A retrospective of 10 years of BriForum. What are your favorite memories?

With less than a month to go before BriForum 2014 London, Gabe and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of our favorite BriForum moments over the years.

2014 is the tenth year of our BriForum conferences. With less than a month to go before BriForum 2014 London, Gabe and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of our favorite BriForum moments over the years.

The Origins of BriForum

I've talked about how BriForum came to be several times over the years, but as far as I can tell I haven't actually published the history on BrianMadden.com.

I trace the origins of BriForum back to the THIN list email list which was popular among Citrix geeks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This was a classic listserv operated by Jim Kenzig (of thethin.net|WayBack link), and as I remember it there were thousands of members and hundreds of posts per day. (This was before the days of blogs and web forums.)

At that time Citrix's annual user conference was called iForum. (This is the conference that's now called Synergy.) The members of the THIN List would start talking about iForum in the lead up to the conference, and those of us from the list who were at iForum would all get together at Shula's Steak House at the Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando to meet each other face to face. Those dinners (which typically had 20 or 30 people) were the highlight of iForum for me, and they were probably the first real international "geek" meetings of the Citrix community. (This was even a few years before Alex Jushin started arranging his "PubForum" weekend gatherings in Europe for people who were active in the Citrix.com support forums.)

I remember the THIN list fondly. It's where I first posted, in early 2001, that I was writing a book about Citrix, and it's where I first got to know guys like Ron Oglesby and Rick Mack.

Citrix iForum was much different than today's Synergy conference. Back then the speakers at iForum were only Citrix employees, large customers, and partners, and Citrix had to vet and approve all the content from every session. (I remember my first iForum presentation from I think 2003 where Citrix said that I couldn't say that printing sucked. They made me change it to something like, "Due to the inherent challenges of server-based computing, printing can be challenging.")

Naturally the THIN list gatherings at Shula's would end up with us bitching about iForum. Our primary complaints were that (1) the content was all Citrix propaganda, and (2) the so-called "technical" sessions weren't that technical at all and in fact just thinly-disguised marketing pitches. It was at that dinner in October 2003 that I declared (hastily and after drinking all night) that I was going to make my own conference that would be highly technical and vendor-independent. ("How hard could that be?" I thought.)

We even started kicking around names that night. The Terminal Server Expo. Server-Based Computing World. The Thin Client Expo. Nothing really stuck until someone shouted out, "Brian's iForum should be called 'BriForum!'" Everyone laughed and we didn't think much more about it. (I've given Ron Oglesby credit for that but at this point I really can't say for sure. I know Ron was there though so as far as I'm concerned, the BriForum name was his idea.)

When I got back home I set up a Yahoo Group (remember those?) to start planning, inviting members of the THIN list who were interested to join so we could start kicking around ideas. Where would we hold it? When should it be? Is this even possible? When the topic of the name came up, the general response of the group was, "Dude. You have to call it BriForum!"

The domain was available. Citrix didn't have a trademark on "iForum." The name didn't lock us in to a specific technology. And it was freaking funny. And so BriForum was born!

At that time The Brian Madden "Company" consisted of me (I had quit my job at HP the previous May to become a full time blogger, writer, and consultant), and Nicole (who worked part time keeping the books). Nicole and I kicked around ideas and talked to potential speakers, sponsors, and attendees, and by December we decided to pull the trigger and go for it. We chose to host it in Washington DC because that's where we lived. We started visiting venues and seriously planning logistics throughout 2004 as we continued to do our day jobs and keep our fledgling company afloat.

We quickly realized that we couldn't afford a "real" hotel or conference center which is how we ended up choosing the AFI Silver Theatre, a recently renovated art deco theater that showed movies at night but was unused throughout the day. (Seriously I think we got the entire place for like $1500 a day.) The only "catch" is that we couldn't get in until 5am and we had to be out by 5pm. (That meant that we had to break down the entire conference at 4:45 on Day 1 and then come in early the next morning to set everything up again.)

Planning took an entire year. We did literally everything ourselves. Printing badges. Ordering food. Booking hotels. Arranging thin clients. Designing and printing shirts. Renting tables for sponsors. Figuring out how to post videos on our website. Figuring out how to accept credit cards from attendees and track registrations. Hiring a third-party company to come in an setup WiFi. (Seriously, that was a thing you had to do back then. We got like 5 DSL lines from AT&T brought in just for the two day conference!)

Just about everything was a gigantic pain in the ass. For example, did you know that if you accept credit cards, you actually have a credit limit as to how much you can take in in a month? We hit that pretty early on when we opened registration in early 2005 (Michael Keen was the very first person), which meant that no one could register anymore! (Our merchant processing would decline their charges!) I spent hours on the phone with the bank, ultimately getting them to agree to charge all the cards but that they would hold the money for 90 days! (Apparently they didn't want us to rack up like $20k in incoming charges and then empty the account and flee the country before our customers realized they'd been scammed.) Of course all our vendors wanted to be paid, so I emptied out my savings account, maxed out my credit cards, and offered sponsors serious discounts if they paid right away. (A move which I'm sure instilled confidence in them as to whether this event would actually happen!)

Speaking of sponsors, I want to give a shout out to John Byrne at Tricerat. He was one of the guys I told about BriForum over lunch in early 2004, and he literally tried wrote me a check when we got back to the office! I didn't even know when or where BriForum would be, and I certainly didn't know how much to charge a sponsor. Without him I seriously wonder whether BriForum would have ever happened. (The same thing happened a few months later with Mike Schumacher at Lakeside Software. They were our second sponsor and supported us in a big way.)

It was around this time in early 2005 that I went to dinner with my two best friends in DC, Chris and Emily. I was talking about how hard everything was over beers and how I thought we needed to hire a "real" event planner, and that's when Emily said, "I know an event planner." I said, "Really? Who??" She pointed a thumb at her chest and said, "Me!" We talked a bit about it over the next few days and she joined The Brian Madden Company as Employee #3 (and our second full time employee).

Looking back I can't believe (a) how screwed we'd have been without her, and (b) that she didn't start until about 6 weeks before our first BriForum! I seriously think she worked about 80 hours a week "fixing" everything we'd naively done wrong.

At this time in my life I was already best friends with Gabe. He lived in Omaha and had a real job, but he was a big part of the planning, gut checking my ideas, and providing moral support. He attended that first BriForum and performed his first role as the "fixer"—the guy running around like crazy making sure everything went smoothly throughout the show. (And he had to burn vacation time from his day job to do it!)

BriForum 2005: The Latch Malfunction

After 15 months of planning, the day of BriForum finally came in April 2005. Gabe was staying with me at my house. In addition to Emily, Nicole, Gabe, and me, the BriForum "staff" was my mom, my sister and her boyfriend (lured by the free "vacation" to DC), Emily's husband Chris, my neighbor GK, my friend Allie and her friend whose name I forget but who endeared herself to everyone by passing out (err "falling asleep") behind the movie screen in Theatre 1 the morning of Day 2.

The speaker lineup was the list of everyone I knew in the industry from all over the world who I could convince to come, including Ron Oglesby, Benny Tritsch, Jeroen van de Kamp, Tim Mangan, Rick Mack, Claudio Rodrigues, Doug Brown, Jeff Pitsch, Stefan Vermeulen, Thomas Koetzing, and a bunch of other people I'm unfortunately forgetting now. We got together for dinner the night before which was great because it was the first time that many of us had met each other. Even me. For a lot of these folks I just randomly emailed them based on books they'd written or their reputations online. It was literally, "Hey, I'm making a conference. It's new. Do you want to speak?")

We finished loading a 15-foot Ryder truck at about 11:00 the night before. It sat outside my house packed to the brim with computers, tables, chairs, thin clients, badges, soda (four flat carts from Costco worth), coffee makers, signage, badge scanners, and everything else you need to run a conference. The wake-up call was 3:45am, though in my case I didn't make it to my bed until about 3:00 and I'm sure I didn't actually sleep.

At 4:45 Gabe, GK, and I pulled ourselves into the truck for the short drive to the theater. As we turned off my street (at about 4:46am, 30 seconds into our first conference and 200 feet from my house), we hard a loud "BANG!" from the back of the truck. I instinctively hit the brakes, assuming our impossibly-crammed-in load had somehow shifted, when I noticed in the rearview mirror that something huge, round, and shiny was rolling down the street.

I turned to Gabe and GK to ask them about it. But they weren't there. Their door was open, but they were gone.

I looked back into the mirror and saw the two of them running down the middle of the street, in pitch black, chasing what I later learned was one of our rented coffee urns. I put the truck in park and got out to meet them, wondering how we missed a 15-gallon coffee urn sitting on the back bumper of the truck.

When I got to the rear of the truck I saw how—the rear door was wide open!

The rest of the show was a blur. I left the party early to sleep, and the next day when it was all over and everyone had left, Gabe and I sat on my back deck and smoked cigars. And in a moment I will never forget in my life, Gabe said to me, "Dude, we called it f***ing BriForum!!!"

BriForum 2005

BriForum 2006: The Fire

The next year we moved BriForum downtown to the National Press Club of Washington DC. The venue is steeped in history as countless world leaders and politicians have given speeches there.

I have always felt that if we can just make it into the first hour of sessions without any major snafus then we would be good to go. The conference can run on autopilot from then on. (This is not a viewpoint shared by Gabe.)

So by lunch I was a bit dismayed when the fire alarm went off. Jim Kenzig stood up, said nothing, and speed-walked right to the exit. Everyone else ignored it.

Eventually the wait staff came in to let us know that we had to evacuate the building. "Ugg, they're making us leave," was the prevailing attitude. The Press Club is on the 12th and 13th floors of an office building in Washington DC, so an evacuation means that we have 200+ attendees walking down the stairwells. We were all horsing around and joking about sabotage from Citrix as we ambled down the stairs. 11...10...9...8...With each floor more and more people poured into the stairwell, and our progress became slower and slower. 7...6...5...The people from the 4th floor streamed in followed by a trail of smoke and the smell of something not right.

Let me tell you there is no better way to instantly wake up 200 geeks than to add fire to a fire "drill." Everyone immediately stopped talking and started marching, left right left right left right until we found ourselves standing on the street, wondering what exactly the hell we were supposed to do now.

It turned out to be a minor fire and we just delayed the rest of the day's agenda by an hour. Unfortunately for the attendees who chose to wait it out in their hotel rooms a few blocks away, there was also a (we assume unrelated) bomb threat at a neighboring building which caused the police to seal off the block. We weren't affected inside the Press Club ourselves, but those who chose to head to their hotels (or the bar, as many did) found that they couldn't get back into BriForum for several hours.

BriForum 2006

BriForum 2006 Darmstadt

After two successful BriForums in the US, we decided to expand to Europe. Being on the East Coast meant that we got lots of European attendees, but we felt that if we held a separate event in Europe that we could get more people from Europe to attend, and then we could move the US event to be more central to pull more people from the West Coast.

We picked Darmstadt (in Germany, near Frankfurt) because that's where Benny lives. Benny and his wife Tina made BriForum Europe (as we called it at the time) happen in a big way. His company handled all the attendee registration and collected the money, and Benny and Tina found and arranged the venue, hotel, and speaker dinner.

The other thing that Benny brought to BriForum was the concept of "call for papers." For the first two BriForums in the US, I literally hand-picked the speakers myself, mainly because I didn't know the concept of call for papers existed. Today I can't imagine doing a BriForum without a call for papers. It's what gets us the diversity of speakers and helps keep the content fresh.

BriForum 2006 Darmstadt has another important footnote—it's the only BriForum that Gabe didn't attend. He was still working a real job as an IT guy at a freight company, plus it was during his first wedding anniversary and his wife's birthday. So no bobble head for him.

BriForum 2007: A move to Chicago

Let me go on record right now to say that I never lived in Chicago. To this day I meet people who think I'm from there, and I assume that's because we hosted BriForum there for seven years. We picked Chicago because it was in the middle of the US, you can fly in non-stop from anywhere, flights are cheap, and no other IT conferences were there.

BriForum 2007 was also when we introduced the Geek Out Game Show. By this time Gabe had quit his IT job and joined full time. One of his first tasks (after he got us off of Palms and onto BlackBerrys) was to build the Geek Out Game Show set. I think he told me about 200 times, "I can't believe this is my job!"

Geek Out Set

The Geek Out Game Show set in our official company workshop. (a.k.a. "Gabe's garage")

Since 2007 was our first year in Chicago, we rented a storage area to store our ever-growing list of equipment we needed to run the show. Transferring everything from the storage area to the truck took several hours, so we decided to do that the day before load-in so we could get to the venue bright and early.

But doing so poses a challenge: Where do you store a rental truck full of high-tech and very critical equipment in downtown Chicago overnight so it doesn't get jacked? You take a page from closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark and drive that fully-laden truck right back to the rental lot and park it amongst the others for the night. :)

Penske Trucks

There are $50,000 of TVs & Computers in one of these trucks

After 2007 Chicago, we had BriForum 2007 in Amsterdam, and then again in Chicago in 2008. TechTarget acquired us towards the end of 2008, so starting with BriForum 2009 the conferences were run by TechTarget and not us. So at this point the stories involving sleep deprivation end. (Well, at least for Gabe and me.)

BriForum 2011: Bobbleheads!

I'm not sure exactly when this idea came to me, but I definitely had the thought in the 1990s, "If I ever make a conference, I'm going to buy custom bobbleheads for all the presenters." (I have similar plans for what I'd do if I ever become President of the United States, a city bus driver, or a flight attendant.)

It turns out that custom bobbleheads are somewhat expensive, so it wasn't in the cards for that first BriForum in 2005. But for our tenth one, TechTarget gave us the okay to make bobbleheads for the five presenters who had presented at all ten BriForums. (Benny, Ron, Tim, Jeroen, and me.)

It was a total surprise to them. (Assuming they weren't suspicious four month prior when Gabe asked them each for a series of high res photos of their heads taken from several different angles.) The bobbleheads turned out great and really looked like each of the presenters. Except for Tim's. Tim's bobblehead did not just look like him. It was him. Seriously, if you shrunk Tim Mangan down to be six inches tall, that is what you would get.

BriForum Bobbleheads

Bonus points if you noticed Big Tim & Little Tim's coordinated outfits

BriForum 2013: The Butter Knife

I'll let Gabe tell you why we call this BriForum "The Butter Knife" in the comments.

Gabe Knuth at BriForum 2013 Chicago

Seriously, it was a butter knife.

BriForum 2014

I'm not sure what I was expecting BriForum to become when we first started kicking around the ideas in 2003, or that it would last ten years and that we'd have videos of over 500 sessions online. What made BriForum successful ten years ago is what makes it successful today—the amazing community of speakers, attendees, and vendors who gather once a year to really try to figure out what the heck to do in this industry and how everything works.

I'm so thankful to everyone who helped and supported BriForum along the way, and I'm as excited as I was ten years ago about this year's BriForum in London this May and Boston this July.

What are your favorite BriForum memories? Share them in the comments!

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All I wanted was lunch.

See, while we sort of ended the sleep deprivation when TechTarget took over the event in 2009, we did not end the fact that we were pretty busy during the day. Usually, the last day is the busiest, since that's the day we have to meet with sponsors, pack up equipment (the GeekOut alone takes 90 mins), and be ready to leave the venue by 5:00 or so.

Lunch was not in the cards, but when I saw a 15 minute gap on my calendar I rushed over to the food, cut in line with my best "fake" "Do you know who I am?!" "joke," and grabbed what I remember to be potato pancakes and sausage links.

Oh, and a roll. Damn roll.

I found a table with Ken Staples and someone who I feel really bad for not remembering. Dan Brinkmann maybe?

Anyway, I picked up my roll in my left hand, a butter knife in my right, and proceeded to cut the roll. The knife when through the roll way too quickly and nearly sliced off the tip of my finger! It got about 81% of it, though. It was a squirter. Seriously, I looked down to get my napkin and saw blood on the plate. I put the napkin on it and took off, hand over head, to the room that we use as an office.

Half the room left at the sight of blood. Sam, the event manager who needed one more thing to do that day, called the venue's EMT to come check me out. When he got there, he looked at my finger, sprayed some fluid into it that he said was water but I think was lemon juice, then grabbed his radio and said "we need an ambulance."

I said something like "Ambulance? It's a cut. It doesn't even hurt unless you spray lemon juice into it. It just won't stop bleeding. I can take a cab." To which he replied "You never know, it could start bleeding a lot more between here and the hospital."

So the ambulance came. I could hear it from the back office. Then I was escorted out of the venue, hand bandaged, to the ambulance with more eyes on me than in any session I've ever given. I just smiled. When I got into the ambulance, they looked at me and said "So, you're just here because of a cut?" They gave me the opportunity to get out, but by then I was kind of looking forward to getting to ride in an ambulance so I stuck it out. Who knows how far away the hospital is anyway.

It was 2 blocks. Literally. You could see the roof of the hospital from the venue–I just didn't know it. On the way, the driver did me the favor of running a red light with the siren and lights on. The guy in the back with me said "You know he's just messing with you, right?"

When we got to the hospital, they spared me the wheelchair (though technically they had to use one). I had to wait four hours to get two stitches. At one point I was getting really pissed off that it was taking so long, but then a guy walked in that had cut his finger OFF. He literally had it in a Wal-Mart bag with ice. Perspective acquired.

When they finally got me in, the novocaine didn't take. They numbed my whole finger, but since there wasn't any blood flow up through the tip, the place where they did the stitches wasn't numb. Just two stitches, but they hurt! I squeezed my arm so hard I had bruises for weeks.

While that was going on, Brian was wrapping up the show and packing up the Geek Out. I'd missed all of the afternoon! When they finally let me go, I walked out the front door, down the street to the venue (like I said, two blocks!), and got there just in time to head over to the hotel bar for a beer.

The Latch, The Fire, and now, The Butter Knife.


Great post! Brings back so many memories. As Gabe, I  presented on every single BriForum since 2005, except the DAMNstadt in Germany. Could not make it at the time. Yep, that meant no bobble head for me.

In my case it would make more sense one of these Build-a-Bears with my face and that little voice box inside so when you squeeze the Claud-a-Bear it says 'F*** Off", "PShitOver**" and some other nice quotes I am directly linked to from all these years.

Had great fun being a presenter all these years and also playing the GeekOut. I know I probably pissed off a couple attendees along the way, and potentially Brian and Gabe a couple times. But they seem to like me and I like them so we keep it going. LOL

I just looked at some of the emails I have here from Brian/Ron regarding the origins of BriForum! They are from November, 2003 and show a lot of stuff that was discussed by the group. Great part of BriForum's history. If Brian/Gabe have nothing against, I will write a post to complement what Brian just did.

And Gabe you should definitely start writing a book with all your memories and adventures at conferences. I can still picture you running around that Hotel in Barcelona, dressed very appropriately for the time and occasion.

Congrats on the 10th year guys. You, us, the community and the great early sponsors like John Byrne (mentioned) made this possible.




I could write a book!

BriForum 2006's fire drill wasn't the only fire drill at a conference. In 2007, Brian and I were at iForum Edinburgh. As I recall, it was the closing party, and they had two big rooms rented out. One had a Shirley Bassey impersonator singing in a James Bond-themed room, and the other had an AMAZING Queen cover band. At some point, the fire alarms went off and all thousand or so people had to evacuate.

What was funny there was that the sound of the smoke alarm was completely foreign to us, so we were just kind of standing there drinking while everyone got the hell out of there. Like, fast! We decided to follow eventually. When we got back in, we ran into so many people that we never went into either room, we just stood there and drank Miller Genuine Draft all night. I think I have a picture of that beeramid somewhere.

Why they had Miller Genuine Draft in Scotland is beyond me.


Oh man sorry I left your name off the list from 2005 Claudio! I added you now. Yeah if you have those emails from 2003 yeah go ahead and write something or post them or whatever. (Though a little bit scary because everything I wrote here was from memory 10+ years ago.)

Tim Mangan also did a post about his favorite memory. (And it's not what I'd expect!) www.tmurgent.com/TMBlog


No joke, I read this article in "edit" mode correcting names and stuff that Brian misspelled or misremembered :)

Here's a few more things that I remember:

BriForum 2008 - the show on Navy Pier. This is the show that TechTarget attended in force to sort of vet us out and see if we knew what we were doing. I recall having WiFi. Two things happened during this show that I'll never forget, but that went largely unnoticed.

1. We had music and a trivia-laden PowerPoint deck playing in between sessions. That, combined with our electronic signage made this our most "modern" feeling event. It was awesome. I was in charge of music, so it came from my Napster collection (Napster being legitimate by then), and it was largely composed of songs from 1995-1997. Between sessions on day 3, I was in a room doing something that probably involved crawling on the floor and sweating and I heard a Rage Against The Machine or Alice in Chains or some such song come on. The unedited version. F's and S's flying out of the speakers. Nobody mentioned it the entire time! I kept my mouth shut, but there was no music in between sessions for the rest of the show!

2. This was perhaps one of the greatest unseen-until-it-was-too-late disasters in BriForum history (and there have been many). This is the story of the Black Backgrounds.

Brian wanted to change things up for the PowerPoint templates, so rather than use the white/blue slides from past years, he wanted all black. No problem. Black is cool. Everyone, spare a handful of people who didn't care or didn't get the memo, used the black backgrounds. It looked rad.

What we didn't know is that the black backgrounds wreaked havoc on our recording rigs. At the time we recorded two videos, one of the presenter via a video camera, and the other of the screen using a box called a DVI2USB that recorded directly off the VGA signal. For this show, the signal was sent from the podium to the back of the room by a 50' VGA cable.

We couldn't for the life of us, get a good screen recording. Every single one of the sessions was screwed up. We tried changing settings, we tried changing cables. It started in one room, and eventually we found problems in every room. Eventually Clint Battersby, who worked for Desktone at the time but was acting as a room monitor for us, came up to me and said "I think it has something to do with the black backgrounds." I laughed and sort of dismissed him, thinking "Pfft. No way."

When we ran out of things to try, I thought "what the hell," and had all the speakers change their templates to gray. In RGB tones, I told them to go from #000000 to #111111. Problem solved.

Seriously? I felt stupid. Brian felt worse (since he ordered the black backgrounds)

The reason was that when the AV people taped the VGA cables down, they taped them along side the power lines, and there was a lot of noise. Normally, this isn't a big deal. A VGA signal of any significance will overpower the tiny amount of interference that makes it through the shielding, but this VGA signal was nearly nonexistent. On a scale of 1 to 10, a VGA signal with our old slides might have been a 6. A fully white screen would be a 10. With a black background and just a tiny amount of text, that signal was a 1, if that. That means the noise overpowered the VGA, and that's what the DVI2USB box decided to lock on to.

This was so catastrophic for us that we had to ask speakers to re-record sessions, playing their slides and demos along to the recordings that we got with the video camera. All because of a black background.

Hence the name of this incident: The Black Backgrounds


While I'm at it, and speaking of people falling asleep behind the screen, BriForum 2006 had another incident where someone "fell asleep."

Our friend Katie (not sure if she was an employee at that time or not) brought a friend to help out with the show. I don't remember her name, but she could party.

And party she did!

The morning of Day 2, she apparently didn't get much sleep the night before at the party. She showed up, decided it was too much for her, and literally crawled under the registration table to take a nap. All morning! While people were coming in!

I think our streak of BriForums with employees passed out ended at two, but I know there's been a few close calls over the years. You know who I'm talking about!


Heh...we could probably write an article on all the weird stuff we've put in taxis or wheeled down the street on hotel carts.

Or "awkward hotel moments" with either fellow attendees or hotel staff.

And I'll never, ever forget soldering the Geek Out set together moments before the game was supposed to start in Amsterdam. I made that set specifically to come apart and travel as checked baggage to Europe (I called it "EuroGeekOut", but had issues with it once we arrived.

Benny and I frantically tried to get it working, and in the nick of time we had it ready to go. Despite that success story, the game show ran on Vista, so it crashed mid-show. I switched to Mac that day.


I’ll never forget my first BriForum at the Navy Pier in 2008—

We rented an apartment in Chicago for a month to act as our staging area while we collected supplies and got ready for the show. (This was before TechTarget, and at the time Brian was living a “virtual lifestyle,” moving from place to place before he settled in San Francisco.) One of my first tasks as a full-time BrianMadden.com employee was to go to Costco to buy the 6 flatscreen TVs we used as conference signage, and then swing by CDW to pick up 30 monitors, completely filling my old Volvo station wagon. When it came time to set up the show, I had to drive a truckload of supplies from the apartment to the venue. The tricky part was that in downtown Chicago there’s a whole network of underground streets—sometimes two layers deep. The loading dock for the apartment was on one of these underground streets two layers down, and on my way out I spent a good half hour lost underground, driving the rental truck with $50k of equipment, trying to get back to the surface.

The best part about 2008 was meeting the gang of BriForum speakers for the first time—ever since then they’ve been a huge inspiration and some great friends.

Another top moment for me was making the jump from BrianMadden.com lackey to BriForum presenter for the first time in 2012. I feel honored to be part of the group!


Wow. First, I can't believe that I forgot about so many things, like the black backgrounds breaking the videos and the soldering the Geek Out right before the game started. And that storing the truck overnight I guess was in 2008 not 2007?

And that we sent Jack to buy all that stuff... @Jack, did anyone say anything to you at Cosco? You were like, what, 24 at the time? Why is a 24 year old buying 6 TVs? (And I love that you put them into your super old car. :)


Man, and those monitors! I totally forgot we had all those too. You know it's funny that when TechTarget bought us, they backed a truck up to the storage area and carted everything away to Boston. (I knew we shouldn't have told them we had 6 huge TVs.) For years whenever I was in Boston I would notice random employees' monitors with "Property of The Brian Madden Company" on them. :)

(Actually even having asset tags was kind of embarrassing, but we ran into instances where our venues tried to say stuff that was ours actually belonged to them, so we started putting tags on everything.)


@Brian, actually I was 23. The cool part was having the 6 TVs lined up on one of those flat carts. I got a lot of "Hey, I'll take one of those" comments. Then I handed over the corporate card for what was (and now that I think about it, probably still is) one of the biggest transactions I ever made—or at least several times more than what I paid for the Volvo :)

The thing I can't believe is how we got the whole show torn down so fast. The venue took care of the chairs, tables, and projectors, but the fact that 8 or 10 of us got 30 computer terminals, the reg desk, the digital signage, 4 breakout room recording rigs, and countless other pieces of equipment packed up and loaded into the storage space (which I recall when we got there we had 15 minutes before it closed) was amazing.

At that time the company had 5 employees: Brian, Gabe, Emily, Lara, our book keeper, and me, the video editor/audio editor/jack-of-all-trades/general lackey, but of course we had plenty of volunteer help.


I really miss going to BriForum.  It is hands down the best conference to attend if you're an IT geek.  The content was always amazing but the social networking (ehm - I mean even before Twitter and Facebook) was even better.  I think I started using Twitter just to follow BriForum speakers.  There was something about the lack of big dollar traditional event atmosphere (I swear I mean that in the nicest was possible) that just made it so good and so unique.  Sometime I wish I could get a gig that would allow me to attend it again.  It really was a blast.  A sincere congratulations on 10 years, and I hope there are many more BriForums.


My first BriForum was that first European BriForum at Darmstadt, Germany. Since I was also a speaker, I was booked a room at the "conference hotel" - a smallish, family-run hotel (or so it seemed to me), which was a short walking distance from the actual conference location.

I arrived in Frankfurt via a "red eye", and from there headed out to Darmstadt in the very early hours of the morning. In Darmstadt I took a taxi to the hotel, but because the hotel entrance was in a side street that the taxi couldn't drive into, the driver dropped me off on the main road, and immediately drove off. Dragging my luggage, I finally arrived at the hotel at 6:30AM, only to discover the front-door locked! Then it started to rain ...

I spent the next 40 minutes sitting on my luggage, in the rain, waiting for the hotel to open. When the cleaning lady arrived she agreed to let me in, but could do nothing more for me. I sat in a dark lobby, thankfully out of the rain, for the next 2 hours until the reception people arrived and could finally book me in, and provide me with a room.

Amazingly I did not lose my voice, and was able to deliver my sessions. I was even interviewed by Brian for his podcast:


I believe the recuperating powers of German beer saved me from a head-cold.

Despite this less than ideal beginning, I enjoyed the rest of that BriForum very much. So much so, in fact, that the upcoming BriForum Boston 2014 will be my seventh! For that I want to thank Brian, Gabe, Jack, Emily, Maria and everyone else arranging, speaking or attending this great conference.



The evening we were in the red light district and had to trick a cab driver to drive Brian back to the hotel... Hiding him until the last second and shoving him in the cab!


I have few fond memories from Chicago 2007 (TS and Longhorn) when VDI was still a blip. And yes, printing still "sucked".

I remember how accessible everyone was and how conversations were not "marketing-focused."

It's silly how we reflect back and yet see how some things never change.


Remember the Citrix Logon Process Chart? Here's my $.02 worth



Oh man Ron! I can't believe I forgot about that too! Yeah that was BriForum 2007 Amsterdam, and a bunch of us had been bar-hopping and drinking and stuff. Ron and some others stopped to get a slice of pizza, and I leaned against a wall to wait for them before suddenly thinking, "Uh oh." It was the first (and only) time in my life that I actually passed out.

The next thing I remember is I open my eyes and I'm laying on the ground staring up at the sky, and all my friends' heads are in a circle around me. I hear Shawn Bass say, "I'll get a cab,"

Next thing I remember after that is I'm standing up, but I started being sick, (as they say). So the cab pulls up, and Ron being quick-thinking and a big dude literally steps between me and the cab so the driver can't see that I'm sick (since Ron didn't want the driver to not take me). So a bunch of other people get in the cab. My friend Rachel, the Dehlingers.. maybe Shawn? And then at the last minute they shove me in and off we go.

(And I made it back in a cab-appropriate way!)

Man, I still owe you all some beers for that night!


I hear BriFoum and think holy F, Brian is brilliant. Found a way to make money to hang out with people he likes and saying what ever he wants without a helmet. Genius. Congratulations! Wish you many more successful years!


Maaaan! I don't know where to start WRT BriForum memories... Let's see if I can add a couple tidbits to the fray:

- DC, 2006 (my first BF, haven't missed 1 since!): No sleep for 3 days! I picked up 3 session slots when another presenter bailed night before it started. I delivered 7 sessions, first time onstage unshaven, t-shirt, cowboy hat, and sunglasses. Got hooked!

- Darmstadt, 06: Ron Oglesby playing bar tender at the hotel bar at like 2AM (service was great!). Seals vs. Marines convo almost got violent, but ended without bloodshed! Visions of Brian practicing his enunciation of "Brow-schtuuuuu-ble" and nailing it under duress...

- Amsterdam, 07: Brian going white, eyes blank, collapses against the wall after puking on my wife. ;-) Walking along talking to Brian/Jack's mom, being dumbfounded/embarrassed when I looked up and realized we were in the red-light district. "I'm sorry - that's not something I see every day!"

- (can't remember the year, but it was a US event): Brian's 'blue' phase. Emily, Katie, and a couple others take stage at the end of the event with blue wigs on, sing a smurf-tastic little diddy to close out the event... (may have imagined the song, but the blue wig tribute was real!)

All I've got for now, but major props to the BrianMadden.com crew for keeping my favorite tech event alive and well, and not veering away from the core principles which make BriForum great. Happy anniversary!




My first Briforum was in Darmstadt. Even though I am French, I was living in Germany at the time.  Just a few kilometers from Darmstadt in Heidelberg and it was really a great bit of luck that I could come ! It was simply an amazing time and the first time I could see guys like Brian of course but also Benny, Shawn, Tim, Rick etc. and here is my memory with Rick... When I was in the hall between two sessions, I saw a guy with a cowboy hat... Yes, a cowboy hat in Germany... So weird in Europe... I was really thinking something like : "what's this guy with his stupid hat in Germany..." For an European, it was really an american caricature... The next session I was attending was "architecture for change" and it seemed to be promising. What was my surprise when I saw that the guy with the cowboy hat was the speaker... And you understand Rick Dehlinger was the speaker... And it was an amazing session ! In France, we say "l'habit ne fait pas le moine" the equivalent idiom in english is "don't judge a book by his cover"... A few years later, I was really proud to invite him in Paris for my own event ! It was amazing again ! And he wasn't wearing his strange cowboy hat !