In the Wheelhouse: Preventative Maintenance for the Fall Blues; Educate Yourself!- KPK

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This week, I'm talking about education offerings coming this fall, highlighting where you need to be and why you need to be there. Plus there are podcasts, tweetups, and all sorts of other free, community-driven content to keep you in the know.


Yes, I know it's only early August. You know what? The fall conference season is coming faster than we think. There's plenty to choose from, so it's time to start planning. I've taken the liberty of collecting information on a few events you may be interested in attending as well as social media education you may not know about.

COMMON Fall Conference and Expo

Where: Columbus, Ohio

When: September 24–26, 2012

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Columbus ($139 per night)

The COMMON User Group Fall Conference is just around the corner. At $899 for COMMON members, it's a great, cost-effective education in a three-day event. Early-bird pricing ends on August 23, so you've got less than a month to book.

There's great value in volunteering. If you go, please think about volunteering to be a speaker assistant or subject matter expert or maybe getting involved with the registration support team.

I recently had some correspondence with Randy Dufault, president of COMMON, who sent me the following note about his thoughts on the fall conference. I couldn't say it any better, so I'll share it with you in full:

"The COMMON 2012 Fall Conference in Columbus, Ohio, should be yet another great educational and networking event, building on the energy and buzz created at the recent Annual Meeting in Anaheim. We expect it to continue to grow, as it has been since debuting three years ago, and really appeal to those underserved members of the COMMON community who cannot be out of the office for very long but still need leading education by industry experts.

The conference will feature 110 educational sessions on a broad range of IBM i-, AIX-, and Linux-related topics, including popular topics such as application development, high availability, PHP and MySQL, RPG IV, systems management and Web applications—all presented by recognized industry expert speakers. Additionally, a sold-out Expo, pre-conference workshops, vendor sessions, certification testing, a fun and exciting location, and those invaluable networking opportunities make the COMMON Fall Conference and Expo the most cost-effective educational offering in the industry during the Fall. It offers attendees tremendous ROI in just two and a half days, and we're looking forward to yet another successful Fall Conference down in Columbus."

IBM i DevCon

Where: Orlando, Florida

When: October 29–31, 2012

Hotel: Disney's Contemporary Resort ($190 per night)

While IBM Power Systems Technical University is a blitzkreig of all things Power, the IBM i DevCon is more of a sharply focused IBM i developer (mostly) conference. Here are the tracks published so far:

  • Web and mobile development on the IBM i
  • IBM i application development with RPG
  • Modernizing IBM i applications
  • Accessing and optimizing IBM i data
  • IBM i management and administration

Check the IBM i DevCon Web site for more details when they become available.

IBM Power Systems Technical University

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada

When: October 29–November 2, 2012

Hotel: Ceasar's Palace ($185 per night)

This four-and-a-half-day event is heavy-duty training for companies running big iron. With over 500 technical sessions covering all things Power7, IBM i, PowerLinux, AIX, and newly added storage, this is the IBM-hosted conference to attend. With a cost of $2,495 plus hotel, flights, and incidentals (it's Vegas, baby!), you're not in for a cheap week, but the educational value you'll get is worth the extra coin.

Featured speakers are Jeff Jonas, Steve Will, Mark Olson, Jay Krumecke, Nigel Griffiths, and Jeff Scheel.

Vermont Midrange Users Group (VTMUG)

When: September 18, 2012

Where: Essex Junction, Vermont

Hotel: VTMUG is held at IBM Campus in Essex Junction, so you're going to have to go with the Marriott without a special room rate...unless you're a slick talker, of course.

VTMUG packs a lot of punch into a one-day technical conference. They offer content from six industry-leading speakers (Aaron Bartell, Skip Marchesani, Bob Ferris, Pete Massiello, John Valance, and Alan Seiden), covering three specialized tracks (ILE RPG and Mobile Computing, PHP/Web Development, DB2/SQL and System Management). If you're in the Northeast United States, it will be worth your while to attend. The conference fee is $99 if you register by August 31 and is probably the best hundred bucks you'll spend on education this year.

Midwest Lotus Users Group (MWLUG)

Where: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When: August 15–17, 2012

Price: $35

Hotel: Omni William Penn Hotel ($135 per night)

The Midwest Lotus Users Group conference is in Pittsburgh in just a couple of weeks. More than 35 sessions will cover application development, system administration, best practices, mobility, Xpages, high availability, social business, and much more. That's less than a dollar per session! The hotel conference rate is $135 until August 1 and only while rooms last. Plus, breakfast and lunch are provided.

Some great people are presenting: Kim Greene, Amy Hoerle, Ray Bilyk, Andy Donaldson, John Head, Carlos Casas, Lisa Duke, Luis Guirigay, Paul Mooney, Gregg Eldred, David Leedy, Julian Robichaux, Bill Malchisky Jr., and Tony Holder to just name a few.

Also, I'll be there presenting a session with Amy Hoerle from Kim Greene Consulting about helping the Lotus Notes user experience with training, widgets, and good policies. It's called "Is That a Widget in Your Lotus Notes?" I'm really looking forward to it.

A wonderful thing about MWLUG is the community outreach program to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. As part of your registration, you can purchase a $10 raffle ticket for a deluxe two-night stay at the Omni William Penn Hotel. The proceeds will go toward helping hundreds of individuals in the Pittsburgh area.

Bonus! If you're in Pittsburgh for MWLUG, Paul Mooney is also offering a one-day workshop which, although not part of the MWLUG conference, will probably draw a nice crowd. The workshop is called "Ethical Hacking for Domino Administrators." This "offensive training" workshop has been well-received in the UK, and Paul is bringing it to New York on August 13 and to Pittsburgh on August 15.


Where: Cardiff, UK

When: September 3–4, 2012

Hotel: Five local hotel deals. Check the FAQ page.

As one of the largest IBM Lotus user group gatherings across the pond, this conference is packed with content. What's the cost for that? Nothing. Nada. Zip. This is a free user group conference. So when the only expense you have is travel and hotel, how can you afford not to attend?

The keynote speaker is Uffe Sorensen, Social Business and Collaboration Director, IBM Software Group. Also, many great speakers in the IBM Lotus world will be presenting.

And so you have an idea of the education that UKLUG provides, in true community spirit, they post their 2011 session slides on their Web site. Again, for free.

Podcast: This Week In Lotus


When: Every week!

Stuart MacIntyre and Darren Duke hold a weekly roundtable podcast covering all things social, collaboration, technology, and community. Any news in and around the IBM Lotus world is dissected splendidly by Stuart, Darren, and the guests they have each week, made up of IBMers, customers, ISVs, and others.

TWIL is an insightful and entertaining show. I usually download the podcast to my iPad and take it with me on any hour-long drive I take that week. I highly recommend you tune in.

Tweetup: IBM Collaboration Services Technical Tweetup

What's a Tweetup? Well, it's a group of people on Twitter who, up. Paul Mooney enlisted a number of Lotus experts to provide answers to Lotus community questions on Twitter this past July 18. Actually, I believe a total of perhaps 40 volunteered their time, but 10 were chosen to keep things tidy for the first one. Any question asked with the Twitter hashtag #ICSTT was reviewed and answered by a panel of these experts.

This is selfless technical community involvement at its best. Experts donate hours of their time to do technical Q&A free of charge in an open forum.

Check out the following Web site for any new updates and please join in on the next ICSTT on August 16.

But Wait! There's More!

This is a sampling of what's coming up. There's so much more! Check out this IBM Web site for users groups all over the world.

It's almost time for summer vacation to end for the kids. Shouldn't you be thinking about your education too?

Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly
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