org with your order or any additional questions.

If you don't know, you may wish to see "What's a badge ribbon?" in this FAQ.


What's...

Q: What's a science fiction and open source convention?

A:

See our Intro page.

Q: What is Free Software?

A:

Free Software is a movement to be allowed to understand the tools that we use, use them how we want, improve on them, and communicate our improvements to others. It's the freedom to keep our high-tech civilization serving us, to keep it from sliding into a dystopia of high-tech handcuffs. This rejects locked-down protocols and clients that put our computers in service of powerful interests. Unaccountable, non-transparent software and hardware in electronic voting machines is just one example. For another example, the music player industry is competing with each other to see who can manufacture the most anti-competitive, most user-hostile device, to hold our purchases hostage, and surveil us.

One strategy to support Free Software was boycotting all software or technology that restricted freedom. This could be called the "shivering in huts" strategy, and put its adherents at a severe disadvantage. Free Software was where it all began, but a strategy and method was needed. For that, see What Is Open Source?.

What is Open Source?

A:

Free Software is a philosophical ideology, while Open Source is a method of creating software, and often a business strategy as well. Together, they are known as FOSS (Free/Open Source Software).

The difference between open and closed source is that closed source developers give you a program in the form of binary language that only a computer can read, so no human can figure out how it works. A closed process is managed from the top down in a cumbersome fashion, with managers struggling to impose a centralized vision on everybody and keep them coordinated. Because everything is a trade secret, they reinvent every wheel from scratch. Long ago, software got too complicated for this.

The cooperative, non-secretive principles of Software Freedom resulted in a different method of working together to create software. In the Open Source development model, you give the code to everybody in a form that lets any programmer copy it to their computer, read it, and edit their copy. They give the edited version back in improved form, and a cycle of collaboration begins. The result is less buggy because so many eyes have proofread it.

The world of Open Source Software has recognized the economic value of knowledge-sharing and commodity codebases that no one owns. Open Source has been one successful strategy of increasing Software Freedoms by setting up incentives to set each other free. Independent volunteer programmers are rewarded with praise and esteem in a reputation economy. Companies don't have to pay license fees over and over again for their shared software infrastructure, and they can much more easily and cheaply get software that works exactly the way they need it.

Today, the Internet runs mostly on Free and Open Source Software.

Whether you use Windows, Mac, or Linux, the Free and Open Source community has created free alternatives to most everything. Among the most popular, Firefox is for web browsing, Thunderbird is an email client, and Open Office is an office suite compatible with Microsoft Office. These programs are beautiful, simple, functional, and commitment-free.

Q: What Is Linux?

A:

The KDE desktop environment on Linux. The GNOME desktop environment on Linux.
The KDE desktop environment on Linux.
The GNOME desktop environment on Linux.

One of the biggest Free and Open Source development projects has been Linux, an operating system like Mac OS or Windows, except free as in "free speech" and free as in "free beer".

(There are other free operating systems, such as BSD. It is popular at Penguicon as well. Did you know Mac OS X is based on BSD?)

The Linux project has been going strong since the early nineties, and established majority market share of the servers that run the internet. Every time you search with Google, your request is processed by Linux. Today Linux is ready to compete directly with Microsoft as a consumer or business desktop system as well. You can buy a laptop from Dell with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. TiVo runs on Linux. Even some household appliances and automobile dashboards have respectable chips in them, and if they do, odds are good they can run Linux and work however you want them to work.

Whether it be mobile phones, handheld computers, your desktop PC or Mac, or anything you are reading this page on, they can run Linux. You can download and burn a Live CD, for free, such as Ubuntu Linux, known as "Linux for Human Beings". Rebooting with a Live CD in your drive will turn your computer into a Linux computer until you restart, and then everything will be the way it was before. A Live CD is the perfect way to discover how beautiful, functional and easy Linux can be. It even includes a Linux installer for when you decide to ditch Windows.

Q: What's a Consuite?

A:

The word Consuite is science fiction fandom lingo. The autograph shows you've heard of in a film like "Trekkies" are mainly giant flea markets that make you buy concessions at stadium prices. All-volunteer fan-run conventions like Penguicon are a different type of event from that. They have a hotel suite for hospitality, called Consuite, with bowls full of salty and sweet snacks, lunchmeats, a bathtub full of canned beverages, and free beer and hard cider. Penguicon's Consuite is open non-stop from 3PM Friday to late Sunday (when the rest of the convention ends, we all eat the leftover food).

It's all complimentary. Yup, the beer is "free as in beer". Our first year, some hackers who were new to fandom didn't quite believe this, and lingered outside warily. So instead of telling them it was free, we started saying "you already paid for it in your registration, now go eat it".

To honor our hacker connections we serve Water Joe (caffienated bottled water), homebrew Open Cola and other reverse-engineered sodas on tap, and ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Because SF author John Scalzi is a perennial Nifty Guest at Penguicon we are trying to arrange to serve Schadenfreude pie this year. The quality of Penguicon's Consuite is legendary among science fiction conventions.

Q: What's the difference between a panel, presentation, round table, and birds of a feather?

A:

Some of these are events familiar to science fiction conventions, and others are more familiar to tech shows, but both types often have all these to one degree or another. The difference between a panel, presentation, round table, and birds of a feather is:

(1) The number of participants committed in advance to attend.

(2) How much difference there is between speakers and audience.

A panel is any discussion with multiple participants who have committed to be there, get up in front of an audience, and discuss. It is preferable to have something to say about the topic, but not required, since committed participants are sometimes moderators.

A presentation is a talk prepared and delivered by one person who has committed to be there and do it. Because there is only one person, a presenter can prepare far more than can a panelist. Also, if the presenter doesn't have much to say on the topic ... that would be odd, wouldn't it? So they do.

A round table is a small session in which every audience member is an active participant in the discussion. This usually results from a panel that attracts such a small audience that the audience is invited to join the panel on the other side of the table. These are often worthwhile and rewarding, but cannot be scheduled in advance as Round Tables per se. If no one is willing to commit to be there, there is no sense reserving a space and time for it, but if someone is willing to be there, they constitute a panel.

A birds of a feather session is any discussion which was scheduled on an impromptu basis, in which no one present actually committed before Penguicon to attend it. If more than one person registers in advance of Penguicon to participate in a scheduled discussion, they constitute a panel.

Q: What's a Guest of Honor, a "Nifty Guest", and a Program Participant?

A:

We have about five or six full Guests of Honor per year, usually one or two authors, one or two from software, and the rest from from games, comics, film/TV, or science.

"Nifty Guest" is a status we confer on those who are not our Guests of Honor this year, but have been in the past, or they are celebrities in their own right. We only have about twenty or fewer Nifty Guests per year, although that number gets slightly larger each year from the original two. It is not simply to be used an award for people we like who have done things we admire. It is for two kinds of people.

- Celebrities or leaders within their specific subculture or internet community. They have a fanbase within that subculture to whom they announce, "you can meet me at Penguicon," so they are an attendance draw.

- Those who are going to attend Penguicon to provide a specific event which is so glittery and shiny for our attendees that it stands above our other programming. When we feel we can't do without them, but they can't attend without a little modest financial help, sometimes we have Niftified them. This second type of Nifty has been kept deliberately rare, maybe one per year.

"Program Participant" is a general term for anyone who delivers a presentation, is on a discussion panel, runs a scheduled game, or is featured in any other scheduled event at Penguicon. Those who are not designated a Guest of Honor or Nifty Guest receive a discounted admission rate for providing Penguicon content. The reality is, all our Program Participants are truly nifty in the sense of the English adjective. But each year I've seen us turn down several potential program participants because they couldn't show up without a free membership badge. As an all-volunteer not-for-profit convention (and one that is relatively new and still building financial security), we can't do that yet.

Q: What's the schedule of events at Penguicon?

A:

See our Event listings page.

Q. What's this year's Hack of Honor?

A:

The Giant Singing Tesla Coils will be featured in concert. See our Features page for more details.

Q: What's Brazilian Beef?

A:

A folk recipe from southern Brazil, which is served at Penguicon to those who preregister for it. See our Features page for more details.

Q: What's a LAN party?

A:

An event for multiplayer computer gaming on a LAN, which stands for "local area network". Players bring their own computers, headphones, and games, and the LAN party staff networks them all to each other to play the games against each other. See our Features page for more details.

Q. What's a SMOS dinner?

A:

The SMOS dinner is a casual get-together full of chatting, eating, and gaming, for convention organizers and their friends, and even complete strangers who are friendly to the whole idea. All fans, hackers, and their friends are welcome, regardless of whether you're helping with Penguicon.

It takes place approximately every two weeks in different homes, and Penguicon springs for dinner. There's no agenda, but a common topic of conversation is usually all the cool stuff Penguicon is going to feature this year, and the possibilities for more!

The SMOS name is based on an acronym SMOF from convention fandom, which stands for Secret Masters Of Fandom. In the software naming tradition of GNU (GNU's Not Unix), WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator), and LAME (LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder), the name SMOS is recursive, humorous, and untrue. Have no fear: Secret Masters Of SMOS is neither secret nor masters.

Subscribe to the Penguicon blog to watch for the next one!

Q: What's a badge ribbon?

A:

At science fiction conventions, some attendees hand out ribbons that attach to the bottom of name badges with a strip of adhesive. Originally, long before Penguicon started, these were only used by SF conventions to identify convention volunteers and program participants. They still are used for this. However, these days if you attend Penguicon and are willing to stick ribbons to your badge, it is likely to grow a chain of ribbons over the weekend that may reach to your knees if you let it.

Many ribbons serve as a prize or incentive of some kind. Some identify some group or category to which the person who gave you the ribbon believes you belong. Some provide a space for you to write your LJ username. Some are a record of your experiences or who you met during the weekend. And some are just humorous. There are no rules.

If you'd like to purchase badge ribbons with your message and hand them out over the weekend, read this blog post about pricing, options, and deadlines and then send an e-mail to ribbons@penguicon.org with your order or any additional questions.

Q: What's the registration cost and price increase schedule?

A:

Pre-registration rates
05/01/07 - 10/31/07
11/01/07 - 01/31/08
02/01/08 - 03/31/08
Regular (18 or older)
$ 30.00
$ 35.00
$ 40.00
Youth (13 - 17 years old)
$ 15.00
$ 20.00
$ 25.00

Q: What's the contact info of staff?

A:

See our Staff listing and click an envelope icon to email a member of our all-volunteer staff.

Q: What's Penguicon's mailing address?

A:

P.O. Box 40426, Redford, MI 48240-0426


Q: Do you have a fiction reading list especially for hackers?

A:

Penguicon has a track about the crossover between fiction and computing for good reason. Plenty of today's cutting-edge science fiction is written by those in the field of computers or math. It is probably not an accident that Steve Eley, creator of the Escape Pod SF podcast, is a web developer.

For examples of fiction involving famous persons from computer history, see "The Difference Engine" by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, Oracle by Greg Egan, and "Cryptonomicon" by Neil Stephenson (who also wrote the nonfiction In The Beginning Was The Command Line).

Published authors who are web-savvy often provide quality narratives involving the future of computing, for free on the web. These include Linux/Perl journalist (and 2007 Penguicon Guest of Honor) Charlie Stross, computer programmer Greg Egan and 2008 Penguicon Guest of Honor Vernor Vinge. (see this illustration and this one.)

2005 Penguicon Guest of Honor Cory Doctorow makes enough hacker fiction available on the web to provide a list of examples: Scroogled, 0wnz0red, Themepunks, Printcrime, I, Robot, When Sysadmins Ruled The Earth, and Human Readable.

Penguicon Nifty Guest Karl Schroeder's concept of "thalience', as described in such works as Ventus, has gained some currency in the artificial intelligence and computer networking communities.


Q: Why is your mascot a penguin?

A:

The mascot of the Linux operating system is Tux the penguin. This does not mean that the technology side of Penguicon is only for Linux. We're interested in all Free Open Source Software. This year when Starfleet Tux makes his live appearance at the convention, he will be joined by Beastie, the demon who is the mascot of the BSD operating system, dressed as a Jedi.

Q: When I attend, what will be my "total cost to pwn"?

A:

Plan for registration, lodging, travel, and meals.

If you're 18 or older at the time of the convention, right now registration costs $35; $20 if you're 13 to 17 at the time of the convention. The registration page details all the price increases, but the current rate lasts through January 31, 2007.

Then there's lodging. The Hilton's Penguicon discount rate is $89 per night plus tax, if you get a two-night stay. Somebody set up an online site for connecting with room shares and carpools so you can split costs on lodging and/or travel.

The restaurants within walking distance of the hotel are in a wide variety of price ranges (Coney Island, subs, coffee, bagels, pizza, Thai, sushi, Red Robin, seafood). The hotel sets up a stand with stuff like hamburgers and pizza slices for about $4-5. The complimentary Consuite is great for quenching your thirst and eating cereal, fruit, sandwiches, soup, chupaquesos, and so forth. That comes with your registration. But it's recommended to eat one non-Consuite meal per day.


Q: Do you have a policy on children?

A:

Although we don't forbid children, we aren't claiming to be intended for them either. Parents bring their children at their own risk. Penguicon takes no responsibility for what children see at Penguicon. We don't provide anything intended for children to do, we don't charge for children to attend, and we don't allow children to register, they just show up and are officially unnoticed under their parents' supervision.

If your child goes into the hospitality suite and starts popping caffienated mints like they were candy,
or if you let your 16 year old wander the halls at 11PM (hint: don't let your kids do that) and he goes into a presentation about safe sex and somebody hands him a condom and a Planned Parenthood brochure,
or if the game room or Chaos Machine supervisors kick your child out for disruption
... do not complain at closing ceremonies, or the answer will be "don't bring your kid."


Q. Why have a sponsorship program?

A:

Since we are not for-profit, we seek the means to build a nest egg, and do more for our community to grow attendance, that doesn't involve transferring a financial burden to you. Keeping the financial cost low maximizes attendance, which maximizes grassroots social network effects that promote the convention and our community.

As it so happens, that's not the only thing a grassroots social network promotes. Fandom and open source hackers are two groups that have generated a great deal of money for things they're passionate about. We get a lot of entrepreneurs, potential employees, sales decision-makers, and early adopters. Everyone they know turns to them for technology advice. But this is the sort of event they attend not because somebody said they have to, but because they want to. There is technical education and business networking to be had at Penguicon, but it's driven by passion. Making sure you contribute your passion requires keeping your costs low. So it makes sense that companies should chip in. This symbiosis benefits everybody.

But it benefits you the most. Those who make Penguicon happen are doing so because they enjoy Penguicon, so maximizing what the attendees get out of it will always be central to the decisions of the convention organizers.


Q: Am I going to appear on the internet in photos, videos, or voice recordings of Penguicon?

A:

If you leave your house and someone records you, by default assume somebody will put it on the internet. If you ask the convention organizers to withhold any such recordings from Penguicon's own communications channels, we're cooperative about honoring such requests. Hey, we're all friends here. Send your request with this form after the convention and specify what recording you were on with whatever details you can.

Of course we can't speak for your fellow attendees, many of whom will be carrying photography and recording equipment, and some of whom might have it implanted in their retinas. If there is a problem with that, we sympathize. May we suggest sunglasses, a scarf and a stylish wide-brimmed hat? Just say your convention costume is Carmen Sandiego.


Q: Who was at the last Penguicon?

A:

Almost 850 attendees descended upon the Troy Hilton on April 20-22, 2007. Our Guests of Honor were Christine Peterson, Charlie Stross, Steve Jackson, Elizabeth Bear, and Bruce Schneier. Over 100 Program Participants delivered presentations, sat on panels, gamemastered games, performed concerts and shows, and gave demonstrations.


Q: Can I wear the Penguin costume?

A:

That's not a costume!


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