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OPASS April Meeting Recap

Well, we had our April meeting on Tuesday the 13th.  Let's just say it wasn't our most successful meeting, and as the leader, I have to take the responsibility.  Yet, there are still things that went well.  Let's address the issues we encountered first:

Problem 1

This was a meeting with Joe Webb (@joewebb) presenting remotely via Live Meeting.  In order for this work correctly you have to setup the Live Meeting correctly, and I did not.  Somehow, and I don't know how or why, I set the date of the meeting to April 5th.  It looks like that is because it was the day I setup the Live Meeting.  This meant that the presenter link still worked, but the attendee link did not.  People using the attendee link got a "Meeting has ended" message which led to fewer online attendees.

Short-Term Solution:

Change the meeting date in the Live Meeting setup so attendees could get in.

Long-Term Solution:

Verify Live Meeting settings in the management tools before the meeting begins.  Test the presenter AND attendee links before the meeting begins.

Problem 2

Just after Joe Webb finished introducing himself and started into his presentation we lost audio.  we found that this was not isolated to our location, but affected ALL online attendees.  While this is not something you expect, you aren't surprised by it either, you do expect some technical difficulties you just aren't sure what.  So while this was inconvenient, it became a bigger problem because I had no way to let Joe know we couldn't hear him at this point because he was not on Twitter or email and I did not have a phone number

Short-Term Solution:

Drop Joe from the meeting and make him rejoin.

Long-Term Solution:

I don't think you can eliminate technical problems, but make sure you have a phone number for the remote presenter.

Problem 3:

Low attendance.  We have been over 20 this year thus far.

Short-Term Solution:

None.  It's not like I could go out and drag people in.

Long-Term Solution:

While I thought this was a good topic, it is more of a niche topic so perhaps combining that with a remote presenter was not the best idea.  Joe did fine presenting and is a good speaker, but perhaps having him do his presentation on Locking and Blocking would have drawn better.  We had our regulars and I think they enjoyed the meeting, but we need to get the occasional attendees to become regulars.  I'm open to suggestions.

Problem 4:

I forgot to record the meeting.

Short-Term Solution:

None.  I just forgot while dealing with the Live Meeting setup mistake and by the time I remembered it was well into the presentation.

Long-Term Solution:

There are a few options to solve this: 

  1. The first is to put together a checklist of things that I need to do on meeting day, especially when having a remote presenter.  I'm working on that and will post my list on the blog so you can comment and add the things I missed. 
  2. Second, in the email with the presenter (whether remote or not) remind them to check to see that the recording is started, and if not, start it.  The email will include instructions on how to do that.  This will help in 2 ways:
    1. The presenter will know to look and make sure the recording is started.
    2. It is also a reminder to me to start the recording.
  3. Third, start the recording as soon as I connect to the meeting.  This would be a last resort because then I would have to learn how to edit the recording so that it only includes the presentation.

Now for the positives:

Once we got the technical issues solved we had a complete presentation from an experienced speaker.  Joe had a few issues with his demos, but he covered everything he said he would cover and the attendees learned some new things. 

We had a great discussion after the presentation about how to mitigate some the issues inherent with Data-driven subscriptions, like the report runs once for each recipient and the load that this puts on your resources.  Joe mentioned this in the presentation and answered some questions about it afterwards, but the discussion continued on for awhile after the Live Meeting had ended.  There were some interesting solutions proposed (some outside SSRS/SQL) which included: putting user processes in place, using the CLR, Powershell, and even a VBA class (we have an Access MVP who attends regularly).

We had a good discussion to start the meeting about PASS, where the organization is, where it's going, where it should go, and being involved in the organization.

After the meeting we had a good discussion about SQLSaturday and how we can grow our event in Orlando.  A key point raised by Phil was that we need to have more developer-focused sessions so we can draw on the 500+ that attend the Orlando Code Camp.  A side benefit that may result from this conversation is perhaps getting Phil to step up and be a presenter at OPASS and SQLSaturday.  Phil, if you are reading this, I'm going to stay on you!

We also had a good discussion about ORM's and development processes and philosophies.  It's always good to have someone with a non-DBA view in the mix.

Finally, Andy(@sqlandy), Kendal Van Dyke(@SQLDBA), and I hung around to discuss growing the group, SQLSaturday, and PASS (particularly the mini-Summit on the East coast).  These discussions are always fun as they are basically brain-storming sessions and usually something useful comes out of them.

The last positive thing that occurred is that I once again learned a lot about what it takes to run a user group and a user group meeting.  If I make the same mistakes again then there are bigger issues, but if you never try anything you never grow.  I hate to have things go wrong, but there's no reward without some risk, and as bad as I feel when there are fail, I feel even better when I have success.

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