PASS Chapters Update Q4 2012

(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)

Welcome New Chapters

This past quarter several new Chapters have joined the PASS community:

Astrakhan .NET & SQL User Group, Russia, led by Yana Kuranova

SQL Professionals of Northwest Nevada, US, led by Christopher Sherrill

Taiwan SQL Server User Group, China, led by Byron Hu and Pohan Chen

Codificando .NET, Sao Paulo, Brazil, led by Erickson Ricci

PASS Beijing, China, led by Quan Zhang

BIDN, Johannesburg, South Africa, led by Mark Stacey

BITUGA, Portugal led by Paulo Matos

New Zealand BI User Group, led by Reza Rad

We also have had a lot of new Chapter Leaders join us in existing Chapters as well as rebooting some inactive Chapters and we look forward to helping them keep their Chapters thriving. Be sure to reach out to your Regional Mentors and the PASS Community Evangelists for any questions you have, they are here to help you.

Regional Mentor Updates

It has been great to see more and more Chapter Leaders utilizing the great resources we have in Regional Mentors. We have some Regional Mentor changes to announce for January 2013.

Leaving the role of RM for the UK is Chris Testa O’Neill. Chris has done a tremendous job in helping with the awareness and growth of PASS in the UK the past couple of years and we are thankful for his efforts. Taking the reins in the UK and working along with Jonathan Allen in 2013 will be Mark Broadbent. Mark has been a great supporter of PASS as well as a strong Chapter leader and presenter, and most recently hosted his first SQLSaturday in Cambridge. His experiences in these areas will be a great benefit to helping others in his region.

Alexandro Prado is leaving his role as RM for Brazil after much success in spreading PASS communities in that region. Due to the tremendous size and growth potential Brazil, we decided to appoint two RMs to cover that region. Luciano Moreira, of the Chapter in Brasilia, will work along-side with Laerte Junior out of Sao Paulo. Laerte was co-leader of SQLSaturday #100, the first PASS SQL Saturday event in Brazil. We are confident that Luciano and Laerte will make a dynamo team for that country, and we look forward to seeing what will come in 2013.

I’d like to once again thank Alexandro and Chris for their volunteer time commitment as well as their service to PASS in this key role for Chapters. Their efforts in their local regions will be recognized as the foundation that we will build on for years to come.

Updated Chapters Toolset

Chapter leaders have hopefully already heard about improvements we are making in the tools PASS has for Chapters. We are continually rolling out new improvements so be sure to check in often for updates. To see what we’ve been up to, if you are a PASS Chapter leader and have a PASS hosted DNN site, log into your admin page. If you don’t have a PASS Hosted DNN site, head to the dashboard at http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/ChapterDashboard.aspx. There you can see:

 

Profile/Addresses

We are displaying most of the information we have about your chapter within the dashboard. I would like to request that every chapter leader log in to the dashboard and make sure the information is up-to-date. Some fields are intentionally not user updateable so if a field cannot be updated, and needs to be corrected please send an email to the Community Evangalists with the update you’d like to make. Please pay particular attention to the “Chapter Leaders” tab when making sure the information is correct. In the future we will be relying on this information being up-to-date when making key decisions about Chapters.

Events/Meetings

For Chapters using a PASS hosted website, you can now benefit from the Events module integration. With this new tool you can enter your event/meeting details in one place and it will auto update those details to the Events page of the SQLPASS website, as well as to your home page of your own Chapter website and your event will also show up on myPASS for members associated with your Chapter. Other events module features include local timezone/ical support, prescheduling future meetings, uploading of meeting presentations/resources, auto archiving old events and more. For instructions on how to setup & publish an event, check out our handy guide listed on the Chapter Resources page. We will continue to update this module with more features in the coming months. Future plans include linking to many other sites/marketing avenues as well as better support for RSVP’s and more.

Chapter Emailer

In addition to contacting those members who’ve registered with PASS and are associated with your Chapter, you can now upload your own mailing lists and email those specific lists about your Chapter. Thank you for the great feedback about the Emailer during the Chapter Leader Meeting at Summit. We’re working to ensure many of your concerns will be addressed in future versions of the tool. As myPASS use increases we are seeing more and more PASS members associate themselves with local Chapters so don’t miss out on this opportunity to reach a great pool of potential new members.

myPASS

MyPASS is the new default homepage for all PASS members who are logged in to the main SQLPASS.org site. We designed this page to bring all of the Chapter and Virtual Chapter meeting information into one easy to use interface for your members. While looking at myPASS please check your profile and make sure it is up to date as well. Early in the new year, the Chapter dashboard will be getting the myPASS look and feel. It will show up on the left side as a tab that is visible only to Chapter Leaders

Summit Downloads for Chapter Leaders

Finally some news I know Chapter leaders have been patiently waiting for! Chapter Leaders should now have access to download the Summit 2012 sessions. The following should enable you to begin downloading/streaming the sessions immediately:

  • Go to the Summit 2012 Session listings (you will need to login, or be currently logged in with your PASS Chapter leader Account)

http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2012/Sessions/BuildSchedule.aspx

  • Click on the “session recording” link next to the session name
  • From there you should see a DOWNLOAD button below the streaming player
  • Note that in order to play this file you may need to update codecs in your media player

 

Introducing Wendy Pastrick

As you may know by now, Wendy Pastrick was elected to the PASS Board of Directors during the last election, and will begin her term on the Board January 1, 2013 by leading the Global Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do. I hope you will all welcome Wendy and continue to provide her the same great feedback you always have with me.

Goodbye for now or until we meet again

As my year as Director of Global Chapters is coming to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity thank each of you for helping Chapters as well as recognize the progress we made together this year in helping PASS communities grow stronger. We were able to make some very visible progress during the last year to better support PASS Chapters and their members and with the team we have in place I expect we will maintain that momentum going forward.

I’ll be staying involved with the PASS Community going forward and for now I’ll be focusing on wrapping up some of the Chapter tools changes and working towards a successful handoff of that project. It has been my privilege to work with PASS Chapters

 

PASS Chapters Update

(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)

Mission Statement
I was asked by someone to write a mission statement for chapters. I don’t know if this qualifies in the truest definition of a mission statement or not but, I partially stole this from a friend, and I hope he doesn’t mind: 2012 is going to be the year of the chapter.

Its been a busy quarter since I took over responsibility for chapters and there have many changes, hopefully this post can summarize the highpoints.

New Faces
During the past quarter, we’ve seen exceptional growth of chapters, including seeing 12 new chapters formed across the globe!
 

Budget Exceptions
Last month, I put forward some recommendations to the board of directors for increased spending for the fiscal year 2012 (ends 6/30/2012); two of those proposals were accepted and funded. Yesterday I had the opportunity to lead two separate meetings with our Regional Mentors in order to bring them up to speed on what those proposals are funding.

The first thing this is going to allow us to do is send a “Chapter Kit” or mailing to every PASS Chapter around the globe! I’m not going to spoil the surprise about what’s going to be inside but, we hope that Chapter leaders will find the contents valuable and can put them to good use.

The second program we’re going to implement is to fund some Regional Mentor travel to PASS chapter meetings and SQLSaturdays. The basics are that we’ve given each Regional Mentor a funding allocation and asked them to visit as many chapter meetings in their region as they can, the primary focus being on chapters - especially those that need help with speakers or are otherwise struggling. We are attempting to fill a gap in speakers at local UGs and allow the Regional Mentors to get out in the community and evangelize for PASS.

Both of these programs are new, and both are things that we’ve talked about trying for a good while. I’m expecting both of these efforts to have a positive impact on the community, and I’m expecting to get lots of feedback during the process and learn some lessons while we see exactly how this is going to work and what impact its going to have.

Tools Improvements
Since I started with chapters, I’ve been pushing forward with a plan to revamp the existing tools our chapter leaders use to manage chapters, and I’m happy to say I’m starting to see some real movement towards helping with our needs in this area! I expect the first round of changes to start being rolled out within the next 45 days. As this project continues, I'll continue to write about the new and exciting changes we’re making.

PASS Volunteer Appreciation

(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)

Do you know someone in the PASS Community who is a hidden hero? Perhaps a chapter leader who is doing terrific work to help the SQL community. Maybe it's a member who is putting in 110% to organize a SQLRally, a virtual chapter leader who is organizing great sessions, or perhaps it's a speaker you’ve seen go above and beyond and speak at multiple chapters/virtual chapter events this month. There are so many people who contribute and make the SQL community so vibrant that finding those who stand out is tougher than ever!
 
These people are the lifeblood of the SQL Server community. They freely give of their time to make PASS the premiere SQL Server association, and it's about time we start recognizing them!
 
Since I've been volunteering with PASS, one thing that has always struck me is how rare it is that PASS actually recognizes outstanding volunteers. When I first joined, we only had the PASSion Award, which is awarded yearly at the Summit to the single volunteer who had the “most” outstanding contributions. In more recent years, we’ve done a better job of recognizing additional people who are outstanding volunteers through the outstanding volunteers presentation at the Summit. However, these volunteers all come from the PASSion Award nominations, and those nominations are only open just prior to the Summit.
 
I’ve always thought that we should recognize volunteers across the organization in a more consistent way, and not revolve that recognition around the Summit. Luckily, the opportunity to do something about this lack of recognition knocked earlier this year, and we’ve made progress. In last week's Connector, there was an announcement about nominating volunteers to be recognized as outstanding volunteers of the month. The initial intent is that we’ll accept email nominations during every month for any volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to the community. Those submissions will be reviewed on the last day of the month, and recognition will follow the next month. Initially, we are planning to recognize these outstanding volunteers with a nice certificate and highlight them in the Connector newsletter. It's not much compared to what these people do day in and day out, but with success over time, hopefully we can expand this a bit more. For a start though, I think this is a good first step down the right road.
 
We intend to have the first recognition cycle start in March, so that means that submissions are due by 2/29. Please, take a moment and send us an email with as many details as possible about the contributions of an outstanding volunteer who has made an impact in the SQL community. As always with these types of things, the more details the better!

Announcing PASS Summit Regular and Half-Day Sessions

The all-volunteer PASS Summit Program Committee has had one of its most challenging years ever, working tirelessly over the past 6 weeks to select the best educational sessions for this year’s conference from an exceptional pool of 650+ abstracts.

Today, we’re proud to announce the PASS Summit 2011 regular sessions and 4 new half-day sessions, designed to give attendees a deeper look at everything from performance tuning and indexing to hardware configurations and scaling SQL Server. The sessions are spread across 6 tracks, include the new SQL Azure track.

The Program Committee’s daunting task involves choosing the best collection of session topics, types, levels, and speakers to meet every need and interest. This year, for the first time, the committee received direct input from the PASS community via the Session Preferencing tool, which let community members mark their favorite sessions. Thanks to everyone who shared their preferred sessions – your involvement helped make many of the difficult choices easier.

Another exciting addition to the Program process this year was awarding Summit session slots to the top 3 speakers at the Spring 24 Hours of PASS event and at PASS SQLRally 2011 in Orlando. We previously announced the top 24 Hours of PASS speakers, and I’m pleased to announce the top 3 SQLRally speakers, who will be presenting similar topics at the 2011 Summit:

Zero to OLAP Cubes in 60 Minutes, Adam Jorgensen
Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server , Wesley Brown
DBA Disaster Recovery Techniques to Keep Handy, Edwin Sarmiento 

I’d like to thank every speaker who took the time to submit an abstract as well as the team of dedicated Program Committee volunteers (listed along the left side of the page) who put in the extra work to make this year’s Summit session lineup one of the best ever. Proof once again that without the community, PASS wouldn’t exist.

Watch for the Microsoft sessions to be added a little later this summer. And if you haven’t registered for PASS Summit yet, don’t wait – you don’t want to miss this one.

PS: Remember to register by June 30 to save $600 on a Full Summit registration.

 

PASS 2011 Summit Abstract Submissions

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

This week we’ll be launching the call for abstracts for the 2011 PASS Summit.

I thought it would be good to go over the basics for this year especially since some things are changing from years past.  Many of the changes are minor, some are behind the scenes so to speak, and a small amount are larger and more public facing.

A New Site

PASS HQ and the Program Committee team has been diligently working to bring the summit speaker/education management programming inhouse.  With this effort comes a new site for abstract submissions.  We hope this new site will make the abstract submission process easier and more relevant to collecting the info PASS needs in order to facilitate session selections.

A New Process

One of the largest changes on the backend process this year is going to be seperating the speaker review from the abstract review piece of the selection process.  Essentially, this year we have two seperate teams to do each task.  This came about from the comments of previous review team members as well as the need to offload some of the work the call generates for the larger teams.  Im hopeful that this change will help bring a little more stability to the scores each team gives an abstract as well as cut some of the subjectiveness (likely only a tiny bit)

A New Session Type

I wrote previously about having 1/2 sessions at the Summit and they are still planned.  Now you know where to bring your best and brightest content!  In case your thinking what it would be like to have your 1/2 day session recorded, Ive got great news.   Ive got a tentative compromise devised.  This year we will be distributing two seperate DVD sets, 1 for attendees of the Summit which will have every session.  Another for non attendees that will have all of the regular sessions excluding the deep dive 1/2 day sessions. 

Spotlight Sessions & Invitations

Thanks to some great feedback last year The formula that we used for spotlight selections was adjusted and looks like this: We will invite all speakers who recieved an overall evaluation of 4.5 or greater and had at least 15 attendees and 15 completed evaluations.  We will be excluding Lightning talks, Chalk Talks, and Microsoft speakers.  This year that leaves us with a whopping total of 27 people getting spotlight invites.  These speakers are truly spectacular, and they deserve the extra recognition/time for their sessions.  All abstracts submitted as spotlight will be considered not only for a spotlight slot but, will also be considered for a regular session if they dont get picked for a spotlight session.

Preconference Changes

I would be remiss to not mention this here but, some different things (changes!!) are planned for this year, as soon as I get a chance to finalize them a bit more I will write about it, hopefully in the next few days to a week. 

Abstract Limits

We have decided to change the limits on abstract submissions a bit for this year.  We will be encouraging you to submit up to 4 total : Regular, 1/2 day and Spotlight (if invited) Sessions.  In addition if you meet he qualifications you can submit up to 2 Preconference sessions.  On top of this each person can submit 1 panel (discussion type) session for consideration.  In order to do this each speaker in your panel will need to have speaker details entered so we can rate the session properly.  This in itself is a pretty good sized change so get creative and see what the selection teams think!

But when

I can hear you asking from here… “All of thats great but, when will the call for abstracts for the 2011 PASS Summit open?”  I have great news. 

The call will open this Wednesday! 4/13/2011 

look for more info coming officially from PASS

PASS Resources Revealed

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

What has PASS been up to?

Ever find yourself with tons of extra time just looking for something to dig through?

yeah, me neither… But, I do make it a point to go out and read through lots of PASS documents regularly.  Sure, Some of those documents are not for public consumption but, a large portion of them are available for any PASS Member to view.  Almost all of them will require you to be logged in to the PASS site.

A good starting point is the PASS Governance Page <- lots of good stuff hides on this page, Im working on getting this page removed from behind the login wall

PASS BOD Meeting Minutes are posted on the left hand side

The Feb 2011 Minutes are here

  • Good discussions in here about Globalization of PASS, especially revolving around events

The Jan 2011 Minutes are here

  • This was an in-person meeting and there is a literal ton of info in here.  Highlights are  globalization, Summit 2011 Planning, Summit 2010 Post mortem, 5 Year plans, Bylaw Changes

PASS Monthly Reports are found in the middle on the left

These are gems that reveal the day to day inner workings of the BOD and HQ

The Feb report should be posted in the next day or 2

The Jan report however, is here

  • In here You’ll find things about Chapters, IT Projects, Marketing initiatives, ERC info, Sponsorship Sales, Summit Program, SQLRally, Gloablization, etc

The Dec report is here

  • This one contains things like Chapter info, HQ Finance, IT Projects, Marketing, Summit, Rally, 24hop, SQL Saturday,

The budget for PASS is included at the bottom of the governance page

2011 Budget is here

  • Wanna know where the money is supposed to be coming from, and where its supposed to be going?  this is where to look.
  • Side note: Im going to check into where the 2010 audited financials are, they should be available by now.

The SQL Rally has posted all of the planning meeting notes posted here

  • There is tons of good stuff in here, its especially interesting to me to watch the minutes back and forth dealing with very familiar problems as what I’ve seen in the Summit program group.
  • Wanna know how many attendees are registered so far for the Rally? yup its in there. Wanna know how many are in Precons?  yup its in there too

We (PASS Program) started posting meeting minutes near the lower left side of this page

  • I have written about these minutes before
  • Good information in here about many new changes that are being considered by the Program Committee
  • Essentially It says that I’m not getting nearly enough done for the program committee lately.  I need to work on that!

PASS Blog

  • Im including this here because lost of good stuff gets posted here but, for me I can only find it since its in my RSS Reader.

In Summary, PASS releases a ton of information about what its doing.  The problem with this is two-fold, one its a ton of information.  Two, the information is spread out all over the place and is often difficult to find on the site using conventional browsing methods so I hope this helps

How deep can you dive?

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

After last years Summit we launched a feedback site http://feedback.sqlpass.org in hopes of gathering all of the feedback about the event in one place.  The number one thing people have asked for on that site is for there to be a track of sessions in the 400-500 level range.  The problems with the community desire for higher level sessions are twofold, one we dont normally get a huge number of session submissions that are at the 400-500 level.  Two, I’ve been told by those who are qualified to present those types of sessions that an hour and fifteen minutes (spotlight) is often not enough time.

Cramped for space

In the past our conference size has dictated the floor-plans at the conference center and we’ve been  maxed out at 14 concurrent sessions.  This year however, because of anticipated attendee growth, the logistical geniuses at PASS HQ were able to add another session room (I’m looking at you Anika and Craig).  With this new room I have options on what to do with the extra session rooms!!

Changes for the Summit 2011

This year we’ll be using the space we gained from the new room addition to have longer deep dive sessions.  The current idea is to offer these longer sessions in hopes that they will attract presenters who are qualified to present these deeper dive sessions. Currently, the plan is to have a maximum of 6 deep dive (lvl 400 or 500 only) 3 hour sessions.  Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we will run 2 of these sessions concurrently every conference day.

Rules… Yeah there’s always rules

We will accept abstracts for this new session type in the same manner as a regular abstract.  That is to say anyone can submit a half day abstract.  If you submit an abstract for a 1/2 day session it will count as one of your 4 allowed abstract submissions.  The session selection for these sessions will be handled by the regular respective abstract review teams.  Even though we are going to allow anyone to submit abstracts for these sessions, it should go without saying that if you don’t have prior experience or reputation for being able to give an extended, strong 400-500 level session it may be best to focus on a regular summit session.  What I mean by this is for these particular sessions we will be instructing the review teams to weigh the speakers perceived ability to deliver the session higher than we normally would for a regular session.

Possible Hiccups i.e. Changes

Two things could change with these sessions.

  • I am considering making the sessions 4 hours long (roughly 3 regular session slots).  If we do that the maximum number of sessions would drop to four.  I’m leaning heavily away from this but, if anyone has a strong opinion on this I’ll listen
  • Depending on the quantity and quality of the abstracts we receive, we may have less than the maximum sessions shown above (4 or 6)
  • Im still considering a single DBA 101 “Accidental DBA” type session for one of these sessions but havent been swayed that there is more interest there than there is in deep dives

Speaker Agreements… Legal, Necessary, but awfully sticky

[cross-posted from Allen's blog at allenkinsel.com]

Every year PASS asks the speakers at the Summit to agree to some relatively simple terms and conditions. I don’t consider them to be anything overly involved or overbearing. For those who haven’t seen them they basically establish that a speaker owns the content they are going to present, that the speakers act as professional as possible, don’t market their products, or their companies products, and allow PASS to record the sessions.

This year the hangup for me is related to that last tiny bit. For regular conference speakers asking them to allow recording of their 1 hour session isn’t a big ask. However where Im reevaluating what we’ve done in the past is related to the all day preconference sessions.

Last year PASS recorded the preconference sessions and offered them for sale to PASS members. Just like the preconference sessions where the speakers get a portion of the admission fee, the contract called for the speakers to get a portion of the sales from the DVD’s. At the time this seemed like a fair way to do things and I still believe that the revenue share is fair.

Drawbacks

Ive heard from several different people that if these preconference sessions are recorded that it may become more and more difficult for PASS to attract the top tier SQL Server speakers to do precons. I can appreciate the position of some speakers on this, if they are giving their best content and we are distributing it digitally for what amounts to a few hundred dollars they run the very real risk of loosing actual sales of training material, or potential clients.

Benefits

On the other side, I need to weigh the risks of potentially shrinking the pool of available speakers with the benefits to the community of being able to offer these recordings. The other benefit is of course the money PASS makes from these DVD sales. To be perfectly clear, the amount of money PASS makes off of DVD sales in general is merely a pittance in the scheme of things. Having the DVD’s available and leveraging the content however is very valuable to our members and something that I think is important enough to at least explore what can be done to hopefully find a good balance

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The way I’m leaning on this is to leave things the way they are and see if we see an overall drop in the quality or quantity of our preconference presenters in 2011 onward.  I have however thought a lot about possible ways we could create a workable model, where we allowed certain preconference speakers to opt out of recording. This could get really messy administratively, and cause some confusion/anger with attendees not knowing which sessions will be included in the recordings. The other alternative is to just stop recording preconference sessions totally, although I dont think this is a good option.

I guess what I’m trying to do here is expose an internal debate that Ive been having with myself. Ive found that often if I spend the time to write something out it helps me organize my thoughts. As a bonus occasionally, I get great comments/ideas from the 2 of you who read this.

SQL Azure track at the PASS summit

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

Is the cloud real or hype?

With SQL Azure (& the cloud in general) becoming more and more mainstream, I’m seriously considering creating a new Azure track for the 2011 Summit.  I’m still pulling the attendance & session evaluation scores together from 2009 and 2010 azure sessions to try and determine if its truly a good idea or not.

There’s always a tradeoff: we have a limited amount of sessions available, so creating a track would mean shifting allocations from the other tracks to cover the sessions given but, considering the future it seems to be the right move.

Just thought id throw this quick post out looking for thoughts & feedback

This is the first minor change I’m considering for the 2011 Summit

PASS Program Committee Management Transparency

[cross-posted from Allen Kinsel's blog at allenkinsel.com]

I occasionally get into trouble for thinking that no one cares what I’m (we’re) doing for PASS.  Frankly much of what I work on is BORING to a casual observer.  Im still not convinced anyone really cares about the minutiae that we have to deal with week in and week out on the Program Committee but, I don’t know if that’s just myself becoming desensitized to the amount & importance of what I (we) do.

My friend Andy Warren (Blog|Twitter) mentioned something the other day about their being minutes posted on the PASS site (somewhere) from the meetings that are held in relation to the SQL Rally.  In the Program Committee we’ve produced minutes for the meetings that we have for quite a long time (2+ years) and they were simply emailed about and stored on PASS’s intranet site, they’re mainly used for keeping track of deliverables.

Change

Starting with our last meeting (first substantial meeting of 2011) Ive asked that we publish a copy of the minutes to the Program Committee webpage on the PASS site.  http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/SpeakerResource.aspx Look near the bottom left of the page for the first meeting minutes.  At some point, we may have to look at separating the Program committee info from the actual speaker info on that page but, for now this was easy and took basically no extra work from HQ or anyone on the team.

Useful?

So, the question is (and I rarely get answers to questions in a blog post): Other than to be able to say, yes we publish those minutes, does anyone even care?  Will anyone read them with any regularity?  Ive personally never looked at the Rally minutes, so I’m thinking its not going to be that valuable..  I agree that in general transparency is a good thing but, to a point like this I wonder if anyone out there cares.

Information overload

We will meet bi-weekly for the next 6 or so weeks but from that point on we usually meet weekly, and often a few times a week when crunch time hits.  As you can imagine, that creates a huge amount of minutes.  I hope that we dont wind up burying good information people might want to see simply because we meet so often.

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