And fisl9.0 is over. This was a great one… not only because of its size, but there were so many things at stake that I am positively surprised such a few went wrong. We’ve got a lot to think until next one…
To begin with, there’s a major difference between this “inter-fisl” time: we already know where next’s going to be and how much it’ll cost us. The event-center cost, as you can imagine, is the most expensive part of our budget, and knowing that in advance, I believe, will play an important role in our planning. Also, we got more time to plan for the next one: it’ll be in June, not April, as usual.
Moving back to PUCRS (from FIERGS) as fisl’s event-center – now I can say – was scaring me to death. PUCRS is smaller and we were foreseeing a huge event. Guess what! The event was bigger than first imagined, and PUCRS held it without major drawbacks. Sure, lectures were crowded… but they were already crowded at FIERGS anyway… The expo had more people than FIERGS, but I am sure our sponsors did not think that was a problem 😉
Of course, not everything went OK… I think we had two important problems to solve for next fisl: our network must be born already correctly configured for the streaming, and our wireless infrastructure must be stronger. The first one I already wrote about and I think it had to to with the inexperience of the network people this year: apparently they’ve put everything under a crappy load-balancing and while this might work for web-surfing or sending small amounts of data, it just hurts anything that should be continuously transfered, like real-time videos. Here is a piece of advice: network planning involves the “right” amount of everything (the right amount of cables, the right amount of bandwidth, the right amount of uplinks), including the right amount of configuration! I think our network problems were more a case of overconfiguration than one of lack of skills.
The problem with the wi-fi is deeper. Maybe I don’t completely understand the technology (and people handling it were not very helpful). How do you manage an event like fisl in the wireless front? PUCRS have provided us with enough wi-fi to hold 1500 concurrent connections (so they say), and have reported we never had more than 400 concurrent connections… and yet, as many people have reported, to connect our laptops was a hassle. I don’t have a laptop, but I’ve seem a lot of my friends trying to connect with no luck. During the second day, PUCRS wi-fi technicians told us that the problem was the Access-Points people brought to fisl (according to them there were more than 30) that were, somehow, messing with the channels they were using. So we reserved some channels to PUCRS and asked people to use other ones. I tend to believe that the majority of the people listened to our appeal and reconfigured their Access-Points… but no improvement were reported.
So, either PUCRS cannot hold more than 400 concurrent connections in their wi-fi system, or there’s some other problem we’ve not identified. What is the right thing to do? To forbid people to bring their own Access-Points? No way I am going to see the day fisl organizing committee will disallow people to carry their own communication devices!! There must be a better solution… I think I am going to study wi-fi at least not to be easily fooled around by this “messing the channels” crap (please, comment to this article if you have any ideas).
Finally, people are dreaming of a 10-thousand people fisl next year. I think it’s not more than a dream… but hey! When we made the first fisl, there were only 300 people… it has been a 9-year long dream… Maybe that 10-thousand one will come true, as the previous ones did. I will just add one more problem to our list: the first day long lines to get people’s badges must be addressed in a creative way…
Thanks to all that came to fisl. See you next year!