The official PASS blog provides all the latest announcements, developments, and informative updates from the PASS Community and PASS Board of Directors. The blog is updated regularly, so please check back often or subscribe to be advised when new posts are published.

PASS Elections 2010: NomCom Chooses 7 Interviewees

The Nominations Committee met on July 26 to determine which of the 9 applicants to invite back for interviews. 

Using the applicants' ranking scores as a relative guideline, the Committee discussed each nominee's potential to serve on the Board. The NomCom reviewed the perceived strengths and weaknesses of individual applications and agreed that the major factor separating nominees was their dedication to and history of volunteering with PASS and its community. PASS is a volunteer-run organization -- the Committee felt that a history of volunteering in PASS is a crucial element in becoming a member of the PASS leadership.

While the Committee was impressed with all the nominees, consensus was that seven of the nine applicants had a significant history of volunteerism within PASS as well as strong overall scores. Of the applicants, Douglas McDowell, Mark Ginnebaugh, Andy Warren, Allen Kinsel, Steve Jones, Jack Corbett, and Geoff Hiten will be invited to interviews, while the Committee hopes that Denny Cherry and Markus Sprenger will help PASS move forward by participating in other committees and/or volunteer roles.

For more on the elections process, visit the Elections Site

To see how the community's staying involved, visit the Discussion Page.



SQLRally Logo Contest - Fame & Fortune Up For Grabs!

Now that the PASS SQLRally (formerly known as the spring event) has a name it's time to start building a brand…and you have a chance to help! We're running a logo design contest and you're invited to enter. At stake is fame, a $310 prize, and consideration for bidding on the SQLRally website design if you're picked as the winner. Remember we're targeting the cost of the SQLRally at $299 so if you win you could cover the cost of admission.

The contest is open now and runs until 1 PM EDT, July 29, though we reserve the right to extend it depending on the quality and number of entries we receive. So what are we looking for?

  • Logo to be used on website (we will be creating a new event site, ideally with the logo designer), conference name badges, simple onsite signage, possibly on bag or tshirt
  • Consideration to racetrack/car rally imagery
  • Require both one color (B&W) and color versions
  • Future requirements include website design. Preference will be given to the logo designer to bid on future design extensions.
  • Should give some consideration to the existing PASS organization color palette/font however not at all restricted to using existing:
    • Black and White PASS logo used primarily in print applications
    • Grey: 70% Black
    • PASS Red: Pantone 1795 C, CMYK 0, 94, 100, 0
    • PASS Blue: Pantone 294 C, CMYK 100, 58, 0, 21
    • Light Blue: CMYK, 100, 30, 0, 0
    • Font: Helvetica Neue

Think you've got the winning design? Head on over to 99designs to check out the full design brief and submit your entry!

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9 Nominees for 2010 PASS Elections

The Call for Nominations is now closed! The NomCom will review the applications and invite select applicants for interviews. All applicants will be contacted on July 27, and interviewees will be announced to the PASS community on July 28 on the Elections Site and, of course, right here on PASS Blog.

Thanks to the following applicants for throwing their hats in the ring this year:

  • Allen Kinsel
  • Andy Warren
  • Denny Cherry
  • Douglas McDowell
  • Geoff Hiten
  • Jack Corbett
  • Mark Ginnebaugh
  • Markus Sprenger
  • Steve Jones 

The final slate will be determined after the interviews. That announcement will be made on August 18. Campaigns will start the same day, and you'll be able to compare the candidates' campaign platforms and application answers at that point. 

Our social media portals have been abuzz in the past few weeks -- thanks to everyone for staying involved! Keep your eye on the Discussion page for new elections blogs in the coming weeks.



Governance -- PASS HQ


Summit forums - Volunteers Needed!

If forums are your game - then please send me your name!

We are actively searching for volunteers for the following:

1. Two (2) main moderators who assist the administrator on the Summit forums; they will also help “seed” boards by starting topics, asking questions, and engaging posters [estimated time about 15-30 minutes daily; avg = 2.5 hrs/week]
2. Two (2) “seeders” whose main job is to start topics and engage posters on a regular basis to keep conversation flowing on the Summit forums.[estimated time about 15 minutes daily; avg = 2 hrs/week]

This is a great way to get involved and gauge the pulse of the Summit. If you are interested, please send me an email at (submission deadline is July 30, 2010)

Thanks in advance!


Nancy Nasso, Community Coordinator

Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) Headquarters

Phone: 604.899.6269 I Fax: 604.899.1269 I Email: I


Deadline to submit your application for the Board is 12pm PST tomorrow! (PASS Elections)

Twitter's been buzzing (#passvotes) and the community's wondering: who's going to run for the Board this year?

Thanks to all of you who've submitted applications already. If you've been thinking about it but you're still not sure whether it's worth your while, it may help to read some of these blog posts from former and current Directors debating the pros and cons of serving on the Board. The likes of Andy Warren, Jeremiah Peschka, Pat Wright, and Thomas LaRock tell you why it is worth your while to run this year. And if you're a little lazy (like me) and you prefer snappy tidbits, some Board members have also been nice enough to share a few thoughts with us.

For more details on being a Director or the time line involved, please visit the PASS Elections website.

Don't forget, though -- deadline's in 24 hours!



Hannes Bezuidenhout
Governance -- PASS HQ

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Introducing The PASS SQLRally

If you're a PASS member you may have noticed in this morning's Community Connector that the 2011 spring event I talked about recently has a name: The PASS SQLRally. We've also nailed down the dates and location - May 11-13 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, FL.

Why am I saying "we"? Since my last post about the SQLRally I've joined the team helping to plan the event. Throughout the planning process I'll be providing updates on what we're doing - call it a behind the scenes look at what we're up to. I'll start with….

How We Decided On The Name
I mentioned that when Andy, Jack, and I put together a proposal to host the event in Orlando that we struggled with what to call it. We never found the right name so we just called it the "spring event" and figured we'd just worry about getting PASS to approve it first. They did, and fortunately for us we now had the power of the PASS marketing team to help figure out what to call it.

Let's all recognize the proverbial elephant in the room on this one: coming up with a good name is hard. There are a lot of things to consider:

  • Does it convey what the event is about?
  • Does it sound exciting\interesting?
  • Is it original? (think avoiding copyright\trademark violation)
  • Will it work as a Twitter hashtag?
  • Is it conducive to SEO?
  • Does it have "buzz"?

The list goes on but you get the point. We started with a list of around 150 variations on names and eventually narrowed it down to 3. After much debate we decided on SQLRally because it met all of the criteria above and lends itself really well to doing some fun branding. Looking at the definition of rally and you'll see it has some very appropriate meanings:

  • Beat up: gather; "drum up support"
  • A large gathering of people intended to arouse enthusiasm
  • An automobile race run over public roads

We're certainly all enthusiastic about SQL Server and the double meaning of a road race gives us the chance to have a little fun. Imagine speakers wearing checkered flag shirts and messaging like "rev up performance". Even topic centric "tracks" plays nicely into the rally theme. It wasn't easy, but in the end I think we've come up with a great name!

Now We Need A Logo
Now it's time to start building a brand around it all. The next thing we're going to tackle is coming up with a good logo that visually represents what this event is supposed to be about. Here's what I think is the cool part - you get to help. We're going to hold a contest to design the logo. Details will be announced soon so pay attention to the Connector and this blog!

- Kendal


Abstract Selection for the PASS Summit – the secrets revealed…


I’ve never had the opportunity to be on the abstract selection committee, so it was interesting to see the process in action. To be clear, I was not on one of the selection committees, but I am on the Program Committee so I was still involved in the process.
The abstract selection committees are chosen out of the group of people that apply to volunteer for the Program Committee. We work to ensure that each team includes at least one person that has been on an abstract selection team in the past. Our hope is that they can provide some additional guidance. We also provide at least one training session to go over the tools and answer any initial questions.
Prior to the call to speakers, the number of allocated sessions are set. They are allocated in total to fit the number of rooms that we have available.   That total number is then split between the tracks (Application and Database Development, BI Architecture, Development and Administration, BI Client Reporting and Delivery Topics, Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment and Professional Development) to help make certain that we provide a balanced Summit selection.
Once the call to speakers closed, we knew that the abstract review committees were going to be in for a lot of work.   Here are the numbers that we were looking at:
Total # of regular session abstracts submitted: 513
# of regular session community slots allocated: 72
Doing the math, that means that only 14% of the abstracts submitted were going to be selected. Within the tracks, that percentage ranged from 11% to 18%.  
During the review process, the individuals on each team go through the abstracts in their track and rate them on 4 different areas – Abstract, Topic, Speaker and Subjective. Each of these areas are rated using a 1-10 scale and there is an area for comments. The abstract section has to do with, among other things, whether the abstract was complete (were session goals identified?), clear (was it easy to understand what the session would be about?) and interesting. The topic referred to the interest in and relevancy of the chosen topic. As far as the speaker – the abstract review teams had access to a report that provided previous Summit evaluation data for previous Summit speakers. They could also draw on personal knowledge or other information that they had access to. All of the individual scores added up to a total rating per abstract for the team.
Once the individual team members were finished with the evaluations, they came together as a team to rank the sessions. Along with looking at the total rating, they also looked at the different topics that were covered to ensure that the sessions covered a broad range of topics. Once the abstracts were ranked, the teams updated the session status to Approved, Alternate or Considered (Not accepted). If the status was Considered, the teams provided a reason as to why the abstract was not selected.
At that point the list of sessions came back to the Program Committee managers. We made certain the correct number of sessions per track were chosen and that no speakers had more than two sessions. There were a couple of cases where speakers had more than two sessions – for these cases, we went back to the teams for additional selections.
That’s it. Well, I guess I mean, those are all of the steps – it’s a ton of work and I’m grateful to everyone involved for all of their hard work.   We recognize that there are probably ways to improve the process and we’re in the process of setting up meetings with all of the teams to get their input. I hope this provides clarification to some of the questions that people might have about the abstract selection process.

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PASS Update #36

(Cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog on

We had our monthly Board of Directors call on July 8th, and as is fairly common, the call went smoothly. Unusually though, I had two items on the agenda, the budget for the "spring event" and the SQL Server Standard.

The budget went through a number of revisions, starting with a super minimalist version in my original proposal and over the course of the process ballooned up to a no profit budget. I think it’s natural to go through that, looking for places where the corners were cut too sharply and fixing them, thinking of places where you want to do nice things. As we got close to final, I really felt like we had gone too far, and started looking for things to cross out of the budget. We went back and made some spending items conditional on hitting certain attendance numbers, took some things out, and ended up with a budget that should deliver a modest profit back to the organization if all goes well. Profit is important. It makes us manage to a budget, makes us make hard decisions, and hopefully gives us another small but interesting revenue stream that can in turn help support other activities. The event budget was approved and that really helps get things moving, and I’m glad to be done with that task!

The second part was the discussion of the Standard. This has been part of my portfolio since last year, relaunched in single-article PDF format to try to continue the great work my friend Steve Jones did in the years when we owned the print magazine. Grant Fritchey took on the role of editor, and so far we’ve produced 7 issues of great content. Yet, when I did a recent review of the project, the click-through rate was pretty low, and even with much better marketing it didn’t seem like that we could generate enough content to create the traffic flow to justify creating the content. Chicken and the egg scenario. I thought about it some, and early this week sent  a note to Rushabh Mehta recommending that we would probably be best served by closing down this project.

About the same time we found that we needed to revise our recently completed FY 2011 budget to account for about $50k less than expected revenue. For Rushabh and the rest of the Board (and me), it wasn’t a hard call to pull about $10k of that from the Standard budget. We voted yesterday to end the SQL Server Standard project, and to look at funding other writing projects on a case by case basis out of the special projects budget.

On content and workflow, I think we got a lot of things right:

  • Set up Grant Fritchey as the editor with a focus just on finding/managing the content
  • Engaged volunteers to do the tech edits
  • PASS HQ handled author payments, workflow, copy edit assignments

Grant Fritchey, Brad McGehee, and the rest of the volunteers did a a great job on the project, so why did it fail? Without trying to make excuses, here are things I think were involved:

  • Written content is a mature market. Not impossible to create a new niche in that market, but it was going to take the combination of good pay (which we had at $500/article) and good exposure for the right writing, which we weren’t able to provide. That added up to not being hugely attractive to authors.
  • We set the bar pretty high for authors. I think this was the right thing to do, we wanted something longer and better than a blog post. Not that blog posts don’t have value, but we wanted something of high quality for the PASS website. We also wanted to challenge the authors and give them a writing credit that might help them land a book deal.
  • We marketed it poorly. We mentioned it in the Connector and on the PASS website, but many told me that they didn’t even realize we were publishing the articles. Definitely there is remedial work we could (and should) have done, but it should have been done better from the beginning. Too much focus on content, not enough on the rest.
  • We required a login to view the articles. Another decision I believe was good, but we just didn’t have enough content to make a new reader invest the time in setting up a login.
  • Lack of deeper involvment from me in areas that could have used help, specifically finding authors and marketing.

At the end, we have to call this a modest failure. We could have kept going; I think the right choice was to stop. Definitely not exciting to blog about ending one of my projects. I was reminded on the budget call that it’s OK to fail sometimes, and that’s logic I agree with – to make gains you have to take some risks. Still, not fun to fail.


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