Update on the Plumbers Covid-19 Situation

We’re still planning to hold Plumbers, but adopting a wait and see attitude to the in-person component. As people have noticed, the global prospect for being able to travel to Halifax in August seems to be getting worse, so we’re posting this to give more transparency to what the Plumbers Conference decision points and options are.

Our first consideration is a go/no-go decision point for the in-person conference. Currently, the date we were planning to put the first batch of tickets on-sale (15 May) represents the ideal date for this because it gives time (another 6 weeks) for more clarity to emerge on the situation, while avoiding people doing early purchases only to be disappointed if the event has to be cancelled at a later date.

Our second consideration is planning now for how we might do a fully on-line version of Plumbers. The primary consideration people should note is that our Internet and AV contracts with the hotel in Halifax don’t give us sufficient bandwidth to do the conference partly in-person and partly on-line because we’d have to do the hosting at the hotel rather than in some high bandwidth cloud location, so our decision will be either fully in-person or fully on-line. Other conferences have already done fully on-line versions, which we’re in the process of evaluating. Over the next few weeks we’ll report back (lwn.net too is doing a helpful series of articles on on-line meeting technologies which will be worth a read).

A final thing people should note is that if we do decide to go for the fully on-line version, our scheduling constraints become less severe (not having a time limited physical location) and we could spread the tracks out rather than try to run a three day, six track event. This would allow us both to lower the bandwidth requirements for the hosting (which should reduce latency and communication issues) as well
as hold the MCs at a time most convenient to the distributed time-zones of all the participants.

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