Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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How Not to Design a Pocket Program

I am sitting here here watching my secondary (previously the primary, now demoted) computer spin its wheels as I try to do an objective test of how much faster the new machine is. I fed the new machine one of my optimization models and it took 20 minutes to digest it. I'm running the same model on the secondary machine. It has been nearly three hours so far. I fear that it will still not be finished by the time I need to leave to head up to The City. So I have at least bracketed the run time as being at least three and less than about eighteen hours, as I set the same job up yesterday before leaving, and it was finished when I came in this morning.

So, not having much I could get finished, I went through my WHC membership package, sorting the things I need to keep with me (not much) from those I can leave behind. Among the things I need is the Pocket Program. I looked through it to see if there was anything I wanted to attend.

There are lots of ways to arrange your programming schedule. It's fairly common to include a grid showing times and places of program items. Some conventions just list the programming chronologically, without the grid. What WHC06 has done is something I don't think I've ever seen before. The schedule is sorted Day : Location : Time, so for example on page 2 is the listing "Main Hall : Friday" with all of the program items happening there listed in chronological order, followed by page 3, which has "California Room : Panels : Friday" followed by the program items in that room in chronological order.

This listing would be a good thing to post on the door of each individual program room. Indeed, smart, well-organized conventions have been known to do this, so you can always look at the listing at a given room to make sure you're at the right item and nothing has changed. But in my opinion, this is a terrible way of arranging the pocket program for use by the members. The only listing orders I could think worse would be "Alphabetical by program item name" or "Random." In order to figure out what is happening at any given time, I have to cross-reference five separate lists!

This looks to me to be a programming schedule published by the Programming department, and optimized for their use, without giving a whole lot of thought to how the members are most likely to use it. As a conrunner, I'm loathe to criticize people too much, but this seems like a pretty obvious mistake to me. Am I imagining things?

Good thing I didn't really expect to attend much programming, anyway.

Aha, that job just finished, taking just over 3 hours (180 minutes) versus 20 minutes on the new machine. So that's a ninefold improvement in model run time. I am pleased.
Tags: world horror convention

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