Let me first say (for the new people) that last year I didn't have a ton of problems, but as a former Boy Scout, I like to think ahead (and be prepared).
Not sure what it's like at Prime, but at East in 2010, there were some issues with calls not going through and extremely delayed text messages - I'm talking about receiving a text message from Saturday night on Sunday evening after departing Boston. There was by no means a complete blackout of communications, but there were times when it was fairly unreliable. Since I'm assuming more people will be at the BCEC, we are trying to think ahead in case cellular phones don't work for voice calls or texts. At the Stewart/Colbert rally in DC last month, cell phones didn't work at all on the mall. Completely overloaded the system (although latest estimates I've seen put the crowd at ~250,000 which is several times larger than PAX).
Anyways, wondering if anyone else out there has experience with portable 2-way radios (walkie talkies) that they plan on bringing? I know that the Salmon Security prank used them. My friends that I'm coming with have a set of 6 of these that they use for camping/hunting/fishing (http://www.amazon.com/Midland-GXT1000VP4-36-Mile-50-Channel-Two-Way/dp/B001WMFYH4
). Looks like they offer a paging function in addition to straight voice comms. Not sure that it'll be necessary, but we'll probably have them stashed in our bags and if texts stop working we can fall back to these.
I fully admit that this might be overkill, but this isn't the first con where I've seen people using radios. Thoughts?
East 2014 Status: Badge [ Friend got it ] Hotel [Crappy] BYOC [YES] Transport [ ] Name on Forum Badge [ ] Challenge Coin [ ]
I was using a BlackBerry Storm on Verizon for last year's East. I actually had zero problems with calls and zero problems with my 3G data. I saw some slight delay on texts here and there though. Most of the people I heard having issues (in my group and just in general) were using at&t (fwiw) and couldn't get 3G or texts but seemed to be ok on EDGE and calls (with 3G turned off). I know ZERO about T-Mobile or Sprint coverage for the area.
most systems only have a handful of channels available. This could be decent for a group if the pre-coordinate channels (could even have specific channels for specific things and pre-coordinate that on the forums!) but it has a massive potential for crosstalk and interference given the busy area. It could definitely work, or they could be useless :P can't hurt to try I guess!
It would be interesting to get a demographic based on pax attendees for the usage. I know Verizon has more subscribers nationwide than at&t, but it could be very possible that an overwhelming number of pax goers use at&t. Maybe if such data gets collected it could be a good tool to submit to the carrier(s) most used to get possible additional temporary coverage (you can hardwire in additional cell stations through ze internets).
Yeah, everyone in my group of friends has an iPhone (we're all iLemmings I suppose). Hopefully the infrastructure is just fine this year, and maybe the iPhone 4 troubles have caused more people to go Android. Like I said, probably overkill, but we already have the radios (and even the little security earpieces), so I thought it couldn't hurt to bring them. Just wanted to see if other people had used them previously in this environment. Thanks for the replies!
The nice thing about the BCEC is that it has a very open floor plan that is then cordoned off into the variety of rooms. This means there is a smaller chance that you will have massive signal blocking walls in the way since most of the walls will be less substantial temporary structures. You would still get better comm quality if you were in direct line of sight of each other, but I would think that it would be more likely to be successful at the BCEC than the Hynes.
So for me, I think I'll be depending on Twitter for most communications, but in all other cases, I'll need a back-up, which I'll work on closer to the event.
This. Twitter saved mah bacon at Prime, and I'll definitely be re-relying on it at East.
Really? I've been on twitter for a long time. I've never been particularly impressed with their reliability or speed (it often took a long time to 'receive' @/D messages, and sometimes they never showed up), although I guess they've gotten a little better in the past year or two. Most of my friends don't actually use twitter, so for me it's only useful for following official announcements, stalking wil wheaton, and twitter-shitting semi-anonymously.
I do follow the official pax feeds, but usually at a con (be it PAX, or DEFCON, or even a smaller one like Shmoocon) it's way too hard to digest even a fraction of the #PAX tagged messages. Also, web browsing was v difficult on my phone last year (and, by extension, using Twitter). I'm assuming it was for the same reason that texts didn't always go through (AT&T being behind on building out towers). Does the BCEC/PAX plan to have have wifi? Even if it does, I'm hesitant to use open wifi in that setting (Wall of Sheep at DEFCON springs to mind), but maybe it will alleviate strain on the cellular infrastructure.
To be fair, last year I was still rocking an original EDGE-only iPhone, which was slow as balls to begin with. I haven't been terribly impressed with the iPhone 4's 3G data speeds, but we'll see how it fares in March.
In general, I found that Twitter @/DM were faster and more reliable than any other form of communimicationising.
<@zerzhul> you win at twdt
Twitter was great for networking with other PAXer's. We were able to find a group that wanted to play Munchkin in the hotel lobby that way.
I was only at Prime this year, so I can't speak for Boston's architecture; however, 3G was completely annihilated inside the convention center, and the only way to get internet at all was to switch over to Edge. There was a wifi signal inside but it refused to even give an IP address when you tried to connect to it.
I think the most important thing is to not rely on phones at all. Make plans for meetup times and locations before you split the party.
1) We had specific short blocks when we would be transmitting. I think we would have gone through many more batteries if we left them on for extended periods. I also imagine that over time the false transmissions would have been confusing and annoying.
2) The frequencies were open. Anyone can listen in and speak. Throughout the course of the weekend we had to change frequencies due to some unappreciated chatter =/.
The radios were more of a backup plan. I'd have to agree that Twitter and txt messaging worked the best. If you have AT&T, Edge is your friend and served me greatly.
Irresponsible Random Chatter - The IRC Webcast | Toasty Corp. Productions presents Video Games of 2010
Seconded! I may not be from out-of-country, but I'm still thinking of getting a burner to use for all the MMT and Cookie Brigade stuff so that I'm not giving my personal number to everyone. I know nothing about temp phones though. So yes, if anyone has any advice/info/suggestions, please share! And if anyone has used them in the past, how did they work out? Were there any snags?
If all you want is a temporary-type phone number you can give out freely, why not get a google voice account? I have 2 or 3 different google voice numbers, just set it to forward straight to your cell phone. Boom, 2 numbers that both go to the same phone.
For Canadians, that's not possible - Google Voice won't forward to Canadian phone numbers (unless something has changed that I'm unaware of). For many Americans, however, that would seem to be an ideal solution.
...that was last year. Now that Android handsets outsell iPhones 2:1, I'm thinking Verizon's going to be taking a pounding as well.
FWIW, I had great coverage from T-Mobile on my hacked iPhone 2G last year!
You can pick up a prepaid US "disposable" phone for $30 including a couple of hours of talk time, FWIW.
It wasn't really our desire to get crazy about trying to contact each other EXACTLY at this time or RIGHT NOW. Which, I think, made our experiences a lot better. This was at both Prime and East, probably will be similar in BCEC... but we DO have a bigger group.
Though trying to tell each other where you're going quickly before you pass on the escalators was not a good idea...
As far as cell phone coverage goes: don't rely on voice for almost anything, use texts, get a twitter app, and switch to edge. Stuff everyone has already said, but years of PAX experience adds reinforcement.
Organizer of the Post-PAX Party. You should come!
Satellite Theater for life!