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Notes on the 2020 PASS Virtual Summit – Part 1


I’m in learning mode this week, scheduled for two full day pre-cons plus the Summit. I’ve been to a couple of virtual events already this year, but they were ones where I had never been to the in-person version so it was hard to compare things. For the Summit my goal is to try to experience as much as the UI allows just to see if there are things that really work or really don’t work. This post focuses on what I’ve seen so far, before any of the presentations start.

If you haven’t checked in yet (or aren’t able to attend this year), you can get a good sense of how it works by watching this four minute video Anika did:

Credentials were emailed, just your email address and a registration id that serves as the password. I don’t see an option to change the password. Not great, but not the worst issue either.

You can login via the web, or via the app ( which is EventScribe and seems to allow you to take notes as text or drawing. Logging in via phone worked fine and seems to be a similar UI to the web.

On login you can update your profile, add a photo, add various ribbons, and choose from any or all of three sharing options:

  • Share your contact information and profile with other attendees?
  • Share your information with Sponsors/Exhibitors you interacted with?
  • Share your favorites with other attendees?

Living large, I said yes to all three!

I then reviewed the main event schedule and favorited (clicked the star) quite a few sessions that I might attend. I didn’t try to build out a fully packed schedule as I don’t have to worry a session being at capacity (or so I assume!). The ones you favorite then show up as ‘your schedule’.

Looking at the available sessions there are some interesting things:

  • You can see if the slides are available
  • All times are in EST (I’m assuming that’s because I’m in EST)
  • There is video icon if the session is recorded (or will be?). Not all of the sessions are delivered live, and some are replays of a session delivered live earlier in the event.
  • There isn’t an obvious signal that some sessions are given more than once. You can figure it out by clicking on the speaker name and that will show all of their sessions. Would be nice to see that in a simpler fashion when you’re making your scheduling choices.
  • For recorded sessions speakers are supposed to be online for the final 15 minutes to take questions. I’m interested to see how that goes.

There is a virtual exhibit hall. Here it is as of Monday morning:

And here are a couple of examples:

For the sponsor booth giveaway Redgate has a puzzle you have to figure out to be entered into a drawing. Quest will mail you a t-shirt if you enter your info and are one the first 500 (well, 499 now, since I entered for one).

They have chat hours, you can see some slides, all the basics.

I’m going to try to visit all of them, both for the experience of seeing how various vendors do things and to try to help them have a successful event. I can imagine it’s more than the average leap of faith to hope a virtual event proves as useful to a sponsor as an in person event.

The pattern seems usable and one that seems like we could (and should) add to SQLSaturday.

There is only one community hosted event listed so far this year, the SQLRun.

That’s about as far as I’ve explored so far on the attendee experience.

I’ll be the moderator for Continuous Integration with Local Agents and Azure DevOps at 1030 on Friday, presented by my friend Steve Jones. Last week I went to moderator training and got to see how it looks behind the scenes a little. Basically presentations are done via a Zoom call with the speaker, moderator, and some support staff. Attendees can submit questions or chat with each other via the ‘Discuss’ tab. Attendees can upvote questions. The moderator can answer questions, mark them as rejected, or hold them to try to give to the speaker at an appropriate time. The tricky part (and the unpleasant last minute surprise for all the live speakers) is that the presentation is captured in Zoom, sent to Cadmium (the streaming/conference platform) and from there delivered to users, which adds up to to a variable delay of 20 to 90 seconds. I suspect most attendees won’t notice because the questions are queued, but for speakers that had planned a highly interactive session it’s going to be a challenge.

Registration is still open for the Summit at

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