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Notes on SQLSaturday #16

I went down to Miramar Fri morning, taking the loooong drive from Sarasota across Alligator Alley on I-75. Miles of saw grass and not much else. Arrived in time to get a little work done Friday afternoon, and then off to the speaker gathering at Longhorn. Had about 20 attend, a very good turnout. Longhorn was an ok venue, seating was a long L-shaped table, but we moved around some and made it work. Lots of good discussions, ranging from reviewing the list of things to be done the next morning to how we might build a PASS Chapter in South Orlando (our existing one is north of Orlando in Altamonte Springs). Started at 6 and wrapped up about 10 pm, long dinner! Forgot to mention, the speaker shirt a mild Hawaiian with embroidered logo plus that of Devry – the venue sponsor, very nice.

They were not able to get the building to open until 7:30, the same time registration/check in opened, but when I arrived about 7:40 all looked good, not much of a line. Speaker area was still locked (but in progress) and the coffee and doughnuts hadn’t arrived yet (turns out the Dunkin they ordered from wasn’t the closest one to the site). Attendees received an event bag courtesy of Wrox, a nice printed event guide, and a t-shirt. Scott did a 5 minute intro about 8:30 in the main room, and then we had about a 15 minute keynote from someone at MS (apologies for not having the name noted). Good enough speaker, but the material was more marketing oriented, I’ll never understand why MS pushes SQL people about how great SQL is – we already use it! Better to focus on upcoming features or the SQL job market if you ask me.

I had three sessions this time, one on statistics, one on networking, and a co-session with Wes Dumey on being a consultant. Stats went fine, networking went better than expected for a first time presentation…lots of good questions and talk. Consulting one was fair. I think we did pretty well at raising a lot of stuff we’ve seen that help people understand consulting, contracting, and full time employment, but the part we didn’t prepare for was a lot more interest in where to find work. That makes sense given the economy and there are things we could add for next time, but should we? How much of it should be teaching them to fish? Good turnout for all of them, at least 30 in each.

Lunch went well, subs from Firehouse. Seating was limited, so Kendal Van Dyke, Jorge Segarra, and I joined a group outside in what shade we could find. Worked out well as Jorge was as interested as I was about how attendees perceived the event, so for a change I could just listen as he asked the questions! Then back to work and everything still smooth, everyone relaxed. Sponsors seemed to be doing ok, good traffic by them for lunch and saw lots of good conversations going on there.

Still, I did notice minor things for future events, and I wouldn’t want Scott & Herve to think they go it perfect! Attendance was around 300, very good and a new SQLSaturday record!

  • No name badges at the speaker dinner or the main event. I really missed these, I don’t always remember names and it’s nice to know their name when replying to a question
  • Logo on the event guide was pixilated, we had a print quality one but I don’t think Scott knew where to look
  • No raffle tickets/boxes. Really missed this one, it makes a lot of difference on how well the sponsors do. Need better communication on the coaching side about how/why this is important.
  • Speaker party location wasn’t perfect, should have been scouted in person. Be sure to talk to a real manager and get a card, confirm in email to avoid hassles
  • Would have liked to see more stuff in the event bag. We need to coach all sponsors to send a flyer, gives attendees something to do while waiting on session to start and makes the sponsor investment that much more valuable
  • Microphone wasn’t working for keynote initially, should have tested first thing!
  • Length of session change wasn’t sent to speakers

Still, it was a good event!

SQLAndy

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.

Comments

Posted by Jack Corbett on 10 August 2009

Well, the gauntlet has been thrown.  How do we get Orlando back to the top attendance?

Posted by edwisdahl on 11 August 2009

Sounds like this would have been a good event to attend.  Congratulations on another great event!

Posted by jorge.segarra on 17 August 2009

Nice summary of events! I wrote one up as well: sqlchicken.com/.../sql-saturday-16-recap

Can't wait until SQL Saturday in Orlando!

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