Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Winding down the "Double Creature Feature"

The "Double Creature Feature" ACE/NETC Conference has wound down, and boy, are we exhausted. Being the host state for a conference of about 500 communications professionals and the IT professionals who support them can wear you out! Despite the rather impressive battery of sessions available, I was only able to attend about three, since I was proctoring, monitoring, and troubleshooting for the rest of the conference. However, there were still many highlights:
  • Awards Banquet - While we had a slow year in the ACE awards for projects, the New Mexico crowd picked up three of the Professional Skill awards. Me, my wife, and our former boss all came home with best-of-discipline achievement awards, and it felt pretty great to have the appreciation of your peers. (Our boss's award in particular was good, since his contribution to the ACE organization has been very high, and the excellence of everyone in our department that picked up awards is directly tied to his unceasing support for continued professional development. I don't believe he is going to get recognized for those accomplishments in his home state, but I think it speaks more coming from a professional organization, anyway.)
  • Attendees - The attendees at ACE/NETC, almost to a person, were friendly, knowledgeable, clever, and sharp. I enjoyed almost every conversation I had with people, and that's saying something coming from an introvert like myself. And they all seemed to be having a great time - I often heard that this was the best ACE/NETC conference yet. It feels great to put on something that makes people happy and which they appreciate; it's the same feeling I get when we do Carnival of Souls.
  • Sessions - I didn't get much time to just go to sessions and listen, but I did manage to see firsthand some great sessions. My clear favorite was presented by Alessandro A. Bellina, from University of Illinois Extension, speaking about AJAX. It's not that AJAX is this new thing to me, but the web crew from Illinois are one of the few web groups I've seen in ACE/NETC that really are doing some well-designed and well-thought-out stuff. They don't just mash tech together for the propeller-geekery of it, as certain groups that attend ACE/NETC appear to do, but instead are putting real thought into solving problems effectively. I saw them present on their custom CMS for the Illinois Cooperative Extension System years ago and was mightily impressed - in fact, their vision of a CMS solution has highly influenced some of the solutions I have built since then for NMSU. It was great to see what they were up to, and I'm gratified to discover that we're doing a lot of the same stuff now.
  • El Pinto – The night we all went to El Pinto was nice. Great weather, great food, great music, and a chance to go visit where my wife and I tied the knot 10 years ago. It was fun.
  • Hanging with the crew - I spent a lot of time sitting around talking with people from work at this conference, and it was a lot of fun. It was fun chatting with people between sessions or around the impromptu Guitar Hero party in the hotel atrium one night. It served as a powerful reminder that I work with some really awesome people, and it struck me (as it often does) what a value it is to truly enjoy the people you work with.
All in all, it was a success, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. We're off the hook for hosting now for about 40 years. Yay!

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