SQLSaturdays #171 and #174: North by Southeast

October featured seven SQLSaturdays, all US-based and three of which were first time cities: Pittsburgh, Lincoln, and Nashua (which was also the first SQLSaturday for New Hampshire). A big treat for those of us in the Southeast were the long- awaited returns of Nashville and Charlotte, which hadn’t seen a SQLSaturday in over 2 years.

For my travel this month, I decided to go one of the first-time cities, Pittsburgh, and one of the Southeast options, Charlotte. I chose Pittsburgh because I haven’t been able to make any of the other Northeastern events this year, and it was led by first-time event organizers Gina Walters and Madhu Kudaravalli. Nashua, even though a first-time host city, was being led by Mike Walsh and Jack Corbett, two seasoned SQLSaturday organizers.

I’m a huge fan of Nashville, but again, that event was being organized by a team with lots of SQLSaturday experience: Joe Webb, Kevin Kline, Lou Davidson, and Christina Leo. That brings us to Charlotte, and its new BI Edition SQLSaturday led by another team of first-time organizers. Rafael Salas, Melissa Coates, Javier Guillen, and Jason Thomas all had been working on this SQLSaturday since the beginning of July. The idea for the Charlotte BI-only SQLSaturday came in May when Rafael began investigating starting a new PASS BI Chapter in Charlotte. After discussing the potential, we decided that first hosting a BI SQLSaturday would let the team see if there was enough interest in the area to spin off a BI-specific user group from the current strong Charlotte SQL Server User Group, led by Peter Shire.

First up: Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh SQLSaturday had a unique venue for its speaker dinner: a restaurant inside a casino. What really made this casino stand out was the tribute to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - the entire building was surrounded by intricately woven bras of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It was a work of art indeed! Another bonus was the beautiful evening lights over the Ohio River right outside the restaurant’s patio. 

For the event itself, LaRoche College provided a nice, clean venue with a large area for the opening keynote and comments. All the sponsors were along the sides of this large space, and the team did a good job of making sure attendees funneled directly to the sponsors after they checked in. As much as these spaces are great for gathering the entire audience in one place, it’s often challenging to keep attendees coming back, except during longer breaks such as lunch, because sessions are typically outside of these areas. Overall, everything went smoothly for this new event team - which even had a record of just four attendees out of their first 100 check-ins to not pre-print their SpeedPASS. Nice!

On to Charlotte. With registrations growing rapidly throughout the summer for this event, it became obvious that BI has huge interest in Charlotte. In late August, we decided to move forward with creating the new BI PASS Chapter, fondly name CBIG, and announce the official January 2013 kick-off meeting during the SQLSaturday.

As I worked with the Charlotte BI team leading up to their event, I was impressed with their organization, the great questions they asked along the way, and the creative ideas they had on making their SQLSaturday extra special. The CBIG team added a Microsoft SQLClinic at the event and did a good job of keeping attendees informed, especially the week before the event. The venue, Central Piedmont Community College, was very nice and ideal for this type of event. Sponsors were set up in the main hallway, where everyone had to constantly walk through them. My only recommendation for next time would be to either have a microphone during the opening announcements or stand on the second floor and talk down to the attendees, which has worked well for carrying voices over the crowd at several other SQLSaturdays.

I collected around 30 names of people interested in Peter’s chapter, and CBIG incorporated a few questions in their event survey to ask what topics people would like to see at their meetings. The survey offered an option for attendees to opt in for the new user group’s mailing list, and the team used the surveys for the SQLSaturday’s raffle giveaway.

As I shared details about the two Charlotte user groups throughout the day with attendees, it was clear that the area’s technical community is as thriving as it has ever been. And, boy, you should have seen their faces when I told them that next year’s PASS Summit was going to be in their own city! 
 

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 TV at PASS Summit 2012

PASS TV will make its debut on November 7 at PASS Summit 2012. Over the course of the conference, PASS will live stream three 12-hour days of technical sessions with overnight replay. Camera and crew will be at the ready to stream these sessions as well as candid interviews to the global SQL Server community. If you can’t make it to PASS Summit 2012 then we’ll  bring a piece of the conference to you! You’ll be right in the heart of things as our roving camera captures conversations with attendees, speakers and industry influencers. In addition to broadcasting many of the top-notch technical sessions being delivered at Summit, we’ll also give you a close look at the SQL Server Clinic, Hands-On Labs , networking activities and other professional development content.

How Can I Tune In?

PASS TV will be broadcast from the Live Summit website beginning at 15:45 GMT/UTC on November 7 and ending November 10 at 15:45 GMT/UTC. No username or password is required so spread the word with colleagues and friends and invite them to tune in for the high quality programming that PASS has to offer.

Which Sessions Will Be Featured?

Catch the keynote sessions with Microsoft’s Ted Kummert and Quentin Clark, Women in Technology panel discussion, featured spotlight sessions including the always-popular Dr. David Dewitt among others. For full programming information, please visit the PASS Summit website.

Anti-Harassment Policy Guidelines and Process

In August the PASS Board of Directors approved an Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP)  for PASS Summit. After the policy was established a subcommittee continued work on guidelines for addressing alleged violations of the policy. The final version of the process was discussed at the September Board meeting and is now available here.
 
Any alleged violations to the AHP can be reported to a member of the conference staff. Staff receiving such a report will contact the Duty Officer. The Duty Officer is a designated member of the staff who is reponsible for taking a full report. The Duty Officer will also notify the Anit-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) that a complaint has been made.
 
The AHRC is the body authorized by the PASS Board of Directors to take action in response to a violation of the AHP. The process document provides guidelines for how the AHRC will conduct its inquiries. 
 
Publication of the AHP and an accompanying blog post  elicited some feedback from the community. Some expressed concerns about how the policy would be implemented and wondered if behaviors such as swearing could cause someone to be removed from the Summit.
 
We could never come up with an exhaustive list of everything that might result in someone being removed from the Summit. Both the behavior and the context in which it occurs would be important in making such a decision. But the AHP Process document provides some general examples of reasons why someone could be expelled from the conference. The emphasis is on the seriousness of the incident. Repeated harassing behavior could also result in expulsion.
 
The purpose of the Anti-Harassment Policy is to ensure the PASS Summit is safe and welcoming for all attendees. The AHP process guidelines support that goal.

 

 

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

 

PASS Board Elections: The Results Are In!

After a record-setting elections season, PASS is pleased to announce the three candidates elected to serve on the PASS Board of Directors for the 2013/2014 term. Wendy Pastrick of Calamos Investments, James Rowland-Jones of the Big Bang Data Company, and Sri Sridharan of GNET Corp were the top vote-getters in a competitive race for the director-at-large seats.

Continuing the trend of increased voter participation, a record 1,957 voters participated in an active 2012 campaign season of great community forums questions, blogs, open-mic activities, and tweets. A tight race, the difference between second and fifth place was less than 200 votes:

  1. Wendy Pastrick – 1127 votes
  2. James Rowland-Jones – 996 votes
  3. Sri Sridharan – 966 votes
  4. Kendal Van Dyke – 818 votes
  5. Allen Kinsel – 798


Community members across 64 countries voted in the 2-week election, casting a total of 4,705 votes. Although six more voters participated in 2012 compared to 2011, 338 fewer votes were cast, with 2012 seeing an increase in single-vote ballots. In such a close race, every vote makes a difference. And for those who may think the election is decided in the first 2 days, the 2012 candidate standings actually changed from the midpoint of the elections to the final results. It’s never too late to have a say and impact the elections.

Newly elected board members will officially begin serving their term on January 1, 2013. For more information about the candidates and the elections process, see the 2012 PASS Elections site.

Thanks to everyone who asked a question in the candidate forums, blogged and tweeted about the elections, and helped shape the future of PASS by voting. And PASS still needs your ideas and involvement.

As PASS continues to grow, it will also need more dedicated individuals to step up and lead. If you are interested in moving into a leadership role within the PASS community, please check out your local PASS Chapter or a Virtual Chapter. Chapters require a strong team of volunteers to help forge the way and are a great first step to one day serving on the PASS Board yourself.

Congratulations to the newly elected directors, and thanks to all the candidates for a passionate and tightly fought race and enhancing the dialog about what PASS means to all of us.

WIT: Something to Talk About

Supporting women in technology is more than just talk in the SQL Server community, thanks to the PASS Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and its popular luncheons and panel discussions at PASS Summit, SQLSaturdays, and other events.

“Our mission is to provide a forum to discuss issues that touch women working in technology and to provide opportunities for women in PASS to network,” explains VC Chairperson Meredith Ryan. “We do this primarily through the Summit Luncheon and our SQLSaturday events. And we use our monthly conference calls to plan the logistics of the annual luncheon and to provide support for SQLSaturday planners and organizers for their WIT sessions.”

With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the PASS Summit WIT luncheon, VC leaders and volunteers are gearing up for a special panel discussion on “Women in Technology: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” with panelists Stefanie Higgins, Kevin Kline, Kendra Little, Denise McInerney, and Jen Stirrup.

What’s happened in the PASS WIT VC since that first luncheon and panel discussion in 2003? Well, attendance at the event has grown from 65 people to over 400 in 2011, Meredith says, and the VC is planning for 560 attendees at this year's luncheon, sponsored by SQLSentry. Attendees at that launch event wanted to continue the networking and formed the PASS WIT Special Interest Group (SIG), which is now a Virtual Chapter with well over 1000 members on its distribution list.

You can also find a WIT session at just about any PASS SQLSaturday in the US. “And thanks to Jen Stirrup, we are making great progress at SQLSaturdays and other PASS events internationally,” Meredith adds. Some WIT sessions at these events have pre-set topics, and others are driven by attendees’ questions. Topics have ranged from dealing with work-life balance and ways to negotiate at work to mentoring the next generation and how to get children excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

The VC encourages men as well as women to attend WIT events, volunteer with the group, and join in the discussion as coworkers, managers, mentors, fathers, husbands, and all-around advocates of women in technology. “We’re open to everyone and welcome all perspectives,” Meredith notes. “We are also always looking for new volunteers. Right now, we need someone to help us get periodic webinars going. The chapter has been discussing hosting quarterly web sessions for some time now, but we haven't had the right person to champion the effort. Even if hosting and managing webinars aren't your thing, we can always use more hands and minds!”

In addition to Meredith, the VC’s leadership team includes:  Donna Shaver, Secretary;  Yanni Robel, Marketing/Social Media Manager; Wendy Pastrick and Kathi Kellenberger, Regional Activity Coordinators; Denise McInerney, Chapter Advisor; and Christina E. Leo, Webmaster.

The WIT VC’s monthly planning conference call is the fourth Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm Pacific Time/4:00 pm Eastern Time, and all volunteers are welcome. To join the VC and help with the work it does, just send an email to wit@sqlpass.org. And follow @PASS_WIT on Twitter for updates and items of interest.

PASS Summit 2012: The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

My flights for PASS Summit 2012 are booked and I can’t wait to catch up with and extend my SQL family! There’s so much going at PASS Summit , it’s hard to know where to start. By now you’re all aware of the awesome technical content and pre-conference sessions available but what about some of the other great learning opportunities, the networking and plain old fun that’s always on tap at Summit?

Community Appreciation Party
PASS exists because of the huge groundswell of support and sheer hard work of the SQL community and we’d like to say thank you. On Thursday, Nov 8, all Summit  attendees are invited to the Experience Music Project (EMP) for a light dinner, drinks, laughs, and music. At EMP, everyone can be a rockstar - cheer on your Summit friends as they belt out tunes backed by a live band or enjoy your own moment of fame with EMP’s rock star simulation. A Seattle landmark, the EMP is a cutting edge pop culture museum with rock ‘n’ roll roots.

Connect at PASS Summit
You’ll have ample time to catch up with old friends and make new ones at PASS Summit. From the First-Timers’ Orientation to the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor Reception, and interactive luncheons, PASS will make it easy for you to stay connected and network with other attendees. There will also be many informal after-hours activities taking place throughout the week – before, during, and after the official Summit schedule.

Expert Picks
The PASS Summit session schedule (PDF) was recently published and you’ve got over 190 technical sessions to choose from over the span of 3 days. This can be overwhelming, I know. To help you out, PASS has put together a series of Expert Picks - lists of recommended sessions from the different perspectives of community experts and PASS Virtual Chapters. There is even a DBA 101 list and a DBA Masters’ list is in the works. Check it out, it’s worth your time.

Convince Your Boss
It goes without question that PASS Summit is the biggest and best SQL Server conference going. For those of you who haven’t yet signed up to attend, you need to convince your boss to send you. PASS has put together some information on who should attend, posted testimonials from past attendees, and  created a handy value table to help you justify your attendance.

And If you can’t Convince your Boss…
We’ll bring Summit to you! We’re launching PASSTV this year – 12 hours of livestreamed content that will repeat during the evening so that every single SQL Server professional around the world can join in andbe a part of this great experience we call PASS Summit. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming weeks.

See you Seattle!

PASS Board Elections: It's Your Turn

Last week, the PASS Board of Directors ratified the official slate for the 2012 Board of Directors General Election. It’s my pleasure to announce the candidates for three Board seats up for election, listed in the order of their Nomination Committee (NomCom) ranking:
•    James Rowland-Jones
•    Sri Sridharan
•    Allen Kinsel
•    Wendy Pastrick
•    Kendal Van Dyke

The NomCom began evaluating applicants for the PASS Board in August, carefully reviewing each application and interviewing each applicant. Now, it’s up to the community to decide who will fill three 2-year terms on the PASS Board.

As PASS’s Immediate Past President, I can tell you that it takes a lot to be effective on the PASS Board. And as Chair of the NomCom, I can tell you that all the candidates have valuable leadership experience and are “PASSionate” people. To decide which candidates you want to lead your organization, especially as PASS continues its rapid growth, it is important to research and evaluate each candidate. You can learn more about each candidate on the 2012 Elections’ Candidates page.

The elections forums and campaigning are open now, and voting will take place September 28 to October 12. If you were a PASS member before June 1, 2012, you are eligible to vote and will receive a ballot by email. The top three vote getters will be elected and will begin their terms January 1, 2013.

I encourage you to have your say – both in the elections forums, where candidates will be replying to your questions, and by voting. Good luck to all the candidates, and happy voting everyone!

Rushabh Mehta,
Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair

Taking That Next Step

In IT, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. And whether you’re seeking a career change or to strengthen your current position and value, the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter is there to help you take that next step.

“Our mission is to provide tools, advice, encouragement, and insight for technology professionals at all levels to ‘take the next step’ in their career,” explains VC leader Mark Caldwell. “We provide free LiveMeeting presentations each month on topics related to our mission. We also have an active blog that features great interviews with SQL professionals, book reviews, and other related commentary – much of it provided by Kathi Kellenberger.”

The VC, initially formed in the Fall of 2009, got rolling with regular webcasts in 2010. Live attendance at the webcasts has grown from seven in the early days to 49 as recently as last week. However, with nearly 4,000 PASS members having registered an interest in the VC’s happenings, many more may be watching the session recordings on-demand, Mark notes.

As a resource for information and conversation on professional development for people in the technology industry, the VC has covered everything from professional networking, effective meetings, and managing teams to consulting tips, communication skills, career advice for turbulent times, and much more. In June, a panel of PASS Board members talked about thinking strategically and shared lessons they’ve learned from serving on the organization’s leadership team. “We also recently expanded our scope to include topics on technology management with the help of Kevin Kline,” Mark adds.

If you missed the VC’s September meeting with Brian Moran on “The Art of Questions – How Can IT Pros Be More Successful?” you can listen to the recording and read Mark’s blog post inspired by the session. Next up is Joe Webb presenting on “Effective Delegation Techniques” Oct. 10.

To make sure you receive meeting reminders from the VC, simply include the Professional Development VC on your My Chapters list on the PASS website. If you’re interested in speaking or volunteering, the VC would love to hear from you – contact Mark today.