Posted by: David Vasta
AS/400, COMMON - A users group, System i, Tip of the Week
So this is your first time going to COMMON and your thinking to yourself it’s going to be scary, or maybe you just don’t know where to go or when to arrive.
Sunday – You need to make sure you are in Nashville early on Sunday. All the fun starts Sunday afternoon. If you are going to do a session on Sunday then you need to be there on Saturday, but at the least be at the hotel Sunday @ 12 PM. That way you can walk around and get to know the joint. The Expo floor opens @ 1 PM and you really want to spend as much time in there getting all the free crap they bring, and learning about their products. I will explain the Expo later too.
Make sure you have your week layed out as to what you want to do and what you want to attend and kind of make mental notes as to where those rooms are. It will help you later during the week. You will of course be able to find a map and I will explain what to do with that later.
Expo – The Expo floor is a great way to meet all those people you might talk to on the phone and never see in person. There will be many many vendors trying to sell you things and talk to you about your business. They are salesmen first and System i fans second in most cases. There are a few companies that are very PRO System i and you will be able to figure that out as you talk to them. IBM will of course have the largest and most confusing booth there. I have always been frustrated with their booth but always seem to spend the most time in it asking questions. If you have a vendor(s) you are considering this is the perfect place to get all the demos and nice treatment you can before you tell them you picked someone elses product. Just Kidding.
The Expo floor can be a good place to start to get to know what is going to happen this week. Also there will be people who have not seen each other in a year and this is the part I look forward to the most. I love seeing all the people who are the glue in the System i community.
Opening Session – This is not to be missed. I mean it if you miss this you might as well just go home now. The rest of the week is just blah blah blah. It’s the session to get you all fired up about the week and I always look forward to this session and will of course be blogging live from the floor during the opening session so if you want to know what is going on just stay here and I will post it. IBM always has something to talk about, they give away awards to people and the usual stuff but this is where the User Group starts the week off right. Don’t miss the opening session. Maybe this year I will get an award….probably not.
Daily COMMON Paper – Every day depending on the location you will be able to find a paper. In the past it was delivered to my door like the regular paper but in the recent past it’s just been all over the lobby. You will need to wake early and read the paper about the days activities. This is important. You will also take your list of things you want to do that day and compaire it to the paper to really make sure you are not missing something else. I have changed my mind mid-walk to a session when I saw something esle I really liked. There is also news about the convention and events that are going on that day you don’t want to miss.
Daily Events – You don’t want to miss the daily after hours events. They are ussually packed with free stuff that is really cool. Last year they gave away a brand new System i. How cool is that. Plus you get to hang out with all the other cool System i people. Nightly events are loads of fun and you may be tired but you will hear about them the next day and only wished you had gone. The Meeting of the Memebers is always a good time. Lots of System i guys & gals packed into a room ready to give the board hell….in most cases not since they have been doing a great job but there is always that one Al in the crowd who likes to complain and that is always a must see event. Plus you get to meet the board and they are really interested in what you have to say so bring it on and share your thoughts about the direction of COMMON, I mean it is your users group!
Map it out – You will be able to map out the center really well. Make sure you know where you are going. Lots of times COMMON takes up the entire convention center and they have to put rooms in odd places. Make sure you know where those odd places are before you try to make it there between sessions. I map out my day every night so that the next day I know I have time to stop and talk between sessions.
Book Store There will be a COMMON Book store with all the System i based books you have ever wanted. If you are looking for a book and it’s about the System i they will have it there. Bring your money.
Silent Auction – Every year there is a silent auction and it’s loads of fun. I got some great items last year and it all goes to a good cause, the COMMON Education Foundation, which helps educators learn about the System i.
Well that about raps up my thoughts for this week. Hope that helps you get the most out of COMMON.