giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
This year's Anthrocon went pretty well for me, at least from a staff/Operations standpoint! This being our 6th year in Pittsburgh, things went rather smoothly. Equipment arrived when it was supposed to, nothing went horribly wrong or got broken, and set up and teardown went fairly well. In that aspect, the con was somewhat "boring" for me, which is actually fantastic.

During my slow days (Friday and Saturday), I actually got to spend some time out enjoying the con, dropped in on a couple of panels, and got some facetime with some folks. My socializing was to such an extent that I didn't even drink all that much, which my wallet had no issues with.

Fursuit group shot

Total stats for this year's Anthrocon were 4,400 furries from 39 countries, 854 fursuits in the fursuit parade, and $11,522 raised for The Toonseum.

Kane Husky All cheetahs look alike Fursuit Parade

Silent Ravyn Bierzun and Kalira Fursuiters chasing a helicopter

Here's a picture of the Toonseum folks (except for the chef, which was Chiaroscuro):

Toonseum

There's not much else for me to add, because the con was more of the same awesomeness that I'm used to experiencing.

Naturally, I have many more photos than are show on in this post The full collection can be found here, with my "main" pictures found here.

Enjoy!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I rolled in from Anthrocon around Midnight on Monday, and slept in yesterday. I then spent the rest of the day hosting [livejournal.com profile] staghorne and Joel Fox (both visiting from Sweden), along with doing laundry, chores, catching up on email, etc.

In the evening, I showed them both Final Fantasy: Advent Children, and then we tried the Swedish comedy "Fyra år till" (Four More Years), but ran into problems with region encoding. So we instead settled on watching opinionated reviews of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I haven't yet uploaded my pictures, but here's a teaser pic, taken of me by Randorn:

_DSC6113
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Anthrocon 2011 is almost upon us! While I'm feeling a lot better than I was this time last year (due in part to my health improving), I still have that pre-con anxiety that I have every year. I suppose I'll get used to it someday.

Anyway, here's what my con schedule is roughly like for this year:

- Tuesday: Arriving around 11 PM. Having a drink at the bar then going to bed.

- Wednesday: Somewhat busy on and off throughout the day until about 9 PM

- Thursday: Busy most of the day, since that's when on-site registration opens. I hope to make it to The Pennsylvania Furries Meetup at 10 PM.

- Friday: While very much on duty, I don't have any specific commitments other than being at opening ceremonies. I plan on attending the Artists and Dealers Reception at 9 PM. I may be walking around in this later in the evening. Draw your own conclusions.

- Saturday: Very much on duty, but no specific commitments. I hope to drop in on some panels.

- Sunday: Teardown starts in the afternoon. I'll be busy with that through about 9 PM.

- Monday: Busy in the morning with post-con meetings. Depart in mid-afternoon.


If anyone would like to do food or drinks (especially drinks!) with me, I'm can totally be talked into that, schedule permitting.


Oh, I don't think I ever mentioned my Anthrocon 2010 pictures that I took last year, so here they are!

I hope to see y'all at this year's Anthrocon!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
At 9 AM this morning, we opened up the hotel registrations for Anthrocon 2011. Here are the performance graphs, with annotations:

Network traffic graph (Annotated) Memory usage graph (Annotated)

Netstat (Annotated) CPU usage graph (Annotated)

The arrows point to the spikes at 9 AM when I made the changes to the site live. Here's a breakdown of those stats in more detail:
  • Bandwidth went from a weekly average of 326 kilobits/sec to just over 5 megabits/sec.

  • # of concurrent network connections went from ~41 to 350

  • CPU usage went from 45% of 1 core to roughly 200% of one core (we have 4 cores)

  • Memory usage was largely unaffected. Yay for an async I/O webserver!
So the site held up just fine to the onslaught of users.

One thing I could have done better was the deployment. At about 8:30 AM, I replaced www.anthrocon.org with a static HTML page with the status, and pointed another DNS name at our Drupal installation. Unfortunately, Drupal is a bit finicky with its $base_url variable, and I had to tweak that by hand, as well as tweak the webserver config by hand. I then went to our temporary URL, published the hotel pages, made sure everything was okay, and undid all of those changes to re-deploy the website. Unfortunately, I forgot to clear out the cache in Drupal, which meant some people did not see the new hotel page until as late as 9:02 AM. Okay, so it's only 2 minutes, but I felt that it was a silly mistake that shouldn't have happened.

Next year, I think I'll look into an "auto-publishing" system of some sort to automagically make the pages in question live at 9 AM. That should simplify things for me quite a bit, and maybe not even require me to actively do anything.

Other than these minor issues, the whole hotel thing went over pretty well this morning. I monitored Twitter for the next hour or so, and was able to Tweet status updates to everyone as things happened.

As of this writing, the Courtyard is completely sold out, and Doubles in the Westin are sold out. (but Kings are available) Rooms at the Doubletree are still available (along with suites!), as well at The Omni William Penn.

(X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] anthrocon)
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
(X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] anthrocon)

Fursuit Games Panorama

Want to win a Supersponsorship for Anthrocon 2011?

Design our 2011 website, and you can!

That's right, we're looking for a talented web designer to create our 2011 website, and we are now taking submissions! The winner, chosen by us, will receive a free Supersponsorship membership for Anthrocon 2011!


"What is the theme?"

The theme for Anthrocon 2011 is "The Anthropomorphic Institute of Magic".


"Sounds great, what do you need from me?"

We will need you to email a mockup of the website design to webmaster@anthrocon.org no later than 11:59 PM, September 25th, 2010.

We will also need a copy of the header graphic, the color scheme you'd like us to use for the text on the site (our stylesheet is right here), a default user icon to replace the current one, and a few membership badges for our fourms: [1] [2]. Additional graphics for use on the website are optional, but strongly encouraged. Graphics for the background are optional.

File attachments are welcome. Designs and graphics may also be uploaded to a site such as Drop.io.


"I'm not a wizard with HTML and CSS!"

That's okay. We are. :-) If you can get us the graphics and styles, we can handle the rest.


"I like Javascript, can I write some?"

You sure can! We use the jQuery Javascript library to power our site, and would be happy to install jQuery UI as well.


"I really don't like the layout of the current Anthrocon website. Can I change it up a little?"

You certainly may! This is your chance to get creative. If you have some ideas for different layouts of the website, we'd love to see them!


"May I submit more than one design?"

Sure. Enter as many different designs as you like.


"I'm not sure my entry was received!"

If you don't hear back from us after getting your entry, feel free to check in with us, or send me a Private Message through Anthrocon's website.


"Is there a fee to enter?"

No. Entry is free.


Legal stuff

You must be the owner of the copyright or the artwork must be in the public domain. Anthrocon asks for non-exclusive rights to publish submitted works for which you own the copyright.


"I have additional questions!"

Feel free to reply to this post, or contact me directly.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
First off, I'm still recovering from Anthrocon. Some folks may have noticed that I was limping around the con a bit. While my knees held up nicely during the con, my feet did not. This was due partly to the fact that I was stomping around on a hard concrete floor in the convention center for several days on end, and partly due to my prior history of foot problems, including a Morton's Neuroma. (those of you who read this LJ back in about 2002 will remember that quite well)

Currently, my left foot has a mild burning sensation throughout, and I'm keeping off of it as much as possible. Now that I'm (much) older and (a little) wiser, hopefully I can not make some mistakes I made during my last flareup (such as walking on a cane, which was dumb), and continuing to do the leg exercises that my physical therapist gave me should help, too. If the pain persists into next week, I'll see my doctor.

As for my Anthrocon experience, I hosted [livejournal.com profile] staghorne before and after the con, ran Con Ops, dealt with a couple of technology-related emergencies on Thursday (didn't notice anything amiss? I did my job well, then!), and took about 400 pictures in all. When I upload all of the pictures, I'll post links and a more formal con report.

As for the future of this LJ, I want to keep writing here, and I need to start posting more. So I have a couple of questions for folks who read this LJ regularly:

#1 How often should I post?

I could do updates practically every day, if I wanted to. But there would be less "content" and more "fluff", silly videos, etc. I guess it's a question of how much folks like to see me post.

#2 Where should I post?

I post most stuff to LJ by default. But I also have a presence on a number of other websites, including dmuth.org, Pennsylvania Furries, Save Ardmore Coalition, Twitter, Facebook, and some others.

There are some blog posts that I feel appropriate to share on more than one site. But I'm still not sure what the best practice is for doing that. I don't want to spam the same post over and over, but some things (like my eventual AC con report) really do fit onto more than one site. (even the folks on the SAC site are interested in my furry activities) So this is very much a case of there being no single "right" answer, and also requires some input from others.

Your thoughts, pro and con are welcome.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
The last couple of weeks has been really really busy and really really exciting.

First, I got an MRI on my knee and got the results back. Some good news: the ACL is just fine. That said, the doctors don't yet know what's causing my knee pain, which means I get to see a knee specialist in the future. But between my feeling much better and wearing my knee braces like my doctor told me to, I should have no difficulty making it around Anthrocon.

Earlier this week, I decided to set up an Anthrocon Operations Hotline as a bit of an experiment. To the best of my knowledge, no furry con has done this before, so we'll see how it turns out.

Earlier tonight, I attended a pre-Anthrocon dinner in Ardmore. Got to see some familiar faces, and [livejournal.com profile] staghorne got to meet some of the local furries.

As for my schedule at Anthrocon itself...

Tuesday night is when [livejournal.com profile] staghorne and I arrive. If anyone would like to have a couple of drinks at the Westin, let me know.

Wednesday and Thursday are going to have me pretty busy with setup stuff and venue meetings. I won't have much time to hang.

Friday morning will have me busy with Opening Ceremonies in the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom. :-P The rest of the day I hope to have a lighter workload.

Saturday is my least busy day of the con, as there is no setup or teardown work to be done. I may even go to the dance that evening. :-)

Sunday afternoon and evening will be busy for me, between teardown, Closing Ceremonies, and more teardown.

Monday I will depart from the con.

Well, that's about my convention schedule in a nutshell. I hope to see everyone at Anthrocon this year!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I had a pretty awesome Memorial Day weekend last weekend. I went up to my parents' place for the first time since Christmas. They're fine, the cat is stupid fine, and the rest of my family is fine.

I've been wearing my knee braces whenever I walk around, just like my doctor told me to, and they've gotten much much better. I have an MRI scheduled for this coming Wednesday, so we can see what precisely is going on inside the knee. Still, I can walk for considerable distances and feel well enough to do my normal thing at Anthrocon at this point.

(PROTIP: Want to get the smell out of neoprene knee braces? Soak in 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup hot water for an hour. That kills the fungus.)

Speaking of Anthrocon, I spent yesterday working with registration laptops, giving funny looks to MSIE 8, and testing all of our badge printers. Everything still works, and I feel more confident about onsite registration this year (not that last year didn't go fine) because my code has remained largely unchanged since last year, and I made more documentation for troubleshooting purposes, should anything go wrong.

While visiting my parents, I took a trip to the old neighborhood where I grew up, walked around, and took many pictures. Once again, the UV filter on my camera did its job.


Shepherd Hills Golf Course

Driver Place Greens Drive Greens Drive

And here's the whole set, browseable in Flash:



Enjoy!
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
So the user Jalterixnar on the Anthrocon forums was nice enough to create a commercial for Anthrocon 2010 and post it on YouTube:



That is amazingly cool, and the tool used to create it was at http://www.youtube.com/searchstories. I've been playing with it on my own, and it's quite neat, as it allows different kinds of searches to be performed, as well as choosing different music.

I'm unclear whether this was just a "toy" that Google created, or whether they plan on using it to revolutionize the advertising industry, but it certainly is a great step in that direction.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Wow, it's been awhile since I've written here. Real life has had me very busy lately. I've done some neat things though, and I hope to post more about them soon.

The first neat thing I did recently was to roll out some badly needed updates for the user pages on anthrocon.org.

Before, I merely used the default pages that Drupal provided. The problem was that the pages looked a little... bland. Among other things, there were no icons for the various social networking services, and that just wouldn't do. So I read up on how to customize the user profile layout in Drupal and spent a couple of evenings writing some PHP code and making use of Drupal's theming functions.

Here are the old and the new pages side by side. Click on either to get a full page in a separate window.

Old and busted:New hotness:

Old default Anthrocon user page

New Anthrocon user page, with theming


The upside of this effort is that when I'm ready to upgrade the Save Ardmore Coalition site to Drupal 6, I can pretty much just copy over my user templates on a wholesale basis, and save myself from having to redo all that work. :-)

How has everyone else been here in LJ-land?
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Looking back after this morning's stampede, I thought I'd share with folks how the webserver held up, since I know I am not the only geek out there. And, truth be told, I was a bit nervous myself, since I wasn't quite sure just how much traffic we would get and if the webserver would survive, or turn into a smoking crater.

Well, here's what we got:

Ethernet Traffic

The first hump is a manual backup I did last night. The second is the automatic backup that runs every morning, where the database and files are rsynced to a machine at another data center. The third hump at 9 AM was when we opened hotel reservations. 1.4 Megabits/sec doesn't look too bad, until you look at:

Active Connections

The 336 simultaneous connections a second was far more interesting. That's about 16 times the normal number of connections to the webserver.

So, what were the effects? Let's look at MySQL first:

MySQL Queries

There were nearly 1000 queries per second, 500 of which were in the cache. Between that and the other queries which are not hitting the MySQL cache, there's definite room for improvement. But before I look at the RAM situation, let's look at the CPU usage:

CPU Usage

Load Average

One of the cores was close to 100%, but there was virtually no I/O wait. The load average was also good to see--it was actually less than the load during the nightly backups. From a performance standpoint, both of these graphs look very good, as it means the disk was not the bottleneck. But why not? Well, here's the final piece of the puzzle:

Memory Usage

The RAM usage is what ties all of the other graphs together. By keeping the memory usage near constant, I was able to avoid hitting swap space, which would have incurred a huge performance penalty and quite possibly a "death spiral".

How did I keep RAM usage so low? Instead of running the Apache webserver, which requires a separate process for each connection, I instead ran the Nginx webserver. Unlike Apache, it uses asynchronous I/O to handle incoming requests. This approach scales much better than Apache, which creates a separate child process for each "listner" and chews up a lot of memory.

For comparison, the number of simultaneous connections peaked at "only" around 100 during last year's convention. We broke the old record by a factor 3.

"And what we have learned?"

Even under the highest load to date, we were in no danger of running out of RAM. This means that I can (and probably should) allocate more memory to MySQL so that more queries are cached and overall performance is increased even more. There are also some more advanced caching modules that I intend to research, to see if we can cache straight off of the filesystem and avoid the database altogether. More on that as it happens.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Wow, this took a long time to write. :-) It was something I had been procrastinating on for awhile, mostly on account of me not uploading my pictures. Now that all of my pictures are up on Flickr, I can get down to writing about the con.

Anthrocon 2009 started for me on the Tuesday evening before the con. I met up with [livejournal.com profile] whitefeet, Ethan [livejournal.com profile] staghorne, and Pinky in Philadelphia. I picked up a rental car, and we headed out to Pittsburgh. Ethan brought along an iTrip and we took turns listening to each others' iPods.

Fursuit Parade

Wednesday was a pretty calm day for me. I got Ops set up and running, and then got the Registration computers set up later in the evening. This year was a change, as I was tasked with writing the convention's registration software. So I made sure I had extra time to get everything set up and tested well in advance.

Come Thursday, I was starting to get the pre-launch jitters. People were lining up for onsite registrations, and I wanted to be sure that my software would work properly. [livejournal.com profile] nikvulper even remarked to me once that I had my "game face" on. When Registration did finally open around 3, I was please to see that my code did actually run properly. Other than making periodic backups and checking that the slave database server was staying in sync, I didn't have any serious work to do in Registration the rest of the weekend.

Fursuit Parade Fursuit Parade Fursuit Parade

On Friday, I danced a bit in DJ Protocollie's dance that night, then swung by my room. I found waiting for me a 10-pack of small bottles of different Swedish liquors, courtesy of Ethan, and a printing out drinking songs to sing with them. Ethan explained that you were supposed to sing between shots. I just stared at incomprehensible Swedish between shots. (Swedish is almost as difficult to understand as Danish is, I might add :-)

Saturday was the quietst day for Con Ops. I spent a fair amount of time out and about the con that day. It was also the day we held the fursuiter parade, where a total of 640 fursuiters marched in it. I remember when the number was announced over the radio, I had to ask that it be repeated, because I wasn't sure I heard it right the first time.

640 fursuiters in Hall C

Sunday was the "let's wrap things up day". Registration and Ops were winding down. All I had to do in reg was run final stats, make a final backup of the data, and pack up the computers. The total number of attendees at Anthrocon 2009? 3,776 attendees

There's more to read! )




Saturday night Rave Saturday night Rave Saturday night Rave

Anthrocon 2010 will be held from June 24th to 27th, 2010 with the theme of "Modern Stone-Age Furries". Looking for ideas to go with that theme? [livejournal.com profile] neogeen has tons and tons of ideas for you.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for coming to the con.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Please note that hotel reservations for Anthrocon 2010 are not yet available. If you try to contact the hotel for a room right now, they will tell you that the block is "sold out," because that's what the computer screen says. It is not sold out; we have not opened it yet, and will not open it until February. This decision was made based on feedback we received from our members, and applies to all of the hotels which have offered us rooms for next year.

(X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] anthrocon)
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
From Anthrocon 2009, courtesy of Warphammer:



Click on the picture for a supersize 4210x1796 version.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Just wanted to let folks here know that we have our own photo pool on the awesome Flickr photo hosting service:



If you took pictures during the con, please add them to the pool. If you're looking for pictures from past Anthrocon conventions, we have them going as far back as 2006.

Share and enjoy!

(X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] anthrocon)
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
I'm home safely from the con, and have today off so I can recover and catch up on errands, do laundry, etc. Maybe I'll be in IM later tonight.

Seems like our brains were completely fried at closing ceremonies and we forgot to mention the post-convention survey. Here it is:



Please tell us what you liked, and what we can do to make next year's Anthrocon even better.

I have a ton of pictures, and more details about the con, which I'll post at some future date.

(X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] anthrocon)
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
We did not think it would happen, but the Westin has a VERY few rooms that they are willing to release back to our block at the convention rate of $115 per night. If you waited to the last minute, that's NOW, and here's your chance. To claim one of those rooms, you must call Ms. Sam Waterman at 412-560-6365 directly. Try to stampede in an orderly fashion.
giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Yes, I have a Dolph plushie. It's rather big, about 30 inches.



Now the $700 Billion Question (adjusted for inflation):

[Poll #1421722]

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giza: Giza White Mage (Default)
Douglas Muth

April 2012

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