[Hacker-event-theory] turning feedback from ohm into learning points

Eelco Hotting eelco at hotting.nl
Fri Apr 4 00:05:46 CEST 2014

Hash: SHA1

Commenting on some of the issues mentioned by Rejo.
In general they hold up, just complicating things a bit to show that
'as soon as possible'  doesn't automatically mean 'faster than at
OHM2014'. Without getting too defensive, I hope. :)

> - during buildup and teardown - power should be available during
> buildup as soon as possible and during teardown as possible -
> toilets (and possibly showers?) should be available during buildup 
> as soon as possible during teardown as possible - water should be
> available during buidup as soon as possible during teardown as
> possible

For those power and sanitation issues, it might be that this is
important enough to declare it a requirement of the event site to have
this infrastructure available, at least in a basic form, enough to
facilitate build-up and tear-down. At OHM2013 this was clearly not the
case. On a totally empty field a compromise has to be found, taking in
consideration effort, costs, planning. I doubt it was possible to do
it much better than we did...

- - Costly to run generators, every day costs thousands of euros in fuel.
- - The infrastructure for power cannot be laid out as the first thing,
first there has to be a field layout set out. Also, power cables might
hinder movement of machinery.
- - There is also the permit to take into consideration: local
governments will try and limit the number of days you have power
generators on terrain, let alone having them running. At OHM2014, we
could not have the generators on terrain earlier than we had them.
- - Trucks that bring the power generators are among the heaviest on
terrain, they might require adapted infrastructure like big mud place
being in place first.

- - For toilets and showers, you need water, power and sewage first.
- - It helps a lot if there is some sanitation on terrain before you
arrive. Putting it all there is a lot of trouble that you should
avoid. Putting some extra toilets there is a lot less troublesome than
having to arrange it all.

- - Water is something that should be on terrain. This was one of our
biggest issues at Geestmerambacht, it was underestimated how much
trouble it is to get enough water if you start with nothing.
- - Water pipes have to be certified due to health regulations.
- - The amount of water needed for an event with 3000+ people is
enormous, make sure you check if that amount is available anywhere
near the terrain. At OHM2013, we had to make use of several sources to
add up to the required m3/hour.
- - Having water and sewage on terrain before you arrive is worth around
70K - 100K.

> - portacabin should be available during buidup as soon as possible
>  during teardown as possible

Portacabins are only necessary if no permanent structures are
available. It was a nice solution for OHM2013, but at HAR2009 there
was no need for them. Maybe rephrase this to something like:

"From the first day of build-up, there has to be a (semi) permanent
structure that serves as a safe base to work from. This base should be
available from the first day of buildup to the last day of tear-down.
Whatever the weather conditions, this is the one place where you don't
have to worry about staying dry and where the crew can focus on making
the right decisions to get things done."

> - volunteer - volunteer desk should be (in) the center of the camp 
> - internet should be available during buildup in the vicinity of
> NOC only and to NOC-staff only elsewhere

Almost every volunteer needs internet, both for his job as for
motivation. This should be discussed further. It was subject of some
heated debates during HAR2009 and OHM2013 as well. :)

> - event may end on friday, so there are two more days for
> volunteers without volunteers taking additional days off (initial
> loss of participants shouldn't be a problem, there are more than
> enough visitors) - teams should be mixed of NL and DE volunteers,
> site takes precedence

> - sanitary requirements - sinks to do the dishes should be
> available (there were some, for sure, but possibly not enough?)

No comments.

> - financial - expences made during the event should be registered
> in a system right away (preferably, there is a system that allows
> the volunteer to enter the details in the system themselves and
> have the volunteer attach a scan of the invoice immediately)

Would be very nice to have software available to support this. We had
arranged the CCC Koln cash desks, sadly this arrangement was aborted
due to Foxgate. But yes, an hosted solution on site would be best.

> More general, this should also get some attention:
> - Internal communication (as in, between the teams, etc) and 
> organisation.

Too vague :p

> - Policy on sponsor deals. Suggestions for the criteria for
> accepting deals, no-go's, how to setup a deal (e.g. do you need to
> put something on paper), etc.
> At Bits of Freedom we have a policy that may be useful. We do
> accept sponsoring in natura if it's something we really need (e.g.
> hardware for a server, etc). Nothing is done in return, allthough
> the donation may be mentioned in the yearly report. Of course, we
> accept monetary donations from companies, but only if i) the
> donation is small enough (it shouldn't be a considerable amount of
> the budget), ii) it's not from companies that may lead to a lot of
> discussions (we have turned down offerings of companies like Fox-IT
> and Google in the past) and iii) the donations may not be
> earmarked. For all monetary donations we require an agreement to be
> signed in advance, making sure we maintain our independency.
> Donations from companies are mentioned in the yearly report (only
> if large enough with logo). Supporting companies are mentioned on
> our website, but not prominently.
> We may also have a look at the CCC for this?

There were actually quite some guidelines and policies. The sponsor
document was quite clear. I believe the best way to go from here is to
avoid sponsor money as a whole, and accept only sponsoring in natura
like we do with the up-link and network equipment. Technically you
have to value those services as well, and pay taxes over them.

> - Characteristics and quality of the field. For example, it should
> be compact, but not dense, it should have attractive and distinct 
> landmarks like trees, hangars, etc. Think of additional spaces 
> needed, like parking lots and possibly other designated areas.

The deal (or claim) for the right site should be made more than one
year before the event, to prevent the best sites being gone already.
Which means the selection of the site should be started around 1.5
year before the event.
We ended up on Geestmerambacht because all other good options failed
one by one. The Netherlands as only a few areas that are suitable for
our kind of events, adding additional requirements like sanitation and
nice scenery brings that number down to a handful.

If we bring the maximum number of people back to say 2500, a lot more
is possible.

Something to be considered: Pick a good site and stick to it. That way
you can use the same buildup plans and improve on it, heck, you can
reuse basically all plans and permit requests. That is how CCC does it.
Breaks a tradition though. :)

> - Food. Mostly guidelines only, although availability of vegetarian
>  food can be a requirement (including diversity) and something on
> the food for volunteers.

Food for volunteers should be available at large quantities in good
quality. Budget is not really the issue. The only problem to solve is
how to make sure only those people who work for it make use of it.

> - Policy on cars of visitors: cars on terrain, location of parking
> lot.

Depends on location what is preferable. In general, no cars on
terrain, not even crew cars.

> - Transportation between storage at hackerspaces and field should
> be better, I can't tell what is needed.

The transportation itself was quite good, the actual problem is having
no storage available. Which resulted in bringing bits to all kinds of
places across the country.

> - Communication of programm changes. Not sure how to solve this.
> Low tech would be some kind of announcement boards on a number of
> fixed locations (near the entrance of each tent, at the infodesk,
> at the food court, etc). This is something the IFFR has solved
> this. More high tech solutions are possible as well.

The idea was to have announcement boards displaying a simple website,
with the program and important announcements. The problem was, nobody
was available to arrange the required software. All software projects
should have a deadline at least 3 months before the event. :)

> - Four messages of feedback were mentioning the OHM-coins. Ditch
> them. Don't know about the alternative - apart from regular money.
Regular money is the only alternative. It works at CCC, should work on
our events.
There are some reasons to work with plastic coins, but last time the
cons outweighed the pros. A very bad thing was that we could not
change plastic coins back into euros due to regulations that came with
accepting credit cards.

If it's up to me, we work with real cash next events. Next to giral
and any status quo digicurrency at that moment. :)


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