May 27, 2003.

Posted by: rob

Captain's log, final entry...

Our new website is live. This site is going into mothballs, and may be moved to a sub-page under the new domain at some point in the future.

Penguicon 2.0 is off to an excellent start. We've heard back from four of our five GOH invitees with answers ranging from "Hell yes" to "Probably", depending on how sure they are what their schedules will look like a year from now. I will bother the fifth again when I recover from all the travelling I've been doing recently.

I may have buttons made up that say "Screw St. Crispin's Day, I was there for Penguicon 1.0". But you'll have to go to Penguicon 2.0 to get them...

--- End of Line. ---

May 20, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

We have a tentative confirmation from Wil Wheaton. Life is good. You might want to read this. His slashdot handle is CleverNickName, and this is his slashdot interview.

Two down, three to go...

May 19, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Invitations to our proposed GOH list have gone out, and we've gotten our first confirmation. Steve Jackson will be a Guest of Honor at Penguicon 2.0.

We're waiting to hear back from the others...

May 18, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

The Penguicon 2.0 development team has been launched. The new project maintainer, er... con chair, is Steve Gutterman. He is being assisted by Susan Harris. About 2/3 of the other concom positions have been filled, and we've got a list of candidates for the remaining ones.

The next penguicon organizational meeting is in a month, maybe a month and a half. We'll send out a notice two weeks ahead of time, on our new website: (Which is not live yet, but we've got the domain. Finding a server for it is on the immediate to-do list.)

Once goes live, this site will be frozen and all new updates will occur on the new site. (Our mailing lists will also move there, etc.) I'll post an announcement here when that happens.

May 13, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

I am bringing Special K bars to the Sunday meeting. You have been warned.

This is an impolite thing you can do to Special K, a rice-flake "diet" cereal. Somebody in Minnesota decided that Special K's advertising presented a challenge (highlighting how much weight you can loose by eating anything is a bit disingenuous), and went about adding sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter, chocolate, and butterscotch. (Really.) My sister got a hold of this, and since I like crunch bars (puffed rice and chocolate), and I like peanut butter cups (peanut butter and chocolate), and since adding butterscotch is a traditional mechanism for driving things "over the top", as it were...

The end result is quite impressive. It can put your pancreas into shock from several meters away. It's one of the world's highest calorie diet foods. (You can eat a very small amount of it and then feel full for hours. By "you" here I mean "me"; your mileage may vary.)

It's traditional to go "bwahahahaha" evilly while making this stuff. (Well, for me it is, anyway. A tradition I admittedly just made up, but still.)



P.S. In other news (okay, in ACTUAL news), David Campbell was kind enough to buy the domain today and donate it to Penguicon. So we'll have our own domain next year, and be able to do all sorts of cool stuff with it. Thanks David!

P.P.S. The bars are cooling now. There should be a way to work cholesterol into this somehow. Maybe I'll make Deviled Eggs...

P.P.P.S. I recently discovered that Tom Lehrer, musician behind "The Masochism Tango" and "Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park", is also the inventor of the Jello shot. This has no relevance to anything, and I don't even drink, but I thought it was neat.

May 12, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Tracy says:

Wrap Up Party/Meeting: Sunday, May 18, 2003

When:  Sunday, May 18, 2003; snack/socialize, 3 p.m.; starting at 4 p.m.
(yes, *really*)  
Where:   32305 Chesterbrook, Farmington Hills, MI (Steve Gutterman's
house, map attached)
Who:  All con comm and staff from this year, all folks interested in
planning for next year
What:  Tie down the final loose ends from this year.  Start
brainstorming the plan for next year.  (Find out who has officially
volunteered to be part of next year....)
Why:  Come, eat, hang out, enjoy our success!

And Steve adds:

And for those that wish to take advantage of the "snack/socialize" time - please bring munchies and/or drinks! <g>

May 11, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

I've got the suggestion list for next year typed up. Still tweaking it, of course...

Pete Abrams keeps threatening to put up a Penguicon write-up, but he would appear to have caught something from us...

May 8, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Haven't got the bug lists collated yet. (I have retrieved them from my car though, so that's progress.) Found out about ANOTHER one (Susan took notes at closing ceremonies, so there's suggestions from the audience) which I have to track down and collate...

We may have a con chair for next year. I'll let you know when it's official (after the meeting on the 18th, probably).

More write-ups of Penguicon keep trickling in. Here's one from Jack Bell's Slashdot journal, for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And there was a prequel.

Oh, and Pratchett still claims not to be a full blooded alpha geek... Yeah, right.

Update: I just put in a new section to hold the convention reports. Some day, Pete Abrams and co. may actually write up a Penguicon con report. ESR and Illiad already did. PTerry hasn't even made it back to the UK yet (as long as we were willing to spend money to fly in him into the states, his publisher decided he might as well do a brief Wee Free Men book tour; PS, did you notice there were copies for sale in the dealer's room? Did you know we had a dealer's room?). I'll check CmdrTaco's journal for penguicon-related updates in a day or two. (He mentioned us on April 28 and March 31, but hasn't posted a journal entry since. Knowing his attention span, it's probably too late to expect a write-up. :)

The May 18th entry (sunday after next) will probably be the last in this particular news blog. After a write-up up the post-mortem party, and official announcement of next year's Con Chair and such, I intend to shapshot the 2003 site and start up a fresh site for the 2004. We're getting SPECTACULAR word of mouth, we already have buy-in from the local LUGs (and now that they've seen the volunteer nature of our organization, it's clicked and they're psyched for next year), and we didn't even burn out most of our con staff, which is amazing if you stop and think that most of them STARTED as exhausted refugees from ConFusion's con staff... :)

May 7, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

I'm putting together the Penguicon 1.0 bug report list for the 2.0 kickoff meeting on the 18th. I have four separate lists to collate (only one of which is on my laptop, the rest are on paper) so I have a bit of unpacking to do first.

In the mean time, Jay Maynard just sent me two very nice links, one to his journal entry on Penguicon, and another to a photo album of somebody with a digital camera (possibly even Jay) wandering around Penguicon.

I'll post the bug list when I get it typed up. Anybody who wants to add to it (after it's up), email me. Penguicon 1.0 was very much a 1.0 release: fun, but rather amazing it worked at all...

Update: Illiad put up a Penguicon after action report. At this rate, we may not have to advertise at all next year... :)

May 6, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

I am asleep.

The con went superbly well. We had a BLAST. I'll do a better write-up once I recover a bit. (And link to some of the write-ups other people have done, as well...)

Alright, here's a couple random write-ups. Comments are cropping up on User Friendly, and Eric Raymond wrote about it in his blog. (The may 5 entry. Blogspot's permalinks are broken. Again.) Anybody who wants to email me more links to write-ups of the thing, I'm collecting them: rob at

We have a huge to-do list for Penguicon 2.0. (I'll be busy collating it when I wake up.) Yes we need online registration (including the banquet). Yes we need to record the panels so you can listen to the ones you miss. We need a gap IN the panel schedule so the geeks can visit the dealer's room, eat, visit the bathroom, etc. We need a guided tour of the facilities so the geeks know what's available. (Con suite: free caffiene and munchies. Really. Yes, this is normal. Dealer's room: a bit like thinkgeek, only in person and with no shipping charges. Anime room, banquet, two kinds of gaming (ok, the geeks found the computer graming room for the celebrity frag-fest, which absolutely rocked.)) The fen seemed to have a slightly easier time of it, since the event was, on the whole, largely con-shaped. And the LUGs are already psyched about doing serious fen outreach next year...

The next concom meeting is on the 18th, where we will be autopsying Penguicon 1.0, studying the known bugs in the 1.0 release, and starting to pull together the 2.0 development team. Stay tuned...

P.S. Sleep. Sleep is good.

May 3, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

The con's going great. If you're not here, you're missing a marvelous time. I'm not sure what the turnout is yet, but judging by the lack of parking, we're doing pretty well. :)

I'd like to thank Msen and Telesthic, the nice people who provided internet access to the con. For some reason, they didn't get a mention in the program book, which was a shame. They're really cool. (And two of them are here at the con...)

I just got out of my third panel. Many of the geeks have missed the dealer's room (spending all their time in panels), I'd like to point out you're missing some great stuff. I've spent $100 in there already (t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, books...). I'm updating this from the net access points in the atrium area (near the pool), where the swordfighting demo is going on. The Masquerade is starting, the celebrity banquet is in a couple hours, and the frag fest is at 10 pm...

Life is good. :)

May 2, 2003.

Posted by: Susan

We just wanted to give everyone a warning that I-696 will be closing down for the weekend. Previously posted directions will be invalid. We will try to post some alternates as soon as possible, but in the meantime, try for directions. Sorry for the inconvenience folks!

Posted by: Rob

Penguicon is here!

This morning, I passed Terry Pratchett sitting in the lobby (being interviewed by somebody). Pete Abrams is approaching across the atrium as I type...

Say something, Pete:

um... hello everybody!

I have to take him to breakfast now. I guess I'll finish updating this later.

Posted by: Rob

Okay, more news: Registration, which was supposed to open at 3 pm, has been delayed for two hours by, of all things, emergency dental surgery. So basically, we're not going to check badges on any panels occuring before opening ceremonies at 6 pm. (If then. Hopefully, we'll have some kind of signage explaining this prominently displayed near the front desk or something.) If you try to get alcohol in the con suite, they will card you. (Or maybe just not serve alcohol before then, I don't know.) It's a bit hectic behind the scenes, but the important thing is everybody seems to be having a really good time so far...

Wireless network access is live in the atrium (that's the pool area), but our nice spiffy 48 port wireless hub died at noon (of course). We're scrounging a replacement as we speak. (If you want to use the net, and you have a wireless card, come to the pool area. If you need to plug your laptop into a cat 5 cable, that may not be ready before registration opens...) The rest of the ground floor will be progressively wired up as the day goes on...

My own first panel, "What's new in the 2.5 Linux Kernel", starts in two hours. I should probably start preparing for it...

P.S. I'm told that in the program book cover design Pete and Illiad worked, the alien crawling through the window is supposed to have the windows logo on its forehead. But it was printed in black and white, so you can't tell. I'll get the color version up on the main as soon as Pete gets it off his laptop...

April 29, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Naturally, everything's happening at the last minute.

It looks like the liquid nitrogen ice cream has been punted to next year. (We've got a banquet, two tastings, a heavily caffienated con suite, and food-based off-site field trips. We aren't overwhelmed, but we are fully whelmed right up to capacity.) Speaking of which, the weather's nice enough that the Pinata party may be moved outside. (The program books are already printed, but we'll have a correction sheet in the program book listing any changes we make.)

It also looks like the ability to record all this year's panels and sell MP3/OGG cd-roms of them has fallen through as well. This is a pity because there are all sorts of choices you have to make: attend Terry Pratchett's reading, or the panel where Illiad AND Pete Abrams are talking about how to draw? Or how about the time slot where you have to choose whether to see Eric Flint talk about the Baen Free Library, Terry Pratchett host "Discworld Jeopardy", or see Eric Raymond's talk about the history of science fiction? And if you don't get there early enough on Friday, you'll miss Rob Malda and Jeff Bates' spotlight panel on slashdot. (Remember, Jeff is only available on Friday.) And of course all the things there are to do OTHER than going to panels: the banquet, signings, filk, masquerade, dance, room parties, anime and cinema obscura, dealer's room, installfest, three different types of gaming (if you count the LARP), and the time-sucking lure of pervasive wireless internet access...

Our scheduling maeven, Susan, has done a remarkable job spacing out the panels, and the conflicts are remarkably few considering how much really great programming we're fielding, but we've simply got a LOT more stuff to do than any one human being can physically attend in a three day period. You may want to look into having yourself cloned before attending, or perhaps fire up your portable time travel devices and try attending two or three times. (I'm fairly certain this does not require buying two memberships, but you'd have to ask Tracy to be sure.)

In addition to our regular schedule, Gary McGath has been kind enough to enter Penguicon's panels into something called Time Czar, and put the result online. As I write this, it's not quite up to date, but he and John Guest are working to get it updated. It's certainly a heck of a lot more readable, you can search for who is on a panel, or view the suckers in chronological order. By the time of the convention, it's quite possible this version will become our default online schedule.

P minus three days, and counting...

Update: The panel "Linux in the Enterprise" does not, in point of fact, have anything to do with captains Kirk, Picard, or Beckett. (One of the unique challenges of Penguicon is remembering to point this sort of thing out... :)

April 26, 2003.

Posted by: John

The final version of the programming schedule has been posted. Any changes now will show up as an erratta page in the program book. You can ignore the honking big master programming list of doom, and juslook at what's posted in Events.

Also, final arrangements for the T1 were made last Thursday. The T1 should be in place by End of Day Monday (SBC willing), the Internet connectivity secured on Tuesday, and the wireless hubs installed on Thursday afternoon. Bring your wireless enabled PCs and laptops and have fun!

Posted by: Rob

Or you could just do what I intended ot do all along, and make programming_temp.html a symlink to programming.shtml. (It's a geek thing, don't worry about it.) Naturally, I had to send in a half-dozen corrections to the "final" panel list as soon as it went up, but it's all just typos and description clarifications and such. What's there is something you should be able to plan your convention schedule around (fingers crossed)...

Last minute things that are in danger of falling through the cracks include getting somebody to tape all the panels (and sell ogg or mp3 CDs of the audio), and liquid nitrogen ice cream. But we're still hoping to pull a rabbit out of a hat here at the last minute (which is the traditional time for it, of course). Of course if anybody wants to volunteer to help out on this, it might save me a lot of adrenaline...

April 24, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

More programming stuff concerning the honking big master programming list of doom, specifically that it's no longer quite up to date. :)

Susan says:

Please move the Chocolate Ritual from Lincoln Park to Annex C (sat 8 pm)

Please move Blogging for Fun & Profit from Griffith to Annex c sat 9 pm

Please move Linux on the Desktop to Annex C from Griffth sat  3 pm

Finally Cancelled panels:

Fri     10 pm   What gaming and why do it
         11 pm   Fan Culture 101
Sat     11am    Hw do you Fork a Penguin
         1 pm    Is Intellectual Property an Oxymoron
         1 pm    Mad Libs
         4 pm    How to Avert the Apocalypse
         10 pm   Star Wars ep 3
Sun     1 pm    Care & Feeding of Penguins

And that, she says, is the programming schedule that will be printed up in the program book. (We all know there's bound to be one or two more changes, but we'll put them up on the web and stick an "updates" flyer in the program book. The panel schedule is now frozen at LEAST as securely as the 2.5 linux kernel feature list. Probably more so. :)

This weekend I'll try to get the final panel schedule up in the "programming" section, incorporating the above updates and with the HTML cleaned up a bit.

Busy, busy, busy...

April 23, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Susan tells me that Hemos (Jeff Bates) will only be attending Penguicon on friday due to unexpected family commitments. So be sure to show up on the first day if you want to see both Slashdot co-founders together.

We're also starting to get schedule confirmations from other guests. For example, here are the current schedules for two of our guests:

Ilya Sterin:

Friday          6:00 pm Jakarta Struts

Saturday        11:00 am        What is Open Source [* not certain]
                 2:00 pm        Open Source Isn't Just a Process
                 3:00 pm        Linux on the desktop
                 4:00 pm        Linux in the Enterprice

Sunday          10:00 am        Java on Linux
                12 noon         XML/PERL

Marcel Gagne:

Friday      8:00 p.m.       Opening Ceremonies

Saturday      10:00 a.m.       !@#$% Klez Virus
               1:00 p.m.       Artificial Intelligence
               2:00 p.m.       Signings
               3:00 p.m.       Linux on the Desktop

Sunday        11:00 a.m.      Got Linux - Now What

We'll be getting this sort of information up in the schedule area as soon as it gets locked down. (I'm told the program book guy is turning interesting colors waiting... :)

*more*: The current snapshot of the schedule (in the format Open Office produces when you convert a spreadsheet to html) is now available here. It'll go in the programming section once we get it finalized (a few more days), cleaned up a bit, and chopped into the approriate sections. (Probably this weekend.)

April 22, 2003.

Posted by: Susan

Just added Tom Smith - In Concert on Saturday before the Masquerade. Isn't he nifty!

Birds of a Feather Sessions will need to be registered with me (the programming head). Session time will be scheduled at the convention, and after you have registered. If we have not covered something that you'd like to talk about - space will be available. For those unfamiliar with Birds of a Feather sessions, it's just an impromptu panel/gathering that the suggestee will moderate and can cover anything from the newest game released that week, the newest technilogical achievements, or even the latest on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I hope someone does! Pretty Please!).

Close up on Technical Projects is changing. Time will be given to those who wish to discuss any of the latest changes/updates/upgrades in Linux of interest to them. Five minutes will be given to each person; nine in total. Space is limited, signup in advance is encouraged, please email me at stargzr1 at

That's all from the world of Programming folks. Look for more to come soon!


Posted by: Rob

Those of you familiar with "lightning talks" at other Linux conferences, that's what the Technical Projects is turning into. Here's a link to an O'Reilley page explaining the concept. Yes, we're taking both SF topics and technical topics, both for the birds of a feather sessions and the lightning talks.

April 15, 2003.

Posted by: John

A new programming event schedule has been posted. Check out the new graphical grid showing room locations and times for each session. More info coming soon! <Kiki> Oh! Pretty colors! Shiny! </Kiki>

Also coming will be searchable schedules and a PDA download provided by Gary McGath and his TimeCzar application. Kudos to Gary for helping us out!

Posted by: Rob

And if somebody would like to use my new email address (see the contact section) to tell me what the colors MEAN, I'd appreciate it. (That's what you get when you have no working email for a week, I suppose. If anybody sent anything to the old email address recently, it probably got silently eaten. Still doing it, apparently. Some kind of spam recycling initiative, perhaps?)

April 12, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Things are getting busy now. Sorry if updating the news blog hasn't quite been our top priority recently. (Admittedly your webmaster's email server going south for the winter hasn't helped. Hard to remind me to update the web page when I'm not getting any email... :) There's another concom meeting saturday, and Tracy might do another detailed status report after that, assuming it wouldn't knock "breathing" off her sechedule. :)

There will probably be a mail-in registration cutoff in a week or two, since you can't mail a check the day before and expect us to have it when you show up the next day. This is snail mail we're talking about.

Yes, snail mail. You may have noticed we don't have online registration this year. Yes, we know about paypal and amazon. Yes, we're quite aware it looks bad if a Linux Expo can't take a credit card through a website, and yes we plan to have online registration next year. The problem this year isn't technical, it's a staffing issue.

Penguicon 1.0 is being bootstrapped by an experienced concom (convention committee). The con chair, Tracy Worcester, previously organized ConFusion in 2000, and has recruited a number of experienced SF-side people to staff key positions. So even though this is a first year event, it's being run by experienced people. (We're even hosting our first year in the same hotel/convention center ConFusion uses.)

One of these key positions is registration, and Tracy tapped Jane and Rachael (from ConFusion) to run it. They are experienced, and have an established system. Unfortunately, this system does not appear to involve the use of electricity, and neither of them seem to have an email address.

Since it's normal for about 4 out of 5 SF convention attendees to register at the door, Tracy opted for people who can do onsite registration smoothly over people who can do preregistration smoothly. But it's more than that. Registration requires competent, experienced, and above all trusted people, who will be handling more money than anybody else, including the treasurer. They will also be collecting a certain amount of person information, such as names, email addresses, and (if you use a credit card or personal check at the door) mailing addresses, phone numbers, and possibly credit card numbers. This is NOT a position you can hand to just anybody.

Tracy's decision to go with Jane and Rachael was made a year ago, and it was her call. Jane and Rachael have a proven track record, and especially our first year that counts for a lot. Since then just about every geek-side convention committee member has offered to set up some kind of online registration process for them at one time or another, and all have been turned down. (Some of us repeatedly.) Jane and Rachael have had bad experiences in the past with multiple conflicting registration systems, and are afraid that some joker will claim "oh, I paid on the website" and they won't be able to determine the truth. This is the reason they give for refusing to delegate this. (The fact non-computerized registration is MORE susceptible to this kind of thing is a circular argument in this context. They don't have email, and don't want to give somebody they don't know access to attendees' personal information and money.)

Setting up online registration this year would have required finding someone to replace Jane and Rachael, someone experienced, someone who can be trusted with a noticeable amount of money, who won't abuse personal information from a large number of people, and who is willing to work for free. (Yes, this is one of the more difficult positions to staff. :)

The geek side contingent has had its hands full recruiting LUGs, organizing technical panels, arranging a T1 to the internet and wireless hubs to blanket the ground floor, arranging hardware for email, web surfing, and games... We didn't have anything to do with registration at all this year. Yes, it bugs us too, but we've chosen to live with it this year and fix it first thing next year. And now you know why.

- Rob

March 31, 2003.

Posted by: Tracy

For those of you who didn't make it to the con comm meeting this Saturday, just wanted to fire off a quick update.

First of all, the group of us gathered in Farmington Hills at the home of Steve Gutterman, our LUG Wrangler. (Thanks, Steve!)

Based on our department updates, it appears that the vast majority of the convention is clicking along right on schedule, and thanks to all of you who have been buckling down to get your jobs done efficiently and well. Gaming looks like it should have a solid presence, including a Friday evening LARP. The masquerade (Saturday afternoon) and dance (Saturday evening) are moving along smoothly. Arrangements are well underway for us to have T1 internet access to the hotel the weekend of the convention, and consuite shows every sign of being memorable, if nothing else for the quality of the coffee and the microbrew beer.

We also got a chance to talk with the folks from Aegis Consulting, who were looking to see if we might be interested in serving as a demo location for their Western Swordsmanship classes. They did a series of demos at U-Con this fall which were extremely popular. While we still need to confirm with Missy to make sure she can reasonably share the atrium with them, there is the possibility that the atrium is going to be home to three new entries to the local convention scene: sword demos on the hour; Nerf Wars on the half hour; and scheduled one on one combat at the pleasure of Missy Nightstar, Mistress of the Lists.

The lion's share of the meeting was given over to brainstorming potential panelists for programming, and putting together a rough grid layout for the major events and panels. We worked together until fairly late, and had a pretty solid draft of the schedule in Susan's hands by the time she left. Any of you who want to take a look at the draft program schedule should feel free to contact Susan (stargzr1 at to get directions to the most recent version.

We are still in fairly desperate need of a network gaming solution. Unfortunately, three or four different people thought that someone else was responsible for locating hardware and support staff for network gaming, so we're getting a late start off the mark.

But, based on our preregistration figures, it looks like we're going to have a solid event...I'm currently estimating somewhere between 750 and 900 folks at the convention. I'm not certain we're going to pull off every idea we had planned, but we're going to make a *damn* impressive showing for a first year event.

Thanks to every single one of you who, through your action or support, have helped make this event possible. This year is going to rock, and, assuming the universe hands us a convention chair for next year, next year should be even better. (:

Tracy Worcester
Convention Chair

March 30, 2003.

Posted by: John

An updated event schedule was posted today. We now have a tentative programming schedule that we will publish as soon as we get more confirmations on panelists. We need to have all panels confirmed by April 12th. If you have any interest being a panelist on any of the listed panels, please contact our head of programming, Susan Harris. Her e-mail is stargzr1 at earthlink dot net.

March 26, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

The winner of the advance proof copy of "Wee Free Men" has been chosen (on saturday, I think), and I assume the book is in the mail by now. As soon as Tracy tells me who won, I'll put it on up the main page. In the mean time, somebody's got a surprise coming. :)

You may also notice that the index (on the left) has sprouted "Masquerade" and "Dance" links. Bill and I have been having a little trouble getting the virtual permissions right for him to update his own bits of the web page, but that's coming too. A few days ago I sent some information to The International Costumers' Guild about Penguicon and our Masquerade, and we're now listed on their Conventions page...

Oh, and our mention on Terry Pratchett's publisher's website went back up. (They say they're re-launching that site for the Wee Free Men tour, but that won't be until after Penguicon.)

March 26, 2003.

Posted by: John

Yes, Virginia, there is a tech track!

Many apologies for how long the tech track has taken to be posted, and it's still jumbled and a work in process. But in an endeavor to do it right, I have unfortunately not posted anything, so I'll be posting what I have, with duplicates, warts and all, just so you can see what we're planning. And this should hopefully be cleaned up soon.

March 21, 2003.

Posted by: Tracy

Time to call and make your hotel reservations!

We finished talking with the hotel on Tuesday, and just wanted to let people know:

We've now added 24 hour pool access to our contact, as well as 4 p.m. checkout on Sunday!

Want to use the pool or hot tub at 3 a.m.? No problem? Really want to go to the guest of honor reading on Sunday at noon? That's OK! You don't have to check out for another couple of hours! (:

Everything is coming together. Penguicon in six weeks and a day....

Call to make your hotel reservations today: Van Dyke Park Suites, (586) 939-7995. Tell 'em to book it under PenguiCon, and if you have any trouble, ask for the front desk manager! (:

March 20, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

John Guest, Steve Gutterman, and I (me. Rob Landley. Yeah, that guy) sat down on monday and knocked out another dozen or so tech panel descriptions, which apparently aren't up on the suggested programming list yet. Just thought I'd let you know there's more coming.

Which panels will actually wind up occuring at the convention is mostly a question of staffing at this point. If there's a panel on the list that you think you'd make a good panelist for (or you really think Penguicon should do that's not on the list), try contacting Susan Harris (stargzr1 at Keep in mind that if we don't know you and have never heard of you, it might be nice to have some variant of credentials. (Not a requirement, but if you've got 'em, flaunt 'em, especially on the tech side. Susan isn't quite geekly enough to be able to determine by herself who is and isn't up to speed on kernel internals or network security, and arranging for you to meet John, Steve, or me before deciding if you're good cannon fodder panelist material is at least three times as much work. Try pointing us to articles you've written, jobs you've held, courses you've taught, degrees, certifications, merit badges, maybe a note from your mother...)

In other news, the drawing for the advanced proof copy of Terry Pratchett's "Wee Free Men" will be this saturday. (They had to be postmarked by the 15th, it's too late to get your entry in. Not too late to register for the con itself, though, where you get to meet the author, and possibly have dinner with him if you're quick enough signing up for the banquet.)

March 18, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Well, I just tried to let the Masquerade community know about Penguicon. Terry Pratchett's signed up to judge. (Okay, technically he said he wanted us to make sure his schedule left him free to watch the masquerade, and we took some liberties. :)

Eric Raymond's wife Cathy has also signed up to be a masquerade judge, so that's sort of another GOH by proxy, as it were. We're mulling over the third slot now.

My current understanding of the layout is that the Masquerade will be held on Saturday night in the "Van Dyke Park Theatre" (top center of the map, in the diagonal wing thing that's actually the base of "the tower"), but that the dance afterward will be held in Bell Aisle (at the other end of the same wing, the big square that can be divided into N, E, S, and W. If un-divided, it's the second biggest available space after the dealer's room, which is the big grey shaded area at the lower right.)

The main reason for not holding the dance in the same room as the Masquerade is, of course, that the seats in the VDP theatre are bolted to the floor. (There are 206 of them. I counted.) As far as I know, nothing is scheduled against the Masquerade (the banquet is before it, the dance afterwards). Every room party in the world is likely to be scheduled against the dance, though, and of course Filk. Panels may run late into the night on friday, but will probably cut off early saturday evening to make way for other events, and resume Sunday morning. (Susan will let you know when we have a firm schedule, all of the above is by no means final...)

Other fun items of note on the map: the left wing thing with three Annexes (A-C) is where the gaming is likely to be. One room for non-electronic gaming, one room for computer gaming, and the third room is likely to be devoted to a perpetual installfest (putting Linux on any computers you care to bring in, free of charge).

Where the various panel tracks and filk and such are going to be is still being worked out. In the center of the map are Lincoln Park and Griffith Park (the banquet might be in Griffith Park, which connects to Sebastian's Steak House, which is still labeled Mongo's Sports Bar and Eatery on the map, and notice the legend "Riddles Entrance" at the bottom, which is another previous name for the thing. I'm happy to call it "Fred", myself. So we can get food from Fred into Griffith Park through the back door, but could probably hold panels in it at other times).

There are several other rooms up north at the base of the tower (with names too blurred to see on this scan of the map. My copy calls them Burnham Park, Fairmont Park, Forest Park, and Golden Gate). A couple of them are going to be commandeered for Ops and Registration, but we can easily stick smaller panels in there. And, of course, there's always the theatre for keynotes and such.

P.S. The map mentions "Treaty Oak Park" (in the legend, top left). I can't find it ON the map. I'm guessing this is a previous name for Griffith Park. Fred must have gotten to it...

March 17, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Food near the hotel: The Van Dyke's built-in restaurant is now called "Sebastian's steak house" (previously "Mongo's sports bar and eatery", previously "Riddles"). There are two other restaurants within easy walking distance of the hotel (I.E. just past the north end of the parking lot, turn right out of the main entrance and you'll see them). "Michelle's Restaurant" has a bakery and candy story attached to it, but they close at 10pm on friday and saturday, so you'd have to remember to eat before they close. The next place north, "Telly's Restaurant (american and greek)", is open 24 hours. I have menus for both and will scan them in when I get near a scanner. (Just north of that is a Taco Bell. I don't know why. It counts as being within walking distance, I'm just not convinced it counts as being food.)

There are of course a zillion other restaurants up and down Van Dyke road (street, avenue, parkway, whatever it is). These require a car to get to. Directly across the street is "Fras American Grill" (I don't know either), and a little to the north of that is a Chilis. Fast food heading north to south includes the aforementioned mexican phone company, White Castle, Pizza Hut, Wendy's, and a McDonalds and a Burger King down towards 676. Just south of Tech Square (um, 12th street, was it?) is a greek restaurant on the west side of the street, across from a thai restaurant on the east side.

In other food related news, the banquet looks like it'll be $50/person, with tickets sold at the event. This is because there will only be seven or eight people at each guest's table, and we want to let you pick which guest you'd like to be seated with. (We couldn't do this via mail because they'll sell out too quickly, and we still won't have online registration until next year. So we have to do it at the door. I'll post details about when and where banquet tickets go on sale when I get them.)

March 16, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Saturday's concom meeting went fine. Lots of new stuff, half of which I need to research more before I can post about.

I went and visited the convention hotel today, and Penguicon's room block is filling up fast. (I.E. they're running out of rooms, there's less than a hundred left and still over a month to go until the convention.)

As of earlier today, there were exactly fifty standard rooms left (which includes 7 rooms near the theatre, which Masquerade people may want to be in, and 28 pool rooms with good internet connectivity). There are about 30 tower suite rooms left and 15 jacuzi suites (whether a jacuzi suite counts as a type of tower suite or not, i dunno. So that's either 30 or 45 rooms total), and only one two-story "presidential suite" left. (I also don't know if there are any "core suites" left.) I'll try to get updated figures in a week or two, and post them on the "hotel" page.

So if you want a room at the convention hotel, it might be a good idea to reserve it now. (Remember to say you're with Penguicon to get our discounted room rate.)

March 10, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Anybody wanna go on a cruise with Illiad through the Bahamas? It's called Illad's Oddity.

Nothing to do with Penguicon, but I thought our membership might be interested. The permanent home for the above link will be the "links" page.

March 9, 2003.

Posted by: John

Looking for a few good techs -- If you are interested assisting with setup, maintenance and teardown of the Penguicon network, please contact me at conphecda at ufie dot org.

We're looking for folks with experience with WiFi and cabled ethernet networks.

March 9, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Radio Free Fandom intends to broadcast live from Penguicon. Here's a blurb from them, and I'll add their link to the "links" page directly:

Boasting a new antenna measured to broadcast specifications, Radio Free Fandom will continue in their attempts to fill the airwaves with Science Fiction related fun and tomfoolery. Tune in to their FM broadcast Friday from 5PM to 2AM, Saturday from 10AM to 2AM, and Sunday 10AM to 3PM. (With a LOT of luck they may even run 24 hours for the second time ever!) Want to be a part of the fun? Stop by their room (look for their signs) or go to their web site:

March 8, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Hey everybody! One week left to preregister and get in the drawing for "Wee Free Men". (New book by Terry Pratchett, not released yet here OR in the UK, but we've got a copy and we're giving it away next week.) I don't think you can get a copy before the actual convention otherwise. Tracy would know for sure, the date it winds up in bookstores is printed on the jacket of the proof copy...

I gave the flyer links a more permanent home, at the end of the "about" page. There are new versions in development, but these should work fine.

March 6, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

I've got some information from the last concom meeting. First of all, I'd like to welcome our new art show person, Karen Klinck. Her contact info is on the contact page. The art show will be small our first year, but we will be having one.

Secondly, pdf versions of the flyers we've been handing out are now available on the web page. I'll find a permanent place to link them in later, for now here are some links to the Gamer, Fen, and Geek versions of the flyer.

March 5, 2003.

[Revised by John March 10, 2003]

Post removed as off topic by moderator.

Feb 24, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Con chair Tracy Worcester plans to attend the Terry Pratchett meetup in Ann Arbor on Monday, March 3, and also the SF meetup the following day. Links to these are on the "links" page, in the new and improved (well, bigger, in a small print sort of way) site navigation menu on your left.

Oh, and did I mention the new mailing list? Penguicon-tech, specifically for organizing the computer side of the event? It's in the "contact us" page...

Feb 23, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

[Revised by John March 10, 2003 to remove off topic content]

Guest of Honor Eric Raymond's webpages have moved. His old domain was, but he has now moved to -- if you link to any of his pages you may want to update your links.

Feb 22, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Several little things. The left-hand menu has been redone, in preparation for adding a lot more stuff to it. Programming department head Susan Harris now has her own web page, and there's a "links" page I'll be adding more stuff to whenever I feel particularly industrious. Links to the various in-person meetups we're trying to send a representative to (who might, in point of fact, be Tracy the con chair herself) are on there. (No, I don't know if she's going to the Ann Arbor or Detroit ones, she didn't say. She lives in Ann Arbor, though...)

Also, I would like to welcome Steve Gutterman aboard as LUG Wrangler. He's volunteered to herd cats for us as the Linux User Group point of contact, and I'd like to personally say "Thank You". (I've been doing a bad job at this, it's nice to have somebody with time to do a GOOD job at it.) I need to dump upon him my pile of little incoherent scraps of information about LUGs I've contacted so he can start to do his job. His contact info will be up in the contact list in about five minutes...

(Yeah, the new left edge menu highlights the crying need for me to do a stylesheet for this website. I know, I know...)

Feb 21, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

The next Penguicon concom meeting is on Saturday, March 1, at 2 pm, at Chateau du la Tracy Basemaunt. (See the Feb 7 entry.)

I don't know if I'll be able to make it since my cousin's getting married that day (in florida, no less), but the new strategy is meeting more often so missing one isn't such a big deal. There have also been suggestions of having shorter meetings, with the strategy being "there will be food, but nobody gets to eat any of it until we adjourn". This could be a new and highly effective trend in tangent management. :)

Feb 18, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Fixed the "contact" page to show that our treasurer Brendan's email is through hotmail, not yahoo. (One of these days I will learn to keep those straight, really I will...)

In other news, Brendan and I have finally hammered out the details of coupons for LUGs (and a couple similar groups). They'll be $3 off preregistration, and an additional $2 off the banquet if you sign up for that as well. We'll be printing them up and mailing them out in the next few weeks. If your LUG would like a Penguicon info packet containing these coupons (and some pretty flyers), and you haven't been contacted by us already, email me (landley at and I'll see what I can do.

Feb 12, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Lots of news. Let's see...

First all, I've stepped down as co-chair, leaving event co-founder Tracy as the sole con chair. (It's less confusing this way, and maybe I'll actually get to GO to some of the convention now.:) Of course I'm still in charge of the web page, online advertising, geek-side recruitment, and a half-dozen smaller things. But I'm delegating as we speak. :)

Along those lines, the long-awaited web page reorganization is slowly occuring behind the scenes, and a goal of it is to delegate sections to the people who are actually in charge of them. I have received (and misplaced, but I'll find it again) a list of names of people who want web page access, and I have to show them all how to get sourceforge accounts and create the appropriate symlinks and such. I'm going to have to make the menu on the left expand and collapse and do the whole multi-level tree view thing, which means I need to either get out my book on Javascript or my book on PHP. Hmmm... (Well I don't know how to get sourceforge to let me write CGI in Python, like I usually do. Sulk. Mope. Pout. Oh well, I've been meaning to learn Javascript anyway...)

I'm trying to put together a LUG info packet by tomorrow. There should be coupons in there for a couple bucks off preregistration, and flyers and such. We'll work out the details as we go along.

Feb 11, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Hemos is coming! Hemos is coming! (No no, red HAT, not red coat. And I think he uses Debian, anyway. Just a guess.)

Jeff "Hemos" Bates has agreed to come to Penguicon, so we now have both Slashdot cofounders. As I type this, I am still being cc'd on an ongoing exchange about what they plan to do to each other at the convention. It involves chair heights, flaming oil, and umbrellas so far...

I'm fairly certain the number of Cool Guests Who Aren't Of Honor Because We Ran Out Of Jacuzi Suites has got to be over a dozen now, I really do need to get more information up about them. Cliff Flynt is coming and doing lots of cool stuff with TCL. Eric Flint is already mentioned on the guests page... And there's the BSD guys, and the SF history people with their tape recorders...

I should figure out whose job it is to write all this stuff down, shouldn't I? I hope it's not me. :)

Feb 10, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

"That's just about par for the course. Usually hotels don't know about us until Saturday morning, when they notice the line at breakfast..." -- Michael Andaluz, discussing ConTraption.

And it's happening to us too, it seems. If you get somebody clueless on the phone when trying to reserve a room at the hotel, ask to speak to their manager. The managers know about things months in advance, the desk personel don't always. We're working on it.

Feb 7, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Sigh. tracywmail at, not hotmail. Contact info section fixed.

I've got to jump in a car and drive to Michigan for the concom meeting tomorrow. For anybody else who missed it, the reminder from Tracy went:

Just a final reminder that the con comm meeting is tomorrow.  A few of
the items we'll probably be going over:

*  Con Suite - Revealed!  (:
*  Programming - Process and Blurbifying
*  Technical - the Saga Continues, meet the Tech Chair in Absentia
*  Money (Brendan wants budget figures, time to make best guess
*  Other Topics as Necessary

Who: con comm, staff, and interested but unassigned volunteers
When:  Saturday, February 8, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where:  1910 Hill Street, Ann Arbor, MI, basement, (734) 604-5302 if you
get lost
Why:  Discussion of the above and some random socializing

I will actually be there for the meeting, as my vicious attack of life
factor is dropping.  However, Susan Harris and John Guest will be
running the meeting, because they are naturally organized, and we now
need to move into Getting Crap Done Efficiently mode.  (:

See you tomorrow!


Feb 6, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Two news items today, one from me and one from Tracy. Mine is that there's a new mailing list, penguiconpublic at We're splitting the "general penguicon attendee chat" list off from the convention's behind the scenes administrative list. See the "contacting us" page for details.

And now for Tracy's rant. :)

Posted by: Tracy

Right now, our hotel registration numbers are quite small. (Less than 10% of our room block.) Only one in six of our pre-registrants have made hotel bookings. C'mon people, I know you don't plan on sleeping at the convention, but you've got to have somewhere to put your stuff....(:

The hotel's phone number is (586) 939-7995. To all of you who can: CALL THEM NOW....

I have received some reports of people attempting to make reservations and being told something along the lines of "PenguiCon? What's that?" Please be patient and persistent. We *are* listed in their system under PenguiCon, and the event *is* scheduled for May 2-4, 2003. And if they *really* give you trouble, ask to talk to Debbie at Sales and Catering.

Gordon, my contact at the hotel, is concerned, and wants to start taking big chunks of our room block away. I have released 50 rooms in the quiet wing to him to calm him down. I've already warned Gordon about the events in the atrium like the Nerf War; we'll do what is necessary to keep the convention/non-convention friction to a minimum. But the sooner we show action on selling out the rest of our block, the fewer non-attendees will be sharing the hotel with us.

Just to be clear: our pre-registration numbers are progressing just fine for three months out; we've got between one hundred and two hundred pre-registrations already. I expect we'll have at least 400 by the time of our pre-reg cutoff date in March, possibly more. I am expecting at least one at-the-door registration for every pre-registration. So all is well. But GO BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOM. *grin*


Feb 5, 2003.

Posted by: Tracy

Win a galley proof of _Wee Free Men_! Preregistrations for PenguiCon postmarked before March 15 will be entered into a raffle for a galley proof of Terry Pratchett's next book, _Wee Free Men_! Winner to be announced on the web site!

Feb 3, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Just added a link to Terry Pratchett's publisher's page on him to the GOH description area. I'm in the process of breaking that up into seperate pages and expanding it noticeably, but I want to include our non-"of honor" guests as soon as I get a semi-complete list of them that's better than my memory.

"This must be the geekiest place on earth." - MIT's Student Information Processing Board.

Feb 2, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Enough people have asked me this that I'm going to post it as a news item now rather than wait for the site revamp. The dealer's room contact guy is Rich Tucholka (tucholka at I believe dealer's room tables (if there are any left) are going for $50 for the first table (which includes a membership) and $45 for each additional table (dunno if that includes another membership or what). I also don't know if there are any dealer's tables left (an awful lot have been sold already).

The program book person is Jeff Roush (alderfearn at We have plenty of space in the program book (worst case scenario you can always add pages to that, although there is only one back cover). The ad rates would appear to be as follows:

Back Cover (6" wide by 7.5" high): $150 
Full Page (6" x 7.5"): $100 
Vertical Half Page (3" x 7.5"): $50 
Horizontal Half Page (6" x 3.75"): $50 
Quarter Page (3" x 3.75"): $30 

I have no idea how sponsorships are likely to work into this.

Feb 1, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Oy, coming back up to speed after a couple weeks offline. Ton of stuff to put up (including the long-delayed call for presenters, which is halfway moot now but I'm going to release it anyway, so there.)

Most of the dealer's room space is now sold, but there's a little left. I've got prices and contact info I need to confirm before posting. I've also got a contact list for the rest of the concom too. And for a while now we've had noticeably more confirmed guests than just our guests of honor. Also the ad rates for the program book are just about nailed down. And it looks like we'll be having a banquet (details pending). We have a tentative event schedule being worked out. And our preregistration count has hit triple digits (not in danger of running out of tickets yet, but most preregistrations happen in the last couple months before the event, and traditionally four or five times as many people try to register at the door. I.E. a measly 100 preregistrations would equate to about 500 attendees, and we're over that with three months to go. Maxing out the 1200 person attendance cap is looking quite doable, so it's a good idea to preregister if you want to be sure of getting a space. And of course it's cheaper, too. :)

Lots of stuff. And there may be a new webmaster with more time to work on the website than I've got, but I need to update the site with all the pending stuff before handing it off.

Oh, and ConFusion was a great success, by the way. ConCom meeting next weekend, I believe.

Jan 16, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Okay, the call for presenters will have to go out on monday, then. It still needs some bits fixed, but I'm on the road again. (Yeah, I know it's not shakespeare, but still...)

Jan 15, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

The new site design is up, this one courtesty of Spring Dew from I want to apologize to Gaston for not getting his site redesign up earlier, there were actually a couple of things about it I liked even better than this design. But I wanted to tweak a couple of things and had to learn stylesheets to do it, so I put it on my to-do list. Then one day, a new design showed up in my mailbox that didn't use stylesheets.

It's amazing what the power of procrastination can accomplish, isn't it?

That said, I am NOT procrastinating about the call for presenters. Today is the 15th, I have a rough draft I want to bounce off the list, and then hopefully launch it out into the world. (I never promised that anybody would NOTICE it on the 15th, just that it would get launched. Quite possibly at 11:59 pm. :)

T minus 9 days for the start of ConFusion 2003. This is the convention that broke in our hotel for us, and half our con staff. Most of the Penguiconcom will be attending ConFusion, and I'm off to go meet half of them in person for the first time. We get to see how the hotel's infrastructure copes with real crowds, wander around with a wireless base station and laptops going "can you hear me now" and possibly getting sued by whichever cell phone commercial that is... Life is good.

Now if you don't mind, I have to go remove a lot more CTRL-M characters from all the other pages I just put up. (This typing "align=justify" in all my paragraph tags is going to take some getting used to as well. Yes, as you may have guessed, I edit web pages in vi, the way nature intended. (Okay, I admit nature had nothing to do with vi. After all, you can't spell "evil" without "vi". But in the absence of a sane text editor that's installed by default on any linux box I may happen to sit down at, and yes that leaves out "ctrl-x-emacs with the built-in telnet client"...))

I'll stop now.

Jan 11, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

We're getting very nice panel suggestions posted to the penguicon-panels list, but I'm going ahead with the call for presenters anyway. You never know what interesting things might fall in your lap when you shake the tree. (I know it's a bit late, I meant to do this back around November. Sigh...)

Look for it somewhere around the 15th...

In the mean time, here's a RealAudio interview Terry Pratchett did back in November.


Jan 3, 2003.

Posted by: Rob

Just updated the price on the registration page, it's now $40 (until march 15). I was late updating the web page, so I'm going to take pity on anybody who got their registration postmarked by January 4, and accept the $35 price.

Happy new year to you too.

Read news articles from 2002