User group meetings around the world

6 July 2007

While traveling around the world I manage to attend some user group meetings in different countries, I'm going backwards in time with this and will update this in the future.

The last user group meeting attended as part of my trip around the world was in Manhattan in August 2007. The New York City .NET Developers Group is a lively bunch and Stephen Forte is even cooler in person than he is on the DotNetRocks podcasts. This meeting was about WPF and I was presented as a guest from London!

The month of July 2007 I stayed in Seattle and attended several meetings of the .Net Developers Association They have weekly rather than monthly meetings but as they those meetings are in Redmond on the Microsoft campus there seems to be no problem for them to get speakers every week. It was surely interesting to be right where it all happens. The meetings themselves were okay but nothing special, maybe I had a bad month. I also went to the first meeting of the Puget Sound SharePoint User Group in Bellevue which was of course yet another meeting about Sharepoint but it had tons of people and they seems much more involved than at the netda meetings.

The user group met at the Microsoft offices in Waltham way outside of Boston, luckily I stayed with a friend just two miles away and could walk down to the offices. There were 40+ people and the topic of the night was once more Sharepoint 2007, I've seen a similar talk in Singapore so there wasn't much new here but there was more attendee interaction and some interesting questions were raised. There were also four or five recruitment companies present who were looking for developers, good to know. Surprisingly there was no pizza, coke or even bottled water available.

The night before I was at MIT in Cambridge for a meeting of the Boston PDA user group (BOSPDAUG). There were only a dozen of people here but they were all Mac geeks who originally got together as a Apple Newton user group. It being June 2007 the topic of the night was the iPhone and how little details were known about it. Some of the group were at the Apple Developer Conference in San Francisco and informed us via chat about the latest information in the talks over there. This was an extreme geeky bunch and I enjoyed being with them. We went out for dinner and drinks afterwards with the core people and I even got a ride all the way to Waltham which saved me from a long time on a local bus.

Even though I was over 10 weeks in New Zealand I didn't manage to get to any user group meetings there, they either didn't happen often enough or I was in the wrong place at the time.

In Australia I also spend most of my time away from the big city but managed to attend a meeting of the Microsoft Office System Special Interest Group (MOSSIG) at the Microsoft offices in downtown Melbourne. Here we started with lots of pizza and sodas and begun the session with a short presentation by a member about an Excel add-in he had written. The main presentation was about Sharepoint 2007. A good group of people and we continued talking in a pub downstairs for a while.

While traveling all over south east Asia I stayed several months in Singapore and went to at least ten user group meetings there. I was a member of the .net, Windows and SQL Server user groups. The meetings were at the Microsoft Singapore offices on the 22nd floor in a high-rise office building in the central business district. Great views over the city and the ocean and food (spring rolls and rice/noodles) and soft-drinks was provided by MS. We covered a whole range of different topics and most speakers where Singaporeans with a few from Malaysia thrown it. They audience which consisted or either people of Chinese or Indian origin was relatively shy and most feedback during the sessions came from an American guy or me. The core group was really nice and we usually would go to the nearby Hawker Centre for dinner. I also went to some bigger events organized by Microsoft such as a Security day and the MS Partners Christmas party and the Ministry of sound club.

When I was in Shanghai I tried to get to the Visual Studio 2005 lunch but couldn't find out anything about it. So no meetings for me in China, Mongolia or Russia.

Back in London where I lived for over six years I wasn't a member of a user group but would go to many of the free events organized by Microsoft. At the MSDN Tech evenings in Central London's swimming pool room there would always be pizza and beer and a good atmosphere. The bigger events at the main MS UK office in Reading were a bit more formal.

Before that when I was still living in Germany I wasn't part of a user community for a while. I have to think back to the early and mid-nineties when I was on a German-wide bulletin board system called 'Maus' which was a collaboration of local BBSs with our own software and a nightly exchanges of posting with the other cities. There were local member meetings but without special topics and they usually happened in a pub. I was most active in the 'Windows NT' group which a pretty small but geeky discussion group back in 1994/95. So my first ever user group meeting was when we did annual national meeting of that group in Dortmund. I remember giving a presentation about IIS 1.0 on NT 3.51 and the new features in IIS 2 for the upcoming NT 4. I wonder whether why I never presented again after that. I went well and I enjoyed doing it.

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