We just wrapped the PAUG conference held at Silver Falls, (Portland Oregon) and this is my review of the weekend spent with other Access enthusiasts.

Database Designer Conference
The conference brought together a wide range of Access developers, users and Access enthusiasts. It started on Saturday and concluded on Monday with session in

PAUG Conference Review

Lunch on last day

the morning, afternoon, evenings and social gatherings at night. We discussed a wide range of topics from multiple presenters.

Getting There
I flew into Portland from Chicago using Southwest and I used Hotwire.com to book a room at the Sheraton Portland Airport. Turns out almost everyone was located on

PAUG Conference Review

Dining Room

the other side of town, (south side),  which meant I had to take the train into town from the Airport. Next time I’m booking a room downtown so that I can easily go to the social on Friday night. We carpooled into the conference center 1.5 hours away on Saturday morning, just in time to do the hike through the woods.

Conference Facilities

PAUG Conference Review

Meeting Hall

The conference is held inside a conference center that’s inside a state park. This is not the Ritz, you’re being lodged in cabins, either single or bunking, (I went with my own room), with shared bath facilities. Everything was clean and simple, you’re there to learn and share with others, but you’re also immersed in the woods. I had AT&T and had no problem with internet or calling, but Verizon or T-Mobile users were out of luck. It didn’t help that the Internet access at the conference went down on Sunday.

We had a mix of government employees, consultants, power users and people who want to learn more about Access. We had book authors, software companies and even two Microsoft reps.

Silver Falls -Stunningly Beautiful
Words can’t do this place justice, for a city slicker like me I just had to pinch myself walking through the woods, breathtaking.

PAUG Conference Review

One of ten falls at Silver Falls Oregon - gorgeous!

I encourage you to participate in the morning walk on Saturday morning, it’s great walk through the woods, with the park having 10 waterfalls, (we only saw two), and wonderful trails. It’s a strenuous walk through the woods for everyone. (I was out of shape and winded through it all but loved it).

Meeting Hall/Food
33 of us would gather in a meeting hall for all of the sessions. Presenters had a projector and screen. We were fed a constant flow of sugar pastries and cookies baked onsite, along with drinks and meals served cafeteria style. The best part were the deserts, but the cafeteria food was OK. The worst part was the over abundance of sweets and cookies. Don’t come to this conference without your own stash of power bars and healthy snacks with bottled water. I offset the calories with walks through the forest in the morning.

Topics Covered
We heard from multiple presenters with topics ranging from “How to start a consulting business” to “Properties and Form Events”. I learned some new things about Access but what I loved most was the QA sessions, allowing us to discuss in more detail.  Participating with other experts in the field was worth the trip alone. I would have liked more power discussions on techniques and coding in Access. In particular there were no sessions on SQL Server with Access, a deep discussion of coding techniques, challenging query scenarios or other deep topics you would expect at a conference of this nature.

PAUG Conference Review

Hiking Trail

We had a room full of great Access consultants from around the country and even people from Canada and Australia, I would have loved to see samples of their work and discuss the techniques used. Perhaps a rapid 20 minute session for each participant?

I would also recommend a “call to speakers” prior to the conference and have PAUG members vote on each.

I’m glad I made the trek to Oregon and I’m looking forward to next year’s conference, there isn’t any like it in the US focused on just Access and it was a great way to learn what others are doing in my field. My congratulations to the organizers and volunteers who put on a great event!