Maybe it is just the fact that I grew up on the East coast - but I always love doing an event down east. It could be in Halifax, Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, St. John's - doesn't matter. East Coasters are just a friendly bunch and go out of their way to make ya feel welcome - if you are from there or "come from away".
I write this entry from a hotel room at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Downtown Toronto. I've just paid for a $80 cab ride from HQ in Mississauga down to the hotel. It's close to the venue tomorrow morning where the final stop of the IO Tour will take place to a waitlisted crowd at a venue of over 1000 seats. Don't get me wrong - I like the large venues and the opportunity to connect with the IT Pros up here as well - but there is something to be said with the level of personal connection you get with the smaller cities.
Halifax was GREAT. Despite the rainy weather and high winds - we had a respectable sized crowd that stayed right till the end. Catering was great (I still can't believe that Pasta salad - it rocked!) and the questions kept on coming on strong till the end of the final Q&A session.
One thing that I did that was a little different than the other tour stops was I spent some time getting to know Melvin Hart, current president of NSITPRO user group. He's had an uphill battle getting a bunch of regular attendees and strong executive member to help run the group, but I think they are on the verge of a tipping point of critical mass. I'll keep you posted with their progress.
Melvin's workplace environment (insurance company with branch office / disaster recovery site) is living the Branch Office scenario we talk about on tour. I've known Melvin for just about two years and the one thing that I respect about him is his sincerity in wanting to help the IT community (and community in general) around Halifax, NewMinas and Kentville. I've got a couple of blog posts planned around some challenges he's faced and the solutions he's come up with that will be out in a bit - all taken from the day or so I spent with him at his workplace, talking over lunch with the CFO or chatting up the end users in the offices. Stay tuned for more info...
For those of you who missed it on the day of the event - here's a snapshot with myself in amongst a Kentville tradition of Pumpkin People.
Maybe I can get them to start up a PPITPro group (PumpkinPeople IT Pro UG of Kentville) and solve those tough infrastructure questions like how do you get these guys to stay standing for so long and their heads don't rot off? I just found the Town of Kentville harvest festival site which includes instructions on how to make'em... I'm making one of these for my front yard in Ottawa - Mackenzie and the girls will love it!
I really should get some sleep...