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Over the last year or so it seems that there has been an explosion of training events occurring all across the world. I'd like to say that it's been driven by my business partner, Andy Warren, with his SQL Saturday events, but the truth is there have been quite a few other people putting on their own events. From the SQLSaturdays, PASS Camps, TechFests, and more in the US to the SQLBits conferences in the UK, it seems there's no shortage of opportunities to learn. If you're in the UK, the next SQLBits is this November, and they are looking for speakers now.

I've attended a couple SQL Saturdays, and as you read this I'll flying to New Orleans, heading to SQL Saturday #17 in Baton Rouge. They've been great events and I think they've really helped bring some free training to many people that haven't had the chance to ever attend a conference or other paid event. I'll probably attend a few more over the next year, so let me know if you can get one organized and maybe I'll come.

For years there have been free events from Microsoft and MSDN, but they are often just short, one or two hour presentations, and not always the best training. I've seen more than a few that contained a lot of marketing. I think that the organizers of many of these free events try to avoid any marketing pitches and focus on delivering technical information you can use at your job the next day.

For this Friday's poll, since I'm attending one of these events...

Do you attend free events like a SQL Saturday, or just paid conferences like PASS or SQL Connections?

I know many of you have probably never been to a conference, and might struggle with a training budget. So I am sure you like having free events that you can get to without spending much money out of pocket. At a few events I've been to people have driven a couple hundred miles to attend, just to get some extra training. That's impressed me, and it's made me realize how lucky I have been to attend a conference most years.

Training budgets are tight, and it can be hard to get funding, but I'd urge you to not only attend a free event, but consider contributing to one. These events are a great way to meet, learn from, and even help other SQL Server professionals.

So let us know this week how you feel about free events, and do you think they are as valuable to you as paid training.

Steve Jones


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