Here is the URL for the impatient: http://www.meetup.com/The-Oak-Park-IT-group/ The group is free to join.
I like user groups. Over the years, I’ve been to SQL Server, MySQL, and Linux user group meetings, learned and shared with my colleagues. The quality of the meetings fluctuates and I like some sessions better than others. However, after a hard day’s work, going out of one’s way to attend a meeting that may or may not be productive can be a turn off, especially for married person(s) with child(ren) at home. So I attempted to start a local MySQL group a few years ago, but it never took off, mostly due to lack of time and effort, I think.
I am giving this another shot. The ideas I wrote before are still valid, so I quote some here:
When I think a user group, I think about fans getting together hacking stuff: demonstrating cool tips and techniques, dissecting a new technology such as MySQL proxy by a user who have done that and learned some hard lessons along the way with no marketing talk, discussing solutions to problems a user has, providing pointers and efficient scripts, etc. In such a setting, each member of the group takes turns providing his/her expertise.
The presenter does not necessarily need talking slides, but must prepare beforehand about the topic s/he will present. The key points for a night’s session can be distilled into a few points on an index card, and demonstrated with simple, and hopefully elegant steps. I’ve watched so many demos that needs elaborate setup, that by the time of the supposed highlight the audience have already tuned out or lost interest. When a question arises that can be answered via live demo in a short time, answer the question that way, instead of just giving an verbal response.
I deliberately made this a broader interest group, to avoid opinionated fan boys. I like MySQL and SQL Server, and want to expand the depth and breadth of my knowledge in those areas, but that does not prevent me from wanting to learn more about Oracle and PostgreSQL. I deal with relational data most of the time, but I have a keen interest in learning more about Hadoop, column-based database engines, and analytical databases. I am in database administration field, but I want to know more about networking, TCP/IP, Active Directory and LDAP. I maintain my own web site and wiki, but want to lean more about Tengine, Nginx. You get the idea. Hence the broad IT umbrella is by design.
A few pointers come to mind for future members:
1. Be open and respectful to others;
2. Be willing to share. We all are specialist in certain areas;
3. No hidden agenda. Networking and building up informal friendships/relationships is not hidden agenda, but peddling and proselytizing is. One is obviously free to introduce services and products, but that can only happen AFTER one contributes something meaningful to the group, and does so in a frequency that does not annoy other members.
4. I welcome sponsorship to cover Meetup registration fees, possible meeting room renting fees, refreshments, as necessary. I paid 72 bucks to register this group for 6 months at meetup.com. Renting a discussion room in the local Oak Park library that houses 40 people costs 20 bucks for 4 hours, although I doubt we need that, at least not initially. I think using a study room in the library, free of charge, will be the way to go in the beginning. Or we can meet in a coffee house. We’d like to pass out sponsor’s printed fliers and give the main sponsor 5 minutes (strictly timed) of our time.
I welcome presentations from vendors, but they should be technical and practical, with minimal amount of fluff and marketing material.
So, if you live around Oak Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, Berwyn, Maywood, Forest Park, Melrose Park and other surrounding areas, and are interested in IT, come join us. I will work out an event schedule as soon as there is one more person joining the group. Currently there are two persons, including me.