Last month I made the trip with some other Dallas-area speakers down to Houston’s second annual SQL Saturday event. This was one of the shorter trips for me – we drove down on Friday afternoon/evening, and left out late Saturday. It was good to be away from home for just one night (rather than the two nights I normally stay for SQL Saturday), but it definitely made for a long Saturday.
The facility for this event was not too bad. It was some sort of educational institution for at-risk kids, and had fully equipped (although dated) video equipment. One of my two sessions was the first one of the morning, and the room I was in had a bad projector in it. A couple of guys from the school crew (they had folks there on Saturday for the event, which turned out to be quite useful) came and replaced the projector – with another bad one. The third one finally worked, but it wouldn’t mount on the ceiling so the parked it on the desk – a little awkward with space tight already, but we made it work.
Registration was very tough. Houston was one of the first to try out the online check-in process on the SQL Saturday website, but unfortunately this process relies on attendees remembering their PASS website login. Compounding the problem was the fact that they only had one computer for people to use for check-in. I know that Nancy Wilson, the Houston group leader, has been in touch with PASS staff about a better way to handle check-ins without going back to paper.
Lunch was good. Like last year, they catered barbecue for the event (in Houston, is there anything else?). The vendors were all set up in the cafeteria where lunch was served, so it worked well to get some face time with attendees before and after they ate.
Like last year’s event, I thought it was well organized. My only two suggestions would be:
- Registration changes. Hopefully we’ll get a web-based way to check in attendees without having them log into their PASS accounts at the point of check-in.
- Timely notification to speakers of their selection. Speakers were notified just a month ahead of time, which is an awfully short time frame since many (most?) of the speakers are coming from out of town and need to make travel arrangements. It wasn’t as much of an issue for me since I didn’t fly, but I suspect that a few of the speakers probably got pinched on airfare due to the late notification.
Overall a good event! I’ll definitely be back for next year. By the way, I took a few pictures and posted them on my Flickr account.