NOTE: This post is about a day and a half late. I could claim that I wanted the event to sink in first but the reality is I was trying to get a handle back on things after a very hectic week. Part of it was a short but very successful trip to NYC. So dense was the wife's and daughter's shopping-to-waking-hours ratio that I'll be looking for sponsors for our next trip (anyone from Visa and/or American Girl in my readership?). Closest I got to purchasing anything of value was walking by a Best Buy after closing and laughing at a fellow who tried to sell me a router for $120, which was over half off the ticket price.
But that's not what I came to babble about today.
Encouraged and invigorated. That's what I felt right after the first BahaNET meeting and what I still feel now two days later. Attendance, including myself and Dave Noderer, was a whopping seven people. Experience ranged from an IT Pro looking to get into programming, to a game programmer (watch for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for the Wii this Xmas), to a young lady acting as the sole .NET programmer at a local bank.
It was a very interactive meeting with everyone showing genuine interest in solving not only the problems I lamented last time but a few others. Everyone was active in the discussion, especially at the end. And I got the sense that from these seven people, we'll have a good base from which to grow.
The main problem I see is simply getting people to see the value of such a group. As such, this was something we discussed for some time. We veered into some unfamiliar territory for me as we talked about some practical ideas as well as some more...ummm...let's say "long term" plans (like a robotics competition).
There was much talk on how to change attitudes in the country. This, by far, is why I foresee any real change taking several years. In my last post, I talked about people who have no interest in "talking computers" after working on them all day. But as was pointed out at the meeting, that shouldn't be the focus initially. So I'll be tweaking things more toward the social aspects of the gatherings.
But even with the small group, one of the major benefits of regular meetings like this came up several times. Namely, people learned things that they may not have known before. There was tremendous interest in DotNetNuke as a possible platform for creating websites (which is a common business model in the Bahamas), which some of the attendees had never heard of. This was not the only example of side conversation enlightenment by any stretch either.
All in all, I believe those that attended will be back and will bring friends. And I got what I wanted out of it: a sense of how to proceed for the benefit of everyone.
The final pleasant surprise came when I handed out prizes. People were offered a choice of items and not a single XBox game was claimed. Instead, people took Visual Studio licenses, a book on SQL Server programming, and a copy of Communication Server.
We even discussed the next meeting: May 30 at the same location (IPBS House). Topic will be: Creating a Website in ASP.NET. See you there!
Kyle the Re-animated