Will "the Mighty" Strohl

February 2009 ODUG Meeting Recap - Disaster Zone

Tonight, we held the monthly Orlando DotNetNuke Users Group meeting for February of 2009, and boy was it a doozie!  Everything that could have gone wrong tonight, did.  Here is the trial and tribulations of the worst ODUG meeting, ever. :)

First of all, it is no secret that I stream the ODUG meetings for all to view.  The intention is to bring the ODUG to those that either cannot make it, or to those that do not have their own user group in their area.  It also provides another way to add value for our sponsors.  Tonight, I intended to address a quality concern in the ODUG stream.

Pre-Meeting

I arrived about 1.5 hours early like I usually do to set up the room for the meeting.  Along with anyone who shows up early, I put up banners, arrange the room, and get the technical equipment ready. 

I ordered street signs last week to point newcomers to the building where we meet.  They were supposed to arrive at my office on Monday morning.  They instead arrived one day later (today), at my home.  I live 30 miles aways!  Argh!

Luckily, my girlfriend was on her way into town anyway, so she brought the signs. Problem solved.

I found out pretty quickly that I forgot the wireless router and additional cables for the mini network that we were going to run to give ODUG'ers and the speaker Internet access, as well as setup the additional web cam for screen-only viewing.  I also had forgotten to pack extra door prizes.  Fail!

Luckily, one of our UG members, Bob, had an extra router and cables in his office.  He went to get them.  Problem solved.

We hooked up the router and attempted to test our Internet connection.  No worky.  We couldn't get out.  After further troubleshooting, the router was not routing.  It would only process DHCP requests.  Otherwise, it made a great LAN switch.  Fail!

I attempted to share my network connection via my wireless card to at least get the other webcam functional.  As it turns out, my particular Dell laptop does not support this feature.  Fail!

We were then down to a single web cam again.  The stream was going to suck.  Well, it sucked even worse than it ever had before.  For some reason, I could not get close enough to the screen, but I did find some really useful settings to change the white balance, contrast, brightness, and much more.  However, the vertical pan is broken.  Fail!

The signs arrived.  I asked someone to put them out on the road.  They quickly noticed that the arrows on one side of the sign would point in the wrong direction.  So, UG members might turn the wrong way, or not know where to turn.  Fail!

Our Vice President go creative and fixed the signs using a Sharpie and hacked up "Hello My Name Is..." stickers.  Problem solved.

While setting up the streaming station, I dropped my G1 phone.  Fail!

We made the best with what we had.  We forged on...

The Food

Cafe Tu Tu TangoWe were able to work out a co-sponsorship deal with VACO and Cafe Tu Tu Tango to get some really awesome food.  We had marinated beef tips on a stick, and some chip-like things with delicious spinach dip.  Pass!

Thank you so much to Ana Wilson from VACO for making that happen!  She really does go above and beyond what anyone would expect from a UG sponsor.  Please check them out if you're hiring or looking for IT work right now.

VACO Technology 

The Meeting

I proceeded to start the meeting.  I always start the meeting by speading ODUG news, DNN news, and any other Microsoft community news that might be important.  I do this using a slide deck.  I am pretty meticulous in getting those slides prepared.  I even post them on the ODUG website the night before.

During the whole router issue and workaround attempts, I didn't pay attention when I downloaded the welcome slides.  I downloaded the welcome slides from last month.  I had to wing it.  I did pretty well, I think.  In retrospect, I should have taken the extra 1-2 minutes to download the actual slides.  Fail!

I wrapped up the welcome spiel, and introduced our speaker for the night.  When I got back to my laptop, I noticed comments in the ODUG chat room and on twitter, that the sound was not coming through on the stream.  I had to stop and restart the live stream.  Fail!

Our presenter for February was Darrell Hardy of Hardy Consulting.  Darrell is also a co-author of Professional DotNetNuke 5, by Wrox.  He came bearing gifts.  Wrox sent him a stack of coupons for 2 of their DNN books.  Pass!

Darrell did a great job of showing us some little known features that are in DotNetNuke.  I was very impressed, considering that he has been dealing with an illness of a family member recently.  He is certainly a trooper for still coming in and presenting.  Pass!

During the meeting, the ODUG chat room was pretty active.  I made sure to interact with our remote attendees.  I was excited to see Joe Brinkman online, and interacting with us.

Darrell began to wrap things up, so I began preparing for the door prize giveaways. 

Door Prize Giveaway

I had Darrell pull raffle tickets for the attendees.  Nearly everyone won something.  Pass!

We gave away Microsoft Press books from CodeZone, telerik controls, and Infragistics controls.  We also gave away modules from OnyakTech, Snapsis, and DNNMasters.  We have some very generous sponsors.  Thank you to all of you!

I then gave a reminder for South Florida Code Camp, and we packed up so we could hang out at TGI Fridays for the ODUG Social.

ODUG Social

It began last month, and it was a success.  So we decided to do it again.  Most of the people at the meeting all went to the nearby TGI Fridays for a snack and a couple of drinks.  We had a blast.  We spoke about pretty much everything.  Though the topics were obviously always returning to DotNetNuke.

Summary

I have been running the ODUG since August 2008.  While I have been learning new things at every meeting, I know I learned more tonight than any other ODUG meeting.  From the physical attendee perspective, there was little difference.  But the online experience was really horrible tonight.

Nearly all of the problems tonight could have been prevented, had I done one thing.  My typical ritual the night before an ODUG meeting is to double-check the slides, and then repack our supplies.  I had unfortunately not done the slides until last night, leaving no room for repacking the supply box.  I simply assumed that I had it all packed right since the last meeting.  I couldn't have been more wrong!

The one problem that was caused by not repacking the box really spiraled everything else out of control.  I will not let that happen again.

Overall, everything really did turn out well.  I think we now have all of the major bugs worked out, and are really prepared for next month's ODUG meeting with Chris Hammond.

Thank you to everyone that has been helping out with the ODUG, and to those who have been helping me.  Tonight, your strength really helped keep me inline and not panic. 

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