I know, you guys have given me crap for so long. “Suuuure you are going to skip this year. Whatever, Brando, see you in X city at  happy hour.” This has been the discussion over the last few years, and every year I have made my way to the city in question going back to the initial meeting in Toronto, 2007. This will be the first year I will miss.

For me, it comes down to two things: content and how the hard questions go unanswered.

Stop!, by Qfamily

Stop!, by Qfamily

Content: I looked at the agenda this year. For new people to PCI DSS, there are quite a few great sessions to attend. If you have more than one year experience and perhaps have been to a previous community meeting, you should probably just plan on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve often said that the event could easily be condensed into less than two day by running more parallel tracks. Next Wednesday afternoon seems like a good start. I’ve been to too many meetings recently where the content was either too stale or not relevant to the audience—culminating in Sydney two years ago where a few attendees told me they felt insulted with how old the content was. One attendee remarked to me, “Do they think we don’t have the Internet here?”

dcist happy hour 2, by John

dcist happy hour 2, by John

The Hard Questions: For those that went in the early years, there used to be an Open Mic session or two. Now granted, these often had one or two numbskulls that made asses of themselves, but overall, that was the place where you could ask an unfiltered, uncensored question directly to the Council in front of everyone. As the years went on, most of those questions were simply referred back to QSAs (not helping) until several years ago when they decided that only pre-selected questions submitted ahead of time would be answered. Some of those questions were good, but most were not. No hard hitting or controversial questions from the folks who were deep in the weeds ever saw the light of day.

The only thing I am sad about is missing out on connecting with many good friends industry-wide. Luckily, I get to see most of those same lovely faces at other events throughout the year that have more value to me. Like most of you, I  have limited time and an expense budget to manage. I pick and choose the events I attend or speak at based on who delivers the best value. Free market competition for event organizers? SAY IT ISN’T SO!

I’m not out for good, but I’m out for this year. I’ll look forward to your tweets and comments, and will toast you virtually from Texas!

This post originally appeared on BrandenWilliams.com.