COMMON: A Users Group


First Timers Kit
First time attending a COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition? Here is some helpful information to make the most of your Annual Meeting and Exposition experience:

Before the Conference

How to Register to Attend
Every COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition features special "early bird" savings on registration fees, so sign up to attend as soon as possible. The early bird deadline is April 8, 2010 - save $200 and register before this date.

Once you decide to attend the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition, there are several ways to register. You can register on-line - just click on the Pricing and Registration link at the top of this page.

Staying in Touch
Once your registration has been processed, COMMON may send you e-mail updates to keep you informed. In the past, we’ve used these communications to let attendees know about breaking news related to the conference.

Depending on how soon before the conference we receive your registration, COMMON may mail out your attendee badge and other materials, or we may ask you to collect those items when you register on-site at the conference.

COMMON Annual Meetings have been recognized by the IT industry as one of the highest-quality education conferences when ranked by usefulness and industry expert presentation and participation. One of the reasons COMMON Annual Meetings receive high ratings is simply the breadth of education session offerings: they offer four days of leading Power Systems-related education on IBM i, AIX, Linux and PowerVM topics.

Navigating successfully through a conference requires planning. We want you to get the most out of the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition. The information on this Web page will help you plan your week—and return home from the Annual Meeting ready to apply what you’ve learned.

Visit the Website Early and Often
About 16 weeks prior to the Conference, COMMON begins posting conference information on its website. In addition to general information about the host city for the Annual Meeting, some basic Course of Study and session abstract (course description) information will be available. While some of the information will be preliminary at this stage, the information is updated continuously. The closer the Annual Meeting starting date, the more detailed the information will become–so be sure to visit early and often.

Planning Your Course Schedule
About eight weeks prior to the Conference, detailed education session and Lab information will be posted on COMMON’s website. To ensure a successful and productive week at the Annual Meeting and Exposition, it is critical that you review the session grids on the website and prepare a schedule for yourself before you arrive at the Annual Meeting. (See the "How to Read a Session Grid" section for important details.)

Computer Labs
COMMON’s computer labs are extremely popular, because they provide the hands-on training you need to accomplish similar projects at your company. Labs are scheduled Monday through Thursday of the conference. You may attend any traditional lab or open lab – there is no pre-registration – first come, first served!

Open labs offer multiple lab modules in the same room at the same time, on a work-at-your-own-pace basis. With open labs, you can come and go, and select as many or as few of the lab exercises offered. All open labs are staffed with experts to assist you. For a listing of all traditional and open labs, go to (click on the Labs tab)

Before & During the Conference

Odds and Ends
Dress Code. The dress code for the Annual Meeting and Exposition is casual. Close to conference time, check local Internet sites for the host city to find out what the average temperatures are, and pack accordingly. Pack a light sweater or jacket for temperatures that vary in meeting rooms, and be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

Food. Cash food stations will be available in the Exposition hall; snack and beverage stations will be located at various locations in the conference facilities. If you are attending sessions into the evening, be sure to pick up a snack during the day; most conference facilities stop selling food after lunch.

Cyber Corner and Bookstore. Laptop computers will be available for you at no charge to check your e-mail while on-site. Please note that the Cyber Corner laptops do not have floppy drives but you can access the Internet from any of them. Come prepared with instructions on how to access your e-mail online.

COMMON will also host a bookstore where you’ll find new releases by COMMON speakers.

Restaurants and Sightseeing. Restaurant and tourism information will be provided on-site to assist with your post-conference activities.

GTCA: Guide to COMMON Acronyms
Over the years, COMMON has developed a language of its own. With this handy guide, you’ll know what to say when someone at MoM asks if you met a SME at CUDS last night.

During the conference, you may hear acronyms that aren’t included on this list.

BOFS = Birds-of-a-feather sessions
SET = Strategic education team
COS = Course of Study
CUDS = COMMON User Group Discussion Socials - now called iSocials
DSA = Distinguished Service Award
HOBO = Honorary board official
JAC = Judicial affairs council
LUG = Local user group
MoM = Meeting of the Members
SME = Subject Matter Expert
SUG = Sister user group
TLC = Tactical liaisons to curriculum
VPS = Vendor product session
YIP = Young iSeries Professional

How to Read a Session Grid
To prepare your schedule roadmap, you will need to be familiar with COMMON’s daily session grids. In addition to being posted on the Website, session grids will also be published in each issue of COMMON Conference Daily, our on-site newspaper. Please note that grids are subject to change, and you should always check the latest edition of the newspaper before heading to your sessions each day.

To begin, you need to know that each day of the conference is assigned a number and that all sessions are keyed according to these numbers:

Monday = Day 1
Tuesday = Day 2
Wednesday = Day 3
Thursday = Day 4

COMMON’s grids are designed to show you an entire day’s sessions at a glance. Horizontal rows show the location of each session. Vertical columns show time and day. Both location and time have a two-digit code, and these combine to form a four-digit Agenda number for each session. Example: Session 32CS will be held on Day 2 (Tuesday) during the time slot designated as #2, or 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. It will be in the room designated "CS" (which is named on the grid).

You’ll find details about the room, including location and capacity, in the left column of each grid.

When planning your day, you can highlight each session on the grid and will be able to tell at a glance if you have overlapping commitments.

You can also create personalized grids online, selecting specific sessions and special events you’re interested in attending.

Your First Stop at the Annual Meeting and Exposition: Registration
Even though you have pre-registered for the Annual Meeting and Exposition, you must check in at the Registration Desk on-site to pick up your conference materials. Registration usually opens early on Sunday morning, so be sure to register in time to attend the Sunday afternoon conference events.

Special Sessions and Services for First-Timers
COMMON offers a First-Timers’ Session on-site to provide an overview of what to expect during the conference week. This Session will take place on Sunday afternoon. Also, you’ll receive valuable tips on how to get the most out of the conference. Check COMMON’s Website prior to the conference for exact dates and times.

The First-Timers’ Social offers a chance to network with other members and volunteers while you enjoy fun, food and prizes! The Social will be held on Sunday afternoon, immediately following the First-Timers Session.

If you don't arrive in in time to attend the First-Timers' Session and/or Social, or you still have unanswered questions, there will be a First-Timers' table at the Sunday evening iSocial - Ask the Experts. The table will be manned by experienced COMMON volunteers, so you will have an opportunity to ask questions, or simply meet and network with other First-Timers.

Additionally, if you find that you have questions later on in the week, feel free to stop a COMMON volunteer and ask them, or go to the COMMON Headquarters counter located in the Registration area.

These sessions are not only informational, they also offer the perfect opportunity to network and make new friends with peers from all over the country. So don’t miss these invaluable opportunities.

You’ll receive a badge either in the mail or when you register on-site. This badge is required for entrance into all COMMON sessions and events, including the First-Timers’ events. Your badge should be worn at all times during the conference.

Key Monday Sessions
Opening Session occurs on Monday afternoon. That will be your first opportunity to hear from COMMON’s President, IBM executives about industry developments and announcements, and a keynote address. Don’t miss it.

The Exposition also opens on Monday - the largest Power Systems-related solutions center in the world. Learn about the latest in product developments from technical experts at IBM and other exhibiting vendors. Although the Annual Meeting runs through Thursday, the product Exposition continues through Wednesday only. So don’t miss the opportunity to meet with technical experts and see product demonstrations of the latest and greatest high-tech solutions for your Power Systems-related challenges.

Networking and Information-Sharing Opportunities
COMMON’s education sessions are outstanding. But the conference attendees who take advantage of COMMON’s informal networking sessions often take back with them something the other attendees don’t: answers to those tough IT problems that they’ve been struggling with.

COMMON offers several sessions that allow you to rub shoulders with technical experts from IBM and other leading industry organizations. Be sure to include even Power Down social events (formerly known as COMMON User Group Discussion Socials or CUDS), including the "Power Down - Main Event" on Thursday evening, in your schedule. There is a special "Power Down - Ask the Experts" session that allows you to meet with peers and experts in a specific technical area. Check the session grids on the Web site or in the daily on-site conference newspaper for dates and times.

Check COMMON Conference Daily for Last-Minute Changes
Life is sometimes unpredictable. And sometimes unexpected changes in our instructors’ schedules force us to make last-minute changes to sessions and Labs. When you arrive at the Conference, be sure to pick up that day’s COMMON Conference Daily to check for any last-minute changes to the sessions and Labs. Check the newspaper every day during the Conference, because that is where you will find all last-minute changes to the Conference schedule.

Answers Are Available at the Conference
Have questions during the conference? COMMON volunteers wearing ribbons are available and approachable; don’t hesitate to stop and ask one of them for help. You may also go to the COMMON Headquarters counter located in the Registration area.

Consider Volunteering
COMMON is a volunteer-based organization. One of the best ways to learn how the organization works—and make new friends—is to contribute a little time as a volunteer during or after the conference. Open positions are posted on COMMON’s Web site, or you can visit the onsite Headquarters Counter during the conference to see if there are any opportunities that match your skills and abilities.
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