Viennese IBM i Anniversary and Birthday Celebrations

Vienna, Austria, June  2018

The 2018 COMMON Europe trip was divided up into two very distinct segments.

The first half occurred in Warsaw, you can read about it here.

The second half, which occurred immediately after Warsaw was an entirely different experience.   Larry Bolhuis (current President of COMMON U.S.)  and I were guests of Christoph Cuscoleca, who is the Technical Director of COMMON Europe and a member of COMMON Austria.  Christoph had booked two different speaking events for us.

From AS/400 to IBM i, Happy 30th Anniversary

As part of our first full day in Vienna we attended a 30th Anniversary party of IBM i.  It was held at the Restaurant Waldgrill Cobenzl,  just outside of Vienna.  Attending the event was the one and only Dr. Frank Soltis, the Father of the AS/400.  Frank, Larry and I were to speak at the event.   What made this day extra special is that our event took place on the actual 30th anniversary, June 21st.    My topic was my personal evolution with AS/400 into IBM i.

I remarked how, no matter where I go, clients tell me how they all say they received the “first” system ever shipped.  I then asked Frank to clarify this.  He jokingly replied that IBM told everyone that they received the first one ?.

The cake(s) – At each event was a cake created in the likeness of AS/400 or IBM i.   At this event the cake was presented in the black box red-striped incarnation.   It was fun to see all the creativity and to re-live all of the different moments in the system evolution.

Meeting everyone – as always, the best part is moving from table to table and connecting with all of the attendees.  It’s striking how similar our technology and specifically IBM i stories are, regardless of where in the world we live.

One particular gentleman had a fascinating story to share, Mr. Arnulf Oplusstil.  He told me how he attended the COMMON conference in 1964!  Impressive indeed!


The IT Students

Christoph is an instructor at The Schule for IT.   At the COMMON Europe Congress there were several of Christoph’s students from Austria.    Some of these students attended my sessions.  I enjoyed chatting with them and discussing their futures in IT.   Since Larry and I booked the same return flights to Austria as them, we had additional opportunities to chat with them along the way.  They are all graduating next week with degrees in Systems Administration or Engineering. They are all set to enter the workforce.

Speaking at the High School

On Friday we had the opportunity to visit a high school BG/BRG Klosterneuburg and be part of the “IT – Live on Stage” event.  This was a special year as it was the event’s 10th anniversary.   The same as the night before, Frank, Larry and I offered presentations to the students.   Many of the students who were present had just graduated.  Joining them were Christoph’s students from the college.   Everyone gave us their rapt attention.  My topic was Passion and The IBM i Community, what it was and how I came to be part of it.

Passion in your career –  My story of how I first learned RPG in Manhattan is so intertwined with my living in New York City that these stories must be told together.   I explained how NYC is configured, the five boroughs and how it was to grow up there.   I discussed my love of The Twin Towers and how they affected my life.

Bi-directional inspiration – After my presentation two students raised their hands and asked very interesting questions.  Tizion B. asked, “How do you know when you finally find your passion?”  and Helene V. asked, “How does your family support your passion?”

To Tizion, it’s just one of those things.  When there is nothing that can be put in your way to stop you from doing what you really want to do.  You feel it in your heart and you feel it in your bones.  For me, it was computers.

To Helene, your question gave me pause.  How does a family support our passion?  After some reflection here is my response.  Families can support us by enabling, that is to say giving us opportunities that encourage us.  For example, letting us be around people who share our passions is an excellent start.   When you surround yourself with like-minded people, everyone grows.  You might even find a mentor who can provide real-world experience, unlike anything you will ever learn from a textbook.   Another example is to watch how your own parents engage in their own passions.  This is a good model to see how time can be set aside for what is truly important.   And finally, giving you time to search and learn what you are actually passionate about.

When the event was over, I had another discussion with two recent graduates, Ferdinand B. and Sebastian Z.  I was delighted that they told me how my little story had inspired them.  The topic of passion came up once again.  These young men were heading off to study technology at their newly selected universities.  Clearly they had found their own passions and were willing to vigorously pursue them.

Whenever I meet young people who are so sure of what they want, and equally as important, of what they don’t want, I take away such unexpected yet very welcome inspiration.  It is extremely important to be reminded that there are so many young people in the world who are grounded and will keep advancing us all in a positive direction.   I find it very disconcerting how many people maintain a dim view of the next generations.  Yes, there are those who are followers and not leaders, but there is always a need for these types of people as well.  Be it in Vienna, Europe in general, the United States or anywhere else, I am quite confident we are in very good hands with their upcoming stewardship.

In Search of Mozart

Ever since I’ve seen both the play and movie Amadeus I’ve been fascinated with his life and music.  He was a genius, no doubt.  But his life which ended in mystery at age 35 continues to fascinate scholars.

One of the best moments of my Vienna visit was when I was outside the Mozarthaus.    We only had about 30 minutes remaining for sightseeing before our next meeting, so clearly there was no time for a formal museum visit.  I did however go inside and asked one of the staff members about the significance of Mozart in this location.   He told me to stay for a visit. When I explained my time constraint, he grabbed my arm and said, “Come with me.”  He then brought me inside to the center of the lobby entrance and said, “Take some quick pictures.  Mozart lived and worked here.”  I quickly took the pictures, absorbed the moment for what it was, thanked him and left.

During my stay in Vienna I was determined to walk in his steps and maybe catch a glimpse of what inspired him.   Instead, I was thrilled to actually get to meet him, and not some guy in a costume!  ?


Happy Birthday Christoph – another day, another treat (and  another cake!)

On Saturday evening we attended Christoph’s birthday party at his apartment.   It was great meeting and spending time with his family and friends.   And of course, his lovely wife Vivienne.

After we took a group photo Christoph declared that I must take a selfie.  So I did ?.

Another of my favorite parts of my trip was having the opportunity to meet Christoph’s mother, Yvonne.   We immediately connected and told each other lots of fun stories.  I feel like I’ve known her my whole life.  Christoph is indeed a very lucky person to have such a mom!


Heading home

As always, all good things must come to an end.  My week in both Warsaw and Vienna was amazing.   Seeing old friends and making so many new ones.  And, yes, of course, Larry even found his name written on an elevator wall when we returned to the airport.





Published by Charles Guarino

Charles Guarino believes in the “power” of IBM Power Systems. His career reflects his interest in bringing the platform and its solutions to others. Charles started his professional journey as a department of one. Today, he is serving individuals on a worldwide basis though his consulting work and award-winning speaking engagements. Charles is a true people person and can often be found at conferences sharing his expertise in RDi and other IBM i topics. Reach out to Charles through his company, Central Park Data Systems, at [email protected]. He looks forward to hearing from you.