The SxSW Survival Guide (Part 3)
This post is part of a series, head over to the SxSW Interactive Tips page to read all of the posts in this series (in intended order).
Ever since our forefathers, the very first geeks sat up from their rolling chairs, put their feet on natural grass and exposed their skin to sunlight for the first time, geeks have had some (let’s be charitable here) minor issues with socializing. So it should come as no surprise that when thousands of geeks get together, chaos tends to ensue. The kind of chaos that has most folk plastered to the walls, chairs and floors in fear.
For those beginners interested in venturing forth from their natural habitat into the wilds of southby, there are a plethora of survival skills and equipment available. However, experience is the best teacher in any unnatural situation and your reaction in a social survival situation depends entirely upon your education. Always keep in mind that the need for this can happen to even the most experienced southies! To deal with an emergency situation, one must be able to make decisions, improvise and above all remain calm!
Braving the Elements
Before getting the specific skills you will need to survive this most insane of geek events, here are some basic challenges you will almost certainly run into – and specific information to help you survive in spite of them.
Fear – For anyone faced with a social emergency survival situation, fear is a normal reaction. Unless you’ve anticipated said situation, fear is generally followed by panic, pain, thirst, hunger or other impediments. It is extremely important to calmly assess the situation and not allow these enemies to interfere with your survival. The single greatest help in a crisis of fear is a “southby buddy“. Your buddy can pour water on you, smack you or buy you a beer in order to calm you down (as appropriate to the situation). Your conference buddy is your lifeline, do not let them get away from you!
Pain - Pain may often be ignored in a panic situation. Remember to deal with injuries immediately before they become even more serious. Refer to your Google Maps to find the nearest pharmacy should you need bandaids to deal with the inevitable SxSW Blisters.
Cold - Cold lowers your ability to think, numbing the body and reducing your will to survive. Never allow yourself to stop moving or to fall asleep unless you are adequately sheltered. While southby is held in Texas, a solid downpour (happens every year, so be prepared!) will soak you and make you very cold. Your best protection is a Zappos windbreaker, a TechSet umbrella or Scoble (known for their rain-stopping magical powers).
Thirst - Dehydration is a common enemy in an emergency situation and must not be ignored. It can dull your mind, causing you to overlook important survival information. During the day, hydrate regularly at the hydration stations provided for your personal health. If you are new to the world of natural sunlight, attempt to build the habit of applying deodorant every time you hydrate. During the evening or liquor-fueled social events, a simple rule of thumb to keep you out of a crisis situation is 1 glass/bottle of water for every 2 shots, 3 beers or 3 “girly drinks”. Should you find yourself in a late-night pre-hangover hydration-based emergency situation, drink 4 large glasses of water, take 2 pain killers and sleep it off. Don’t plan to attend the first morning sessions.
Hunger - Hunger is dangerous but is seldom deadly. It may reduce your ability to think logically, properly introduce a friend or login to Gmail. It may also increase your susceptibility to the effects of cold, pain, fear or alcohol. While we will provide specific dietary tips later in this guide, for now check out SxSW is Easy for their drink/eats directory! One final hunger-related tip: code is not food.
Fatigue - Fatigue is unavoidable in any given southby situation, so it is best to keep in mind that it can and will lower your mental faculties (if this word confuses you, avoid fatigue at all costs… you don’t have many spare brain cells to lose). Remember that in an emergency social situation, this is often the body’s way of escaping a dificult situation. In order to combat fatique, remember to take frequent power naps (any corner of the conference center will do). Alternately lay out in the grass by the park, with your mac on your face to block the sunlight (it’s really all it’s good for). In a true emergency situation, head to one of the sessions dedicated to AJAX. You’ll sleep just fine.
Boredom & Loneliness - These enemies are quite often unanticipated and may lower the mind’s ability to deal with the situation. Your greatest cures for these ailments are one of the following: alcohol, introducing yourself to strangers and streaking through the conference center in nothing but your tube socks. We will leave it up to you to decide which to use in any given situation. Our preference would be for you to do all three at once.
In this next section, we will equip you with the specific skills you will undoubtedly need to survive the conference. Remember, that while some of these may seem superfluous to the social newbie, they are absolutely critical to survival of the variety of situations you will encounter. Included with each How To is a recommendation of where to practice this core skill so you will be prepared when you need it. Remember, practice makes less n00b!
How To Build a Fire
Building a fire is the most important task when dealing with survival. Be sure to build yours in a secluded area such as a restroom, session on how to use iTunes to build your business or inside a cop car. The most common mistakes made by those attempting to build a fire are: choosing poor tinder, failing to shield precious matches from the wind and smothering the flames with too large pieces of fuel. The four most important factors when starting a fire are spark – tinder – fuel – oxygen.
The most common ways to create spark are:
- Waterproof, strike-anywhere matches are your best bet. Matches may be water-proofed by dipping them in nail polish. Store your matches in a waterproof container or @kk‘s camera case.
- A cigarette lighter is also a good way to produce a spark, with or without fuel.
- The flint and steel method is one of the oldest and most reliable methods in fire starting. Aim the sparks at a pile of dry tinder or an iPhone to produce a fire.
- The electric spark produced from a battery will ignite a gasoline dampened rag.
- Remove half of the powder from a bullet and pour it into the tinder. Next place a rag in the cartridge case of the gun and fire. The rag should ignite and then may be placed into the tinder. Then ask yourself whytf you brought a fucking bullet to southby! You commie bastard you!
- Allow the suns rays to pass through a magnifying glass onto the tinder.
Dry grass, paper or cloth lint, a dead blog, gasoline-soaked rags, an auto-dm and dry bark are all forms of tinder. Place your tinder in a small pile resembling a tepee with the driest pieces at the bottom. Use a fire starter or strip of pitch if it is available.
It is important to keep in mind that smaller pieces of kindling such as, twigs, bark, shavings and gasoline, are necessary when trying to ignite larger pieces of fuel. Gather fuel before attempting to start your fire. Obviously dry wood burns better and wet or pitchy wood will create more smoke. Dense, dry wood will burn slow and hot. A well ventilated fire will burn best.
Practice: We suggest practicing this in your parents bed while they’re “wrestling”.
How to Introduce Yourself to Strangers
There are few things more intimidating for the unevolved geek (no offence) than introducing yourself to strangers. So much so that a future post will cover the specifics of infiltration and invasion of other social groups. For now, here are some basic ways, means and steps to introduce yourself:
- Keep your business cards in one pocket (we suggest your left) of your “khakis” (and I use this term loosely), and save the other pocket for the cards of the people you meet. You should leave southby with as many as you arrive with!
- As you are walking up to a new group, palm a number of cards nearly equal to the size of the group (ie: G-G/3 is the math) in your left hand (since you’ll shake hands with your right). Either say hello and introduce yourself, or wait for a lull in the conversation and (if you’re as witty as I am) say something funny inane like “that’s what she said”, “I once pants’d Mark Zuckerberg” or “all ur base are belong to us”. When people look at you like an idiot, take that opportunity to actually introduce yourself. Do the card swap. Then stick around. If you’re too shy, just stand there. Eventually they will either mock you or ask for your opinion. Both work to your advantage. Pity works as well in geek circles as it does with cheerleaders.
- Buy a Segway and ride it around the conference center.
- Hire a booth babe to promote you.
- Set a midget on fire.
- Dress up like Master Chief.
- Bring a buddy or girl. Groups assimilate groups with less friction than individuals.
Practice: We suggest going to the local hiphop club and practicing on the hawtest bartender there. Worked for us!
How to Build a Shelter
A small shelter which is insulated from the bottom, protected from wind, urinal discs and snow and contains a fire is extremely important in social survival. Before building your shelter be sure that the surrounding area provides the materials needed to build a good fire, a good source alcohol and shelter from the wind (others’ wind… yours will provide natural heat).
Southby shelters may include:
- Natural shelters such as caves, a blogspot blog and overhanging cliffs. When exploring a possible shelter tie a piece of string to the outer mouth of the cave to ensure you will be able to find your way out. Keep in mind that these caves may already be occupied. In the worst case, toss pizza and a can of Dr. Pepper outside of the cave to draw out its previous inhabitant. If you do use a cave for shelter, build your fire near its mouth to prevent animals from entering.
- Enlarge the natural pit behind a booth on the tradeshow floor.
- A lean-to made with poles or fallen trees and a covering of plastic, boughs, thick grasses or bark is effective to shelter you from wind, rain and snow.
- A wigwam may be constructed using three long poles. Tie the tops of the poles together and upright them in an appropriate spot. Cover the sides with a tarp, boughs, raingear or other suitable materials. Build a fire in the center of the wigwam, making a draft channel in the wall and a small hole in the top to allow smoke to escape. Clearly this wigwam lacks the basic survival of power and/or wifi. By placing your wigwam in the park area near the Hilton, you will have easy access to power and lobby wifi.
- If you find yourself in open terrain, a snow cave will provide good shelter. Find a drift and burrow a tunnel into the side for about 60 cm (24 in) then build your chamber. The entrance of the tunnel should lead to the lowest level of you chamber where the cooking and storage of equipment will be. A minimum of two ventilating holes are necessary, preferably one in the roof and one in the door.Should you find yourself too cold, it’s been said that @jaygoldman provides natural heat to those that ply him with bourbon.
Practice: By far the best place to practice this is inside @technosailor‘s hotel room.
How to Pick Up Girls at SxSW
If you’re still reading this like it’s an actual guide? Erm, don’t.
Practice: With your mom. Who else would let you practice with them? Or tell you you were any good?
How to Get Free Stuff
Hold out your hands. It will down upon you like mana (note: this does not, generally, include such essentials as deodorant boxer briefs or a clue with the ladies (see above)).
Practice: No, seriously, it falls like MANA from HEAVEN. I mean, come on.
How to Parasail
- Check harnesses and harness pre-takeoff.
- Signal the boat driver to go.
- Boat should accelerate.
- Don’t fall.
- Take long strides when the roap is taut.
- Steer the parasail by pulling down on risers on the side of the desired direction. No steering should actually ever be necessary.
Practice: During any panel involving Guy Kawasaki
How to Eat Healthy
For the intrepid geek journeying forth from their cave for the first time, eating healthy is probably an oxymoron. However, if you intend to maintain your natural girlish 250 pounds, while still having the energy to “throw it down” on the dance floor, you’ll want to ensure you are not just properly hydrated but also that you have enough non-pizza in your system to keep you going.
As such, here are a list of suggestions, restaurants, carts, etc, for keeping the “zomgroflcopter that burp resulted in a flirt FAIL whale” away:
- From @zsazsa: Take lots of Vitamin C and Airborne.
- From @austinist: Some healthier SXSW eating options near downtown: koriente, blue dahlia bistro, the good knight, mr natural, kebabalicious
- Grab snacks from Whole Foods. Nuts, a couple of bars (feel free to include chocolate, it’s okay, I won’t tell), yogurt in a tube (easier to not spill than yogurt cups), juice, etc.
- From @sxswiseasy and SxSWiseasy.com: Healthy options – You asked, so we put out a call to our friends on Twitter. @sgerichten recommends Koriente (see the veggie option above), @sheimapi recommends The Counter Cafe (we’ve heard the burgers are phenom), @perakos tells us WeFuse is the place, @NashWilliams reminded us about Zen (in SoCo, a slight trek) and you can never, ever go wrong with a couple hours spent in the flagship Whole Foods store on 6th and Lamar.
Practice: At McDonald’s. They have salads. They’re made from leftover Big Mac’s.
How to Find Out What’s Going On
While we’ll spend an entire post on building the perfect schedule, it’s best that you know NOW what’s going on, so you can start RSVPing for parties. So here are some tools to help y’all out!
- SxSW.com I only include this because of the my.sxsw, and that it includes some random tidbits that some folk find useful.
- SCHED: By far the best tool for finding everything. Check everything you MIGHT be interested in, then choose the best of those.
- AllTop for SxSW
- SxSW on Delicious
- Flickr photos tagged SxSW
- SxSW Baby
- Twitter posts for SxSW
- Got suggestions? COMMENT!
Practice: On LiveJournal.
How to Be an Ass
- Take pictures all day long to capture the experience. LIVE the experience!
- Stick your face in your blackberry or iphone during every conversation to find out what’s happening on twitter.
- Say “omg, you’re my hero” to anyone (except @micah, he’s everyone’s hero)
- Refuse to share your power bar (or powerbar, for that matter)
- Eat alone
- Drink alone
- Pee alone
Practice: We suggest practicing with Aaron Brazell. He’s VERY patient.
How to Keep Your Battery Going (from Alex Hillman again!)
So you’ve got a shiny iPhone, and you realize that without a swappable battery, you’re going to spend all day hunting outlets to charge it. First, make sure you carry a charger with you. Some other things to do to conserve power include:
- lower your screen brightness as much as possible; the backlight sucks a LOT of juice.
- kill the wifi/bluetooth. the wifi at SXSW usually sucks anyway. don’t bother.
- Try using twitter over SMS exclusively, and shut off vibration/audible notifications.
Set up SMS notifications for only friends whose tweets you want to get. Believe it or not, SMS is the lowest power consumption per message compared to sitting and refreshing Mobile Safari, Twiterrific, or Tweetie. It’s a little harder to sort through, but your battery will last longer.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Out the Other’s Guide to SXSW On the Cheap (Part 3) (outtheother.typepad.com)
- Out the Other’s Guide to SXSW On the Cheap (Part 2) (outtheother.typepad.com)
- Out the Other’s Guide to SXSW On the Cheap (Part 1) (outtheother.typepad.com)
- 17 Travel Tips to Make Your Trip More Enjoyable (thatcanadiangirl.co.uk)
|Print article||This entry was posted by Jeremy Wright on March 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm, and is filed under Blogging, Business, Work. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|