No quite recovered but I'm working on it !!

I think I had three free sessions all week when I wasn't teaching or running a
Lab so you'll forgive me if I can't add much to your knowledge on how the
conference went.  One of these days I'll learn and manage to reduce my schedule
to where I'm attending more than 1 session in the week !!

Anyway - the attendance was _very_ poor.  Even COMMON's numbers (of which we
heard several versions during the week) the lowest of which was about 2,800
seemed high to me based on the amount of "traffic" - Don would have a better
feel than me though.  This is the first time I can recall even the "sexy" Labs
like Java having space available.  Susan and I had space in every Lab - I think
our highest was about 80 out of 90 seats in use - that's unheard of.  There were
a lot of blowout sessions (I had three back-to-back) but that was because they
were in a room that was way too small to start with.

Only managed to get to CUDS one night - Andy by all accounts had done a great
job all week and everyone told me that traffic seemed to be higher than previous
conferences.  To me it seemed that the smaller room (and decent beer for once!!)
helped make it seem as if more was happening - rather than the "barn like"
environs we've had recently which seem only to highlight the small numbers.
Kudos to Andy.

Mom was a completely different format - no formal item by item report followed
by questions, but a horseshoe like seating arrangement with David H. taking
questions on a series of topics.  I couldn't get there for the start (hadn't
eaten lunch so a refreshment break was called for) so I missed the Education
topics which was my main reason for attending.  By the time I arrived they were
well into Fees - some were complaining, others still saying that it was still
the best bang for the buck.  Also lots of complaints about  the disappearance of
the guest program (it's only "resting" !!)

To me the two most significant statements that I heard were a heart-felt
complaint from one attendee that in spite of volunteering at several conferences
she had finally given up as she felt that a small clique ran the show and that
breaking into the in-crowd was not something that a mere mortal like her could
accomplish.  She also made a comment about Soundoff that raised a point I'd
never considered before.  In short she noted that the same people always seemed
to stand up each time and that "ordinary" attendees like  herself tended to feel
that they shouldn't get up until the "big boys" had had their turn.  She also
made the comment that she felt such major Business Partners and companies that
had hundreds of AS/400s didn't need to use Soundoff to bring a problem to IBM's
attention - they must have other vehicles.  Small Users like herself have no
other effective avenue.  I confess that I see how she feels, but I find myself
torn on the issue since I also know that many of the people to whom she is
referring are making the statements in public that they have already made in
private.  I know Al and others have done this a number of times in an attempt to
show Rochester that it's not just them that feel this way.  Since that is very
often the case it obviously benefits the small users too.

The other comment was from a gent whose name I can't remember but who used to be
at COMMON all the time and then dropped out of sight about 8 years ago.  This
was his first time back and he was shocked at how much had changed.  He noted
that it seemed to be less a "sharing" event and more a business type affair than
it had been.  Can't argue with that.


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