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SQL Saturday #21 (Orlando) Recap

Saturday, 10\17, marked the third year for SQL Saturday here in Orlando and each year it gets bigger and better. With 56(!) sessions across 9 tracks and some big name speakers there was plenty of SQL goodness for everyone who came out for the day.

Pre-Event Happenings
Although the main event was Saturday things started for me with dinner Thursday night with Andy Warren, Jack Corbett, and Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter). Buck is a SQL Server Technical Specialist and Program Manager at Microsoft, and an all around interesting guy to know. I didn't do too much talking – mostly listening to him spin some great stories about SQL Server. If nothing else I found the perspective from someone inside Microsoft interesting to hear.

Friday night was the speaker party at Jax Fifth Avenue. I enjoyed getting the chance to catch up with old friends and SQL Saturday "regulars", and meet several people who I've talked to on Twitter for the last year (too many names to name!). The party was scheduled for 6-8 PM but at least half of us ended up staying until 10ish talking about the upcoming PASS summit, Patrick LeBlanc's SQL Lunch, what it takes to become an MVP, and a variety of other SQL related topics. I've done a lot of SQL Saturdays and enjoy the speaker parties almost as much as the day of the event; besides the PASS summit there aren't many chances to get that many presenters and leaders in the SQL world in the same room together and I appreciate the intangible networking benefits that come from it.

The Main Event
I was on the schedule for three regular sessions and one 15 minute mini. My first session, Performance Tuning With DMVs, was a new presentation for me and it went as well as I could have expected for the first time. While the venue had wifi access VPN was blocked which kept me from showing results from servers that had been running and accumulating DMV data for a while. I reverted to running demos against a virtual machine on my laptop which took a bit away from the wow factor (it's hard to show missing indexes when nothing's been run!). Aside from that I found a few things to clean up\clarify and the next time I give this presentation it'll be even better.

The 15 mini session was a demo of Red Gate SQL Backup Pro that ended up being a personal conversation with the one person who showed up and was interested in what it could do.

My second full session was a panel discussion along with Andy Warren and Jack Corbett on how to get started in blogging and technical speaking. Surprisingly (in a good way) we ended up having 25 people attend – standing room only – and went 5-10 minutes over our scheduled time. There was a lot of interest in both topics and some great questions asked. If only one person starts a new blog or signs up to present at a future SQL Saturday I will have considered the session a success.

My last session, Configuring SQL Access for the Web Developer, was the kind of session every speaker fears thanks to my VMs freezing up right as I went into the demo portion. For a demo heavy presentation that wasn't good news. I had a few people bail (I suggested they still had time to make other sessions), but most stayed and we chatted for about 10 minutes until things started responding again and I finished up as best as I could. I have to think about if\how to give this one again in the future. It's a topic of interest – I had 20+ people show up when I've previously presented it – but the demos are tough because I run a full Active Directory domain inside virtual machines all from a laptop and sharing physical resources gets a bit tricky.

The day ended with a SWAG raffle and an after party back at Jax Fifth Ave, but due to other obligations I had to skip the after party.

Misc. Thoughts

  • Of all the SQL Saturdays that I've been to signs seem to be a recurring problem. Despite living in the age of the GPS just having clearly visible signs strategically placed make it helpful to know if you're supposed to be in this parking lot of that one. #21's signs were black letters hand written on a neon background and I don't think they were visible enough nor placed in the right spots.
  • There was a visible lack of sponsor presence. I know Andy and Jack tried hard to get quality sponsors in the door and they just weren't biting due to the economy, but how often do you get hand fed a super focused target audience? I'm no marketing guy, but it seems like you'd have to spend a lot more money than what was being asked to get that kind of reach.
  • Large maps and schedules were posted in the main hallways and it worked really well. I ended up referring to these more often than the printed schedule I was given at the beginning of the day.
  • Between Andy and Jack coordinating things, volunteers who took care of logistics, sponsors who provided cash and SWAG, speakers who gave their time and talent to present, and the 200+ attendees it was a fantastic day!

Other Recaps
In case you might have missed it, here are some other write-ups about the day:


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