The OSIsoft User Conference officially kicked off today. Most of the atttendees arrived today and many were at the welcome reception. Unofficial numbers are around 1,500 attendees with 1,000 of the attendees end users and system integrators. OSIsoft is a niche player in the process automation industry, so these are very impressive attendee numbers. Looking out from my hotel room onto beautiful Monterey Bay, I have decided that this is the single most spectacular venue of any user group meeting or indeed any automation industry function that I have attended. Luckily for OSIsoft and for the end user and partner attendees, their headquarters are near enough to here that it doesn't appear to a boondoggle venue. Hey, let's face it. User group meetings are generally held in nice places. OSIsoft has an irregular rotation between San Francisco and Monterey. Other user group meetings that I have attended have been in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego, and New Orleans. Meanwhile, fast declining horizontal industry shows are staged in Chicago in February. Nothing against Chicago, my favorite American big city, but it is not exactly a tourist magnet during the dead of winter. And I think locating industry events in nice places is a good thing. Old school thinking and old school events have forced automation professionals to attend events in grim locations. The marketing people at supplier firms have now seized control of user group meetings, and they know how to run events and how to attract end users. Good for them, and good for our industry.