Category: Volunteers

SQLSaturday History Is Made! #100 Brazil Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Community Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PASS Board Applications Now Open!

Vision? Passion? Drive? Sounds like you’re ready for the PASS Board of Directors. Applications for the 2011 Board elections are now open, along with the interactive elections forums for community members to have their say... or start their campaigns.

The PASS Board has three seats up for election for the 2012/2013 term. A fourth seat – being vacated mid-term by Douglas McDowell, who is taking on the role of Executive Vice President, Finance – will be appointed for a 1-year term by the Board president, according to the PASS bylaws.

You can download the PASS Board application form at the PASS 2011 Elections site, and all applications must be submitted to PASS HQ no later than Oct. 19. To qualify as a candidate, at a minimum you must have direct volunteer experience with PASS, such as serving on a committee or as a Regional Mentor or Chapter leader, leading a SQLSaturday or other event, or volunteering in another capacity. Candidates must also currently work with SQL Server to some degree. For more about candidate requirements and to see what characteristics and abilities would make an ideal Board candidate, see the Candidates page.

Make sure you take advantage of the elections forums to ask about the elections process, get information about running for the Board, pose questions to the candidates, and discuss platforms and issues with fellow community members. Just log in with your PASS user information and post away! The PASS HQ team will also be providing links to community blog posts on the Discussion page to keep you up-to-date with all the elections news and commentary.

Good luck to everyone considering applying for this important role to help lead the world’s largest association dedicated to serving the SQL Server community. Apply today!

PASS Board Applications Open October 5

Interested in joining the PASS Board of Directors? Your chance is just around the corner.

The Board of Directors is the executive body of PASS, setting the organization's vision and direction to ensure that PASS achieves its mission to help community members connect, share, and learn. You can find information about the current Board here.  

This year, the PASS Board will have four open seats, three of which will be up for election. The fourth seat - being vacated mid-term by Douglas McDowell, who will take on the role of Executive Vice President, Finance – will be appointed by the Board president, according to the PASS bylaws.

Applications open Wednesday, October 5, and are due two weeks later, by October 19. To qualify as a candidate, at a minimum you must have direct volunteer experience with PASS - for example, by serving on a committee or as a Regional Mentor or Chapter leader, leading a SQLSaturday or other event, or volunteering in another capacity. Candidates must also currently work with SQL Server to some degree. 

For more about candidate requirements or the elections process, please see the PASS Elections 2011 website and feel free to contact PASS HQ Governance with any questions. Good luck to everyone who’s considering running for the Board, and get ready to rock the vote!

PASS Goes Global

We are excited to introduce some changes to PASS in an effort to connect global SQL Server communities and foster relationships between our professionals – wherever they’re located. PASS began in 1999 with a vision to empower all of our SQL Server communities to connect, share, and learn. To meet these objectives for our global community, PASS needs to change who we are and how we engage with communities. The direction for how we evolve needs to be paved by people representing the diversity of voices we want to support and connect with.

Earlier this month, representatives from PASS traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to meet with key community leaders Johan Åhlén and Raoul Illyés from the Nordic region, James Rowland-Jones and Simon Sabin from the UK, and Rob Farley and Greg Low representing Australia/New Zealand. These leaders represent regions that have vibrant and healthy communities and bring diverse voices and viewpoints as well as a shared passion for the SQL Server community.
 
The primary purpose of the two-day meeting was to discuss our shared goals to strengthen and connect global communities and how we can work together to help all of the communities. The team identified an initial set of priorities that we all believe to be important first initiatives, including:
• Localizing communications from PASS
• Increasing the value proposition of chapters
• Supporting global events
• Exposing event content

As a first step, based on the recommendation from the team that met in Stockholm, the PASS board unanimously voted to appoint Raoul Illyés, James Rowland-Jones, and Rob Farley as non-voting members of the board for a period of one year.

We welcome the ideas and enthusiasm that each of these leaders has brought to their respective communities as an opportunity to help shape the future of PASS. These three appointees will join a team that will define a plan to evolve our governance structure so that PASS better meets the needs of global communities. As a secondary objective, this team will actively participate in various board discussions to ensure that the global perspective and needs are central to every PASS initiative.

We recently read a quote from a TechNet wiki that states, “Individuals are smart, but communities are wise.” These changes are based on our belief that the efforts to connect individual international communities will make all communities stronger. We hope you share our excitement about this next stage for how PASS can support you and your local SQL Server communities.

NomCom Finalized

The 2011 Nomination Committee (NomCom) – a team that assesses and reviews all PASS Board of Director applicants – has been finalized. Three community members have stepped forward to serve in this important role: Bradley Ball, Jack Corbett and Roy Ernest.
 
After the NomCom nomination period, with 3 applicants all meeting the qualification criteria, the election process was no longer necessary and the three applicants were approved by the Board to sit on the NomCom. The final composition of the NomCom is as follows:
 
•         Bradley Ball
•         Jack Corbett
•         Roy Ernest
•         Thomas LaRock (Board of Directors Representative)
•         Wayne Snyder (NomCom Chairperson)
 
To find out more about the NomCom members, please check out their bios and blogs.
 
If you didn’t apply for the NomCom but are still interested in helping better PASS and building a stronger community, there are more opportunities around the corner. The PASS Board of Director’s Elections are coming up. Applications will open on October 5th, 2011. More details will be posted on the elections website as they develop. 

Congratulations to Bradley, Jack, and Roy! The Nomination Committee plays an important role in PASS’s growth, and these members are a valued addition.

Last Chance to Save $600 on PASS Summit

A quick reminder that tomorrow is the last day to save $600 on PASS Summit 2011, the SQL Server event of the year, Oct. 11-14 in Seattle, WA. In the whirlwind of organizing all the conference details and getting the word out, it’s easy to forget exactly what PASS Summit is. Yes, it’s the largest SQL Server and BI conference in the world. But more than that, it’s your conference – planned and presented by the SQL Server community for the SQL Server community.

Volunteers (this year with the help of community session preference voting) select the sessions and speakers. Except for the pre-conference seminars, speakers share their knowledge and experience in exchange for a complimentary Summit registration. Community members are the driving force behind Summit’s special events, including the Welcome Reception Quiz Bowl, the annual Women in Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion, SQL Kilt Day, the Photowalk, SQL Karaoke, and much more.

PASS Summit continues to grow in attendance and quality thanks to community members like you, who are passionate about the PASS mission – Connect, Share, Learn. And your registration fee stays in the SQL Server community, supporting a myriad of local, regional, and international programs and events that bring database professionals together around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned PASS Summit veteran or thinking about attending for the first time, we encourage you to take advantage of this low rate before the price goes up July 1. See you in Seattle!
 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Apr. 13-20)

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

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

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

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

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

Hope Foley presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

Mark Ginnebaugh attended SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

David Levy presented at SQLSaturday #67, Chicago

Tiago Salgado attended SQLSaturday #78, Portugal

+ David Stein helped organize SQLSaturday #63, Dallas

COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...

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

IN OTHER NEWS...

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

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

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

PASS Update #55 (SQLSaturday Site Changes & SQLRally)

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

SQLSaturday Site Changes

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

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

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

Go set up an image at gravatar.com!

image

image

 

SQLRally 2011

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

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

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

SQLRally 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Apr. 6-13)

(This is Round 18 of PASS's weekly round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

This past weekend featured a SQLSaturday double dose straight from the West Coast.

Some lucky attendees got their free SQL training in serene Olympia, WA at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia. Other lucky attendees got their free SQL training near the sunny surf of Huntington Beach, CA at SQLSaturday #73, Orange County. Those of you with grouping skills - wait, that's probably everyone - will agree that there is a common factor here: lucky attendees!

Of course, luck really had nothing to do with it. The success of both events can be chalked up to the dedication of the volunteers hosting them and the eagerness of the close-knit SQL community to get together whenever there's half a chance.

(Actually, Huntington Beach turned out to be a little cloudy and chilly, but that doesn't mean this SQLSaturday wasn't SQLsizzling!)

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

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

Ryan Adams helped organize SQLSaturday #63, Dallas

+ Robert L. Davis presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

+ Arie Jones presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

+ Steve Jones presented at SQLSaturday #63, Dallas

+ Clint Kuntz presented at SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

+ Karla Landrum was part of the leadership team for SQLSaturday #72, Honolulu

+ Chuck Lathrope presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

+ Meredith Ryan-Smith presented at SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

+ Colin Smith presented at SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

+ David Stein presented at SQLSaturday #67, Chicago

+ Paul Turley presented at SQLSaturday #68, Olympia

+ Andy Warren attended SQLSaturday #63, Dallas

+ Reagan Williams presented at SQLSaturday #73, Orange County

COMING UP IN SQLSATURDAY...

Next up is SQLSaturday's first stop in Portugal, which is happening on April 15 - apparently they do Saturdays on a Friday over there! The other SQLSaturday in April is taking place on the 30th in Jacksonville, FL. Stay tuned for more events this spring and summer, though - June's already looking pretty hot and new SQLSaturdays are added all the time.

IN OTHER NEWS...

If you're a speaker, you know that it's sometimes tough to have to hear criticism after pouring your heart and soul into a presentation. Brent Ozar's also been there - he provides some tips on how to deal with criticism.

Finally, PASS Director and SQLSaturday co-founder Andy Warren recently blogged about changes being made to the SQLSaturday web infrastructure. The plan is to make things easier and more streamlined. Check out his post here.

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

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