iChime’s community spirit recognized by IBM Systems Magazine

So many thanks to IBM Systems Magazine for their recent review of iChime.  You can read the article by clicking on this link – https://ibmsystemsmag.com/Power-Systems/07/2020/Find-Community-at-iChime.  When senior editor Claire O’Leary attended our last meeting, she was impressed by the participation and candor of the attendees. This is completely unsurprising to those in the IBM i community.  We are all friends; it is what makes this community so special.  It is why those who have left because of new jobs and other situations tell me how they are so sad when they leave.  There is truly a feeling of family.

When the pandemic started, conferences were quickly postponed or canceled one after another.  But our friendships, as expected, persevered.  And so has the need for in-person peer interaction, even if it is only virtual. With necessity being the mother of invention, iChime was born.

One significant benefit of having meetings with attendees spanning many time zones, and more importantly, many countries is the reminder of equality.  How, regardless of where in the U.S. or Europe our shops are, so many of our IT challenges are nearly identical.  And I do not attribute this to our mutual computing platform.  No, what I am referring to is how we approach application development, general IT challenges and user concerns.  Through our camaraderie, all of these have been revealed over the last several months of iChime.

So many thanks to everyone who has joined one or more meetings. Your participation is always welcome!

Another successful iChime meeting!

The group discussion circled around continuing employment in the IBM i marketplace, and how to be best prepared.  How business in general is being affected by the pandemic brought a lively conversation.  One idea was how this recession is different than others, in that it is more industry specific vs across the board.  For example, transportation companies are doing well while restaurants are truly struggling. The significance of having a current presence on LinkedIn was reiterated.

You are welcome to join!

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.  IBM’s Tim Rowe, Business Architect Application Development & Systems Management for IBM i will kick off our discussion with what he is seeing in the trenches and how customers are using IBM i to bolster their enterprises.  You can read more about Tim at this link – https://ibmsystemsmag.com/authors/Tim-Rowe

To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/iChime.

Open Source integration focus at recent iChime meeting

Alan Seiden was our June 24th meeting’s special guest. He started our discussion on the world of open source.  A big take away, though no surprise, is the world of ILE is far more than just RPG.   He then went on to describe the many other ways developers can adopt open source technologies to quickly create meaningful business results.  One example was the many benefits of using CURL, both for development and testing.

As always, trying to have a single photo with all 30 attendees was nearly impossible. Thanks to everyone who joined the meeting!

An excellent GitHub resource for IBM i that was referenced is OSSILE – a source of free functions readily available for download and reviewing. https://github.com/OSSILE/OSSILE

Open source is not just about using the source code in production, but how it can also be used as education, to see how other developers solve a particular problem.

We were reminded how important it is to not use the words “replace” when it comes to substituting one language with another.  It is not a binary decision.  Once again, an integrated language environment is optimal.  Perhaps more important than ever before.

To learn more about Alan Seiden and his company visit https://www.seidengroup.com/.

You are welcome to join!

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.  The kickoff discussion will be the essentials of Amazon Web Services.

To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/iChime.

iChime reaches new members with each meeting

There were some new faces at our June 9th, 2020 meeting, and we are very happy there were.  Being involved with a global community brings insight you would not normally learn. The word is getting out!

Our featured guest for this meeting was communication expert, author, and professional speaker Jayne Latz.  Thank you so much for your participation in this meeting, your wisdom sparked great discussion with the group. Jayne shared her top tips on how to effectively bring your communication skills to the next level, whether you are on or offline.  

One interesting statistic was how most people judge you based on how you say something, versus what you are actually saying.  Twice as much, in fact.

To learn more about Jayne and her company visit https://www.corporatespeechsolutions.com.

Some topics discussed during this meeting were:

How to properly position yourself for the most effective online discussion

General meeting tactics such as speech cadence, posture, and body language

The importance of having your camera turned on while presenting in an online forum

Working with IBM on general IBM i issues across the globe

You are welcome to join!

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.

To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/iChime.

LinkedIn Chimes in on iChime’s May 26th, 2020 meeting

Another sixty minutes planned, another thirty minutes over.  Hmm, really need to investigate this…

In this meeting we welcomed special guest Beth Granger, a trainer, consultant, and professional speaker on LinkedIn.  Beth described LinkedIn as an “always on networking event” and went on to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and demonstrate some cool tricks on maximizing our use of the platform.   Thank you so much Beth, your expertise was greatly appreciated!   Beth can be reached on her favorite platform at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethgranger.  You can also find her on the Facebook Group, Level Up with LinkedIn.

As has always been the case, since this is a networking and social gathering, people come and go, making it impossible to capture everyone in the room all at once.   There was a total of 32 people attending this meeting.

Some of the topics discussed at this meeting were:

Differences of free vs paid version of LinkedIn

How to quickly share your LinkedIn profile, even while not in front of your computer

An effective way to contact those who recently reviewed your profile

IT certification, pros, and cons (how it is viewed by peers and the IT community in general)

You are welcome to join!

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9th, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.

To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/iChime.

iChime continues community connection with meeting number 5!

Another successful iChime meeting!  Meeting number 5, which was held on May 14th went thirty minutes over our scheduled one hour, an event that is becoming a bit of a habit.

To kick off our meeting, we welcomed special guest Jean Marie DiGiovanna. Jean Marie is an international keynote speaker and leadership trainer.  She is a founding member of Cambridge Technology Partners and was involved with the company’s amazing growth to over 4000 associates worldwide.  Her website is www.jeanmariespeaks.com. Thank you Jean Marie for your contribution to our group!

Those who stayed until the end of the meeting!

We continued to have attendees from across the United States and Europe.  Some of the topics that were discussed are:

How different will our workplaces become when we return?

How we have an opportunity to create what our “new normal” workplace might look like.

How companies will begin to rollout plans for the new workplace, and how remote employees might remain long after COVID-19

Might working remote continue to be acceptable?

How will IT and application security be impacted?

Companies running legacy code and how to effectively educate management on business reasons to modernize

Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.  To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/ichime.

IBM User Group Days – well rounded education and community support

IBM Virtual User Group Days is arriving May 19th and 20th!

What is it, you say?

A consortium of over a dozen user groups, which runs each day from 08:00AM (0800) to 04:30PM (1630) Eastern Time.

 This two-day FREE virtual event is branded with “This time, users take the stage.”  A review of the agenda has now made this event a must attend.    The notion of combining highlights and content from these popular groups and A-list speakers is incredible.  Featured groups are The International Informix Users Group, COMMON (Power Systems), Northeast Maximo User Group (New York based, Middleware), IDUG (Db2), Maximo (UK and Ireland based, Middleware) and COMMON Europe (Power Systems).  Their individual websites are www.iiug.org, www.common.org, https://community.ibm.com/community/user/imwuc/communities/globalgrouphome?CommunityKey=f660ff37-0cee-4ac3-bd2e-7cc83dca2836, www.idug.org, https://community.ibm.com/community/user/imwuc/communities/globalgrouphome?CommunityKey=23eb0724-51c5-4888-8e09-5c772ff5ec71 and www.comeur.org respectively.

How to get there and participate

The main event registration website is www.ibm.biz/usergroupday.

You can register with your existing IBM ID or you can create your virtual event profile directly on the site.

If you cannot attend any session in real time, don’t panic!  All sessions will be recorded and available for replay for 90 days.  

Once you are logged in, you will enter your basic demographics and select up to five areas of interest.  The choices are AI, Automation, Cognos, Cloud Integration, Cloud Pak, Data Science, Data Ops, DB2, IBM Security,  IBM Storage, IBM Z, Informix, Maximo, Netcool, Open Source, Planning and Cognos, Power Systems and WebSphere.

Important note – Once you accept the data sharing checkbox with IBM and BeMyApp, you will not be able to edit your answers once registration is finished.

More details

As per the IBM website, there are six tracks each day featuring expert advice, lessons, demos, keynotes, feedback sessions, and more.  This is an excellent way to learn more about these particular groups.  It’s quite possible you’ve been missing out on a good thing all this time.  With “right-sized” session lengths of either thirty or sixty minutes, this is a great opportunity to quickly learn about other groups and their supported technologies.

Day one tracks are 1) Db2, 2) Planning Analytics and Cognos, 3) DataOps and Informix, 4) Automation, 5) CP4D (Cloud Pack for Data), Data Science, Netezza and AI and 6) IBM Storage and IBM Z.   Day two tracks are 1) IBM Security, 2) Netcool and CP4A (Cloud Pak for Automation) – WebSphere, 3) Power Systems, 4) Open Source at IBM and The Public, 5) Cloud Integration and 6) Maximo.

In addition, at noon two featured talks appear, one for each day.  The first day features Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems.  Day two features Rob Thomas, Senior Vice President, IBM Cloud and Data Platform.

For a detailed look at the agenda, click on this link – https://ibm-ugd-platform.bemyapp.com/#/agenda.

Final thoughts

I have added this event to my calendar and so should you.  Many of the speakers are with IBM and still others are not.  This mix looks to provide a ton of expert content from the trenches, without any fluff. Regardless of your IT specialty, you will surely find a session or three of interest.  User groups play a vital role in the life blood of our communities, and our involvement is an excellent way to reciprocate our support.

iChime meeting connects with the IBM i community.

Here is a recap of our May 4th, 2020 meeting.

I am proud that after just four meetings, our attendance has grown to 30 attendees.

To kickoff our meeting, we welcomed a special guest, professional speaker and leadership coach Nora Burns. Nora shared important and helpful tips on how to use Zoom for your business and also for effective job interviewing.  Her website is www.theleadershipexperts.com  Thank you Nora for your contribution and insights!

With all the engaging discussions, we easily blew past our scheduled sixty minutes and went an additional thirty. Here are some of the meeting’s discussion points:

The importance of keeping a normal life during this extended quarantine.

The future and relevance of user group conferences.

Avoiding scheduling conflicts with other global conferences.

Technical industry speaker availability.   

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 14th, 2020 at 2:00PM Eastern (New York) time.  To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/ichime.

iChime! Fostering community and sharing industry know-how across the globe

While many people have been working from home for quite some time, a traditional office was the norm for so many others.  Indeed, it is the camaraderie with talented and caring people that makes our workplaces as special as they are.  When we were all obliged to stop meeting in the office, lots of us felt cut off and out of touch.  For those of us who perform more effectively in an in-person environment, the feeling was even more intense.  Video conferencing, while hardly a new technology, has brought us together in a whole new (and perhaps permanent) way.

Through my travels, I know members of the IBM i community are both closely connected and mutually supportive, regardless of their global coordinates.   It is truly as wonderful as it is astonishing.  Certainly, technical conferences and user group meetings are excellent vehicles for fostering personal and professional growth.  With these venues being closed for the foreseeable future, we need another way to keep the community together.  Enter iChime.

iChime, an online ZOOM forum, encourages anybody in the community to participate.  In fact, in our first three meetings, attendance has grown from less than ten to thirty people, across TEN time zones.  Truly remarkable!  What I found most interesting is regardless of where our associates live, we have learned how similar our concerns and day-to-day issues are.

In this one-hour(ish) meeting, which takes place roughly every ten to fourteen days, discussions have been widely varied.  Attendees have included technical people, system admins, recruiters, managers and independent consultants.  There is definitely no shortage of topics.  As for the topics themselves, a small sampling of recent discussion items is:

  • Working from home
  • What we might expect from our users / management once we return to “normal”
  • How the 24/7-time requirements have changed our care and feeding of IBM i
  • Proper scheduling of system backups
  • Preparing for the next round of projects
  • Readying our applications for future large demands
  • Being better ready for a disaster

I hope you will consider joining our next iChime meeting.  Why not bring someone along, such as your manager or consumer of your software?  Everyone’s opinion is welcomed and valued.

The meetings are scheduled for 2:00 PM Eastern (New York) time.  Given the broad time zones we are spanning, this time works best.

To register and be notified of future meetings, visit www.centralparkdata.com/ichime.

See you there!

Why I am attending IBM’s Think 2020

In early 2019 I had the good fortune to be selected for the IBM Champions for Power Systems program (https://developer.ibm.com/champions).   My good fortune continued when I was able to attend Think 2019, held in February in San Francisco.   And I will attend again this year, and you can too, visit https://www.ibm.com/events/think for details.

As someone who speaks at many IBM i conferences each year, I had a very good idea of what to expect.  The attendees, the vendors, the keynotes, the breakout sessions, the networking, and so on and so forth.  Yes, there was all of that.  But there was a different feel here. 

Prior to arriving

The number of sessions at other conferences pale by comparison to what’s offered at Think.  Had I not done some pre-planning it might have been too late to navigate once I arrived.  Fortunately, the website does provide multiple filters, making for a much more meaningful search.  For example, when “Filter by Topic” is expanded, some items from the list include Automation, Blockchain, Cloud, Data and Analytics, IBM Research, Smarter Business, and Watson, to name a few.

An additional Filter by Industry reveals items such as Aerospace and Defense, Banking, Financial Markets, Healthcare, Insurance, Media and Entertainment, and Retail and Consumer Products.   Other filters return even more granular results.

Day 1 of Think

Nothing had prepared me for the magnitude of the event.  I was told the attendance was estimated at 30,000, but until you are actually walking through closed sections of the city, feeling the electricity with like-minded throngs of people, it doesn’t quite register.  Since nearby blocks and venues around the Moscone Center had been allocated to Think, it was cool to be enveloped by all messages and signs IBM. Coffee shops, food courts and the like were being used to accommodate the crowds. Here was a first – I had never attended a technical session in a movie theater prior to this event.  Quite surprisingly, but possibly not, was how well organized it all was.  The Welcome Center at the Moscone was a good starting point, providing essential navigation details.

Getting Down to Business

One of the highlights for me was attending The Chairman’s Address.  Being able to hear IBM’s President and CEO Ginni Rometty live at an event was something I was long looking forward to. 

Focus, focus, focus

My technical orbit is IBM i application development.  I made a conscious decision to learn about topics outside that space.  I wholeheartedly believe as technologists we need to have a more than cursory understanding of technology in general.  That’s what we do.  Not necessarily be an expert in every topic, but at least be able to speak to what’s relevant.

While I’ve already mentioned the vast amount of sessions, I was particularly happy with the expertise of the speakers and depth of the content.  People from the field, using the newest and emerging technologies.   I logged hours of reading and research on Blockchain and AI prior to Think, but the depth of these sessions brought my understanding to another level.

New Business

An ancillary benefit was to meet other business owners and foster professional relationships.  Since attending Think, my company has begun to collaborate with others, using a common platform and offering each other our unique services and talents.  Hardly surprising when you are amongst such a sizable attendance.

Location, location, location

That Think was held (and will be held again in 2020) in San Francisco cannot be understated.  Being a native New Yorker, I am very comfortable walking around large cities.  I made it a point to take a little extra time and indulge my senses with the sights and sounds.  And of course, more importantly, the people.

Final Thoughts

For all the reasons above, and then some, is why I’m going to Think 2020.  To expand my repertoire of IT and IBM knowledge. To make new friends and revisit with so many old ones. To have access to high level IBM executives and senior developers of products alike. To be able to add some cool photos to my personal collection, like the one here with the big IBM display.

When we’re both there in May, let’s connect. Somewhere among the crowd of 30,000 people, I’ll be the guy wearing the blue shirt…

Charles is President of Central Park Data Systems (www.centralparkdata.com), an IBM i consulting company.

He can be reached at cguarino@centralparkdata.com