The weekend of August 4-6 one hundred thirty-four hardy souls braved the Chicago heat wave to attend the fifth Midwest Regional User Group Officers and Directors Conference, hosted by the Chicago Computer Society. The Regional was held at the McDonalds Hamburger University Conference Center and the adjoining Lodge, in Oak Brook Illinois. Starting Friday night with a reception, and ending Sunday morning with a software drawing, 109 user group leaders representing 36 users groups joined twelve vendor representatives, six guest speakers, and seven conference committee members in a weekend of workshops, presentations, discussions, and camaraderie.
When planning the Midwest Regional, Carol Diamond (my tireless Vice-Chair) and I had the goal of maximizing the educational potential of the conference. Along with the traditional Roundtables, led by user group leaders, we wanted to provide the opportunity for training by bringing in experts from outside the user group community. These speakers brought expertise that many user groups often do not easily have access to. Our presenters included:
Of course our traditional Roundtables were also well received and attended. Uniformly superb jobs were done by:
Thanks to CCS's Harold Driscoll, the Midwest Regional Conference Proceedings manual is now available on the World Wide Web: http://www.ccs.org/mwregion/. We hope that all user group officers will take advantage of the material on our Web pages, which include the Workshop Descriptions, Workshop Materials, and User Group Resources. (Also check out our kudos, which Carol and I are very proud of.)
The Midwest Regional couldn't have taken place without the generous support of the Conference Sponsors: Adaptec, Adobe, America Online, Borland, Claris, Delrina, Elek-Tek, IBM, Intuit/Parsons Technology, Lotus Development, Microsoft, Novell, Symantec, and the User Group Connection. We were glad that several user group representatives could attend: Adobe's Rye Livingston and Louise Miller, AOL's Mark Aguirre, Borland's Ylonda Davis, IBM's Gene Barlow, Parson's Matt McCann, Microsoft's Annie Sparrow, and Symantec's Sue Selesky. We even put them to work, sitting on the "firing line" during the Vendor Forum Saturday afternoon.
The Midwest Regional kicked off Friday afternoon, August 4, with registration. During registration AOL give demonstrations and provided information about their user group program. AOL also provided welcome soft drinks to those coming in from the heat. Friday evening Adobe and Symantec put on a mighty Italian buffet, along with T-shirts and prizes. Everyone left psyched up for the weekend.
Saturday morning dawned early with breakfast sponsored by Borland and a demonstration of Delphi and dBase for Windows. Then it was off to the first two Workshop sessions. Lunch was hosted by IBM, and included a presentation of OS/2. (Yes, that was me and Gene Barlow in the back of the room calling presenter Tim Sipples' Thinkpad; OS/2 answered and was very cordial to us.) Saturday afternoon brought the third and forth Workshop sessions. Dinner was hosted by Microsoft, and the evening featured an in-depth presentation of (guess what?) Windows 95. Walking back to the hotel we were greeted with a fireworks show in the distance, which Matt McCann took credit for (though we suspect the city of Oak Brook had something to do with it).
Sunday dawned not-so-early, with a breakfast hosted by Novell and featuring a presentation on Novell PerfectOffice and GroupWise. After some final remarks, the Conference concluded with a software drawing. In addition to lots of goodies from our sponsors, 33 other vendors provided software and hardware for the attendees. Everyone left with at least two products, many with three.
Carol and I received many very positive comments about the Conference, from the facility to the program. We hope that the educational focus of meeting, with training workshops, can serve as a model for future regionals.
by Ken Johnson, Chicago Computer Society
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