#YogaSeats & #StatsWorkuot in actual gym and many seminar related issues…

A word or two about seminar rooms…

We’ve ordered a conference room for 50-60 people with tables for max 2 people at each table, electrical sockets for all and stable Internet. In earlier posts I’ve touched about network issues. Here I’ll expand about other surprises organised by The Disaster Manager.

I’ve arrived at The Venue on Sat and was introduced to our seminar room. I’ve seen this seminar room and accordingly to The Disaster Manager it suppose to be sufficient for us. The room itself was ok, but way to small for 50-60 people working. Tables were squeezed tightly, only two paths between them. The worst was that there was no passage in the back of the room. So in order to get from one side of the room to another, you needed to go to the front, pass by the speaker, in front of the projector disturbing everyone… That turned to be super not practical & annoying during workshops. But again, I’ve put my trust in the ability of The Disaster Manager to judge for us…

On Wed and Sat afternoon, we hosted parallel sessions, therefore we needed second seminar room. The Disaster Manager was notified about that early in the process and booked additional seminar for us. On Sat, one day before the #NGSchool2017, she asked me if it’s ok if we were offered another seminar room that the one originally planned, cause there will be some meeting (she meant only on Wed!). I didn’t mind, as long as it’s seminar room enough to host ~20 people, with network and electricity… Wed approached… Of course, we were not notified which seminar room we are suppose to be. So I’ve went with a quest to find out during lunch that day… Of course (again), there was no any sort of information about that at the reception. They reached out to The Disaster Manager, she came after a few minutes at took me for a journey through the corridors of The Venue. We went to distant wing of the building, up the stairs to the second level and stopped in front of the door marked Siłownia (Gym)…

I was really puzzled, since I’ve never been really working out in my life. The room looked (and smelled) peculiar. You could instantly spot it’s not a typical seminar room. But after doing lots of moving and tinkering, they managed to put projector there, screen and even tables and chairs… What they forgot of course, were electric sockets and f…king network… Fast forward, we managed to fix everything, this time within 1h thanks to Tomáš & Maciej skipping their lunch.

The only one happy in this situation was the speaker. He is the fan of working out, so having #StatsWorkout in the actual gym was the best possible scenario for him!

As you can imagine, it ain’t end of the story yet… On Sat we learnt that the seminar room, that was originally planned for us, lacks network connection! First we were offered a small seminar with internet, but without assembled tables… After a bit of my shouting, they offered us the biggest seminar they had… for the group of ~20 people… Great job, CBiES!

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Invisible beds

This entry deals with accommodation related issues. Soon you’ll learn about invisible bed, mixed unisex rooms and single-bed apartments…

We suppose to have 2x posh apartments for keynotes (in fact 4x were offered for free in earlier email agreements), single and double rooms for the speakers, and 3- and 4-person bedrooms for the rest of participants. The separation of genders was crucial, as not everyone feels comfortable sleeping with representatives of other sex (NOTE, we had participants from 19 countries and various cultures!).

In order to facilitate easy & nice collaboration, I’ve provided The Disaster Manager with two nicely-formatted spreadsheet tables, one for speakers (apartments, single- and double-rooms) and second for the rest of the participants (3- and 4-person rooms). Both tables contained names, contact details and arrival & departure dates. In addition, the speakers table was already organised into respective rooms. Those tables were updated a few times, as some speakers provided their details a few days ahead and 2 participants resigned. Last modification was communicated on Friday 8/09/2017. After that, we even had phone conversation just to make sure everything is in perfect order.

The mess with rooms already started on Sunday afternoon. Some opposite sex participants wanted to be together, so the lady at the reception was about to put two speakers out of their room and move them to 4-person room… Luckily I was around and said to here explicitly not to rearrange any rooms, especially speakers (!), and if someone is willing to have individual room, they can pay for it. I’ve forgotten about the story till Monday night – 2 participants arrived day late. It turned out, there is girl and boy looking for a room, but only places in girl-only rooms… It may sound funny, stupid problem, right? But try to convince 3 girls to accept a newcomer boy 😉

On Tue evening, I’ve picked up from the WMI airport my colleague-speaker arriving from Barcelona. On the way back to The Venue, we picked up lots of drinks (more about that soon…) and cause we had lots of time, I’ve told her that I’m really curious what kind of problems we’ll encounter tonight or tomorrow… I was stupid to wonder about that… We arrived, check her room with the reception. It turned out she is sharing the room with another speaker, so we went to look for the key. We found the other person and asked her for a key… And she froze… I’ve asked Is there a problem?, she replied Yes, there is only one bed in my room...I was like, wtf? Started to think quickly (it was late already). I thought maybe, they messed up again and gave her double room with big bed. But she replied No, there is only small bed... And you can't put more beds, as the room is tiny... At this moment the energy already left me completely. But the girl said But wait, there are some doors, never checked it. Maybe there is another room behind?To me it sounded unlikely, but Why not, let's check it! And so we went. We had to wait for a moment, while she cleaned-up the mess in her bedroom and invited us. We went inside. The room was tiny, indeed. No place for additional beds… And she showed us the doors. I’ve opened them and guess what? F…king  balcony… 

I’ve been seriously pissed at that moment. It was late (after 22), I was tired, the speaker came long way, straight after work and there is no bed for her! So I’ve just went to the reception and told politely to the guy there to call The Disaster Manager and organise the room for the speaker in half an hour. If not, I’ll be really, really pissed (I’ve maybe used some stronger words there…).

Guess what, we were offered nice 3-person room withing 15-20 minutes for exclusive use of above mentioned speaker. I was just curious, whether this will appear on the invoice or not 😉

The story about invisible beds have a follow up, coming soon. So stay tuned!

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Before the #NGSchool2017 and about the network

Throughout summer weeks of 2017, I’ve been exchanging emails with The Disaster Manager, touching on various organisational issues, like dietary restrictions, room options, network infrastructure and Internet connection. The latter was super important, since we were expecting to have 50-60 people working with their laptops during workshops. The Disaster Manager reassured me, the network at The Venue is superb, they were hosting events for a few hundred people and never had any issues with it. Although she made a remark, that outgoing Internet connection isn’t very fast, but stable. As the matter was very crucial, I’ve decided to reach out to the person responsible for IT at The Venue. I’ve been talking twice with the IT person responsible for network at The Venue, and I was again reassured the network is superb, 3-4 access points covering each seminar room, so there won’t be any problem serving WiFi for 50-60 people. Nevertheless, sensitive about the issue from the previous experiences, I’ve decided to install local server at The Venue.

On Sunday (10/09/2017) afternoon Broňa & Tomáš started #NGSchool2017 with Introduction to Bioinformatics/NGS. To our big surprise, the network stopped to work in the middle of the introductory workshop… Since it was introductory session and day0, not all participants were yet present (only ~25 people attended). We tried to resurrect the network, but worried the situation will occur during the following days, we decided to go ahead and build our on network from scratch… Tomáš & Maciej kindly did that, loosing fairly deserved Sun night chill-out time (note, Tomáš arrived a few hours earlier from Bratislava by car, so building the local network wasn’t optimal rest time for him…). A few hours later we had a couple of new access points, switches and bunch of LAN cables laying around on the floor… This just added to the mess of extensions and electrical sockets we had to install ourselves a few hours earlier… (The Disaster Manager provided us with extensions, but we had to distribute and install them ourselves on Sun midday). The next morning, I’ve requested a few more LAN cables and electrical sockets from one of our partners, as  new people arrived on Sun night and we were short with electrical and LAN connections. Nevertheless, thanks for the dedication of Tomáš & Maciej we were able to solve the problem.

A brief follow up of this story… Throughout Monday some participants told me that The Disaster Manager is looking for me with something related to the network issue. I thought she just wanted to say sorry, after all we had to solve the issue by ourselves, using our own equipment and time on Sun night. I was busy, so didn’t bother about that much… Anyway, eventually she spotted me on the corridor on Mon afternoon and asked if they could connect one computer to our network (the one we established on Sun night) as their network is not working and they have another meeting starting in The Venue. I was like, wtf?! But since I believe in helping others unconditionally and sharing things (ie Open Science), I told her our WiFi password (that happened to be the same as theirs;) ).

Here there are two important things to expand on:

  1. No one ever said sorry for the fact that network that suppose to be enough tens or hundreds of people stopped to work. It stopped to work so badly, that The Venue had to rely on our own solution on Mon…
  2. More importantly, we booked The Venue exclusively (or at least we were made to believe in that…). What the heck was the other meeting doing there on Mon afternoon? At that time, I just thought maybe it’s some small event, people coming and going… But no… It was a meeting on signal processing, larger that our initiative and it ran from Mon to Thu… Imagine my extreme surprise! But honestly, tell me what could we do at that point?

I just have to add, we change the network password on Tue afternoon (I was promoting something very, very direct & vulgar, but was convinced it’s not worth it…) as we noticed many people are connecting to our network from the other meeting compromising our workshops (not one computer) and The Venue failed to deliver many more things during following hours… But this is a topic for yet another post.

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The first encounter

I’ve first encountered both, The Venue and The Disaster Manager in January 2017. I was looking for a venue for #NGSchool2017. What I’ve been having in mind was pretty simple, some remote location, so people are forced to interact 24/7, and a place that we can be alone in, so no one disturbs our interactions. The price was also an important factor, since we are spending public money to provide affordable (FREE!) Bioinformatics & NGS training for everyone motivated enough to come (this year we’ve received over 200 applications from over 40 countries around the world…).

In order to find the best spot, I’ve approached several venues through email. The Venue offered by far the best conditions, as well as I got information we’ll have the place booked exclusively for us for requested dates, initially for 3-9/09/2017 (email from 25/01/2017).

A few days later (emails from 31/01/2017), the date was fixed for 10-17/09/2017 after confirmation that there are no other events taking place on these dates…

A few weeks later (21/02/2017), I’ve went to Jachranka in person, to make sure The Venue is as good as advertised on the website. The meeting was formal, but very warm and in family atmosphere. I’ve been discussing mostly with The Disaster Manager, although at that time everything seemed in perfect order.

The Venue is located by the lake, far from civilisation (ie. no public transport). It’s surrounded by large forest, partially private, belonging to The Venue. There are sport fields and dedicated areas for bonfire or BBQ. The seminar rooms looked also good. Unfortunately, I haven’t met the young, smiling and shiny people from the main page.

Fast forward, we signed the contract in early March and paid reservation fee (20%  of total) in early July as agreed in the contract. So everything in perfect order at first…

In Polish we have this saying “Miłe złego początki”. That describes perfectly what’s coming soon…

For a brief description of all places and characters, check About page.