Encompass wants an alliance decision
QSS gathers another 3000 HP expert

Matchbox-ing up for Tech Forum

A national user group conference rolls out with bigger expectations than a regional meeting. The recent GHRUG International Technology Conference offered a swell networking cookout at an extended stay hotel's pool as its social event. Encompass, as well as sponsor vendor HP, is lining up its own social event with an international flair.

On the final day of HP Tech Forum discount registration, Encompass announced that Matchbox Twenty will be playing a mini-concert at the show's final evening, June 19. We're a bit short of enough hipster cred to appreciate the band's stature. But Encompass assured everyone that the group is "one of the most successful bands to emerge in the past decade." They're not stretching at all to say that. iTunes reviewers assure us that over the last decade the band has "earned five Grammy nominations and had more number one hits that nay other artist in the Adult Top 40 radio history."

Interex, the now-defunct HP user group, used to book talent nearly as well-known, but aimed at a somewhat older audience. But the Interex stars were keynoters, the likes of Dave Barry, Scott Adams (Dilbert) and Al Franken (Saturday Night Live). Top-line talent draws the crowds to a user event, another kind of curb appeal as if the Las Vegas venue wasn't enough.

Those larger crowds could deliver a key networking contact for attendees, the ones learning more about HP's alternatives to the HP 3000. Plus, the band makes a better value of the $1,495 entry fee. Matchbox Twenty concert packages for close-up seats start at $250 a ticket. Last year's Tech Forum band was Train, which has won a Grammy but can't boast the same producer as Matchbox Twenty's Steve Lillywhite — who's produced albums for the Rolling Stones and U2.

After playing the Tech Forum, it's on to dates like the North Dakota State Fair, but the band's success need never be matched up, so to speak, on the basis of where they play. Making music in Minot, ND is just a way to appeal to the mainstream.

As for the Tech Forum discounts available from Monday onward, it's strictly the $200 off the full $1,695 package for being an Encompass member. Register at the conference Web site, and book your return flight for Friday if you're counting on Matchbox Twenty.