Category Archives: Skeptic Events

Information about events of interest to skeptics.

WiFi and Internet tips for Dragon*Con 2013

An updated version of this post for DragonCon 2014 is now available.

Dragon*Con 2013 in Atlanta is next 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.

Dragon*Con is a huge event, and wireless communication is essential to keep in touch during it. This is the third year that I’ve gone downtown and actually checked out what WiFi options are available around the Dragon*Con site so attendees can know what to expect. This post contains my findings for 2013. You can also see my previous guides in the DragonCon tag on this blog.

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 – I’ve got all the details.
  • Is the hotel WiFi overloaded, and you desperately need some free WiFi nearby? I’ll tell you several places to go.
  • 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.
  • 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…

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My current conference technology kit

If you follow me on Twitter or if you were following the #TAM2013 hashtag in July, you might have noticed this post from me late one night:

Those are the hand-held gadgets I was using to report live from the conference. With Skeptrack coming up next week I thought I would just do a short post about what devices I currently carry with me when live-tweeting a conference, and why.

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#TAM2013 In Memoriam presentation

For the last four years, I’ve researched obituaries of people relevant to skepticism, and compiled them into a memorial presentation at The Amazing Meeting in July. I think it is important that we take note of the passages in our community, just as other communities do. I was inspired by the annual memorial presentation at the Academy Awards, which serves the same purpose for the motion picture industry.

The presentation for TAM 2013 consisted of 60 people who died between July 2012 and July 2013. It is just about exactly 5 minutes long, and at TAM it ran during the morning coffee breaks in the main room. If you missed it at TAM (or want a second look) you can watch the presentation here. Scroll down below the video for a list of the people included and links to further information about each.

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Lanyrd becomes even more valuable via a new speaker directory

Lanyrd logoI’ve written about Lanyrd here before, it’s an interesting take on organizing data for conferences that I recommend for skeptics.  Perhaps I recommend it a bit too often, because at least one person has accused me of being a “shill for Big Lanyrd” on occasion. I certainly don’t get paid by them, but I like the way the site works and especially how they crowdsource data entry like Wikipedia. In fact, you really should think of Lanyrd as a very specialized wiki that is optimized around posting information about conferences and meetings.

The crowdsourcing is what differentiates Lanyrd from conference management software like SchedCvent or others. Just like Lanyrd, those sites let you enter speakers, schedule, locations and such about your event, and provide services like smartphone apps for attendees and more. Some of them even do things that Lanyrd does not yet support, like email your attendees or run your entire website.  But in general they all keep your event data separate from everyone else’s data, in classic software-as-a-service fashion.

Lanyrd takes a different approach. On Lanyrd, if I spend the time attaching videos or published books to a speaker’s profile, to help support their appearance at my event, that data benefits any future event at which that same speaker appears. From a pure business standpoint I can see how other conference software might not want to do that – why should one customer’s data efforts benefit a different customer?  They might be competitors.

But Lanyrd is born out of the world of tech conferences where things like crowdsourcing and open source are familiar, accepted concepts. So this sort of data sharing comes naturally.  And it should come naturally to the skeptic,  atheist, humanist and secular communities too, because so many of our events are run by non-profit entities.

Well now Lanyrd has added a new feature to their site that repurposes the speaker data we’ve all entered and the result is pretty cool…

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Virtual Skeptics webcast #5 – September 12, 2012

The third episode of Virtual Skeptics was recorded on Sepbember 12, 2012. You can watch it below.


The panel:

New episodes webcast live every Wednesday with the recorded version available immediately thereafter.

Links mentioned in the show after the jump…

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Virtual Skeptics webcast – September 5, 2012

The third episode of Virtual Skeptics was on September 5, 2012:


The panel:

New episodes webcast live every Wednesday at 8 PM EDT (Midnight GMT), with the recorded version available immediately thereafter.

Links mentioned in the show after the jump…

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LIVE Video from Dragon*Con 2012 Skeptics track (Skeptrack)

During Dragon*Con in Atlanta from Friday August 31st through Monday September 3rd, 2012, you should see Skeptic programming here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thank you to Mark Ditsler of Abrupt Media for the huge amount of work he does to make this happen. You can also view it and text chat with other viewers over on the UStream.tv site here. If you are not in US Eastern time note that Atlanta is at GMT-4 when you see times on the screen.

Consult the Skeptrack schedule on Lanyrd for the full list of events. You’ll be able to see me on these two events, both on Monday:

Attracting a Mix: Skeptics and Believers
Monday 10:00am EDT (aka 7:00am PDT or Monday 14:00 GMT)

SCHEDULE ADDITION (Not in the paper program)!
How You Can Make the Internet More Skeptical With One Mouse Click
Monday 1:00pm EDT (aka 10:00am PDT or 17:00 GMT)

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Virtual Skeptics webcast – August 29, 2012

The third episode of Virtual Skeptics was recorded August 29, 2012, you can watch it here:


The panel:

New episodes webcast live every Wednesday at 8 PM EDT (Midnight GMT), with the recorded version available immediately thereafter.

Links mentioned in the show after the jump…

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WiFi and Internet tips for Dragon*Con 2012

NOTE! This post is getting more and more out-of-date. An updated version of this post for DragonCon 2014 is now available, please read that one.

Updated Friday August 31: Most hotels now have some free option, I’ve updated this post and the map to reflect that. I’ve also included more details in the map.

Dragon*Con 2012 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 will be speaking.

Dragon*Con is a huge event that spans a big hunk of downtown Atlanta. Making good use of wireless communications to stay in touch during the event is essential. With social media, you can keep up with what your friends are up to elsewhere at the convention, and even see photos and video of what is going on elsewhere.

But all of that means staying connected, and mostly it means staying connected to the Internet. Since the event spans several hotels, each with their own wireless systems, this can be a bit of a pain.  There are also some gotchas with simply relying on your 3G or 4G coverage via your mobile device.

This blog post will help you sort it out.  Just some of the info in this post that can save you time or money or both:

  • Do you need some Internet access but are not bringing a laptop? I’ll tell you which hotel supplies computers you can use for free.
  • Are you staying at the Marriott Marquis? I’ll tell you how to save at least $5 per day on WiFi charges.
  • On a tight budget and desperately need some free WiFi near the con? I’ll tell you several places to go.

All that and much more, after the jump…

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#TAM2012 Video: You Are the Future of Skepticism on the Internet

The James Randi Educational Foundation has now posted the official video of my Amazing Meeting 2012 talk online, here it is:

There are several resources here on this blog to go with this talk, you may want to open them in another window while you watch:

Thanks again to James Randi and the JREF for giving me this opportunity. And thanks Geo for a fantastic intro!