myrkrida: (Mal- I Get Paid)
[personal profile] myrkrida
I need to get this off my chest, and get it out in the open, and lay it all out so other people will understand.

This is BayCon stuff- if you're not interested... feel free to move along. I don't mind. =)

I am a VOLUNTEER for BayCon. I do this as a labor of love, and because it lets me be a part of something greater than I could accomplish on my own. But just the same- I do not get paid for this- heck, for the greater portion of this entire process, I haven't gotten paid for ANYTHING- and so please consider accordingly. I am an unemployed, broke college student.

The way things NORMALLY run, with some allowance of a week here or there, for Programming is thus:

Some point in October sees a list of panelists get invited to come speak as Guests, and those invites go out via email with a link to a survey that fills up a data center. The information from that survey gets put into a Filemaker Pro database, and we start to get an idea of who we have coming, so we know what kinds of panels we can cover. We brainstorm panel ideas that suit the theme of the con and current events, and go from there. There is typically a deadline of 5-6 weeks set for people to respond to said survey, and following the Holidaze and New Year- we poke the folks we know we sent invites to, but who have not gotten around to filling out the survey, etc. This can take another couple of weeks, but we can get down to the brass tacks of putting panels into time slots and adding names to it now, to start.

This start happens in late January, early February. And we spend the next two and a half MONTHS finessing the schedule, the list of panels, looking for other guests to add to the roster, taking suggestions from panelists for topics to add. A preliminary schedule tends to go out for public consumption with emails going from the FMPro database to each of the presenters with a list of their scheduled events around the beginning of May. This allows for a couple of weeks of settling out, fine tuning, and hitting the hotel good to go.

Now, for THIS year...

First- I do not have FMPro on my laptop. I do not have the cash to BUY a copy. I go to the folks I need to go to, at the time I should start this process, being told that the Con owns user licenses and versions of the software that I can install and use. One thing leads to another, the details of which I will NOT speak of here, because it's just not necessary- but it ends up being FEBRUARY before a functional copy of FMPro makes it's way into my hands so that I can START to compile a list of guests. Do you see the problem here already? February is when I should already have a populated database with the info of everyone I have already invited. and I am JUST getting access to the database so I can set up the invite list.

Next- I get the invite list set up, after having access, then not having it, then getting locked out of FMPro because a key code I was given to try came back as a pirated code, then getting the problem fixed... and when we try to email out the invites- the system set up through the server for this function has been shut down. So we can't send them out. Another week trickles by as we figure out what's wrong, and get them opened back up- there were legitimate reasons for it, which I understand, but it was still a time-killer, and a factor in my current stress. By the time I get invites out, it's mid-March, and I have to give the panelists a small amount of time to respond- so their deadline for replying to the survey is set for April 15th.

APRIL. Yes. Compare this once again, please, to the original timeline I described. Beginning to see some problems here? Now, once invites are sent out- it turns out that we can't get me access to the mail server account where all the responses come back in. So I am having to tax out one of the Vice-Chairs' valuable time to have her send me regular dump files of who has replied, trying desperately to turn something around in the handful of weeks I have left.

Have I mentioned that I have also gone through finals, a new session of classes, midterms, finals AGAIN (and particularly grueling ones this time), MOVING, and a case of walking pneumonia before getting to this point, all in the same span of time? Really, I am amazed I managed to job hunt and do the other stuff I did in there...

Publications tells me they need the Program information by April 17th. I have a few moments of hysterical laughter, and explain how badly backed up my timeline is, and they are wonderful in working with me to allow me to get what I could to them as fast as possible.

I have taxed out the nights, minds, and hearts of everyone around me trying to get myself caught up from four-plus MONTHS of backlog, in just four or five weeks. Oh- and midterms are back again- isn't the Quarter system FUN? Mind you- I am an ART student. My homework is not reading chapters, or writing papers- it's 20 seconds of fully hand-rendered pieces of animation (that would be 480 separate pieces of artwork), or medical-text detailing on a piece of human anatomy, or a... anyways. I digress.

So yes- the preliminary program is NOT up on the website yet, even though it is the week before BayCon. YES- I have not been able to send out those personalized e-mails to everyone who is being kind enough to be a Guest panelist for us again this year. Did I mention that by the time I got access to the database and familiarized myself with it, I found some serious issues in the tables that supply the information, and it ended up being more than a little corrupted, and we've had to do everything by hand on excel spreadsheets anyways? Yes- taking a BIG step back in being able to move and flow information here, folks. So I know this is all rolling downhill, and others are being affected. I apologize. I've done the best I could do to answer every query, and get things done as quickly as was humanly possible.

I am sorry if I have been terse, or freakishly stressed out with you, if you have interacted with me in the last couple of weeks. This also is not aimed at anyone who at one time or another offered me help- all the offers were well-meant and genuine, but I ended up needing to do this all in a rush at odd hours, and it just didn't end up feasible for me to call in certain offers. I'm not upset- please don't take it personally if I did not reach out to you for assistance.

The preliminary program is done, and I have a couple of days left before I head to the hotel. It should go up on the website any time now- it turns out that when I emailed it to the head of publications this morning before running off for my last midterm of the week, his computer decided to have a meltdown of it's own, and he was unable to deal with getting the program grid made public. Even the Chairman had the "magic grey smoke" escape from his own laptop during the middle of this year's preparations, leaving him without a computer for something like a month, having to access all his emails via his iPhone. Needless to say- I am not feeling personally picked-on here. This has been the year of the Technological Plague for BayCon.

But I know people have been asking, and wondering, just what's been going on, and why I have gone totally off the map, and seemingly off the deep end to boot. I have been compiling this post for a number of days now, here and there when I was most unhappy, just to get it out of my system. I'm hoping that this will help to shed a little light on what's been going on, and maybe even allow folks to cut me just the tiniest bit more slack when it comes to how last-minute everything seems to be coming together...

I still hope it's going to be a wonderful convention, and I still look forward to being there.

Date: 2009-05-15 08:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

See you in five days or so...

Date: 2009-05-15 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have nothing more constructive to offer.

Date: 2009-05-15 02:09 pm (UTC)
kshandra: Butterfly-shaped pewter paperweight, engraved with the Serenity Prayer (Serenity)
From: [personal profile] kshandra
I'm glad I was able to do what little around the edges I did; I wish it could have been more. Take a deep breath, try to sleep for an hour or two, and I'll see you Sunday. *love*

Date: 2009-05-15 02:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
wowsers. thats... beyond belief. they are very lucky to have you helping them.

Date: 2009-05-15 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You and I will have fun if it kills us, damnit.

ok, maybe not actually dead, cause that would be sad, I'm sure...

With my own eyes. . .

Date: 2009-05-15 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have seen you work your ass off this past week or two. It baffles me that you were able to makes sense of any of it. I just wish there was more I could have done, but I know there wasn't.



Date: 2009-05-15 06:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*hugs* I can totally understand the stress of getting ready for con this year.
Good luck with final preparations and thank you sooooo much for the help you've given us for Tempest.
see you sunday

Date: 2009-05-15 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I feel for you. You and I should talk at some point.

Date: 2009-05-26 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I enjoy reading your posts here. Helps me keep up with you.

I don't post much because my life is so boring...mundane and filled with the drama that only family can pull off.
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