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Make the most of your time at AX with these cool new scheduling tools

When you look at your typical anime convention’s schedule, what do you do?  Does your mind seize up with panic and indecision?  Do you just say “screw it” and decide to “go with the flow” and just randomly drift between whatever events interest you?  (One of my friends and co-hosts swears by this method and seems to have fun at whatever convention he goes to, so maybe it’d work for you too).  Or do you whip out your maps, charts, and sextant, and begin plotting your convention course to military precision?  Planning things down to the second isn’t necessarily the best idea either – there’s always things going on, events get changed/canceled, etc., so leaving some flexibility in your schedule is always a good idea.  Still, being able to at least roughly sketch out what events you’re interested in seeing is helpful.  What’s even more helpful is if you could share this information with your friends that you’re attending the convention with – after all, if several people are going to the same event, it would be easier (and perhaps more fun even) to group up with them.  So yeah, having at least a basic plan of attack definitely helps.  But dealing with paper schedules is such a pain.  (besides, generally speaking, you don’t actually get the paper schedules until you’re actually at the convention, and it’s always a good idea to plan things out beforehand).  Surely there must be some cool flashy Web 2.0 synergistic XML-based social networking-aware (insert various other random buzzwords here) tech tool to help you out with this?!

If you’re the proud owner of an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, well guess what, there’s an app for that.  The new Anime Expo app, to be more precise.  Armed with this app, you’ll have just about everything you’ll need to better navigate your way around the convention.  Exhibitor listings and information; maps of the convention center, exhibit hall, and surrounding areas; the full programming schedule; listings of nearby businesses and restaurants; schedule updates and alerts; a “you are here” (location-based) feature to help you more easily meet up with friends; and fun little mini-games to pass the time while you’re in those Xbox Huge lines.  The app is compatible with all mobile Apple devices, including the iPod touch and the iPad, and is available for $1.99 in the App Store.  I will admit that their charging $1.99 for this app when they’re already charging for so many things at con seems a bit crass to me, but at least $1.99 isn’t too bad as things go.

What?  You’re not part of the iCollective?  No need to fret, because you’ve got SCHED.  This Web-based tool will allow you to browse and search through the AX events schedule and mark down which events you’re interested in seeing.  Once you’ve selected, you can either print out a paper-based schedule, or you can export your schedule to a variety of different formats (iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar, etc.).  You can even link to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, and find out what events your friends will be attending.  SCHED even has a mobile-friendly version which will allow you to use the site from your smartphone without the need to install any special software or apps (I’ve tested this on Android and it works beautifully; it is also said to work on iPhone, BlackBerry, and Palm Pre).  Find out more or sign up (it’s free) here.


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