Kaleidoscope 2010 – Interview with Cameron Lackpour

cameron-lackpour.jpgIn the next posting in my series of talks with presenters, attendees and organizers ofKaleidoscope, I had the distinct pleasure of having an e-conversation with Cameron Lackpour (click on Cameron’s name to view his bio).

Cameron once hinted that he might get an ODTUG tattoo. Cameron has a blog for Essbase hackers, availablehere.

MR: I asked Cameron which of his presentations is a “can’t miss” session that Kaleidoscope attendees should plan on attending, and why? Cameron was quick to break the rules with his reply.

CL: “The first (see, already I’m ignoring your questions) presentation I’m involved in is going to be pretty freewheeling – Glenn SchwartzbergGary Crisci, and I are pathologically addicted to OTN and Essbase’s other home, Network54 — we’re going to present some of the best/craziest/most interesting threads from the user forums (Essbase will not be the only subject, don’t worry) and what we all (hopefully) learned from them. And of course the SIG elections to boot – this is where you get to vote people on to or off the board. Be there Tuesday night at, gulp, 10 pm. I am curious to see if Gary’s and Glenn’s star power can attract enough people to fill at least the front row.

On a slightly more formal note, if in your ETL life you are finally leaving the dead and the dying (that would be HAL and DIM) for the living (ODI), you ought to at least check out the ODI presentation I’m giving with Kelli Stein of interRel Consulting. We worked together discovering the not so obvious path of ODI in the Hyperion world. Let our pain be your gain as you make the switch. This presentation is Wednesday, 30 June at 1:30 pm – naptime after your delicious lunch, so eat lightly.”

MR: I decided to see if I could keep Cameron from ignoring my next question. Besides yourself, who else should Kaleidoscope attendees plan on seeing a session from, and why?

CL: “My list of presenters is all, with the exception of one, people I personally know and have worked with. That may make my list seem a bit narrowly focused, but despite actually being born in New Jersey, I am by nature a Missourian – show me in real life what you know. These presenters are the real deal – I guarantee you’ll walk out of these presentations knowing way more than when you walked in.

Edward Roske for sure. His knowledge level and it-will-grow-on-you-just-give-it-time dry delivery are a combination that I enjoy immensely. The 2008 ODTUG Essbase track was 40% Edward and 100% good You have to count me in the E. Roske fan club – I was mesmerized then and remain so now. Edward is giving three presentations – I expect them to be packed, so arrive early.

Glenn Schwartzberg – Glenn’s an interesting guy. He’ll look at your code, make an offhand remark about it, and walk away. You better be listening, because he just told you how to do it better and faster. His eagerness to share what he knows (that’s why he made the comment), diffidence (he didn’t beat you over the head with his intellect, but yes, he is smarter than you, or at least me), and sense of humor (bizarre yet breathtakingly corny) makes him a joy to work with. His presentations are just as much fun. I haven’t known him all that long, but I can’t count the number of times he has gently corrected me; I think I’ve done the same for him twice. Glenn is also giving three presentations, all sure to be good.

For good reasons, Tim Tow’s nickname is “geekidol”. I’ve known Tim for a long time and remain blown away by his level of knowledge and willingness to share what he knows. He’s a class act, and I’ve never left one of his presentations (and conversations) without thinking, “How on earth did he figure that out?” and, “That is so cool.” and, “Why am I not doing that?” He is giving a vendor presentation on Dodeca – yes, a sales moment – butAppliedOLAP’s presentations are the most un-salesy sales presentation you’ve ever seen and the product is way cool.

I’ve known and worked with Dave Farnsworth for almost 20 years (that is scary on many levels). Dave reminds me of Glenn, or Glenn reminds me of Dave, whatever, these are two scary-smart guys that don’t trumpet how much they know, but gently steer newbie’s (I am waiting to leave that category, but it never seems to happen) in the right direction. Dave’s knowledge level is in the if-I-can-learn-as-much-as-he’s-forgotten-I’ll-be-happy category. How can you go wrong with that kind of presenter? If you’ve heard of Planning, are finally getting round to using Planning, or actively use Planning today, you’ll want to see and hear Dave dive into the tables behind Planning.

I don’t know Mark Drayton, but his description of Planning at HBOS sounds fascinating. Not many people will publicly admit to project mistakes and missteps but of course they’re part of life and every implementation if we’re honest with ourselves. Anyone who is willing to document them and tell others how to avoid doing the same deserves a look. Besides, I want to see if my disasters are on the same scale or not. Mark, for whatever this is worth, I was (in my mind at least) the biggest advocate of your presentation during the selection process. I really, really liked the abstract. Please don’t disappoint me. ;) “

MR: What differentiates Kaleidoscope as a conference from other conferences out there?

CL: There are a couple of key things that I love about Kaleidoscope:

  1. The spirit of knowledge sharing. I had a mid-life crisis at 26 (I was a precocious child and this carried into early adulthood) and was going to toss the world of IT and instead be a history professor. Sanity, running the numbers on how I would live on a fellowship salary, and a deep despair at the thought of abandoning Essbase kept me from making the leap but I’ve always regretted missing the chance to teach and be taught. Kaleidoscope is like a greatest graduate school seminar ever. I love the knowledge transfer.

  3. It’s not run by Oracle. There are lots of things I (surprisingly) really like about Oracle and I’ll detail them in my next point, but I find the customer and partner driven nature of the agenda to be key. Presentation content is defined by what people submit and thus follows their interests. I went to (and paid for) every Solutions conference there ever was and watched that conference deviate more and more from Arbor’s Dimensions (only caught the last one of those) as the sales presentations became more and more dominant. By the end of Solutions’ life, I was attending maybe 40% of the sessions. That waste of money and time hasn’t happened at the past two Kaleidoscope conferences because of the relevant and informative nature of the sessions.

  5. Oracle is all over the conference. Yes, that contradicts what I wrote above about this not being an Oracle, Inc. show, but their participation in this conference is really interesting in three ways:
    1. They are looking for feedback from conference attendees. It’s like we’re the elite or something. It is incredibly gratifying (not to mention useful) to have a product manager honestly ask how Oracle can improve its products. I can’t remember anyone from at Solutions essentially saying, “We think it sucks too, tell us how to make it better.” And to actually act on it? Yet that’s what happened at last year’s symposium. Kaleidoscope attendees are the sharp point of the customer spear, so it makes sense that Oracle asks, but still, that is one big company pausing and asking. Shiver.

    3. They are providing tech views of their new products. I love their “Every single word in this presentation is subject to change. Don’t believe anything you see. Plfbssst.” disclaimers at the beginning of the presentations, but there’s real meat in them, and they are *not* sales moments. This has got to be a culture thing, as many of the players come from Hyperion. Amazingly, Big Red set them free. Let’s just say that I anticipated many things from Oracle’s acquisition, but this wasn’t one of them.

    5. They actively support ODTUG but don’t run it. Yes, it’s self-interest on Oracle’s part as it is in the case of ODTUG (ODTUG does start with “Oracle” after all) but I like to think of it as enlightened self-interest because the result is the deep content that Kaleidoscope provides. Much of that would be impossible without Oracle’s active support. Thanks, guys.”

MR: Cameron, can you recommend one thing that a first time visitor should take advantage of while visiting during Kaleidoscope?

CL: “I’m going to pick one that probably isn’t on everyone’s list – the Library of Congress.

Like I wrote, I’m a failed wannabe history professor, so I have a bias towards original documents. To be able to look at the original (okay, contemporary copy if not the original) Declaration of IndependenceArticles of Confederation (I hope everyone knows that the real first President was John Hanson, not that upstart Geo. Washington), US ConstitutionBill of Rights, not to mention the Magna Carta – it’s beyond amazing and all there.”

MR: Cameron, lastly, can you tell us what your best memory is from a Kaleidoscope conference that you’ve attended previously?

CL: “If worst means best-in-the-long-run, it would be sitting in that big conference room in Kaleidoscope in 2008 and realizing how complacent I’d gotten in my knowledge base as I had my “Oh ****, I didn’t know that” moment again, and again, and again as the presentations rolled on. It was more than a little frightening but it really lit a fire under me. I can’t say that today I’m where I need to be technically (I can be my harshest critic) but I’m immensely grateful to ODTUG for the wakeup call.”

Registration is now open for ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010, June 27-July 1 in Washington, DC.

Here’s a thought for everyone out there…plan on staying after the conference to experience the biggest 4th of July celebration in the United States. Great after conference rates are available at the conference hotel, the Marriott Wardman Park.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Feel free to contact me at mriley@odtug.com at any time. If you have anything you’d like to share about your Kaleidoscope experience, you can post a comment to this blog, or send me an e-mail at the above address.

I’ll see you at Kaleidoscope 2010, in Washington DC!!

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