Sunday, May 7, 2017

Surviving Camp Google I/O

For the 2nd year Google I/O has been advertised as an outdoor tech festival.    The technology information is sure be the usual awesome.  But unlike Moscone, there could be logistics challenges to finding clean bathrooms, hot food, and a place to sit.
Google I/O Survival Kit
The Good
Shoreline Amphitheatre is a concert venue, so the concert at Google I/O 2016 was awesome.   Plenty of snacks to go around, great music, and lots of toys that light up means the crowd is rocking.   The keynote was also similarly comfortable except for the lawn seats which were baked extra crispy by midday sun. 
Anyone who has taken a family to an outdoor festival, or amusement park knows locating these in a timely fashion is not trivial.   Unlike Disneyland which has bathrooms with stained glass and working towel dispensers, the Shoreline Amphitheater is typical outdoor venue with concrete floored bathrooms with communal faucets in a circle at the center of the room.     Towels will usually run out by mid-afternoon though the events continue on into the evening.   
If cleanliness is important to you, bring hand sanitizer.   The executive portable restrooms brought in for the event are VERY nice – roomy with working locks on the doors and abundant soap and paper products.    This year Google has marked the locations of restrooms on the site map in the app. 
The venue is basically a parking lot with tents and temporary building set up.     There are recharging stations around the site, and the attendees cluster around them like a modern version of the campfire.  While jockeying for space on the power strip you can get some good conversations going.  If you forget a cable, you may get a loan from a fellow developer.   Those of us who brought cables with both micro USB and Thunderbolt connectors that could be used simultaneously were very popular.   Also if you bring a grounded 3-outlet tap, you can get almost anyone to let you share their outlet AND help a friend.
The smartest thing is to carry spare batteries with USB slots to re-charge your phone and/or tablet.    Once you get back to the hotel you will need to re-charge those, so bring a power strip with USB outlets also.     
You will use your device heavily – the schedule is in an online app, and the updates appear there.  At least half the schedule will be announced after the keynote, because Google wants to keep the mystery about the new stuff.  Slack channels are the best source for up-to-date info.    You also will be checking weather conditions.  Expect your battery to drain quickly.   Power locations are also (this year) marked on the site map in the app. 
Feeding 8000 people without a staff of waiters and kitchen personnel is a challenge.   The 2016 solution was lots of cold sandwiches and a few salads for lunch, and doughnuts for breakfast.   Coffee was at a premium.      A bigger challenge was trying to find out where the food was being served.   If you didn’t find a serving location fast enough, you got no food.  Not poor selection, nothing. 

Food at the nighttime events involved 45 minute lines with small portions.  (6 food trucks for thousands of people couldn’t work out any other way.)   Unlike downtown, you can’t pop across the street for an alternative.   
According to I/O 2017 app, this year there is a centrally located food court of reasonable size (125 feet long)  marked on the site map.  For the first day plan to eat breakfast at your hotel.   Plenty of snacks will be available from re-fueling stations around the venue from my favorite food groups: gummy bears, energy bars, dried fruit, and chips.  There is plenty of water.  
You can always grab dinner at Jack-In-The Box on the way home.   Our Lyft driver was very accommodating. 
For 2016 within the amphitheater seating for all the attendees was no issue.   Outside the amphitheater it was a challenge.  If you got lunch, there were 10-20 picnic tables, some scattered wooden and string chairs, and curbs.     Either you ate standing up, sat on the grass, or sat on the parking lot.    At 79 degrees, the asphalt is very hot in the sun. 

Unless you want to carry a camp chair, dress to sit on the ground.   Hopefully the Food Court (see above) will have more seating options.

There are significant hills on the site.  To enter the site there is 525 foot walkway from the closest parking or drop off, with a 30 foot drop.   No benches were provided.  One of the largest bathroom facilities is at the top of a 250 foot incline with 25 foot rise.    Several handicapped portable facilities were available on the parking lot where the breakout sessions were held. 
Once on the site the parking lot where the temporary buildings for talks, labs and office hours is flat.   The power cables are all covered to allow wheelchairs to roll over them, and ramps available to access the main amphitheater and the buildings.  The pathways are all concrete or asphalt. 
There is reserved handicapped seating in the talks.   The 2016 non-Google event staff was reluctant to allow any movement of the attached chairs to accommodate mobility issues such as crutches, canes, a raised leg to reduce swelling, etc. 
The distance from the amphitheater to the breakout sessions ranges from 500 feet to the closest and 1200 feet to the farthest.  (Moscone Center is 480 feet from outside wall to outside wall.)   Once on the parking lot the distance between breakout sessions was typically of the conference rooms in Moscone.  If you have mobility issues, you will probably plan your sessions around what you can get to that is closely grouped.  Moving between the amphitheater and breakout locations is similar to leaving a building and walking 1-2 long city blocks uphill or downhill to another building.
What to Wear
Dress in layers.  As Google helpfully listed on the I/O attending site, the temperatures will range from 49-75.  There are no hotels within walking distance, and no lockers to stash stuff you may not need for the entire day.    Plan to sit on the ground, walk a lot, and carry a 5-10 pound pack with your technology, jackets, water bottle, sunscreen, and other necessities. 

No comments:

Post a Comment