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Holy Cow! Another SQLSaturday Record!

As I sit here at the hotel lobby in Barcelona, waiting for my room to be ready, I can’t stop smiling. Sure, I’m thrilled to be back in Spain, fond memories for Rodney and I since Spain was our first European trip together year one of dating. But really, this smile is because of what tomorrow holds for SQLSaturday history. That’s right, a new record of seven total events on the day same day, covering 5 different countries. It just warms my heart to know that so many people around the globe will be getting some of the best SQL Server training around, and for free!

This reminds me of when I first started working for PASS. I recall a conversation with Andy Warren, who was on the Board at the time over the SQLSaturday portfolio. We had our first Saturday coming that had four events happening on the same day (Sept 17, 2011), with a few folks in the community questioning whether these events were heading to “oversaturation”. I had asked Andy just what he thought would be a good number for one month. His reply was basically simple math. We were having a Saturday with four so multiple that by the standard four weekends in a month and there you have his response to me of “let’s say sixteen”.

Since 2011, there have been several days where there were more than four events in a day, a couple of days with even six. September 14, 2013 was the last one with six in the same day, and just speculating that maybe that is why some of those moved to October this year. We have a record total of 18 SQLSaturday events this month, and tomorrow ending out the month with seven.

Even though I am onsite for SQLSaturday #338 Barcelona (can you believe Spain’s first, thanks to Ruben Pertusa), I will be thinking of the others on this amazing day in SQLSaturday history. Best wishes and giant #sqlhugs to SQLSaturday #352 Sydney, #329 Rio de Janeiro, #348 Ica, Peru, #326 Tampa BA, #332 Minnesota, and #349 Salt Lake City.

Bursting at the Seams

This spring we tried out a gardening idea that we learned at Epcot’s annual Flower and Garden Festival. Simple idea using nothing more than shipping pallets, burlap material, and staples. You basically take a few different sized shipping pallets, to create tiers, and staple the burlap around all sides and the bottom of each. Then fill with potting soil, and plant your seeds. It was a fun little project, and I actually think I’ll probably never bother with planting my garden directly in the ground ever again.

Start

I’m sure you are asking “why not just plant them in the ground”? Well normally I’d agree, but I’ve found that in some parts of Florida, the soil is just not very rich in nutrients. In some places, it seems to be nothing more than just very dry dirt. Granted, this is my first attempt at a garden since moving to this part of Florida, and my rose bush thrives here, but I didn’t want to take a chance on investing my time and energy into something that might just fail miserably. This took much less time then what is typical when starting a garden.

Another benefit to this gardening style, it’s mobile, and good thing. Where we first set it all up, the sprinkler system wasn’t reaching all of it. Easily resolved being we could just pick it up on both ends, and move it.

I don’t know that it was so much the structure, but within just a few weeks it was bursting at the seams. Within two weeks, we already had tomatoes sprouting. Then at the four week mark, we enjoyed cucumbers, green beans, and a variety of hot peppers (pablano, jalapeno, and hot banana peppers). The bell peppers don’t get very big before they start to go bad, so tried one before it hit that stage, and it just was too bitter. Not sure what to do about that. It’s actually my first time ever getting a bell pepper plant to produce anything, so I’m OK with at least getting something to show for it. The watermelon and cantaloupe seeds grew into some very long vines, and we were hopeful to enjoy some sweet delights from those, but unfortunately our lawn guy managed to whack them to pieces before they could bear any fruit. (By the way, those seeds were courtesy of SQLSaturday Colorado Springs, part of their very successful food drive).

2 week mark:

2week

The tomato plants have all since died, just too hot this time of year here (that’s my story anyway), so planting some various lettuces in their place. Due to some of the great plant growth (and probably all the rain here contributed), will have to do a few burlap repairs, but overall the structure is still very much intact.

For those with limited yard space, I highly recommend this well contained, easy to maintain garden.

4 week mark:

4week

Interview with David Pless, presenting “Enterprise Management and Monitoring Solutions with SQL Server 2012/2014” Training Seminar for SQLSaturday Orlando

Last week I posted up an interview with Jason Horner [b|t], our seminar speaker for the Friday prior to our next SQLSaturday here in Orlando. This week’s post is an interview with our Thursday seminar presenter, David Pless [b|t]. 

One of the main reasons why we split our seminars (aka precons) into two different days is because we’ve found that many of our attendees want to be able to make it to both training sessions. This helps make the choosing easier for the attendees, as they can make it to both.  Another way we keep the two events from competing for attendance is choosing subject matter that is focused on different audiences. Thursday’s training typically being targeted to the DBA, and Friday’s training being more in line for the BI professionals. While each of these will get a good amount of single sign-ups, having them on adjacent days helps those DBAs out there who are being leaned on to know more about BI and the data within the companies they work for.   

 DavidPless_75x75

Covering the DBA training this year will be David, who has presented for our local user group earlier this year (Orlando PASS), but I was able to get to learn more about him last week.    

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what you brought you into working with it? 

I have been working with SQL Server since 6.5 / 7.0. 

I worked for an external Help Desk company in Atlanta and was one of the guys doing general help desk support. I started report development with Seagate Crystal Reports which was my entry into the database world. I had to figure out how to take data from McAfee Help Desk and compare it to other stores of data for internal and external reporting. I was amazed with what you could do with data and even more excited to see how you could create formulas and expressions to make the reports dynamic. The next step was getting involved with the SQL Server / database level as there wasn’t a DBA at my small company. At the time we had a mix of SQL Server 6.5 and 7.0. I started with the basic DBA tasks and started writing reports to take advantage of the queries I found useful as a DBA. At my next company, I was the DBA supporting application databases, primarily SalesLogix where I also supported the application. The SQL Server environment grew dramatically over the next seven years where I got experience rolling out and supporting replication, clustering, working on performance issues, and building monitoring systems on SQL Server 2000 / 2005. My next step was consulting for two years where I came to Microsoft through a relationship I established with a Technical Account Manager (TAM) from Microsoft. 

So, I have been working with SQL Server since 6.5 / 7.0 and was brought to SQL Server through reporting and my fascination data. 

The training you are doing, Enterprise Management and Monitoring Solutions with SQL Server 2012/2014, what do you hope attendees will gain from it? 

The class we are doing is all about enterprise management and performance troubleshooting. We wanted to focus on the tools and processes we use in support and at the same time show some creative uses of monitoring SQL Server. We will walk through the key tools we use and will walk through what you should look for when troubleshooting SQL Server. I am going to go into detail on creating your own custom counters, creating SSRS dashboards for monitoring, troubleshooting concurrency issues, Reporting Services performance, Resource Governor, and more. 

My colleague Pankaj Satyaketu is going to cover enterprise management with policy based management and PowerShell. Scripts will be provided for both scenarios! We are looking forward to it. 

I see you are an MCM (Microsoft Certified Master). How long and what exactly did it take to get this high level industry recognition? 

I started the MCM in the beginning of last year. So, I was one of those that started the MCM a bit late though I had done the MCSE certifications in the past. I really liked the idea of a certification built by the industry’s best that gave folks a pinnacle to work toward. My study efforts were centered around using the videos that were provided online and building as many labs I could think of around the scenarios described. I did a lot of breaking, tearing down, and troubleshooting, though I can say there isn’t much that could prepare you for the lab exam except for experience with SQL Server. 

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to have come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years? 

It’s hard to narrow it down to 5 since there has been so many awesome features in the past several releases. In no particular order these are the ones that come to mind: 

1). PowerView / PowerBI

2). AlwaysOn Availability Groups

3). SQL Server on Azure / IaaS

4). Columnstore Indexing 2012 / 2014

5). In Memory OLTP 

Being local to Florida, what are some things you like to do for fun here at home in the Sunshine State (the non SQL side of David Pless)? 

Sports. My kids are all in soccer, I have 4 kids in 3 different soccer clubs. So we are pretty consumed with tournaments, fund raisers, and more. Of course, I can’t just watch.. so, I have built websites and even created logos for my kids soccer club. I think fishing is a requirement in this state so I am also fulfilling that obligation as much as I can. :) 

I also love my dog. I try to do fun stuff with her. She is a good partner to take with me on trips with the family and especially the beach. 

Tell us something about you that most people don’t know. 

I am an artistic type though opportunities to use that aren’t plentiful in our field. So, I make them happen. I love drawing and enjoy creating logos and cartoons. I have a little Bob Ross in me, so even when I am creating a report I feel like I am creating ‘happy little clouds’. I like the attention to detail. 

Thanks David for your time, and we look forward to seeing you here in Orlando next month! 

On a personal note, I’ll have to find out from David just where the best fishing is down in Central Florida, because Rodney and I have not had very good success since moving from Pensacola.   

Get full details here on David’s seminar on Enterprise Management and Monitoring. For Jason’s training on Dimensional Modeling, visit here. You’ll see on these websites that we are offering a $20 discount if you sign for both day’s seminars, but seats are filling fast, so get your seat reserved today!

Orlando PASS – Moving on Up

I listened to this catchy tune from a classic T.V. show, The Jeffersons, the entire time I wrote this post. Feel free to do the same as you read this. You will have it stuck in your head all day long, even with a little skip in your walk. Consider yourself warned.

After two years at the same meeting location, Logan’s Restaurant on Hwy 46 in Sanford, we’ve bitten the bullet and made a tough decision to go ahead and move OPASS to ITT Tech here in Lake Mary. It was a nice steady ride, which the year prior to that we had a couple of changes, so we were feeling quite comfortable with what we had. However, there were two big problems with Logan’s, very limited seating (at max could hold 35) and sound issues.

I first want to thank Logan’s immensely for how accommodating they were to us. They did a great job of taking care of us and our attendees. Free space and we just paid for the food trays, which they would give us happy hour prices on things like the wings as well as carry over the happy hour prices on drinks through the meeting for our attendees; we’d have sliders, tenders, and a great Santa Fe salad with grilled chicken, and really all for about the same price that I hear folks spend on pizza. They always provided us with a dedicated server, (not SQL), for the entire three hour long meeting. They have a “garage style” room, which had a very cool “vibe” to it. Speakers really liked it, as it gave the meeting a more intimate feel to it.

However, the size was limiting us from bringing in some of the speakers that in the past had brought in between 45 – 60 attendees. We typically stick with good local speakers, by local I mean within a two hour drive to us, but of course on occasion you want to be able to take advantage of a speaker coming through that you know is going to pack the place out. We just couldn’t do it with what we had for space, so had to pass up some great opportunities.

There was also the issue with the sound. Not just the acoustics coming off the glass garage doors (was that even glass, maybe it was plastic, I’m not sure now, never touched it), but whenever regular restaurant guests would eat out on the patio. It would get so loud, that if you were sitting in the back of the meeting room, you couldn’t hear the speaker most of the time. (Funny how folks who sit out on patios are loud, wonder if that’s why I like eating outside everywhere I go. I’ll leave that one with you to ponder for a second). Overall it’s probably unfair to say we are “moving on up”, but in many ways, we are.

Two meetings ago we asked the attendees about moving, and the first question was “will ITT allow alcohol?”, which of course we knew they would not. This past meeting we asked again, stressing that the importance of these meetings was the training, and most everyone was in agreement that it was in the best interest for all that we go ahead and relocate. At this point, we hadn’t even contacted ITT yet, we were really just hoping we’d get a good response from them.

Well we did. I finally sent the dean an email about a week ago with a long explanation of who we were and what all we did. To my surprise I got an immediate response, copied in with two other ITT reps, enthusiastically saying that yes they’d love to have us there, and they’d be in touch. That same day one of the reps emailed me back and in a whirlwind of less than 48 hours everything was all set, and bonus, we were asked to come introduce ourselves to some of the students. How cool is that!

I think it was actually put to us as “would you mind doing a brief introduction”, to which I asked if we could present a few slides (15 it came out to be in total, and that was with cutbacks; there’s just so much to talk about in this amazing SQL community!). Then I asked if the whole OPASS team could be there, and that was also approved. Luckily the entire team, all 4 of us, were available for this opportunity. As emails flew, next thing we hear is that it will be recorded for all students to access. Awesome!

Last night was the presentation. They had us open first before their actual class started. We each took a few slides to talk to, for which I thought might take all of 10 minutes tops, but alas, we went over 30 minutes. This is only because the students were so engaged with what we were informing them on (ok, maybe a little of that was just how much we all love this community and what it has to offer). We talked about OPASS, MagicPASS, ONETUG, SQLSaturday, PASS, Professional Development, and touched some on social media. Ben talked about his first SQLSaturday just three years ago. I talked about SQLShots, and the importance of taking a stab at presenting, how important it will be as their careers evolve. One in the crowd was very much against it (typical), but you could see several others nodding in agreement. They know that they can’t just sit behind a computer; that they will at some point have to be able to talk to either clients, their supervisors, their co-workers. Rodney talked about the SQLSaturday Orlando track we’re doing this year “Student to IT Pro”. And el-Presidente Shawn talked about OPASS and the monthly meetings, and our new networking location, the Hyatt Place lobby/bar, just a block down the street.

It was so exciting to see that most of them actually really were “into” this. I’m not sure what I expected, I think I probably imagined it would be just a bunch of blank faces wondering who are these “old farts” and what the heck is SQL Server. They asked some great questions, all of them took the SQLSaturday flyers we brought, and probably half of them took our business cards. One student’s father was with her, and they were already on the SQLSaturday Orlando registration page on her laptop. The teacher got up at the end and said a few words. He himself has only been in IT for the past 4 or 5 years, previously was in healthcare for over 20 years. A comment he made really resonated with all of the OPASS team, and that was that he had wished that a group like ours would have come to his college when he was young and opened his eyes to all the various opportunities there are in the IT community. We realize now that we should be trying to do this at all the local colleges. How many of us wish that someone had told us when we were young about all these opportunities. It’s time to up the ante on this here in Orlando, and reach further.

As we made our way out, I had goosebumps, a tear in my eye, yet a beaming smile over what just occurred. They took our pictures, and Shawn and I met with the dean briefly. They were thanking us so much, yet here we were so thankful for this opportunity and for the meeting space for our meetings.

By the time I got to my car, one had already sent me an invite on LinkedIN. How cool is that! At the beginning of the talk, while we waited for some students from another class to join, Rodney asked how many had heard of SQL Server, and only one hand went up. An ex-military guy who worked with SQL Server some while in the Army. At the end, he then asked how many were interested in SQL Server now and taking the career path of a DBA, and 8 hands went up. Now that is #SQLWinning!

Meet the OPASS Team:

Shawn McGehee (far right) – President

Ben Cork (far left) – Webmaster

Me (the short one) – Community Outreach Coordinator

Rodney Landrum (the tall one) – Local MS MVP (aka, backup to all, including speakers)

TeamOPASS

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” – I just love this!

Interview with Jason (the Cannonball) Horner, presenting “Zero to Dimensional Modeling Hero” Training Seminar for SQLSaturday Orlando

SQLSaturday Orlando is coming up quickly, set for Sept 27th. We have some amazing speakers coming from all over the state, as well as, outside of Florida. Check out our schedule to see what you can learn this year (for FREE) from our SQL Server experts. And don’t forget to register so you can secure your spot! 

In addition to SQLSaturday, each year we like to provide some deep dive training sessions the couple of days prior to the event. These trainings aren’t free, but we keep them reasonably priced ($120 per) for training that would typically cost a lot more.  It’s top notch quality training that these presenters have offered to do at a low cost because of their love for sharing what they know and have learned themselves through their own experiences. (ok, maybe a big part of it is their love for the SQL community, something many of us have been bitten by).  

This year we have the DBA seminar being held on Thursday, Sept 25th, and led by MCM (Microsoft Certified Master) David Pless (more on him and his day of training in my post next week). On Friday, Sept 26th, will be our BI focused seminar, and it is being led by another MCM (lucky us, we snagged two MCMs), Jason Horner

Horner_pic

I was able to catch up with Jason first this past week to ask him some questions that I think will help folks get to know more about him, and just why his session might be worth their while. 

How long have you been working with SQL Server, and what brought you into working with it? 

I started working with SQL Server 6.5 / 7.0 back in early 2001 at a regional ISP. I was a Systems Administrator and my first major project was upgrading all our client databases from 7.0 to 2000. We also had a custom ecommerce platform that was based on 6.5. 

The training you are doing here for us in Orlando next month, “Zero to Dimensional Modeling Hero”, what do you hope attendees will gain from it? 

After seeing a lot of Data Warehouses at different organizations, and spending a lot of time talking with others in the industry, I saw that Dimensional modeling was a bit of a foreign concept for most people, yet it is also one of the foundational things you need to get right if the project will be a success. My class is all about helping inexperienced people jumpstart this knowledge and helping more experienced people fill in the gaps in their modeling knowledge while at the same time expose them to some patterns and concepts they may not have yet encountered in their organization. 

I see you are an MCM. How long and what exactly did it take to get this high level industry recognition? 

I achieved my first SQL Server certification MCDBA in 2001, since then I have always tried to stay on top of the Microsoft database related certifications, when they announced the changes in the MCM program in 2010, I was intrigued and began to study up primarily using the videos and setting up a lab using Azure VM’s. The cost of the exams seemed a bit daunting; but eventually I was able to get my employer at the time to help pay a portion of it. Receiving notification that I passed the lab at the PASS Summit last year was one of my favorite career moments so far. 

What do you feel are the top 5 most exciting features to have come out in SQL Server over the past 3 years? 

There have been a lot for new features added to SQL Server, I tend to geek out over the smaller TSQL Language enhancements; but I have to say that the clustered columnstore indexes in 2014 and the new cardinality estimation model will help a lot of folks get around there current performance problems. Currently I’m really digging into a lot of the Power BI features including getting up to speed with power query which I think is getting close to making a huge impact on the way we do ETL and the types of data we can reach and surface out to our end users. 

This year will be your first time presenting at the annual PASS Summit. That’s a big event. How excited are you about being selected? 

I’ve spoken at a lot of SQ Saturdays and numerous other events including the PASS Business Analytics conference this past April, but speaking at the Summit will be an interesting experience for sure. There are a lot of other good geospatial sessions as well and I hope I can spark some interest and show folks how they can deliver some geospatial reporting visualizations that push the limits of the SSRS and the other reporting toolsets. 

You will be traveling all the way from Denver for this event. What are some things you like to do for fun in the Mile High city? What made you choose to submit to Orlando’s SQLSaturday? 

Back in Denver I spend a fair amount of time up in the mountains snowboarding in the winter and hiking in the summer. I didn’t really have much of a choice, Karla (who me?!) told me I was going and that was it. Plus the family was interested in seeing Walt Disney World so in the end there really wasn’t much debate on the issue. 

One last question, as I’m sure inquiring minds are wondering. Your close friends in the #sqlfamily often call you Cannonball. How did you come to earn such an attractive nickname? 

John Morehouse and Dan Hess gave that name to me. I think it’s from the movie Cannonball Run, because I always jump into things full speed ahead without forethought. But you may want to ask them, maybe they are talking about my beer gut. 

We look forward to having you here Jason!  

Get full details here on Jason’s seminar on Dimensional Modeling. Next week I’ll post the interview with David Pless, in the meantime, you can read up on David’s seminar here.  You’ll see on these websites that we are offering a $20 discount if you sign for both day’s seminars, but seats are filling fast, so get your seat reserved today!

SQLShot – Growing New Speakers

I was talking at SQLSaturday #161 East Iowa with one of the newer PASS Chapter Leaders, Sheila Acker [t] of Quad Cities PASS, about ideas for growing more local speakers. I described a little program called SQLShot that we do in Orlando at the OPASS meetings. Sheila thought something similar could work for her group and that other Chapter Leaders might like to hear about it as well. Here’s what SQLShot is all about.

You know how during the networking time at user group meetings, you’ll often overhear one person sharing with another something they did at work that day that really helped their company or just made their day easier? Or maybe you hear the opposite conversations – a DBA talking about what a brute of a day they had trying to figure something out, and the other person sharing a technique or tool that might help. What these database pros probably don’t realize is that so many others in the room might also benefit from that knowledge.

This is when you, the Chapter leader, strike and ask the member if they’d consider doing a presentation on that very topic at an upcoming meeting. Of course, as most of us know, DBAs as a whole tend not to be that outgoing, and the thought of talking in front of an audience of their peers can be terrifying.

At OPASS – the Orlando user group started by Andy Warren [b|t] years ago and now led by Shawn McGehee [b|t] – we do what we call a SQLShot , a 10- to 15-minute presentation typically done by someone who has very little, if any, previous speaking experience.

Of course, you can ask during the opening announcements if anyone is interested in doing an upcoming SQLShot. But usually all you’ll hear is the crickets. That’s why it’s important to recognize opportunities like those mentioned above and reach out to specific members on topics you know they can talk about.

As your user group’s leader, you are also a mentor. Your members just need someone to encourage them, someone to eliminate the obstacles going up in their minds. Explain that a presentation on what they were just talking about could benefit others. Let them know it doesn’t have to be some super-polished PPT that they spend hours on, trying to think up (dare I say it) bullet points. Paint the picture; keep it simple. Let them know their presentation might involve just opening up SSMS, showing off the query they created, and describing what the problem was and how this code helped.

The typical rebuttal is, “That won’t even fill 10 minutes.” Tell them that’s fine. Because, just wait… once they are up there and start talking about their solution, before they know it, they’ve shared for 30 minutes. Database pros are excited about what they do, and that excitement usually starts pouring out about 2-3 minutes into the demo.

The next retort will be, “Everyone knows this already.” As we all know, even the most seasoned DBAs learn at least a thing or two in almost any session they attend. Remind your novice speaker that many of the audience members are beginners, and even if they’re not, they’re attending the meetings to learn from their peers’ experiences.

Now here’s a rebuttal I often hear from user group leaders: “I just can never get anyone local to present at our meetings.” I’m not so naïve to believe that all user group leaders are outgoing and can easily approach others and dare to “ask” someone to do something as bold as present. Times like these are YOUR chance to improve your leadership and mentoring skills.

If you’re reading this thinking “that’s me,” brace yourself. My recommendation is that YOU do the SQLShot for your next meeting! There are so many benefits to presenting the SQLShot yourself. You get to learn more about it yourself, mentor others what to do, and lead by example. Show them just how easy it is to do a brief demo. That will be all it takes to generate others to give it a shot! J

We are planning here at OPASS to order some custom SQLShot glasses and coffee mugs. Unfortunately the ones we want from 4imprint are a minimum purchase of 72 each.  If you’re a user group leader interested in doing SQLShots at your meetings, and would like to be able to provide a prize like these as well, let me know.  We’re hoping to maybe get 5 or 6 others interested to help with the costs.  Here are the two items we’re looking at purchasing:

http://www.4imprint.com/search/shot%20glasses/product/111769/Square-Shot-Glass-2-oz

http://www.4imprint.com/search/coffee%20mugs/product/6184-C/Seattle-Mug-Colored

 

SQLSaturday #144 Sacramento: Northern California Makes Its Mark!

After a much needed 6-week break in travel, my FY2013 adventures began at Sacramento’s very first SQLSaturday. Having lived there long ago, I was a little leary of Sacramento in the middle of summer, but was pleasantly surprised to arrive at record low temperatures in the 70s. It made for a beautiful weekend at what was a superbly run event!

Let’s start with the speaker dinner. More and more organizers are hosting the dinner at a home versus a restaurant. It makes for such a nice environment for conversation and for being able to move around and talk to everyone without being confined to a table. For SQLSaturday #144, one of the organizers, Will Meier [t], hosted the dinner and prepared all the good eats, featuring North Carolina-style BBQ right down to the slaw. Dinner entertainment was provided by another organizer, Angel Abundez [b|t], who sang and performed an amazing array of upbeat music via, of all things, a harp. Don’t believe me? Check out the unique treat here.

Onto event day and a quick look at what worked well and lessons learned. The event had to be moved from a local university to a hotel late in the game, which always makes me nervous because of costs involved with hotels. SQLSaturday budgets typically can’t afford such a venue, but the Courtyard Marriott gave the team a really good deal because they were in a crunch. The hotel provided the back lobby area for registration, which was one of the smoothest registrations I’ve seen for a first-time event.

Sacramento used SpeedPASS and never had a line waiting at check-in. The team did a great job the week before the event reminding registrants to pre-print and cut their SpeedPASS. In the first hour registration was open; only eight attendees hadn’t pre-printed their SpeedPASS. Lead organizers Eric Freeman [b|t] and Dan Hess [b|t] were pleasantly surprised, but the team was prepared for the worst case, having pre-printed and organized all the SpeedPASSes in advance. Now, they know they won’t have to go to the extra effort and cost at their next event.

The hotel provided four meeting rooms and the hallway in front of those rooms for the sponsors. It also catered a nice variety of box lunches, which included some of the best wraps I’ve ever eaten. However, although the event’s final head count was around 200, it did have an unexpected high dropout rate, so a lot of pre-ordered lunches based on registration numbers had to be donated.

The Sacramento event had a few factors working against it. Two other events were going on in town the same day, one of which was the State Fair in its final weekend. Why would anyone go to a State Fair when they can be going to a SQLSaturday? :) While the DBA in the family might have preferred the SQLSaturday, their family likely had other desires. The lesson here would be for event organizers to do more messaging the week before the event to make sure those who have made other plans opt out. A lot of people fear they are spamming the week before the event, but we’ve seen that the SQLSaturdays with lower percentages of no-shows are typically those that have done a lot of messaging those last few days. It really does help organizers get a more accurate headcount and keep costs down.

Something else to mention on the topic of competing activities in your area, especially since it has affected two recent events, is to be sure you check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) before locking in your date. The BBB should know in advance if any major events are happening in your city the same day you are looking to host your event.

Those who didn’t attend SQLSaturday #144 missed a great lineup of speakers, including a fantastic Women in Technology (WIT) lunch panel including PASS Board member Denise McInerney [b|t], PASS WIT Virtual Chapter leader Meredith Ryan of The Bell Group [b|t], Microsoft SQL Server MVP and author Kalen Delaney [b|t], Confio’s Janis Griffin, and Cal State’s Helen Norris. The event sponsors filled the entire hallway and then some, with Southwest PASS Regional Mentor Phil Robinson [b|l] helping me at the PASS table. Team organizer Mitch Bottel [b|t] scored SQLSaturday temporary tattoos at a great price for all the attendees – you know I had to sport one of those! The end-of-day raffle was in the back lobby area with plenty of room to spare, and the After Party was on the back deck at Chevy’s overlooking the Sacramento River, a perfect setting for an evening of networking.

The Sacramento team made its mark on the SQLSaturday map, hosting a very successful event. This makes two Northern California events in just 4 months and the attendance at both SQLSaturdays shows that this region is definitely hungering for more dedicated SQL Server training.

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