Last week, I was fortunate to attend the COMMON Europe conference. Steve Will, Jenny Dervin and I were there from Rochester. We all gave several presentations at the conference, and afterward we attended the COMMON Europe Advisory Council (CEAC) face-to-face meeting.
The conference was held in Stratford-upon-Avon, which I found to be a nice little community with an amazing amount of traffic! The conference was split between two hotels that were separated by a busy street. I don't think anyone suffered any injuries crossing the road, but patience was required. For those of us who don't routinely have roundabouts in our traffic patterns, we had to pay a little extra attention because we didn't know for sure which direction the cars would be going. I found the “Look Right” and “Look Left” words painted on the road at pedestrian crossing points to be very helpful!
The conference was quite a bit like the Annual COMMON Conference we have here in the U.S. There were several tracks of presentations running in parallel that attendees could choose from. Aside from being a much smaller event, the main difference from COMMON in the U.S. is that the sessions were only 60 minutes long, rather than 75. 15 minutes shorter doesn't sound like a big difference, but presentations prepared with 75 minutes in mind end up being a bit long for 60-minute sessions. There was also an expo and evening events. The Monday evening event was a group dinner at Warwick Castle, which was very entertaining with excellent food and a lot of fun; the magician was a big hit.
The CEAC meeting was a mix of educational information from IBM back to the group, as well as ongoing discussion about requirements and future directions. The requirements process is very important to both IBM and our customers as it definitely influences our investment decisions. Since we've just released 7.1, you can imagine that we’re relatively early in the development of our next release, when it's much easier to react to new requirements.
Steve, Jenny and I traveled together during the trip and did have a little free time while in Stratford-upon-Avon to do some sightseeing. We also took an extra day at the end of the trip to do “London in a day.” None of us had been to London before, so we spent the entire day walking and seeing the major sights – Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge.... Needless to say, our feet hurt by the end!
The trip there and back was uneventful, which is a good thing. On the flight home, I chatted with the young man sitting next to me; he was traveling from Ireland to Estes Park, Colorado, where he’s planning to spend the summer working as a lifeguard. Working as a lifeguard for the summer is something a lot of young people do, but not many travel quite so far for that summer job!