Last week's conference is the second since I joined the board of our user group. Never been more worried, but it turned out better than ever, in my not so humble opinion.
I was really proud of our agenda, we had several new speakers with top content.
Cary Millsap from Method R gave a keynote and two excellent presentations. This was his first time in Norway, but judging by the feedback we got he will be back soon. Actually having him here at our conference was a goal I committed to last year. Thanks, Cary, for excellent content and presentation!
Last OOW I met Connor McDonald at the blogger's meetup that Pythian organizes at OOW every year and I thought it would be cool if we could have him at our conference. After some severe lobbying with the rest of the board we decided on a plan to make it happen. Actually I had never seen Connor present before, but when he did his Odds and Ends presentation I understood what everybody was talking about. I think it is awesome that we can get the best, even if they come from the other side of the earth. We have not processed the feedback forms yet, but the impression so far is that Connor and Cary is sharing first place on content and presentation.
Tom Kyte, Bryn Llewellyn and Joel Goodman were back too. Always popular, each has his public (overlapping I assume) and genuinely dedicated. I am thankful for all the good publicity they are giving our conference.
There was also time for some psycho analysis and after a few beers Doug Burns and me discovered we are more or less soul mates. Always good to see the man and his presentations, he was mildly shocked when I showed up on one of his presos in stead of the one Cary was giving at the same time (confession: I had already seen the one Cary was giving). I learned a lot this time too. Good stuff! And thanks for the feedback, motivation and interests for our user group. You will always be on our MRU list.
We have two areas where we have to improve; Java and MySQL. Markus Eisele helped us to get speakers for the Development/Java track in addition to speak himself. We have work to do on Java, and the same goes for MySQL, it is a different group of people. I know Oracle and many in the community have a lot of good stuff on Java and MySQL, but first we need to appear on those users' radar and have them come to our table.
I spend much of my digital social life on Twitter. When I go to OOW or MOW I get to meet people whose Tweets and blogs I've been reading for a time. It is always a nice experience. This year two Twitter friends came to our conference; Philippe Fierens from Belgium (check out his nice post about the conference) and Jan Karremans from Netherlands. In fact the whole group from Netherlands was quite impressive.
It is a lot of hard work to organize a user group conference, the agenda requires a lot to get in place. For me it is the best networking opportunity, it is the place where I get to know what is not written in any manual or book, and meet friends IRL. Here is one, Martin Nash, and the whole Martin cluster.
The cruise part of Spring Seminar 2014 will start 2014-04-03, with a possible conference day in Oslo the day before. But first I'll take a short vacation next week, going to MOW2013.