First, I should disclose that I am the Immediate Past President of COMMON, so I might be slightly biased. :)

With that said, a long time ago I determined for me the value associated with COMMON and my local user group, far outweighed any of the costs associated with attending the events. I have gained so much knowledge over my career, due to attending sessions at COMMON events, presented by a variety of experts. These speakers provided me with knowledge and enlightenment on just what could be done and what was possible with the (then) AS/400. As the platform has migrated from the AS/400 to the IBM i running on PowerSystems, there is so much information that one needs to understand and capture, that I think the value is even greater now. It costs money for the registration, travel, meals, as well as time away from the office (non-billing). Yet, I am able to recover these costs many times over. I don't think it matters if you are a consultant or an employee, you improve your skills, you acquire knowledge that makes you more productive, gives your company better utilization of their computing assets, and/or learn new ways to do things that are less expensive and more efficient. In addition, there is the value of networking with my peers at the conference, finding out what they are doing, what new tricks they are doing, etc. I have learnt from newbies to experts, and I enjoy talking to everyone while I am there. So, there is value in the classroom, value in the hallways, and as if that isn't enough, value in going to the expo. There are many great solutions in the expo, and I am able talk with many vendors and understand their solutions, and when I get back to my customers I am able to better explain what vendor options/solutions are out in the market, and which ones work better for them. Wait, there is still more value. From the people that I have meet at COMMON, and exchanged phone numbers with I am able to call them (and they call me) when either of us run into a problem and need some expert advice.

COMMON has created many different products over the last few years, and it isn't just the large 4 day event. There are webinars, single on-line sessions, multiple on-line sessions, there are on-line labs, there is the Fall event (a smaller conference, at a less expensive hotel, over just 2.5 days so as to reduce the costs for those who can't afford the expense of being out of the office for the week or the costs), there is Live-track from the annual conference, and there is Virtual Conferences. Don't forget the new boutique conferences, which are a small one or two day one subject conference for indepth education. What I am saying, is there is something for everyone.

I know, for myself as well as many others on this list, we have learned so much, that now we present to give back to the community. It's extremely rewarding to be able to teach and help others in this community, as others have done preceding me.

You know the saying: This isn't your father's user group any longer. It's true! COMMON has changed and evolved to meet the needs and demands of their membership, so I certainly hope that you give COMMON another look, as I think you will see a different COMMON than you might have an older perception about. Also, nothing says you have to attend the whole day tomorrow. Register for the event, attend the sessions that you can. Even if it is only one or two sessions, I hope that what you learn from the event will get you to want to come to a future COMMON conference.


Pete Massiello
iTech Solutions

-----Original Message-----
From: midrange-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:midrange-l-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John Yeung
Sent: Monday, January 07, 2013 10:30 AM
To: Midrange Systems Technical Discussion
Subject: Re: COMMON Virtual Conference

On Sun, Jan 6, 2013 at 5:38 PM, Sam_L <lennon_s_j@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
If you hadn't told me, I would have assumed that this cost money, and
it isn't until you are well into the registration that you actually
find it is free.

The link Pete provided goes to a page where right up top, in big letters, is "FREE to EVERYONE". I don't know if they put that up extremely recently (in response to reactions like yours?) or if you happened to have gone to much less clearly marked pages (it sounds like maybe you knew about the existence of the conference before Pete gave the link, and perhaps looked into it via some other route).

And I missed any publicity about it. Presumably I got something in an
e-mail, but I've gotten quite a few recently and assumed it was about
early bird registration and probably ignored it.

I don't remember seeing anything whatsoever about this until Pete's post.

I am not a COMMON member, and I long ago tuned out anything having to do with COMMON since it has a reputation for high-cost membership, high-cost events, and restriction of useful information and resources to members only. I am not saying COMMON isn't worth the cost. I am just saying I am used to everything COMMON costing money, and I (like many others) work in an environment where it is extremely difficult to convince the decision-makers to spend money.

So it's a real shame that this free, virtual, open event was not more heavily promoted. There are probably people who would have been able to make a case to their management that carving out some time in their day for this conference is worth it, had they known about it a couple of weeks ago, but now it's too late and their time is "already accounted for".

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