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Notes on the 2009 Orlando Code Camp

This was an interesting year to watch the local Code Camp. Shawn Weisfeld organized it the previous two years, but following his move to Dallas Jessica Sterner become the power behind the Code Camp this year and as much as she was involved in the prior two years, leadership transitions are hard. Think about how it goes at work when you have plenty of other people to provide continuity and you're involved in every day - then think about how it affects a once a year volunteer effort. I'm pleased to report that all went smoothly...or at least seemed to!

If you visit the Code Camp Site you'll see both a brand new look and code behind the look, all done by Fabio Honigmann. It's nice enough that I've asked him to do a 'makeover' of the SQLSaturday site which is functional but decidedly not flashy.

The Friday night prior to the event the standard speaker get together was held, and it worked out nicely. Outdoor seating, about 30 speakers attending, great weather, and quiet enough to have a normal conversation. They had wrist bands for the attendees so the restaurant staff knew who was part of the party, but forgot the name badges - something to remember for all events, it definitely makes networking go a little more smoothly. It was a nice way to relax at the end of a long week.

The event was held March 28, 2009, at the main campus of Seminole Community College. For those in the Orlando area it's the same site they used two years ago and the one we used for SQLSaturday #8 last year. The room layout was a little different, they were planning on 350-400 attendees and they needed 11 rooms plus sponsor space. It ended up being just a little confusing, because the buildings have letters (Building J) and the schedule used letters for the rooms (Room G), and...they had last minute room changes. They did a good job of announcing the changes and trying to explain things, and they had a few people directing traffic too.

They had some signs up for parking, but no greeters (just like Wal-Mart, I think they get everyone off to a nice start) . Check in went smoothly, and the wait time couldn't have been more than a couple minutes at any time. They also had one person devoted to walk ins. Only a few sponsors set up, and I saw a few more coming in after 8 am, but they were getting good traffic thanks to the raffle tickets. They had a light breakfast set up; fresh fruit, croissants, coffee, and the prize table so everyone could see the books they had a chance to win. David Caylor handled most of the logistics and it seemed to go smoothly - no line for coffee, plenty of water, soda, and ice.

We had one SQL track (I was the nominal track chair, which just involved picking the sessions for the track) and I attended as a spectator this time, starting the day off with a session by my friend Wes Dumey on data warehousing. Other sessions where done by Ryan Duclos, Michael Antonovich, Kendal Van Dyke, and Shervin Shakibi.

What could go better next time? I think a 9 am start would give the sponsors a little more time to set up, and I'd like to see more sponsors - easier to come by in the .Net space than SQL Server (or at least it seems to me). Speaker check in was way back behind the main check in tables, that felt confusing. I definitely think they caused some confusion with using letters for rooms instead of the true room number. I think the final attendance was around 400, nicely done, though I keep thinking that if I can get 275 people to come to a SQLSaturday in Orlando, surely there must be a lot more developers in Orlando...say 10x as many? Jessica, Fabio, David, shouldn't you be trying for 1000 attendees? (Note: we've talked about growing both events, and the challenge is finding bigger space that is within the budget).

Things went very well, congratulations to the Orlando Code Camp team for doing a very nice job!


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Anonymous on 30 March 2009

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