IDUG NA Technical Conference in Charlotte, NC – June 2019

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This is my regular pre-conference blog entry. I write these every year to share details about the conference and to share my excitement for this form of education and networking. The IDUG conferences in the US and Europe are my favorite weeks of the year. And wow, do I have a lot planned this year!

What Ember’s Doing at the Conference This Year

Sunday Educational Seminar

Entirely new for me this year is taking on an eductional seminar. The educational seminars are offered for a small additional fee the Sunday before the conference. Mike Krafick and I have teamed up to offer “Start Here: Db2 Basics for Developers and Administrators“. We have designed this session because we felt there was a lack of more basic information at the conference. Plenty of advanced and mid-level content, but not enough on the more beginner end. This session is designed for DBAs and developers with two or fewer years of experience with Db2. For people who are new to Db2, and to fill in some of the cracks that are inevitable when you’re self-taught. We’ll have a handout of over 400 slides that you can take home, and will be happy to give those who attend the seminar the (PDF) electronic version as well. You can read about all the educational seminars available on the IDUG site about them. To sign up, you have to change your registration to add a seminar.

TAB and Gold Consultant Meetings

Most conferences start a day or two early with meetings for the Technical Advisory Board, which is a group of consultants and customers that meet with IBM and provide them with feedback and ideas. These meetings start on Saturday this year.

XTIVIA Booth in the Vendor Expo

This year, my employer (XTIVIA) will host a booth on the Expo floor and will be giving away a prize in the passport to prizes! I’ve actually won something in the passport to prizes two out of the last five years, so be glad I’m out of the running this year! Stop by the booth to say Hi and let me know you’re a reader of the blog. Or to play my clients’ favorite game – quiz Ember! Learn a bit about the team of Db2 DBAs I run at XTIVIA and how we can help you have the time to really focus on conferences, lighten your on-call rotation, provide top-level education, or just have another DBA to discuss issues and plans with. We’re at booth 5, which is just across from the IDUG Hub.

Presentations

I have two solo presentations this year, and am assisting a colleague with his presentation. Check out:

Conference in Detail

General Format

The conference starts on Monday, June 3 and runs through Thursday, June 6th. Plan to get in on Sunday or earlier and leave as late as possible on Thursday to experience all the conference has to offer. It kicks off with a Keynote, and after that, “spotlight sessions”, where the only choice is between one Z session and one LUW session. Sometimes the spotlights are good forward-looking content, and sometimes they’re a bit salesy. After that, most of the conference is breakout sessions. There are two tracks for LUW, two for z/OS, and three tracks for “other stuff” – Application Development, “A La Carte”, and Emerging technologies. Also this year, there’s a whole track focusing on the new version that is about to be announced – 11.5. There are also a couple of hands-on Labs running most of the time. There is one time-slot that is dedicated to “VSPs” – these are Vendor Sales Presentations, and should be the only place other than the Expo floor where people are really trying to sell you something. The Thursday keynote looks a tad salesy too. I hear they’ll be announcing the best user speaker at the Thursday closing keynote (user speakers do not include consultants like me or IBMers). The best way to really understand the conference is by downloading the grid. This will be printed out and handed to you at registration, but it gives you the best layout of what is happening when.

Also of interest are the hands-on-labs. I’m having trouble finding one that doesn’t conflict with other commitments, but I’d love to see what Pavel Sustr’s looks like.

The top “can’t miss” event of the conference for me is the LUW mini-panel. It is two weeks until the conference as I write this, and I have already submitted my first question! The mini-panel has top experts ready to answer your questions. You can submit them in advance for more thought-out and well-researched answers by the panelists, or ask them in the room to try to stump the experts. I not only like the opportunity to ask questions, but I learn a lot from the questions that are asked and find this a great place to get blog ideas.

Registration

Registration is open every day, and twice on Sunday! This is where you go when you first get to the conference. It will be packed on Monday morning, so consider going on Sunday evening instead. If that’s not an option, go early on Monday. This desk is also where you can get information if you have any questions during the conference.

Saturday, June 1    
    4:30pm - 6:30pm (EdSems Registration only!)
Sunday, June 2
    8:00am - 9:30am (EdSems Registration only!)
    4:30pm – 6:30pm
Monday, June 3
    7:15am – 5:45pm
Tuesday, June 4
    7:30am – 5:00pm
Wednesday, June 5
    7:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday, June 6
    7:30am - 10:40am

Evenings

There are events most evenings. IDUG has listed the official ones. For the IBM one on Wednesday, make sure you stop by the IBM booth to pick up your ticket!

Building Your Schedule

The easiest way to see the conference and understand how it is structured is to look at “the grid”. You can download this pdf, and easily see the tracks and find what is relevant to you quickly. You can set your schedule up online if you really want to, but you’ll have to start at this page: https://www.idug.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1522. From that page, click on “Register”(yes, even if you’ve already registered), then click on “View Your Registration Details” under “ALREADY REGISTERED”. Then click on “My Agenda”. This allows you to add presentations to each available time slot.

Much easier than that is to just use the Mobile App, and go to “Sessions”.

It is a good idea to set your schedule at least vaguely ahead of time so you don’t miss anything you really wanted to see. When I set my schedule, there are several things I look for:

  1. New Version Information – this is something you likely can’t get anywhere else, and often the presentations may not be made available
  2. Can’t miss speakers – Dale McInnis and Keri Romanufa are at the top of my list at this point, but if you know an awesome speaker, to me that is more important than the topic. These are the speakers that even if I saw their presentation at another conference, I’ll probably still pick up on something I missed before.
  3. Supporting friends and new speakers
  4. Focus Topics – Each year, or for two years, I have an area to focus on. A while back, it was high availability and disaster recovery. One year, it was upgrades. Then I focused on SQL for a couple of years. Now my focus is on data science and Python. Look for the sessions that cover your focus area for this year.

That usually gets me at least one session in most time slots. If there’s more than one session that interests you in a time slot, add them both to your agenda, and then you can decide at the time. Looking at the schedule I’ve laid out for myself this year, there are only 7 sessions where I have only a single session selected, and three of them are ones I’m presenting!

Vendor Expo

I’m not saying this just because my employer has a booth this year, but the Expo is basically where everyone hangs out and chats when it’s open. There is often food or drinks there, and it’s just where you can run into people. Generally people in the Db2 community are quite friendly.

When you’re checking in at registration, you’ll get a “passport to prizes” – take that around to the booths and get it stamped by the vendors, and you’ll end up with about a 1 in 400 chance of winning several awesome techie prizes.

Presentation Downloads

Many of the presentations are already available for download in the mobile app. Use these to decide between presentations when the decision is difficult. Use them to see something that’s hard to see on the screen in the room. If you have a note-taking app, use them to take notes on. Use them after the conference to remember details from the sessions.

Certification

There will be no certification on-site this year :-(, but you can get one voucher for a free certification test to take later at a certification center near you.

This should be a clue to everyone on how IBM is neglecting certification for Db2.

Food

Unlike previous years, IDUG will be providing a full hot breakfast every day! This is a welcome change for me, assuming vegetarian options are available.

Wardrobe

Everyone dresses business casual or downright casual. I tend to go a bit more business, because I work from home, and I don’t get to wear those clothes very often! I also like to dress a bit nicer the days I’m speaking. But I won’t do crazy shoes, so I’m wearing Birkenstocks each day. I also freeze at conferences in the US, so I always have an extra layer or two than I would normally have. I keep wondering if I should just bring in my big puffy long coat that works for Colorado winters and just wear it through the sessions.

Mobile App

You should have received an email with a link and QR code to download the mobile app. I had the mobile app installed from last year, and it kept stopping until I uninstalled it and reinstalled it. In the mobile app, you can set up your schedule ahead of time. It should sync with your online registration if you’ve set up your schedule there. The mobile app is pretty decent. One of my favorite ways to find sessions is to search for my favorite speakers, and the mobile app is the only way I currently see to do that. There’s great information in there – I recommend downloading it ahead of time and exploring it.

Navigating the Conference’s Online Information

I find navigating the IDUG event site a bit confusing. I dig through that site to get the information for this blog entry and for tweets and such, so I thought I’d share a few tips. I’ve already covered the best ways to get to the agenda. Most of the other details are really on the “attendee” tab:

The list of clickable links on the right there is most of what you need. The same links are available on the “Details” tab, but on the attendee tab, you can scroll down and find important information summarized.

The “Agenda” tab is mostly only good for downloading the grid. You can’t add sessions to your personal agenda from this section, and you can’t search through the sessions.

Moderate a Session

Each IDUG session has a moderator. The moderator’s job is to Adult and be helpful. It requires no special training. The moderator’s role is basically:

  1. Pick up a packet before the session
  2. Help the speaker test the audio, and run get someone if there are A/V issues
  3. Ensure everyone in the room has an evaluation form
  4. Introduce the speaker, which can be as short as “Here’s Johnny!” or as easy as reading their bio paragraph
  5. Count the number of people in the room once or twice during the session
  6. Collect the evaluations at the end
  7. Be ready to go ask for help if the lights go out (happened in Anaheim – projectors were still working so everyone kept speaking) or something else weird happens
  8. Give the speaker 5 and 10 minute warnings if they like

Volunteering to moderate sessions is a good way to get your foot in the door if you want to start volunteering for IDUG. If you have sessions you know you’ll be attending, consider volunteering to moderate them. The hard-working IDUG thread chairs will thank you.

Resources with Conference Information

In addition to this blog entry and the IDUG site and mobile app, you should consider looking into the following:

Lead Db2 Database Engineer and Service Delivery Manager , XTIVIA
Ember is always curious and thrives on change. Working in IT provides a lot of that change, but after 17 years developing a top-level expertise on Db2 for mid-range servers and more than 7 years blogging about it, Ember is hungry for new challenges and looks to expand her skill set to the Data Engineering role for Data Science. With in-depth SQL and RDBMS knowledge, Ember shares both posts about her core skill set and her journey into Data Science. Ember lives in Denver and work from home for XTIVIA, leading a team of Db2 DBAs.

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