Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joie de vivre en Montréal: MONSUG User Group Meeting

Last week I had the pleasure of travelling to Montréal for their user group meeting. As a native Toronto-ite and unabashed hockey fanatic, I’ll admit to consistently having a bit of a nervous edge to me when I first arrive in the city… especially as the route to my hotel typically takes me right past the Bell Centre, the hallowed, sacred ground of the National Hockey League’s Canadiens and the long-time rivals to my own beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. I typically feel like I’ve just splashed my face with cold water as well, given that the majority of the city communicates in French. While I myself am no stranger to la belle langue du Molière, I’m always a little nervous and a little shocked when I try and wrap my tongue around syllables, expressions and phrases little practiced in the Anglophone city I live in. It’s refreshing, invigorating… yet slightly horrible at first.

One thing I can have no complaint about at all is the people I work with in the SAS office and as part of the SAS community in Montréal. From instructors through to support staff, from user group executives through to guest speakers, I’m always floored by the professionalism, warmth and hospitality I’m shown throughout my frequent visits.

Of course, one of my benchmarks for community strength is the ability of a group to pull together a strong agenda utilizing strictly local resources. Once again, MONSUG stood out in this respect. The agenda was populated with local favourites and frequent guest speakers, and the nearly-full room was a testament to the strength of the meeting. Leading off, Mathieu Gaouette shared with us some of his
‘Trésors cachés du SAS Global Forum 2013’. Mathieu and I had both enjoyed a very pleasant SAS Global Forum experience and his take on some of the most helpful tips and tricks which he learned there was certainly welcome.

We also had two other presenters who had frequently delivered talks in Québec: M. Jean Hardy and M. Abdedsselam Bouhia.  Having seen both of them present as recently as the past year in Québec City, I was confident that we were in good hands.

M. Bouhia reprised a talk he had previously given around ‘La segmentation avec SAS’ which proved to be an in-depth dive into the details of why engage in segmentation activities. Finally, M. Hardy delivered a great talk called ‘La puissance peu connue des tables hash’. Hash tables have been popping up for me all across the country this past month: they seem to be in great demand by programmers looking to optimize and speed up their programs. I wonder if this is a side effect of the move towards high performance analytics? At any rate, it was easy to see why Jean has been an instructor of some note for so long. He clearly knows his material, and how to deliver it.

Of course, no trip to Montréal is complete without at least one delicious meal… and I left following a great chat about politics (which city had a more challenged municipal government structure: Toronto or Montréal?), hockey (of course) and the potential for future meetings. It will be the 10th MONSUG meeting in the fall and I think it’s fair to say we have some special things planned! I can’t reveal them now, that would be telling.

As always, you can find the talks from the meeting posted on the MONSUG website shortly, and I can unequivocally say that I’m looking forward to my return trip to la belle province in the Fall. In my immediate future, however, I had to head back to Toronto for the TASS user group meeting taking place at week’s end. I’ll have more on that in shortly.

Until then…

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