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BerkeleyLUG ... new venue(?): Re: BerkeleyLUG meetup this Sunday 2019-03-24

From: ace36 <acohen36@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: BerkeleyLUG meetup this Sunday 2019-03-24
Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2019 13:25:08 -0700

Michael hasn't yet reported on the status of 85C's WiFi, but it should help
that I'm using 85C's WiFi even as I write this now.
802.11 a/b/g decent, but not that many other customers are thronging the
order-line and seating at this point (~1:30pm.)
Eight of us here now, including Rick and Deirdre M who are visiting
Berkeley from Menlo Park.

Yes, I was relatively busy at the most recent BerkeleyLUG meeting - mostly
helping some folk(s) with some Linux stuff.

Wi-Fi+Internet @ 85C?  At that most recent meeting, I was able to
"get on" (associate with) the Wi-Fi Access Point (AP) easily enough,
likewise got DHCP for IPv4.  It basically "worked" ... but was
often/mostly pretty slow (think mostly about low-end DSL speeds or less,
per patron).  IPv6 wasn't provided (which is slightly better than
providing broken IPv6).  85C had (mostly) working IPv6 once-upon-a-time,
but since then it's mostly been broken (for a while), and then
completely absent ... at least that's my general recollection of the
time we've been meeting there.

New venue(?).  Maybe.  Folks have been discussing such (at meetings, and
other communications too).  We may be well to at *least* have a
reasonable "Plan B" - and might well switch from 85C regardless.
Some of the many issues with 85C:
o Will they even stay in business?  I passed by there, by chance, today,
  I think it was roughly 12:45 P.M. or so (between 12:30 P.M. and 1:00
  P.M., in any case).  85C seems to be increasingly disinterested in
  seriously doing business and/or just not stepping up to the plate to
  do so.  Substantially different than when BerkeleyLUG first started
  meeting there.  Anyway, today, reasonably near prime lunch time -
  particularly for that location in Downtown Berkeley.  85C is a fairly
  large venue - prime location, rent/lease certainly can't be cheap, and
  I rather doubt they own the property.  They've most of their seating
  downstairs (ground floor), and some more upstairs.  So, in passing by,
  I peeked in, from where I could see almost all of their ground floor
  seating.  How many customer seated there that I could see?  A grand
  total of ... two.  So, I tend to guestimate they must be losing lots
  of money at that location, and I'd guestimate 6 months or less they
  shut that money-loosing location down.  Ashame, 'cause they used to do
  much better, but seems they're much more interested in cutting costs
  than growing/making profits - e.g. they're way down on their stock and
  variety of baked goods - relatively recently I was there, and heard a
  customer remark "They need to hire a baker" - I glanced at their baked
  goods ... there was damn near nothing left - and it wasn't all that
  crowded there either.  They also have lots of teas ... including with
  boba - which sometimes they're out of - and with grapefruit - which
  commonly they're out of - much etc.
o Wi-Fi - it's pretty sucky - in more recent months/year(s) it more
  often doesn't work - often totally not working, or is rather
  spotty/intermittent.  Even when it does "work", it's generally pretty
  slow to very/abysmally slow - and also generally totally lacks IPv6
  (for those that might care).
o bathroom(s) ... ugh.  They used to have 2 for customers.  Then they
  changed it to one single-occupancy for customers.  When they're
  actually busy (sometimes happens), expect quite a line.  They also
  can't manage to regularly stock essential supplies
  (like toilet paper!) - and don't fix these issues even when repeatedly
  told about them.  The restroom is also often quite unclean, etc.
o AC power - there is only and exactly one table on the ground floor
  with AC power.  As you might imagine, that makes it a relatively
  popular spot.  Upstairs is only accessible via stairs - not very
  friendly for, e.g. walkers, and impossible for, e.g. wheelchair
  access.  Any likewise, upstairs, only one table with AC power, and
  likewise it tends to be rather popular.
o Parking ... kind'a sucks
  (but that can be said of much of Downtown Berkeley).

So ... other venue(s)?  :-)
Algorithm Coffee Co.
1122 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
It had been discussed by many.  Several of us did a "field trip" to
there after the most recent BerkeleyLUG meeting.  Pros/cons (based on
that one visit or so):
o Not the "greatest" location - notably relatively far from longer-range
  high(er) speed public transportation (most notably BART) - but pretty
  good location for AC Transit connections.  Also far from UC Berkeley
  campus, so that would significantly reduce probability of students and
  other campus folks coming to meetings.
o food/beverage selections - not a whole lot - some decent coffees, and
  I presume teas and some other bits.  Some pastries.  Maybe a bit of
  some snacks.  That's about it.
o Not a large/huge space, but seems likely quite adequate for BerkeleyLUG
o available seating?  They have some larger - and smaller - tables.  It
  may not be feasible to rearrange tables to push 'em together.  So if
  there's a fair number of us (e.g. 8), we may end up more as two groups
  of 4, than a single group of 8.
o noise levels / music? ... moderate(ish) ... but also noted that the
  acoustics there aren't good for absorbing/dampening sound - so also
  possible it may get quite loud there at times.
o AC - pretty good - relatively available from many locations.  I think
  pretty much any table can reach AC with a power strip or extension
  cord - and without need of cord going across areas where folks
  generally walk around/between tables and such.  But it's not like some
  cafes where everyone can plug in with no need for any extension cords
  or the like - but at least seems there's plenty of AC outlets
  available - at least relative to apparent demand.
o Wi-Fi - sweet!  Though when I/we tested, there was one AP that wasn't
  working, all the rest were, were dang fast (multiples of 10s of Mbps),
  and had good solid both IPv4 and IPv6 - also checked, and I didn't see
  any particular filtering/firewalling, e.g. was able to reach customary
  ports and such for ping, http, https, SMTP, DNS, IRC, etc.  Also,
  their Wi-Fi didn't have some annoying "captive portal" thingy one had
  to go to/through first.
o bathrooms - hell yeah.  Despite the venue being about 1/4 the seating
  capacity of 85C, they have 4x the restroom capacity (two restrooms,
  each single gender, each double occupancy capacity - so can handle
  total of 4 at once, unlike 85C's only one person at a time in only and
  exactly one customer restroom).  And they were also pretty dang clean
  (at least as far as most restaurant/cafe/etc. restrooms go), and quite
  well stocked with appropriate supplies.
o Parking - free street parking within moderate distance seems, at least
  typically, pretty readily available.
o Sundays - they close at 5:00 P.M. (not sure if that's a pro, con, or

Some folks suggested our next meeting should be there - at least as
test/trial - if nothing else.  Maybe.  I thought we should defer
decision until a bit less than 7 days before the next meeting.  That
would allow folks up to two noon-3pm Sunday windows to see what the
place is typically like then - before the next BerkeleyLUG meeting.

Some other possible venues were also mentioned/discussed.  I'll let
others chime in on those.

Anyway, if you have any particular thoughts/observations on various
potential venues, and/or check 'em out and want to report on relative
(un)suitability of such, certainly feel free to let us know.

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