TypeCon2004 Talk

tamye's picture

Who's going, when, how, what's going on? This is the place to talk about it! See you in San Francisco!!!

glutton's picture

My shortie is due at any time. Wee little Frutiger Garamond Baichtal isn't going to no San Fran.

ric's picture

Now that TypeCon registration is live, I suppose that more people will be posting here, Tiffany.


By the way, the TypeCon site looks really great!

matteson's picture

I'm planning on going again—since I had such a swell time last year. Guess I'd better register pretty soon.

Being as it's right in the middle of my teaching schedule, I'm probably flying in on Wednesday and out on Monday morning. ('Fraid I'm not gonna be at the Nikko though. Too rich for my hillbilly blood.)

hrant's picture

Previously we had half-jokingly talked about a font-freak-bus (alternatively known as the Bouma Bus :-) that would make its way up from SoCal (maybe even Tijuana - Jorge?), acquiring font freaks (and possibly font decorations) on the way up to SF. If that flies, I would be able to start/join from LA Thursday morning at 9 AM, and head back Sunday afternoon.


ric's picture

I'm glad that so many people are posting here now...

I am still looking for a roommate. I will be staying 7 days, but of course my roommate need not do the same... If you are staying at least 5 days, that would be great. 7 days? Even better!

As I stated elsewhere, I am pretty quiet, and pretty clean. However, I have been known to snore at times. I don't smoke, but won't mind if you do.

matteson's picture

>I have been known to snore

Hmmm...if you're still looking, you can email me off the board, Ricardo. I typically room alone because I'm told I snore on ocassion, too. Perhaps we can suffer each other. Though I'm afraid I will only be there for the 5 days.

Also, I'm mostly messy, but not so much at hotels (I used to clean them when I was in college); I'm fairly quiet (unless I'm snoring); and I'm still dumb enough to smoke habitually. Fiendishly in fact.

I found a $50 or $60 hotel about a block away from the Nikko, but last year I didn't stay at the conference hotel and I felt like I missed out. I'm just a cheap old bastard.

hrant's picture

> I found a $50 or $60 hotel about a block away from the Nikko

The Adante? That's about two blocks away, and seems like a good deal.
Then there's the Ramada a block away for $105 a night.

What gets me is the parking fees! Don't they realize there's people from LA coming?!

> I'm just a cheap old bastard.

Two out of three for me. My parents were married. Well, as far as they tell me.


matteson's picture

If anyone's interested, the Olympic and the Mosser were the cheaper hotels I found. The Mosser is about 5 blocks away (across Market St), and the Olympic is 140 Mason (the Nikko is 222 Mason). Might save someone a shekel or two.

hrant's picture

I can dig that, but the Olympic for example is half a block away.
It probably takes longer to reach the upper floors of the Nikko. :-)

I don't know - I'm torn, mostly between the Nikko, and the Triton:
But that's like 7 blocks away.


ric's picture

Tamye and Nathan,

thanks to both of you! I think I've already found a roommate, but if it doesn't work out I'll let you know.

hrant's picture

The Nikko for me it is. The Triton is too far, and the Olympic makes a lot of sense if: you're staying a week (they have amazing weekly rates); you don't mind not showering (the really good rates are sans private bathroom)... neither of which qualify in my case.

When will we know Sunday's program contents?


hrant's picture

BTW, for those who have yet to sign up for a workshop on Thursday afternoon, I'll be helping Jos

hrant's picture

Today's Hotel News:
King George hotel (three star), one block from the Nikko: $89 a night.


hrant's picture

Forgot: through Expedia.


hrant's picture

Plus that rate is for a room with two twin beds (smaller than double). But if it allows somebody to show up for the conference at all (or if somebody spends the savings at the auction :-) then it's an option, no? Preferably somebody from a warm, lawless country... Hey, I resemble that remark!

I think the Nikko ($139), King George ($89) and Olympic ($45) nicely cover all the bases, increasing the potential attendance of the conference itself. On the other hand, if SoTA has guaranteed filling a certain number of rooms and there's worry about the quota, that's something to consider.


jay's picture

I'm trying really hard to make it.

The Bad News: I lost my type-related gig, so I'll be paying for it myself.

The Good News: the bay area is full of friends and family, so I won't have to pay for room & board.

The Kicker: I'm getting married on the 31st. I don't know if I can take a road trip that close to the Big Event.

I suppose it'll all depend on how the preparations progress, and how much (more) they cost. If I do make it, I'll try not to do my wall-flower imitation like I did in Vancouver.


hrant's picture

> The Kicker ....

Are you kidding?! That makes an SF trip doubly opportune!
My wife went to Jamaica about two weeks before our wedding.

Oh, and congrats!


deh's picture

I'm busy packing my serifs. Last year I forgot and had to walk around sans the entire conference. How embarrassing!

hrant's picture


I really wanted to drive up, with as many people as possible. But many things conspired against it: the high cost of gas (and downtown SF parking!) versus flying; the fact that I have to be there in the early afternoon of the Thursday; and general apprehension at my offer of relying heavily on my parafovea during the furious steak on the 5 North.


twardoch's picture

As a result of the "Homeland Security" program, all foreigners from outside of the "old E.U." countries must apply for a visitor's visa when coming to the U.S. Since I'm Polish living in Germany, I must apply for the visa at the U.S. embassy in Berlin. In order to get a visa, each applicant is supposed to call a contract call center (1.86 EUR/minute!) to make an appointment at the embassy. Every applicant needs to apear in person for an interview, so the appointment is necessary.

Due to high workload, the call center tells you to make the appointment way in advance, so about four weeks ago, I made an appointment for the next possible time -- which turned out to be last Monday. Last Monday at 9:30 A.M., I appeared in front of the embassy in Berlin but to my great surprise I learned that "I wasn't on the list." The security guards asked me out (politely) and told me to... call the call center. The friendly operator at the call center told me that "my appointment wasn't in the computer", and that he could not help me. There was no way to speak to a visa officer, superior or whoever else, except from the call center guy (who just operates the system and takes the appointments) and the security guard (who didn't know anything except that I wasn't on the list).

So, the call center guy suggested that I could make another appointment. The next available appointment was... August 26th! Yes, but that's a month _after_ TypeCon, I told him. Well, "Sorry, I can't help you." "Is there anybody else I can call?" "Sorry." "And you don't know why my appointment isn't in your computer." "No, sorry."

He actually sounded like he was sorry, I talked to him for some 15 or 20 minutes altogether. At 1.86 EUR/minute.

After having heard that my next appointment was to be August 26th, I decided to make some noise. I sent a couple of faxes to the U.S. embassy fax number (normally reserved as "American Citizes Services" only). I described the entire situation, pointed out that there must have been a mistake, that I'm a speaker at the conference etc. etc. In addition, a few good people, including SoTA Executive Director Tamye Riggs, SoTA Chairman Richard Kegler, my colleague Ted Harrison from Fontlab Ltd., and quite a few other friends from font companies (big and small) have sent supportive faxes to the embassy, pointing out how "important" I was to have at the conference etc. Thank you guys for that support!!!

After the overwhelming number of faxes, the U.S. embassy in Berlin apparently felt obliged to contact me per e-mail and give me a reply. So on Wednesday, I got this warm and friendly reply:

"Dear Mr. Twardoch:
Thank you for your faxes. Due to the summer travel season, our visa waiting room is currently booked through mid-August at the maximum capacity allowed by our Embassy security officer. There are no earlier appointments available at this time. Please call our contract call center at 0190-85-00-55 and book the next available appointment.
Visa Unit"

That's very sincere indeed.

For those interested: I could have theoretically made the appointment three months ago or so, not 4 weeks ago. This way, I would probably have gotten a second chance for an appointment before TypeCon. Unfortunately, my old passport just expired. I had applied for a new passport already last year (2003) but did not receive it until two weeks ago. In Poland, we now have to wait 6 months or so for the new passport being printed. We have a new passport design and now, everything, including your photo and name etc. is being offset-printed with some fancy hi-tech ink, in Warsaw. So your entire passport actually is being "manufactured" for you. A fascinating process for print lovers, no doubt, but not really as fascinating when you have to wait for a half a year to get the thing. When you apply for a U.S. visa, your passport must be valid for another 6 months, so I had to wait for my new passport and only could apply after I got it. Also after I got my passport, I had to get my German residence permit renewed at the appropriate German office. So altogether, last Monday was actually as early as I could get, and since it didn't work out for some mysterious reason, I didn't get my second chance except August 26th. Great.

This taught me a few things: (1) I should apply for a new passport at least a year before my current passport's expiration date. (2) I should apply for a U.S. visa three months before planning to go there. (3) With the current U.S. visa policy, TypeCon conferences won't be able to attract many international visitors if the conferences are be held in the U.S. (4) I actually learned a few more things but I won't announce them publicly ;)

I really wish I were allowed to go to TypeCon. I had made all travel arrangements etc. Fortunately, I was able to cancel my flight with a penalty that wasn't excessive. But that's not so important.

I really wanted to go to TypeCon because I think it will be a great conference. I was truly looking forward to it, and I really envy those of you who will be there. I wish you a lot of fun. Make sure that you enjoy that conference, especially that you _are_ able to participate!

For all those who signed up for the FontLab workshop: Ted Harrison will be at TypeCon, and we are working on a solution that will enable me to join you over the Net.

Best greetings,

jfp's picture

So diszpointing story Adam. Quelle merde!
Seems there is nothing to say more sadly.

(PS. I have done a new passport myself because several trips this years, but it take me around 2 weeks and the passport follow new international rules concerning security documents such as you describe.)

yar's picture

I was not planning to go to TypeCon this year but when Adam faced all these problems I tried to get a visa myself here in St.Petersburg.

No luck, next available appoinment is after the conference. Should I say that it takes only two days to get Canadian visa (process also includes appointment and interview)? :-)

So see you all in Prague!

Thomas Phinney's picture

What a bummer. I'm so sorry that you were hosed by the system, and that our faxed letter didn't help. We'll see you in Prague!

Interesting to know that the US considers Poles more dangerous than, say, the French. Of course, this is the same country that after 9/11 started rounding up people from the Middle East and left out Saudis, because Saudis are America's friends. (Yes, the 9/11 terrorists were 95% Saudi citizens. Not that this means that Saudis should be picked on, but it demonstrates the bizarre political logic of the administration.)



hrant's picture

Wow, Adam. That's really crappy. Well, at least you got a personalized letter. :-/

BTW, you should see what they did with my mother and father's greencard renewal: they switched their photos. It took 2 years (with a lawyer) to fix. But I guess giving a visa to a Sept-11 hijacker shortly after the attack was even worse. And Thomas, don't blame Saudis, try your neighbors.

Welcome to the new world order, people.
Where money and democracy will [dis]solve everything.


Thomas Phinney's picture

As usual, Hrant manages to mis-interpret me as having said something I never said. Sigh.


twardoch's picture

[ Hrant,

I don't think Tom ever blamed the Saudis for something. ]

Other than that, I must say that a few months ago, in Poland, we had a discussion along the lines: how come that Poland is supporting the U.S. war in Iraq and the Americans still require visas for Polish citizens? I found and still find this sort of argumentation ridiculous (bringing it down to a "deal"), but that was reality in our Polish media.

I also actually do realize and acknowledge that a country such as the U.S. may want to set up any sorts of rules, including taking people's fingerprints and requiring every applicant to apply for a visa in person.

However, what I don't understand and what annoys me is that if one blows up bureaucratic procedures to the extent as it is now with the U.S. visas, one should create bureaucratic capacities to accomodate for the procedures.

Just like 4 years ago, German citizens going for a trip longer than 3 months, students, workers and non-old-E.U. foreigners are required to apply for a visa. However, 4 years ago, only very few people were asked for a personal interview and most visas were issued per post. A year ago, a large number of the applicants were required to appear in person, but people who already had previous visas that recently expired, and a large number of other cases were still allowed to apply per post. Now, everybody is required to appear for a personal interview.

However, the capacity of the U.S. embassy in Berlin remains the same. Therefore, everything takes much more time now than it used to before. There is no option for expedited processing (even with an additional fee), there is no "backup" option or a hotline for special cases.

With the effective necessity of making an appointment 6 weeks in advance (July 12--August 26, that's really 6 weeks!), plus some more advance for the case something goes wrong, and some additional advance for the actual visa application processing (they say 10 working days), you end up having to plan every trip 3 months in advance. This effectively eliminates a large number of business travels or spontaneous touristic trips.

While I have to apply for a visa since I'm Polish, note that even "old E.U." citizens aren't quite safe. They don't need a visa upfront, but in the past few months the German news reported of several cases when business people, classical orchestra musicians and even some known German actors were refused entry to the U.S. _at the destination airport_. This means that they after the long and exhausting flight from Europe to the U.S. they had to buy an immediate return ticket and take the next available machine to fly back to Europe. I think I don't need to say more.

Germany is known for their bureaucracy. This is true -- there's a lot of it where I live now. But these guys here at least know how to run a bureaucratic machine...

Oh, no need to mention that the U.S. embassy intends to keep my visa application fee of 86 EUR (roughly $100) that I had to pay upfront, despite the fact that my application wasn't actually even received. A yet another way to fund government spending. ;)


eomine's picture

Hmm. I'm going to Typecon (arriving Wednesday, leaving Saturday morning).

> (3) With the current U.S. visa policy, TypeCon
> conferences won't be able to attract many
> international visitors if the conferences are
> be held in the U.S.


* * *

BTW, a practical question: are the vendors (I'm specially interested in the books) at Typecon going to accept credit cards?

Si_Daniels's picture

> are the vendors (I'm specially interested in the books) at Typecon going to accept credit cards?

as I recall most didn't last year. But they seem to be a flexible, friendly bunch and I'm sure if you had a chat with them on day 1, they'd be able to work something out before then end of conference.

hrant's picture

> doesn't take priority over someone's summer holiday!

Question: Who is more likely to spend more money during the trip to the US?

Do you know about the $200 electronic devices the US sells to Mexicans desperate to reduce the wait to cross the border?

> international

It's just hard to be that in the US. :-/


I personally don't expect TypeCon to be staged outside the US for a few more years. And I'm sure there are some people who hope that never happens. But at some point it will be good for the conference. And I think the first overseas jump should be South America (where I think even ATypI has never been). Buenos Aires?


Si_Daniels's picture

Hi Hrant,

TypeCon did take place in Toronto a few years back - so it's not completely US-centric. I'm one of those (a majority on the current board) within SoTA arguing for the annual conference to remain an event hosted within the Americas. I think this is the best way to keep the event affordable and accessible to our base.


hrant's picture

> within the Americas.

Hmmm. Is that ambiguous on purpose? :->

I actually agree that the time is not right to take it outside of North America (including places like Tijuana however). Nonetheless I hope it grows in certain ways to make overseas conferences a good idea eventually, maybe even "soon".

BTW, I do grasp the need to be different than ATypI. But geography isn't the only way.


jlt's picture

Rather than take the bus back to SF and public transit at 2 am to Sacramento (I'm at Typecon sans automobile), is anyone driving back to Sacramento after the shindig at Stone's place on Sunday? If so - see me! I'm staying at the Nikko.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Well I'll be there. I'm flying in on the 19th and flying home on the 26th. (Barring any unforeseen problems)

By the way when you call to make your room reservations you must use this number -- 415 3941111 -- and ask for in house reservations. The 800 number didn't even know what to do with the discount code. "Type what did you say?" hehehe.

Miss Tiffany's picture

So WHO is going?? I KNOW it isn't going to be only Tamye, Eduardo and myself!

Miss Tiffany's picture

Awww. That's too bad!

Stephen Coles's picture

Hey guys. I've attended the last 3 TypeCons and I can say with
confidence that those who didn't stay in the conference hotel
regretted it. Not only is it inconvenient, but you miss out on a
lot simply by not being around the rest of the attendees as much
as possible. You may save a shekel or two, but you'll not have
the same TypeCon experience.

Miss Tiffany's picture

For those of you whom are thinking of staying at another hotel be warned that you will be missing out. My first TypeCon was last year. I remember a few people that thought they'd save some money. They regretted trying to save the money. There is a lot happening after hours.

Think of it as an investment if you really think it is that expensive.

Stephen Coles's picture

More on the inconvenience factor: shuttle busses will take
attendees from the hotel to the workshop venues. It's a heckuva
lot less trouble to stumble out of bed and down to the shuttle
then try to find the venues on your own.

tamye's picture

Ricardo, Nick Shinn is looking for a roommate, and he will be arriving Wed and departing Monday. So could be a match?

tamye's picture

The King George doesn't have air conditioning in the rooms. Not cool (pun intended) if the temps are high like they can be in July. It's also on the edge of the Tenderloin, which is not an area I'd like to be stumbling around after a few cocktails late at night.

tamye's picture

We do have a quota to meet at the Nikko. Guaranteeing hotel rooms (lots of them) + the catering for attendees at the hotel (not cheap) + the support of our generous sponsors (they are the best) + donations of time and services by our incredible speakers and volunteers (they rock the hardest) + the NEA grant for special projects (they dig type, too!) = low conference registration and workshop fees + peace, love, and happiness.

We strive to offer TypeCon attendees an affordable, high-quality hotel in a safe and cool location each year. This is a tall order, considering the huge amount of meeting space we need for TypeCon and the low cost of the conference.

By staying at the Nikko, you are supporting SOTA and TypeCon and helping to keep the conference affordable. And you can be sure that we have checked out the hotel thoroughly, and that it's a good place! And if someone can't swing the Nikko solo, we help with finding roommates.

Plus, if you stay at the conference hotel, you get to take the SOTA shuttle to the workshops and Alphabet Farm instead of finding your own way. Not to mention easier access to the muffins in the morning if all you have to do is take the elevator downstairs...

tamye's picture

Jay, congratulations! That's exciting news. I remember wishing my fiance would just go away when we were close to the big day... I know I'm not the only bride (or groom) with that thought. If you can make it, we'll be happy to witness your transformation into social butterfly. If you can't get to SF, I hope you'll join us for TypeCon2005 (maybe as part of a one-year anniversary trip with the wife?).

Miss Tiffany's picture

So. Last year there was sooooo much talk. Are we just busy?? And who is attending the Underware workshop this week?

tamye's picture

There are 20 people in the Underware workshop. I just talked to Bas Jacobs, and he says it's going great. Just a little tidbit on the Typeworkshop site for "Shut Up and Listen," at California College of the Arts in SF... keep your eyes on this all week and make comments on the work in progress...


tamye's picture

It is incredibly disappointing what has happened to Adam. He's a very important part of the community, and we will all miss him at TypeCon. Many of us faxed urgent letters to the US consulate in Berlin in an attempt to plead Adam's case, but to no avail. The consulate faxed a letter back to me stating sternly that they could not discuss anyone's application. I hadn't asked for information from them, just offered support for Adam's request for the appointment that he was already entitled to but for some technical screwup.

They also said they are terribly busy with vacation visa requests and all that. Naturally, a speaker traveling to an international conference funded in part by a US government arts agency doesn't take priority over someone's summer holiday!

On the other hand, several speakers from Brazil and other countries outside the US received visas within a few days of receiving our letters of invitation. Why does it have to be so hard for our friends in other nations???

TypeCon attendees are predominantly North American because of geography and economics. But our conference is quite inexpensive, and with the weak dollar lately, it is certainly more affordable to travel here from Europe, SA, etc.

More international attendees come each year, and we certainly hope to continue that growth. We will continue to do all we can to bring more people from outside the US. I hope that things with our govmt and especially state dept will get better in the future, so we don't have disasters like Adam has experienced.

As for the market at the 'con, yes, most of the sellers will take credit cards, and they are again a friendly bunch. Lots of type and design books (new and antique), movie marquee letters, typewriter key jewelry, psychedelic posters... and for those of you wondering, Jan Middendorp has brought quite a few copies of his fabulolus "Dutch Type," which has sold out of many bookstores in the US.

ric's picture

Thanks for the tip, Tiffany.

I hope to be there a full week, too.

Also, I am looking for a roommate for the hotel.

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