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Ha Jin wins second PEN/Faulkner for War Trash ‘This book is a step towards the United States’

This story was published in the BU Bridge April 8, 2005.

War Trash, the most recent novel by Ha Jin, follows a path familiar to its creator — the story of a young Chinese army officer captured during the Korean War draws partly on Jin’s experience in the People’s Liberation Army in the 1970s and the time he spent stationed in a North Korean village. However, the narrator’s geographical journeys also mark a new experience for the expatriate author: it is Jin’s first book set outside of China, and the start of what he believes will be a complete literary farewell to his homeland.

“This book is a transition,” says the CAS creative writing professor. “A step towards the United States.”

Jin (GRS’94) is already counted among the best American writers — in March, War Trash was awarded a PEN/Faulkner Award, a prestigious peer-juried prize for fiction. Jin previously won the award in 2000 for his novel Waiting; only two other novelists, Philip Roth and John Edgar Wideman, have been given the PEN/Faulkner twice in its 25-year history.

The feat is particularly remarkable considering that Xuefei Jin — the author’s real name — began writing in English just 15 years ago, when he arrived at BU as a graduate student. But while his colleagues and peers praise his storytelling and structure, Jin says he has been simply “lucky” to receive such recognition. His ongoing explorations of his own immigrant experience are the important part of his writing and his teaching.

“As I write I’m in a kind of limbo, in a gap between two languages and two cultures,” he says. “Every book is a kind of departure.”

When discussing writing, Jin speaks often of the logic needed to produce fiction, and logic itself played a significant role in the creation of War Trash — the novel was intended to be a short piece that would fulfill a publishing contract. However, once Jin began writing about Chinese prisoners of war and the Korean War–era clash between Chinese Nationalists and Communists, he couldn’t stop.

The topic was compelling, he explains, because of the differences he observed in Chinese and American attitudes towards POWs. In America POWs are welcomed home as heroes; in China, he says, they are considered shameful. When Jin himself was in the army and stationed on the border of the former Soviet Union, he says, he was “afraid of captivity much more than death. Once you became a POW, you were in disgrace.”

The fear, mingled with fascination at the cultural differences, persisted as he worked on the first draft of War Trash, and when it was finished Jin realized that the novel would not be a simple project. The perspective of a Chinese POW did not exist in literature, he says: “There are a lot of narratives, [but] they’re often a story told by a general, and everybody is a hero.” Real first-person accounts were written, he says, but they were often altered by government authorities to reflect an acceptable image of Chinese culture. As a result, Jin felt War Trash needed to be as convincing as possible. “If the story was well told,” he says, “it could give a voice, create historical awareness among the readers.”

For historical accuracy, Jin searched through books, records, and oral histories. Photographs were particularly helpful, as they could provide details about how much food each man carried and what kind of materials were used for clothes, bags, and blankets. He also relied on the time he spent in a Korean village while in the army, which helped him describe both Korean customs and the country’s landscape with “a certainness that could not be obtained by research alone.”

Finding a way to give a voice to a largely forgotten group of soldiers was more difficult; Jin had to create a protagonist who would be able to describe more than just the walls surrounding him as a POW. To accomplish this, he made the narrator, Yuan, a college-educated junior officer who had studied English. As a result, the character is able to interact with a variety of people, including the American G.I.s who captured him. The result is “a story so complete in its breadth and depth that it stretches from the half-forgotten Korean War of the last century to the contemporary America of The Simpsons,” said PEN/Faulkner judge and novelist David Anthony Durham. The novel was also a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

“I felt at once, even before I had finished it, that War Trash would become part of the permanent literature of war,” says Leslie Epstein, a CAS English professor, director of the Creative Writing Program, and Jin’s first teacher at BU. “What it shows ultimately is how resilient, as well as cruel, men are; yet it simultaneously demonstrates how they cannot entirely relinquish what is best in them, which is most often the recognition of what binds them to other men. This book is going to live.”

Jin’s previous novels, 1999’s Waiting, which also won the National Book Award, and 2002’s The Crazed, both focus on major events in recent Chinese history — the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and the Tiananmen Square riots of 1989, respectively — but as his own journey through America progresses, Jin feels his capacity to write about China diminishes. “My heart was not there,” he says. “I don’t write that kind of book anymore.”

War Trash is an important step in that transition, begun 15 years ago when he made the difficult decision to write in English. Now the cycle is nearing completion. Jin’s next novel will again follow the author’s path and leave Asia for the United States.

“I do want to be an American writer,” he says. “And that means I have to write about America.”

Ha Jin photo by Kalman Zabarsky.

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Microsoft Hopes For Second Chance With Windows 8.1

As Microsoft’s Build 2013 developer conference kicks off this Wednesday, the company faces a daunting task: To convince developers and tech enthusiasts that it remains on the cutting edge. That’s a tough challenge when you’re about to release a Windows system update that most think exists to correct nagging flaws.

Indeed, it’s hard to make a Band-Aid look like a fresh innovation.

For many consumers, the Windows 8 Start page is a crazy quilt of incoherence that’s thrust in their faces as soon as their PCs boot. This will be resolved in a new boot-to-desktop feature, but Windows 8.1 still needs to address a laundry list of other issues, and Windows watchers worldwide remain skeptical. 

”I think the [Windows 8] updates have been noticed by the tech community,” said Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research. “But the mass market perception of Windows hasn’t changed that much.”

Exhibit A for the case to be made against Windows 8: the Start screen.

What should we expect from Build 2013? On June 26, Microsoft will provide its first preview of Windows 8.1, which should dominate discussion on the first day of the conference. On the second day, look for the conversation to turn to Visual Studio and other development initiatives.

That’s right: First and foremost, Build is a developer’s conference, and Microsoft must get software partners interested in platform support. “What I’m hoping for with Build is principally a more refined application development story with 8.1, and going out the broader ecosystem,” said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft.

It all comes down to convincing developers that the new Windows ecosystem offers value—and return on investment. PCs, Surface tablets, and Windows Phone handsets represent the three legs of the hardware infrastructure, and they’re all tied together by Microsoft’s cloud of software and services.

A steep hill to climb

Microsoft offered the Windows 8 developer preview in September 2011, as the first hints arrived that the traditional PC market was in serious decline, and tablets and phones were gobbling up consumer dollars. Microsoft clearly saw our more mobile future, and attached a tablet interface to the front of the traditional Windows operating system. Then came Microsoft’s Surface tablet, released in October 2012. The hardware gets praise, but consumers can’t stomach its high price and lack of interesting software.

Since it shipped with the Surface Windows 8 Pro tablet last year, Windows 8 has been blamed for the demise of the traditional PC. The criticism was underscored by the decline in corporate licensing, as businesses hesitated to upgrade to an unfamiliar OS. Tami Reller, Microsoft’s Windows marketing chief, promises that things will improve in the latter part of the year.

In part, the optimism is pegged on Windows 8.1. Microsoft has promised a litany of improvements: a revamped Start menu; the capability for corporations to wipe corporate data off of Windows 8 business machines; and friendly features such as sharing backgrounds between the Start page and Desktop.

Windows 8: Is it really as bad as we think?

Microsoft made a big mistake in failing to realize that the vast majority of users would experience Windows 8 from a traditional PC, and not from a Surface or tablet-PC hybrid. From this perspective, the Start screen introduced in Windows 8 makes little sense.

Organized correctly, is this as useful as the Windows 7 Start menu?

Nonetheless, the upcoming “boot to Desktop” feature and the addition of the Start shortcut on the Desktop page contradict each other. Boot to desktop brings users to the familiar environment they know and love, but to do anything, they still need to return to the unfamiliar Start page. A number of third-party add-ons solve the problem, but Microsoft would have been better served by placing a Start option within the Desktop context.

Microsoft also still wastes space in its sprawling suite of Windows Store apps that take up way too much screen space. “Snapping” an app or two—or four, in Windows 8.1—may mitigate the problem, but it still looks inefficient, even if it makes sense from a user-interface perspective. And I still hate using the touch version of Internet Explorer. I’d much rather use the Desktop version or Google’s Chrome, instead.

It’s probably time to argue, however, that Windows 8 isn’t as bad as we think.

For example, setting up a third-party device just works—as it should, and as it always should have. The new OS also requires less memory than Windows 7, and the required disk storage should drop with Windows 8.1, as well. The bottom line? Windows 8 is a toned, stylish, polished professional athlete. But it’s wearing clown makeup, and that creates a serious image problem.

Under the hood, Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 works fine.

We need mobile apps—not many, but the biggies

Before a new product can sell, notes Directions on Microsoft’s Miller, it has to offer a compelling answer to a critical question: What can I do with this that I couldn’t do before? With Windows 8, “the story hasn’t been compelling,” Miller said. “There hasn’t been enough great experiences.” And those experiences need to emerge through apps.

The apps question flips the Desktop versus Start page argument on its head. People working on PCs instinctively visit the Facebook Web page. It works fine. We’re used to it. But Facebook formatted as an app or mobile Web page for iOS, Android, and (my favorite) Windows Phone looks far smoother than any Web page for the desktop.

Ignoring the fact that the share of Windows tablets is miniscule, Microsoft simply needs to commission a few key apps for Windows 8: Facebook, Yelp, and Pinterest, for starters. Pinning a Web shortcut to the Start menu is not the right solution.

And if Microsoft plans to usurp the iPad and the Chromebook in the education market, stronger partnerships with educational developers are essential. My Lenovo Twist has a Windows 8 Encyclopedia Britannica app that’s not bad, but we really need an iPad-quality app that Microsoft can put in front of educators (and consumers) as an example of the potential of the platform. If only Encarta were still around.

You might be able to argue that Foursquare, for example, belongs on Windows Phone, as it does. But as Forrester’s Gillett points out, we need to see a “continuously evolving and improving” apps story across the ecosystem.

Apps, apps, apps. And not just on Windows Phone, either.

”We need to see more of the operating system, but also more of the total Microsoft experience,” Gillett said. “Phones and Windows tablets is just part of that one continuous Microsoft experience.”

Build represents Microsoft’s second chance. Has the market passed it by? You could make the case that it has, but you can also argue that Microsoft still has wind in its sails. We’ll find out this week.

Innovator Finnerty Wins Metcalf Award

Innovator Finnerty Wins Metcalf Award Popular CAS prof uses games to bring scientific method to life

A favorite among students for his creative teaching methods, John Finnerty, a CAS associate professor of biology, has been awarded a 2013 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

In a time when college professors are fighting an uphill battle against students’ smartphone addictions and the seductive diversions of the iPad, John Finnerty has no problems with people playing games in class. It was his idea.

Searching for a way to get reluctant students, especially non–science majors, to participate in class, the popular College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of biology divides his students into teams that compete to translate messages in DNA coding or build mantras from words “evolving” through a process that mimics natural selection. For a style that is both engaging and rigorous, Finnerty, who is also director of the BU Marine Program (BUMP), has received a 2013 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Praised by his colleagues for his creativity, accessibility, humor, and passion for the scientific method, Finnerty has played a major role in shaping the CAS Core Curriculum, developing popular new courses, among them Biodiversity, Causes and Consequences, which integrates earth science, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, developmental biology, evolution, ecology, and anthropology. His goal, he says, is “to get students to think like scientists.” Favoring primary scientific literature and hands-on learning over standard textbooks, Finnerty designs lessons that endure, teaching nuanced concepts like the genetic code so they’ll be well understood and never forgotten.

“I start almost every class by telling students that six months after graduating college I had a really hard time remembering some classes, while others never left me,” he says. “I’m grateful for those moments.” His aim is to impart insights so his students will gain “a competency they never had before.”

Finnerty also teaches one of BUMP’s monthlong “module” courses, where students learn to do research projects, and he is one of his department’s most admired mentors. “Students gravitate to him,” one of his colleagues told the nominating committee. And Finnerty has nothing but praise for his BUMP students. “The program attracts students who want to make a difference,” he says.

“John has put extraordinary effort into all his teaching activities and has made major contributions to the CAS Core Curriculum and the BU Marine Program,” says Michael Sorenson, a CAS professor and chair of biology. “More importantly,” he adds, “he succeeds in engaging students with his creativity, humor, and enthusiasm without sacrificing one iota of scientific rigor.”

Finnerty decided to reinvent and enliven his Core Curriculum science classes after teaching in front of big lecture halls that were augmented by teaching assistants leading smaller discussion groups. “I like the model where faculty lead the discussion,” he says, but he was also intent on finding a way to “break the ice” in class without always having to rely on just a handful of confident students. So he came up with lively exercises like “Passing Genetic Notes in Class,” and soon the students were fired up about the elegance of genetics and how DNA and its nitrogen “bases” embody a code for the proteins found in all living things. Competing teams pass along a succession of grouped Scrabble letters coding for some action to be performed after opposing teams decipher it.

The resulting mini-performances usually entail something goofy, like singing “Amen” or jumping up and down, explains Finnerty, who delights in informing students new to science that humans share the same genetic code as bacteria. And he drives home the notion of naturally occurring mutation by altering the coded messages just enough to make things interesting, and occasionally hilarious, as teams misinterpret the mutated message and act out something completely different.

Exercises like genetic note-passing “get everybody learning and everybody engaged,” he says. “They’re working the genetic code backwards and forwards, and when it’s over we ask, what did we learn?” He notes that there are fundamental truths about the nature of good scientific inquiry that carry over from one course to the next, “something constant about the approach.” His wish is for his students to “continue to be scientists. Everybody should be a scientist in terms of solving problems and recognizing the sources of bias in ourselves.”

The Metcalf awards, which are presented at Commencement, date to 1973 and are funded by a gift from the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED’35, Hon.’74), a former BU professor and Board of Trustees chairman emeritus. The Metcalf Cup and Prize winner receives $10,000, the Metcalf Award winners $5,000 each. A University committee selects winners based on nominees’ statements of teaching philosophy, supporting letters from colleagues and students, and classroom observations of the teachers.

This year, the 41st Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching goes to Deborah W. Vaughan (GRS’72), a School of Medicine professor of anatomy and neurobiology and assistant dean of admissions. The second Metcalf Award winner is Carol Jenkins, a School of Education associate professor of curriculum and teaching.

More information about Commencement can be found on the Commencement website.

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Airpods 3 Fall To Second

Heading into the weekend, all of today’s best deals kick off with an Apple AirPods 3 discount via Woot for $145. That’s alongside up to $150 off the latest 11-inch M1 iPad Pros and Apple’s new iPad mini 6 starting from $459. Hit the jump for all that and more in the latest 9to5Toys Lunch Break.

Apple AirPods 3 see discount to second-best price

Woot is now offering the new Apple AirPods 3 for $145. Normally fetching $179, today’s offer is $5 under our previous mention from back in January and marks the best price in months at within $5 of the all-time low. Apple’s latest earbuds just launched back in October and most notably arrive with a redesigned casing that takes a page out of the pro version’s book. While you’re ditching the silicone eartips, AirPods 3 arrive with much of the same Spatial Audio support, as well as added water resistance for tagging along on runs or workouts. Plus, there’s the nifty new MagSafe charging case that provides 30 hours of listening to complete the package. 

Amazon takes up to $150 off latest 11-inch M1 iPad Pros

Amazon is now offering Apple’s latest 11-inch M1 iPad Pro 512GB Wi-Fi for $999. Down from the usual $1,099 going rate, today’s offer is matching the previous discount from the very beginning of the year at $100. This is the second-best price to date and has only sold for less on one occasion back at the start of November. You can also save up to $150 on other configurations, which are also at the best prices of the year. 

Centered around the M1 chip, Apple’s latest iPad Pro delivers an 11-inch Liquid Retina display alongside Thunderbolt connectivity. That’s alongside Wi-Fi 6, Face ID, and all-day battery life, alongside staples in the iPadOS lineup like Apple Pencil support and more. Ideal for everything from media consumption to digital artistry and other work, the compact iPad Pro delivers plenty of power in a portable package. Get a closer look in our coverage.

Apple’s new iPad mini 6 starts at $459 via Amazon

Amazon now offers the Apple iPad mini 6 Wi-Fi 256GB for $599 in several styles. Normally fetching $649, you’re looking at a match of the all-time low for the first time in months at $50 off. This is still one of the first times we’ve seen such a low price and a rare all-around discount. You can also save on the 64GB version, which is down to $459 from $499. 

Carrying over many of the signature features of its latest tablets, the new iPad mini 6 arrives with an edge-to-edge 8.3-inch Retina display alongside Touch ID in the power button. There’s also Apple Pencil support thrown in, with the A15 Bionic chip powering the entire experience. I’m a recent convert myself, and I have been absolutely loving the compact form-factor. Don’t just take my word for it, as our first impressions review notes just how perfect its size is without sacrificing on performance. 

Philips Hue Bluetooth Lightstrip Plus starter kit at $87

Amazon now also offers the Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus Starter Kit for $87. Down form its usual $129 price tag, today’s offer is the best price of the year at $5 under our previous mention and a total of $42 in savings. 

Delivering everything you need to get started in the Philips Hue ecosystem, this bundle delivers the latest iteration of Light Strip Plus alongside the bridge that enables HomeKit, Alexa, and Assistant control. With both Bluetooth and Zigbee control, this is a great way to bring 6-feet of multicolor illumination to your space, be it for some ambient lighting on a shelf or to make for a more immersive home theater experience. 

Spigen’s AirPods Pro and AirTag case hits new low

The official Spigen Amazon storefront is now offering its Tag Armor Duo AirPods Pro case for $20. This AirTag-ready AirPods Pro case released back in summer 2023 at $25 and is now seeing a new Amazon all-time low in black, metal slate, and military green colorways.

The Tag Armor Duo provides a protective cover for your AirPods Pro case with a wireless charging-compatible design that leaves the LED indicator visible. Living up to its name, it also provides a home for your Apple AirTag and includes a carabiner clip with your purchase. Get even more details in our launch coverage.

Best trade-in deals

9to5Mac also keeps tabs on all the best trade-in deals on iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and more every month. Be sure to check out this month’s best trade-in deals when you decide it’s time to upgrade your device. Or simply head over to our trade-in partner directly if you want to recycle, trade, or sell your used devices for cash and support 9to5Mac along the way!

Subscribe to the 9to5Toys YouTube Channel for all of the latest videos, reviews, and more!

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Review: Hands on with the massive Joby Wavo mic drop!

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Apple Wins Bid For Will Smith Action Film ‘Emancipation’, Reported $120 Million Deal

Apple has just acquired the global rights to an upcoming action thriller film called Emancipation starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua (both pictured above). The deal marks the biggest-ever film festival acquisition with Apple reportedly spending more than $100 million to close the deal, competing against Warner Bros. and others.

Reported by Deadline, the deal for Emancipation comes from the Virtual Cannes market and initially included seven bidders. After moving past $75 million, the bidding was down to Apple and Warner Bros.

The official price of the deal wasn’t disclosed but sources close to the matter said Apple won the rights with a bid of around $105 million and a total spend likely near $120 million.

The plan is for Emancipation to premiere in theaters worldwide before landing on Apple TV+. Here’s the synopsis of the upcoming action thriller (via The Hollywood Reporter):

Based on the true story, the movie follows Peter, a runaway slave forced to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on his journey North. Once there, he joined the Union Army. When Peter showed his bare back during an Army medical examination, photos were taken of the scars from a near fatal whipping delivered by an overseer on the plantation owned by John and Bridget Lyons.

Deadline notes the frightening parallel between what happened to Peter back in the 1800s and George Floyd just this year.

While the filmmakers have been working on this one for two years, there is an eerie parallel to the footage of George Floyd that sparked protests across the country and reforms that have spread beyond policing and reaching even the corridors of Hollywood. The story of Peter was also fueled by an indelible image, after he showed his bare back during an Army medical examination. The photos taken of the scars from a whipping delivered by an overseer on the plantation got published and seen around the world in 1863. The picture gave the abolitionist cause indisputable proof of the cruelty of slavery in America, and when the photo reached around the world, legend has it that it made countries like France refuse to buy cotton from the South. The photo, commonly called The Scourged Back, solidified the cause of abolitionists and the rest of the world against slavery and prompted many free blacks to join the Union Army.

Fuqua noted that the photograph was “the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw, which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again. You can’t fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way. We all have to look for a brighter future for us all, for everyone. That’s one of the most important reasons to do things right now, is show our history. We have to face our truth before we can move forward.”

Emancipation is slated to start production in 2023.

Image via Variety

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World War P: The Ultimate Survival Guide For #Pubcon Vegas 2013

Pubcon, taking place Oct 21-24 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is a massive undertaking that will include 200 of the industry’s best speakers in more than 150 sessions, networking events and parties over 4 days.

This very large and unusually long conference will take place in the entertainment capital of the world. It goes without saying that Pubcon can be extremely overwhelming even for veterans.

To help you survive the hectic schedule and get the most out of your experience, SEJ has put together a handy guide for before, during and after Pubcon Vegas.

BEFORE PUBCON: Reserve, RSVP and Plan


The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is the official Pubcon conference hotel.

This means the Hard Rock will be one big fat networking opportunity. Your fellow Pubconers will be hanging out at the casino’s bars, restaurants and craps tables. Try travel startup Virgo for discounted rooms.


If I’m flying to Vegas (versus driving), cabs + monorail = winning. I don’t bother renting a car. Vegas traffic is terrible, and schlepping your way through cavernous casinos and conference centers to/from parking garages (which are always. Always in the back) takes up a lot of precious time.

The only small headache could be getting from the airport to your hotel. Airport taxi lines are long and Vegas cab drivers are notorious for taking the long way around.

But if you’re arriving Monday the 21st, that’s been taken care of by chúng tôi in association with Pubcon: They’re sponsoring free limo rides from McCarran Airport to any hotel on or near the strip. For Monday arrivals only.

Cabs to the Convention Center: If you take a cab to Pubcon, be sure to have them drop you at the SOUTH HALL, not North. Otherwise you’ll have a nice walk ahead of you.

Hotel Shuttle to the Convention Center: If you’re staying at the Hard Rock, there will be shuttles running to/from the Convention Center. Schedule updated as of 10/16:

Monday, October 21:

7:30 a.m.- 8:30 a.m. Pubcon buses making a loop from Hard Rock Hotel to the Las Vegas Convention Center

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Pubcon buses looping from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Hard Rock Hotel

Tuesday, October 22, Wednesday, October 23, and Thursday, October 24:

7:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. Pubcon buses making a loop from Hard Rock Hotel to the Las Vegas Convention Center

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Pubcon buses looping from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Hard Rock Hotel

Pubcon shuttle bus pick-up location at the Hard Rock Hotel: The Paradise Self Park area at the north of the casino property, while the buses returning to Hard Rock can be boarded in front of the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall.


If you find out about a party or event, be sure to RSVP or register ahead of time. Most will have a maximum headcount so you want to get your name in, sooner than later. For example on Wednesday 10/23, we’re headed to Pubcon’s “glamorous” US Search Awards being held at Treasure Island. Want to come with? We’re giving away two tickets (value: $400). Giveaway ends October 17!

Sessions: Plan your attack 

Start saying to yourself: I won’t be able to do and see it all, and that’s OK. 

There are 10 parallel tracks and 150 sessions. What are your goals for attending Pubcon? What do you want to learn, who do you want to see?

Put some objectives together and then study the Pubcon schedule beforehand to pick out the training sessions, labs, exhibitions, booths, luncheons and speakers that are best for you. You can find all that information over at Pubcon’s official site.

Update your LinkedIn Profile

Hand out a business card, and chances are good that the recipient is going to head over to LinkedIn and peruse your profile.

You don’t want your new contacts thinking you still work at your old job from two companies ago, or seeing those typos you meant to fix. And if your profile picture is ancient, how about updating that too?

So before you get on that plane, take a quick look at your info on LinkedIn to make sure it is current and looks professional.

BEFORE PUBCON: Pack Appropriately

The Vegas weather in mid-October is typically sunny with highs in the mid-70’s, and lows in the 50’s. However, your exposure to the outdoors will probably be limited to waiting in taxi lines; you’ll be inside for the most part. Note the Convention Center tends to be a bit chilly.


For the Convention Center: business casual with very comfortable shoes.

For evenings: Depends on what you like to get up to, but a dress shirt + jeans or slacks will probably be suitable for just about anywhere.

Blazer – all purpose. Great for dressing up but also to keep warm


For the Convention Center: business casual with comfortable, low heel shoes. Don’t be tempted into wearing high heels; you will regret it after a long day.

For evenings: dressy top + jeans, or a “day to night” dress. Or if you are going to a venue with a club-type atmosphere, cocktail attire is appropriate.

Sweater or light jacket – great for layering and again, the Convention Center can be cold


Don’t forget all your gadgets that keep you connected to the world. And whatever you do, don’t forget the items that will keep them charged and running.




Backup battery

Power cords

Personal MiFi device

Personal Effects

Besides the usual toiletries here are some other personal items that you might need during the week-long event.

Mints or gum – Breath fresheners are key. You will be talking a lot, and to many people. Keep your breath fresh while networking away.

Ibuprofen/Aspirin – long days and late nights may call for some pain relief.

Moisturizer – Vegas has nil humidity. Don’t let your skin dry up like a tumbleweed.

Water – Water cures many ills (such as hangovers). Stay hydrated by refilling a reusable bottle or picking up a case of water and leaving it in your room.

Portable humidifier. Via road warrior and “4 Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss I discovered the Air-O-Swiss Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier, and now I always toss it in the suitcase when Vegas-bound. I set it up next to the bed, and turn it on before I go to sleep. When I wake up, I feel more refreshed and a lot less like a dried-out sponge.

Promotional Items

Business cards – take what you think you need, then take a handful more. You’re guaranteed to run out just as you meet a promising new contact.

Schwag – everyone loves free stuff. But make sure your promotional giveaways are small and lightweight. No one wants to drag a bulky or heavy item around a conference.

DURING: Stop by Search Engine Journal’s Booth!

For the first time ever, Search Engine Journal has an Expo Hall booth, courtesy of Pubcon (Thanks Jeff and Brett!). Taking up two spaces, SEJ’s booth will feature:

A video studio, where we’ll be interviewing speakers and well-known experts throughout the show.

The “SEJ Lounge” where attendees can relax, network and watch the interviews. We aren’t selling anything; it’s designed to be a friendly place where folks can take a break from the chaos and sensory overload that is Pubcon. We’ll be hosting a Happy Hour open bar in our booth on Wednesday 10/23, from 1-3pm, thanks to our event coverage sponsor Paygrip!

The SEJ Team will be in full effect. Managing Editor John Rampton, Deputy Editor Murray Newlands, founder Loren Baker, project manager Jessica Cromwell, Alpha Brand Media (publisher of SEJ) partners Brent Csutoras and myself will be manning the booth. Please come by and say hey!

DURING: Hydrate and Pace Yourself

Pubcon is a marathon, not a sprint. Nothing worse than blowing all your bullets Tuesday night, then spending the rest of the conference recovering from your hangover and passing up fun times.

Take care of yourself and your “Thursday You” will thank your “Mon/Tues/Wed You’s” for not burning out early.

Eat breakfast. Studies show eating breakfast helps students learn. So eat something, even if it’s just a granola bar or banana. [Study]

DRINK WATER. The arid, desert clime will literally suck all the moisture out of you. Even mild dehydration has been linked to degradation of “cognition, concentration and the general ability to think clearly and control mood.” (Coffee and sodas do not count as they are diuretics.) DRINK WATER. [Study]

AFTER: Relax, Rehydrate, Recover

You’ll need some time to get your personal power bars charged back up to 100% when you get back.

Pubcon ends on a Thursday. Do yourself a favor and clear your calendar for the weekend following. Take it easy and give your body a chance to revive.

Get a massage– help your body detox and empty out those lymph nodes!

Just do it– Get back on your workout schedule. Drink water, eat some leafy greens.

AFTER: Follow up with your new connections

You’ll have a nice stack of business card trophies from your networking exploits. Don’t let them go to waste by not following up and not making that connection online. This is what I do after every conference:

I add him/her on LinkedIn, along with a short note that references where and how we met. “Great to meet you at the pub crawl!”

If there was a follow up or action, I’ll send email as well to start that conversation.

Best to complete this exercise within 72 hours of coming back. Remember your connection has their own stack of business cards, so if you wait too long you may both be fuzzy on who the other is and how you met.

Last Words

What Happens in Vegas…goes up on Twitter, Facebook, G+…

Everyone loves to gossip and have a good laugh about conference shenanigans– who had a little too much to drink, who fell over in the hall or started yelling at a floral arrangement.

Just remember that at Pubcon, you’ll be surrounded by major league social media users at all times– so not only will stories of your tawdry exploits go viral, there will likely be photographic evidence circulating as well!

Hey, it’s Vegas and go ahead and have a blast (just try not to do anything that disrespects your brand, co-workers, and other attendees).

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