SQLSaturday #10 was held January 24, 2008 in Tampa at the Kforce Building. Attendance was about 175, down slightly from the year before. Overall the event turned out well; 36 sessions, everyone got fed, no major logistical challenges. I definitely noticed a few repeat participants from last year, and we've definitely built a good crowd of SQL speakers, among them Mike Antonovich, JC Armand, Jon Kehayias, Plamen Ratchev, Mike Wells, Kent Waldrop, Rushabh Mehta, and more! We had Tim Mitchell down from Texas (he also participated in SQLSaturday #3 in Jacksonville last year), John Magnabosco from Indiana (IndyTechFest guy), Jessica Moss from Virginia (used to be from Florida) - good to see people interested in visiting events outside their area.
I always make it a practice to list things I thought could have done better - doesn't mean it wasn't a success for the 175 attendees, and those that struck me as really good:
- I think the attendance total could have been a lot higher with more consistent email touches and final reminders
- Lunch was good, not great. Cuban sandwiches looked pretty good, the turkey sandwiches were...thin on turkey
- No evaluation forms for speakers and no prize tickets, so at end of day there were a LOT of prizes to give away
- The after event party was a good location (really good), but would have liked to have seen more info about where to park
- Sponsors seemed very happy with the layout and participation, Pam Shaw did a great job finding sponsors and educating them
- Volunteers were really under used and it caused minor pain in quite a few places. Have to remind all the event owners that the tendency is to try to do it all, but tasking out equals sense of ownership (and more sleep!)
And unusually, we had a few good stories out of the event:
- My business partner Brian Knight managed to lose his luggage on the way down, so he bought the cheapest set of jeans and shirt he could find at Walmart. I think they perhaps defined what cheap should be. Of course cheap is ok in those situations, but the jeans were also too tight so he walked a little funny - not that any of us there would consider teasing him endlessly about the pants. He finally changed to a pair of dockers with a hole in the side, and then did 3 great presentations!
- We had a senior citizen at the event. Possibly not quite news by itself, but stood out a little - maybe he was the father/grandpa of an attendee? Or just long lasting in the profession? I'm sitting with a few other people in a lounge area, I happen to notice the old guy comes over and very slowly/deliberately plucks most of the candy off the table near me and puts into a blue bag...strange. I see him over talking to a sponsor next, so thought maybe he just really likes peppermint? Later my friend Chris told me that someone else saw him put 6 turkey sandwiches in the bag. What to make of that?
I also got in a couple games of chess with John Magnabosco over coffee. Good to relax and do something besides SQL.
It was a fun event, had the SQLSaturday feel to it, and all the attendees looked like they were having a nice day. Tampa has quite a few people interested, I'll challenge the Tampa team to grow their event substantially next year to 300+.