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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.

Notes from SQLSaturday – Part 2

Picking up from yesterday, once we got through the confusion of the room changes everything settled down. I checked the lunch count and it looked like 210, I had ordered 240. Was 200 right? I sure didn’t want to explain to someone that paid for lunch that I didn’t have lunch for them! Decided to stick with the plan and keep an eye out for late arrivals. Started making the rounds, had one speaker no-show but all else was fine. SSC (believe it or not Seminole Community College is now Seminole State College) provided someone on site to help with AV plus staffing a table, so we really had no problems there.

We had moved lunch to 1230 this year to give us more time to adjust, but the lunch place was used to moving fast, so the food arrived at just after 11. Which might have caused a problem if had needed more food, but maybe they had more drivers? Ah well. We left everything in bags so that people wouldn’t grab food at the 1115 break, and then started setting up after that, setting up three tables; turkey, roast beef, vegetarian. Last year we had one ticket taker, this year we had three, one at each table because we had people coming from two directions and a single line just wouldn’t work. Jack caught the potential issue, funny how the little things add up when you change your plan on Friday morning!

We had lunch in the courtyard as usual and everything flowed well. Lots of little groups on the grass, only a few people eating alone and I made the rounds to try to get them into groups. Food situation turned out fine, we had about 20 meals left which ended up going to the security guard and the maintenance crew (which did a great job for us). It’s hard to describe, but lunch at these events is just….calm, serene perhaps. Everyone having a good day, enjoyed a well earned lunch, looking forward to a good afternoon. Weather was perfect, mid 70’s, sunny. It’s the lunch that most of us want, but few get to take!

After lunch I sat in on a mini session by Kendal Van Dyke, marred a little by problems with the display but was still interesting. Immediately after that it was Kendal, Jack Corbett, and myself doing a panel discussion about blogging and speaking. Basically unrehearsed, I thought it was the best panel we had done so far, each trying to let the others answer first, trying to answer where we had a strong opinion, and Kendal bringing up some blogs to highlight a few things while we talked. Lots of interest, good questions, and kind of exciting, if even a few of those attendees begin blogging and speaking we can end up with a very nice bit of growth in the local community.

The blogging session ran a little long, so I had to get moving for my own session on networking, breaking my own rule of getting there in plenty of time to setup. Naturally the laptop and the projector weren’t talking, I think due to the VGA connector being recessed on my laptop, but could just as easily been not pushing some button or other. Rather than hassle with it, I just moved on, being lucky that I had no demo’s planned. It’s a fun and wide ranging presentation, from “how” to network to talking about some of the common social networking tools and setting goals for networking. Good crowd, and I leveraged knowing a few people in the audience (Joe Webb, Jon Kehayias, among others) to try to make it a session with lots of participation. The one surprise for me was that perhaps 80% said they had gotten work from their network at least once – higher than usual, but I attribute that (as a guess) to the attendees self selecting, being further along the networking road than most I’ve talked to. It’ll be interesting to see the eval results with regards to the projector issue!

Session over, I headed back to mission control to get ready for the end of the day wrap up. By the time I got there almost everything was broken down and already headed for the truck, I just had to organize the raffle items and review the clean up efforts. We had maybe 40 books to give away, some gifts from sponsors, and some miscellaneous items including a banana Jack Corbett left too close to the raffle stack. Attendees entered the raffle by completing session evals and an event eval, so we had a lot to draw from. Our check-in area is on the second floor, and just like last year we did the raffle from the railing, calling out names and dropping books/throwing shirts to the winners. At one point we had a shirt in a tree, and attendees climbed for it! Some elected to go for the safe drop and retrieve, but many opted to try to catch (and succeeded). Somehow, strangely, we even had a Celko book in Polish. Lot’s of fun, no one injured, and then we were done!

Still more to go, I’ll write up some notes about pre/post event stuff, and things we got wrong.

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