Thunderous Applause, DFUG 1998

Date: March 15, 2019
Contributed by: Eric Bosch, Director of Software Development at DF/Net

DFUG1998 at Mont Tremblant, PQ

What a great looking group. These are (most of) the attendees at the Sixth Annual DFUG. If you have been to DFUG in the early years or recently, you will certainly recognize some of the faces - Darryl, Lisa, Wendy, LuAnn, Phil, Vicken - and others. Different sweaters, different hair styles, different glasses - and the same people that they are today. How cool is it, that these people  and this community are still together in 2019, 21 years later, preparing for our 25th meeting?

DFUG 1993 enjoyed the challenge of audio combat with the country rock musicians one floor down. DFUG 1998 survived the challenge of audio combat with Mother Nature, one (big) floor up.

Mont Tremblant is located in the Laurentians, a beautiful 90 minute drive north from Montreal, Quebec. It is a great four season location. DFUG chose the location for, what else, the skiing. In winter, the skiing can be sublime. Occasionally it can also be very, very cold. This was in our thoughts as we moved the meeting date out of February and into late March - officially out of winter, the temperature will be more moderate. And we were right, the temperature was a few degrees north of freezing.

Except that... end of March is pushing into spring, which as the saying goes, implies spring showers. Driving north from Montreal, I experienced one of the largest and longest downpours of rain in my few living years. 90km/hour on autoroute 15 quickly became 40km/hour on autoroute 117 and north. And as the rain fell and the warm air passed over the large piles of snow, fog also appeared. The further north I drove, the thicker the fog became and soon 40km/hour was too fast. 3.5 hours later my 90 minute drive was complete.

I awoke for the first morning of DFUG, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. Glorious. It was also strangely loud, like non-stop thunder, and I could not figure out why. The hotel is 200 yards from the base gondola and I went out, jealously, to watch the skiers start their day. As I got closer to the gondola, I understood where the noise was coming from. The typically small stream of melt water that meandered down the mountain was now a full-on Niagara Falls Jr. Niagara Falls is not quiet, and neither was this.

DFUG 1998 was the first time we had an invited, "keynote" speaker. Richard Chamberlain, of ECS, had been working with the DataFax team, in late 1997, on our computer systems validation. We had learned so much from Richard and he had so much knowledge to share, we invited him to speak at DFUG. Which he did, and we all benefited from his expertise. Richard's input continues to be reflected in some of our practices, change control for example, even now in 2019.

A few more highlights... Darryl spoke about his hands-on experience building an internet fax relay to collect DataFax CRFs and data from Uganda, 11 time zones from Seattle. His conclusion - "never underestimate the power of DataFax". Martin presented an edit checks tutorial - our implementation was (and is) quite extensive. Giving a tutorial lowered the barrier to entry and gave many of our clients the information that they needed to start deploying their own study edit checks, increasing the quality of their data and saving them valuable time.

DataFax 3.3 was all the rage at the time and we were talking about the newest features that had just dropped in the 3.3-004 minor release. We were working on year 2000 compliance, batch edit check execution and yet more reports.

Wait, did I just say year 2000 compliance? Yup, every DFUG is an adventure.