[ I'm going to try to blog one entry for every day at LISA 2004. ]
I arrived on Sunday. Though I'm not signed up for anything until Monday, I arrived early (2pm) on Sunday.
So if I'm not signed up for anything on Sunday, why did I arrive so early? There is a lot of useful and interesting stuff going on even if you aren't attending a tutorial or workshop. The benefit of a multi-day conference is the contacts that you make and the interaction with other attendees. There were plenty of ad hoc groups of people hanging out and chatting. I've been attending LISA for years, so there were also a lot of friends that I wanted to catch up with.
Dinner is an excellent way to spend "quality time" with the people you meet. At dinner last night we discussed everything from the new Cisco security features, to Solaris ZFS, to the finer points of various other system administration topics. I learned a lot, and many new ideas sprouted in my mind (or at least there were a lot of URLs mentioned that I found I need to check out.)
How to find a group of people for dinner if you are new to LISA? Usually people gather at the registration area around 6pm or 6:30pm to figure out what they're going to do for the evening. If you see a big group gathering, feel free to ask if you can join them. The worst that can happen is they'll say "no". Don't be offended, they might have a private party already arranged. However typically people will invite you to join along.
One of my goals this year is to try to meet a lot of new people. To that end, I'm introducing myself to random people, people I usually might not have met for one reason or another. If you are a regular attendee, I encourage you to do the same. If you are a first-time attendee introduce yourself to the people at tutorials, lunches, and so on. You'll get a lot more out of the conference.
Tomorrow: Review of DBE's tutorial on "Over The Edge System Administration".