Seeing Things Work at the IHE North American Connectathon

by Keith Boone

I have at least 50 reasons I can think of to go to the IHE North American (NA) Connectathon, including the fact that the participants are some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever competed against.

I’ve been to 10 of the last 11 NA Connectathons.  I remember the first time I attended the Connectathon, sitting in a hotel ballroom in San Diego, where despite the beautiful weather, 100 or so engineers (including me) didn’t see sunlight for five days.

The next Connectathon opened in the basement of the RSNA garage in Oakbrook, Ill., headquarters location of the Radiological Society of North America. And I was at last year’s Connectathon in downtown Chicago.

I remember flying from an area that was at 68 degrees Fahrenheit one week to a place where it was 20 degrees F the next.  And now, I’m looking forward to my fourth venue for the IHE North American Connectathon, which will be held in Cleveland, Ohio on Jan. 26-30.

For the last decade, I have taken a great deal of verbal abuse for traveling in January from my family, and fairly so, because both my wife and I have birthdays in those weeks.  Why do I keep coming back?

It can’t be the weather, because as I’ve noted, even when it is beautiful, I don’t see the light of day.  At more recent venues, the temperature has barely been suitable for penguins or polar bears.  I cannot actually say that I find testing computer software or finding and fixing bugs my favorite pastime either.

No.  I like to see things work.

Seeing the product of my efforts may be the main reason I participate in IHE Connectathons: to see the specifications or IHE Profiles that I spent the last year creating actually working with real-world systems.

The first IHE Profile I ever significantly contributed to is currently being tested, about 12 years after it was first conceived.  New people are testing it, with new products, new implementations, and sometimes even finding “new bugs.”   I’ll note that “new” bugs are truly rare; more likely, it was a very old and wily one that managed to hide for a decade or more.

Once detected, these problems are resolved more quickly than could be done in the “outside” world.  The reason for this is because while we all agree that what happens or is discussed at Connectathons between competitors stays at Connectathons.  We also agree, what gets fixed at Connectathons stays fixed … wherever we are.

And that’s why I’m returning this year.




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