[vcf-midatlantic] Ken Thompson video

RETRO Innovations go4retro at go4retro.com
Tue Nov 10 21:25:51 EST 2020

Since I'm quite a ways away (in Iowa) from many of the rest of the 
group, I'm not privy to all of the politics and such occurring here, but 
perhaps my thoughts will be seen as an "outsider's view":

  * Bill Degnan:  I'm not sure I understand the statement "VCF MW and
    VCF E are two different kinds of show."   Are you referring to the
    fact that VCF-Midwest shares the name VCF with other shows but is
    not managed by the VCF Federation?  Is it that the show style is
    significantly different than the other shows? (As Alexander notes, I
    think other VCF shows run the same was as Midwest).  I worry about
    this continuing need to single out MW as a different thing.
  * I'll be honest.  I attended at least 2 VCF-East shows, but skipped
    attending in the past few years, for the following reasons:
      o VCF East did not seem welcoming to hybrid exhibitor/seller folks
        like myself.  While I have not attended the last few fests, the
        2 I attended I was placed in the consignment room, which was a
        poor fit for many of us (Bob Applegate selling his new
        reproductions, the Model M KB restoration guy and a few others
        next to the pile of broken machines and stacks of old software
        titles).  In all the fests, there are those who just want a
        sales table and some sell old stuff. but it felt demeaning to
        lump everyone who was selling something into 1 space, and a tiny
        space at that.  Even if more current shows allow a larger space
        for sales, I still prefer to be in the exhibitor space.
      o I was not a fan of the exhibit/sales floor being closed for
        presentations. Yes, it presents some logistic challenges to run
        an exhibit or a sales table when a popular speaker is giving a
        presentation, but someone else noted and I agree: I feel my job
        is to be at the exhibit as part of the overall show.
      o I especially abhorred the "we're closing at 5PM and not coming
        back to the show until tomorrow" mentality.  Mind you, I am sure
        the VCF-E venue imposes some usage and scheduling restrictions,
        and I can understand any of that, but the tone was overbearing. 
        Given that (as I noted above), I feel my exhibit is a part of
        the show, and I need to man it all times, the afterhours time at
        the other shows (especially MW) is the "fruit for my labors". 
        It's time to spend time talking to fellow exhibitors and diving
        deep into their projects with questions they would scarcely get
        from the main public, time to hack on a neat idea some of us
        came up with at the show, or just sit with the exhibits behind
        us and converse on topics of personal interest.
      o I think the after show dinner is a thing of the past, but I went
        once and I would never do that again :-)
      o Everything seemed so military in planning.  None of the other
        shows I attend (and I attend VCF-SE, MW, Tandy Assembly, World
        of Commodore, CRX, CoCOFEST!, and have previously attended
        C4EXPO and LUCKI EXPO) seemed so regimented in comparison.
        Possibly some of this list may not think highly of VCF-MW, but
        it's pretty loose and every year it seems to have just enough
        structure to be fun for all, but no more.  I also think it's
        easier for the showrunners to run.  I think part of the reason
        it works is that there's quite a few of us "early exhibitors"
        that form a second level of management at the show, handling
        lots of little things as a cabal so they don't overwhelm the
        primary team.  It makes us nobodies feel just slightly important
        and invested in the show.  Of course, the primary team is always
        in charge, but they know they can ask any of us to help out, and
        we know they want to enjoy the show as well.
  * There are thing at the other shows that draw me more to those shows
    in comparison to VCF-East
      o The "solder up a small project" idea at VCF-SE was a neat idea. 
        I didn't participate (I solder quite enough, thanks...), but
        lots of kids ran through that setup and all seemed very happy
      o The video game wall at VCF-SE was also a neat idea.  I'm not a
        huge gamer, but 2600 Pitfall on 4 huge screens on the wall is
        something to behold.
      o The "build a computer badge" at some of the shows is a neat
        idea.  I think you all did that as well this year, and I say
        continue on if so.
      o The after hours impromptu musical jam session at CoCoFEST! is a
        neat thing.  Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but it's mostly
        harmless fun and a nice way to see a different part of the
      o The Auction at VCF-MW, CoCoFEST!, and Tandy Assembly is a big
        draw.  All of us who attend love seeing all the variety of crap
        that gets sold, and we're always up to pay premium for useless
        junk when the money goes to the club to run future shows.
      o Off-beat things seem more possible at some of the other shows,
        like WoC, CoCoFEST!, and VCF-MW, for example.
          + Every year, I get requests to bring my MIDI Tesla Coil
            (oneTesla.com) to the show, and we play MIDI from new and
            vintage PCs on the unit after hours (in the dark).  I think
            there's some youtube videos out there with footage.
          + Last year, I brought a full size console television to
            VCF-MW and we played video games on it and watched laserdisc
            movies on it.  It was a huge hit and it'll make a return
          + And, a true hit of the shows in Chicago is my daughter who
            attends with me and sells baked goods at the show (she
            decorates some with computer logos, so there's at least a
            very minimal topic-ness to the exhibit/sales table).
            Obviously, the connection is dubious at best, but she gets
            requests months ahead of time asking if she's going to
            attend MW or CoCoFEST!, and folks make a beeline for her
            booth when the show opens.  She extremely enjoys it, and
            it's a neat way to involve my daughter in the event.
          + As well, I know for a few years, MW had one young gentleman
            making "Perler Bead" pixel representations of logos, game
            characters, etc.  It was a big draw.
          + I would never have even considered asking to bring/do those
            things at VCF-East.
  * In general, I think it's unfair to compare speaker quality and
    quantity at this time.  It seems petty.  Yes, Ken Thompson is a more
    influential speaker than Michael Tomczak, but I think it takes time
    to cultivate speakers and win slots on the calendar.
  * That said, it's possible that VCF-E has a great speaker solictor in
    Evan and that's not Jeff's strong suit.  That doesn't mean Jeff is
    unqualified to run the show, but that I hope in time Evan will be
    able to help out in speaker solicitation.
  * On the other hand, good shows don't necessarily need high profile
    presenters to be of good value.  A cool presentation from someone on
    the periphery of history can yield lots of good new information,
    because it's not yet been mined like the more well known speakers
    have been.
  * I can see both sides of the Speaker cutoff issue.  It's too late
    now, but I think the best thing to have done was to canvas the
    attendees (none of the exhibits were open anyway, as I believe, and
    so most if not all folks would have been in attendance).  There
    could have been 3 options:  1)open the exhibits and close down the
    presentation, 2)open the exhibits, but continue the presentation, 3)
    keep the exhibits closed an continue the presentation.  Again, as
    noted above, this in one of those cases where a looser show would
    have probably helped. But, to Evan's credit, the schedule was
    posted, he felt the show needed to move forward, and folks must have
    some respect for the man/woman that is in charge.  Someone would
    have hated any option chosen.
  * Dave, I thought Evan's initial response was passive aggressive. 
    But, I've seen dozens of them over the past few months and it
    doesn't look like commenting on them will accomplish anything. I
    wish all of the principals could make peace, as this hobby is mainly
    for fun, and the tone seems the opposite of fun.  I will continue to
    wish that for all of you.
  * Evan, I know some of the above will seem dismissive of how you ran
    portions of the the shows, and I hope you will not take it
    personally.  You and I probably don't agree on how a show should be
    run.  Though, I will always respect those who run the shows,
    including you, in the decisions you make and the way the show is
    run.  Nevertheless, it does sometimes affect my desire to attend.
  * That said, if you value the work you started and championed for so
    long and the VCF community in general, I hope you can find a more
    constructive way to vent your frustrations about the the change in
    how the group is run and show specifics.  From my vantage point, the
    tone and dismissive attitude in your notes concerning the group/show
    just tears down the entirety of the community, and I can't possibly
    think you're interested in personally dismantling the very
    idea/community you yourself helped to create.  In time, of course, I
    hope everyone can make peace and move on, and I suspect now is too
    soon, but perhaps there's a more constructive path to pursue.

I doubt anyone asked for the above information, so I apologize if it is 
unwanted. I realize some of this might be confusing in text form, and I 
also realize I did not attend the 2019 show, so perhaps things have 
radically changed and I'm unaware. Not that my opinion means anything, 
but I'm always happy to Zoom/Teams/Discord/BlueJeans/Skype/etc, with 
anyone on any of the above topics or for any reason.


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