[vcf-midatlantic] Young Innovators Faire

Todd George todd.george at gmail.com
Tue Jan 5 21:33:59 EST 2016

Date: Sun, 03 Jan 2016 19:50:29 -0500
From: Evan Koblentz <evan at snarc.net>
Subject: [vcf-midatlantic] Young Innovators Faire

>Big thanks to you, Chris F., and Todd G. for representing us there!
>Generally speaking how did it go?

Here's my report from the show (slightly modified from a previous version
of the report I sent to Evan, Doug and Chris)!

I had a nice long talk with Gabe (co-founder of The Young Innovators Fair),
he told me how much he appreciated us being there.  He thought our booth
was a gigantic hit, and said he thought we were one of the busier
stand-alone/standard-sized booths at the event.  As of ~2 pm (??? it's all
a blur) on Sunday when I talked with him, they were far in excess of 20,000
(!!!) tickets sold for the weekend NOT INCLUDING something like a few
thousand (rumored) free/donation/charity tickets that they gave out.
Apparently those "free" tickets went unaccounted-for.  Saturday was
definitely the busier day, but Sunday proved to be a strong contender.  I
also need to brush up on my rollerskating skills, as Gabe had the brilliant
idea to wear roller skates at the event.  Definitely helps him get around
the place in an expedient fashion.

Some of my favorite moments, a dad stopped at the booth while walking by
with his family, comes over to me and says "If you had asked me this
morning if anything here would make me stop dead in my tracks, I'd have
said 'No Way'.  This is amazing and has definitely stopped me in my
tracks".  We also received tons of positive feedback from the booth
guests.  There was a girl at our booth for nearly the entire day on
Saturday, she was 16 and "wants to be an engineer".  She was so
knowledgeable about all things computer and was really digging our booth.
She was extremely smart and was chatting with us off and on all day.  I
also had a great long talk with a gentleman who indicated his son had two
apps in the Apple App Store, had been programming since he was 8, was
probably 13 or so by my guess now.  He had never programmed in BASIC, so I
gave him some brief instruction.  He took to it like a duck to water.  His
first program in BASIC?  "Hello World".  I only told him to "Put whatever
you want the computer to display inside the quotes."  A few people
commented how much they appreciated that our booth was "something
different".  I also directed a few people to actually join VCFed based on
discussions I had.  One guy had a bunch of Apple equipment set up on
display in his basement, said he curates and restores it.  He expressed
interest in improving his restoration skills (participation in workshops)
and really seemed interested in our group in general.  He had mentioned he
has no idea a group like ours existed.  I also lost count of how many
parents told us "how old we were making them feel", told me the story about
how "Drexel made us buy that Macintosh" (at least 20 people told me some
variant of this story), and indicated to their kids when we showed them the
5 1/4" and 3 1/2" floppy disk props we had at the table how "they used to
store all of their high school/college work on those" while the kids just
looked as us with a blank stare.

There was definitely an interesting combination of "parent-types" being
attracted to our booth, with their children in tow explaining to them how
these were the old computers they used to use.  The other side of that was
kids being attracted to the games we had up and running and then being
suckered into listening to their parents wax nostalgic once they realized
what hardware was running the games.

The only failure we had at the VCF booth was our KayPro II.  The floppy
disks were warm when we pulled them out, but letting the machine cool down
didn't "fix" the problem.  Who knows, it was a long two days and this
computer probably isn't used to that kind of workload.  The one at the
booth wasn't mine, but I still feel bad that it gave up the ghost.  Funny
side story, my wife is tired of hearing me curse and complain about working
inside of my KayPro II.  To prove it, I sent a text to her and said "Hey,
the KayPro at our booth died".  Her reply was "Why, did you yell at it too
much?".  To put this into perspective even more, my wife doesn't know many
of the names of the computers I work on.  So that tells you how excellently
engineered the innards of the KayPro are that she knows what it's called
and has heard me bitch about it that much.

The venue wasn't so lucky... Apparently their failures were numerous,
including the credit card processing at the concession stands failing, the
ATM machines logically emptying shortly thereafter, and to top it off the
vending machines emptying by around 11 am on Saturday.  Apparently their
credit card processing never came back online throughout the rest of the
weekend.  Between that and the ATM machines being empty, who knows how much
potential revenue they lost due to our "cashless society".

We didn't have an Apple II with us, turns out that was a bit of an error as
we got lots of flack from people... "Where's Oregon Trail?", "Where's
Loadrunner?".  Surprisingly, the TRS-80 Model 4 was the star of the show in
my opinion.  I would have expected the Macintosh SE/30 to garner more
attention but it did not (ran a close second though).  So many people
commenting "Oh I had one of these in college" (about the Macintosh) or
"this was the computer I learned to program on" (about the TRS-80).  I was
also pleasantly amused by the sheer number of people walking up to the
table and yelling "Oh my gosh a Trash 80!".  I was also asked many, many
times how in the world we had a working TRS-80 of any variety.  Seems they
have a reputation of some sort for being troublesome or something.

All-in-all, a great time!  I was so tired Saturday and Sunday night, tired
stretched into Monday.  But I'd do it again tomorrow, that's how much fun
we had.  :)

Special thanks to Doug and Chris with whom this wouldn't have been
possible.  And of course Evan for putting it all together for us.
See ya!

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