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Article by Wayne Swanson ©July 2000|
Pillarsoft's website: http://www.pillarsoft.net
We spent the first weekend on the Colorado river in western Arizona and came
back to Phoenix on Tuesday just in time to sit in on the Rexx ANSI committee meeting.
It was soon clear that the meeting table was surrounded with very, let me make this
perfectly clear... "Very" intelligent people. There was only one country
bumpkin in attendance but he didn't say much during the meeting. He nodded knowingly
once in a while and laughed politely at the appropriate times. I am sure they would
not have known who the bumpkin was if I hadn't worn that stupid feathered hat with
my name spelled out in sequins. I suppose the leisure suit may have given me away
eventually although it was a very business like color combo of lime green with yellow
After a couple of days work in a temporary office setup I returned to the Wigwam
late Thursday afternoon. As soon as I got out of the car I saw a familiar face.
I couldn't remember his name but I shed my shy image and yelled across the parking
lot, "Hey! I know you!" He looked a bit puzzled at first but I knew he
was an OS/2 user... I had seen him before... "OS/2?" I yelled (politely...
this is a high class place) "Didn't I meet you at WarpStock in Atlanta?"
That's how you have to be here... you can't waste time. We have only so many hours
to spend and need to get our fill ASAP. To a person of a religious nature, one may
consider his holy book as bread for the soul. For an OS/2 user, we may equate events
like WarpTech as bread for the soul. We gather for education, edification, fellowship
and just plain old camaraderie.
Thursday was really a day early for WarpTech and mainly for setup and last minute
preparations. It's kind of funny but usually when volunteers are called for many
folks try to blend in with the surroundings hoping they will not be noticed but
that's not the way it seems to work around OS/2 users. When someone from POSSI asked
for help in putting the attendee grab bags together the positions around the table
were filled easily. They gave us our instruction and we were off, moving bags around
the table at the speed of light... well, at a pretty good clip. Because I am so
shy I had to try to overcome it and stop production every once in a while to shake
hands and introduce myself to the people around me. It was only after we started
that I found out that on my right was Tim Cardozo, with whom I had talked via email
before but just now had an opportunity to meet and on my left was that "difficult"
I thought I was pretty hot because I had TWO pages to put in each bag. I started
bragging about my "multitasking" abilities until Evelyn let it be known
that she had three items to place in the bags. We had a very lively banter going
throughout the job. Lest you think that she is really difficult, I must say that
Evelyn was an absolutely lovely woman that always wore a smile and was very friendly
The marketplace opened it's doors for setup on Thursday evening so with the help
of Richard Klemmer and Duane Chamblee I quickly setup a few items and headed for
some social time. I knew it would be difficult entering a period of "social
interaction" without Dan Casey there to coach me but I managed to survive.
The rest of the evening was spent visiting with a mix of WarpTech and RexxLA attendees.
This is actually what I enjoy most about gatherings like this. Everyone is ready
to have a good time and most of us are on our best behavior.
Mike's handling of his laser pen to highlight talk points was an interesting
sideline. He handled his assignment (and the laser pen) with such grace and accuracy
that I was fully expecting him to do a few trick shots with the laser from behind
the back or under the leg a few times. At least I know what to practice on for my
Lunch at the Wigwam was nice. The Wigwam is the kind of place that gives you
enough utensils to use a clean one for every bite and even puts chocolate decorations
on your dessert. (I think the decorations are to distract you from the empty regions
of the plate) I am the kind of guy that usually picks his dessert from a wide variety
behind a sneeze guard and then puts ice cream, peanuts, fudge and some those little
colored speckles (Editor note: These are correctly termed "Sprinkles"
or as we called them in Philly "Jimmies" for some strange reason)
on top. It is rather funny to read a whole paragraph explaining what a pastry biscuit
with sliced apple on it really is. One would think that they could do it in fifty
words or less.
After lunch I fumbled my way through my planned presentation on VisPro/Rexx.
I joke about being shy but in reality I have no problem getting in front of people
and talking. Due to my lack of pre-session preparation I found myself in a poor
location to see what I was doing on the projection screen to start with and it all
went downhill from there. If anything could go wrong... it did. I found myself speeding
through it just to get it over with. Next time I will know better.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the booth, visiting with old friends and
making some new ones. We snagged a hub and some cat-5 from David Azarewicz (our
WarpTech network guru) for Richard Klemmer and Chuck McKinnis to set up and they
helped out whenever I stepped away. Chuck and Richard were helping all comers with
any kind of question. Even if it was helping some guy across the room get their
networking straightened out. It was great fun to see OS/2'ers helping each other.
Richard and Chuck, Thank you!
There were several hosted dine-outs to sign up for but a few of us anti-socials
went "off-campus" on our own on Friday. After returning (I hope this was
Friday... my days are running together) we helped place labels on the new issue
of Extended Attributes. There were a lot more copies of EA's being sent out than
I had ever dreamed. I thought it might be a special mailing but I believe that Bill
said it was the standard monthly mail-out.
As is my custom, I invited a few folks back to my place to continue earlier conversations
and strike up some new ones. The way the Wigwam is laid out makes it easy for people
to filter away so I didn't get a chance to invite very many. That is probably a
good thing because although the rooms were large, we had a distinct lack of chairs
The Wigwam isn't your standard hotel/motel setup. They have "casita's"
which are more like a spacious motel room in apartment buildings separated from
the main offices/meeting rooms. The casita's are situated in courts that surround
a pool area in some cases or possibly a tennis court or fitness center. I am told
they had three very nice golf courses but as much as I love my golf, I didn't bring
my sticks and didn't take advantage of them.
Funny thing about Arizona, the temps were warm the whole time I was there but
in my part of the world it always cools off at night by 20 or 30 degrees. In Arizona
a 10 degree drop is more like the average. With the low humidity 110 doesn't feel
that bad. 100 degree days can be almost unbearable at home but I can and have taken
117 in Arizona without much trouble.
The day started with most of us sitting in on Steven King's address on the "Application
Framework for e-Business Roadmap" followed by the rest of the sessions and
the opening of the marketplace. As per usual, we all heard what we were predisposed
to hear... For some, the cup was half empty and for others it was half full. I have
always considered myself to be a half full kind of guy... although my wife insists
that I am completely full.
The marketplace was laid out in a "U" pattern with some large round
tables in the center for people to rest their weary bones and read or visit. During
each of the sessions we had time to make small talk but between sessions the marketplace
would get busy and it would be back to work.
Saturday also had a couple of the major attractions for WarpTech: Warped Jeopardy
and the SCOUG Rodeo at Rawhide.
Warped Jeopardy pitted POSSI, SCOUG and VOICE against each other for some friendly
competition. When Randell first mentioned it to me I was already thinking of someone
else that would have been a better selection as a participant but after he explained
that it was going to be POSSI, SCOUG and VOICE I realized that I was the only representative
we had available... they were scraping the bottom of the VOICE barrel to find a
warm body for the game.
POSSI was represented by Bill Schindler and SCOUG had Steve Schiffman doing the
honors. It turned out to be a great time. Yours truly started talking too much (trying
to be funny) on a $1000 question and let the time limit pass before answering at
one point and dropped himself to minus $400. They did offer to let me answer it
even though the time had expired and though I knew the answer I didn't think it
fair of me to take advantage of the situation. I did recover later though to salvage
some of my reputation and avoid a possible lynching by the Blue team ticket holders.
One of the funny categories had every answer the same, "What is OS/2"
so it was a timing thing to get in on answering those by hitting the button quickly
when it was activated. There were three guys cramming buttons on all of those. Another
funny one was a succession of a couple of rexx questions. The first one showed just
a comma (IIRC it was some punctuation mark at any rate) and Steve buzzed in and
said "What is a comma?" The next one showed a colon so I buzzed in thinking
it was a joke and said "What is a colon?" BZZZZT!!! Wrong! Bill leaned
over and said, "No it's, 'What is a dot over a dot?'" I smiled politely
and took my beating from the crowd... They were looking for a "real" rexx
answer and I had let it slip by.
I think we all had a great time and took home some lovely parting gifts. I got
the "Blue Spine" Rice-A-Roni which my wife says we will actually eat.
Apparently she loves it although I am not sure I have ever had it. So much for my
wide ranging tastes.
Sundial does a bangup job on Warped Jeopardy but they have mentioned that this
may be the last one. Randell says they don't want to wear out their welcome and
I can understand that but I sure hate to see it go. You can tell they have put a
lot of work into it and I realize it also takes time and resources from their own
business preparation for events like this. Along with the fun of the game, the added
touch of the commercials, etc. make it a truly enjoyable event.
I didn't take in the trip to Rawhide but having been there I know everyone must
have had a good time. Rawhide is contained in what one might call a walled city.
Once you enter the gate you are taken back to the 1800's and what the old west was
like complete with gunfights and Can-Can girls. Now that I think of it, I should
have gone, I ain't seen a Can-Can girl in nigh unta' three years!
A half dozen of us went to Chili's for dinner saturday night (Richard, Duane,
Chuck, Burke Swanson and Leo Martin) and upon returning we helped Burke (no relation,
he wouldn't claim me anyway) and Leo get some AV equipment moved from Sachem (where
Warped Jeopardy was held) to the three Aztec rooms where the AV equipment would
be needed in the morning. We were the grunts and Burke wielded an iron fist. He
had us whipped into shape in no time. There is little to no glory associated with
most of the setup and organization of these events and let me be the first to say
how happy and thankful I am that there are people willing to make that sacrifice
for all of us.
And then... we retired to the casita...
The big noise on Sunday came from the Odin demonstration. It sounded more like
a basketball game than a tech demo. As mentioned earlier, I usually do not get a
chance to attend many sessions but this one sounded like fun! I did hear someone
say that one of the big reactions was when they started up MS Word under Odin and
typed something to the effect that, "This is Microsoft Word for OS/2."
Odin is becoming very impressive it seems.
We also had Kim Cheung's announcement about Serenity's new "Warp based"
distribution that will be called eComStation (as soon as the deals are finalized)
and I visited with a German company that is going to produce what sounded to me
like an internet appliance based on OS/2. There is much more to say on both of these
items but because my German isn't exactly top-of-the-line and without a better understanding
of each of them I will defer comment to a later date.
We are lining up a speakup with Kim Cheung and Bob St.John to discuss eComStation
in the near future so stay tuned. We will also try to provide a speakup for the
other startup too when they are ready.
Even though the Indy 500 has lost some of it's luster for me after the Hulman/Cart
fiasco I really wanted to catch some of it so I tried to find it on the internet
during some slack time and found that it was being broadcast on that "Other"
streaming media player. So much for that idea... The network, by the way, was up
100% of the time I needed or used it so kudo's go to David and his team for that.
The closing session gave us a chance to give all of the hard working people that
made this all possible a well deserved "Thank you." Burke must have had
a few more unsolicited helpers because he called them all up and presented them
with WarpTech golf shirts. These were not just run-of-the-mill shirts either, they
were very nice and more than I ever expected. I am happy with a "thanks"
and having a good feeling that I could help someone but this was above and beyond
what was ever expected. Thank you Burke. (and POSSI)
As things wrapped up a few of us decided to meet at a steakhouse for our last
chance to break bread together. Burke decided I needed to be picked on (my home
state) and I accepted it with my usual grace and geniality (cough!) knowing that
I had the best possible of all worlds. I have lived in Arizona... and it's a nice
place to "visit." It was all in good fun and I'll be sure to call him
when I am in town again. He will be needing some comeback attempts by then. :-)
We visited over prime rib and steaks and quietly parted company. No visible tears
were shed but there was a sense of sorrow. The fun is over and we now return to
the rest of our lives. Klemmer and Chamblee didn't part company right away... I
had to take them to the airport. Klemmer had railed on my slow driving all weekend
so I picked it up a notch to get him to the airport. Duane may have thought it but
he didn't vocalize what he was thinking. I guess I come from an area that is just
a bit easier going and less congested to get too anxious at the wheel. I think what
Richard wanted was the aggressive driver in me to show itself so I bumped it up
a couple of miles an hour for him... Just to make him feel at home.
I dropped Duane and Richard off at the airport about 11 PM sunday night and took
a quiet drive though a darkened Phoenix. The traffic was light, the radio was off
and the only thing audible was the rhythm of the tires cresting the seams in the
road. I was alone again... and thinking... I missed Dan, Judy, Mark and Abel, I
wished that Peter Lazenby could have been there. I felt like I had known him for
years and we still hadn't met. It would have been nice to meet our newest board
member Phil Butler but it just wasn't in the cards for him. I thought about all
the people I did get to see from earlier conventions, how much fun it was to see
them again and how amazing it was that I visualized every last one of them with
a smile on their face. New friends? Yes, this trip was no different. There were
plenty of new friends... friends that I hope to see again and yet... there are so
many more to meet... next time...
All in all? I wouldn't trade a weekend like this for anything.