A big shout out to our friends and IBM i comrades who are gathered this week in Minneapolis for the COMMON annual meeting, which is still the largest collection of the i faithful we know. Sounds like good things are happening in Minneapolis.
One especially good thing is that our friend and very deserving candidate, Mike Pavlak from Zend, was awarded the Al Barsa Memorial Scholarship. This award was instituted to honor the individual who exemplifies Al’s commitment and dedication to the i community. With the work Mike has done to raise interest in IBM i among the PHP community, Mike certainly fits the bill. A great choice!
While we’re missing the gathering in Minneapolis, we’re happy to have had the opportunity to meet with many of our i friends a bit closer to home this past week. We participated in our local Toronto User Group conference, TUG TEC. Longtime TUG president and tireless worker in support of TUG, Leo Lefebvre, and his team of volunteers pulled off another successful event this year.
For the second year now, TUG has held their annual conference event at a school in the area: Seneca College campus of York University. We know the OCEAN user group in California has also held some of their recent conference events at a technical school. The annual MITEC event in Michigan (coming up on June 7, BTW) has also been using a local technical school facility for a couple of years. Leaders from these groups tell us the financial incentives to use that type of venue are tremendous.
Hotels--the traditional venue for conferences--often charge outrageous fees for use of the facilities and/or for any food and beverage utilized by the event. Since hotels also forbid groups from bringing in their own food and beverages, the result is organizations like local user groups operating on a shoestring budget sometimes find that it just doesn’t make financial sense to even hold a big annual event.
Have other user groups found using a local technical school facility helps the financial picture? Perhaps more local groups could offer larger events if they could find schools in the area that rent out the facilities. Let us know in the comments if you have any experience with that, good or bad. Maybe other groups can learn from the experiences of these trailblazers.
Speaking of local user groups, we’re headed to Dallas next week for an all-day event hosted by local user group MMSA (Metro Midrange Systems Association) on Friday, May 13. If you’re in the Dallas area, check it out. The local user group is offering this full-day event to their members free of charge! Since membership in the group is also reasonable, this may make for a good time to join the group.
One last thought on education. Most often when we attend an event, we’re speaking so much that we rarely have time to attend any sessions to enhance our own skills. That’s why we’re really looking forward to the DB2 for i Directions event coming up in June just outside of Boston. We’re among the hosts for the event, but luckily for us, we’re not on the bill at all for once; we’re going to learn from the IBM Rochester experts about all those things related to DB2 and SQL we’ve missed out on while focusing so much on RPG, PHP and RSE. This will be our chance to get caught up on the latest in SQL performance tools and techniques, XML support in DB2, etc. If you have also been neglecting your SQL skills, you may want to check out this brand new event focussed exclusively on DB2 for i.