Getting Started at the CalConnect Conference

This page is intended for individuals who have not attended a CalConnect Conference, often just called the Conference. Its purpose is to allow you to prepare for the event and understand in advance what to expect and how to maximize the value of your participation.

  1. What is the CalConnect Conference?

    The CalConnect Conference is the event where technical work in progress is reviewed, new work is proposed, organizational matters are discussed, and consensus obtained on CalConnect-wide or industry-wide issues. A Conference consists mostly of technical sessions, together with occasional Workshops and BOFs, and a Plenary meeting consisting of everyone attending the conference. CalConnect Conferences are almost always held in conjunction with a Test Event/Developers Forum.

    As CalConnect conducts almost all of its Technical Committee meetings online and via conference call, the Conferences provide the in-person opportunity for networkng and socializing for our member representatives and for "observers" (first-time non-member attendees), located across North America, Europe, and Asia.

    CalConnect Conferences are the only regularly occurring conference technical or otherwise for calendaring and scheduling and related technologies.

  2. When and where are CalConnect Conferences held?

    CalConnect holds three Conferences per year as part of its three CalConnect Events. Each week-long CalConnect event begins with a 2½ day CalConnect Test Event, followed by the CalConnect Conference.

    Although a number of factors determine the ultimate location of each CalConnect Event, each year we endeavor to hold one in North American and one in Europe. Our three events are currently our "Winter" (January/February), "Spring" (May/June), and "Autumn" (September/October) events. Should CalConnect develop significant memership in other parts of the world, we will explore events in locations which facilitate participation by those members, as we have recently done for our European members.

    CalConnect Events are hosted by CalConnect member organizations, generally on their premises or in nearby public space.

  3. How is the CalConnect Conference structured and organized?

    The Conference generally occupies the last two and a half days of the CalConnect event week, beginning Wednesday after lunch and ending mid-afternoon on Friday (except our European events, where the conference may last all afternoon on Friday as discussed below. The Conference is broken into sessions normally lasting from 1-2 hours. Sessions are allocated to each current or future topic of interest, and to other technical and administrative purposes. Sessions are arranged serially, rather than in parallel, to ensure that participants can attend all sessions in which they are interested.

    The Conference opens immediately following lunch on Wednesday with introductions and short presentations from new members about their organizations, followed by a report from the Test Event covering what each participant tested and the the results. (For first-time participants, there is also an optional "Introduction to CalConnect Q&A" session prior to lunch.)

    The schedule of sessions is published well in advance on the event web page in the Conference section, and shortly before the event a link will be provided on he event page to a CalConnect Conference calendar to which you may subscribe. We try to adhere closely to the published order and timing of sessions as some sessions may be attended remotely by member representatives who cannot come to the event. Each session will usually have a prepared presentation or demo, followed by or combined with discussion. Sessions are very interactive, with participation anticipated and expected from all present, not just those actively involved wiht the work being discussed. At the start of each session, the presenter will call for a scribe to take notes of the session; these notes are taken to Etherpads and preserved after the event, along with the presentations.

  4. Who participates in the CalConnect Conference

    The Conferences are open to all member representatives from Members in good standing. All participants must agree to abide by the relevant parts of the CalConnect Member Agreement. Conferences are also conducted on the basis that "what is said in the room stays in the room". Participants are encouraged to become involved in discussions and contribute to decisions. Member representatives who cannot attend a conference may also join one or more sessions remotely, through a combination of audio and screen sharing.

    Non-members may also send representatives to a single Conference as Observers, to sample what CalConnect is doing and determine if they wish to join as members. These representatives also agree to abide by the conditions for participation in the Conference mentioned above.

  5. What tools are used?

    We generally do not attempt remote particiation in the conferences as experience has shown that the quality of the sessions and the experience is not very good for remote participants, and significantly impacted for those present. 

    The nature of the internet access at the event, and the audio/visual system we use, is up to our host as they provide these facilities, and we may be constrained by their internal security considerations and constraints. Generally we will be using wifi and will be provided logons on their internal or guest systems. Logon information should be available when you arrive at the event.

    During the conduct of the Conference, participating member representatives may make use of the CalConnect Slack Channels to communicate with each other and remote participants.

    A note for Observers: as non-members do not normally have access to member facilities such as the Slack channels, you will not be able to access these, nor retrieve the session materials after the meeting, unless your organization decides to become a member. However you may request that specific presentations be sent to you following the Conference, and we will be happy to do so, with the understanding that you will share the material only within your organization and in the context of considering whether to join CalConnect in the future.

  6. What do I need to do to prepare?

    It may help to review the reports on the most recent Conference at Event Reports to get an idea of what the Technical Committees have been working on and reporting on recently, and other relevant information.

    If you reprsent a member and have an interest in specific Technical Committees or areas of work, reviewing any material and notes from recent Technical Committee calls may be useful; the notes in particular may be found on the OWL Document Repository in the folders for the specific TC(s). You may also wish to join the e-mail discussion lists for any TCs of interest (session notes for each TC call are distributed to its list after the call) even if you don't (yet) plan to join or participate in the calls. (Note that you must have an internal userid on the CalConnect system to access this material.)

    In particular, you should
    • Register for the Conference as soon as you know you are planning to attend; you may also use the Quick Registration if you are only registering yourself and you wish to pay immediately during the process of registering).
    • Review the schedule of sessions on the event web page. Prior to the event it will also be available on a special CalConnect Conference calendar to which you may subscribe.
    • If there is a topic of interest to you and your organization not on the published schedule, you can suggest a BOF on the topic to the Executive Director in advance, or during the opening session.
    • Plan on attending the "Introduction to CalConnect Q&A" Session held late Wednesday morning for first-time attendees and anyone who has questions about CalConnect.
    • If your organization is attending its first Conference as a member, it will have been asked to pesent a short (5-10 minute) presentation about itself, its business and its intereste in CalConnect, which may be your responsibility.
  7. How do I get started at the Conference?

    If this is your first time at a CalConnect Conference we can arrange for someone who is familiar with our Conferences to act as a mentor, if you wish one. If that hasn't been arranged prior to your arrival, please check with the Executive Director as soon as you get there. Your mentor can help you get started, introduce you to people, help solved roadblocks, and in general help ensure that you get the greatest possible value from the event. The Execuive Director can help if your mentor is not available or you need additional assistance.

    As noted above, you should plan on attending the "Introduction to CalConnect Q&A" Session late Wednesday morning. This is a good opportunity to meet other first-time participants, and get questions answered that you will probably still have.

    Also as noted above, if this is your organization's first Conference as a member, you may have been chosen to present a short (5 minute) presentation about itself, its business and its interest in CalConnect. These new member presentations happen Wednesday afternoon as part of the introductions. This is an excellent opportunity to identify yourself and your organization to other participants, especially those with similar interests and needs.

    Going forward through the Conference:
    • Participate! We refer to those present at Conferences as "participants" rather than "attendees". Your participation adds value to the event, adds value for other participants, and maximizes the value you and your organization come away with. Asking questions is a great way to participate.
    • Seek out CalConnect organizational and technical leaders during the course of the event and get to know them. CalConnect is a meritocracy; anyone irrespective of membership category or company affiliation can become a CalConnect thought leader, technical leader, or organizational leader, based on merit – your participation, your contributions, and your collegiality. Virtually everyone is approachable and willing to interact with you if you are approachable, collegial, respecful and thoughtful.
    • Be sure to talk with members and leaders of Technical Committees in which your organization may be interested but isn't currently participating in, and let them know your interests and how you and your organization might contribute.
    • If you have questions about what and how may be appropriate for posting to social media, please ask the Executive Director. The collegiality and openness of CalConnect are in no small part attributable to adherence to CalConnect policies and confidentiality.

    Finally, If you are feeling lost or out of the loop at the Conference: This can easily happen in a group where the majority of the participants have been to Conferences multiple times before and are working together in the Technical Committees, and might seem to be speaking a private language. One of your mentor's jobs is to help you become part of the group as quickly as possible.

  8. What about after the Conference?

    1. Fill out the post-event survey we send to all participants shortly afterwards. These surveys are instrumental in helping us understand how to improve future events and to meet the needs of our members.

    2. Get actively involved in Technical Committees and other activities of interest to your organization. CalConnect is truly a membership-driven organization. As with other organizations, what you get out of CalConnect is very dependent upon what you put into it. If we aren't doing what you need yet, consider proposing a BOF or Workshop to explore the subject, or a Provisional Committee to consider it in depth.

    3. Consider hosting a future CalConnect event. The host of a CalConnect event gets two free registrations to the Test Event and two to the Conference, and its participants avoid the expense and time of traveling to and from the event. Costs are minimal and largely involve providng meeting space, internet access and AV support, plus the Wednesday Reception. If you would like to know more, please ask the Executive Director.

    4. If your organization participated as an Observer, consider becoming a member. For information about joining, please see Membership Information and in particular Membership Categories and Fees.
    5. If you need more information or help convincing your organization, the Executive Director is eager to help. If you have decided not to join at this time, please share your reasons with the Executive Director. Feedback from those deciding not to join is important input to CalConnect's future directions and policies.
  9. Where can I find more information about the next and future Conferences?

    The Events section of our website contains pointers to the logistics and information pages for coming events, and the dates and locations as far forward as we know. The logistics and information page contains location, travel, hotel and venue information, plus the schedule for the week.

    The registration forms are available from the Events section and linked from the logistics and information page; or directly from CalConnect Event Registration and Payment Options.

  10. Where can I find more information about previous Conferences?

    Please see the Event Reports page in the Resources section of the website. As noted above, you can find presentations and session notes from previous Conferences on the document repository if you request access.

    Please note: Prior to CalConnect XXX, our conferences were called "Roundtables" for historical reasons, and you may encounter that term especially in historical material.

    Between 2008 and 2012 we published a newsletter after each CalConnect event, issues of which may be found on the website at CalConnect Minutes. The newsletter was discontinued in 2013 and the conference reports mentioned above were substantially expanded to include the type of material which had been published in the newsletter.

  11. A few last items

    CalConnect provides morning and afternoon refreshment breaks and lunch each day. You are responsible for your own breakfast each day, but we offer coffee and rolls at 0800 each morning prior to the first session. Coffee, tea and water are usually available throughout the day. In addition, there is a dinner Thursday evening for all Conference participants, hosted by CalConnect.

    Dress code at CalConnect events, including dinners and the reception, is casual to business casual.

  12. Questions?

    Please contact the Executive Director at:

    Dave Thewlis
    +1 707 840 9391 voice | +1 707 498 2238 mobile | +1 415 946 3454 fax