Big Temporary Networks

From: "Matthew Barr" <mbarr@snap-interactive.com>

and as I was working the Hugo's:

>> From: "Chris Adams" <cmadams@hiwaay.net>
>
> I know some of that went on, yes, and certainly if I'm more formally
> involved, I'll be querying the SMOFlist to see who ran things at the
> last 5 or so.
>
> My bet is that none of them *had* a formal CTO/Ops person full time.

Tech had a person managing the feed to DragonCon from the dedicated
room w/ the polycomm video conference system, for panels, in addition
to the actual union operator of the camera & such.

The camera ops had to be union? Hmmm. Ah, Chicago. Yes.

There was an IT head, but he was responsible for the laptops / staff
network, printers, etc.

Got it.

The hotel itself had the conference wireless, instead of it being
brought in.

Yes, and I'm told by my best friend who did attend (I didn't make it
this year) that the hotel wired/wifi was essentially unusable, every
time he tried. Hence my interest in the issue.

> My understanding was that Dragon *took its main feed* for the Hugos
> via Ustream, and the entire room got left standing; no?

Dragon took it's feed for the hugo's through Ustream, as did the
*overflow* rooms onsite. It was easier to go to the internet & back,
than to get a direct cable.

Ok, then I was correctly informed; thanks.

Cheers,
-- jra

In a message written on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 11:53:01AM -0400, Jay Ashworth wrote:

Yes, and I'm told by my best friend who did attend (I didn't make it
this year) that the hotel wired/wifi was essentially unusable, every
time he tried. Hence my interest in the issue.

I find more and more hotel networks are essentially unusable for
parts of the day, conference or no. Of course, bring in any geek
contingent with multiple devices and heavy usage patterns and the
problems get worse.

What I find most interesting is more often than not the problem
appears to be an overloaded / undersized NAT/Captive portal/DNS
Resolver system. Behaviors like existing connections working fine,
but no new ones can be created (out of ports on the NAT?). While
bandwidth is occasionally an issue, I've found an ssh tunnel out
to some other end point solves the issues in 9 out of 10 cases.

I wonder how many hotels upgrade their bandwidth but not the gateway,
get a report that their DS-3/OC-3/Metro-E is only 25% used, and think
all is well. Mean while half their clients can't connect to anything
due to the gateway device.

From: "Leo Bicknell" <bicknell@ufp.org>

I find more and more hotel networks are essentially unusable for
parts of the day, conference or no. Of course, bring in any geek
contingent with multiple devices and heavy usage patterns and the
problems get worse.

What I find most interesting is more often than not the problem
appears to be an overloaded / undersized NAT/Captive portal/DNS
Resolver system. Behaviors like existing connections working fine,
but no new ones can be created (out of ports on the NAT?). While
bandwidth is occasionally an issue, I've found an ssh tunnel out
to some other end point solves the issues in 9 out of 10 cases.

Neither part of that surprises me. :-}

I'm *almost* convinced not to NAT IPv4, so far.

I wonder how many hotels upgrade their bandwidth but not the gateway,
get a report that their DS-3/OC-3/Metro-E is only 25% used, and think
all is well. Mean while half their clients can't connect to anything
due to the gateway device.

That's an interesting question indeed. The optimal solution here, of
course, would be for Worldcons -- which are planned 3-4 years in advance --
to get the right technical people in the loop with the property to see
when in the next 2 years (after a bid is confirmed) they plan to upgrade
the networking they have now... and make sure it will tolerate a "real"
worst case. The business case for the property, of course, is that
they're more salable to large technical conferences -- which makes them
more money. Question is, is it enough.

Or do I just overlay for the event.

Cheers
,-- jra

Tech had a person managing the feed to DragonCon from the dedicated
room w/ the polycomm video conference system, for panels, in addition
to the actual union operator of the camera & such.

The camera ops had to be union? Hmmm. Ah, Chicago. Yes.

That has been true everywhere that Worldcon has been for a number of years, excluding Japan. Hotel union contracts generally forbid activity being done by any non-union people, even if they are the guests.

Yes, and I'm told by my best friend who did attend (I didn't make it
this year) that the hotel wired/wifi was essentially unusable, every
time he tried. Hence my interest in the issue.

Always is. Those networks are not built for that many devices attaching. They never are. But they don't want the competition either. If you NEED connectivity at the convention, you must bring your own LTE MIFI and take care of yourself. This is simply not solvable in the convention hotel contracts level. I've got many SMOF friends and I've been trying for years, and it only worked for a small gap of years before hotels starting seeing Internet as a profit vector. Unfortunately, the size requirements of things the size of Worldcon limit the choices enough that this simply can't be a bargaining point.

Those people are already in the loop. Hi. Nice to see you again, Jay :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, as I've said in the previous two messages, it simply isn't something that can be changed. If you are running a small convention that can fit into a dozen hotels in the city, you can make them compete on multiple levels including network. Since there are less than 4 cities in the world who could host a worldcon in more than one facility, there's zero competition. *

And frankly, the hotel contracts people have bigger problems to solve--namely, getting to use metric tons of convention floor space without paying much, if any money. Worldcon memberships are $150 each unless you wait until the last minute.

This is a problem that large technical conferences with thousand dollar memberships can solve. They have money to throw at the hotel. Not fan-run conventions whose entire budget is less than the spare capital that Usenix keeps in their account. (I've seen both and can state this as a positive fact.)

* The one place that competition can occur is in the bidding process. Part of what we all ask bid committees is about the network access at the location. And we vote based on what we can find out. However, the number of us who vote that way are fairly small, as most attendees have other priorities like inexpensive food options, cheaper hotel options, etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

''A "right-to-work" law is a statute that prohibits union security
agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that
govern the extent to which an established union can require employees'
membership [...] as a condition of employment. Right-to-work laws
exist in twenty-three U.S. states,''

Regards,
Bill Herrin

The trick is that there is no "right to work" if you are a guest at the
hotel. You have no right to work on their property without their
consent. In reality, the hotels do not want union headaches so that is
the way it goes.

Right to work only is in effect if an employer hires me and I do not
want to join the union.

Steven Naslund

IIRC when the Democatic National Convention was held in Denver in
2008, they had to strike a special deal with the venue to bring in
union labor instead of the normal workers because they couldn't find a
suitable place that was already union.

Conversely, when I went to IETF in Minneapolis a few years ago the
networking folks simply took over the hotel network for the week. IETF
attendee or not, you got wired Internet in your room courtesy of the
conference. As I understand it, they convinced the hotel with the
simple expedient of paying what they would ordinarily earn from a
week's Internet charges.

My point is that blaming union contracts or union anything for being
unable to find a place to hold a convention where you can implement
the network you want to implement is nonsense. NANOG, ARIN and IETF
conferences have all somehow managed to implement their own effective
networks. Even in union towns. If Worldcon's site selection committee
can't find a suitable host, that's their deficiency.

Regards,
Bill Herrin

NOTE: None of the following content can be typed into your router. It holds information only slightly relevant to networking.

From: William Herrin <bill@herrin.us>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 16:47:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Big Temporary Networks

>>> Tech had a person managing the feed to DragonCon from the dedicated
>>> room w/ the polycomm video conference system, for panels, in addition
>>> to the actual union operator of the camera & such.
>>
>> The camera ops had to be union? Hmmm. Ah, Chicago. Yes.
>
> That has been true everywhere that Worldcon has been for a
> number of years, excluding Japan. Hotel union contracts
> generally forbid activity being done by any non-union people,
> even if they are the guests.

Right-to-work law - Wikipedia

''A "right-to-work" law is a statute that prohibits union security
agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers that
govern the extent to which an established union can require employees'
membership [...] as a condition of employment. Right-to-work laws
exist in twenty-three U.S. states,''

'Right to work', as defined by section 14 B of the Taft-Hartley Act, only
prevents a union contract that requiures union membership as a PRE-REQUISITE
for being hired. What is called 'closed shop' -- where employment is
closed to those who are not union members.
It does -not- prevent a 'union ship' -- where employees are required to
join the union within a reasonable period =after= being hired.

Right-to-work also does not prevent an organization from requiring, by
contractual agreement, that third parties performing work ON THE
0ORGANIZATION'S PREMISES, employ "union labor" for _that_ work. It
cannot specify _what_ union (or local) however.

bTW, I'm a card-carrying member, and official, of the (independant)
"Amalgamated Tinkerers and Gadgeteers", anyone interested in setting up
their own local is invited to contact me. *GRIN*

IIRC when the Democatic National Convention was held in Denver in
2008, they had to strike a special deal with the venue to bring in
union labor instead of the normal workers because they couldn't find a
suitable place that was already union.

I can provide people who can refute that, but I don't have (or care about) the details enough to bother quoting them. I can say that Worldcon was in Denver the proceeding week, and we could only get one hotel about a half mile from the convention center to allow us to serve drinks in our own rooms without a union person there to serve them. So I have personal experience to doubt your story.

Conversely, when I went to IETF in Minneapolis a few years ago the
networking folks simply took over the hotel network for the week. IETF
attendee or not, you got wired Internet in your room courtesy of the
conference. As I understand it, they convinced the hotel with the
simple expedient of paying what they would ordinarily earn from a
week's Internet charges.

IETF is considerably smaller event that Worldcon, and as such can play ball with smaller hotels. Worldcons haven't fit into hotels in more than 20 years*, and must negotiate with the convention centers -- and are not able to leverage room nights in the balance.

* They tried with the large Hyatt in Chicago this year and got the worst of both worlds. The rooms were overfull far beyond standing room only, and they still couldn't get a hotel contract with good internet, accessibility or issue handling.

My point is that blaming union contracts or union anything for being
unable to find a place to hold a convention where you can implement
the network you want to implement is nonsense. NANOG, ARIN and IETF
conferences have all somehow managed to implement their own effective
networks. Even in union towns. If Worldcon's site selection committee
can't find a suitable host, that's their deficiency.

Money speaks here. The budgets for NANOG conferences are posted, as are some of the worldcon committee budgets. RTFM. And again, even though Worldcons have significantly less money, the largest Nanog ever was still smaller than the smallest worldcon in the last 20 years. Smaller == more choices of hotels == negotiating ability.

Please stop trying to be a smartass about something you could research, but haven't bothered to do so.

Not being aware of which states have this law, it's entirely possible that
the intersection between states that have this law and states which have
enough scifi fans willing to get together to host a worldcon is negligible.

There were enough fans among the 600,000 folks in the Baltimore area
but not enough an hour away among the 5,600,000 in the National
Capital Region to justify hosting a Worldcon a couple miles inside the
Virginia border where no unions would get in your way? Really?

I'm closely associated and personal friends with people who have done the
hotel negotiations for four of the recent worldcons, and on a first name
basis with most of the others, and this union requirement has been a major
problem with most if not all of them.

Tell 'em to look in a right to work state. Like Florida.

Just getting a waiver to allow people
to serve drinks in their own hotel rooms has been hard enough to break many
bids. It is currently impossible in San Francisco due to hotel contracts,
and part of why Worldcon will never return to San Francisco unless very
unlikely changes happen.

California. NOT a right to work state.

Regards,
Bill Herrin

'Right to work', as defined by section 14 B of the Taft-Hartley Act, only
prevents a union contract that requiures union membership as a PRE-REQUISITE
for being hired. What is called 'closed shop' -- where employment is
closed to those who are not union members.
It does -not- prevent a 'union ship' -- where employees are required to
join the union within a reasonable period =after= being hired.

The Taft-Hartley Act outlawed closed shops nationwide. It further
authorized individual states to outlaw union shops and/or agency
shops. 23 states, including my fine home state of Virginia, have done
so.

Right-to-work also does not prevent an organization from requiring, by
contractual agreement, that third parties performing work ON THE
0ORGANIZATION'S PREMISES, employ "union labor" for _that_ work. It
cannot specify _what_ union (or local) however.

In Illinois, which has not enacted a state right-to-work law, that's
correct. In Virginia, which has, there was just recently a big
hullabaloo where the airports authority tried (and spectacularly
failed) to place a union preference rule in their contracting process
where bids from union shops would have a 10% preference versus bids
from non union shops.

Regards,
Bill Herrin

Well you would know, you were working for the Democratic National
Committee back when they selected Denver and started working the
logistics. No, wait, that was actually me.

Regards,
Bill Herrin

There were enough fans among the 600,000 folks in the Baltimore area
but not enough an hour away among the 5,600,000 in the National
Capital Region to justify hosting a Worldcon a couple miles inside the
Virginia border where no unions would get in your way? Really?

Having grown up and started my career in Virginia, and much of my family still lives there, I can assure that that there isn't a single facility in Virginia capable of hosting a Worldcon. I think DC has another common problem, where it's either not big enough, or too big for something with only 7k attendees.

AND, Virginia has the exact same problem with hotel contracts. I was part of the convention running teams there in the late 80s and early 90s too. Same problems, same discussions. Same negotiations.

At this point I think at this point your "right to work" wishful thinking has been thoroughly debunked by others. Let's drop this topic.

To bring it back on topic, even if we didn't have unions to deal with, there's no law that can force a hotel or convention center to provide access to the facilities necessary for providing wifi or LTE access to the guests. You can only do that when you have negotiating power, and then you get back to "there's usually only one possible choice and they know it"

Ah, then you shouldn't have said IIRC now should you? That expressly indicates you may or may not recall something you read/heard/etc.

But since you do know the details of that, then pray tell which hotels they brought in union workers at? Because I'd love to see how that played out. Or were you talking about some other type of facility that we weren't discussing?

From: William Herrin <bill@herrin.us>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2012 19:04:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Big Temporary Networks

> 'Right to work', as defined by section 14 B of the Taft-Hartley Act,
> only prevents a union contract that requiures union membership as a
> PRE-REQUISITE for being hired. What is called 'closed shop' -- where
> employment is closed to those who are not union members. It does -not-
> prevent a 'union ship' -- where employees are required to join the
> union within a reasonable period =after= being hired.

The Taft-Hartley Act outlawed closed shops nationwide. It further
authorized individual states to outlaw union shops and/or agency shops.
23 states, including my fine home state of Virginia, have done so.

"False to fact" on the last point. Many of the right-to-work states do
-not- proscribe union shops. Thoe that do, almost invariably allow for
an automatic/involuntary payroll deduction from non-union members covered
by a collective bargaining agreement, payable to the union involved, which
was a pro rata share of the direct costs of negotiting the collective
agreement.

> Right-to-work also does not prevent an organization from requiring, by
> contractual agreement, that third parties performing work ON THE
> 0ORGANIZATION'S PREMISES, employ "union labor" for _that_ work. It
> cannot specify _what_ union (or local) however.

In Illinois, which has not enacted a state right-to-work law, that's
correct.

Illinois, not having right-to-work, is irrelevant. <grin>

In IOWA, where I grew up, and which has one of the strongest right-to-work
laws in the country, "union shops" _are_ legal. As are 'on-site' union
labor requirements. The family business (PR consulting) was heavily
involved with the state Manufacturers Association (and the national org),
and several other associations of large employers. I had access to
*LOTS* of detailed info on the state of right-to-work, and collective-
bargaining practices nation-wide. My remarks apply to the vast majority
of right-to-work states.

        In Virginia, which has, there was just recently a big hullabaloo
where the airports authority tried (and spectacularly failed) to place a
union preference rule in their contracting process where bids from union
shops would have a 10% preference versus bids from non union shops.

Government entities run into all sorts of difficulties with _any_ such
'preference' biases in the bidding/contracting process -- there are
statutory requirements to accept the lowest-price 'qualified' bid, with
lots of supporting case law on 'fiduciary responsibility' of public
monies -- _unless_ there is a demonstrable _compelling_ public policy
reason to include scuh a preference. *VERY* few such survive a court
challenge -- a 'set-aside' of a portion of the contracts for the
'preferred' group tends to have an equivalent effect and is much less
expensive to implement. (a few percentage points on, say, 10-15% of
the contracts is *far* less wasteful than circa 10% on _all_ contracts)

I don't know of _any_ such bidding/contract 'preference' that has -not-
been challenged in the courts. By a 'discrimminated against' vendor,
in the case of government enditie, or by shareholders, in the case of
private entities.

I don't _think_ anybody has challenged hiring preferences for U.S. armed
forces veterans, but I wouldn't be surprised if it _had_ been.

Ok, as exciting as this all has been, it's grossly off topic now.
Please retire the conversation to direct emails if you all want to
keep arguing over it, m'kay?

Thanks...

-george

That's as may be, Bill, but it is definitively outside *my* personal scope,
here.

Cheers,
-- jra