I posted about this in an earler thread, but I was thinking that as a new fledgeling con, PAX East is going to possibly be getting a lot of not-so-experienced attendees. So, I decided that I wanted to get together a guide for people to use for PAX East as a reference. Then, someone on another forum I frequent said they made one for PAX Prime. Essentially it was an amended version of the booklets PAX makes for the official events so that it includes all of the info on the unofficial events.
In the end, it would really be a free resource for people to print out a PDF of or load onto an iPhone or Palm Pilot.
So I am proposing this to everyone going to PAX East: if you want to help create the PAX East Bible, for lack of a better term, please post in here that you want to help. Later, when it is getting finalized, we'll post the file here or give out information on how to get one for FREE.
What we are looking for is information on the following:
- unofficial get-togethers
- Boston information (PAX version of Zagat, Frommers, etc)
- tips and tricks from other Con-goers
- supply list
Again, if you want to help out, post here! (To the admins and planners: if you have any input on anything, please help us! We love what you guys are doing!)
A) I really should find an avatar for this board. I'm starting to realize that I'm not standing out on here. :P
I'm speechless you guys! This idea took off so quickly, and I'm really happy to see that people want to help out with the production of this. I think we may have a great start. Now, anyone who has posted something in this thread, please email me
so that we can work out some sort of plan so that this becomes more of a tangible thing than a lenghty message board post.
So I noticed that we have a lot of information here, but I haven't really gotten much feedback as for people to help me compile and edit the information we get, as well as contributors who want to help with certain sections. So I am gong to ask again, PLEASE MESSAGE ME ON THE FORUM if you are willing to help. I will be posting the final section list of topics in a few days.
By the way, I just found ot that Office has a plug-in for creating in PDF format (fail on me), but that means that I'm one more step towards it all. Happy Holidays!
East Coast Correspondent for 2Old2Play.com
EDIT: So I am starting a list of topics and such. If you think there is something that should be covered, let me know. Also, I'm aiming to have about 6 people working on this, more being great.
Basic things that you should be aware of that are different between the US and other countries (particularly Australia, from a selfish point of view!). How does tipping work? What options have people used for their mobile phone? Is it viable to use a pre-paid sim (or US equivalent) for a month's stay, or should I stick to roaming?
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Enjoy your time in Boston.
I have never been to a PAX.
I will be driving from PA like I normally do, about a 6 hour drive.
I am deciding if it is a good idea or not to bring my own PC.
I am willing to help out, but once again never been to a PAX, so I am looking forward to some more info on what is good to bring/ not to bring.
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If you are a full spectrum geek (aka, into more then just video games, interests range from sci fi/anime to computers/science, etc) I highly recommend taking the Charlie (the local rail system) to MIT and doing a day self walking tour. You might feel as at home there as one does at PAX. Nothing like the surreal feeling of walking the halls and passing a cryogenics lab or nano technology lab looking at the displays on the wall/bulletin boards and feeling like you walked into some place in space and time that once seemed confined to science fiction. That and reading about the various campus history/exploits of its attendees such as parking a police car on the top of the dome.
The Charlie is a pretty decent way to get around the area, its also easy to get into Boston from the airport by taking the Charlie, although I think you might have to change lines somewhere in there.
Harvard Square is also a pretty cool area to explore.
I've heard more first hand stories from locals about getting jacked/mugged in the subway in Boston then in New York, all of them were alone, travel in groups.
An iPhone or similar device with navigation features is a life saver for getting around town for non-locals and some people who have lived there for years, especially if you plan on driving (I say don't).
Also, hope you like Dunkin Donuts, there are more of them per square mile then StarBucks and McD's combined.
Probably so, you can buy a burn phone (we don't sell sim cards separate from the phones since only two cellphone networks utilize them) for $50-$80 or less at a Walmart or similar store. Tracfone and Net10 (same company really). I think if you aren't staying more then a month Net10 (which gives you nationwide roaming/long distance calling) is at 10 cents a minute and minutes can be bought online as well as in the form of a card with a code at a store. so 100 minutes would run you $10 and so on. Tracfone has some double minutes plan that can end up being cheaper but it costs so much up front that if you aren't keeping the phone more then a month it isn't worth it. I've used Net10 and Tracfone and am happy with the coverage you get with both, I believe both piggy back on AT&T's network which is GSM and works just about everywhere.
http://www.net10.com (for more on phones, plans, etc) like wise Tracfone has a site, probably www.tracfone.com
Edit: Looking at net10's site, it looks like you get 300 minutes automatically when you activate a new phone.
The only other thing I want to mention is in reply to terrix. I've never encountered any situations on the T where I felt unsafe but then again I hardly ever use anything but the green line and the 1 bus (Down to BMC). I would just say use common sense when traveling around Boston just as you would in any other city but no reason to feel less safe than anywhere else.
I will say that out of all the other large cities I've visited on the East Coast (which includes Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC) I personally liked Boston the best.
You don't use tokens or anything like that. Their are little machines at the stations that take your money and give you a little pass card (called a Charlie Ticket) with a magnetic strip with that amount of money on it. You need one of these to use the Charlie. I can't remember the exact rates, but it was cheap and I think it is swiped once for each line. Anyway, you put a certain amount on the card and feed it into a slot and it spits it out at the top where you grab it and walk through the turn style.
This is something obvious to the locals but may not be something people in other cities or not used to the subway expect.
Also, remember Boston is the place a female MIT student got arrested for having an electronic lite brite shirt with wires when she went to the airport and freaked out over some electronic Mooninite signs. I know at PAX strange is good, but anything too strange or electronic with wires and battery packs apparently gets people arrested for terrorist acts, so just be careful if you are cosplaying or doing anything like that that involves self made electronics.
The T is safe. The worst problem I've ever encountered was someone getting busted for fare evasion. Just don't be stupid and you'll be fine.
If you want to walk around MIT, go to Central Square not Kendall/MIT stop. You'll have to walk a bit if you get off at either stop, but at least at Central it's harder to get lost. Bring a map.
And there have yet to be problems with cosplay at AB and the city of Boston. Walking through an airport with wires sticking out of your shirt would be a stupid idea. Just don't be stupid and you'll be fine.
As for restaurants, there's a food court in the Prudential Center which is attached to the Hynes for the incredibly thrifty. There's also several restaurants in the Pru like CPK, Cheesecake Factory, the Daily Grill, Legal Sea Foods, and PF Changs. They vary in price, but all their menus are out front so you can judge for yourself what best meets your budget. There are a number of restaurants just outside the Hynes on Boylston Street and one block off that is Newbury Street which has tons of restaurants as well. Just take a walk down and see whatever strikes your fancy. On weekends most restaurants close around 10:30-11pm. Some may close later, but those are rare cases.
I bought 2 pay as you go sim cards from a drugstore in Seattle last year at PAX for me and LewieP to use in our Uk phones, cos it was cheap.
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There's also Charley's which is quite good and relatively cheap, also a block along.
It's next to a great small Japanese noodle joint, Men Tei.
Also the Pour House which pretty has good cheap food breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Also half price burgers on Saturday nights. Right across from the Hynes.
Cactus Club is right across from the Hynes as well. Does decent Tex-Mex.
That's awesome if they do, I've never seen any cellphone carrier do it. The SIM Card always came with the phone on the two or three pre-pay carriers that use them.
I cannot over-recommend Yelp as a guide for good eats:
Never had an issue scoring a great meal for a great price when my wife and I check on Yelp.
When it comes to eats around Hynes Convention Center, you are essentially looking at Boylston Street, and you run the gamut from cheap eats like the Pour House to some middle-of-the-road seafood, Mexican, and pizza restaurants (including a Pizzeria Uno about two blocks down from the convention center), and if you keep walking down Boylston and get into Copley Plaza there's a Wendy's and a Burger King.
If you go around the corner from Hynes onto Mass. Ave. there's a Dunkin' Donuts (these are everywhere in Boston, actually...literally every few blocks it seems), a McDonald's, another Wendy's, hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants...you're not going to have trouble finding food.
Newbury Street can be pricey, but good. It's the "rich people shop here" part of Boston. Armani is the caliber of store you find further down the street...but there are also lots of nichey stores meant for the middle class shopper, it's not as ritzy as the rep sometimes has it. Plenty of restaurants there as well, but often you need reservations and there are dress codes.
You'd want the end of Newbury Street closer to Mass. Ave. for the food, I believe.
Being Sicilian I'm biased, but the North End has amazing Italian restaurants pretty much everywhere. Visit Mike Pastry for the tourist trap, then Modern Pastry down the block for something a little more authentic. You can look up the famous Regina Pizzeria...usually has a line at the door.
I can't really speak to hotels because I live here...my wife's family usually stay at places near the New England Acquarium and the harbor which are really nice, but you get what you pay for.
Just reserve early, and don't pay rack rates.
SITES TO SEE:
Check out the M.I.T. museum. It's on Mass. Ave., just look it up. Right now they have some cool exhibits on robotics, mechanical art, and the bottom floor exhibit is about virtual spaces and teh intrawebs. The Central stop on the Red Line is probably the closest one.
Harvard Square on the Red Line - major shopping area. Lots of good, including a famous hamburger joint whose name I cannot mention...you may also get to see the first business in America registered to a (now-former) homeless person named Ken. Or his partner Frenchie might be there. You can pet their dog and cat.
The Museum of Science is pretty cool, nice planetarium and IMAX theater, but I suspect everyone will be a titch busy with the convention...potentially to do ANY of this, really, but there are three hotspots for you.
The stations aren't as architecturally-pleasing as the D.C. Metro, but they're extremely clean and safe. Boston is kind of a wuss-town if you're around the Hynes Convention Center area or Cambridge between Park Street and Harvard Square.
The T does use a card system just like NYC or D.C., which is (IMHO) just as easy to use. I do recommend keeping your stuff close by, bag straps in your hands, zippered compartments facing you, etc. I had a friend who looked away for a little while and had $400 worth of wargaming minis and modeling supplies stolen.
That's the worst you'll experience on the T, though, unless another driver is texting his girlfriend while he's driving...lol...
FWIW, if you're talking to a local looking while for directions and call the local rail in town "the Charlie" the local is going to look at you funny. It's "the T" to locals.
As a transplant, something else that might be useful for someone... If you ask for driving directions, if someone tells you to "take the Pike," they're referring to I-90. If they tell you to "take 128," they're referring to I-95, it's the same road close to Boston.
Hope this is of some use to someone!
When you get to Boston you have a few options as far as buying passes goes. If you think you will use the T often I would recommend for most PAX goers to get the 7-day link pass. It's $15. Compare that to the one day link pass at $9 and you can see that if you're going to be using it more than one day the 7-day is the better deal (http://www.mbta.com/fares_and_passes/subway/).
Also before you come you might want to sit down and look at how much you'll actually be using the T. If you think you won't use it often at all buying a stored value card with only like 5 or 10 dollars could even do the trick.
Taking the T from the Airport
I imagine this will be useful to more than a few people. The T doesn't have a direct stop at the airport (unless you count the silver line but I'll skip over that), instead you have to take a shuttle to the stop. Once you collect your baggage from claim go outside and stand near the the marked bus areas (there will usually be signs on the pillars or something like that). Look for a shuttle that has either "All Stops" or that has "MBTA Airport Stop" on it. It will take you to the blue line "Airport" stop. From there you want to take the train in the Bowdoin station direction (inbound I believe). For most paxer's you'll get off at government center and transfer to the green line up to Hynes Convention Center (or Prudential if you're on the E line is close too). Here's some links that can explain it better than I can
Airport Shuttle Info
Getting to (or from) Logan site
Hope that helps at least somewhat.
If possible I would recommend not driving to Boston. I do it all the time, but unless you're from here the rules of the road and the bizarre logic behind the roadways is just going to confuse you even before you think about parking costs (even as a native, its more difficult at times than London, LA or NYC). Additionally, there's zero reason to have a car with you unless you have a physical problem that makes walking very difficult or you're going out of the city. You can easily walk everywhere and if you're going across town the subway is easy. PAX will be very much in a walking district and even though it will likely be cold, you should be able to get whatever you need between the Convention Center and two skybridge connected malls (The Shops at Prudential Center and Copley Place) including a church, restaurants and two hotels.
Additionally these buildings have a number of connections to the Subway and Copley Place even has a connection to the Back Bay train station which includes Amtrak/Acela service. In theory, you could get on a train as far south as Virginia, stay in the complex, and return without having to go outside at all.
The neighborhood the convention will be held in, however, goes from the nice-but-a-bit-trendy/college (something like 20% of the city's population are students, education, medicine, tech, government and research are the biggest employers) to extremely nice with awesome architecture. On one side you've got Trinity Church
Also, 128 is not always I-95. The roads needed to be reclassified for federal funding but you'll still see old Route 128 signs some places and its universally understood. Route 128 circles the city as you'll see with many major cities. However, it is alternately I-93 or I-95 depending on what stretch and on my commute home every day I am simultaneously on I-95 North and I-93 South. Its often easier to look at the cities listed on various splits to figure out if you're going clockwise or counterclockwise. If you are inside Route 128, especially to the South and West of the city proper you are essentially in Boston - its largely urban, you can get there on the T, etc. Outside 128 is still fairly densely population but is undeniably more suburban in character and those coming to PAX probably won't bother going outside of 128 unless they want to see the Cape, Plymouth or Salem etc.
I'll stop there before I talk about my city more but I'll try to answer any more specific questions. I've only been to a few conventions (the only big one was Comic Con this year) so I might not know what veterans need/want to know
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So from what I was able to find the average temp in march is 40° and whether or not its sunny or rainy is random. Down here in SoCal 40° is like lower than the average temp you will encounter on the ski slopes. What kind of clothing am I going to really need out there ?
March comes in like a Lion out like a Lamb. End of March weather can go either way, all depends on the year. My birthday is at the end of March and I remember as a kid sometimes having outside birthdays, other years snow and inside birthdays. Def will want jeans and a sweathsirt. If you plan to walk around Boston probably a warm jacket, with a hood or hat.
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It was a bread board with LED's on it, something that wouldn't even garner second looks on campus >__< Not that I'm defending her, she's a great girl and a good friend but a bit clueless about the real world like most MIT students :P
Also for people interested in touring MIT, there are student guided tours leaving from Lobby 7 every hour/couple of hours. We'll be on our spring break though so it won't be as interesting as most of you are probably hoping. Even grad students attempt to runaway during Spring Break.
The MIT Museum is awesome and will be open, so stop by and see that. it's a couple blocks off campus down Mass Ave.
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There's some great info in this thread!! One thing I would add is that Boston is a very accessible and highly walkable city. There's gorgeous architecture everywhere, and really, what better way to experience any city than by wandering the streets? Take the T only if you're tired and want to get off your feet for awhile. Also, if you take the T, I guarentee that at some point, you will stare at your train options and say, "How the fuck should I know if I'm going inbound or outbound when it clearly follows nothing rational??" It follows that in a town whose roads were laid by cow tracks that the inbound and outbound directions are similarly obscure. There are 3 (4? Does State count?) transfer points on the T: Park Street, Downtown Crossing, Governmentt Center, and State (sure; why not), and if you are heading toward one of these stations, you are going Inbound. If you are heading away from these stations, you are going Outbound. I spent 4 years here for college not knowing this and only learned it a few months ago when I moved back, so I am happy to get to pass the secret along!
Do I recall seeing a question about American etiquette, tipping in particular, for first-time visitors? I think I do. I used to live abroad and remember going to get my hair cut when I first moved back to the States for college and scuttling out without giving a tip because there's no tippig in Japan and I had no clue what an accetable amount would be. Now I know that I should have done 15% or so, and that it's proper to tip 15% at restaurants, or 20% if you've just moved up from NYC. I'd say 10% is fine for taxis, a few bucks(?) for porters... Anythig else that I'm missing?
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Screw State! haha but seriously Yoshi gives a spot on description of how to tell if it's inbound or outbound. If you've taken subways before Boston's definitely isn't that hard to figure out but could definitely be frustrating to someone new to the whole subway thing.
Another thing that I feel we should describe:
The Green Line: Where is this letter taking me?
Check out this map
The only "hard" part I would say about the T system (at least at first) is the outbound green line.
If you'll notice on the map, as you move outbound the green line gets all snakey. So here are some good rules of thumb.
If you are headed outbound the B, C, and D lines (identified by the signs on the trains) all go to Kenmore before splitting off (for PAX persons this means they all go to Hynes). The E line on the other hand splits off at Copley which means that for the average PAX-goer you will not want to use the E line (if you decide you want to go to the MFA then that's another story entirely).
After Kenmore B, C and D all go in different directions so when you check a map to find your destination you should see which line it is on and be able to board a train accordingly.
I will be in the area of the Hynes later this week and will take some photos of the surrounding area, specifically eating establishments so people can start to get a feel for what their options are.
East Coast Correspondent for 2Old2Play.com
The key to rotaries: Yell "Yield Motherfucker!" when you've already in the rotary and don't hit anyone when you're merging into the rotary. It won't actually help but you'll feel better.
Also don't recommend any of the places I plan on eating dinner during PAX. /selfish
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The North End is vastly overrated so be careful with where you eat be careful where you go because most are just tourist traps, oh, and Regina sucks. If you want to pay way too much for a crappy slice form a dirty pizza joint because it's "Bostonian" you can but now you've been warned.
The T is completely safe unless you do something stupid like get off in Mattapan at 1 am. In which case you asked for it.