On Sunday I left to Birmingham to attend and, for the first time, speak at the UKOUG. It started off completely wrong. I went with a taxi to the Dutch main airport Schiphol and was 3 hours in advance a the ticket place. The automatic check in counter refused, so I had to go the normal (human controlled) ticket handling place. There a friendly person from the KLM ground crew announced that I was labeled "overbooked". Duh?!
I bought my flight ticket 3 months in advance. So how could this be. I already heard from a friend of my wife that this is apparently a standard issue. All / most of the KLM flights are overbooked. This is probably good for the profit, but brought me in a stressed situation from the start. No time to drink coffee anymore, no time to search for an electrical adapter. The queuing took me 1/2 hour, and after being labeled "overbooked" I had to rush to the next friendly KLM ground crew (an area behind customs, so now way back) person to deliver my my lottery ticket with my name stamped on it so it could be added to the other "overbooked" labeled tickets. Then the waiting started if I would get a seat on the plane I bought a ticket for, 3 months ago… A got a seat, but anyway, not a nice start.
The flight was rough, there was a lot of turbulence but I landed safely in Birmingham. There I checked in my Hotel. While waiting in my hotel room and looking into my presentation, Alex SMS’ed that he would be in the lobby for a drink at the bar (we would meet up with Doug and Kurt). I was really tired, but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet up again (after Miracle Open World). We had a good laugh and friendly discussions with a lot of UKOUG speakers. The Guinness tasted good after a long long time not being in a country that actually knows how to serve it. The group split up in a group that went for a decent meal in an Indian restaurant and one that went for the fish & chips & burger stuff (the latter was my group).
After a good breakfast I went to the Birmingham ICC center were the UKOUG conference is held. I am not sure how many presentations I will actually attend, because I am still not really happy with my presentation for Wednesday. So I already skipped one, to write this blog post in the speakers room (which of course is actually really cool for a newbie speaker like myself). I heard from Doug that there is a bloggers meet-up for UKOUG this year as well, so probably I will attend that one, but probably that will be all. Tuesday night I have to finish up a final draft / presentation and practice a little (English is not my native language so…).
I forgot my photo camera USB cable, so pictures of the event will have to wait for now. First impressions of this UKOUG is that I really like it. It is cozy, which is a little bit strange for such a large event (2500 attendants). But the conference center is split up in, more or less, a lot of smaller speaker halls, also the X-mas atmosphere of the different surrounding shops is adding to it.