ResNet 2008: Last 2-3 Days

I’m not good with titles, but that really sums up what this is about.  I wrote about Friday already, now here’s Saturday through today (at least so far).

Saturday was the PDS sessions.  I learned about my DISC profile, which was a very worthwhile session.  It actually gave me some insight into what kind of person I am and what kind of manager I am.  It should help me quite a bit at work, once I go through and read the information more closely of course.  The second session wasn’t quite what I thought it would be and I wish I had signed up for the session on dealing with difficult people (since my job is 90% dealing with difficult people).  It was about balancing your life, which is something I think I do pretty well already.  While I might check my work email quite a bit at home when I’m not on vacation, it never gets in the way of enjoying my time away from the office.  So that session wasn’t really worth my time.  I was thinking it was more about balancing everything at work, which is something I could use some help with.  Maybe next year they’ll have something like that (I should suggest it).

Saturday night began the conference.  There was an opening reception with a lot of appetizers that were all really good.  There were some desserts and some really good juices, a lemonade made with some kind of mint and an iced tea with something in it that I just couldn’t figure out.  There was also a large spider, which I can’t include a pic of because I used my phone to take it and I can’t send picture messages from it up here.  During the reception, they had arranged for an Irish dance school to give us a little show.  The kids were young, but they could dance.  It was like a little Michael Flatley dancing with his people.  It was fun, but I forgot my camera and my phone camera just couldn’t cut it.

Following the reception, I went downtown with a bunch of people to a bar called Dolan’s Pub.  They had a live band called Barnacle and some pretty good local beer from Pump House in Moncton, NB.  The band played all covers, but it was a great mix of everything, including Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Great Big Sea (a Canadian band from Newfoundland), Sublime, Steve Miller, and a bunch of American 80’s music.  People were dancing.  Now there was a bachelorette party there and they wanted the bachelorette to do some crazy things.  I won’t go into details, but let’s just say there was some undergarment removal and a table dance involved… at our table.  I didn’t get back until 1:30 or so.

The next day was the keynote.  Stephen Downes gave the speech.  It was a great speech.  The guy looks just like David Crosby crossed with Arlo Guthrie.  He was a riot… at least for the first half.  He had this neat comment system on his website that he showed us.  It would display comments for 10 seconds and then move to the next one.  We had some fun with it, but some people were a little mean.  The best comment was “Did you play in a band with Stephen Stills and Graham Nash?”  The second portion of his speech was about Web 2.0.  I have already been to 2 or 3 sessions on that alone and this just wasn’t necessary for a bunch of people who are likely intimately familiar with it.  The first portion was about new ways of using the web and what young people expect of the web and internet services nowadays.

There were also 2 presentation sessions.  I attended one which was ultimately about a re-org of the department, but really hit on some good points on how to make the department great, including losing the various groups within a department and getting it to work more as a single entity than as a bunch of smaller groups.  The second one I attended was about making the Helpdesk better, but again was more about a Helpdesk re-org than what I thought it would entail, as the description mentioned a discussion of hiring and training and those were only minor points.

That was followed by the Geek Olympics.  I ended up on a team again this year and our team won (I did it last year and we came in second by just a hair)!  We had people from Stony Brook University on Long Island, Cal State in Chico, and NC State on our team.

This morning was the presentation I was working on with Sean Ward of Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  It was called “The Pros and Cons of Computer Requirements (or lack thereof)”.  It started out as a panel of 4 and ended up just being the 2 of us.  We went through our presentation in about half an hour or so, but there was a lot of discussion, which we hoped would happen.  It ended up being a pretty good presentation if you ask me.  I then went to a presentation about ConPortal, an open source web-based scheduling and time clock system originally created at Pomona College, but added to by Bucknell University.  It’s something I hope to implement, perhaps this year, though maybe next after I start requiring training (unless I require training towards the end of Winter Break).

The rest of today was left to do whatever.  I went for a walk with Sean and other guy from BGSU downtown, over a cool foot bridge that goes over the St. John river (it used to be a railroad bridge), and to a liquor store to buy some beer.  I didn’t find Péché Mortel as I had hoped, but they did have the whole Picaroons lineup.  I bought a bottle of each of the six beers they had from Picaroons and will be taking them back home with me.  The walk totaled about 7 miles, including 1.6 miles carrying the beer (I’m not going to try to put that in kilometers, even though that’s the official measurement here in Canada).

Now is time for rest and relaxation.  As we’re on our own for dinner, I’ll be headed back downtown, but my feet hurt and I need a break.

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