[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!
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.
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.
(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.
[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.
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.
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!
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
[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]
The virtual Virtualization Chapter is seeking speakers for their monthly meetings. If you’re working with HyperV, VMWare, or other virtualization technologies and SQL Server, or know someone that is, drop a note to David Smithey (dsmithey at sqlsvrman.com).
[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]
SQLSaturday IT Refresh
This is a draft of ideas for the upcoming IT refresh of SQLSaturday. Right now we’re trying to capture ideas and try to understand how they should be prioritized. We’re going to try to make an investment in each of three areas; public facing SQLSaturday web site, the site used by event leaders, and the site used by HQ do overall administration and reporting.
- Add a list on the front page of reserved dates/locations
- List event leaders/photos (via gravatar), linkedin, twitter on front page
- Add a page to reserve a date/location
- Add a link to the front page that explains “national” sponsors and our process for selecting/updating them (and the page with the text as well)
- Add a “schedule builder” that will let attendees pick the sessions they plan to attend and print the list (also used by event leaders to assign topics to rooms)
- Fix data/formatting issues on View All Events Page, change to sort by Sat#
- Add a link to the PASS logo on the header back to sqlpass.org
- Change the LinkedIn link on the home page to point to the main PASS group (related task, remove the existing SQLSaturday LinkedIn group, set up a sub group in the PASS group)
- Change the Facebook link to point to the PASS Facebook page, and close down the SQLSat page
- Deploying pending changes (bug fix to calendar, sponsor logos moved to front page, images added to networking page)
- Add links to Twitter and LinkedIn on the networking page for each member listed
- Automatically add new users to SQLPASS.org, email them a welcome letter,notify local chapter
- Add a page to let user see(or get emailed) their current reg/lunch status (and potentially this would include the ‘speed pass’)
- Expose a standard set of data per event that can be used for mashups (subject to legal review),but should be event/session info that is available to public in XML/Odata format, put links to this data on the event page
- Explose a standard set of data across events (subject to legal) including event names, locations, sessions, sponsors, etc. Might be more than one. XML/Odata format. Put links on main home page. Note, look at http://openconferenceprotocol.org/.
- Option needed for speaker to edit presentation unless locked (this is true even if SB is online, they could need to fix a typo for example) (this requires a login/validation)
- Review sizes of columns related to abstracts, if possible standardize to SB specs
- Add option for ‘speed pass’ to be mailed out upon registration
- Consider option to label raffle tickets per sponsor?
- Consider supporting re-invoicing sponsors who have paid less than full amount (minus transaction fee) (not sure this is worth doing, low incidence)
- Include a map that shows upcoming events, switch to show all events so far
- Show testimonials on front page, either a list or maybe a rotating view
- Change sponsor plan template to include a blog sponsorship
- Change sponsor default options to include a $5 (or whatever currency) blogger option
- Change the advisory council to include the “main” event leaders for the past 18 months, add text to explain the criteria and their role in guiding growth.
Event Leader Tools
- Allow admin to change lunch fee, raise maximum to $15
- Revise sponsor and budget pages to show currency being collected
- Replace drag and drop schedule builder (for building actual schedule) with a better implementation (current one is slow/quirky)
- Allow admin to see how many messages are queued ahead of their message
- Allow them to approve messages via the site (in addition to current method of a link in email)
- Open to receive event status report daily
- Job to send event status report to all open/subscribed events, should go to all event admins for the event
- Add page to “request a check” and to see status of the request
- Post event survey page to capture info needed for reporting (see Nancy: lessons learned, # attendees, etc)
- Fix issue with reports that don’t render correctly due to hidden eventid parameter
- Implement the ability to do a mailing based on a user defined list (query)
- Remove the option to email to all speakers (we will continue to send one email to that list per event that is set up until the speaker bureau goes online)
- Provide option to set default currency for PayPal
- Provide option to NOT send a PayPal link (check only)
- Fix the Twitter notification process to announce sponsor and members on Twitter
- Add an auto task to send out a link to a post event form asking for testimonials (form would be hosted on public site)
- Provide UI tools to review/approve testimonials
- Review ability to edit all public site pages, try to provide ability to edit content display more deeply than we have now (needs work)
- Review current reconcile process to determine if we can do more to speed up that process
- Add a page to view check requests and update status
- Page to add/update/remove reserved events
- Online view/update of current event stats (from survey page or manually entered)
- Online view of current sponsorship budget, amount allocated/reserved
- Ability to email to all speakers, all event leaders
- Review and refine the existing monthly report.
- Add edit tools/storage for data points that need to be entered manually
- Tools to handle tracking/updating of required/scheduled status calls/meetings and the results, should send weekly reminders to HQ
- Online add/edit of event leaders, ability to tag “main” leader for each event
- Track funds sent to events/remaining from sponsorship budget
- Track additional support provided to event (lanyards, swag sent, etc)
- Revise the SQLSaturday Logo to include a reference to PASS, update all sites to use it
- Update the PayPal support to allow setting a default currency besides USD
- Review all existing reports, fix if needed, remove ones that are duplicated or no longer needed
- Please, help us understand what you want to see fixed and how it should be prioritized.
Added, not categorized:
- Publish and make easily visible a suggested Powerpoint deck design
- Publish a list of flyers used by various events for events to use for inspiration
- Rework the graphics/layout to be as good as the SQLRally site
- Track # of emails sent, delivered, undelivered, tagged as spam when sent via SQLSaturday.com
- Make sure all actions require confirmation (needs discussion/detail)
Starting this month, PASS will be displaying all public votes of the Board of Directors prominently on the PASS Governance page.
This page is no longer gated, meaning you do not need to log in to view the information on that part of the site. If you are unfamiliar with the page, you may want to take a look around. You will find a detailed synopsis of PASS' financials, including charts and spreadsheets. You will also find records of all minutes going back to January 2009 (older copies available upon request), as well as high-level monthly reports of PASS activities.
To further highlight Board operations, a box has been added below the "Meeting Minutes" section on the left side of the page. This box, "Board Votes", will house monthly reports of all the decisions the Board reaches by means of official vote. There is a brief breakdown of the month's decisions at the top of the page. Below that, the detailed section of the report shows the motions that were made, who made them and in what venue (email, teleconference, or in-face), and how each Director voted on the issue at hand.
The first entry is March 2011. As the number next to the title indicates, only one motion was made in March. You can read the report by clicking here.
These changes are the result of discussions with various Board members, particularly Bill Graziano and Allen Kinsel. We hope this will further enhance transparency into the operations of PASS and its Board. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me or post a comment below.
PASS HQ - Governance
[cross-posted from Bill Graziano's blog at sqlteam.com]
I wanted to give a little background on the legal status of PASS. The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is an American corporation chartered in the state of Illinois. In America a corporation has to be chartered in a particular state. It has to abide by the laws of that state and potentially pay taxes to that state. Our bylaws and actions have to comply with Illinois state law and United States law. We maintain a mailing address in Chicago, Illinois but our headquarters is currently in Vancouver, Canada.
We have roughly a dozen people that work in our Vancouver headquarters and 4-5 more that work remotely on various projects. These aren’t employees of PASS. They are employed by a management company that we hire to run the day to day operations of the organization. I’ll have more on this arrangement in a future post.
PASS is a non-profit corporation. The term non-profit and not-for-profit are used interchangeably. In a for-profit corporation (or LLC) there are owners that are entitled to the profits of a company. In a non-profit there are no owners. As a non-profit, all the money earned by the organization must be retained or spent. There is no money that flows out to shareholders, owners or the board of directors. Any money not spent in furtherance of our mission is retained as financial reserves.
Many non-profits apply for tax exempt status. Being tax exempt means that an organization doesn’t pay taxes on its profits. There are a variety of laws governing who can be tax exempt in the United States. There are many professional associations that are tax exempt however PASS isn’t tax exempt. Because our mission revolves around the software of a single company we aren’t eligible for tax exempt status.
PASS was founded in the late 1990’s by Microsoft and Platinum Technologies. Platinum was later purchased by Computer Associates. As the founding partners Microsoft and CA each have two seats on the Board of Directors. The other six directors and three officers are elected as specified in our bylaws.
As a non-profit, our bylaws layout our governing practices. They must conform to Illinois and United States law. These bylaws specify that PASS is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the membership with two members each from Microsoft and CA. You can find our bylaws as well as a proposed update to them on the governance page of the PASS web site.
The last point that I’d like to make is that PASS is completely self-funded. All of our $4 million in revenue comes from conference registrations, sponsorships and advertising. We don’t receive any money from anyone outside those channels. While we work closely with Microsoft we are independent of them and only derive a very small percentage of our revenue from them.
[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!
- 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
Last week, the latest iteration of "24 Hours of PASS" was held. It was "Different" for me. Why? Because I was not an active participant on the days of the event other than being an attendee. I was involved in some aspects of the planning for the event when deciding the theme and format, etc. I was on many calls and email threads for the planning of this event. I did the moderator/speaker training a few weeks prior to the event. But on the days that the event was actually held, I was not on pins and needles worrying about logistics. Tom LaRock, HQ, and the team of moderators did a great job of execution. I attended as many sessions as I could. The Moderators seemed to be well prepared and the speakers focused on delivering the content. In my view, this went very well.
With the theme of "Women in Technology" for this 24hop, PASS was able to showcase a positive force within the SQL Community. The WIT luncheon at the PASS Community Summit keeps growing in popularity/attendance year after year. The WIT Virtual Chapter continues this positive vibe throughout the year - http://wit.sqlpass.org/.
I enjoyed reading the "Twitter Stream" about #24hop. I do not have numbers yet, but every session had at least 200-300 attendees and several topped 750! Wow!
Each session was recorded and will be available for replay shortly. Keep checking www.sqlpass.org for replay availability.
A BIG "Thank You" goes out to the Speakers and Moderators who helped to make this latest edition of 24hop a success. I enjoyed it immensely.
[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