February 24/25: 2024 Virtual CoCoFEST!

At the height of the pandemic, Glenside found it would not be possible to hold our annual CoCoFEST event. We were not alone, with every classic computing event canceled in 2020, with some cancelled yet again in 2021. I know I was disappointed, and I suspect most were. Folks come to our event for many reasons, some for the platform itself while others for the friendships. That year, we all had to be content with virtual visits with friends.

Many GCCC members also view or participate in a weekly video video cast called “The CoCo Nation” (then named CoCoTALK!) and they felt an event of some type should still happen. So, they quickly arranged an unofficial Virtual CoCoFEST! around the time we had originally planned for the actual event. You can view it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2PgbMjWkDM). Though it was not an officially sanctioned event, I think it helped many who were disappointed a physical event could not be held.

Time marches on, and, even though we had to delay our 2021 fest until later in the year, GCCC restarted our face-to-face events. We held the belated 29th event in November 2021, and will host the 32nd on May 4 and 5 2024. I hope we will see you at CoCoFEST! in Carol Stream, IL!

As someone who works remotely and spends a large portion of their week on virtual teleconferences via Zoom and Microsoft Teams, I empathize with folks who don’t want to spend another second on camera. That said, as someone who presented in a number of virtual 2020 and 2021 events, including the virtual CoCoFEST!, I found value in virtually presenting:

  • As we all found in 2020, it’s not always possible to travel to a physical location. Even though Glenside has returned to physical events, some folks are either too far away, don’t have the means, or physically cannot travel to an event. If they are just an attendee, streams of the show floor and the presentations may suffice, but if they want to present, we’ll miss that opportunity.
  • To address the above issue, some would suggest a virtual presentation at CoCoFEST!. It’s entirely possible, and I believe we’ve done it a few times. However, we feel it best to give preference to in-person presentations, and we often have enough of those to fully fill our speaker schedule.
  • And, speaking of our presentation schedule, there are limitations. By the time you factor in starting the show at a reasonable hour, Saturday and Sunday lunch, our Saturday auction, Saturday dinner, and our need to be out of the venue by 5PM Sunday, there are a limited number of half-hour and hour presentation slots available. Once they are claimed, we’re full.
  • There are some projects that don’t lend themselves well to travel. Do you have your CoCo 3 running your home entertainment system? That’s awesome, but probably not all that portable. Is your MC-10 handling data entry for a home weather system? Maybe that Alice is living a second life handling NC plots for your plasma cutter. Sure, one could take videos or pictures and create a presentation for our flagship event, but there’s nothing cooler than seeing a CoCo or MC-10/Alice in action
  • Some folks need a bit of a “push” after the holidays to resume their project work towards a CoCoFEST! completion. Demonstrating your efforts in January/February while your creation may just be a bunch of breadboards or not yet plug-n-play as a way to motivate you through the home stretch or even to whet CoCoFEST! attendees’ appetites a few months prior to the show can be a compelling argument.
  • Maybe you’re not sure about your ability to present in front of an audience, or maybe you feel your project or demonstration is not as important as others and you don’t hog a spot. I doubt either is true, but maybe a virtual presentation is an easier and safer lift.

For these reasons, I’ve long thought a virtual event in January/February would be a great addition to the yearly event lineup. Thus, Glenside and The CoCo Nation have partnered to hold the 2024 Virtual Fest on February 24/25, 2024. As The CoCo Nation has much more expertise holding video events, they’ll be handling much of the logistics. Mark Overholser (cocotech@thecoconation.com) is accepting presentation requests, and the event will be streamed on The CoCo Nation and the GCCC Youtube and Facebook channels.

For those wondering, GCCC is still holding our in-person event in May, and we’ll stream as much content as we can (last year, we had some Internet bandwidth issues, but we’re working to address those for 2024). This virtual event does not replace our normal yearly one, but I do hope we can drive some virtual value for the Tandy Color Computer community. If you have something you think is of interest, please send a note to Mark, even if you’re unsure if it’s “worthy” or a presentation slot. In fact, I’d go so far to say that this is an ideal time for those smaller and/or simpler presentations. Are you a young enthusiast just getting into the community? Take some time to present on your entrance, or how you’re getting along on finding information about the platform. Do you want to test the waters prior to the May event? This is your chance! There are a host of reasons to take advantage of this virtual event, and I hope folks take us up on the offer.

Above all, I hope the community enjoys this attempt to create something of value for the platform. I know it won’t appeal to everyone, but one size does not fit all, and this may be the best way to reach another part of the community.

I hope to see your on February 24 and February 25!

Jim Brain, 2023-24 Glenside Color Computer Club President