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Horizon User Group Annual Meeting 2001

Austin Texas March 5-7

Chris Hauser


As always, I found the annual Horizon User Group Meeting (HUGM) informative and eventful.  Held this year in Austin Texas, this years meeting brought together some 600-700 hundred users of Horizon and Dynix library systems.  The general sessions, hosted mainly by Epixtech, were the usual rhetoric plugging new design technologies expected to be available in future versions of their software and excuses covering their actions (or inactions)  regarding current problems with software.  I do believe, however, that the products that they talked most about (IPAC 2.0 and Sunrise 8.0) will be good products when they finally get released.

The breakout session of HUGM are the sessions I find most beneficial.  These are most often hosted by actual Horizon users rather than Epixtech staff.  These session cover anything from tips & tricks when using SQL to beginning cataloging.  From advanced systems administration of Sybase to designing your search catalog for grade school kids.  John Lamborn, Stella Chang, and I strategized our interests in the available sessions and attended those sessions which were most related to our interests and abilities.  The topics demonstrated and discussed in these sessions are given by fellow systems and library people who have made the products work for them.  Knowing that you are hearing the "real skinny" regarding a product rather than a sales pitch is hugely comforting.  I hosted a session this year on the Epixtech product RPA (Remote Patron Authentication) that our library has been using for the past 8 months.  This was the first year that I personally hosted a session at HUGM and it seemed to be well recieved. 

As I have stated, the general sessions are good and the individual breakout session are beneficial, but the most rewarding and hands down best part of HUGM for me is the social networking.  I bring back more and more business cards from this event each year.  Learning who others are in this group and what they do and how they do it is great.  Chances are that  Systems will never learn how to to everything in Horizon but knowing of someone who has made something work in the past is a great place to start to learn about it.  As I know I have indicated in the past, the social networking aspect of HUGM alone is well worth the trip.

Okay, what's the deal with the bat you ask.  The Hyatt Regency Hotel where HUGM was held is right on the Colorado River/Town lake and about 300 yards from the Congress Avenue Bridge which crosses it.  The Congress Avenue Bridge has become home to somewhere around 1.5 - 2 million (that's MILLION) Mexican free tail bats. The bats are not visible during the day because they are hiding out in these small crevices that span the bridge.  At some pre-defined bat time, (sunset) the bats start to boil out of the crevices and head East down the river to consume an estimated 30,000 pounds of insects nightly.  It takes about half an hour for the fray of bats to de-bridge into the night.  I watched the event from the East side river level of the bridge one evening with some hesitation but, after showering later,  was mostly glad I saw it.  A tip for you if you ever find yourself under the Congress Avenue Bridge at sunset..  Take an umbrella.  Read more about the Austin bats here.



Updated September 30, 2004 . Please send comments to Chris Hauser
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