Tag Archives: Comic Con

Five Ways to Use a Smart Watch at Comic-Con

Pebble Smart WatchI was reading up on wearable computing¬†today, and with the SDCC badge presale looming, I found myself wondering whether a smart watch would be useful for Comic-Con. ¬†(No plans to actually buy one, I’m just thinking.) I don’t normally wear a watch these days, but it does get annoying to have to reach into my pocket when I want to check the time. For this reason, I make a point to wear a watch at conventions so that I can see the time at a glance and avoid missing events or meetup times.

So, keeping in mind that the current generation of smart watches (Pebble, Galaxy Gear, etc.) mostly pair up with a phone to do the heavy lifting…what might a smartwatch do better for a con than a phone (or a regular watch)?

1. Messages. Between the noise and the walking, it’s already too easy to miss calls or even texts when you’re out on the floor of the convention. It’s easier to notice a buzz on your wrist than a buzz in your pocket, and less intrusive to glance at your wrist to see if it’s something urgent when you’re interacting with people in the real world. You can also tell instantly when you’re crowd-weaving to meet someone whether that text they just sent is “I’m here,” “Running late,” or “Change of plans, meet me at Hall G lobby.”

2. Schedule reminders. Put the event, time, and room number on the screen. How to make it more awesome: pull down the floorplan and use your location to calculate how long it’ll take to get there, and notify you far enough ahead of time that you can make it, Google Now-style. This is more useful for smaller conventions or at least smaller panels at SDCC, since the big ones require you to line up way ahead of time anyway.

3. Wi-Fi hotspot detector. Even if the watch doesn’t support wi-fi, your phone does, and it can ping the watch to let you know.

4. Breaking news alerts. Ironically, I feel like I miss more news when I’m at Comic-Con than when I’m following along from home. This would have to be very well filtered in order to be useful without pulling you out of actually experiencing the convention.

A step counter would be interesting, but I can probably find an app for my phone.

I doubt I’d use a wrist-mounted camera like the one on Samsung’s Galaxy Gear much. Google Glass would be more practical for the blink-and-you’ll miss-it moments, and if you have time to compose a shot, you have time to pull out a phone or dedicated camera. OTOH, a wrist camera is probably a little less creepy than Glass. (On the gripping hand, maybe not.)

Of course the absolute best use of a smartphone at Comic-Con:

5. Get one that can actually handle calls, and wear it with a Dick Tracy costume.

What uses can you think of?

Photo: Pebble watch by Chris Keene, used under terms of the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Posted in Computers/Internet, Conventions | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

How Disneyland is Like Comic-Con

Gateway to Adventure(land)

We took the kid to Disneyland this weekend. It’s been a few years since I’d been to the park, and with NYCC happening at the same time, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to San Diego Comic-Con.

  • It’s expensive to get in, but once you’re there, most of the events are free.
  • It’s hideously crowded.
  • Everywhere you go, people are stopping for photos with people wearing costumes.
  • You spend a lot of time waiting in line. (But at Disneyland, you can usually be sure you’ll get in!)
  • Food is overpriced and mediocre, unless you leave and come back.
  • You can’t possibly do everything in one visit.

Posted in Conventions, Humor | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I Survived Comic-Con 2013!

And this year, that’s saying something. (I’ll get into that later.)

Gru's Floating Minion

Sometime Thursday afternoon or Friday morning I concluded that we’d remember this year’s trip more for the circumstances around it than for the con itself. I had no idea.

For starters: We had tickets for Thursday and Friday, and planned to drive into town Wednesday afternoon and drive home Friday evening. Sure, Comic-Con is stressful, but we always used to drive home Sunday evening and I was fine.

Of course, most of those times we weren’t bringing a toddler along.

Under Pressure

Comic-Con is a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. Vacationing with a small child is also a stressful, high-pressure, taxing experience. And so many little things went wrong the first two days: Leaving the stroller behind and having to buy a cheap one on the way, the leg cramp in stop-and-go traffic, having to search for outlets to plug in the lamps in our hotel room (and having to unplug them in order to charge more than one phone at a time), the fit at dinner that had strangers commenting on how J must be tired (actually, ma’am, he acts like this regardless of sleep quotient). Getting out too late to take the shuttle back and having to take the trolley instead (though that actually worked out fine, as J loved the idea)…at which point we learned that the routes had changed since we last rode the trolley, and we got off one stop too early to make the transfer.

Thursday morning we had everything planned out: We’d go to breakfast at Broken Yolk Cafe, then pick up our badges, then I’d take J around while Katie tried to catch the first big panel of the day. So what happened? We missed the shuttle because they moved the stop from where it had been last time we stayed on this route. Then I ordered blueberry crepes and managed to spill them on my shirt and shorts. They went into the con while I went back to the hotel to change clothes and try to rinse out the blueberry syrup before it stained.

And the first taste of Comic-Con is always overwhelming. Always. Add in these circumstances and you won’t be surprised that when I finally caught up an hour and a half later, Katie was ready to swear off ever coming back.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Always bring spare clothes. (Done, fortunately.)
  2. Don’t start the con with a breakfast that might stain if it spills.
  3. If you’re bringing a small child, find some way that you can start the con without them, then bring them in later.

Overheard: “It was! It was! It was Reptar!”

Settling In

Fortunately, things improved over the course of the day, and the rest of Thursday actually went pretty well. Friday, on the other hand…well, we’ll get to that.

Continue reading

Posted in Comics, Conventions, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Going to the ER at Comic-Con: Not the Peanuts I was Expecting

Wristband vs. Heart MonitorI’ve been attending San Diego Comic-Con for more than 20 years, but this was the first time I left the con in an ambulance.

I’m OK now. Though I might not be when I see the bill.

It started at lunchtime. We went to New Break, an independent coffee shop near Ralphs, which we’d been to before. They were offering samples of a blended peanut butter banana coffee drink, and while I really wanted to try their blended mint mocha, it was safer to skip something made on the same equipment.

What I decided on was a Mexican Mocha. Generally, these add cinnamon, maybe nutmeg or chili powder. I’ve had drinks with that and similar names, and Mexican hot chocolate, plenty of times. I didn’t ask what was in it, but I had just told them I was allergic to peanuts when I decided to skip the blended drink.

I considered getting it iced, but there was some confusion as to what was included in the lunch deal, so I got it hot instead. That turned out to be a wise decision, since I probably would have started out chugging a few ounces of a cold drink.

Two sips in, the back of my throat and my lips started tingling — a bad sign. I stopped, flagged over one of the baristas, and asked whether there were any nuts in the drink. She didn’t think so, but said she’d check.

I pulled out my emergency kit, took my Benadryl and Pepcid, and set my Epi-Pen on the table in case it progressed. I probably should have just taken it right then, but who wants to spend the afternoon in the emergency room instead of Comic-Con?

Meanwhile, the coffee shop staff had been unable to find ingredients for the mix, and had to call the owner to confirm that yes, there were peanuts in it.

Great.

Over the next hour, it felt like the reaction was under control, so I figured we could return to the convention center. Unfortunately, anaphylaxis can take several hours to run its course, and medication can wear off before it does. Continue reading

Posted in Conventions, Food, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Comic-Con 2012: Back With a Vengeance

LEGO Comic-ConComic-Con International was a lot more fun and a lot less overwhelming than usual this year.

Maybe it’s because we skipped the busiest day to go the San Diego Zoo. Maybe it’s because we picked our battles on what we tried to do. Maybe it’s because last year we crammed the whole experience into a single day, and having three days felt like a luxury in comparison. Or the fact that the logistics of getting to and from the con were so ridiculously complicated (more about that later) that they made the convention seem relaxing.

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)Whatever the reason, the floor did seem a bit less crowded this year. Both of us remarked on the fact that we never felt trapped as we usually feel on the busiest days.

(Skip to the photos if that’s what you want.)

Thursday was the day I spent mostly on the floor, exploring. I hit the usual haunts: DC Comics, Sideshow Collectibles, Studio Foglio. DC was really plugging their upcoming fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us.

LOTR FigurinesSideshow seems to be displaying more figurines (and a wider variety) every year. Their Lord of the Rings figurines are absolutely incredible. Though I’m not sure what the target audience is for the life-sized Han Solo in Carbonite or Boba Fett. I can’t see putting one of those in my living room. They also had a very cheesecaky Poison Ivy statue. I overheard someone saying they couldn’t see themselves buying it because it would be like having that lamp in A Christmas Story. At another booth I discovered that you actually can buy that lamp.

Continue reading

Posted in Comics, Conventions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

WonderCon as a Test Case for Comic-Con in Anaheim

Nighttime Convention Center ViewWith all the talk of Comic-Con International moving out of San Diego someday, it was pretty much impossible not to consider this weekend’s WonderCon as a test case.

The Anaheim Convention Center definitely has the floor space. WonderCon used about 1/4 of the main floor this weekend (all of Hall D, unlike Wizard in 2010, which only used about half to two-thirds of it), not counting registration downstairs.

Rooms for programming might be a problem. As near as I can tell, WonderCon used all the meeting rooms on level 2, and the large ballroom that takes up most of level 3. The Arena might be a good replacement for San Diego’s Hall H, but for the smaller panels they’d have to spill over into the nearby hotels. Fortunately, those hotels are next to the convention center, not at opposite ends or across a railroad like in San Diego.

Nighttime Stairway ExodusParking was the major breakdown this year, and Comic-Con will need even more. (I’d guess a lot of the people at the volleyball and cheer competitions were staying in hotels from out of town, or bused in from closer schools.) I suspect if they can use the stadium lot all four days and direct people to it clearly (including signs between the freeway and convention center letting people know that the convention lot is full, and accurate directional signs all the way to the stadium lot), it will probably be all right.

Food could be a problem, but it’s easily solved by bringing in food trucks or encouraging people to walk a few minutes. You know…like we do in San Diego. (Though hotel restaurants and a half-empty mall have nothing on the Gaslamp District.)

Hotels, to me, are the biggest open question. Most of the pro-Comic-Con-in-Anaheim articles I’ve seen sort of gloss over the fact that Disneyland is right across the street, or use it to bolster the claim that there are lots of hotels.

But you know, Disneyland visitors are going to be using those hotels, too. Especially during the height of summer.

Posted in Conventions | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Use Third-Party Links in Email – Object Lesson: Comic-Con Registration

If you’re trying to get a message out, or provide a service, analytics are great. They tell you what’s working and what’s not, so you can focus on what does work. Unfortunately, when it comes to email, a lot of organizations use a third-party click-tracking service, which registers which mailing the user clicked on, then redirects them to the real website.

Why do I say unfortunately?

Because it’s what phishing does: Sets up a link that looks like it goes one place, but sends you somewhere else instead. In the case of a legitimate email with a click tracker, you end up at the real site eventually. In the case of a phishing message, you end up at a fake login page that wants to capture your username & password, or a site with drive-by malware downloads. Using this technique in legit mail trains people to ignore warning signs, making them more vulnerable to the bad guys. And it makes it harder for security software to detect phishing automatically.

Now add another reason: You don’t control that click-tracking service, so it had better be reliable.

That’s what happened with Comic-Con registration today.

Getting tickets to San Diego Comic-Con used to be a breeze, but last year the system broke down repeatedly. It took them three tries, with multiple handlers, to open a registration system that didn’t melt in the first few minutes.

A few days ago, Comic-Con International sent out a message with the date and time registration would open, and a link to where the page would be when it went live. They went to a lot of trouble to make sure their servers could handle the load, as did the company handling registration. They built a “waiting room” to make sure that people trying to buy tickets would get feedback, and get into a queue, when they arrived, but could still be filtered into the registration system slowly enough not to overwhelm it.

The weak link: The click tracker.

Continue reading

Posted in Annoyances, Computers/Internet, Conventions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Comikaze Expo 2011

Comikaze Expo 2011 SignI wasn’t sure what to expect from Comikaze Expo, and I’d just been to Long Beach Comic-Con the weekend before, but I was curious about the new show, and for $12 a day, I figured I’d check it out. Getting a discount on that already-low price through Goldstar clinched it, and when I found out my friend Wayne was going, we decided to carpool.

Cobra cosplay including the Baroness and Serpentor at Comikaze Expo 2011What we found was a surprisingly big show, with a wide variety of exhibitors, though I’d hesitate to call it a “Comic-Con.” More of a general geek pop culture show. There were certainly comic book artists and dealers (a few of whom I recognized from last week), but it reminded me a bit of the last Wizard con I went to (Anaheim 2010). There were actors & celebrities, artists, indie publishers, authors, dealers, T-shirt and nerdy craft sellers, costumers, fan groups for everything from G.I. Joe to Firefly, tattoo artists (that’s a new one), a giant card game area, a giant tabletop game area, and a video game demo trailer. All in all, it was somewhere between Wizard and San Diego without the big names.

The Crowd at Comikaze Expo 2011

Continue reading

Posted in Comics, Conventions | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Overheard at a Comic Con

Overheard at Long Beach Comic-Con:

Some guy asked me, “What’re you dressed up as?” And I said, “…a Muggle?”

Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Friday at San Diego Comic-Con 2011

Darth Joker cosplay at Comic-Con 2011This year, we approached Comic-Con International a bit differently than usual. For the last seven years we’ve been staying in town for all four days. With the baby, we decided to do Comic-Con 2011 in just one day. So we left him with relatives and took the train down to San Diego for the day. We arrived in town about 9:00, walked down to the convention center, and had our badges just after the floor opened at 9:30.

(Full photo set on Flickr.)

Jack Skellington Puppet/Costume at Comic-Con 2011Planning a trip to Comic-Con is always about trade-offs. It’s so big that you can’t see everything, and there are so many events going on that you can’t attend them all. With four days, there’s some wiggle room. With just one, it seemed like I was constantly thinking about those choices.

One of the first choices I made: No news panels. I could get that the next day online (and did). I wanted to focus only on what was unique to the con: exhibits, meeting people, the art show, etc. Basically, I wanted to experience as much of San Diego Comic Con as I could in one day.

Katie decided to pick two things and build her day around them: visiting The Field, an Irish pub our friend Sean introduced us to a few years ago, and seeing the new Thundercats screening. Continue reading

Posted in Conventions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment