Once again, it’s time to start planning for SXSWi which is coming up pretty fast in just under two months. It’s the annual ‘geek summer camp’ held in Austin, Texas every March. Check out my previous posts about it to see why you might want to go.
Now is the time to start doing a few things to maximize your time in the Lone Star state. If you haven’t already booked a hotel room, expect to be spending a lot of time in cabs getting to and from your room out on the interstate and the Austin Convention Center….all the close hotels (walking distance) were booked up last summer.
If you haven’t already registered, you should do it soon since the price goes up the closer it gets. Peter and I booked our flights last weekend….airline prices are down thanks to the current economic situation…$100 less than last year.
If you want to use your iPhone (or any other phone not from the US at least), you’ll probably need to unlock it and acquire a US Sim card. Cheapest route I’ve found still is an AT&T Pay as you go phone which can found almost anywhere in the US (Target, Walmart, 7-11, etc.) for as little as $15 (with a $10 airtime credit). You then add the $19.99 Medianet data plan for unlimited data for a month while you’re in Austin.
When you activate your cheap phone, make sure you choose the option to pay $1 per day of use. It means that you’ll only pay $0.10/minute for most calls (plus $1 for each day you use it) and calls to other AT&T users (like say, anyone following these instructions) are completely free (aside from that initial $1/day). If you don’t use it on a certain day, you don’t pay. Text messages are still a rip off at $0.15 per (incoming or outgoing). Keep in mind you probably won’t be able to use a foreign credit card to top up these phones but plenty of places (including gas stations) sell top up cards.
Now is also a good time to order some Moo cards. I just ordered another batch and it came in less than 2 weeks….last year lots of people were upset because they ordered either too late or it took longer to deliver due to increased demand (not sure if it’s SXSW related but possibly).
I know a few people haven’t been happy with the quality of their moo cards but I’ve ordered at least 5 batches with no issues at all and have been very happy with their quality. I’ve got a few 20% off coupon codes if you’re placing a first time order so leave a comment if you want one.
Finally, now is a good time to start scoping out the activities. Sites like Upcoming already has a number of the parties listed so you can at least start RSVP’ing to those that interest you. Most things you can simply walk up to on the day while you’re there but some require being on a list of some kind in advance due to the huge crowds that get bigger every year. Hopefully Jeremy Kieth will update his fantastic Adactio Austin party list for 2009 soon too. My pals over at Raincity Studios have already booked the biggest party at Southby each year. I stumbled across an Austin Flickr meetup last year that turned out to be really special and it wasn’t on any SXSW agenda.
There is even BarCamp Austin to check out while you’re in town if you want to skip out on SXSW for awhile.
I’ll leave you with an awesome three-letter-word reason to go to SXSW:
and maybe the fried pickles at B.D. Riley’s too: