Ideal conference badge

I don’t even know how many conferences I’ve been to in the last decade, but it’s probably 30-40. In that time, maybe 2-3 conferences have really nailed the conference badge for attendees. Here’s what the ideal conference badge should look like, in my opinion:

Best conference badge

I’ll walk you through the important features of this badge:
– Each attendee’s first name needs to be large and easily readable. When you’re walking up to someone and they look half-familiar, you want to be able to glance down at their badge and see a first name that will jog your memory or allow you to greet them. The last name and company name don’t matter as much, so they should be smaller to make more room for the first name.
Make the badge big. Four inches by six inches maybe.
– At every conference, about half the people are walking around with their badge facing backwards so that no one can see their name. That’s why conferences should put the attendee’s name on the front and the back of the badge.
– If your conferences costs hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, throw a little hologram sticker up in the top right to keep people from creating fake badges. If fake badges aren’t a problem, don’t bother.

There you have it. Conferences, please don’t write the name in a tiny 12-point font or put the name only on one side of the badge. See also Mike Davidson’s take on the right way to do a conference badge.

Signs of Los Angeles

I have a pet theory that you can tell a lot about a city by paying attention to its signage. So I like to keep my eyes open when I’m in a new place and take pictures of things that strike me as especially interesting. When I was down in Los Angeles, here are a few of the signs that I saw:

Yes, you really can get plastic surgery on Rodeo Drive:

Los Angeles Signs: Rodeo Drive Plastic Surgery

Here’s a 90210 sign:

Los Angeles Signs: 90210

What’s unusual about that? Well, I also saw an different 90210 ad with the letters sideways, but it looked like the actors had been photoshopped into the second ad with the same poses. Ah, here we are:

Los Angeles Signs: 90210 sideways

That’s just distracting. They could have at least changed the poses around a little bit. Let’s see, I also visited a book store in Los Angeles. When you buy a copy of Beowulf, you get a script book from the movie:

Los Angeles Signs: Beowulf

Fitness appears to be a big activity in L.A. and they offer some exercise workouts that you might not find in other cities:

Los Angeles Signs: pole dancing

You have your pick of:
– Indoor cycling
Pole dance workout
– Yoga
– Abs and sculpt

I also saw a “Stunts Unlimited” sign; that’s a business you’d probably only see in L.A. I headed to the beach and enjoyed walking along the boardwalk when I saw this swimsuit sign:

Los Angeles Signs: having best price

It says “Come in and having the best price bikini for men and women.” But possibly the sign that took my fancy the most was this one:

Los Angeles Signs: teeth whitening party

It says “Organize a teeth whitening party and get your teeth whiten FOR FREE.” I’ve heard of things like botox parties, but that was the first time I’d heard of a teeth whitening party.

Please don’t take these pictures as mean-spirited; L.A. was a ton of fun and an amazing city to explore for a week. I just took pictures of things that grabbed my eye as I saw them. A few of the other fun things I noticed:

– near the Beverly Center, I saw fruit vendors with vibrant multi-colored umbrellas.

– a huge boat parked on the street with a “for sale” sign in the window.

– L.A. has a ton of Land Rovers compared to Northern California.

– someone wearing a hipster shirt that read “MySpace makes work fun.”

– the funniest street name I saw was Cattaraugus Avenue.

That’s about it. If you want more than that, you’d have to read my twitterlogue of the trip.

Traveling => Light posting

I’m not-in-California for a few days, so expect light posting. If you want to try to guess where I’m visiting, I may start posting “Where is Matt?” hints on my Twitter stream for people that want to play along.

While I’m gone, enjoy the Android coverage. Even though I love my iPhone, I think lots of people appreciate the concept of an open phone. To the people that point out potential flaws, I would mention Android’s software will only get better. And I love the ideas behind the Amazon music store where you can buy MP3s and listen to them on any device. If a Shazam-like application is coded for Android, I have a hunch that a lot of people will be impulse-buying music any time they hear a song they like.

Lastly, you should really check out Project 10^100. Also known as “May Those Who Help The Most Win,” it’s Google’s 10th anniversary contest where you can propose ideas to change the world. Google will ultimately commit $10 million dollars to the top ideas. I know some of the people that worked on this, and strongly believe that it’s an important project. You can help by submitting your idea for how to make the world better.

Digging out from SIGGRAPH and L.A.

I’m up to my ears in email from last week, but I had a great time down in Los Angeles and at SIGGRAPH:

3d duck

I’ll try to write up a little bit about the trip, but for now I’m gearing up for SES San Jose. Places to find me:

– I’ll be on a keynote panel on Tuesday. By the way, I don’t know who put my title as “Software Engineer Guru,” but it wasn’t me. 🙂
– I’ll be at the Google Dance on Tuesday night.
– I’ll be roaming the halls and attending sessions, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.

If you see me, please walk up and say hello! I’d love to hear your thoughts about things that Google should be doing.

By the way, the LED cube in this image is this project.

What to do in Los Angeles?

I’m going to be down in Los Angeles for the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference next week, but I hope to have a little sightseeing free time. What would you recommend seeing or doing in Los Angeles?