February OPASS Meeting Recap

Jack Corbett, 2010-02-10

Introduction

Last night we had our February OPASS meeting with Ron Dameron (@RonDBA) presenting on Database Hardening using PowerShell.  We broadcast the main presentation using Live Meeting and this time I remembered to hit record, so the session will be available on the OPASS web site at some point.

Attendance

We had a decent turnout of around 20 which is around our average,   but this was lower than we expected because we had a lot of RSVP’s come in.  There were a couple of reasons for the lower than expected turnout, weather and traffic.  It was pouring at the start time of the meeting which probably caused some folks to decide to go home.  If you had to come through Orlando to get there the traffic was backed up everywhere because of accidents, likely due to the weather.  So we lost some attendance and had some late arrivals.  We also had 6 remote attendees and we were a little disappointed that the folks who didn’t make it in person didn’t attend the Live Meeting.

Announcements

We started the meeting with announcements and the chapter deck from PASS.  There was a lot of information in the deck and, in my opinion it could have been trimmed down a bit.  I hit the highlights and moved fairly quickly through them.  I added a couple of slides to the deck for local announcements and, on my laptop, a white font on the background was hard to read on the right-side and black font was readable so I went with the black font.  When I got it up on the screen the black font was hard to read on the left-side.  I needed to take a bit more time with that, as I certainly didn’t want to have a second deck just for my couple of slides.

Networking

We then had a longer than anticipated informal networking side where we discussed the recent Tampa SQLSaturday, the transition of SQLSaturday to PASS ownership, and other PASS topics.  The delay was because we were waiting for the Pizza to arrive, apparently a 10 pizza order is tough to fill on time (see Andy Warren’s recap for more).

Featured Presentation

The featured presentation was Ron describing and demonstrating how he is using PowerShell to automate common tasks and to fulfill requests for audit type information (server settings, users, etc…).  He’s on a team that is charged with automating, standardizing, and optimizing DBA tasks for each of their database platforms and as the SQL Server DBA on that team his responsibility is the ~600 SQL Servers (Servers not databases) in the company.  Without Powershell some of the tasks he has had to do would be nearly impossible to do.  It was good session that shows the power of PowerShell in a large environment and he also did a good job sharing how he learned PowerShell.

The Raffle

We finished up by raffling off some SWAG and it was nice that each of our first-time attendees won something!  It’s always nice to reward new people with some nice SWAG! 

Post-Meeting

After the meeting several people hung around for an hour or so to talk shop and to get to know each other better.  I think the networking aspect of our group is getting better and people are seeing the value of building relationships in the group.

Andy (@SqlAndy), Kendal Van Dyke (@SQLDBA), and I looked at an interesting issue Kendal had seen at work and not been able to solve.  We didn’t solve it either, and, hopefully, we’ll see a nice blog post from Kendal about it.   We also talked about PASS and about growing speakers and providing a path for growth and how PASS can help newer speakers get out to more events.  We ended up staying way too late, but it was great discussion.

Personal Conclusion

I say this often, but, if you have access to a user group and aren’t going, you need to start.  Honestly, I felt horrible and wanted to go to bed when it was time to head to the meeting, but I felt great AFTER the meeting.  I’m almost always energized and refreshed after attending a user group meeting because I get excited again about what I get to do by hearing about what other people are doing.

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