ICS/Lotus (mostly), Linux, Travel, Skiing, Mixology, and Random Musing of Interest

ILUG 2010 and Why IT Events Rock

Bill Malchisky  November 19 2010 11:00:00 PM
Image:ILUG 2010 and Why IT Events Rock

Well after a few weeks off from blogging for personal reasons in OCT and a terrific time in Belfast with ILUG and some post-conference vacation, I am taking a few minutes on my flight back to Newark, NJ to type some reflections on that event.

First, the vast team of volunteers on the conference committee did a great job putting things together and they provided an excellent conference facility: Ramada Belfast Shaws Bridge.

Next, I'll just pen some random thoughts in an arbitrary sequence:
  • Very grateful to be a speaker and part of this event; my session attendees seemed to like the material and got good feedback on my Notes on Linux Speedgeeking session as well
  • Thanks to all the attendees and to the sponsors; both make the event possible
  • Another hotel network that is "ready for your conference" learns a hard lesson that there is conference ready and then Lotus geek ready Internet access status levels--the two are hardly similar
  • The Crown is quite awesome* for a pint with friends; visited twice--personally sacrificing my time for proper R&D data; never leave such important matters to a third party to complete
  • Belfast citizens are quite nice and friendly
  • Fun cabbie story: "Belfast built the Titanic. Then they sent it to Southampton, where the English f*ed it up." (His words...)
  • Travel tip: Gingeroot provides nice hot curries, but they nickel and dime you to death; all the free items that are accustomed in most Indian restaurants come at premium. The offered papadam and chutneys came to £5 (US$8) and my two large (not listed on the menu) glasses of orange juice, £7.75 (US$12.35)--for reconstituted orange juice!
  • In contrast Spice, one of three restaurants on-premises at the Ramada provides excellent food and a great buffet--zero nickel and dime antics here
  • The Ramada Belfast is a four star property, rating high on my list: (a) after a housekeeping debacle in my room the day after the event, they properly fixed things without hesitation and manage my expectations, the nightly charge, and comped my dinner; (b) due to the fees at Gingeroot being about £25 more than expected, I realized I lacked the funds for the airport taxi and worse was that my online bank account systems were doing maintenance (which meant no access for another five hours due to the time zone delta)...the hotel converted US dollars to GB pounds so I could make my trip; they saved my flight and itinerary
  • Lego bricks are really cool, and there are two Lego masters in the Lotus community, who displayed some of their successful builds
  • The Wednesday night bus tour proved interesting and sobering: we toured the downtown area and had a lot of laughs, riding around in an open-top double decker bus at 42F; the second half of the tour, took the group into the war zone of Belfast, stopping for a time at the Peace Wall; gained increased appreciation for what the residents in this city lived through since 1969.
  • Bravo to the ILUG organization team for showing hours of Black Adder on the big screen; need a laugh? Watch a British sitcom, in a room full of UK and Irish folk, on a massive screen and excellent sound system; Brilliant night of humor! Thanks!
  • There is no Thanksgiving holiday in Belfast/UK, thus all of the stores have their Christmas decorations up, and Santa is near omnipresent at the rail stations, airports, and advertisements (that I've seen)
  • A mixed cocktail equates the bartender pressing a glass under a hanging bottle to dispense one ounce of liquor, then opening a tiny bottle of mix and handing you both. As a mixologist, this is painful to watch...my heart goes out to them, but it's a different country and they have different rules
  • Happily I met a great artist and received one piece from his collection; looking forward to a visit to the frame shop this weekend
  • The Ulster Museum had an insightful and moving exhibit on The Troubles in Belfast; learned a lot from the local perspective
  • UKLUG 2011 officially announced as 4-5 May 2011 in Manchester, England, UK

IT conferences make the best business events
. The Sunday on-premises conference at The Ramada reminded me of this key point. I've attended business seminars for over fifteen years, executed by many third-party organizers...the ones that always deliver are IT shows. Simply put, they respect the attendees time, and don't use the captive audience to hawk their wares---for hours at a time.

You never have to make public announcements to tell geeks when their session starts, where to go for most things, when the bar opens, how to establish a proper workflow for the events, or how to laugh and have fun. The organizers do not charge more for sitting up-front, make you purchase lunch, keep the doors closed till the last possible moment so that everyone has a chance to get their seat (while forcing the early arrivals to stand in the hall for an hour and a mad rush upon entry), change venues at the last minute, charge more to eat a hot lunch, or prevent you from communicating with the speakers and executives in attendance unless you are a Top-level investor. Very rarely does one attend a session on X, but receive A, B, and C instead, or hear speakers that can't spell the product for which they are presenting. The most annoying antic for me was the promise for a three-day pre-paid training event, only to find that the first two days were sales of products from the speakers and the third day, was a pay only event and you were not told this till on-site (and I had could not stay for the third day due to project demands); with the airline tickets pre-booked, they had you. These shenanigans do not happen with quality IT seminars/events.

IT geeks are analytical, understand queuing theory, and how to implement it. The organizers of IT shows ensure that you receive value and want to comeback, or they lose attendees quickly. We are busy and have a low tolerance for game playing on our time. Geeks are not sheep; we have brains and use them. Thus, event sessions mandate value over sales, knowledge over fluff, and speaker access over elitism. We as an attendee classification would never stand for anything less! So, in a long-line of successful IT events, including Lotusphere, IamLUG, MWLUG, Tri-State LUG, UKLUG, local LUGs...ILUG definitely delivers.

Image:ILUG 2010 and Why IT Events Rock   
(*) The Crown, ensuring a respectable drinking environment is enjoyed by all.
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