Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on April 14th, 2010

The DrupalCon San Francisco 2010 Survival Kit

This weekend marks the beginning of the highly-anticipated, semi-annual Drupal conference: DrupalCon San Francisco 2010. In years past, DrupalCon has made and broken Drupal developers, coders, techno-geeks, and Drupalistas alike with long break-out sessions, birds-of-a-feather throwdowns, after-parties, and mechanical bull rides. Anything can happen at a DrupalCon, and with the buzz building bigger than ever, I have a feeling that this year is going to be the best yet!

Whether you are a DrupalCon virgin or a seasoned veteran, it is always important to be prepared. As thousands of Drupalistas finish packing and prepare to descend upon the unsuspecting streets of San Francisco, the Cub Scout in me wants to ensure that you survive this year’s DrupalCon without any permanent scars.

Over the last month or so, I have gathered a list of essential items for this year’s installment of DrupalCon. I used social networks to ask for opinions, feedback, and other items I might have overlooked. One such facebook friend, Rebekah Farris, was even inspired enough to put together her own DrupalCon Survival Kit list. Her list is very thorough, funny, and covers some of the essential items, such as a laptop, duct tape, and swag.

Our lists may overlap with one or two items, but rest assured that a fresh and unique DrupalCon SF 2010 Survival Kit follows after the jump.

10. Extra Energy

After the initial excitement wears off and the reality sinks in that you will be sitting in a chair with a laptop for 8 hours each day, for 3 days, the Moscone Center coffee may not do the job in keeping you alert and learning. Consider taking a 5-Hour Energy Shot or two with you to give yourself an energy boost when your eyelids droop.

This is especially important if you are hosting an afternoon presentation. Your audience feeds off your energy, so if you are nervous (which every speaker will be) AND tired, don’t be surprised if you hear snoring halfway through your deck. It could be coming from you.

* Please use these supplements responsibly, we don’t need any "Phillips" running around the conference.

9. Digital Power

This is a technology-driven conference. Everyone and their intern will have a Wi-Fi hungry laptop sponging in as much digital and electric power as they can, for every single second of the conference. If you don’t want to have slow loading times or, even worse, have your presentation speed affected by network lag time, bring your own digital power.

– Wi-Max USB Card can help give your laptop the speed you need

– A USB stick for file sharing and downloads

– An extra battery for your laptop

– Dongles for projector setup (just in case there isn’t one that fits your machine)

– Printed version of your presentation (for practice and editing)

– Presentation back-ups on 1) disc, 2) attached to an email you sent yourself, and 3) on your USB stick (trust me, being human happens)

8. Hygiene/Disease Control


DrupalConSF2010 is going to packed to the walls. That means you will most likely be able to smell the person sitting next to the person sitting next to you. Please pack your hygienic staples - i.e. toothbrush, deodorant, and gum or mints for coffee breath - to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience. There is nothing more frustrating than leaving a session early because you are choking on someone else's body odor.

Disease Control

In order to prevent another Drupal Flu Pandemic, as was experienced at DrupalCon DC 2009, you will need to prepare your dopp kit appropriately with disease control items. Travel-sized hand sanitizer and tissues are a great start. If you are a gentleman and a scholar, you may want to pack a few handkerchiefs for yourself and a lady. A few packets of Emergen-C can also help keep your immune system going strong in a room full of sniffling Drupalistas.

7. Pain Relievers

What can I say, we Drupalistas know how to have a good time! Drop a few hundred of us in a city like San Francisco, and you’ve got post-conference after parties that might find Bill Murray pouring shots behind the bar! (Well, it happened at SXSW this year) Don’t forget to pack some Tylenol or Advil to combat early morning hangovers and headaches obtained from the dark side of the conference.

6. Bottle Opener/Cork Screw

You never know when a beer or wine bottle needs to be opened, and its always a good ice breaker for meeting new people. A bottle opener or cork screw could come in handy for those Drupal friends in need, and everyone loves being an after party hero!

5. Knowledge of the City

There’s nothing like a cold pint to wash down all the Drupal knowledge you just digested. But there’s nothing like not knowing where to find a good pint that will push a Drupalista over the edge. If you aren’t careful, you could end up on the wrong intersection, or in the wrong part of town all-together.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a map of Downtown San Francisco handy, as well as the schedules for the train, bus and trolley. Word on the street is that cabs are very rare. Also, if you refer to the city as “San Fran”, you may be asked to leave, so avoid making any rookie mistakes.

Here two resources I have enjoyed in the last few weeks:


Rachel King's Advice from a local: Five essential tips for visiting San Francisco

4. Swag/Swag Bag

One of the biggest takeaways for some conference goers is all the free swag they get. It’s also a great way for your company to make a post-conference impression. As Rebekah Farris pointed out in her list, stickers with glitter will convince people to do just about anything. T-shirts are also a big winner, but try and avoid any pens or mouse pads.

Also, bring a swag bag, or extra room in your suitcase, for all the cool stuff you are going to get. Who knows, you could even win a free iPad! (wink wink nudge nudge, knowhatimean?)

3. First Aid Kit

Rebekah Farris brought it to my attention that the Joomla! folks may be planning a territorial attack on the Drupal base. If they do make that mistake, there may be some serious open source casualties. And as Rebekah so perfectly put it: “It’s always kind to throw the losers some band aids.” Well done, Rebekah.

2. Twitter/IRC Handle

The days of exchanging business cards are over, at least at DrupalCons. Drupalistas would rather exchange Twitter handles than card stock. Be ready with your Twitter handle or IRC and have a more engaging way to connect with the people you meet.

1. Sacrificial Animal for the Hosting Drupal Company: Chapter Three

To appease the gods at Chapter Three, the main sponsor of DrupalConSF2010, it is in your best interest to smuggle a small animal through the San Francisco airport, and into the conference for sacrificial purposes. Rumor has it there may be a secret keynote in which a small possum or armadillo could be covered in fake blood and made to sleep in a hollowed-out desktop monitor from 1992. Right now it's only a rumor.

If you are unable to get a small animal past airport security, it would be a kind gesture to stop by the Chapter Three booth and let them know you appreciate their hard work.

Thanks For Reading!

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I know this list is subjective, so please leave your own essential items for DrupalCon that I may have missed in a comment below. We also are very interested in what you have to say in response to this blog post. As always we are very grateful for you, our reader, and greatly value your input.