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Houston, we have a show: 3000 gets its own 2006 conference

Board members of the Greater Houston Regional User Group (GHRUG) have announced "the only user-driven HP 3000 conference in the world" for 2006, a meeting scheduled for November in that Texas city. GHRUG has mounted user conferences in years past, including a multiple-day meeting for several years until HP announced its exit from the 3000 market.

Houston is also the site of HP's Technology Forum for 2006, a meeting that will take place September 17-22. The Technology Forum will only include information about migrating away from HP 3000s. The GHRUG meeting promises a track on homesteading on the platform as well as migration advice.

Denys Beauchemin, former chairman of the Interex HP users group and a Houston-area member of the GHRUG group, posted a notice that explained the group had been considering a "last hurrah" show for the 3000 in 2006. But due to HP's recent extension of its basic-reactive support of the 3000 to 2008, the group had to "hold off a bit to ponder such a move."

"Earlier this month," Beauchemin said in a posting to the 3000 newsgroup, "the board of directors of GHRUG voted to schedule and start the planning and preparations for the only user-driven HP3000 conference in the world to be held in November of this year. They have asked me to initially spearhead the effort for the planning of the conference."

Beauchemin was the program director of many Interex North American HP World conferences. He was aided in Interex MPE content planning by Jerry Fochtman, who's also based in the Houston area.

"We would like to make the program very focused on the wants and needs of the attendees, and we do not have the resources for a full program committee with support staff and focus groups. So we will use the Internet and email. We will give the prospective attendees the opportunity to have input on the program itself. This will be an HP 3000-focused conference with possibly three tracks for a total of 21-24 talks. This can be adjusted as needed.

a) Migration
b) Homesteading issues
c) MPE in general

"Whilst this conference is totally user-driven without HP's assistance, I feel confident that if we ask nicely vCSY might be able to send some speakers, especially if very specific subjects are requested."

Alan Yeo, the organizer of the 2003 World Wide Wake as well as the 2004 HP 3000 Community Networking Booth at the now-defunct HP World, said he was glad the 3000 user community had taken up the challenge.

"I think it's a good thing to do," said Yeo, who proposed such a conference in November. He added that he'd been instant messaging with the GHRUG after his proposal appeared. "I just hope that vendors will support it as well as users — almost as a community thing, rather than as 'commercially, what are we going to gain out of it?' " Yeo said he can be relied upon to help recruit vendor participation. Companies including Yeo's ScreenJet, Marxmeier Software and Viking Software have said they want to participate in a 3000 show during 2006.

GHRUG was plain about not relying on vendors for its conference budget. "If vendors want to attend and exhibit, tables will be available for a very nominal fee, probably less than $400," Beauchemin said. The details announced so far are for a 3-day conference to be held at a Houston-area university to minimize costs. Registration will be $125 for all three days or $50 per day for individual passes.

GHRUG wants users to communicate with the group to report on possible attendance, as well as conference content. Beauchemin wants messages sent to him with a subject of "GHRUG November HP 3000" that address the following questions:

a) Is the proposed length of the conference satisfactory?
b) Which subject would you like to see covered? Do you have a speaker in mind, and who would that be?
c) Would you like to give a talk and if so, what would be its content?
d) If you have comments or ideas, go ahead and share them.

Papers won't be due until September, he added. "If this starts to roll, GHRUG will prepare a more formal call for speakers which will request the usual details and provide deadlines for the talks so they can be included in the proceedings." More details will appear at the GHRUG Web site.