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November 10, 2009


Dave B

Jon & Susan,
One of the other blogs I follow came up with this entry today:
Similar I think, to what you said. If I get to attend COMMON in spring, I'll miss seeing you, but also understand.
BTW, I would have never blinked at Susan being part of the YIPs, Jon -- a different story. :>)

Dave B


Dave B: Jon's a kid at heart.

Mike Pavlak

Jon and Susan,

Without the British wit and the Irish wit, I'll be stuck with the Half-wit!

Truly Au Revoir as I am optimistic we will see an evolution in COMMON that will bring things back into alignment.

You two are too valuable to lose and I wish you nothing but success!

Welcome to iManifest!


Don Rima

Jon and Susan, your work with LUGs is both legendary and much appreciated. I'm glad to see that LUGs are still in your priority list.

As we grow here in the Tennessee Valley Users Group (, I look forward to being able to invite you for a visit to Chattanooga in the near future.

All the best....and thanks for the past.


Jeff Olen

Jon & Susan,

You will definitely be missed at COMMON. Certainly, I will miss the sessions and the jocular banter in between. Hopefully the "old" COMMON will be back very soon and we'll see you both there again.

In the meantime, we at iManifest are thrilled to have you and Susan join us.

- Jeff

Aaron Bartell

I will miss you also. My sentiments are very similar as I only signed up for 1 session this year vs. the 6 to 7 I was planning before the COMMON-neglects-speakers announcement.

Has COMMON released any additional press on their direction other than what we received a couple months ago?

Scott Klement

This is truly a tantalizing post. By that, I mean that's interesting, and it whets your appetite for more information.

Aaron Bartell

Scott, I agree with you that this is quite interesting because to me it is a formal declaration for a change in direction as it relates to educating. Jon/Susan, it sounds like there was more to the decision than just the lack of speaker compensation (as you mentioned). Is there anything you can share without stepping on too many toes?

What do people think the next generation of IT training looks like? Being that I travel 8 to 10 times a year, I tend to like the local or virtual training methods, though I know that face-time is often king when it comes to really becoming enthused about a topic.

Aaron Bartell

Jon Juracich

Jon & Susan, you'll be missed at COMMON, but their loss is someone else's gain (as it always is). I look forward to seeing (more of) you at other conferences and on the Web.

Merrikay Lee

I join the chorus in saying you will be missed. Glad there are still lots of venues where you can share your knowledge and experience. You have a special way of bonding with your audience, whether it be YiP kind of folks or good ol' RPG III veterans. I too would like to see a vision of where you would like to see COMMON go.

Mike Moegling

Jon and Susan,
Both of you have been very inspiring and I really took the what I learned at COMMON '08 in your sessions and revolutionized my ideas on what I can do with iSeries development. You will be missed.

Finances are finances and you have to make ends meet and be financially sound in these times. No one can afford any losses. I applaud you for doing what is right.

I too am concerned about COMMON and over all about the i - Community. I appreciate all the time that you two commit to helping us in the trenches everyday do our jobs better and really be craftsman with our skills.

Thanks also to Aaron Bartell and Scott Klemment if you are reading. We got to stick together.

- Mike Moegling


You could say that the organization has come to treat its speakers with unCOMMON disregard...

Jon Paris

Scott said: "By that, I mean that's interesting, and it whets your appetite for more information."

Aaron said: "Jon/Susan, it sounds like there was more to the decision than just the lack of speaker compensation ..."

Since these two posts seem to ask the same question ...

I think in the various posts we referenced (as well as this blog) we covered most of the points.

It started off being a financial consideration - or so we thought. Could we afford the extra $2,000+ in a tight economy for very little personal benefit. We hoped that COMMON might review their decision - they didn't. We hoped the market would turn round - it didn't. So we had to look long and hard at whether we should continue to do it.

(I always found it amusing that attendees at COMMON always assumed that all the speakers were being paid)

When we actually thought about it (as opposed to running on auto-pilot and just anteing up because it was time for COMMON again) we came to the realization that if we attended we would be significantly out-of-pocket in order to support something that we no longer believed was fulfilling its mission.

Simply put (from my perspective - Susan may not agree with me) - COMMON today is focused solely on existing because it exists. It doesn't know _why_ it should continue to exist, or whether it has a real role in life. It has taken on the characteristics of a life-form, intent on fighting for its survival just for the sake of it. As a result, in its desperation, it has developed a nasty tendency to attack its biggest supporters.

As to the future of the organization - Personally I have said many times that I believe that one route forward for COMMON is to convert to a trade organization (it long ago ceased to a User Group in anything other than name)--i.e., representing the vendors in the marketplace. Let the vendors vote for the board (the voting for which
has been badly broken for years) and run the main conference as a trade show. Maybe that trade show travels and occurs three/four times a year - maybe in partnership with other conference organizers or User
Group consortiums - or ... Alongside the trade show maybe run a real User Group event offering low-cost education. COMMON's real role would be as the vendor's trade organization - thereby giving vendors a real voice with IBM that most of them lack right now.

Hope this clarifies a bit.

Ron N

Jon & Susan,

I agree with you completely. I myself am taking a similar road. I hope we meet along the way.

Birgitta Hauser

Jon and Susan,

it is really sad not to meet you next year at Orlando. Even though I understand attitude.In either way I'll miss you next year in Orlando.

It is even harder for us. Since IBM decided to no longer send any speakers to the European COMMON Conferences on Country Level. The last years there were several speakers from Rochester and/or Toronto, such as Alison Butterill, George Farr, Claus Weiss or Jarek Miszyzk and not to forget Frank Solits, who told us the latest news and the further plans. This year nobody will be sent from there! We'll only get some general summaries from IBM. Even though there are several really good speakers here in Germany, nobody is as close as the IBMer's or you (Jon and Susan) to the development in Toronto and Rochester.

In this way several of us decided to participate in the USA COMMON Conference next year to get more information and better education than here in Germany.

The German COMMON Conference will take place tomorrow on Monday/Tuesday November 16th/17th 2009. This year I'll expect even less participants than last year, which was IIRC the smallest number of participants a German COMMON Conference ever had.

BTW even though I'll held several sessions at this German COMMON Conference, I'll get any money for it, but have to pay 250 € (the reduced attendee fee for speakers) instead.

I feel, COMMON will get weaker and weaker until it will be disappeared all over the world.
... and with it will IBM i(Series) and RPG disapear?


Robert Arce

Jon and Susan, you guys talked about the "old" COMMON. I'd like to hear what is your definition of the "old" COMMON.

ps: I know you guys have been very supported of the system i as I see it too.

Nora Craig

Jon & Susan... Love ya. Have missed you for years since I retired. Hope you do well in any arena you choose. Wish I could give you both a hug...

Have a note below addressed to all COMMON members, past, present or future.

Nora Craig


Dear COMMONites..

COMMON is not an "it". COMMON is the collective hearts and minds of all of YOU. It is what you put into it and reflects YOUR will for it to continue. If YOU abandon the concept of it's continued existence, if YOU loose heart, then it will surely die.

Those of you as old as me KNOW it can be changed. I do believe we did so together a few times. But it takes heart and dedication and A PLAN! (and thick skin) You have to know the goals you want to achieve, then knuckle down and get the job done, come hell or high water.

I remember the Projects. I remember before speakers ever received credits. I remember what is was like BEFORE we had that sign up to "play too" board. We had energy, dedication, and a heck of a lot of FUN.

We also had challenges like that black October market crash where Al Barsa wandered around in a daze over his lost investments. God love him. We had crooks with hands in the cookie jar. We had the after Y2K industry slump that crippled attendance, then 9/11 almost took the airline industry out and COMMON as well. Now we have the latest economic disaster. But the greatest disaster of all is loss of heart and will.

Live is full of challenges. Your options are (a) shrug and walk away or (b) buckle down and implement necessary survival changes. Adapt or die! For those of you who remember Reno, and my beloved buddy John Sears.... I'll say to you all what I said to him then... "Just FIX it!"

COMMON is a stage, and we the players. It's OUR stage. If you don't like it as it is now, then FIX IT! Don't abandon it to atrophy. You with the best of minds, just envision what it could be, should be, and make it so. Make it a trade organization or whatever you feel is needed.

I wish, very much, I was still in the industry, if I was I would take on that challenge. I'm taking on a challenge of a different type. I don't like what has happened to New Jersey. Talk about a messed up system... COMMON's woes pale in comparison to the mess the "board of directors" of this state has made.

If I am willing to take on the entire political power machine that wrecked our state, then BY GOD there should be some of you willing to take on the relatively minor problems of a professional organization. Where are the hearts of COMMON? Where is the drive to succeed? Where is the will to survive and preserve this marvelous .org?

To my baby-boomer peers... yea, so we're getting old... SO WHAT! That just means we can fight smarter. We still have a responsibility to keep the lights on for our children. We have the experience to know how to juggle political agendas. All you need is the will to TRY. . AND.. we've a history of overthrowing BOD's that don't abide by the will of the members. So give 'em the boot and FIX IT!..

Trite is truth. The sky is blue. The grass is green. Where there is a will, there is a way.

Don't let my darling die. Think... where would many of us be if we hadn't had COMMON's stage to dance upon. Preserve that stage for the next generation. Storm that 50th celebration event and let your voices be heard. Bombard the BOD with input, input, input. It has been done in the past and can be done again.... if you have the heart. (Sing with me.. "If I only had a heart, a brain, the nerve... We're off to see the Wizzard...")

With love to all who remember....

Nora Craig

Past: Session Manager, Project Manager,

Volunteer Resources Manager, Board of Directors

Aaron Bartell


Unfortunately I don't know who you are but I bet you have quite the energy in person :-) When you say COMMON is "ours" and say that it is us that make up the organization, well, I agree with that in part. The part of COMMON that I "believe in" is their support of YiPs ( which is a group that has somehow managed to escape the normal politics of COMMON. Why do I like the YiPs? They/we are making progress, we are taking risks, we are pushing the envelope open, we are in many ways what you are describing as the COMMON of 30/40/50 years ago. We have been able to do this because of many hours of volunteer time, and we volunteer because it is fun and the cause is good. I am not so certain COMMON is actively soliciting the same response from the community. They certainly have everybody sucking on lemons right now.

I've said it before and I will say it again: COMMON needs to be more open about their current situation and open up dialogue with the community they claim to support. Without doing that, they deserve all the criticism they are getting.

Maybe the best thing for COMMON would be to die and then re-birth as different entities, like the YiPs, so only those things that the community sees as benefit are allowed to survive.

Those are my thoughts,
Aaron Bartell

Hans Boldt

Nora: I've been pondering over your open letter for the past week. What bothers me about it is that you seem to be blaming the current situation on COMMON members.

The whole IT arena has changed significantly in the past 20 years. Add to that the changing marketplace for IBM midrange products, and reduced travel and education budgets, and the whole concept of a large national conference seems rather antiquated.

In contrast, though, online networking has brought about a number of important developments. First, a lot of the information that people once went to the conference to learn can now be read online. Second, on-line networking allows people to ask questions and get answers relatively quickly. Third, social networking seems to have facilitated the rise of smaller, local and regional user groups. Now, you don't have to go to a national conference to find like-minded people. It's now much easier to find and connect with other midrange developers locally.

I tend to agree with Aaron. Perhaps the time has come to either do away with COMMON altogether. Or significantly re-brand the organization. Whatever COMMON decides, it must fully understand the current state of IT in an objective manner, leaving behind the nostalgia of past glories.


Nora Craig


COMMON will be what the members choose. Anyone in the industry can join and elect the BOD members that DO understand the current state of IT.

All the social networking techie-tools in the world will not replace a hug. Volunteering in a live environment provides innumerable opportunities to grow and learn.. to cry and dry the tears of others... to experience humanity.

Techie tools have their place, but interpersonal relationships have theirs as well. Things happen face to face that might not occur via e-mail. The portable-400 was designed on a napkin at CUDS. LAN cards were envisioned in an IBM user council as was tiered pricing.

COMMON adds the human factor to our industry. When you sit and just chat it's not the same as electronic communication, which has a more formal tendency. You miss Jon's jokes and Susan's smile. You can't dance with Dr. Frank or wander down the hall on his arm through a keyboard.

Youngsters should take it over and make it fit their future.... we did.


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