HHC 2001 Conference Report

Richard J. Nelson

OVERVIEW: HHC 2001 was a success in my judgement from what transpired and what I have heard. I think the CHIP group felt this is true and all Conference Committee members said it was. A critical issue was financially "breaking even". The collected revenues of $50.00 from the 19 attendees paid for the two major expenses - the Hotel Meeting Room costs and the Proceedings Reproduction costs. The meeting room rental for Sunday was cancelled because it would have put the immediate out of pocket costs into the red. More on this in THE REAL CONFERENCE COST.

All speakers had adequate time to give their presentations. We completed the conference in about 15 hours and accomplished everything that was possible. My thanks to all who participated.

A misunderstanding of the scheduled room availability caused the Hotel management to announce to us at 5:45 PM that we had to give up the room so they could set up for a wedding. We had been told that we had the room until at least Midnight and planned accordingly (canceling Sunday, etc.). Of course, THAT person is not there on weekends. We packed up, car pooled down the street three miles, and had dinner at CHIP’s regular Restaurant, The Encore. Ace Metal is across the street and we continued in their spacious Employee Lunch Room until 12:45 AM Sunday.

Please accept our apologies Richard Schwartz. Richard went to his room just before this to do his email, and when he returned, we were "gone!" What a shock that must have been. A big room of people with boxes and boxes of stuff had just disappeared! We should have left a note, but the "panic" of the moment distracted us. Sorry Richard.

TRAVEL When the Conference Committee became aware of the situation of all US Airports shutting down we had to make a decision to continue or not. This decision was posted on the web page and I recommended that we continue. This decision was based on many reasons, but two are paramount. We remember the Dutch efforts of a few years ago, and we decided that we – those who provided the money for up-front for expenses – would just take a loss if necessary. A second reason was those who were in transit. They made their travel plans based on a date. No, we would not back down. Besides, PPC/CHHU members have more courage and tenacity than most people.

I had four cancelled flights. Going to Chicago and returning caused me to go through four airports. I waited on the average three to four hours for every flight. Most support services were curtailed, even a week later – no food at the airport or on the flights, etc. – but the Airlines flew. Once the people who were "stranded" got home there was plenty of room on the four planes I flew (America West, $220.50 round trip non-refundable). Wlodek tried for two days to get a flight. After the first day he gave up. He could have arrived at the exactly the same time I did had he not given up the second day. His flight left London with 32 empty seats. Mark Staps also tried to fly from Amsterdam on United. In his case planes were not available and time ran out. Others made it from distant places, but most drove. Some drove 2,000 miles. Trains from the West Coast were booked for weeks, besides, the travel time is 60+ hours and with a special train the travel time is 40+ hours. The fare is over three times what I paid to fly.

In the process of making this trip I also leaned about Airlines Rule 240. Check it out on the web. Print the rule for the next airline you fly. When you are delayed by the Airline, ask them if they are in conformance with their Rule 240. You will be surprised on how the situation will change.

HHC 2001 PROCEEDINGS. I am always amazed at the lack of attention on the part of attendees at not getting all the material that is available at conferences. Often it is the casual item put on the handout table that is the most interesting when you get home and look through the proceedings. Last month I attended a conference at the US Patent and Trademark Office in Washington. I thought their 2" binder was excessively large. When I got home and put everything related to the conference into the binder I needed two binders. With the confusion of this conference, I suspect most of you are wondering why ours was 1-1/2". Ron Johnson discarded his for a smaller one. We are not done yet and I assure you that when you get the HHC 2001 CD you will need all the space you have in that binder. Here is what you should have taken home with you.

The binder has five tabs. In order they are; ADMIN (white), TALKS (goldenrod), DOCS I (blue), DOCS II (pink), and MISC (green). I gave the printed tabs to each of the attendees because they were not inserted into the plastic tabs in your binder before registration.

ADMIN - This is intended for the mechanical stuff related to the conference. A copy of the Conference Activities should be put here. If you didn’t get one, print it from what follows. A copy of the "What is it?" contest was also planned to be put here along with the Programming Contest material. See additional details below. We took a photograph of each attendee and these will be available as a single page (or more if we get the suggested captions added). This is a good place for that material.

TALKS - (1) Tools by Ronald B. Johnson. (2) The Xpander by Richard J. Nelson (I didn’t have a printed paper but I will have at least a single page covering the "notes" I used for the Conference on the CD). (3) Big Lies We Are Taught In School by Richard Schwartz. Richard revised his paper in route to the conference during his drive from California and he didn’t get them copied. This will be on the CD. It was a mathematical talk of an application of the calculator included with the proceedings. (4) Fluid Flow Solutions by Brian P. Walsh. (5) HP-PPC/CHHU Relations by Richard J. Nelson. (I didn’t plan on this being taped, but changed my mind. I will include the two pages of notes on the CD). I did a demonstration of Lenz’s Law to make the point of why PPC/CHHU came to be. A two page handout of the technical details was provided. Since most people have not seen this effect demonstrated I will add a third page explaining how and why the demonstration worked for the CD. (6a) Evolution of Solver Applications by Paul C. Kettler and Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz. (6b) 20 Years on the HP-12C by Wlodek Mier-Jedrzejowicz. (7) The HP48/49 Emulator on the HP Jornada 540 Series Handhelds by Jake Schwartz. (8) A Voice For the HP-41 by Roger Hill. Roger didn’t have enough copies for everyone. I hope we can get a copy on the CD (15 pp). (9) Dean Lampman did not have a printed paper.

DOCS I - This section is intended to contain all material directly related to the conference. Copies of papers not given as talks is a good example of material intended for this section.

Paul was not able to print the calculator instruction sheet in color due to printer incompatibility issues. I put the B&W copy first in this section. Cut ¾" off the wide margin and cut the sheet in half. Fold and staple the two sheets together. Fold again, and the Owner’s Manual will fit in the box the calculator came in. Next I put Marc Staps paper which was provided. A six page copy of three major articles has the title Recent HP News is appropriate for this section. My 21 page Consumer Price Index paper could also go in this section along with Bill Quinlan’s My Odyssey From HP to Palm. These are Talks not given.

DOCS II - This section is intended for all other formal conference handouts. The article titled To a Man With a Hammer, and two HP48/49 Programming Class Handouts – Keeping Track of Meal Expenses and Faro Shuffle handouts fit in this section. Actually, dozens of additional Class Handouts were intended to be included but I forgot to email them for reproduction for the conference. They will be on the CD.

MISC - This section is intended for all other material, personal notes, etc.

The last three talks listed on the schedule below did not follow the order of the schedule. If any of you reading this want me to email you a copy of material you missed at the conference I am happy to do so.

BEST SPEAKER The group clearly voted Roger Hill as best speaker. He received a special Certificate and a TRUE $100 Radio Shack Credit Card. I say true because the value is $110 to include sales tax on the $100.

HP48/49 PROGRAMMING CONTEST Because I arrived late (three hours) and I had the Programming Contest materials with me (the problem is a big secret only known to me – usually, but this year Joseph knew he couldn’t compete so I shared the problem with him. We both wrote up the problem and planned on a post contest presentation but . . .) the group decided to do the contest after the conference. About six or seven attendees wanted to participate and it was agreed that these people would email Brian Walsh with a date (soon, within the week following 9/24?) they would be able to spend the time to work on the problem. Brian will email me the list with their email address and I will then email the problem to each of them. They will have 30 hours to email me their entry. The prize is nicely mailable so include your snail mail address.

DOOR PRIZES The Grand Door Prize was won by James Prange. The odds of winning the trip to London for HHC 2002 were 1 in 17. The large number of door prizes insured that everyone went home with a prize. The prize for bringing the most unusual collection of HP machines, accessories, and documentation went to Dean Lampman. The What is this Contest was cancelled due to time, but the handouts (and answers) will be on the Conference CD. The What is a TV Cheater Cord - TVCC. The Prize for the Programming Contest will be awarded when the contest is held by the end of the month. The winner will be announced here.

CONFERENCE CD Last year we promised a conference CD for HHC 2000 and we didn’t produce it. With that "guilt" and the desire to gather as much information together as a "last hurrah" I am sure we will complete the task this year – and soon. I am gathering the documentation and Jake is gathering the images. The CD will contain all the material that was intended for the HHC 2000 CD as well as material from past conferences that resides on my computer. I expect that it will be a nice collection of original material that has not been "published" elsewhere. The Conference CD will be mailed to the 19 people who attended HHC 2001 and the nearly 40 people who gave me their mailing addresses that attended HHC 2000. Many of them are the same people so we don’t have to make too many CD’s. The CHIP Chapter will mail the binder, special HHC 2001 calculator and Conference CD to people who want a copy of the Conference Proceedings. I project this availability to be before Thanksgiving and I will push to complete it before Halloween. We will produce a total of 50 (we prepared 50 binders) CD’s plus the extras required for the HHC 2000 attendees. I think that this will be adequate. If, however, you don’t agree with me, email Paul to tell him to put you "first on the list." to ensure that you get a copy. When they are gone, they are history. There is no doubt that we will fill one CD, and from what I have seen so far, we may require two.

HHC 2002 We didn’t have time to discuss HHC 2002. Wlodek wasn’t present and I can’t speak for him but I want to make a few comments. The London group doesn’t have the same connection to Imperial College that they have had in years past so there is no guarantee that HHC 2002 will be held at Imperial College. The London group, however, has (American tense?) committed to having the conference next September 21 & 22, 2002. If it is not at Imperial College it will be at a central Hotel – they have lots of them. I have attended the 1st, 5th, 10th , & 15th London Conferences. The first one was held at a hotel. I especially look forward to attending HHC 2002. My past trips were especially enjoyable because of the people I spent time with. This is a very important aspect of making the trip. Since a great distance is involved and you don’t travel to a foreign country very often, I believe that most people will want to spend more than a weekend in London. This usually requires long term saving and planning.

I hope the folks in London will provide us with financial information on hotel costs, meal costs, etc. as soon as possible so as large a group from the US as possible can attend. My experience is that most things cost about the same as they do in the US except their prices are in British Pounds. That means you have to multiply the value by the exchange rate, which has been much greater than one. A typical $6 dollar lunch is 6 pounds which is really about $8.40. A "normal" hotel cost – like we paid in Chicago, $89 - would be closer to $125. While I stayed at a very low cost "place" priced at 15 pounds/night for two trips and 25 pounds for another trip, I was never able to find reasonable cost meals except for one or two at the College cafeteria. Pubs are not the answer. Is food that much more in the UK? The Keeping Track of Meal Expenses program was written so I would know what my food costs are. I eat 100% of my meals out. Six dollars for a meal is nearly twice my weekly average per meal.

I ask the London group to investigate the "numbers" and options and think about this question as soon as possible so we can better champion the cause from this side of the pond. Some of our members (include me) do not have six figure incomes.

THE REAL CONFERENCE COST I mentioned above that the collected revenues of $50.00 from the 19 attendees paid for the two major expenses - the Hotel Meeting Room costs and the Proceedings Reproduction costs. There were many costs absorbed by individuals. I donated my Federal Tax return to the door prizes. I also received an equal amount donated by an attendee who did not want his name mentioned. There will be additional costs to produce the remaining materials and selling the remaining copies of the HHC 2001 Proceedings will cover these costs.

The biggest single difficulty of doing these conferences is the inability of the attendees to commit to attending. HHC 2001 was very unusual, but it is always very difficult to plan these events without knowing how many to plan for. The cost of getting a copy of the Proceedings will be announced as soon as we get some idea of how many people are interested. As I mentioned above, you should email Paul Hubbert telling him your interest. See Conference Committee Box for email addresses. The CHIP Chapter made the financial commitment for this conference – someone has to. Any surplus will be added to their treasury. The object is to break even. If you want the lowest cost copy of the proceedings you should let us know. Knowing the "numbers" will allow the price to be fairly fixed. If the people who didn’t attend HHC 2001 purchase the Proceedings the cost will be less than half of the cost of attending. Think of the travel costs you saved. Help us out, let Paul know today.

PERSONAL REMARKS I have often said that this is the last conference I think I have the energy for. I know others in the community are also burned out as well. I mentioned in May while preparing for HHC 2000 that I thought that HP will quietly leave the calculator business. This is my own evaluation after watching HP at close quarters for nearly 30 years. I mentioned to HHC 2001 attendees that HP planned on attending. They were not prepared to discuss future plans, but they wanted to observe. I hope to be able to say I am/was wrong, and I may have that opportunity over the next few weeks. I still believe that HP does not have the business requirements/resources to continue in the Calculator business. Their worst enemy is their own organizational structure. Just like the president of Motorola must wear both a pager and a cell phone at public events because of the internal divisional conflict, so must HP limit their new product design to compete in the student market. TI, Casio, and sharp are no different, but at least they presently have some market share. How much does HP have?

Saturday HHC 2001 Activities

Sunday was canceled, due to the reduced (50%) attendance, to save Hotel Meeting room cost. We compressed the two-day conference into a single day - Saturday (actually we went into Sunday, we ended at 12:45 AM). Speakers who didn’t make it to Chicago were not heard but are listed below. We hope they will email their papers to Richard to add them to the Conference CD. These are indicated in italics. Obviously, the times are incorrect, but the order is similar to the list below. –rjn.

Get proceedings, register, get seat. Ron Johnson, Jack Stout, Paul Hubbert.
Announcements & Introductions
Each person: Name, where from, profession, machines used, personal need from conference.
Special Presentation
Explanation of "special" machine.
Contest: What is it?
Cancelled. Prize awarded for most detailed description. 
Talk - Ron Johnson
“What is it?” winner announced
Cancelled. Prize awarded.
Break – 15 minutes
To be announced.
Talk – Joe Horn
A new decimal-to-fraction algorithm that combines the three hitherto-unrelated methods of continued fractions, binary search, and the Stern-Brocot tree.
Talk – Richard Nelson
The Xpander, Could it have been?
On your own, but hotel restaurant might be (expensive) best.
Continue conference.
Talk – Richard Schwartz
What Lies We Are Taught In School. Richard, radical? not that much. (It’s about logs.)
Talk – Mark Staps
How History Repeats itself: HP Calculators versus Ericsson Mobile Phones, European activities.
Talk – Brian Walsh
Fluid Flow Solutions
To be announced.
Talk – Wlodek Mier-Jed¼
The HP-12C - a 20-year odyssey, and UK status.
Talk – Bill Quinlan
My Odyssey from HP to Palm.
Talk – Richard Nelson
HP-PPC/CHHU Relations: The untold unrecordable story.
Announcements for dinner
We all car pooled to Encore, CHIP’s regular meeting dinner restaurant.
Group Dinner
Discuss day’s events, formulate questions for tomorrow.
Informal Demonstrations
Cancelled. Announced before breaking for dinner.

Sunday HHC 2001 Activities

Schedule updates & questions.
Talk – Paul Kettler
HP’s Solver, Various versions old and new.
Talk – Richard Nelson
Omitted to save time. Consumer Price Index.
Will be announced.
Talk – Dean Lampman
Ramblings of a has been.
Door Prize Drawings
Cross Your Fingers, you need not be present to win.
Break for lunch
On your own, but hotel restaurant might be (expensive) best.
Talk – Megha Shaym
HP and TI, Different attitudes, different approaches.
Talk - Roger Hill
Making the HP-41 Talk.
Group Discussion
General Q & A with Panel (HP?).
Programming Contest
Rescheduled. Email Brian Walsh to get on list. Problem will be emailed on a date all can work with. 72 hours time allowed. Email solutions to Richard. Turn in your entries. Problem "answer" discussed with docs (not given to attendees).
Talk – Jake Schwartz
The HP48/49 Emulator on the HP Jornada 540 Series Handhelds
Will be announced.
Best Speaker Vote
Thirteen (different) Speakers, which one did you like best? There is a lot at stake here.
The future?
Not formally done for lack of time. Group leaders, what do you want? HHC 2002 in London?