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  • rsts11 3:47 pm on March 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cell phones, data, Electronics, internets, tweeting   

    2013 Cellular phone/data access survey 

    Hi folks,

    There are usually two places my cell carrier gets no service… on a plane, for obvious reasons, and in the convention floor at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport. πŸ™‚

    I’m wondering if those of you who tried to make phone calls or use data service could comment here on your carrier, device, and any caveats you might have run into.

    Over the past couple of years I’ve tried a couple of different top of the line Android devices on Verizon Wireless… they sometimes work in the main hallway, and usually pick up when I get out onto the lower patio. Great 4G in the hotel rooms, but live tweeting from the hotel room is not as pertinent as it is from the convention floor.

    And I remember in 2009 (I think, maybe 2010) someone brought one of those ZBoost cellular extenders, where it acts as a cell “tower” inside and runs to an antenna outside. Unfortunately, I seem to recall it keeled over even we only had 750 people there… with 3500 people many using 2+ devices… no way it would work.

    Thanks in advance for your feedback on this.

    By the way… I don’t have ads on this blog, but if you found it useful and were going to shop at Amazon.com anyway, check out the Amazon link to the right. Your purchases will help with my travel accessory budget, and they don’t cost you any extra. πŸ™‚

    • dkompare 7:45 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I have an HTC Evo 3D with Virgin Mobile (via Sprint networks), and the service was pretty terrible within the footprint of the hotel. I was able to text OK in the lobby, but internet access was very spotty. On the con level in the middle of the day throughout the weekend, I often got nothing: no 4G, no 3G, no signal.

      I would guess it’s well beyond the Marriott’s control, especially with that number of people. I would imagine that the simple geography of the LAX area makes all wireless communication (beyond air traffic and emergency response) iffy. Loads of people only passing through the system, but a fairly limited number of towers and nodes due to the airport and ocean.

    • rsts11 8:29 am on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Derek. I do believe you’re right, at least about the Marriott not really being able to solve this.

      I’ve heard a couple of success stories with GSM (AT&T in particular) at Gally, and I know a few people were able to tweet from events… so it might be something with EVDO/LTE in that area.

    • Patrick Bishop 3:29 pm on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      iPhone 5, AT&T. Had no problems Tweeting, uploading short videos to YouTube while on the convention floor.

      Never tried calling out though so cant comment on that.

  • rsts11 1:32 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Hotelling for Gally 2014 

    2014-03-21 Caveat: This post was written a year ago, in 2013, right after the Gallifrey One hotel blocks sold out. I’ve re-promoted it so you have an idea of how to deal with the rush for April 2014’s hotel grab. In short, DON’T PANIC. There are thousands of rooms within half a mile, you can get two if you want.Β 

    So my original hotel post onΒ https://gallyhelp.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/hotel-hints/ is a bit outdated, but it is still useful at times.

    And as a reminder, this is an UNofficial site not at all related or affiliated with Gallifrey One / ISL / anything else. I’m just a five-time (now) attendee who doesn’t have the attention span for forums anymore, and wanted to set up a more concise advice site for new and returning Gally attendees.

    But on with the topic.

    This year, there was an official overflow hotel in the Renaissance (also a Marriott property, for those of you in Marriott Rewards), in addition to the LAX Marriott that is the “convention hotel” for Gallifrey One. Based on Marriott web pages, there are a total ofΒ 441 rooms at the Renaissance, and Β 985 rooms at the Marriott. That’s total. Gally discount block is probably a bit fewer. But obviously no more than about 1500 rooms because, well, physics.

    With 3200ish registered members, unless everyone has 1.1 or more people sharing a room with them, this wouldn’t be enough for everyone to be in these hotels. There was a lot of annoyance and sour grapes on Twitter this afternoon about this fact (see also: physics).

    If you have your Gallifrey One membership but didn’t get a room under the discount rates, don’t fret, don’t panic. Or in slightly larger letters.


    1. Rooms in the block will probably open up between now and then, as people who have to back out cancel their reservations.
    2. The Gallifrey One team are working on expanding the Renaissance block.
    3. There are at least five hotels within half a mile of the LAX Marriott. (Four Points Sheraton, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Embassy Suites, Sheraton Gateway.) Not as good if you have reasons for needing to be in the hotel (kids, stuff for sale, accessible needs, allergy to hotels not named “LAX Marriott) but quite suitable for many people. There are more a bit further out. Here’s a map.
    4. See #1.

    So if you didn’t get in on the rooms when the discount code went out, you can still get a room for a reasonable price if you have the flexibility with your arrangements. There will also be room share things posted on Gallifrey Base (feel free to mention them in comments here too, or link to your Gallifrey Base post).

    As an aside, if you didn’t get your membership yet, transfers begin this summer, and as about 10% of last year’s memberships were transferred, don’t be surprised to see a fair number of people making their tix available between summer and the end of January 2014. There is still a non-zero chance that you can still go to Gallifrey One next February even if you don’t have a membership or a hotel room yet. Keep an eye on Gallifrey Base, the Gallifrey One facebook and @gallifreyone twitter accounts, and maybe even this page… Β more news when it happens.

    If any readers have comments or suggestions regarding hotels around the convention site, please leave them as comments here for other attendees. And as always, thanks for reading GallyHelp.

    • dkompare 1:41 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve stayed at the Crowne Plaza the last two years and it’s been perfectly fine. The rooms are actually a little bit nicer than the Marriott’s, and the price is very comparable (though it’ll be a few months before they’re booking February, and it pays to look for deals on Expedia, etc.). It’s only an easy 5 minute walk from the front door of the Marriott. I walked back circa 1:30 am every night (Thurs-Sun) without incident (Century Blvd is blazingly well-lit and fairly busy, even at that time), but if people staying there could coordinate a bit if people would feel safer in groups. Since I had to miss the Marriot-Renaissance hotel room grab today, I’m fine with staying at the CP again.

      That said, no idea about the food quality there, aside from the Starbucks knock-off in the lobby!

      • rsts11 1:54 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the feedback on this hotel. Crowne Plaza still had rooms available an hour ago for the whole Wednesday-to-Wednesday period. Prepaid from $124.40/night , $137.86/night without prepay, $139.40 prepay breakfast package. Google’s hotel search didn’t go that far but I found the rates on the crowne’s page itself.

        Sheraton Gateway had rooms for $109/night without prepay, I believe… it is about 4 city blocks away, so not for everyone, but looked like a very spacious and comfortable hotel. All of my business travel involves Starwood/Sheraton hotels, and I’ve been very happy with them (and their food tends to be acceptable at least).

    • Amanda 1:57 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      We stayed at the Embassy Suites for our first Gally this year. If you need to feed a lot of people, this isn’t a bad option because there’s an enormous free buffet breakfast with made-to-order eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. The room service menu has family sized combos for things like pizza, salads, and sandwiches. There’s also a fridge, microwave and a safe in the rooms which some hotels in the area don’t seem to have. It is in the $140-$150 a night range, but I’d stay there again if we didn’t get in a hotel block.

      • rsts11 2:41 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Very good info… free breakfast is good, as is at least minimal food handling options in the room. Do you remember what the in-room coffee is like? That’s one of my obsessions, and why I bring my own coffee gear to the Marriott. πŸ™‚

        • Amanda 3:48 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink

          You know, we didn’t ever try the coffee in the room. There must have been a coffee pot, but I can’t remember anything about it. I don’t blame you for bringing your own coffee supplies. We packed bagels and frozen cream cheese packets in our checked bag for similar reasons. πŸ™‚

    • Steph 2:08 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      I stayed at the Hilton this last year. It’s just a short stagger down the street (past the parking lot), and therefore not particularly troublesome to get to/from. The rates are Hilton-normal, which means it’s just a wee tad pricier than Marriott, but still something mere mortals can afford if you’re sharing the room/costs.

    • steve 2:14 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This year wasy first Gally. I got in the Marriott Friday and Saturday.night and the travelodge The rest of the nights. Miraculously I’veanaged to book Wednesday to Saturday in the Marriott today. And booked Sunday night in the travelodge. Can’t wait to do it all again next year for a 2nd time. πŸ™‚

    • Beth H 2:17 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Last year I stayed at the Wingate by Wyndham LAX hotel. It is a bit further from the other hotels – but we were able to walk there in 10 minutes (at night I took a taxi for around $8). The rooms were great – I got a deluxe room with a HUGE bed and it had a couch with a pull-out bed (so you could comfortably sleep 3-4). Free breakfast, 24-hour fitness room, super clean, microwave, mini-fridge (empty – so you don’t have to move around all that over-priced junk). I only paid $89 per night – much lower than the hotels near the Marriott (so it was worth being a bit further).

    • Paul N 2:25 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      This is my first year and was lucky to get Tuesday to Tuesday at the Marriott. Looking forward to going. Anyone tell me more about the Gallifrey Base?

      • rsts11 2:40 pm on March 22, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Gallifrey Base is a Doctor Who fan forum site with lots of stuff, including the “official” forums for Gallifrey One. I can’t say how official “official” is, but membership transfers happen there, discussions about ribbons and stuff, and who knows what else? I look in now and then (I’m thetasigma92 over there), but alas am not a regular per se.

        Check it out, it’s free, they don’t spam you, and, well, lots of Doctor Who-ness there.

  • rsts11 1:01 am on January 29, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Leave advice about the hotel experience … 

    Leave advice about the hotel experience here. I’ll try to gather it up and organize it. This is all unofficial, and might change with time.

    Best advice I can offer, although it’s too late for Gally ’11, is (1) stay in the convention hotel, and (2) book early. There are plenty of nearby hotels, so don’t give up hope if the Marriott fills up, but you will be more comfortable if you don’t have to go outside to get to sessions. (Note: The 2011 hotel issue was a fluke, as mentioned in the comments. But it still wouldn’t hurt to reserve early.)

    You can book your room online as soon as Gallifrey One puts out the discount code. You have to give a credit card number but they normally will not charge it in advance. Then you get in on the best rate, Gally gets some sway in further rooms and continued benefits, and you don’t have to fret about it later. You can cancel up until the day before your reservation starts, I believe, so it’s no problem if your schedule changes.

    A word about booking through the Gally block of rooms: Do it if you can. When a conference uses a hotel’s resources, they usually pay less/get more if they can “guarantee” a certain amount of occupancy. The more rooms Gally fills, the more Marriott will like us and continue to make the convention doable. And it’s easier for Marriott to make rooms available to us as a group if we fill up our initial allotment early. If half of us booked in April or May, they would probably find the 700 rooms. Harder to find them as others start reserving.

    And whatever hotel you go to, check on their frequent stayer/rewards program. Even if you only stay once a year, it may be worth the ten minutes to sign up. I once got a $900 rack rate room for $129/night with every fourth night free, for my first stay with that hotel. For less overpriced hotels (like Marriot, for example) you may still get benefits, or some extra frequent flyer miles, or discounts/free rooms later on.

    Parking details are up on the website: $10/day self-parking, $23/day valet. See the site for how to get these rates.

    • Shaun Lyon 6:09 pm on February 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Very, very important item: This year’s hotel issues (2011) were a fluke. The sellout of the hotel is entirely due to the 2011 NBA All Star Game which happens on Sunday during the convention at Staples Center in LA. Normally, we do sell out our rate… but it doesn’t matter because comparable rates can be found through the travel sites, with AAA discounts and the like.

      As we are going to discuss on site, we do not want a mad rush to sell out the convention hotel next year; we’re talking to the Marriott to fix those issues. We want all of our attendees back in the Marriott, not scattered to the Crowne Plaza and other locales! πŸ™‚

    • azDavros 10:18 am on February 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Make sure to keep your ticket and tell them you are parking at check in to get the con rate.
      The hotel has limited space, adequate at night (in previous years, anyway) but leave at your peril during the day. It can be a long wait for a space to free up.

    • Lillian 10:25 pm on June 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Just curious–is there a “party floor” at this con like there are at some other cons? (I’d like to avoid it if I can–I’m old enough that I need my sleep, haha.) Currently I’ve requested a “higher floor” in hopes that it might help avoid the noise.

      By the way, this site is a public service and to be commended! I’m a little anxious about choosing 2012 for my first attendance at this convention, because I’m afraid it’s going to be a madhouse. Silly me for marathoning DW in 2010 and not realizing Gallifrey One was in California till a week before it happened in 2011!

      • rsts11 5:11 pm on June 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the compliment. I don’t have the attention span to follow the forums, and wanted to help myself and others.

        There isn’t a party floor that I know of, although the con suite (snacks, drinks, etc) and the Friday night party are on the bottom floor near the elevators. You may find a ground floor pool room to be noisy, but not too bad. Last two years I had ground floor away from the pool and it was reasonable. The elevators can be very crowded so your high floor may warrant reconsideration πŸ™‚

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