Now that was cool. Or, am I supposed to say, hey Jeff, that was a sucky conference, I wouldn't ever want to return again, but if someone HAS to go in the future, I will make the sacrifice.

I wrote this recap from the courtyard of the Valbona Castle, a real 13th century military castle located about an hour outside Padova, Italy. It was a beautiful day, 24 degrees or so out, and the sunlight shone down into the courtyard. This castle was the venue for this year's DominoPoint "DDive", a combination annual user group and family event. There are definitely few better venues and milieus for a user group meeting.

The event was great. My two presentations included a messaging and collaboration strategy update and also a presentation I borrowed from my colleague Louis Richardson called "Ideas at Work" (Louis gave this presentation at Lotusphere and also DNUG in Bonn). There were another dozen technical presentations given by local IBMers, business partners, and customers. But mid-afternoon Saturday, the castle grounds were alive with archery, swordfighting, and serving wenches. By evening a medieval dinner had broken out, with pig roast and fireworks.

Families were at DominoPoint DDive. I met spouses and children of many of the delegates. Poor Chloe didn't quite kept up play with the bigger kids, and we had some doses of the "terrible twos" a bit early (note to self - events near a pool or river are not good venues for Chloe to explore). I was the only foreigner, and not everyone spoke English. So what? "va bene", it's all good.

I've never visited small town Italy, but it has opened my mind and attitude towards life in this country. Visiting Rome or Florence requires constant concern for security and often results in touristic menus of sloppy pizza and pasta; small town life means sitting in a cafe drinking a "Spritz", eating polenta and prosciutto. True, the spa hotel we stayed at was mostly 80 year olds who scowl at us, but I can't figure out why they were so unhappy. This is paradise. And we're not ugly Americans.

I have many people to thank and congratulate. First, to the DominoPoint.IT three musketeers -- Giuseppe, Claudio, and Daniele, you guys put on a great event. An inspiration for sure. To the sponsors, thank you for making it happen. And to my local host, Roberto Boccadoro, thank you for schlepping us to and from Milan, to and from Valbona, and helping us with culture and logistics.

I will post pictures from the event when I am back in the US.

Today we are spending a day on Lake Maggiore before flying home. It's going to be a tough re-entry. Thankfully, family vacation is only five weeks away.

I have a follow-up to Saturday's blog post about "whatever we call it" in queue, but I will wait until I'm back in the office on Wednesday to post it. The comments and feedback have been much appreciated. Ciao!

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