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 Conference a Tremendous Success!

The Q&A / Lantica conference held in Orange County (south of Los Angeles) 12-14th January 2001 was a fabulous success.  It was a complete sell-out, and over 150 delegates from 11 countries (representing 5 continents) enjoyed the Friday night get-acquainted party followed by an intensive day of Q&A, then Lantica showing a pre-release version of their new database product to the world for the first time.

 The Atrium Hotel
The Atrium Hotel, Irvine, CA


The theme on the Saturday was "Keeping Q&A Running in Today's Computing Environment".  Notable speakers such as Bill Halpern and Jeff Noreman dispensed their collected wisdom and experience of running Q&A under Windows NT, 2000 etc and in all sorts of configurations, networked and standalone.  Tom Marcellus showed how to put your Q&A databases on the web.  John Dow gave demonstrations of his well-known utilities which enhance Q&A.  Erika Yoxall delighted the audience with her demonstration of a programmed Access database for importing Q&A data and displaying it in stunning-looking reports - way beyond anything you could get out of Q&A. 

Yours tr
uly gave a presentation on merging 
Q&A data with Microsoft Word

All the delegates received extensive handouts on each presentation, together with a CD-ROM packed with sample files. 

All the Saturday presentations aided the attendees in keeping Q&A alive - keeping it on track - just long enough until its replacement is available - see Sunday.


Two large US school buses rattled down to Newport Beach Harbour in the evening, absolutely full (in fact we were one too many - I had to crouch and pretend to be sitting before the bus would depart!) of conference attendees.  I'm sure a bus-load of 8 year olds would not have made more noise!  It was an inspiring experience to see so many people, from all over the world, many of them meeting for the first time, chatting excitedly to each other on the journey!  The group of us (about 135) comfortably filled the 200-capacity boat without crowding, and all enjoyed good company, refreshing beverages, and surprisingly good food on the (admittedly unadventurous!) cruise round the harbour!  Everyone had a good time, and everyone - but EVERYONE - was eagerly anticipating the next day!


Tom Marcellus, host and MC for the event, started by giving some background to the history of Lantica and previous activities concerning Q&A, before handing over to Bill Halpern.  Even at this point, no-one outside Lantica knew for sure who the members of the company were, or had much idea about the product under development other than the scant information published in The Quick Answer.  Bill announced himself as the CEO and President of Lantica Software and detailed the history of the project and the birth of the company.  Bill went on to present the founder members and officers of Lantica.  Many of these names were unsurprising, being prominent luminaries of the Q&A community or regular contributors to The Quick Answer.  Lantica is …  

Bill Halpern   Tom Marcellus
John Dow   Alec Mulvey
Erika Yoxall  Cliff Sobin
Mark Lasersohn   Andreas Göbel 

Bill Halpern introduces the Lantica team

The attendees were then treated to demonstrations of the LIVE product at its current stage of development, as well as extensive information about the design goals of the project and technical and marketing information about the product codenamed "Sesame". (Why "Sesame"? - purchase the conference video to find out!)

The atmosphere in the packed room was electric. I have never seen an audience so attentive.  You could have heard a pin drop: a silence only broken by spontaneous applause!

They loved Sesame!

When, after 3 hours, the presentations broke for lunch, all the Lantica members were besieged by excited delegates, asking questions and offering praise and encouragement.  The questionnaires filled in at the end confirmed the ecstatic response the first airing of Sesame: typical comments on the product being  "Great", "Wow!", or "Can't Wait".  They will have to wait though.  Those who had hoped to take away a beta copy (or better!) were disappointed to learn they will have to wait until next year for the final product.  All agreed that it would be worth the wait.  A modest wait, for sure, considering it is over 5 years since the last upgrade to Q&A.

A packed and attentive audience

In the afternoon the conference presenters formed workgroups and answered questions (and often went through procedures on their laptops) for delegates.  It was exhausting but great fun!

The questionnaires, apart from being extremely uplifting, contained masses of useful comments and suggestions.  All of these are being processed and analysed.  Of the "Suggested final names for the product" the most popular, ironically, was "Sesame" !  And I doubt somehow that the suggestion of "NOT QA6" will make the shortlist !  As for comments on how the conference itself went the attendees seemed generally very pleased, except perhaps the correspondent who suggested that "Free Beer" might improve things. We're working on that!

On our return the positive comments continued. On the Q&A / Lantica Discussion Forum, Robert Scott, a previous Q&A "bash" speaker from California, said ...

" For anyone who was not able to be part of the 2001 conference I thought I would post at least my opinion of what we have seen of the new Lantica product.

"WOW" That should say it all.

It will still be a while until the actual version will be released but if what we have seen is the beginning the final product will be incredible.

The entire Lantica team has earned the right to be extremely proud of what they have created. ""

Dennis Jones, an amiable Q&A consultant and re-seller from Hamilton, New Zealand, said on his web site…

" Q&A is That program that worked really well until your IT department or one of those horrible Y2K consultants convinced you to kick it out..Guess what?? it still works well and all of those "consultants" were very very wrong. That other stuff they tried to get you to use.. still in the box huh.. too hard.. talk about steep learning curves..You are not alone !!

Anyway a new Q&A compatible program will be released soon and will be absolutely awesome in the true Q&A style.."

"..The new product will read your old Q&A database and its associated programming. And it works REAL BEAUT."   (I just love that!)

" These folks have got the right attitude. It's all being done as a team effort, with some of the best brains of the Q&A community behind it. Not just programmers, but genuine business people with the interests of Q&A users at heart.

They all recognise the strengths of Q&A and wish to build on it.

They are good citizens - They don't want to screw up your system just cause you installed their software. They don't care if you want to run your software on an alternate o/s. They just want it to work, and to do what you want it to do. HEY THATS ENOUGH FOR ME !! "

Thanks Dennis. Go to Dennis's Web Site to read Dennis's review in full (and buy a PC system too if you wish!)

Delegates from all over the USA…
… and all over the World

If you are kicking yourself for missing this event, don't despair. You can still view it all. Marble Publications have produced a set of 3 VHS video tapes of all the Saturday and Sunday morning presentations. Full details at www.quickanswer.com.

There are further reviews and news at the following web sites…

Marble Publications  www.quickanswer.com
PCTA    www.pcta-usa.com
...and of course,
Lantica's own site 

To keep in touch with the exciting development of your next database manager, keep logging into these sites, and of course, this site, www.keywordsoftware.com 

Alec Mulvey
31 January 2001


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