Engage 2024 – Some random reflections

The venue – As usual, when you think Theo can’t do better than last time, he surprises you with something wonderful.

This time it was the Handelsbeurs, the old stock exchange. Is a Gothic building, really extraordinary. I did not take pictures, but my good friend Hogne Bo Pettersen did and on the Engage website you will find a link to his great job and pictures taken by others. He told me “it doesn’t happen every day that you can take a picture of a speaker with the background from Game of Thrones”. This should give you an idea of the location we were.

Hogne Bø Pettersen Media

The sessions – As usual great content from the members of the community and HCL people in their sessions, HCL did not make any big announcement in the OGS but pointed to the concept of Community, which fits perfectly with us. As expected, Volt MX Go was mentioned often and there were several sessions on it.

Like every year, the quality of the session is so high that often there are two or three you want to attend, happening at the same time. Unless Engage lasts a week, this is a price you have to pay.

The people – at least 50% of the motivation for me to attend Engage is the chance of meeting with the people I know. Yes, we do chat all year long using the Discord servers for the Ambassadors and from OpenNTF, but seeing your friends face to face is invaluable. And as usual I bring back home good memories. As more than a person said, it feels like family, because in essence that’s what we are. And Theo has shown how much he cares for this family once more, setting up again a wonderful event.

I have only one woe, and this happens every year: the participation from Italian people. This year there were only 7 of us. I understand that in my country customers and partners prefer to speak native language, as in many other countries, but Engage is a really excellent event for those who work with HCL solutions.
If you are Italian and are reading this, it means you can understand English well enough, so please join Engage 2025, you will not be disappointed, trust me.

My sessions – Though I did not have a session as a single speaker, I co-hosted the two OpenNTF sessions, where six of us Directors were present. I believe those went well, I was surprised to see 20+ people attending a session on Open Source at 8 a.m.; I was not thinking there would be only the six of us, but attendance was above my expectations.

End of an era and the future – This year was special; it was the last Engage Theo organized all by himself and we were curious to see what was in plan for 2025. The good news is that Engage will continue under the helm of 2 new skippers, two people I know well and appreciate much: Kris De Bisshop and Tom van Aken. I have worked together with them, they were the organizers, together with us of OpenNTF, of the developer contest we did a couple of years ago. Knowing them, I am sure that the legacy is in good hands and that the next Engage will be a success!
A tip: if you come to Engage 2025 ask Kris about the dancing frog 😊

Theo – it’s not a surprise that he (and Hilde too) received lot of love from all the participants, and more than a few gifts as a recognition from all he has done for this community in the last 15 years organizing Engage. At the OGS he was presented with several gifts: first Richard Jefts gave him a set of beautiful wine glasses engraved with the location of every Engage, just to let you know how beautiful and precious are those glasses, it took two weeks to custom sketch each venue for the engraving, HCL really put a lot of effort in this

Matteo Cogliati

Then Theo was awarded the C3UG (that’s the Canadian user group in case you don’t know) North Star Award. Immediately after that the Directors of OpenNTF gave him a proclamation, naming him “fellow Emeritus” of OpenNTF.

The most emotional moments were at the end of the CGS. On behalf of the whole HCL Ambassadors community, me and Bill Malchisky went on stage with a surprise for Theo and Hilde.

We worked some months in the community, i.e. all of us Ambassadors except one (thanks Maria Nordin for setting up a “top secret” channel where we worked on this) to find the perfect gift and in the end we came up with two, a small one and a bigger one.

First, I presented them with two “environments” of Lego, custom made by our friend and professional Lego builders Warren and Teresa Elsmore. Now Theo and Hilde can show a Lego figure with their faces and brag about it 😊

Warren and Kitty Elsmore
Warren and Kitty Elsmore

Then Bill stepped up and presented them with the main gift. A long weekend in Tuscany visiting Florence, and a Wine masterclass in Montepulciano.

I was fortunate to be on stage at that moving moment so I could see Theo’s face up close, his expression clearly represented the emotion he felt in receiving the love from all the members of our family. You can see it for yourself in this video. https://youtube.com/watch?v=2vi3fTIT36s&feature=shared

Fun, or not so fun, things – On the train from the airport to Antwerp someone stole from my jacket my credit card holder. He must have been in a hurry and took what he thought was valuable, but thank God, he left me the rest of the stuff I had: the passport, the home keys and the wallet, that contained cash. It was the perfect lose-lose situation: he gained nothing, because even before the train arrived in Antwerp I blocked my cards, and I lost time and a welcomed memory with my friends. Because of the situation, I skipped the Ambassadors drink to spend the late afternoon in a Police station in Antwerp dealing with policemen who did not speak and barely understood English. Plus, the nuisance of having to do the duplicates of my driving license and health insurance card.

Had he taken the wallet both would have been happier. I couldn’t block the cash so he would have gained some money, and I wouldn’t have to go thru the hassle of getting duplicates of everything.

I believe my story became a popular topic at Engage, more than one person I did not tell this tale to directly, asked me about the theft when we talked.

I want to publicly thank my friend Marianna Tomasatti, who basically paid everything for me with her cards. The joy of an almost cashless country… I would have been lost without her. There were some jokes about me being her slave for the week, since she had my life in her hands (or rather in her wallet).

On the first day, my friend Hogne came to me with a gift.

I was completely unaware that the figure represented (is called “la linea”) was popular in Norway. Is a cartoon that was popular in Italy in the 80’s. Hogne told me that every time he came to Italy, he tried to find a t-shirt with that but couldn’t find it; then he found it in his country!!!
It was completely unexpected for me and I was really moved by the thought.

And Hogne took this “crazy-cool photo” of me (definition by Devin Olson 😊)

Hogne Bø Pettersen Media

Like every year, I came back home energized and happy for having learned something new and having seen my friends again.

HCL product documentation is Open Source

This is not strictly news, though at Engage HCL announced that the product documentation is now Open Source (and many other things, see this presentation)

anyone who used the official documentation for e.g. Sametime has noticed that is on GitHub.

This is great news from various points of view: it confirms the commitment HCL has for Open Source, see the above presentation (and as a Director of OpenNTF this is great for us), and for the first time gives us users the possibility of improving the documentation.

Now, I know that if you are an Admin you may think “not for me, GitHub and the like are developer stuff”, but this is not true. I am an Admin and I made some changes to the Sametime 12.0.2 official documentation! 🙂

First of all you may want to get familiar a bit with GitHub if you aren’t already. The presentation from the OpenNTF webinar we did on that topic will help you https://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/august-openntf-webinar-git-and-github-explained/250012401

What I did.
I opened the repository of the documentation here https://github.com/HCL-TECH-SOFTWARE/sametime-doc and made a fork (basically is a copy that I can edit)

Then I switched to my fork here https://github.com/rboccadoro/sametime-doc and changed the documents that contained some small errors.

Now, the two copies are different, mine contains the corrections and the HCL one doesn’t. What do you do to have the changes posted in the official repository? Just click on the link in the homepage of your fork, here

This will bring you back to the HCL GitHub repo and you can click here

You will see this

Now fill in the form and submit it.

HCL documentation team (the owner of the repository) will review the changes you propose and if they accept them, they will become part of the official documentation

If you open the HCL repository and click on “Pull requests” you can see that I submitted two and they have been accepted, which means that HCL is really listening to suggestions.

Good job HCL!