Category Archives: Skeptic Events

Information about events of interest to skeptics.

Where to see me at DragonCon 2015

DragonCon logoI will be attending DragonCon this weekend, as I usually do. It is my home-town convention so I always look forward to catching up with my sci-fi and skeptic friends during the Labor Day weekend.

DragonCon is pretty gigantic – it spreads across five major hotels and a convention center and it has its own custom smartphone app just so attendees can manage their schedule. As of this writing even the information in the smartphone app is not quite complete, at least for my schedule. So for reference, here’s where you can see me speak during the weekend:

Year of the Data Breach

Friday 11:30am – Hilton 201 (EFF Track)
Sony, Anthem, Home Depot, OPM, and many others. What’s up with corporate information security these days? Why are so many companies getting hacked?  Other panelists include Blair B. Chintella (moderator), Amie Stepanovich, Josh Ruppe, Chris Grayson.


Tuff Topics for Parents

Friday 8:30pm – Marriott A708 (Kaleidoscope Track)
Well mannered but frank discussion of tough topics including bullying, LGBTQ, cyber-bullying, the internet and social topics. Targeted at adults. Ohter panelists include Ronald Thomas Garner, Tony Gowell.


Hacking 101

Saturday 7:00pm – Marriott A601-A602 (EFF Track)
Hacking 101 returns for another glorious year! Just what is a hacker anyway? Culture, history, contacts, resources, and pointers for more info. Brought to you by se2600.org.  Other panelists include Randal L. Schwartz, Kit Walsh and jonny X.

If you are interested in what sorts of topics get covered in the Hacking 101 session, here’s video of the one from last year, on which I also appeared.

You can watch two other computer technology panels on which I appeared last year in this playlist in my YouTube channel.


SkepTech

Sunday 1:00pm – Hilton Room 204-207 (Skeptrack)
Skeptical thinking isn’t always about Bigfeet, Ghosts, and Tarot… Sometimes it can be in your tech too!  Other panelists include Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont.


Wrap-Up and Feedback

Monday 1:00pm – Hilton Room 204-207 (Skeptrack)
Come and join us for a discussion about the past weekend. Discuss the highlights, and offer feedback for ideas in 2016!  Other (tentative) panelists include James Randi, Richard Carrier, Margaret Downey, Barbara Drescher, Ian Harris and Evan Bernstein.


You’ll probably see me in the Skeptrack room at various times during the weekend. I’m also using the DragonCon smartphone app to track what other sessions I’m attending, if you want to catch up with me send me a friend request in the app.

A couple of notes – we are not repeating the Ignite Skepticism program we did last year. We had hoped to repeat it this year, but it didn’t come together due to various things (such as my wedding in August). It will return in the future.

Also if you are looking for the WiFi guide to DragonCon you can find last year’s guide at that link. I didn’t have time to update it this year either – if I notice any significant changes I’ll post them on Twitter, so please follow me.

#TAM2013 Crowdsourcing Workshop & other videos posted

Additional videos from The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013 have been posted in recent weeks by the James Randi Educational Foundation. Just in the last few days the two workshops I was involved in at #TAM2013, on the topics of skeptic history and crowdsourcing, have been added!

Crowdsourcing

The crowdsourcing workshop featured Shane Greenup of RBUTR, Susan Gerbic of the Guerrilla Skepticism project and myself, discussing how the new technique of crowdsourcing can be applied to skeptical projects. If you follow this blog you know some of the tools and topics we discussed.

The new video from this workshop has a few issues, and thus only includes the parts of the workshop presented by Shane and myself. But Susan had previously posted audience-shot video of her portions of the workshop and the Q&A, so I have compiled all four of these videos into a playlist you can watch right here.  The audio isn’t fantastic but it covers most of the workshop.

I previously captured the live reaction to the workshop on Storify here. There is more information about this workshop including coverage (including an interview with Susan) at the Lanyrd page for the session here.

Skeptic History

I participated in two other pieces of programming at TAM2013, both concerning the history of skepticism. The first was a workshop called Preserving Skeptic History organized by Daniel Loxton. Along with the video he posted some of his thoughts on the workshop and a great excerpt of the comments made by Ray Hyman.

The other programming was the 2013 In Memoriam presentation, which was previously posted on this website.

As of this writing JREF has posted over 50 videos from TAM 2013, they can be accessed via a YouTube playlist here or via the conference directory Lanyrd here.  I recommend the latter link because it can be filtered by topic using the blue buttons on the right hand side. It also includes videos (such as interviews, podcasts and so on) posted by others, for a total of 106 videos!

Ignite Skepticism will launch tomorrow at #DragonCon #Skeptrack in Atlanta

Ignite Skepticism logoBack in June I wrote a post about innovative mixes of curation and crowdsourcing that I’ve seen skeptic events adding these days. I included some ideas that (to my knowledge) have not yet been tried at the end of that post.

At DragonCon 2014 in Atlanta on Monday, I am going to curate an attempt at one of those new ideas (previously mentioned in my schedule here)! It’s called Ignite Skepticism, and it consists of a series of 5-minute lightning talks.

I hope many of you who are attending the event right now will attend this session, which is in the Skeptrack room, 204 to 207 in the Hilton hotel. The session begins Monday at 10am.

But let me tell you a little bit more about what Ignite is all about…

Continue reading

WiFi and Internet guide to #DragonCon 2014

Update August 29: Hilton renamed their access points in the last two weeks.
Update August 30: AmericasMart has made WiFi free in 2014.

DragonCon 2014 in Atlanta is this weekend. It is a gigantic convention for fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books and other pop-culture topics. For several years now it has had a dedicated track of programming for skeptics called Skeptrack, at which I again will be speaking. (You can see my schedule in an earlier post).

DragonCon logoDragon Con is so huge  – spread across six massive buildings in downtown Atlanta – that wireless communication is essential to keep in touch during it. For the fourth year running, I’ve gone to downtown Atlanta and personally verified what WiFi options are available around the DragonCon site so attendees can know what to expect. This post contains my findings for 2014.

The map has been updated with some new hotspots and to remove ones that are gone. Much of the hotel information is unchanged from last year, but be sure to check the hotel you are staying in to be sure. The devil is in the details.

Just some of the info in this post that can save you time or money or both:

  • Every host hotel this year has at least some free WiFi – and the paid options in your hotel room now typically include from 3 to 5 devices. I’ve got details.
  • Is the hotel WiFi overloaded, and you desperately need to upload something? I’ll tell you several places to go in the nearby area that offer alternatives.
  • Would you rather use a less overloaded WiFi by logging in with your existing WiFi account? (e.g. AT&T, Boingo, Xfinity, etc.) I’ve found several places you can do that including many new Xfinity hotspots added since last year.
  • Do you need some Internet access but are not bringing a device? I’ll tell you which two hotels have computers you can use for free.

All that and much more, after the jump…

Continue reading

Tim Farley’s #DragonCon 2014 Schedule

DragonCon logo

Updated Aug 26: added Star Party links.

The US Labor Day holiday is next weekend, which means it is time for DragonCon!

Once again I will be attending and speaking on several panels on both the Skeptrack and the Electronic Frontiers tracks – all in the Hilton hotel. Prior to the main festivities, a satellite event (pun intended) that I’m also involved with is the Atlanta Star Party.

And of course I will be out and about with the other skeptics who are attending. Please be sure to come up and say hello! I promise I don’t bite.

DragonCon itself is gigantic and you’ll want to check the entire schedule for other cool things to see. Fortunately there’s an app for that. I highly recommend you log in there and start marking things you want to see. In addition to the mobile-ready web version at that link, there are apps for the major smartphones that you can download via a button on that page. In addition, the Skeptrack has its own page on Lanyrd here (with its own smartphone app and other features).

Coming up next week I’ll post my annual WiFi and Internet guide for the event. But for now, below is my schedule for DragonCon weekend.

Continue reading

Online resources for The Amazing Meeting #TAM2014

JREF14_tam_logoFour weeks from right now, the annual Amazing Meeting will be in full swing. This year is the 16th such event put on by the James Randi Educational Foundation, and it is being held in Las Vegas from July 10th to 13th.

Long time readers of this blog are probably expecting one or more posts from me about now with various tips and advice about attending the show, using the wireless at the hotel and so on.

However this year is a bit different. My position as a JREF Fellow ended this past February. I’ve decided (for various reasons) not to attend TAM this year – the first time since I first attended in 2007.  As a result, I don’t have a ton of new information to share with you about attending, as I haven’t been preparing a trip myself.

That’s the bad news. The good news is TAM is being held in the same hotel and in virtually identical format that it has has for several years. This means that almost all of the great tips from past years from myself and others still apply.

With that in mind, here’s a set of links that will get you to the posts that will help you out the most.

  • Last year I collected TAM Tips from Twitter on Storify – they include travel and entertainment advice about the show itself, Vegas in general and more. Most contain links to other useful content, and come from several long-time attendees including myself.
  • A critical tip from that list is to visit the Amazing Meeting section of the JREF Forum, where you can meet other attendees, arrange room sharing or ride sharing, side trips and so on.
  • If you plan to post on the Internet while at the show be sure to read my post from last year about my conference gadget kit and familiarize yourself with the wireless situation at TAM via my 2012 post.  One update since then – WiFi in your room at SouthPoint Hotel, Casino & Spa is now bundled into the room fees, there’s no longer an optional daily charge.
  • Smartphone users should install the Lanyrd app then find the TAM2014 page and mark yourself as attending. Once the schedule is up, you should be able to track events, find your favorite speakers in the schedule and so on.
  • The late Eric Broze (who lived in Las Vegas) wrote this great guide to TAM last year containing lots of great local information.
  • I also recommend you visit the TAM category of Kitty Mervine’s blog Yankee Skeptic, where you will find many interesting posts.

That’s all I have for you. I hope everyone has fun at this year’s TAM, and maybe I’ll see some of you at Dragon*Con Skeptrack later this summer!

Mixing curation and crowdsourcing in skeptic event planning

Neil Degrasse Tyson at TAM9

Neil deGrasse Tyson at TAM9 by Jamie Bernstein, licensed CC BY-SA 3.0

As the annual schedule of skeptic and freethought events continues to expand, there’s more variation and experimentation going on. Specifically, some skeptic conferences are mixing old and new techniques in creating their schedule of events. They’re combining old-school curation with newer crowdsourcing techniques.

Traditional skeptic conferences – those run by CFI, JREF and so on – have been heavily curated affairs. The sponsoring organization and planning committee have complete control over all content presented, which is sometimes planned up to a year in advance. One slight exception are the Sunday Papers at The Amazing Meeting, which has an open submission process with an approval committee.

In 2007 my friend Reed Esau broke the mold by bringing the “unconference” model (from the world of high-tech) to skeptic events, and Skepticamp was born. These events solicit all their presentations from attendees, and only lightly curate the content (if at all). This idea was borrowed from the high tech world where the constant need for new knowledge and skills transfer did not fit well with the curated model. (The high-tech prototype for Skepticamp was called Barcamp). Reed’s idea has been very successful – there have been 84 events held since the first one in 2007, and they’ve been held all over the world.

Now in 2014, several skeptic/secular events are starting to experiment in other ways. Find how after the jump.

Continue reading