QSO Today Virtual Ham expo…..how did it go?

 I was very much looking forward to the Virtual Ham Expo this past weekend. My wife and I were going to be away at a hotel for the weekend, a mini getaway. I took my Mac laptop along for the ride as I wanted to check in on the Expo in the evenings. When I tried to log in things did not work out as planned apparently I had to generate an "E-ticket". Not a problem so I clicked on the link and then was asked for my callsign, email address and then the problem my "order number"? About a 1/2 hour later I found the order number but I could not get the form to accept my order number. Over the weekend I tried several times but could not get my number accepted.  

I was reading online of other ops who were having issues as well. Below is some of the feedback that was being posted. 

- Issues gaining access to Virtual Ham expo 

- Issues with Airmeet video 

- Lobbies and Exhibition tabs were just blank.

- Live help was just a chatbot and you were forced to email and wait for an answer. 

There are many more issues that are listed in chat forums but this was a huge undertaking and with all things hiccups happen. 

As I was typing this post-Eric Guth 4Z1UG sent out the below via email: 

Dear Mike,


First of all, I would like to apologize for the poor experience that many of you had at the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo.  After our very successful August 2020 Expo, I had a vision of combining what I loved about the vFairs platform (which is what we used last time) with a new technology that would provide a lot more interaction between attendees, speakers, and exhibitors.  


Unfortunately, we had many technical issues with the Airmeet Presentations and the integration of the vFairs and Airmeet platforms.  My brilliant programmer offered his resignation and to return his salary.  Ridiculous, as the failure of this project was mine alone.  I am deeply sorry for letting you down.


Fortunately for all of us, we had all the video presentations pre-recorded in the event of a technical disaster.  Therefore, all of the presentations that were to take place over the weekend are now in the final editing stages and will be available in the Expo Auditorium within 48 hours.  These videos are in glorious 1080P, high resolution, and streaming from Vimeo (a proven and strong video platform).  All of the 80+ speakers gave fantastic presentations.  


Please don’t let the last couple of days get in the way of watching our amazing speakers.  If you are blind or vision impaired, know that we have a solution for you at the qsotodayhamexpo.com website. Give us a day or two to make that preparation. 


To get to the on-demand site, simply click on the following link:  https://qsotoday.vfairs.com.  Use your email address to get in (the one you used to purchase your ticket).  No password is required.  Go into the lobby and click on the Auditorium door, or click Auditorium on the main navigation bar at the top.   If you have any problem with access, and you had a ticket, let us know immediately by sending an email to [email protected] for us to update the attendee list, keeping in mind that we are two hours ahead of UTC.  Again, we will need about 48 hours to get all the videos up and ready.  Note that while the vFairs platform at the above link will be open during the on-demand period through April 12, 2021, the Airmeet Lounge is now closed.


One of the things that we’ve stressed in all of our communications is that the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo team is committed to constantly learning and improving what we do. Virtual conventions of this magnitude are new territory. We believe that there’s a place for a virtual ham Expo to serve the needs of the very large amateur radio community, especially those that don’t attend in-person national or regional events (or even local events).  We are committed to making that happen.  Our first Expo was a great success, our second one not so much.  Setbacks happen but it’s important to keep moving forward.  As such, we are committed to getting “back on that horse”, learning from our mistakes, and making sure that the next one is back on track.  Please stay patient with us and we’ll prove it to you.  


As always, I can be reached at [email protected].


The QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo will return on August 14th and 15th. 


Humbly yours and 73,


Eric Guth, 4Z1UG


Eric is taking responsibility for this and I for one will cut him some slack, after all, it's a huge undertaking and expectations were high. To me, he sounds very sorry and upset about how the event turned out. We all learn from our mistakes and I for one have made lots of them. 


Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

24 Responses to “QSO Today Virtual Ham expo…..how did it go?”

  • Joe Domaleski, KI4ASK:

    I also had issues – bought a ticket last month and just couldn’t get in over the weekend. We’re all learning and it’s refreshing that Eric is coming clean about the problems and commitment to get better. He sent me a similar email (although with less detail – thanks for the new link).

    thanks, Joe KI4ASK

  • Larry VE7VJ:

    I had issues as well. Could not get in via Chrome but found that Edge and Opera worked. Can’t complain though. The sessions I did get into were more than worth the $10. From what I have heard of others I am looking forward to watching the recordings.

    Can’t fault Eric too much. He is trying to put an event on for all of us and at a very reasonable cost. I will definitely be attending his next one in August.

  • Richard Daily KB5FLA:

    The total failure of the login process for myself and many others was inexcusable. They made it way too complex leading to the failure to work at all. After the first one last year did not yield much positive for me I still signed up again this year. I will not make that mistake again. Great idea but has to be run by people that can make it work.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Joe (Edward), thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Yes Eric I am sure was getting lots of emails regarding the weekend issues. I, too, found it encouraging that he sent out an email letting the community know that he is taking responsibility for the issues.
    73 and have a great week,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Larry, and thanks for stopping by the blog again, it’s great to read that overall in the end you had a positive experience with the event.
    73 and thanks for taking the time to comment,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Richard, yes the login may have been smoother if a call sign and email were only asked for and not the registration number as well. I also had an issue with the Airmeet format for the video as well. One thing I am hoping for is that Eric will extend the 30 days to look over the presentations to maybe double.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Ron N5IQ:

    I’m curious about the thinking behind putting any time limit on the recorded presentations. They are only available to paying attendees and could be a continuing educational and reference resource.

  • Ron, K8HSY:

    I have known Eric for a long time, and I know him to be a very honest, straight shooter, and believe me, there is nobody who feels more badly about the problems encountered this last weekend when trying to access and navigate the QSO Today Ham Expo’s platform. I am blind and use a screen reading program to access the internet, and I know several other blind hams, and unfortunately, we all had major problems accessing the site; in fact, it was pretty much impossible, but I have faith in Eric, and he will work hard to correct the problems and make it work for the next time. If I can just gain access to the recorded presentations, it will be well worth my $10.

  • Ken K7KLW:

    While things did not work as expected for me, My main reason was to watch the presentations. I save a car trip and costs associated with attending a large event. I did get to see a few of the things I wanted to watch.

    Having the presentations available for a month and knowing the presenter person (Hams) presents you with all the info you could of gotten from the Expo and a person to contact if you have a question. $10 was a bargain even though the live experience was less that hoped fore.

  • Robert KB6QXM:

    The organizers of the Expo have their heart in the right place. Great in concept, poor in execution. Due to Covid, this is an outstanding concept. As I am a leadership-level Product Manager in the Silicon Valley that has managed MANY enterprise web portals, I would have never released a product like this to the end-users. The portal should of been tested end to end with beta testers under multiple environments. The entire platform needed to be storyboarded so that you can take a user from registration to login and navigation. Support was not live and also the link that was on the platform did not work. Many of the presenters could not get into the platform or did not have the training that they needed to navigate the presentation. I also wanted to advertise my Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Linkedin group, but was muted by moderators on the platform. The previous event worked out better. Was it ideal. No..but the integration of the Vfairs and the Airmeet platforms need more time to make a seamless experience. Do I believe that it will go better in August. Yes, I do. Eric and the others involved will have between now and August to digest “lessons learned” from the thousand of e-mails that Eric has received. I will be there. I wish Eric and his other organizers good luck in the future. There are other platforms that are more mature than Vfairs and Airmeet, but a bit more costly.

  • John KD0JPE:

    Like many others, I had trouble accessing the ham fest using Chrome on Windows 10. I could log in fine, but nothing I would do would allow my microphone and camera to work. The camera icon that was supposed to be to the right of the address bar did not exist and adjusting the Chrome settings, to allow the use of my camera and microphone by the website, yielded nothing. In desperation I tried Firefox and everything worked fine from that point on.

    In hindsight, the choice of Airmeet probably wasn’t the best decision but I’m not sure what other product would allow the number of attendees that registered. I’ve attended both of Eric’s virtual ham fests and will probably give the next one a try. Hopefully he will resolve most of the problems that plagued this one before then. As another commenter stated, the talks that I attended were well worth the $10.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Ron, yes I was thinking the same regarding a time limit for the presentations. It would be nice if Eric extended the viewing times to longer than a month as there are those who missed the whole weekend due to issues.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Ron, and thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment, it’s nice to hear from someone who knows Eric personally. From what you have said I think those who missed out or had issues are in good hands regarding a fair solution.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Ken, yes I am with you in that for 10.00 and no travelling it was worth the money. It would had been better if things went off without issue but this was a huge undertaking and many wise folks have said that its our mistake we learn and grow from.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Robert thanks very much for joining the conversation, all I can say is WOW…you have a wealth of knowledge and experience. I was wounding if you could get in contact with Eric 4Z1UG and maybe go over some fantastic insight you have. I read your response and all of it seemed to be spot on. I, for one, don’t think COVID-19 is going away anytime soon and these types of presentations are of the cutting edge of what is to come in our changed future. Thanks again for sharing your insight Robert and do think about getting in touch with Eric.
    73 and have a great week,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Hello John thanks for stopping by, I think Eric has learned and is still learning things on how to improve the next Ham Expo. I think also we hams need to show him our support as this was a huge undertaking. I agree with the use of Airmeet and I, for one, had never heard of it. It did not work for me at all. Let see how the next one works out, and I am hoping many hams step up to give Eric a helping hand as it takes very little effort to criticize but much time to step up and help.
    Thanks for your input John and have a great week,
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • K1ARW:

    I agree with a prior post that this was a great concept, but executed poorly. I was never able to enter the Expo site. Absolutely no link (other than an off-platform link to purchase a build kit) worked. A member of the Support team eventually sent me a direct Airmeet link that worked on IOS, but the majority of interesting sessions had ended. Some presenters seemed to have no clue re running their session on this platform. It is very obvious the Eric’s team did not have the resources (time most likely) to fully test this platform before its release. I enjoyed last years expo very much, and will attend upcoming virtual events. Eric’s team has/will take quite a beating for this failure, I have been there myself early in my career … quite a hard/bitter lesson .. but if you learn from your mistakes … you may eventually be handsomely rewarded with great success. Best regards

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good morning Alan, I was away for the weekend, so I did not have as much time as I wanted to play around with trying to get things to work. As you said Alan that yes last year it was very easy to navigate. Yes Eric and his team have learned some bitter and hard lessons BUT we today would not be enjoying our cars and flight (just two examples) if those who came up with and ran with the idea of a car or flight many years ago stopped because of some hiccups and those who told them to give up it will never work out.
    73 Alan and have a great week,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Eric Guth 4Z1UG:

    I appreciate all of the messages above, even the angry one. Nobody feels as bad as me about what happened. All of this I explained in the messages that I have already sent out. I have re-learned my lessons.

    Ron is a true friend. Like I did last August, I am building a presentation listing with links to the videos for blind hams. It will be up hopefully by Friday. They will find it easily with a screen reader on the QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo website home page: qsotodayhamexpo.com

    The Expo will be in on-demand mode with all of the videos until April 16th, then I will put a link to my Vimeo library, so you can watch them forever, even on your Roku box.

    Go to qsotoday.vfairs.com to enter the Expo. Just need your email address, no fancy ticket number.

    Finally, if you don’t need that $10.00 back, I can sure use it to bring the next Expo in August. This operation is expensive to build and host. I love making it and hope to attend it myself, rather than staying in the kitchen, next time.

    73,

    Eric, 4Z1UG

  • richard a desrosiersn WB5B:

    wasted a hole weekend trying different computers and browsers
    i had sent in my 10.00 months before living on social security
    is not easy a refund is in order, revenue was gathered from
    advertisers and that should be his income this event gives a
    black eye to our community many of the talks are an INFOMERCIAL
    for the manufactures, they should cause the refund to happen

    WB5B

  • Eric Guth:

    There are over 80 presentations, 20% of them given by Sponsors. Most were the hard work of individuals who put them up. Sponsorship revenue was helpful to start us out, ticket sales pay for the cost of all of the people and services it takes to make the expo. I hope that you will come back today to enjoy the presentations that are hardly infomercials, but the amazing work of our fellow hams.

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Eric, thanks so much for posting here, so we can hear from you. I can’t imagine all the work that had gone into this very large event. I guess we are used to just pushing a button, link or mousing the start button and all works as planned. As you said this event did not, and thanks very much for taking ownership of this. I, for one, am not going to be asking for my money back. I will be attending the event in August to see how things have advanced. I am going to republish your 2 comments as a post as I find not all who visit the blog typically go through the comment section. I want to make sure all are able to read your responses.
    73, and thanks for your great work,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Good afternoon Richard, and thanks for taking the time to give your input, yes I too had a very frustrating time when trying to log in and so on. I was on a weekend getaway with my wife at the time, so I was not spending the amount of time you did.
    I do believe that Eric did indicate in his first response to this post that if you wanted your money back it was possible. I would go to his QRZ page and there you will find his email, and you can give him the pertinent information to get a refund. Richard I too understand as just recently I retired, and it sure is a big change both for the routine and finances.
    Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the week.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

  • Mike VE9KK:

    Hello again Eric thanks for getting back to Richard with your comment.
    73,
    Mike
    VE9KK

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