PASS needs you

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

Help wanted Needed!!

This year my portfolio within the PASS board is “Summit program and speaker management”  Ive been involved with this portfolio for at least the last 4 years.  This year, I’m going to be transitioning into yet a different roll within the committee.  Ill still be heavily involved but,  I’m turning the majority of the day to day decision making over to Lori Edwards (Blog|Twitter)  She was hugely involved last year, and I have no doubt she will work her magic again this year!

Program Committee Changes

This year, there are going to be some changes to the processes in the program committee, Ill detail some of those in a later set of blog posts.  For now, Ive decided to split up the groups of volunteers in the program committee to hopefully enable some of the future process changes.

Help Wanted

For this year we’re going to need help in many areas

Abstract Review Teams (led by Lori Edwards)

  • DBA/Cloud/BI/AD/PD

Speaker Review Team (led by Tim Ford)

  • This group will review speakers independently of their abstracts

Speaker Enhancement team (Wes Brown & Grant Fritchey)

  • This will probably stay a small group and work on updating sample abstracts, selection info, generating info for new speakers etc.

PPT/Abstract Editing review/approval (Led by Tim Martin)

  • This group will be working on sessions after they are accepted (lots of new ideas here)

Special Projects (Led by AJ Mendo & Lance Harra)

  • This group will be working on finishing the Speaker Evaluation tool, coordinating changes to the Summit online tool as well as a few other projects that are envisioned.

Cutting edge

Its been said that what we do in the Program committee is on the bleeding edge of what PASS does in organizing groups of volunteers at the national level.  That is to say, we need lots of help but, sometimes things dont always work out quite how we (I) had expected.  I say this only to set expectations that its not always a smooth ride but, rarely is it not interesting.

We developed an online survey to help us capture all of the relevant info about everyone who wants to volunteer.  Don’t worry, its not a job app and it shouldn’t be resume quality, we’re primarily looking for general information

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22BSJTXJZEA/

Please consider this a personal invitation from me to join us in making the content at the PASS Summit 2011 the best ever!

What’s important in a Summit Location

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

I thought after my last post on Summit location that I wouldn’t need to write anymore about it but, I got a couple of responses(questions) wondering what I thought was important in a location for the summit. What I’m guessing these people really want to know is where Ill vote for, not, what I already wrote about which is what I’m essentially voting against.

Well, I’m not going to go so far as to say exactly where I’d like to see the Summit.  What I will do is list what I think are the top 3 most important things when looking at where to locate the summit.

  1. Accessibility – It needs to be as easy as possible to get to, as well as get around once you get there.  Both the city as well as the Convention Center should be easily accessibilty
  2. Cost – The convention center needs to be reasonably priced, the hotels, food, etc should all be (somewhat) affordable
  3. Local Support – I would prefer a location with a very strong local support structure, whether Microsoft or the local SQL Community.

There are many additional variables that no doubt will be considered but, these are the things that make the top of my list.

Why I will vote to move the PASS Summit in 2013

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

Oh no, not again!

Seems not a day goes by that I dont have a discussion somewhere with someone about the Summit Location in 2013 or 2014, or even occasionally about the location this year and next.

If you need background, a couple of my PASS BOD Cohorts have already weighed in on the various ways they are thinking about this decision Here, Here, or Here, additionally Grant Fritchey and Andy Leonard both weighed in as well.  Much additional conversation seems to happen regularly on twitter as well…

Ive been a member of the PASS Board for exactly 35 days and so far I’ve really only been shocked by one thing.  Its almost beyond baffling to me that the #1 issue the SQL community wants the Board (and PASS by proxy) to solve is the location of the 2013 Summit.  Honestly, I can think of at least 10 things that are more important for PASS to be focusing energy on than where the Summit is going to be located.  But, alas that clearly illustrates that it is a VERY important issue to many community members

I want to be perfectly clear

The location of the 2013 Summit has not been decided yet

The decision is expected to be made in the March BOD meeting.

This post wont go into all the 1000′s of ways a person could look at this issue, and trust me there’s more than 1000.  Instead I’m going to tip my hand, and skip all the mumbo jumbo because I believe everyone on the Board already knows how I feel about this issue.  So the only possible people who dont know are the 2 of you reading this.

I will vote to move the Summit out of Seattle in 2013

Now that the beans have been spilled (no big shocker there I hope) id like to at least outline how I’ve come to this decision so hopefully you can agree or disagree with me but, at least respect that the reasons are my own, and that I believe they represent whats best for the organization as a whole.

First a tiny caveat – yes I’m putting the fine print first, its important — If by some freakish accident there is no conference space available (within a reasonable $$ limit) in the finalist cities then I may be forced to do something different.  — that fine print is merely the DBA in me practicing for every possible outcome in a disaster.  Even though I dont plan for it, I cant ignore it might happen.

  • A large portion of the community feels so strongly about this that many feel almost disenfranchised by the very group that they have been an integral part of.
  • PASS’s #1 Mission is to serve the community, how better than to occasionally have THE SQL Server Event of the year in a location thats more accessible to different parts of the country
  • Microsoft has pledged their Support for the conference no matter its location
  • To the average “newish” DBA the difference between having 150 MS people at the Summit and 400 is nearly nonexistent
  • We’ve moved The Summit before, this isn’t unprecedented, PASSHQ is easily able to do this, the procedures should already exist.
  • My portfolio (Summit Program) would likely be the most effected by this change.  Maybe marketing would have a large impact as well but, as far as BOD work, Program would likely take the brunt of a move.
  • If the majority of the Microsoft presence is traveling, they wont have their homes to sneak off to at 5:00. so they would presumably be more likely to continue to interact after Summit session hours
  • Selfish Reason — Moving the summit would force Microsoft to lock in their speaker lineup earlier which would make my job coordinating that easier

Now for the limits of my support

  • I think the Summit should be in Seattle more often than not, say 2 out of every 3 years or 3 out of every 4.  Based almost entirely on SQL release cycles
  • Until it proves detrimental to the organization — I am a risk taker by nature, as evidenced by living on an island in the path of hurricanes (site of the worst US natural disaster ever) but, everyone has their limits

Id like to take a second and ask you Mr. or Mrs. SQL Community Member reading this to do me a personal favor.  Find one of those “other” really important things you wish PASS was better at, something we should be focusing on, and leave a comment here or send me a message in email or twitter about it and sling out some ideas, or better yet solutions!!  Approach that with the same level of enthusiasm as the Summit location and we should be able to get some real movement on other things that are important to the community.  If I get any responses to those “other things” Ill build them all into a a future blog post and make sure they get some attention.

I wrote the above mainly so the community that elected me to lead would know that I’ve spent a long time listening and trying to come up with a decision on this.  Now with this decision behind me, I can move on to worrying about other PASS (Community) business without the community wondering if I’ve been paying attention.

Reflections of a Board Meeting

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

Ive officially been on the Job as a Director for PASS less than a month and already I’ve had the chance to participate in 2 in person Board meetings.  1 at the summit (non-voting) and 1 this past week in Dallas.  Ill be the first to admit, I didnt really know what to expect going in but, I had some ideas.

Going in to the 2 day meeting last week I figured there would be some good conversations, a bit of brainstorming, a fair amount of arguing, and at least  touch of indecision.  What I found was roughly what I expected in that regard.

The Specifics of the actual meeting were by in large important but boring for the casual observer, so I wont be spending countless bytes that you wont want to read rehashing everything.  After the meeting minutes are published (2 weeks im told) I may revisit this post with thoughts but until then I figure I can wait a few months to rock the boat on details that werent overly “interesting” to the community at large.

Things I learned at last weeks Board Meeting

  • When you have an Ipad in the meeting room, expect plenty of offhanded comments
  • We’re doing a whole bunch of really good things in a piss poor less than optimal way
  • The SQLRockstar who brought bacon to breakfast on the BOD wont eat it as he’s a Bacon Snob
  • That a person can be a Bacon snob
  • The ability to give a backhanded compliment is an art form best demonstrated during meetings
  • Takeout Mexican food consumed in a hotel lobby will get strange looks
  • Coups have been attempted (successfully??) in some user groups
  • Getting 11 people to agree to a place for dinner is sometimes harder than getting them to agree about PASS Direction

What I was surprised the most by wasnt the funny quips, or the amount of good discussions, nor was it the ability of the board to identify problems.  Nope, I was totally expecting to find that the board really does “get it”, and for the most part on whole I think they(we) do.  What I was surprised the most by was the fact the hotel we were meeting at was channeling its inner Bush Garden:

Best of PASS Community Summit 2010

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

 

The results are in!!!



After tabulating over ten thousand distinct session evaluations for the 2010 PASS Summit we are pleased to release the top 10 sessions overall and the top 5 sessions per track.

Getting these session results generated and out to the speakers in a timely manner is always challenging.  After taking until the second week of January 2010 to return Speaker Evaluations for the 2009 Summit we put in sweeping changes to prevent that from happening again in 2010.

Fortunately we were very successful in getting the data, We (Community Volunteers) designed and built a database to house the eval info, and designed a system that could be used to enter the evaluations quickly during and shortly after the Summit.  This was a resounding success.  Unfortunately where we fell short was in executing on delivering the data to the speakers and the community.  When we designed these systems, the process to send out the evaluations wasnt really discussed, or possibly just wasnt finished (the perils of distributing work include less insight into exact issues).  Either way, I wound up in the 23rd hour reworking last years SSIS package to fit the new database schema.

Success

We delivered Speaker evaluations to the speakers a full 3 weeks earlier than last year.  This included additional info about overall speaker scores that we had never provided in the past.  I realize a success to me (3 weeks sooner) is still a failure to others (4 weeks after the summit to get the data to the speakers)  We're going to be working on improving this for next years summit but for now, Ill take the wins where I can get them!

Failure

Getting the top 10 sessions posted has taken an extra 3 weeks.  I take full responsibility on this one.  I had the data on my laptop for the entire time, at first it was the holidays, then it was something shiny, after that I kept running into issues trying to make queries that werent just usable for this years summit, but would be able to generate similar results for any event we enter into this database.  In the end though, I have a set of queries for this process that will be reused.

Future

This database/process was one of the projects a large group of OUTSTANDING Community members chipped in and worked on under the umbrella of the program committee in 2010.  I have big plans to round up another set of volunteers and put a web based front end on the db and push its use out to all SQL events that would like to use it.  The information that we're gathering will be invaluable to both the speakers and to the community in the future.


http://www.sqlpass.org/events/bestofpasssummit2010.aspx

PASS Summit Community Choice Session Change

Cross posted from My blog

Thought Id take a few minutes to alert Yall about a change in the Community Choice sessions  in the PASS Summit lineup

Unfortunately, 1 of the community choice speakers had to bow out of presenting.

Joe Kuemerle couldnt make the sumit this year so, we had to swap his encryption session with the second place session in the App Dev category.  Luckily for us, the decision was easier because appdev race was the closest in the voting with only 2 votes seperating first and second place.  The replacement session,  Flush With Cache: What Really Happens Before That Query Runs by Chris Leonard, should prove to be very popular and is currently scheduled on Thursday from 4-5:15 in room 613-614.  Because of this session replacement there was a cascade of 3 additional schedule moves that had to occur because Chris was already scheduled to present another session in the existing time slot.  You can see the complete current schedule in xls here

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Summit next week!!

PASS Summit Community Choice Session results revealed

 

This year the Program Committee decided to try something different to increase community involvement with the abstract selection process for the annual summit.  We decided to allow any registered PASS members to vote on the final  4 community sessions to be presented at the Summit in Seattle this year.  With our historically low turnout in surveys of our membership, I turned to the team at PASSHQ with a simple question about whether or not we could use the same voting tool that is in place for the upcoming Board of Directors election.  Considering our surveys have traditionally resulted in 300-500 results , at the time I put a personal goal on the survey response rate of 500, anything greater than that and I would consider the time and energy It took to put it together a win, anything less and well, we wouldn’t be doing any more exploring in the use of public voting for Summit Sessions.

I’m VERY pleased to say that by all indications, the voting process was a great success, sure we will always aim to do better but, for now, having over 1100 people vote on what they want to see at the Summit is a huge win for PASS as an organization.  In the App Dev group, the winner was declared by 2 votes.   2 votes out of 600 is pretty outstanding, if you didn’t take the time and vote, you could have been the vote that swayed the result!!  Don’t miss your chance next time!!  The winning sessions can be found here

I want to take the time to thank each and every member of the awesome PASS Community who voted.  As well as Jeremiah Peschka (Twitter|Blog) & Lori Edwards (Twitter|Blog) for dealing with my crazy ideas on putting this together, and keeping me in check.  Andy Warren (Twitter|Blog) for helping me get the voting tool he built for pass working for this use.  Id also like to give a huge thanks to Hannes, Wesley and Elena at PASSHQ for helping bring all of this to PASS (pun intended)

PASS Summit Call for Speakers Now Open

Or, “Enter Now for Your Chance to Win!”

Hey, I bet you've heard that the PASS Call for Speakers is now open.

No matter what your skill level as a public speaker, I would encourage you to submit an abstract. Even if you think you're not good enough or don't have enough speaking experience, go ahead and submit an abstract. It may be your lucky day and your abstract will be selected; at worst, it will be practice in the art of composing a good abstract.

Why will this be good experience? After looking through thousands of abstract submissions for years, I've decided that composing a good abstract is an art. It requires equal parts black magic and pixie dust to make a good abstract, and even when you have that, it takes a bit of luck to get it accepted at a national conference.

In order to help potential speakers understand why their abstracts weren't selected, last year I asked the review teams to tag each unaccepted abstract with a reason that it couldn't be accepted. As you might expect, this created quite a bit of extra work for the teams. But for new speakers, there should be good value in knowing whether the reason for no selection was the competition, a poor abstract, lack of interest in the topic, or some other reason noted. The system isn't perfect by any means because we don't have the means to provide a detailed reason for no selection, but hopefully it's useful.

One final reason I think everyone reading this should submit an abstract: If during the submission process you select the «speaker bureau» check box, your info will be used by other PASS events needing speakers, so you will have more potential exposure that will help you get the experience needed to speak at the Summit.

Important pages I would use if I were submitting an abstract to ANY SQL-related event:

– Allen Kinsel

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