Travel hack gone awry: the conference that got canceled

AUSTIN–South By Southwest starts today, but I’ve been here since Wednesday. That seemed like a smart way to arrange my travel until last Thursday–when the PR Summit conference here vanished from my schedule.

You can’t tell this from the generic “under construction” page at that address, but I was going to participate in a discussion about communications strategies “in the age of Trump and Twitter.” That’s a fascinating topic I hope to address someday. But last Thursday’s e-mail announcing the conference’s postponement after a sponsor’s withdrawal ensures that time won’t be this week.

I have spoken at a lot of conferences over the past 10 years, and this is the first time one has gotten scrubbed like this. My great experience speaking at 2013’s PR Summit in San Francisco led me to expect this one to go just as smoothly–and since I was heading to Austin anyway, moving up my departure by two days and getting a better deal on airfare in the bargain made sense.

Thing is–not that I’d know this first-hand–putting on a conference requires difficult and prolonged work and demands the support of many third parties with their own interests. I should probably be surprised I haven’t had one implode on me before.

The immediate downsides of having the event cancel were realizing I’d spend two more days away from my family without any business rationale, and that I’d need to find someplace else to stay now that the conference-paid hotel room was gone as well.

But the local PR shop TrendKite put together its own small event Wednesday afternoon, at which it was comforting to realize anew that PR pros can find social media just as much of a game of chance as journalists. I stayed the last two nights with a friend from high school and his wife (cooking dinner for them Wednesday allowed an overdue introduction to the kitchen-newbie-friendly UX of a Blue Apron kit). And having last night free let me catch up over dinner with a college-newspaper friend whom I’d last seen in 2003. I can’t complain about those outcomes.

Advertisements

Weekly output: Nokia 1020, BYOD, PR Summit, Chromecast (x2), patent trolls, CableCard (x2), Google Maps, Gmail

I had some 5,200 words appear under my byline this week. (I wrote one of those reviews last weekend, but I also filed one story this week that won’t show up in print for weeks.) Some of that is the result of products shipping and news breaking at about the same time, and some is what happens when you know you owe a client so many posts in a month and then tell yourself “I can finish that story tomorrow” too many days in a row.

7/29/2013: Nokia’s 1020: A Camera That Makes Phone Calls, Discovery News

Nokia’s latest smartphone includes a 41-megapixel camera that takes impressive photos, but its Windows Phone software has issues with driving directions and app selection. And its battery life may be worse than it seemed when I wrote this.

7/30/2013: BYOD Chat, IDG Enterprise

Another turn as a chat host, this time for a round of questions about bring-your-own-device policies and experiences. The link goes to a Twitter query for the #mobilebizchat hashtag, owing to the questions and answers not yet having been archived on the Enterprise Mobile Hub site. 9/29: Updated link.

7/30/2013: The Future of Technology & How to Speak Blogger Language 4.0, PR Summit

VentureBeat’s Christina Farr moderated a panel featuring yours truly, Fleishman-Hillard’s Layla Revis, Jon Oleaga of etceter and marketing maven Murray Newlands. I can’t say we got the audience past blogger language 3.0, but we did have a good chat on some basic issues of building influence and maintaining trust on the Web, whether you’re in PR or journalism or some intersection of the two.

Boing Boing Chromecast comparison7/31/2013: The real Web TV: Chromecast, Apple or Roku?, Boing Boing

I compared Google’s new $35 Web-media receiver to Apple and Roku’s models. Short answer: Apple’s best for sharing what’s already on your computer, Roku has the widest set of video and audio apps, Google has the easiest setup and the biggest potential upside. Don’t forget to check out the comments BBS, where I answered several questions about these devices and my review.

7/31/2013: Google’s Chromecast Puts the Web On TV For $35, Discovery News

For Discovery, I wrote a higher-level piece starting with what makes the Chromecast different from and better than running an HDMI cable from your laptop to your TV.

8/1/2013: Past And Future Patent Pain: When Does The Law Recognize Abuse For What It Is?, Disruptive Competition Project

I’d been meaning to write this 1,100-word essay for while; fortunately, the EFF’s launch of its Trolling Effects database of “demand letters” from patent trolls gave me a decent news peg for the piece.

8/2/2013: TiVo, media center PC makers alarmed by CableCard-cutting bill, Ars Technica

I got a nice little scoop about an upcoming bill that would end a key regulatory protection for the CableCard standard that allows TiVos and a few other devices to tune in cable TV. Check page three of the comments for a few from me answering reader queries.

8/2/2013: The Endless Re-Runs Of The Cable-Compatibility Debate, Disruptive Competition Project

This counterpart to the Ars piece summarizes the 15 years and counting of regulatory, technological and market failures at establishing a standard way to get cable without leasing a box from the cable company.

8/4/2013: Google removes multiple stops feature from Maps, USA Today

It’s never a good idea to let users discover on their own that you removed a feature many of them like to use. This column also has a tip about using Gmail’s offline and ad-free mode in Chrome.

On Sulia, I recounted an amusing HDMI failure in Apple’s flagship San Francisco store, reported an apparently painless installation of Android 4.3 on my Nexus 4 phone, shared a fix for a broadband breakdown I encountered later that day,  critiqued Google’s announcement of an overdue find-my-phone service for Android phones, suggested replacement brand names for Microsoft’s trademark-conflicted SkyDrive and complimented Dulles Airport for its real-time security wait estimates.