South by Southwest begins on Friday, and thousands of geeks and film buffs are arriving in Texas' capital for the festival. Convention halls are still empty, but workers are toiling away.
Marriott lounge in progress
AUSTIN, Texas -- The geeks are coming, the geeks are coming. But they're not here yet.
Tomorrow, the Texas capital will be swarming with thousands and thousands of geeks, and thousands more film buffs. It's South by Southwest (SXSW) time, after all, with the SXSW Interactive and Film festivals about to kick off.
But before the hordes descend, there's a lot of work to do, and a lot of rooms and halls that will be overrun in just 24 hours are sitting empty right now.
Just across the street from the Austin Convention Center -- ground zero for SXSW -- are two Marriott hotels, the Courtyard Marriott and the Residence Inn. The hotels plan a comfort lounge for attendees, but as of Thursday afternoon, things like armchairs were still wrapped in plastic. By tomorrow, the area will no doubt be packed with people.
Those who show up at the SXSW registration desk on Friday will no doubt encounter long lines and tons of people impatiently waiting in them. But on Thursday afternoon, there were no lines at all. ProTip: Get to Austin on Wednesday and register Thursday.
If you've followed CNET's coverage of SXSW over the years, you know that a staple is showing SXSW's goodie bag setup. While the bags are not laid out on acres of floor anymore, they are still impressive to look at.
One of the big companies on hand at SXSW this year is Chevrolet, which has, among other things, a lounge area by one of the main convention center entrances. But the area was still closed off early Thursday afternoon.
If you're hungry at SXSW and want to grab something from this food truck, parked outside a main entrance to the convention center, you will no doubt have to wait quite a while for your food. But not on Thursday, when this man was the only one eating.
Once SXSW is in full swing, Microsoft will be hosting hundreds of people at the appropriately named Microsoft Studio. It is advertised as a "must-see space for attendees to collaborate, innovate, fuel up and recharge during the day, and party along at night. There's something for everyone — daytime meetups, evening parties, and more, all featuring Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone!"
But that will all have to wait. On Thursday, workers were still feverishly putting it all together.
Okay, this isn't directly related to SXSW coming to town, but everywhere you look near downtown Austin, there is massive construction going on. And surely, the popularity of the conference has helped convince developers to modernize and build up the downtown area.
Though not an official SXSW event, the Austin Startup Crawl will no doubt attract hundreds of eager entrepreneurs. On Thursday afternoon, workers at the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin were still setting things up.