Protected: Hands-on User Group Meetings

Dear CDBMA Pick User Group member, as you are well aware, we haven’t had a meeting for two years now. Is it lack of interest? Lack of material? Have you found another cure for insomnia? I don’t know about you but I miss the food. (Oh, and the people too!) So I pitched an idea to our fearless leader Mark Pick, and he agreed to put it up for a vote. Our goal is to see if we can book the year 2007 with a new lineup of meetings that will be fun and informative – we’re shooting for a new meeting in January, so please respond quickly if you have comments to this proposal.

[edit] In the time it took us to get out announcements about this, word is already spreading about this proposal. I extend a warm welcome also to members of the Seattle Area Pick Users Group (SAPUG). Everything here applies to you as well.

I was contacted by InterSystems to see if I wanted to download their Caché for MultiValue software (more about that later). I suggested that a one-on-one hands-on session would be better, to avoid that "what do I do now?" syndrome we all have when installing a new database product. When they agreed, I suggested they should do the same for about 20 of my friends (give me an inch…). Well, I don’t have 20 friends, so here we are.

Rather than just being put to sleep with a slide show I think it would be helpful if we could also (in addition to a little snooze) get our hands on some of these products that we hear about in our market. I propose the normal meeting format, dinner and "death by PowerPoint", followed by a hands-on session for those who are interested, where the presenter helps us to install their product on our own system. (Those who know better can sit with someone more daring.) Perhaps a number of us can just huddle around pre-installed systems. Or maybe we can Wi-Fi into someone’s network. How we do this doesn’t matter and it may change for each session. The point is to get some first hand experience so we have some idea of whether we’re interested in what people are selling, or maybe so we can learn new ways to do things.

About timing – this is what needs to be put up for a vote. Here are a couple options:

  1. Presentation begins at 12pm. Lunch at 1pm. At about 2pm we clean up and start the hands-on session which will last for up to 3 hours. This should be enough time to learn some details, experiment and ask questions of our coach.
  2. For local presenters who don’t need to fly in or stay in a hotel, we can have the normal show and dinner on one night, and follow on the next afternoon with up to 3 hours of hands-on time at a nearby location – someone’s office, a coffee shop, etc, depending on group size.
  3. Normal meetings to begin promptly at 5pm with a one hour product summary. Dinner from 6 to 7, hands-on until 10pm.
  4. Email me with suggestions.

It’s important to remember that the goal here is to get hands-on time with these products. Renting meeting space for 5 hours could be tough. Anything less than 3 hours of hands-on to get familiar with a new product may not do it justice – installation issues that could consume 1 hour of a 2 hour session will be a serious waste of time so we need to anticipate such things and provide extra time to ensure productivity. Breaking sessions into two days is probably undesirable for most of us. So please consider all such factors in your own suggestions.

About topics, I’d also like to have a session with OpenQM and jBASE. Revelation has already confirmed interest to give us hands-on experience with OpenInsight. MITS has already volunteered a session for their software. I can do one on DesignBais and/or mv.NET. There are of course many others – Email me with suggestions. We need six products for each odd month beginning January 2007 – it looks like we already have most of them lined up. All we need now is your feedback on the basic premise!

The format doesn’t need to be product-oriented. We can have a round-table session over dessert and beverages (not too many now) with a whiteboard to discuss system architecture, insecurities and vulnerabilities (in your database, let’s not get too personal), migration considerations, GUI development, and other topics where it’s helpful to have other people with experience, opinions, and maybe equipment to see first-hand how things work.

As you can see the intent here is to get more in-depth than we have in the past, and we’ll need to change our meeting times and venues accordingly.

If this meeting format is successful, I will propose the plan to other MV user groups around the country. This could be yet another way to get more Pick people familiar with products available in our market.

Please E-mail me with comments, questions, and suggestions. Comments will not be accepted for this blog entry simply because of the number of people involved and I’d prefer to not have a series of conversations going on here. I will edit the post as appropriate. SAPUG people please e-mail me as well. Comments will be shared with Mark Pick and Ross Morrissey.

After we’ve received some comments, CDBMA and SAPUG will send another mailing and I will post another blog entry so that you can remain informed of the progress of this initiative.

About InterSystems Caché for MultiValue software:

The Caché database product is the current evolution of the old MUMPS product. InterSystems has given the environment a new life and serves as a marketing powerhouse to encourage its use in modern mainstream environments. The Caché name is well recognized, InterSystems is a rapidly growing company. A couple years ago they hired Jim Idle, who was one of the chief architects of jBASE, along with other MV people, to create an interface for Caché which would allow MV BASIC business applications to run in this largely accepted environment. Other MV products have done this to some extent as well: ONgroup has ONware which lets MV code run against Oracle and SQL Server, jBASE has the JEDI to interface with relational environments, D3 has the OpenDB connectivity, and Universe and Unidata have the BCI. What InterSystems offers is a smooth migration to another MV-like environment, with benefits of their marketing machine, their well established market – and the extended features in the Caché environment might be compelling for someone who is familiar with Pick. This is exactly what we hope to find out with some hands-on experience. If you’d like to whet your appetite to see what Caché for MultiValue is about, have a look at an online video which I hope will encourage you to investigate further.

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