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Survive Your Day at SIGGRAPH 2001
Audience: Conference Attendee (any registration)
The annual SIGGRAPH conference wipes most people out by the middle of the week (a few on their first day!). The sights, sounds, people, and energy can mesmerize and overwhelm, especially if you are unaccustomed to large events like this conference. Forget jetlag. The conference saps both your physical and mental stamina.
To borrow an old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. It is the secret to enjoying your conference experience for all it is worth.
  • Plan your day/week. Give yourself a chance to succeed. Plan a structure for your visit, even if it is a loose one. When you are in the middle of the experience, there will always be 10 different opportunities crying for your attention.
  • Plan for "down time." Plan some time into every day to get off your feet before dinner. Let both your mind and body relax. Find pockets of time in your daily schedule to unwind that don't make you feel like you are missing something important. Some people go to the Computer Animation Festival screening rooms to enjoy animation and rest in some peaceful darkness. Others plan time to meet and talk with friends.
  • Be comfortable. SIGGRAPH is a casual conference. Wear clothing that you feel most comfortable in. If you are particularly susceptible to cold, then pack a long-sleeved shirt or pullover. Even though you are going to a warm summer climate, air conditioning in the convention halls can be distracting. Also, you should wear a good pair of walking shoes or sandals and fresh socks, if you need them. You will walk, literally, many miles on carpeted cement floors that can fatigue even the healthiest of people.
  • Eat/drink. Eat something and drink water every day. Eat breakfast, if you can, because you will probably eat a light and quick lunch. It is always a good idea to carry snacks with you for energy on the run. If you need to save money, you may wish to plan for this before you arrive. Also, you should drink plenty of fluids, as the dry air of the convention center can quickly dehydrate you.
  • Pack the pack. A backpack or waistpack can easily help you comfortably carry many things you will need with you during the day. It is best to pack as much as you can because trips back to hotels can sometimes take up large chunks of your day if you are not close by.
  • Sleep. SIGGRAPH is a conference that never sleeps (or at least never admits it sleeps). It is easy to make sleep your last priority when you have people to meet, places to go, things to see. Don't forget to get some sleep, lest you be a basket case before your week is up. Pace yourself for the week.
  • "First Aid." It is best to be prepared with some basic personal-care items for your week: aspirin (or other pain reliever), bandaids, moleskin (if you are susceptible to blisters from walking), energy snacks, bottled water, eyedrops, and tissues for your nose.
  • Conference Locators. The conference locator and the conference message boards are vital navigation and communication aids. The locator is a compact synopsis of the conference at your finger tips. The message center allows you to check in with friends all over the conference. Use this service and then check at least once a day. It's amazing who you can meet there, too.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kinds of services are available if I need help?
A: The SIGGRAPH conference provides a number of different visitor services that can vary in type and scope each year. Check conference documentation for current offerings, but you can usually find references to automated teller machines, luggage check rooms, child care, first-aid offices, food services, information desks, lost-and-found offices, message centers, restaurant information counters, shipping desks, and hotel shuttle service (to name a few).
Q: Is there a way to find people at the conference?
A: There is no easy mechanism to locate people at the conference. Your best bet is to pre-arrange meetings with people at set locations and times. The conference message center can also be used for non-urgent types of communications, but this assumes that your party knows to check here periodically.
  • Daily/weekly schedule.
  • Comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
  • Long-sleeved shirt or pullover.
  • Backpack and/or waistpack.
  • Energy snacks and bottled water.
  • Aspirin, bandaids, moleskin, eyedrops, tissues.

This information was brought to you by SIGGRAPH Pathfinders, a volunteer group dedicated to mentoring of first-time conference visitors.
Please take a moment to help us help you. Share with us how this information improved (or could have improved) your conference experience. You can reach us at SIGGRAPH 2001 at the Pathfinder booth in main registration or via email: Thank you.