[svlug] State of the speaker program, and venues: not good

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Mar 11 15:51:55 PST 2016

SVLUG's meeting and lecture series, active for 28 years, is in real

As I implied on svlug-announce, Symantec vCafe is impossible to get back
and easy for a group to lose.  And I think people here don't understand 
what a rare win it is, in 2016.  Ample seating, good overhead projector,
no need for every attendee to individually show ID and do sign-in with a
corporate rent-a-cop at the door (main reason we left Cisco Systems).

If this were still 1998, good places to meet in Silicon Valley would be
more plentiful.  Times have changed, and they're rare.  Being rare, the
remaining places to meet tend to be already reserved by other groups, or
they cost serious money, or both.  

Bottom line:  Don't assume finding a new place to meet would be easy.
In the past, it's taken some creative scouting by SVLUG leaders, and 
working of inside contacts.

Here's something people seem to keep refusing to register:  I never 
agreed to run SVLUG.

I already run a Linux user group (in Menlo Park).  So, I've consistently
declined to serve as an SVLUG officer, my dance card being full already.  
I've just done my best to keep things going, because I like SVLUG and
want it to survive and thrive.

Because I've consistently refused to be an SVLUG officer, I have zero
experience finding new meeting venues.  If SVLUG screws up its
reservation at Symantec vCafe, I'm very unlikely to be able to save
y'all's asses and fix that.

And the other part of SVLUG's meeting program that's in danger is
finding speakers.  On February 8th, just as I was about to get on a
month-long cruise across the South Pacific, I heard our March 2nd 
speaker was obliged to cancel, and put out an urgent appeal for _any_
SVLUG volunteer to step up to the plate and find a replacement talk.

A month later, after flying back from Sydney, I learned that fsck all
had been even attempted.  Apparently, nobody even tried to contact a
_single_ speaker prospect.  At the last minute, I tried to find one:
(Note that last-minute bookings are improbable; speakers seldom can 
fill in on short notice.)

I did find a speaker for May 4th, but not one for either March 2nd or
April 6th:

Anyway, SVLUG's speaker / meeting program is going to die on grounds of
apathy if interested volunteers don't step up to the plate _very_ soon.

About that, any of the following is appreciated but is only 
around _10%_ helpful:

o  'You could meet at [place the suggester hasn't actually made
    sure is suitable and available].'
o  'You should ask [person who may or may not have a talk, and who
   may or may not even be in the Bay Area] to talk.
o  'You should find someone to do a talk about [suggester's hobbyhorse].'

Essentially, armchair suggestions for work to be performed by others,
albeit well-intended, seldom help much and tend to be just time-sinks.
But if you can do only that much, it's appreciated.

Anyway, looks to me like SVLUG's 28-year tradition of speaker
presentations is in peril and will die if nobody pitches in.
February's example makes me pessimistic about anyone bothering.
Please prove me wrong.  I'll be delighted to say I was dead-wrong in
public and bake you a pie.

(No pie-baking this week, though, as I have the flu.)

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