Austin Texas March 5-7
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
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.
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