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PAUG Conference Review

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

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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

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

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.

Attendees
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.

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.

Hiking Trail

Suggestions
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.

Conclusion
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!

About Juan Soto

Juan Soto is a Senior Access Developer at IT Impact Inc. and a Microsoft Access MVP. He specializes in Access with SQL Server databases. His passion for Access has led him to helping a wide range of businesses in helping them establish a secure, stable and efficient environment with SQL Server. He's a frequent speaker at Access user groups nationwide and recently spoke at the Orange County SQL Saturday # 73. If you wish to have Juan speak at your next group meeting you can contact him here.

4 Responses to "PAUG Conference Review"

  • Jandroid
    May 20, 2011 - 4:29 am Reply

    Great review and feedback Juan, glad you could come out and join us. It was great putting all our Access-ized heads together in that beautiful setting indeed. It was perfect timing for me, as I’m just getting back on the consulting horse if you will, so I was delighted to see what was coming next. But I won’t mind a little more code another time, either. I do hope you can join us again. You know me as Jan G from Portland;). (This is my alter-geek ego for blog comments). Thanks again Jack and Geoff. Great job.

    • Juan Soto
      May 20, 2011 - 12:25 pm Reply

      Thanks Jan!

      It was great meeting you there. Thanks for also subscribing to my blog, I love feedback on my posts.

      Juan

  • Jack Stockton
    May 19, 2011 - 2:48 am Reply

    Thanks for attending the PAUG Database Developer conference, as well as the kind words and suggestions.

    Since this was your first time at one of our conferences, I wanted to let you know that in past years, we have presented a lot more code and SQL Server-related topics than we did this year. Because the juxtaposition of SharePoint, Azure and Office 365 have all converged on developers; we wanted to present them in such a way to enable our attendees to compare them for applicability to their business and development models as well as understand them individually. (Personally, being more of a desktop developer, I prefer more code as well.)

    Also, you were right about the snacks. Although we also had fresh vegetable/dip, fresh fruit and cheese/cracker platters as well as pastries and cookies galore, your point is well taken. It’s always difficult to figure out how many will want pop vs. coffee etc. and we always try to improve these affairs each year; so, point taken. (By the bye, all the water up there is local spring; so all you need is a travel bottle or glass and you are set. We will have pitchers of water and glasses on all the tables next year.)

    For any who prefer more comfortable accommodations than the center’s lodges can provide, there are two very nice bed and breakfasts and a couple Motels in nearby Silverton, only a short drive away from the center. Any who are interested can contact Jack or myself to get all the pertinent poop. We have specifically picked the Silverfalls Conference Center. The beauty of the location allows for reflection and encourages attendees to gather together, instead of heading off to do something by themseleves.

    Finally, your idea about a “call to speakers” is a good one. Frankly, our problem is that we have too many people who want to speak now! Alison Balter is a regular, as is Armen Stein and Kevin Bell. New this year was; Luke Chung and Ryan McMinn, Senior Program Manager Lead on the Microsoft Access team. All have graciously offered to come back next year, as well as… Well, we’ll announce that later in the year…

    Thanks for coming Juan, and adding your insight to the discussions as well as contributing many useful comments and observations about SQL server and what it’s like to run a consulting business. I know for a fact that is was appreciated by many of our attendees.

    See you next year!”
    Jack Stockton and Geoff Hollander

    • Juan Soto
      May 19, 2011 - 8:09 am Reply

      All great points Jack and Geoff, looking forward to next year’s conference already!

      Juan

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