I woke up early on Saturday for a run. Staying at the Cook Hotel on the LSU campus, I had a beautiful lake across the street to run around. I completed my 2 mile run to start the day, went back to my room for 30 minutes to cool down, shower, and pack up. I managed to drive across campus to the engineering building, easily finding my way with SQL Saturday signs at the intersections surrounding the building. I parked, turned off the car (and AC) and started to walk from one end of the building to the other.
And started sweating immediately. Baton Rouge is a hot, muggy, humid place in August. I tried for a shortcut, had to backtrack, and arrived in a bit of the mess to the registration area. The main reception areas, with tables for sponsors, doughnuts, and coffee was a bit warm. I suspect that the building AC was cut off on Friday afternoon, and it was slow to cool down at 8am on Saturday. It got better as the day went on, but it is something to be aware of when you’re using a new space for your event.
In just a little over 2 months, Patrick LeBlanc and the Baton Rouge user group got over 260 people to register for this event. There was a nice crowd enjoying the lobby of the building, having water, coffee, and doughnuts to start the day. Everyone checked in at a table, got a bag with some information, a notepad, a pen, and for some lucky people, a T-shirt or other SWAG. I got a Red Gate T-shirt, which I promptly gave away to someone that didn’t have one.
People packed into one of the large auditoriums for the opening talk, and some logistics were handled. It was a short, 15 talk that thanked people and let them know how the day would proceed, where the rooms were located, etc. The event had 4 tracks, with two rooms on one floor and 2 on the next.
I was up first with a 9am presentation, so I got set up in the room and had some difficulty with the projector. The resolution cut off the bottom of my slides, and I had to call for some technical help about 2 slides into my presentation.
My presentation was “The Modern Resume: Building Your Brand”, which is a talk I have given 8 or 9 times over the last year. It’s been popular, and I had some good comments again today. It’s more of a 90 minute talk, but I managed to pack into 60, rushing the last few slides. I had some good complements and I think I provided some good information to the audience. Always nice as a speaker to have anyone give you some positive feedback, or even criticisms when you finish a talk.
The event had 4 tracks, with a number of .NET presentations included. I think that helped explain that a good portion of my audience, at least half, were not SQL Server people. Each session ran an hour, with about 15 minutes between sessions to allow people time to use the facilities, get a drink, or just relax. There were 6 sessions, with 3 before lunch and 3 after. Lunch was a box from Subway with a sandwich, chips, and a cookie. Volunteers were in bright yellow shirts, and easy to find throughout the day. They also brought a fresh bottle of cold water to each speaker as they were getting set up, which was a very nice touch.
The LSU campus is beautiful, and the facilities in the engineering building were great. Classrooms that had desks built into the chairs or tables built into the room, often with power plugs nearby. For those people with laptops, it was really nice to have power readily available to ensure you could take notes or check things. Even with the 4+ hour life of my Mini, I need to plug in a bit to get through the day.
Having never been to New Orleans for any reason, I was happy to come down to SQL Saturday #17 just for the chance to see the city. I arrived in New Orleans Friday and drove up to Baton Rouge. It was an easy drive, and LSU is near the East side of the city, so if you want to come next year from out of town, it’s an easy trip. You can fly directly to Baton Rouge as well if you like.
This was a great event and I’d recommend that you come next year if you can. The SQL Saturday events seem to get more and more polished and successful with each new event, and if there isn’t one in your area, check with your local user group and see if you can get one started.