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Hello all!

First: Thank you for the effort of writing and posting the reports and videos of the last, and previous, HHC gatherings. And of course for organising the events in the first place. This is an excellent source of information - and entertainment - for every calculator afficionado.

I have so far watched as many of the conference videos from 2019 as my time permits (the others will follow soon) and read Richard Nelson's recently published writeup. This, toghether with his "RIP HP Calcs" talk is food for thought, and the resignment of committee members certainly does not paint a bright future for these events either...

So I started this thread in order to collect ideas about what people are really interested in to provide some input for the remainder of the organizing committee. To find out what can be done to keep these conferences going for many years to come.

As I only really know about myself, I will begin with the reasons why I have not attended so far and what would be required to make me come.

1. Location. We do not live in the United States. Altough I fly aircraft for a living (business jets) my company does not have any connection with an airline and therefore I have to pay regular ticket prices. Because of that, undertaking such a long trip really only makes sense I it can be connected with a holiday, 7-14 days minimum, for which I would take my wife along and maybe our son and girlfriend. This would bring the total price up to somewhere between 5000 and 10000 Euros (been there, done it...)

This means that the conference needs to be held in a touristically interesting/scenic location with no need to waste precious holiday time for onward travel. A place where the rest of the family can already do something interesting while I am attending. Everybody has his own interestes and needs of course, but many of the previous and suggested future locations would not fulfill these for me and my familiy members. Considering the total price of the trip, the extra cost of holding the conference in an "interesting" location does not make much difference. Even if it adds 50 or 100 Dollars to the conference cost (which is about the amount that is being discussed in the conference writeups). So what I am thinking of (and what would convince my family members to come along) would rather be places like San Francisco, New York, a ski resort (if the conference is held in winter), somewhere in or close to a National Park (Old Faithful Lodge...) or similar. Reno or Nashville certainly can entertain the family members for a day or two, but from there, a day of flying or two days driving will be required to get to anywhere worth visiting for the remainder of the holiday...
Or otherwise, schedule the conference so that it can be combined with another large event that attracts attendees and family members alike. Like a rocket launch from KSC or the San Diego Comic Con (which are both open itenms in my personal bucket list).

2. Conference schedule. There were really many talks scheduled into the 2019 conference. Too many for my taste, because the schedule does not leave many gaps. What I am equally interested in - or even more than the talks themselves - is meeting and talking to the people in person. And not only during coffee and lunch breaks. There is a wide variety of interests involved here. Myself I am rather a collector/repairer/restorer/DIY type of person and not really a calculator user or programmer. I would therefore welcome meetings and discussions in small groups with similarly minded people. Maybe even half a day out of two days of conference.
And also I would like to see more disgressions from the actual calculator topics, like for example David Ramsey's excellent talk on watches. Many collectors have more than one interest and somehow watches and calculators go together well.
So for me, less presentations and more social life would be a good reason to attend.

3. Modern technology. The online availability of the conference videos and also Gene Wright's talk, which was presented via Skype, show what is possible. Maybe instead of one large conference held in a single location, local gatherings in small groups could be networked together for a "virtual conference". This would still be better than only watching the videos from one's own home.

4. Door prizes. I understand that this is kind of a tradition of these conferences, probably originating from the days when HP was still sponsoring them, but is that really so important now? In my view it takes away too much time and attention from the real important reasons for traveling to such an event.

i have a few more items on my mind, but now it is time for others to post their thoughts!

Regards
Max
Where to start.....where to start?

The conferences began in 1979 just after the HP-41 craze was gaining steam and the HP65 Users Club (later "PPC") turned five years old. The attendance numbers built up to as high as 180 people both in 1981 and 1982. In 1981, there were conferences in Rockville, Maryland and Corvallis, Oregon; and in 1983 there were actually three conferences - in Las Vegas, Nevada, Providence, Rhode Island and Orlando, Florida. Other than those years, the only other years when multiple conferences were held was when the British Handheld and Portable Computer Club (HPCC) held their anniversary conferences in 1992, 2007, 2012 and 2017. Of course, other events were held in Europe, such as the Dutch PROMPT-group conference in 1994 in the Netherlands, the HPCC conferences in 1997 and 2002 and various other events, such as the recent Allschwil getherings. The more-recent U.S. gatherings have had their attendance taper down to around 40 people or so, but they all have been interesting and enlightening to me.

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]Hello all!

First: Thank you for the effort of writing and posting the reports and videos of the last, and previous, HHC gatherings. And of course for organising the events in the first place. This is an excellent source of information - and entertainment - for every calculator afficionado.

I have so far watched as many of the conference videos from 2019 as my time permits (the others will follow soon) and read Richard Nelson's recently published writeup. This, together with his "RIP HP Calcs" talk is food for thought, and the resignation of committee members certainly does not paint a bright future for these events either...

I should mention that my videos are available from the U.S. conferences going back at least as far as 1989 and other calculator-related events as far back as 1986 - check http://www.pahhc.org/video.htm if interested.

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]So I started this thread in order to collect ideas about what people are really interested in to provide some input for the remainder of the organizing committee. To find out what can be done to keep these conferences going for many years to come.

As I only really know about myself, I will begin with the reasons why I have not attended so far and what would be required to make me come.

1. Location. We do not live in the United States. Altough I fly aircraft for a living (business jets) my company does not have any connection with an airline and therefore I have to pay regular ticket prices. Because of that, undertaking such a long trip really only makes sense I it can be connected with a holiday, 7-14 days minimum, for which I would take my wife along and maybe our son and girlfriend. This would bring the total price up to somewhere between 5000 and 10000 Euros (been there, done it...)

This means that the conference needs to be held in a touristically interesting/scenic location with no need to waste precious holiday time for onward travel. A place where the rest of the family can already do something interesting while I am attending. Everybody has his own interests and needs of course, but many of the previous and suggested future locations would not fulfill these for me and my family members. Considering the total price of the trip, the extra cost of holding the conference in an "interesting" location does not make much difference. Even if it adds 50 or 100 Dollars to the conference cost (which is about the amount that is being discussed in the conference writeups). So what I am thinking of (and what would convince my family members to come along) would rather be places like San Francisco, New York, a ski resort (if the conference is held in winter), somewhere in or close to a National Park (Old Faithful Lodge...) or similar. Reno or Nashville certainly can entertain the family members for a day or two, but from there, a day of flying or two days driving will be required to get to anywhere worth visiting for the remainder of the holiday...
Or otherwise, schedule the conference so that it can be combined with another large event that attracts attendees and family members alike. Like a rocket launch from KSC or the San Diego Comic Con (which are both open itenms in my personal bucket list).

It probably goes without saying that throughout the past four decades, many many people have come out to express their desires for modifying conference logistics and details, but the only way things get done is for someone or some group to volunteer their time and effort. There are probably a hundred times as many people who have made suggestions as those who actually did work to make them happen.

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]2. Conference schedule. There were really many talks scheduled into the 2019 conference. Too many for my taste, because the schedule does not leave many gaps. What I am equally interested in - or even more than the talks themselves - is meeting and talking to the people in person. And not only during coffee and lunch breaks. There is a wide variety of interests involved here. Myself I am rather a collector/repairer/restorer/DIY type of person and not really a calculator user or programmer. I would therefore welcome meetings and discussions in small groups with similarly minded people. Maybe even half a day out of two days of conference.
And also I would like to see more disgressions from the actual calculator topics, like for example David Ramsey's excellent talk on watches. Many collectors have more than one interest and somehow watches and calculators go together well.
So for me, less presentations and more social life would be a good reason to attend.

This "tug of war" - between wanting to be able to schedule as many people as possible who wish to present their materials (in order to maximize the amount of "stuff" in the short period of time allocated) and those who wish the conferences to be a more "stretched-out", less-formal affair with additional interspersed time for folks to meet and have casual conversation - has been going on for a long time. In the earlier days, we even had conferences with "dual tracks" in order to squeeze the most number of topics into the available time - and many (including myself) complained about having to miss important topics because other important topics were being simultaneously presented. More recently, the HPCC group has had the more informal events with fewer talks and more "down time". I guess it is a matter of preference, and it is impossible to please everyone.

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]3. Modern technology. The online availability of the conference videos and also Gene Wright's talk, which was presented via Skype, show what is possible. Maybe instead of one large conference held in a single location, local gatherings in small groups could be networked together for a "virtual conference". This would still be better than only watching the videos from one's own home.

It took a good deal of effort from a few people to dedicate hours of time during the conferences and with loaned equipment (some free, some costing rental fees) to make those "remote" talks happen. In earlier conferences over the past ten years, we've been treated to presentations by Cyrille and at least one other HP person in the same fashion. These are not necessarily trivial to pull off - they take work and equipment. Others have suggested in the past that the conferences ought to be streamed over the internet but again, it would require real work, coordination with conference-facility people, a good deal of preparation and possibly expenses which haven't been factored into these event up to this point. Who wants to volunteer their services to make this happen? (For what it is worth, I personally feel that getting to watch the presentations "live" should be the reward for being there. Surely, it will all be recorded for viewing later.)

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]4. Door prizes. I understand that this is kind of a tradition of these conferences, probably originating from the days when HP was still sponsoring them, but is that really so important now? In my view it takes away too much time and attention from the real important reasons for traveling to such an event.

Perhaps that is the point in the event when those who wish to do more "social things" can wander off to do that. Maybe there should be an opportunity to "opt out" of the door prizes for that purpose. Also, I am curious as to what percentage of the actual attendees over the past several years feel the same way as you do. How many have you asked?

(12-19-2019 01:33 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote: [ -> ]i have a few more items on my mind, but now it is time for others to post their thoughts!

Regards
Max

We have also already discussed when and where the 2020 U.S. conference will be held, so there is no concern over the conferences disappearing yet. I know you probably know just about everything I mentioned here, but I feel that it just had to be said. Those who want things to be different should volunteer to organize additional events and have them done the way they perfer. Thankfully, nobody has a monopoly on HP calc-related events.

I apologize if I came off sounding offensive, but that was not intended.

Thanks,
Jake
(Attendee of 42 conferences)
Glad to hear of your interest in future HHCs! I'll try to address each of your points:

  1. The HHC conferences are an American thing and organized by Americans. There have been European conferences, too, but they have largely died out -- the London group (HPCC) tries to do a conference every 5 years, on the "2s" and "7", and there is a Swiss group that does the Allschwil conference every other year. But the American user community is the only one still big enough to have conferences every year.

    The exact location is really determined by who can volunteer to organize, usually picking some place local to them, meaning the locations are heavily dependent on where there is someone with the time and motivation to organize a conference.

    That said, many of the conference have been at or near major scenic locations. This year's conference was in Reno, which is right near Lake Tahoe and not far from Yosemite National Park, which are huge tourist destinations. A common place to travel through to get there was Las Vegas, whose fame goes without saying. Last year's conference was in San Jose, in the heart of Silicon Valley, which not only has a huge of amount of interest to tech enthusiasts (like the Computer History Museum), but is also right near San Francisco, a huge tourist attraction with so much to draw people in, and is also near some beautiful scenery like Muir Woods. Other conferences in recent years have been in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is the craft beer capital of the western hemisphere, and is in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, with easy access to Rocky Mountain National Park, and isn't far from Denver, Pikes Peak, and other interesting places.

    HHC 2020 is likely to be in Nashville, which isn't as famous of a tourist location as some other places, but it's still a very interesting part of the country. You don't have to drive far to get to the Smoky Mountains National Park, which has many scenic roads and some of the most fun driving in America. Nashville itself is very important to the history of country music, and it's not far from the home of bourbon, just north in Kentucky. Memphis, also famous for music (very important to the history of blues), is also not far away.

    Foreign attendees in the past have often made HHC into part of an American vacation. And just because the conference is in one city doesn't mean you can't go somewhere else to finish your trip -- flying isn't that bad, and renting a car is easy. The US is a big country, but you are rarely too far from top places to visit. Admittedly, we haven't had a conference on the east coast in decades, which would clearly be more convenient for Europeans and has some of our country's oldest history.
  2. There is still plenty of time for socializing. Many people arrive a day or two early and stay a day late to do activities with others. The conference schedule typically only has around 10 hours of talks. That means the whole rest of your weekend is free for socializing.
  3. It's an interesting idea to suggest multiple places where virtual attendees can get in a group to join, but I highly doubt there will be enough interest to justify the overhead involved in getting it to work. I was hoping to live-stream the conference this year but was unable to make it work; maybe next year I will have something.
  4. I'm in your camp here and think door prizes are largely a waste of time, but there are others who vehemently disagrees, even going as far as buying two conference registrations to get an extra chance at winning things. Still, it's only maybe 45 minutes of the conference. And once Richard runs out of junk to put on the table, it will take even less time!
Quote: HHC 2020 is likely to be in Nashville, which isn't as famous of a tourist location as some other places, but it's still a very interesting part of the country. You don't have to drive far to get to the Smoky Mountains National Park, which has many scenic roads and some of the most fun driving in America. Nashville itself is very important to the history of country music, and it's not far from the home of bourbon, just north in Kentucky. Memphis, also famous for music (very important to the history of blues), is also not far away.

Gene: Also, about an hour and a half to the south is the Huntsville Alabama Space and Rocket Center, one of the three NASA-oriented sites to see (the other two being Cape Canaveral and also Houston).

The biggest issue is someone on the ground, locally, who does the legwork of organizing the conference. This is a lot more work than most anyone imagines.

That said, I am making steps to do 2020 here in Nashville.
Just wanted to check in and see if there are any updates on time/location. My wife and I are planning late summer/fall trips, and have to figure out where everything fits in. If it's in Nashville again this year, then I'm definitely interested.
The committee is discussing. Nashville is more expensive hotel-wise than other cities (looks like $150/night as a conference rate) but we are working on it.

How do people here feel on costs?
(02-27-2020 10:24 PM)Gene Wrote: [ -> ]The committee is discussing. Nashville is more expensive hotel-wise than other cities (looks like $150/night as a conference rate) but we are working on it.

How do people here feel on costs?

The closer it is to Michigan, the cheaper it is for me. Wink

I'm guessing for most folks that are just in for the weekend, the hotel cost ends up being relatively small compared to the travel (e.g. airfare). I definitely can't speak for everyone, but +/-$50 per night doesn't make a huge difference to me when it's a 2 or 3 night stay.
(02-27-2020 10:24 PM)Gene Wrote: [ -> ]The committee is discussing. Nashville is more expensive hotel-wise than other cities (looks like $150/night as a conference rate) but we are working on it.

How do people here feel on costs?

As you know, we intend to spend a few more days elsewhere in the US, therefore the hotel costs at Nashville aren't really important (within reasonable limits of course).

G√ľnter
I'm okay with $150/night.
(03-02-2020 09:16 PM)David Hayden Wrote: [ -> ]I'm okay with $150/night.
Same here.
Same here.

As mentioned by many before: the earlier the date is set, the cheaper the flights. Additional hotel costs - as discussed here - could be set off by cheaper flights.

My Guess: For most attendees the air travel costs are dominating the HHC expenses. Hotel, conference fees and meals are adding to the overall costs, not dominating it. For an oversea attendee like me, the air travel cost are probably a magnitude higher than the other cost items. Fixing the data and location early helps.

Looking forward to being at HHC again this year

Felix
Hi,

Just for the record, Gene Wright is feverishly searching for the right hotel in Nashville for the venue and will probably announce the result as soon as things get finalized. To me, the most important aspect is the meeting room being large enough to comfortably hold us, plus the myriad of tables which we usually have placed all around the periphery. Lots of power outlets and/or power strips are helpful, as well, plus we're getting more used to connecting on line during the festivities. (Gene will be local this time, of course, so we can count on him being right there for his stuff, but maybe we could possibly connect up remotely with Tim or Cyrille?) It also helps to have a spot for my camera tripods :-)

Thanks,
Jake
First place I wanted has been eliminated. I refused to pay $3 per soft drink can with a requirement that it be purchased only through the hotel. Yes, they do that for meetings.

So on to choices #2 and #3 which are also good venues. Never fear!

Gene
(03-03-2020 10:02 PM)Gene Wrote: [ -> ]So on to choices #2 and #3 which are also good venues. Never fear!

Hope everything (you included!) is still there after the tornadoes!
The tornados that came through Nashville were nearly completely West to East across the middle of town. The destruction avoided downtown but hit the east side rather hard as a tornado did back in 1998. Most of the loss of life was 80 miles east of Nashville, caused by the same storm cell / tornado.

I live south of town and we suffered no damage. The locations I have been checking into were south of town as well.

#NashvilleStrong
Will the covid-19 virus be a factor for canceling HHC 2020?
(03-05-2020 03:44 AM)Namir Wrote: [ -> ]Will the covid-19 virus be a factor for canceling HHC 2020?

Only if we, italians, will attend... Sad
But isn't a vaccine going to be available in three days?!? Dodgy
(03-05-2020 03:44 AM)Namir Wrote: [ -> ]Will the covid-19 virus be a factor for canceling HHC 2020?

The conference will presumably be in September/October, and by that time, either the virus will have died down, there will be a vaccine, or civilization will have collapsed rendering it all moot anyway. Big Grin
(03-05-2020 07:17 AM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-05-2020 03:44 AM)Namir Wrote: [ -> ]Will the covid-19 virus be a factor for canceling HHC 2020?
Only if we, italians, will attend... Sad
But isn't a vaccine going to be available in three days?!? Dodgy
Is the covid-19 not supposed to be dead in a month or so ? Confused
(03-05-2020 07:17 AM)Massimo Gnerucci Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-05-2020 03:44 AM)Namir Wrote: [ -> ]Will the covid-19 virus be a factor for canceling HHC 2020?

Only if we, italians, will attend... Sad
But isn't a vaccine going to be available in three days?!? Dodgy

Sorry to hear this is so bad in Italy, but I've not heard too many details about the areas impacted. Is this affecting Milan, other than lots of school children suddenly out in the streets instead of in school?
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