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SQLSaturday #103 Curaçao Recap – Planting Seeds

(Condensed from my Community Pollination blog – read the full version here.)

This past weekend, there were two SQLSaturday events: #108 in Redmond and #103 in Curaçao. I heard all the “Oh sure, tough choice there” comments, but my plans early on were to attend the Curaçao event.

The original vision for my new role as PASS Community Evangelist was to get to one first-time venue each month to talk to attendees who might not be familiar with PASS. My being onsite to assist with some logistics and last-minute details at these events helps out the first-time organizers as well. Plus, I can see what areas I need to make sure I’m mentoring on before event day. 

This trip was only 3 hours from Miami. I was greeted at the airport by event leader and local PASS chapter leader Roy Ernest [blog|twitter]. Roy went out of his way to not only pick me up, but to also pick up each speaker who came from over from the US. None of us arrived at the same time, so it wasn’t exactly convenient for someone already with so much stress of his approaching event. SQLSat #103 had three non- local speakers - Bill Pearson [blog|twitter], Rob Volk [blog|twitter], and Tim Radney [blog|twitter] - and two local presenters: Roy and volunteer and co-worker Rohan Joackhim [twitter].

Friday evening’s speaker appreciation dinner was at a great Indian restaurant - one of many in a renovated fort called Rif Fort. From the outside, it looked like a castle, but when you walked in, there were all kinds of restaurants on several levels, all with open seating. You could look out in one direction and see the beautiful crystal-clear, aqua-colored ocean and then look inward around the fort at all the entertainment, from drummers and bands to folks dancing in the open center area. It was really a unique setting; the only downfall was that the band was so loud, it was hard to hear even someone sitting directly across from you.
The event had two tracks, DBA and BI, and was held at the University of the Netherlands Antilles, courtesy of the head instructor, Rinnus Felipa. It’s always nice to meet those who help make a SQLSaturday happen, and kudos to universities such as this, which offer their venues for free to the IT community. It was obvious that the success of this day was important to Rinnus - he was onsite all day and meticulous about details that the university was responsible for, such as lunch. On the lunch menu was “Steak de Wea,” a local combination of rice and steak covered in a savory sauce, with fresh green beans and salad. It was delicious, and I enjoy trying something local and new to my taste buds. SQLSat #103 didn’t charge attendees for lunch, and the university kept the cost very reasonable (I believe each plate was around $7 per person).
The morning of the event, there were 95 registrants, including those who opted out the week prior. Actual attendance ended up being around 60 - so as typically seen at SQLSaturdays, about a 30%-35% drop-off. The event had only three sponsors: PASS, Redgate, and O’Reilly. But even with the little budget he had to work with, Roy managed to put on a great event for his community. As I talked with attendees during breaks and addressed the group as a whole at the end, many comments rang a common tune - they want to see another SQLSaturday… and most don’t want to wait another year for it (hint, hint, Roy!). As always, I stressed to the attendees that they should work on becoming presenters themselves for the next SQLSaturday event, and they could start sharpening their SQL and presentation skills by speaking at their local user group.

This post would not be complete if I failed to mention another key Curaçao volunteer: Surenda Djaoen [twitter], another of Roy’s co-workers and someone he is mentoring to become the new leader of the Curaçao SQL Server User Group. With Roy doing so much running around on Friday, and still prepping his own presentation for the big day, Surenda took on a lot of the last-minute details for the SQLSaturday. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting time to talk with her about running a user group and some tips on growing the local speaker pool. It’s always rewarding to see volunteers’ eyes light up with excitement as their minds start racing with ideas. That’s all it takes - just plant a few seeds, and watch them grow!


SQLSaturday History Is Made! #100 Brazil Recap

(Condensed from my Community Pollination blog – read the full version here.)

If you are part of the SQL Universe, you know that SQLSaturday #100 was held in São Paulo, Brazil, a week ago. I can hardly put into words just how epic this event was and how thrilled I am that I was able to be there to witness not just SQLSat 100, but the very first of these events to take place in Brazil.

Our journey began on Thanksgiving Day (Rodney luckily had enough SkyMiles to go with me and present), and we arrived in São Paulo Friday mid-morning. We were greeted at the airport by two of the main SQLSaturday event organizers, Felipe Ferreira [blog|twitter] and Laerte Junior Poltronieri [blog|twitter].

These two gentlemen have been putting up with my twitter “pushing and prodding” to host a SQLSaturday since February. When I saw their official event request come through in July, the very month I began working for PASS, it was like the icing on the cake for me! I don’t think they really believed at first that a SQLSaturday could happen in Brazil, but these guys and energetic volunteer Andressa Martins [blog|twitter] totally brought it! They had a lot of support from Microsoft Brasil’s João Nunes and Viviane Ribeiro [blog|twitter], as well as expert speakers from all over this large country, several of whom are PASS user group leaders. Right away you could sense that there is a strong SQL community across Brazil, and it was wonderful to see them all supporting each other at this event!

The event had a cap of 300 attendees, which it reached within the first month of being posted. The wait list was over 200 by the day of the event, and around 250 people attended. The event team released 40 from the wait list, but hadn’t forecasted what the drop-off rate would be. They plan to make sure to release more for their next event – a good lesson learned for all of us.

Bright and early Saturday, we headed to the event venue at Microsoft’s offices, which were donated as part of their sponsorship. The event was held on the 31st floor, making this not only the first SQLSaturday in Brazil, but at least for me, the highest one! The event came staffed with Microsoft employees handling the check-in process, while the volunteers filled nice backpacks donated by sponsor Ka Solution with swag. In addition to Ka Solution and PASS, SQLSaturday Brazil sponsors included SolidQ, Mainwork (a Confio partner), RedGate, and SQLSentry. It was nice to see the continued support of these companies for a SQLSaturday outside the US.

The line of registrants quickly grew very long, snaking from the bottom floor (where they were checked through security) up to the 31st floor, and all the way down the hallway, past the elevators. The SQLSaturday opened with a keynote from Microsoft and remarks from the organizers – all in Portuguese.  The event had three tracks totaling 18 sessions, with two coffee breaks/delicious snacks and sub combos for lunch. (Personal lesson learned: Do not try to drink Nespresso by the gallons, like you do coffee in the states!)

The day closed with sponsor raffles and end-of-day announcements. When it was my turn to talk about PASS, I started to ask the attendees if they wanted to see more of these events in Brazil – and before I could get the words out, they were all cheering and clapping. Needless to say, we have several conversations going on now with leaders and volunteers to host several more SQLSaturdays in Brazil. My guess is that a country its size could easily sustain 4 or 5 events a year.

The after-event get together featured some of the most amazing food ever and lots of cold beverages, supplied by João Nunes. Besides all the great conversation, we enjoyed entertainment by a Big Band – full on with saxophones, trombones, and drums! The room filled with cheers to the end of a very successful SQLSaturday and thanks for PASS’s support in helping to bring this event to Brazil.

Below are just a few links to the many blogs and photos from this event. You can find more by searching for the #sqlsat100 hashtag on Twitter (this event has more post-event tweets than I’ve seen for any other SQLSaturday – the buzz is still going strong).



Community Update

With 250 chapters and counting, PASS is serious about its commitment to global growth. We are excited that members of the SQL Server community from far and wide can connect, share and learn in their own region! In November alone, 8 new chapters were created:

•    Himalayan SQL Server User Group, Nepal (Leader: Shree Khanal)
•    SQLPASS Egypt (Leader: Wagdy Ishac)
•    Cambridgeshire SQL Server User Group, UK (Leader: Mark Broadbent)
•    Montreal BI User Group, Canada (Leader: Dwayne Pindling)
•    St. Louis BI Users Group, US (Leader: Phil Milner)
•    Chicago BI User Group, US (Leader: Emre Motan)
•    Quad Cities PASS, Iowa, US (Leader: Sheila Acker)
•    New London SQL Server User Group, US (Leader: Victor Pavlovit)

November also saw the addition of 3 Regional Mentors recently appointed, for the US Northeast (Steve Hughes), US Southwest (Phil Robinson) and Western Canada (Colin Stasiuk). Find out more about Steve, Phil, and Colin from PASS Director Mark Ginnebaugh’s recent blog post.

To facilitate chapter development, educational webcasts geared towards chapter leaders are available for streaming from the Chapter Resources page (PASS login required to access).  Recent webcasts include:
•    Using Dot Net Nuke Websites with Mike Lawell
•    Making Your Chapter Legal While Removing Stress with Arnie Rowland

Lastly, SQLSaturday keeps on growing with new events popping up all over the world. New SQLSaturdays are added all the time so be sure to keep tabs on the SQLSaturday event calendar for one near you!

Recently added:
•    SQLSaturday#113, Indonesia, Dec 10, 2011
•    SQLSaturday#108, Redmond, Feb 25, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#109, Silicon Valley, Mar 3, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#110, Tampa, Mar 10, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#114, Vancouver, Mar 17, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#115, Portugal, Mar 17, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#107, Houston, Apr 12, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#111, Atlanta, Apr 14, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#112, Birmingham, May 12, 2012
•    SQLSaturday#106, Puerto Rico, May 26, 2012

If you have any questions or comments about chapters, regional mentors, or SQLSaturday events, please contact PASS Community Evangelist Karla Landrum.


WAHOO! KALAMAZOO! SQLSaturday #84 Steals My Heart!

This weekend marked the 20th SQL Saturday that I have attended, SQLSaturday 84 in a place until now I had never heard of, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Well, I can tell you, that this one broke into my top 3, as this small town, “home like” feeling event, literally warmed my heart! It was admittedly very reminiscent of the first event I hosted in Pensacola in 2009.

When I arrived, with Tommy LaRock who happened to be on the same flight, volunteer Shelly Noll picked us up, the first sign of hometown hospitality. After checking into the hotel, Shelly swung us by the event venue where we met up with the other volunteers. Their event was held at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and let me tell you, one of the very nicest community colleges I’ve ever seen. This large venue was gorgeous, with trees growing on the inside, beautiful gardens and courtyards, and amazingly donated for FREE for this event. NICE WIN!

There were at least 8 volunteers, likely more just didn’t count, all working diligently on preparing things for the big day. Right off the bat, you could tell this group was super organized as they were nearly done, and it was only about 3:00 in the afternoon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such calmness the day before a SQLSaturday.

Things kicked off that evening with the speaker party, a get together at Tim Ford’s beautiful home and was sponsored by SQLSentry. In attendance were so many top notch notables of the SQL world that I am not even going to begin listing them all, as I will surely miss someone. Tim and his lovely wife Amy prepared quite a spread of delectables, from homemade guacamole to apple cobbler (and one cobbler wasn’t enough, there was a peach one as well!), assorted chips and dips and cheeses I’ve never even heard of that were to die for! Plenty of delicious food and then the doorbell rings, as if we needed more, gourmet pizzas show up. A cooler full of frothy beverages out on the deck, again, many I have never heard of, with a wonderfully warm fire roaring in the pit (which was MUCH appreciated by THIS Florida girl, as it was like 50 degrees there!). As chilly as it was (okay maybe not for the others), most everyone ended up gathering out on the deck, surrounding the fire like we were at camp, telling tales of SQL. It was so relaxing, lots of good humor and stories. This by far is now my top Friday evening party for these events. It was like being home. The evening ended, at least for me, of an announcement that someone had eaten all the bacon off all the remaining pizza. One guess!

Early the next morning, once again, Shelly was kind enough to pick me up from the hotel and head on over to the venue to get things set-up. Others were there and much of what was needed done was well on its way to completion. I cannot say enough, what a super, efficient crew of volunteers! I was there on behalf of PASS, so I went to work setting up our table in the sponsor’s area. This I would say would be the only thing that I would recommend they look at changing up at next year’s event, the placement of sponsors. Unfortunately it was the only place with outlets all the way around the walls, hence why they chose this spot, but it was pretty far from the registration check-in, and tucked off to one side. It was at least near the doors to where three of the sessions were being held, so Tim the quick thinker, placed a big billboard they had with the rooms and sessions posted directly by those doors, so we could sway folks over to our area as they stopped to find their way. This worked out, as I do think many attendees managed to get their raffle tickets into the drawings all the sponsors had. Maybe next year they can find some other way to get the registration and the sponsors closer together.

The day went by very quickly, probably because I spent most of the day working and in discussions with Alison MacDonald from PASS Marketing, oh, and that other person who seems to never stop talking, no, not Rob Farley, Tom! (I hear Rob out talks Tom, I find that really hard to believe after this weekend). Throughout the day many attendees, as usual at these events, were commenting on how great the event was and how happy they were that it came to Kalamazoo. The turnout was very close to the numbered registered, I think they ended up with only about a 12% drop-off, even though there did seem to be a lot of food leftover, but I think that is typical when you do food trays with sandwiches. I think sandwich shops under state really just how many people one tray will feed. This was the first event that I attended that we had the new SQLSaturday laptop stickers and patches, and those went over big time, everyone wanted those. Looking forward to seeing how many of these make their way to the Summit next month. For their event, they had a WIT Panel during lunch led by Shelly, which unfortunately I missed due to talking too much myself! The WIT Panel was a great line-up of Kendra Little, Wendy Pastrick, Yanni Robel, and Erin Stellato. Since I missed it, I can’t do it justice, but Sarah Strate did a full detailed blog about it, that you can read up on here:

As the day was winding up, Tim needed someone to head over early to the after party venue to let them know we were coming, as they did not allow reservations ahead of time. So Amy, Austin and Trevor (they ever so entertaining boys) and I all headed over, which meant I wasn’t there for the raffle drawings, which was fine, but I did miss out on a very special moment for Tim. Josh Fennessy, who was that day announced as the new chapter leader for the West Michigan SQL User Group, presented Tim with a plaque of recognition for all his years of contributions to the SQL community. Check it out

The after party was at a very cool restaurant/bar in downtown called Kalamazoo Beer Exchange . Great food, but the absolutely coolest thing about this place was the Beer Market. At 6:00pm, on various big screens throughout the three story facility, the Beer Market would open. Think Stock Market. You watch the price of beers go up or down based on consumption. I had never seen this anywhere, and it was so cool! When the price of the beer changed, it stayed at that price for 12 minutes. There were arrows, just like the stock market, that showed if the price was going up or down. At one point the beer market crashed, and all the beers were 2 bucks! Drink, drink, drink!

After a while we all made our way to a nearby piano bar, something we do for the after party at Pensacola each year, and in my opinion, great entertainment and fun for all no matter where you live. I had hoped to make my way to a third place that had bull riding, as I am determined to do this someday, but was just too tired and had an early flight out. I was smart and booked my ride with Joe Fleming earlier in the evening, stating “make me go with you no matter how much I insist I want to stay longer”, so thank you Joe, I made it to the airport on time that next morning. Which by the way another hospitable thing happened, my cab driver, Cliff, insisted on not charging me for the lift to the airport.

In closing, I want to say to the SQLSaturday Kazoo team, GREAT JOB! Thank you so much to all of you for bringing this event to your community. On a personal note, thank you to Amy and Tim for making me feel so welcome and having us all over to your home. You are such good people, and I hope to spend time again with you some day. I feel like I not only had a great opportunity to network, but made connections with some folks that I would consider good friends now. And special shout out to Josh, don’t forget our date in Seattle, your christening of the Hurricane Café. Rodney and I are both looking forward to it!


PASS SQLSaturday Recap

PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?

PASS SQLSaturdays have been mixing work with play this summer. Despite vacations and summer hours (you know who you are),
hundreds of you have come together for SQLSaturday events for a good mix of technical topics at a variety of skill levels. There's
always something of interest for everyone! PASS SQLSaturday travelled to Birmingham for SQLSaturday #81, to Wheeling for
SQLSaturday #80, then Baton Rouge for SQLSaturday #64 and lastly to South Florida for some fun in the sun at SQLSaturday #79.

For those of you not in the know, SQLSaturday is a free training event for SQL Server professionals and anyone wanting to learn about
SQL Server. Admittance to these events is free as costs are covered by generous donations and sponsorships. 

Bradley Ball digging his new shirt at SQLSaturday#79!

All work and no play at SQLSaturday #80 in Wheeling

Beautiful Birmingham played host to SQLSaturday #81

Baton Rouge got its SQL on at SQLSaturday #64

On Twitter? Follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides
attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


+Wes Brown presented at SQLSaturday #64, Baton Rouge, LA

+Carlos Bossy presented at SQLSaturday #64, Baton Rouge, LA

+ Hugh Thomas participated in SQLSaturday #81, Birmingham

+ Andy Warren participated in SQLSaturday #81, Birmingham

+John Sterret helped organize SQLSaturday #80, Wheeling, WV

+Matt Velic snapped some pics at SQLSaturday #80, Wheeling, WV

+ Bradley Ball presented at SQLSaturday #79, South FL

+ Thomas LaRock presented at SQLSaturday #79, South FL


August wraps with a SQLSaturday double-header! September is all about back-to-school so grab your calendars, it's going to be a busy month.

Aug 27: SQLSaturday #90, Oklahoma City

Aug 27: SQLSaturday #91, Omaha

Sept 3: SQLSaturday #88, Western Cape, South Africa

Sept 10: SQLSaturday #94, Salt Lake City

Stay tuned for more events this fall–PASS SQLSaturdays are added all the time!


PASS SQLSaturday got a makeover! As you know, PASS SQLSaturday events have been on the rise and also branched out internationally to Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, and Portugal. This growth prompted a refresh of the SQLSaturday website, including an updated logo, a more polished look and feel, and improvements to such features as the schedule builder and login credentials. Check out the updated SQLSaturday website and see for yourself!

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.


PASS SQLSaturday Round-Up

(This is Round 21 of PASS's round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

PASS SQLSaturday recently headed to sunny Pensacola for another great day of free SQL training at PASS SQLSaturday #77! The atmosphere was fun as presenters donned some cool shirts and mixed work with play. Check out the photos and see for yourself.

PASS SQLSaturday then headed west to Columbus, Ohio to PASS SQLSaturday #75 for a full day of awesome content, including a WIT luncheon on “Energizing the Next Generation.” The luncheon featured WIT panellists Sarah Barela (blog | twitter), Jen Myers (blog | twitter), Erin Stellato (blog | twitter)  and Jes Borland (blog | twitter). 

Columbus, Ohio

Pensacola, Florida

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


+ Eric Wisdahl presented at SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Steve Jones attended SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Karla Landrum organized SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Colleen Morrow attended SQLSaturday #75, Columbus

+ Jes Borland presented at SQLSaturday #75, Columbus


Summer is heating up with PASS SQLSaturdays in Indianapolis, IL, Wheeling WV, Birmingham, AL and many more! 

June 25: SQLSaturday #82, Indianapolis, IL
July 23: SQLSaturday #80, Wheeling, WV
July 30: SQLSaturday #81, Birmingham, AL

Stay tuned for more events this summer and remember that PASS SQLSaturdays are added all the time!

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.
Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.


SQLSaturday Round-Up

(This is Round 20 of PASS's round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

PASS SQLSaturday recently crossed continents and headed to Johannesburg, South Africa for their first SQLSaturday#83. Judging by the pictures, attendees clearly had a great time getting their SQL training on! Back in North America at SQLSaturday#74 in Jacksonville, over 300 attendees came together for some free SQL training, caught up with old friends and made new ones.

Johannesburg, South Africa
Jacksonville, Florida

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


+ Gail Shaw presented at SQLSaturday #83, Johannesburg 

+ Eric Wisdahl presented at SQLSaturday#74, Jacksonville 

+ Andy Warren presented at SQLSaturday#74, Jacksonville 


June is shaping up to be a hot month with PASS SQLSaturdays in Pensacola, Columbus and Indianapolis!

June 4: SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola
June 11: SQLSaturday #75, Columbus
June 25: SQLSaturday #82, Indianapolis

Stay tuned for more events this summer and remember that PASS SQLSaturdays are added all the time!


Austin Zellner recently shared his views on the value of being a SQLSaturday volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering, please indicate this on the registration form of any SQLSaturday event. Hope to see you in the trenches!

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.
Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.


New and Familiar Faces at PASS HQ

The PASS HQ team is thrilled to announce the addition of two new team members to its core staff.
Karla Landrum—already well-known as a PASS volunteer extraordinaire— will join as our newest member starting on July 1. Karla’s passion and enthusiasm for the SQL Server community and PASS is unmatched. An active PASS Regional Mentor for the US Heartland region, Karla has been the lead organizer for 4 PASS SQLSaturdays, and she has volunteered at more than 15 other PASS-related events. Based in Orlando, FL, her role with PASS will focus on the community, managing the PASS Chapter and Regional Mentor programs along with the full roster of SQLSaturday events. Karla brings a true community insider’s perspective to the role, and we look forward to having her onboard. Karla, in her own words, is all set to “work hard, have fun, smile, and achieve success!”
Jumping into the new role of PASS Senior Executive Administrative Assistant during the recent Orlando, FL, PASS Board meetings, Michelle Nalliah has already proven herself to be indispensable. Based in Vancouver, BC, and working out of the PASS offices, Michelle manages all administrative duties and governance-related tasks for the PASS Board of Directors and HQ. She also assists the finance and operations teams where required. Michelle has 7 years of administrative experience and comes to us most recently from the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. We are delighted to have her as part of the team and have no doubt her organizational skills will be a great asset to PASS and the community.
Karla and Michelle are joining a strong team of individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help PASS and its members to connect, share, and learn. And starting next month, you can learn more about each PASS HQ member through a new “PASS Staff” highlight feature in the PASS Connector newsletter.
In the meantime, please extend a warm welcome to Karla and Michelle and feel free to drop me a line with any questions or comments.


SQLSaturday Round-Up (Apr. 13-20)

(This is Round 19 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

This past weekend, PASS SQLSaturday crossed the Atlantic for its first taste of Europe. It's been a bit silent in the wake of SQLSaturday #78, Portugal - we imagine they're still recovering from the sheer awesomeness of the event. But fret not, because we still have lots of blog posts from the SQL community!

(Clearly, Porto Salvo is a solemn place fit for serious SQL training.)

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


Hope Foley presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

Mark Ginnebaugh attended SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

David Levy presented at SQLSaturday #67, Chicago

Tiago Salgado attended SQLSaturday #78, Portugal

+ David Stein helped organize SQLSaturday #63, Dallas


The next SQLSaturday takes place on April 30th in Jacksonville, FL. Stay tuned for more events this spring and summer - June's already looking pretty hot and new SQLSaturdays are added all the time.


SQLSaturday founders Steve Jones (blog post) and Andy Warren (blog post) have cooked up a new project to foster training within the SQL community. It's called The Mentoring Experiment and PASS Director Thomas LaRock is one of those excited about the idea

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.

Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.


PASS Update #55 (SQLSaturday Site Changes & SQLRally)

[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at]

SQLSaturday Site Changes

Earlier this week we deployed the first set of small changes to the SQLSaturday site. We fixed a long standing bug in the iCal, added a list on the front page of reserved dates (often events know the date they want but don’t have the facility nailed down), added sponsor logos to the front page of each event site (example below), updated the networking page to includes photos from gravatar (see example below), and made some minor changes to the admin tools.

We’re moving forward in micro sprints of around 7 days, the second sprint will end on next Tuesday and we’ve already planned number three. The prioritization of these changes is interesting. We’re deliberately going after tasks that are low risk/low cost initially to get our HQ developer comfortable and to make some immediate gains, as we get those out of the way we’ll move into harder stuff. Right now I’ve budgeted for 6 sprints, with an option to do an additional 6 if it makes sense.

We’re also working on engaging a designer to do an update on the look and feel. We had a lot of compliments on, so we want to make a similar investment for SQLSaturday.

Go set up an image at!




SQLRally 2011

Things are proceeding well and I’d almost say smoothly. If you’ve run a SQLSaturday you now what this phase is like – details! Getting volunteer assignments defined and filled, ordering speaker shirts (can’t order too early because speakers change), ribbons for badges, lanyards with sponsor name,etc,etc, etc. We blew through the rooms we had reserved at the site hotel, so we’ve set up contact information for a nearby hotel that has shuttle service. We’re still doing weekly calls and trying to stick to our timeline for logistics and marketing (and actually doing pretty well at that). Registrations are growing nicely and it looks like we may sell out the pre-con seminars.

Jack Corbett is working on some additions to the schedule, a set of informal panel type sessions that will run after the last presentation on Thursday. I won’t steal his thunder by listing what he’s working on, but I think it’s really good stuff, a nice change of pace from the stuff you see during the day.

A good portion of the PASS Board will be on site for the event, we’re meeting parts of Wednesday and Thursday, but we’ll be out and about to see how things are going and spend time talking with attendees.

SQLRally 2012

We’re looking at three candidate cities for the 2012 SQLRally; Denver, Nashville, and Dallas. We laid out an estimated timeline and process back in January, it’s been a struggle to stick to it. Lots of places where we just didn’t know enough about how to accomplish what we wanted, a few places where we didn’t communicate our ideas well to the chapter leaders. Frustrating, for me and for the city teams. Some of it we should have – in hindsight – seen, some of it just the pain of trying something for the first time.

But my frustration aside, we’ve got three cities that have completed applications and are working with HQ to get to the point where we can move to the community selection/vote stage. The biggest holdup so far is identifying appropriate meeting space. Because SQLRally was designed from the start to be a low cost/low risk event, we did not budget for reserving rooms at the event site. That worked in Orlando (and we have it worked out in Dallas), but in particular for Nashville we’re struggling to find space without taking on the room commitment.

Room commitments are one of the hidden risks of running larger events. For example, at the PASS Summit we typically reserve (‘block’) more than 4000 rooms, with a potential exposure to PASS of more than $800,000. We’re not required to reserve the rooms, but from long experience we know that attendees get very, very frustrated if they can’t find a room in close proximity to the event site. For SQLRally we’re looking at a much smaller cost, but our estimate is still in the $35k range.

That’s $35k of risk. In the best case it’s just a guarantee, no cost to PASS, in the worst case we’d pay for $35k of rooms that weren’t booked by attendees (think a natural disaster scenario). We didn’t budget for it in the 2011 budget, and so far it’s not in the draft of the 2012 budget. Because of that I sent a motion to the Board asking for authorization to commit to up to $40k during the negotiation process. That motion was voted down. It’s a tough call, we are typically financially conservative, and there isn’t much profit built into our current pricing model to cover the risk. That means for 2012 we’re going to proceed with basically the same budget/plan as for 2011, but we’re going to talk a lot more about 2012 and beyond. If we want to seat 500+ attendees, our options get pretty narrow if we only want to rent meeting space, to the point that I’m not sure it’s a realistic goal. Lots more work to do in this area.

I had hoped to announce the 2012 location during the 2011 SQLRally, but at this point that is optimistic. We’re still working on locations for Denver and Nashville, and if we can find them we’ll need some time to review the proposals to make sure all the pieces work. Only then can we approve the final cities to go out for vote. There is the possibility – already communicated to the leaders – that we may not be able to find space that meets our requirements in each city, and that may remove them from the list for 2012.

It’s a work in progress for sure. It will be good to finish up the 2011 event so we can step back and decide if and where we want to tweak the formula, because we certainly will learn some lessons we want to apply to version 2.



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