• Subject: Re: Value of COMMON
  • From: MacWheel99@xxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 18 Jan 2001 11:42:40 EST

I have worked in many aspects of IBM computers prior to AS/400 since the mid 
1960's ... dating back to punched card era.  I have received education in IBM 
stuff & manufacturing topics from public classes, private classes, video 
tapes, audio tapes,  books, trade press, watching another programmer at work, 
maintaining programs written by other programmers, local user meetings, 
participated in forums like this one, national conferences, presentations at 
closest IBM offices, gone to traveling IBM shows, visited IBM web sites, 
consultants & this is not a complete list.

In my opinion, in terms of bang for the buck, the best education you can get 
in the shortest time frame on any AS/400 topics, is by going to COMMON on a 
regular basis, but if you cannot go to every COMMON, check their calendar & 
pick the ones that are in your part of the country (less travel expense).  My 
current employer does not support this approach & is paying for other stuff, 
so I take what I can get.

I believe that we need a diversity of eductational sources such as this list, 
and some AS/400 technical publications.

If you have an AS/400 user group in your community, support it.  
Many user groups organize group travel to IBM events.
Consider the value of traveling with a group of your peers, extending the 
educational experience.
I remember a train trip a long time ago when a group of user groups reserved 
one whole passenger car of a train & we had a half day of user group meetings 
both to & from the joint conference.
I remember a conference I attended when I was in college in which we got a 
hotel directory ... look up the name of some buddy or some SIG & get the 
hotel & rooms they are checked in at ... I would not go for that today 
because COMMON is as much education as you can get exposed to on minimum of 
sleep.  I am more into the BOFS than CUDS in the evenings.

The most thorough education I ever got on any IBM platform was when Willis 
Music installed a S/34 & decided that they would not let me get any format 
education in it whatsoever, so I had to learn the hard way what could be done 
& what could not be done.  This was at a time when the SSP operating system 
was pretty new & I figured out tricks that you could do with it that the 
local IBM SEs said afterwards that if they had been consulted on what I had 
been looking into, they would have said that was flatly impossible ... I 
ended up giving a mini-seminar to a group of IBM SEs showing stuff I figured 
out that by today AS/400 standards is now meaningless.

Of course I hated having to learn that way & the cost to Willis was several 
years of us doing all kinds of things messed up until we learning how to work 
the then new system.  In another thread someone was asking about conversions 
& I referred to the repeating big bang approach where if it don't work, you 
just try try again every few months & after a few years you may be successful 
... this was the scenario I was referring to.

If getting to COMMON is not a practicality, then I think the IBM classes are 
next best thing ... overall $ investment will be somewhat higher to get same 
amount of education.  There are massive savings to be made in travel both 
scenarios.  IBM has a special hotel rate if you attending IBM University, but 
the last times I went to COMMON I shopped around for Bed & Breakfast.

A disadvantage that IBM University has over COMMON is there is not much in 
the way of NET CHANGE education ... most all of us are coming to some aspect 
of some AS/400 responsibilities FROM some other responsibilities or FROM some 
other platform.  The way IBM Education is structured ... here is everything 
you need to know once you LAND in this particular combination of 
responsibilities, but not much to help people who already know a big chunk & 
have holes to fill in their know-how.

I find myself going to a 4 day class because I need something that is taught 
in 1 1/2 of the days.  The rest is good review.

But with COMMON there are all sorts of tracks for all sorts of knowlege ... 
you can pick & chose what to get in-depth education in & what to get an 
overview on.

COMMON may have changed since I was last there.

We could get the hand-outs (overhead projection foils) of seminars we did not 
even attend & I sought binders of them for a whole spectrum of topics, for 
study in the years afterwards.  The volume of paper involved was more than 
you can take via air plane, which was another reason I liked a COMMON that 
was in driving distance, in which my car pool, on the way home, consisted of 
boxes & boxes of hand-outs.

I would hope this stuff is now on CD ROM.

There is a problem of when you go to these things you come back pumped up 
with 10,000 ideas of things you want to do to help your company do a better 
job with your systems, but you return to same old same old challenges & 
within a few months of only being able to apply 50 of the great new ideas you 
have forgotten what you have forgotten, or at least that is my situation.

I deal with this by taking 1/2 week "vacation" after COMMON or IBM University 
or whatever & organizing my notes to try to prioritize which of the great 
10,000 ideas are really practical to try to implement in the next 6 months.

MacWheel99@aol.com (Alister Wm Macintyre) (Al Mac)
AS/400 Data Manager & Programmer for BPCS 405 CD Rel-02 mixed mode (twinax 
interactive & batch) @ http://www.cen-elec.com Central Industries of 
Indiana--->Quality manufacturer of wire harnesses and electrical 
sub-assemblies - fax # 812-424-6838

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