Category: PASS Chapters

Board Portfolios for the New Year

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.

Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.

Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.

Rob Farley
 will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.

James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.

Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our 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.

Sri Sridharan
, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.

In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.
 

Pop Quiz: What’s PASS’s 20th Virtual Chapter?

School will soon be in session with the debut of PASS’s 20th Virtual Chapter, dedicated to free training and support of SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals in the education sector.

“Our mission is to provide SQL Server training that uses educational data and that shows how to take advantage of SQL Server tools for education-related tasks,” says VC leader David MacLean. “We want to start monthly online sessions in December, depending on how quickly we can get speakers lined up.”

David got interested in launching the VC when he registered for PASS Summit 2012 as a first-time attendee and asked if there was anything special for the education sector happening at the event. “Lana Montgomery and Karla Landrum said. ‘There is now,’” he notes with a laugh. “Karla and others at PASS really moved on this, and I am very excited and pleased that we are the 20th PASS Virtual Chapter.”

David will be meeting at Summit with other database pros working in education to recruit VC volunteers, speakers, and members and gather suggestions for meeting topics and web resources. You can find him at the VC tables during the Welcome Reception or leave him a message at the Community Zone.

Some session topics might include:

  • How to import SAT/ACT scores from the College Board using SSIS
  • How to import the Common application or other vendor application data using SSIS
  • Designing SSRS reports tracking candidate stages across multiple years or reports that combine candidate/student data with financial aid data
  • Using SSAS to predict the factors that get candidates to enroll

“Speakers don’t have to have a background in education because we all use the same tools,” David notes. “And if need be, I can assist with how they might make some changes to their presentation that would relate it specifically to those working in education. For consultants, this is a great opportunity to develop contacts in the education sector.

If you are interested in speaking, volunteering, or suggesting meeting topics, you can contact David at david.maclean@msmc.edu with “Education VC” in the Subject line or on Twitter at @DavidAMacLean1. To join the chapter, just go to the PASS Home page and click the “Join a Virtual Chapter” button.

“I will note that Scotland had an Education Act in 1496, so I think it is appropriate that a MacLean start the Education Virtual Chapter for all the fine laddies and lassies of PASS.” He adds. “If someone buys me a glass of Glenfiddich Special Reserve at one of the Summit After Hours events, I might just sing an old Scottish tune for all fellow Scots.”

PASS Summit: Get in the Community Zone

There is no doubt that PASS Summit is all about SQL Server and the SQL Server community. While you might know the conference as the best place to learn anything SQL Server-related, it’s also the best possible place to get connected with SQL Server professionals all across the globe.

PASS community volunteers from around the world work hard every year to deliver the best technical training and information to meet the needs of all attendees, no matter what their skill level or technology interest. And this year, we’re extending that mission to provide more knowledge about and connections with the SQL Server community by creating a special Community Zone.

What is a Community Zone? It’s both a location for community sharing at Summit and a state of mind that encourages more community involvement through a variety of organizations and events. You’ll find the PASS Summit Community Zone between the Lunch Hall and the Exhibit Hall. And we are looking forward to showcasing both PASS-related and non-PASS-affiliated community groups and events.

If you represent a not-for-profit SQL Server organization, please join us in the Community Zone. And even if you aren’t able to attend Summit, if you send us information about your group or event, we’ll help spread the word. How much more community can you get?! :)

Talking about community means reaching out to more than just English-speaking attendees, and we have invited volunteers who speak other languages so we can welcome everyone and try to help all members reach their respective community goals. We’re also interested in hearing your suggestions – if you have a great idea for a user group or a not-for-profit event, drop us an email at ce@sqlpass.org.

The Community Zone will be open Wednesday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Nov. 9, with your faithful PASS Community Evangelists – Karla Landrum and me – and many generous volunteers looking to make your visit as fun and valuable as possible. (Hint: We’ll have some great networking games and other activities to help attendees learn about different communities all around the world and connect with each other.)

I am so excited about the new Community Zone and helping PASS members get more involved in and improve their local communities and the SQL Server community at large. So if you’re attending PASS Summit, please drop by the Community Zone to say “Hello,” ask questions, discuss exciting plans for the SQL Server community, or just hang out – who knows, you could also win some amazing prizes! 
– Niko Neugebauer

 

SQLShot – Growing New Speakers

(Cross-posted from my personal blog; you can read the original here.)

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.
 

Brazil: Connecting a Vast Community

How do you connect a SQL Server community across the world’s fifth largest country? If you are the leaders of the PASS Brazil Virtual Chapter, you create an online spring of free information and interactivity that flows like the mighty Amazon.

The Brazil Virtual Chapter started from a quick talk at TechEd 2010 among the people who now serve as the VC’s Board of Directors. “We were all involved in local PASS Chapters, and we all faced the same situation,” explains VC leader Felipe Ferreira. “Brazil is so huge that we constantly have people from all over the country asking for content and events, but when we organize a local meeting, we usually get only 20 or 30 people in the room. So we wanted to bring people together through an online portal, where we could organize and store all session videos, webcasts, and event calendars. But more than that, we wanted to create a central repository of content in Portuguese, where we could aggregate all the articles that people write on their personal blogs.”

The group approached their PASS Regional Mentor, Alexandro Prado, who was excited about the idea and organized a meeting with all the PASS Chapters in the country. After some discussions and brainstorming about the model and more ideas for the project, the team created the BR Virtual Chapter. Almost all the local PASS Chapter leaders in the country sit on the VC’s Board of Directors, and in 2 years, it has more than 350 active members, 50 videos/webcasts on its portal, and of this writing, just posted its 1000th technical article.

The VC has over 40 authors writing content for its portal, with the latest posts also featured on the Brazilian SQL Server MSDN site. Authors simply write on their personal blogs and use a specific tag on articles they want pulled onto the VC site.

In addition, the VC hosts live webcasts the third Thursday of every month, covering SQL Server administration, development, and BI topics. All are recorded and uploaded immediately to the site. In May, featured speaker Thiago Iacopini, a Microsoft PFE, talked about SQL Server security. The next presentations are June 21 with Laerte Junior speaking on Troubleshooting SQL Server with PowerShell and July 19 with Microsoft PFE and Microsoft Certified Master Fabricio Catae. An average of 50 people attend the webcasts live, with typically 150 more watching the recorded versions, although the BI sessions are in even higher demand. One of the BI basics session recordings from Felipe is the most visited video so far with 795 views.

The VC’s leaders and volunteers are also active in their local user groups and in organizing other in-person events, such as SQLSaturday #100 - São Paulo 2011, the first SQLSaturday in Latin America.

“The SQL Server community here in Brazil is incredible,” Felipe notes. “People are very united and passionate about what they do, and they are always hungry for more information, which serves as a great motivator for us. We have a lot of people who are trying to start or improve their careers in the database world, and sometimes they feel a little lost and don’t know where to start, what to read, or what to learn. Thanks to the BR VC, they can find a lot of information, articles, and Microsoft certification exam preparation advice and keep in touch with their peers all over the country. We have people who joined the group as newcomers to SQL Server and today sit right beside the original members at the same level of knowledge – and both are now helping the new generation.”

In addition to Felipe and Regional Mentor Alexandro, other members of the BR VC Board are:

  • Andressa Martins
  • Diego Nogare
  • Nilton Pinheiro
  • Marcondes Alexandre
  • Thiago Zavaschi
  • Roberto Fonseca
  • Pedro Galvão Jr
  • Vladimir Magalhães
  • Luciano Caixeta Moreira

The VC is always looking for more volunteers, speakers, and ideas. If you are interested in writing for or helping with the VC portal or speaking to the group, see the contact information on the BR VC site.

 

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.

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!
 

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.

Welcome Three New Regional Mentors - US NE, US SW, and Canada!

We are happy to announce that three new Regional Mentors are joining the PASS team.
 
Steve Hughes will be filling the open slot for U.S. - Northeast, providing Melissa Demcsak some badly needed help. Steve is a Principal Consultant at Magenic, focused on Business Intelligence architecture.  He recently helped put on SQLSaturday #99 - Minnesota 2011 and convinced Magenic to send nine SQL Server professionals to this year's PASS Summit.
 
Phil Robinson is our new Regional Mentor for U.S. - Southwest, where he will be working with Tjay Belt. Phil is an independent database developer and BI consultant and is President of the San Diego SQL Server User Group. He has been an organizer of two SQLSaturdays (#55 and #95).

Phil is replacing Andrew Karcher, who is stepping down after a long tenure as a Regional Mentor. Thanks, Andrew for your service, and welcome Phil!
 
Things are changing in Canada, too! Another longtime Regional Mentor, Scott Stauffer, is ready to hand his responsibilities to an able replacement. We appreciate Scott's efforts and know he will enjoy his return to private life.
 
Colin Stasiuk is filling Scott's position as Regional Mentor for Western Canada. Colin has been working with SQL Server since version 6.5. He is co-author of SQL Server 2008 Policy Based Management, an active blogger, and founded the PASS Chapter in Edmonton.
 
Please join us in welcoming Steve, Phil, and Colin to the Regional Mentors team.
- Mark Ginnebaugh
Director, Global Chapters

 

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: http://sarahsjolander.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/3-questions-for-the-wit/

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 http://lockerz.com/s/139887810

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!