This was the third SQLSaturday in South Florida and the third time I’ve attended, just too good an event to miss, especially towards the end of summer when it includes the chance to visit Ft Lauderdale beach for a while.
I was in town early for the event for the PASS Board meeting, so the event started for me about 6pm on Friday driving over to the speaker dinner with some of the other Board members. I think we had 7 or 8 total attend. Speakers all received bright red Hawaiian shirts and we had a nice dinner at Buca Di Beppo than ran until about 9 pm.
Saturday morning started with some mild chaos, Tom LaRock and I riding over together and finding Nova University ok, but minus any SQLSaturday signs struggled to find the building we needed (one of the hazards of arriving early, 30 minutes later it’s easy to spot the flood of cars).
Parking requires a pass, and Scott Klein mailed them out in advance (and that pass ended up costing me $8 to print at the hotel because I forgot to do it in the rush of the week and had to do it after hours – $7.50 to use their computer, change to print, tax = $8). I was expecting to see people turning around when they realized a pass was needed, but the team had a volunteer at the garage entrance with a stack of them – nicely done!
We parked in the garage and did the short walk across the street. It’s a great location. Plenty of parking, great building,great area. We started our day with coffee and a bagel from Einsteins (provided breakfast for all) and started to look around. The building has a nice central area that was set up with check-in at one end and food at the other,dining area in between and sponsors down the sides. Rooms were on the first and third floor and were easy enough to find.
I did two presentations this time, one on Professional Development Plans and one on statistics, both sponsored by Idera as part of the ACE program. The PDP one went very well, lots of interaction and lots of after presentation discussion. The statistics one went ok, no issue with content but with the schedule. Lunch ran long and this session was set for 90 minutes, but other tracks had sessions that were 60 minutes, so I knew to expect/remind those that wanted to attend one of those others to bail out at the hour mark.
The 90 minute sessions were a challenge, they threw a lot of people off. I was luck in that mine started at the same time as all the others, but in the morning there were speakers that started on the half hour and everyone was somewhere else. The fix is to do either two one hour sessions back to back to get the ‘deep dive’ experience, or to do a whole band of 90 minute sessions at the same time. Just hard and awkward to mix and match.
Lunch was Mexican food and very good. It was buffet style that was intended to be two lines, but a water spill shut down one side (floor was slippery) and it took a while to feed 300+ people. Previous years was a boxed lunch and this was something new for the event, I think it worked well even with one line, and I’d bet they do it again next year.
The day ran smoothly as far as I could tell. I spent some time in the afternoon just chatting with people, but didn’t do as much networking as normal, it had been a long week and just didn’t have the enthusiasm to engage as actively as I normally do. Still, it was the best of afternoons, hanging out with colleagues and new friends, enjoying the day together.
We wrapped up – or started to – around 5 pm. Raffles at the end of the day are fun, but sometimes they seem to last a while, and this one did, lots and lots of prizes. Most people stayed and enjoyed the show. One of the many things I liked was that Scott reminded the attendees several times to thank the sponsors for their contributions to the event, and he did this as part of the closing raffle as well.
The after party was just around the corner at Quarterdeck. Outside covered seating, a bit hot when we arrived but soon down to manageable levels. I stayed until about 8 pm, then drove back to the hotel with Mark Ginnebaugh and called it a day about 9 pm, taking the rest of the evening to catch up on email and write up some notes for this post.
Kudos to Scott & Herve for their third event and for doing so much for the SQL community in South Florida, and a big thank you to the volunteers too – you made a difference!