I am writing this at Brussels airport on Sunday afternoon waiting for evening flight back to Prague. Since Wednesday when we came to Leuven to attend BLUG 2013, weather got really bad and although we have March 24 whole Brussels and Antwerpen (and I am sure more other places) are covered by snow and it is freezing out there. Yet even this really unpleasant ending could not spoil great feeling I have about this year's BLUG. In fact all previous BLUGs as well. This was my third. First one in 2011: as an attendee who has heard about it in This Week in Lotus Podcast and impulsively decided to go Antwerp by bus (it took just 15 hours or so). I met couple of people there that time and we are happy to see each other during BLUG every year. Second time I went as a speaker and that was hell of an experience! And it allowed me to meet even more people I knew only from their blogs or from Twitter, it allowed me to have the opportunity to speak to the guys from IBM who really do some work there :-) and I was able to tell them what I miss in XPages development environment. And I was extremely happy to see some of it solved (or at least being worked on) this year (see AD205 from Connect 2013 - unit testing and testing in general). This year I was not speaking but it still was great event for me. Watching other speakers nervously checking their presentations for 100th time, running demos to make sure they will work live on stage (they won't, they never do). Chatting with people around coffee machines, when waiting for sessions, exchanging experiences and ideas after sessions... Add some wine and beer and you get a wild bunch of geeks enjoying speed sponsoring part, some of them really listening to the sponsors who are desperately trying to do sales pitch in 3 minutes...so much fun! It is hard to believe that you can use "sales" and "fun" in one sentence, right?
This year BLUG moved from Antwerp to Leuven, instead of modern hotel it was in a buildings from 13th century! What a beautiful place! Some rooms were smaller than last years, so not all of attendees had chairs in some sessions, sometimes it was hard to even fit to the room, but all this made the event more "personal", more "social" if you will.
And because I tweeted something about preparing a line to approach speakers ("Wow, great session! Can you bring me chocolate from the speakers room, pls?") first thing Louis Richardson from IBM has done during his part of keynote was giving me a box of chocolate! How cool is that? (wait, I may be crossing some boundaries here, this used to be line different company is/was famous for). Thanks again, @inter_vivos.
I am not going to describe all sessions I've been to, some were great, some not that great. That is just normal, it really depends on what I already know about the subject, what I expect to hear, what time the session is and loads of other conditions. Knowing how much work is behind each session, even those speakers who doesn't seem to be as good as some others really deserve our admiration.
Theo has organized great BLUG. Again. Thank you, and thanks to your wife and all other people who were helping you (Hi, Dana!). And thank for the gift you gave me after I have helped a bit to fill the bags and install banners in the sponsors area. Still have to find out how to open wine with it ;-)
P.S.: And if I am lucky again, you are all going to have nice enhancement to test driven development of XPages apps. Because even this year I have spoken to IBM guys and cried on their shoulders...:-)
P.P.S.: this also could happen only at BLUG: after final session when nearly all people have already left, I was sitting at meeting room with Scott Souder, Louis Richardson, Viktor Krantz, Pete Janzen, Dave Horak a and couple of others, passing chocolate around, sipping a beer and just chitchating. And all this right after personally saying "thank you for all you have done for notes/domino community" to Ed Brill and wishing him luck in his new role.
This is what BLUG is, this is what makes it special! Do not miss the next one. I know I will be there for sure. See you all next year, this time in Nederlands.