While thousands are counting down the days until they arrive in Black Rock Desert for Burning Man this year, there’s already a number of people out there on the playa getting things ready….. and they’re calling and tweeting back to us looking for someone to bring the things they forgot. Yes, that’s right there is cell service on the playa this year. How do I know? I got a call from Rubin while he was sitting at the space reserved for our camp (Ardent Heavy Industries). In addition several others are tweeting up a storm: @SFSlim, @steve23, @Rubin110, @TKimball, @JosephPred, and more. And of course foursquare had to get in on the action and quickly added Black Rock City to their database so people could check in. As of this writing, SFSlim is the Mayor of The Man but we predict this to change once Steve23 hears wind of it.
The cell service appears to be limited to AT&T and Verizon, but from what we hear people are getting 5 bars inside Black Rock City. Apparently the service is mostly coming from a temporary tower that was installed on some leased land near Frog Pond, which is less than a mile from the trash fence that marks the border of Black Rock City. How are they doing it? According to @ChrisPetrell it’s a combination of solar/wind powered tower with a satellite uplink. It’s not official Burning Man cell coverage and the Burning Man Org has nothing to do with it, but DPW and other volunteers already on the playa are using it. In addition to this temporary tower, there are also permanent AT&T and Verizon towers south of Empire that people are reporting service from. And finally, there is a theme camp that is providing a GSM->VOIP gateway. I’m assuming this rumored theme camp is the same as the OpenBTS project I posted about last year.
But before you get your hopes up, know that the chance of this service making it through Burning Man without melting down is slim to none. Joseph Pred notes:
Important cell phone update: Temp site only supports 23 Verizon/CDMA users and no SMS. AT&T/GSM supports 35 users with SMS but limited EDGE.
This means you’ll have quite the battle with 40-50,000 other attendees if you need to make a call home. Rubin mentioned that he was already having trouble and the event is not due to start for almost a week. I think it’s still appropriate to tell your boss/significant other/etc that you are not contactable while out on the playa. Besides, do you really want to get that call about the firewall going down while you’re in the middle of 2pir surrounded by an actual wall of fire?
What do you guys think about cell phones on the playa? Good, bad, who cares?
original Man image from Dan Garcia
Last year I had a blast at SXSW Interactive. It was both enjoyable and informative. However I quickly noticed that there are a lot of.. well douchebags at SXSW. It quickly became quite humorous to pick them out in a crowd and discuss what made them douchey. While it was all a lot of snarky fun, I realized that some of these people probably didn’t even realize how douchey they were being! So I decided that this year I should hold a panel to help those in need. The panel is aptly titled “How To Not Be A Douchebag at SXSW”. Here is the the proposal that was submitted:
Aimed at both first-time and long-time attendees to SXSW Interactive, this biting and humorous, yet useful panel takes a look at the common actions and behaviors to avoid if you don’t want to be described as “doing it wrong.”
Questions that will be answered:
Who is “that guy” and how do I avoid being him?
How do I self-promote without being a douchebag? (i.e — when should I give out my business card?)
What words instantly make me sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about? (i.e. — what are douchey buzzwords?)
How do I not come off looking like an obnoxious PR flack?
How do I pitch my product/service/technology? (i.e. — to schwag or not to schwag?)
How do I handle an open bar?
How should I ask questions at panels and presentations?
What is the proper Twitter/Foursquare etiquette at SXSW?
How can I treat the locals graciously?
How can I make a connection with someone I’m attracted to and not come across like a marketing dweeb? (i.e. — hooking up, the undouche way)
Joining me on this panel will be the lovely Violet Blue of sex blogger fame and the experienced John Adams from Twitter. There’s a good chance we’ll pick up a fourth member before SXSW so if you’re interested in joining us, let me know. But in the meantime we have to convince SXSW that this is a panel the people want to see! In order to do this we need your votes. If you’ve got a minute, please head over to our proposal on the SXSW Panel PIcker and give us a thumbs up! But hurry, voting ends on September 4th.