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A5 Conference Critique

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  • A5 Conference Critique

    Although I agree with many of the positive overall comments about the Conference, I also believe there were some shortcomings that I would like to address.

    Let me state right up front that Ira Perlow did an outstanding job. I thought it was definitely well worth everyone's time, effort, and money put forth to attend this well organized conference. However, I think all of us can learn and benefit from some constructive criticism and suggestions which I hope will be considered for our next get together.

    Time Alloted Per Speaker:
    -------------------------

    I believe speakers were generally allotted only 45 minutes for their sessions. I was really getting frustrated when I heard almost every speaker preface their presentation with essentially the same comments:

    There is so much that I wanted to show you, but I can't do that in the time allotted, so I will instead ...........

    You can fill in the words, but essentially we received capsule summaries instead of extensive details and/or examples. I was very interested in some of the topics, I was hoping we would have some really in-depth discussions. But every speaker felt pressed for time and cut back on the depth of their presentation, so that didn't happen.

    In retrospect, I felt the speakers should have been allotted 75-90 minutes [possibly more in some cases?] so all of us could have benefitted from more detailed presentations.

    And that brings me to my next point.

    Speaker Topics:
    ---------------

    There are some topics that are appropriate for everyone. The perfect example was Selwyn Rabin's outstanding, well received presentation on version 5. Having said that, I think we should have had a more organized division of topics divided into A5 beginners and experienced A5 developers.

    For example, I thought two of the best presentations during the weekend were Francie Peak's talk on "Action Scripting" and Steve Working's "Form Design" talk.

    However, from my point of view, I never have and probably never will use Action Scripting. In addition, I've already seen Workings' excellent Form Design presentation several times in the Maryland area. Although both presentations were excellent, I would haved much preferred the OPTION of going to a small group, in-depth XBasic workshop where we weren't pressed for time.

    Does anyone else have any comments and/or suggestions.

    Robert Tishkevich

  • #2
    RE: A5 Conference Critique

    Robert,

    It was good to meet you at the conference.

    At a post mortum discussion on Sunday afternoon this point came up. In fact, Ira brought it up saying that if we had 125 paid attendance rather than 77 we could have had two streams, basic and advanced. That way individual sessions could have been longer as basic and advanced sessions could be run simultaneously.

    This is a generalized curriculum problem. The granularity of the curriculum is driven by the total number of students.

    To be clear, I agree with you that longer more specific sessions would be good. I just see why it was difficult under present circumstances.

    And the solution is clear; more participants next time.

    Bill
    Bill Hanigsberg

    Comment


    • #3
      RE: A5 Conference Critique

      Robert,

      Thank you for your critique. Sometimes getting people to expand on what they didn't like is like pulling teeth.

      Let me just comment on a couple of things you talked about.

      The attendees ranged from beginners to the very advanced. It was tough to come up with topics that all would be interested in. Because of this, it was necessary that we have topics at all levels. However, because the number of early reservations was not as large as I would have hoped, I was limited to only 1 programming track. If I knew we were going to have 125+ people early enough, we could have had 2 tracks of programming (probably begginner & advanced) and enabled each speaker to talk longer. We could also have potentially gotten a hotel with more meeting spaces and have had many different, in-depth working sessions

      It is hoped that between the notes, CD of the talks, and sample databases, that even though each speaker just touched on topics, it gave pointers to the solutions they needed and they can review it over again until they get the key points. The speakers knew this and planned their topics accordingly.

      As for who spoke and the number, this was based on both their geographical locations, topics and personal style as well as a bit of Alpha notariety to make sure that we could pull in a number of attendees to make the conference financially viable.

      Hope this explains a bit, and encourages others to reserve and pay early for future conferences.

      Regards,

      Ira
      Regards,

      Ira J. Perlow
      Computer Systems Design


      CSDA A5 Products
      New - Free CSDA DiagInfo - v1.39, 30 Apr 2013
      CSDA Barcode Functions

      CSDA Code Utility
      CSDA Screen Capture


      Comment


      • #4
        RE: A5 Conference Critique

        Hello Bill:

        Yes, it was also nice meeting you.

        [I just see why it was difficult under present circumstances.]

        For me, why we didn't have different discussion threads is really not important. I also want to make this very clear, I wasn't criticizing Ira, whom I thought did a terrific job.

        For me, the only important point is ensuring that we make positive changes the next time we decide to get together.

        I have a feeling the next conference just might attract a huge number of participants. That of course hinges on the success or failure of Version 5. Based upon what we saw at the Confernce, it certainly appears as if Version 5 will be a huge success.

        Robert

        Comment


        • #5
          RE: A5 Conference Critique

          Ira:

          Please see my note posted in reply to Bill's comments. I was in no way being critical of you, I thought you did a terrific job. Although the conference was a huge success, we can always learn from and improve upon what we've done in the past.

          My sole concern is putting forth constructive criticism so we can make the next conference even better.

          Thanks for all that you did over the weekend and the many hours you obviously spent preparing for such a major event.

          Robert Tishkevich

          Comment


          • #6
            RE: A5 Conference Critique

            Robert,

            I just want to make it clear to all that I encourage constructive criticism and do not take it personally (unless it is personal!)

            Other problem that I think I would mention as well is that;

            1. The size of the screen versus the distance to the back row was not as good as I'd like, especially when viewing 800x600 text

            2. I was disappointed in the final effective brightness of the overhead combined with the data projectors.

            3. The sound system could have been better. I think I know how to solve this by placing a speaker on each table spread out appropriately.

            4. The power distribution for laptops everyone has could have been a bit better. A few more power strips, extensions and a different layout may have helped here.

            Regards,

            Ira
            Regards,

            Ira J. Perlow
            Computer Systems Design


            CSDA A5 Products
            New - Free CSDA DiagInfo - v1.39, 30 Apr 2013
            CSDA Barcode Functions

            CSDA Code Utility
            CSDA Screen Capture


            Comment


            • #7
              RE: A5 Conference Critique

              I agree with you that longer sessions might have been better, Bob. I felt that presentations were rushed and, even though I am a fairly advanced user, I had difficulty keeping up with some of the more complicated ones. A question and answer session might have been helpful for those of us who didn't quite understand everything. I would have liked a little more interaction between the speakers and audience.

              My other complaint was that I sat at the back of the room in order to be near an outlet for my laptop computer and the reflected light on the screen made it difficult for me to distinguish what was on it. Therefore the visuals were useless to me. The inclusion of another extension cord and outlet strips would also have been nice since many of us brought computers to the sessions.

              I really liked the couple of small, group discussions we had and wish there had been time for more of them.

              I, too, am not criticizing but hoping to make the next conference even better.

              Sylvia

              Comment


              • #8
                RE: A5 Conference Critique

                Hi Sylvia:

                Very good points. Tnis is the type of constructive criticism we need to enhance and improve our next conference.

                You wrote,

                [the reflected light on the screen made it difficult for me to distinguish what was on it. ]

                I sat much closer than you did, and for the most part, I still has difficulty reading text on the screen. In fact, until someone suggested changing the font to a much larger size and using Arial Bold, I could barely make out text during some of the presentations.

                One of several advangtaes of the small discusion groups you referred to, is the fact that you have a much better, clearer view of the all-important visuals.

                Comment


                • #9
                  RE: A5 Conference Critique

                  Hi Sylvia,

                  I felt that presentations were rushed and, even though I am a fairly advanced user, I had difficulty keeping up with some of the more complicated ones. A question and answer session might have been helpful for those of us who didn't quite understand everything. I would have liked a little more interaction between the speakers and audience.

                  I appreciate this. I would have loved longer presentations but I think the conference would have had to been 4 days. I hope the CD will enable all of us to review what we saw with greater understanding. I hoped you availed yourself of the opportunity to ask questions informally and at the worksessions (which is partially what they were intended for). But also remember that a conference is not necessarily training (those can be whole days or weeks by themselves) but hopefully exposes you to areas that you can then investigate yourselves. At least, that's my take.

                  My other complaint was that I sat at the back of the room in order to be near an outlet for my laptop computer and the reflected light on the screen made it difficult for me to distinguish what was on it. Therefore the visuals were useless to me. The inclusion of another extension cord and outlet strips would also have been nice since many of us brought computers to the sessions.

                  Road Warriors regularly bring power strips and extension cords (25 to 50 feet would be good!). I probably had over 15 power strips and many extension cords and it was not enough. The table spacing was different from what I had planned and created some issues with power distribution.

                  I tried to encourage use of large fonts in most demo apps, but many places are limited to the displayable font size (e.g. Control Panel display). While the screen could be brighter, it does have a physical limit to the size of the screen and height of the ceiling. I don't know if there is a great solution to this size problem, but it needs to be addressed.

                  I really liked the couple of small, group discussions we had and wish there had been time for more of them.

                  I'm not sure when we could have had more of them, and of course you said you don't want shorter talks, you want longer talks. It's tough to figure the best compromise here, but I think it was close. Between the dinners, lunches, breaks and cheese & cracker social combined with the worksessions, I hope you had an opportunity discuss some of your interests.

                  Regards,

                  Ira J. Perlow
                  Computer Systems Design & Associates
                  [email protected]
                  Regards,

                  Ira J. Perlow
                  Computer Systems Design


                  CSDA A5 Products
                  New - Free CSDA DiagInfo - v1.39, 30 Apr 2013
                  CSDA Barcode Functions

                  CSDA Code Utility
                  CSDA Screen Capture


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    RE: A5 Conference Critique

                    Hi Bill and everyone else,

                    I very much wanted to attend the conference, but couldn't get the authorization to go, and am not able to pay for it out of my own pocket. I work for the County of Mendocino in California and am the ONLY County employee authorized to use any other data management program than what Microsoft offers. THAT took a lot of talking and demonstrating Alpha's superior qualities. (Thankfully, I had several years of experience with Alpha III and IV and was able to show them some of my work, and convince them that I could do wonders in my new position ESPECIALLY IF I COULD USE ALPHA5.)

                    I will use some of these messages as my "sales package" for the next conference...and then you'll at least have 1 more attendee :>)

                    Hopefully, we can get enough attendees to break the topics down into beginner/intermediat/advanced, as seems to be the consensus.

                    A glossy brochure would be a good sales pitch tool, too...anyone up for creating one? (Unfortunately I do not have the time, nor the expertise.)

                    Sincerely,
                    Wanda F

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      RE: A5 Conference Critique

                      Thanks, Ira. I appreciate your comments and realize how difficult it is to be all things to all people. Once again, I think you did an outstanding job and realize that many of the problems were beyond your control.

                      While you are correct that there was time for some informal discussion during snack and lunch breaks, etc., people seemed to quickly congregate in groups and it wasn't always possible to get to individuals I would have liked to talk with. I also don't like to bother people at times like that with my questions or concerns. I believe it is their time to relax, eat, drink or socialize. I also won't force myself on others who don't seem that interested in talking to me. I didn't get a chance to meet all of the participants, including someone I had hoped to meet and talk with but didn't realize was even there until the very end.

                      Sylvia

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        RE: A5 Conference Critique

                        Regarding time constraints:
                        I wonder if a 3 or 4 day session would be attended. I could get away for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday conference. What do others think?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          RE: A5 Conference Critique

                          Ohlen:

                          I think a 3-day session is an excellent idea. I've always felt that two days isn't nearly enough, especially since people spend so much time checking in and unpacking the first day, then reversing the process on Sunday. That doesn't leave much time inbetween, does it?

                          A longer session would probably eliminate the pressure that an organizer has to squeeze too much information into a limited amount of time. I also think a 3-day session would provide more time for the type of one on one interaction Sylvia Tobias talked about, as well as more small group discussions.

                          And the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a 4-day session, however, I would guess the cost would be prohibitive for the organizer.

                          Robert

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            RE: A5 Conference Critique

                            I thought I read somewhere that somebody was talking about a Midwest Conference sometime after Version-5 released?

                            Does anybody know anything about this?

                            Thanks, and HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!!!!,
                            Mike
                            Thank you,
                            Mike Konoff

                            Comment

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