I got up at 6:40 (yes, on a Saturday) to make sure I was up, dressed, properly caffinated, logged in, and the cats were safely stowed away before an 8 AM start time. This is a fair bit lazy for Comic Con, but eh, it's a virtual experience. There's a limit to the authenticity. And the ability to actually line up in advance, actually.
This is like a virtual Comic Con in some ways. They came up with a "line" system, where they only process a set number at a time. (Looks like around 900 per 120 seconds.) When you load the URL you go into a "line", and they tell you the number. Every two minutes the screen refreshes and updates your place in line. Great idea for keeping the system from melting down into a whimpering pile of molten computer parts pitifully begging for mercy from the fannish horde. I think insofar as keeping the servers from dying under load this is a promising step.
While waiting in line you can be online chatting with friends, can pop off to the bathroom or to grab a drink (or get in costume?) without losing your place in line, so it really is kind of a virtual Comic Con experience from the comfort of your own home. Heck, I was even sitting on the floor while waiting in line. (I needed easy access to multiple computers and the floor was the easiest way.) I did kind of miss the zen of the back and forth through the mazes, though. Zen good. So this new system really is almost like being at Comic Con.
Complete with the "oh shit, I'm not going to get in." Shades of last years' craziness, sans backup plan.
I started in line 12645. taeriel was about 2000 people ahead of me. When she got in all 4-day badges were sold out and there were only single days left. Back of the napkin math says they sold less than 32,000 4-day passes. (I'm assuming everyone ahead of her in line bought 3 4-day passes. This is slightly inaccurate, but I'm betting it's pretty close.)
So what I've learned from this experience to capitalize on for next year, assuming they do the same process again:
1) Have two computers, one running IE and one running Firefox. At first I was only doing IE since I know in the past Firefox has had testing fail that could contribute to badge acquisition fail. This time IE wouldn't load the page at all, which if taeriel hadn't been wiser than I would certainly have resulted in badge acquisition fail. Clearly more browser variety is necessary.
2) Multiple avenues of attack is key. Get together with two other friends and all pile into line, with whomever gets to the front first getting all the badges. Keep in contact via voice or chat to coordinate. If possible, have someone else do the coordinating so the person filling things out can concentrate on that and not updating the group or just be on a conference call with everyone.
3) taeriel was able to use more than one computer to "stand in line" twice with the same account. I'm not entirely sure how to capitalize on that, but surely there's a way. Must ruminate on this.
And if this experience has taught me anything, it's that my credit card has expired and I don't have the new one. Dang. Must get that fixed.
Now I'm off to the gym to work off the post stress adrenaline.