Don't worry - we're not going all political on you, tempting as that might be sometimes. However, there's more than one vote that warrants your attention over the next few days - and it is as important for those of us who live outside the USA as those of our readers who do.
So what are we talking about? COMMON Europe's Top Concerns voting is what. Even though the Europeans organize this effort, it is aimed at a worldwide audience. This is now the 7th year that COMMON Europe have organized this poll and the results to date have been interesting. The fact that some categories such as "Aggressive marketing of IBM i by IBM" get a high ranking should come as no surprise, although the fact that it ranked only in 6th place in 2011 might surprise some. What beat it out? Well "Satisfy internal customers" came in first, followed by "Keep the skills current for existing staff" and "Attract the younger generation to IBM i". We have to believe that the majority of the votes for "Keep the skills ..." came from the "existing staff" themselves because training budgets always seem to be the first thing to go when finances get tight so it seems unlikely that managers were voting this way. It was good to see "Attract the younger generation ..." be recognized as a major concern.
Why is this poll important? Well IBM talk a lot to large users, such as those represented by the LUG (Large User Group) and also spend a lot of time listening to ISVs. But it is much harder for them to get a feel for what matters to "ordinary" users. This survey helps to fill that gap and has the added advantage of being open to all IBM i users around the world. In fact, even IBMers get to vote!
On the Top Concerns web site (www.topconcerns.org), you can vote for this year's top concerns - and maybe even win an iPod for your trouble. There are only a few days left to get your votes in for this year. While you are there don't forget to check out the results of the previous year's polls. The categories and polling method have changed over the years but comparing the results from earlier years can be interesting.
So stop reading - and go vote now.
All done voting? Good - well done! Time for some words on education.
First - for our European/Scandinavian readers, we're headed your way and we'd love to see you. We're working with COMMON Luxembourg on 9 Oct and COMMON Belgium on 11 Oct. Then we head to Stockholm for the annual Data3 conference 14 - 16 Oct. Lots of i developer topics will be covered. Check it out if you're in any of those areas and don't forget to say hi! Last year's Data3 event was fun and informative and also very successful, so we're hoping we'll see an even bigger audience there this year.
Second - we thought we'd pass on a recent recent discovery in the area of education resources. Coursera.org is a company that partners with top universities around the world to offer high-quality university level education free of charge. Yup - completely free.
One upcoming course that caught our eye is Rice University's Introduction to Python. It is aimed at non-programmers, so that even those of us who wrestle with OO should find it useful. The whole programming environment is browser based so there is no software to load. Our friend (and former RPG compiler writer) Hans Boldt has often proclaimed, in our blog comments and elsewhere, his love of the Python language so this is a good opportunity to check it out. Usage on IBM i seems to be growing if recent forum postings and pieces in the trade press are anything to go by. The IBM i home base for Python seems to be www.iseriespython.com. Check it out.