Women in Tech Virtual Chapter at the Summit 2010

The Women in Tech Virtual Chapter has several activities on this year's Summit schedule. All attendees, female & male, are welcome at all of the WIT events.

The featured event is our 8th Annual WIT Luncheon and Panel Discussion on Wednesday Nov 10, 11:30-1:30. This year's topic is:

Recruiting, Retaining & Advancing Women in Technology: Why does it matter?

Increasing the role of women in technology has a direct impact on the women working in hi-tech, but the effects can go far beyond that. How do female tech workers influence innovation and product development? How do men benefit from having more women working in technology? Can the presence of women in tech affect a company’s bottom line? What does it mean for women and their families when they have access to hi-tech jobs?

 Our speakers:

  • Nora Denzel, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Employee Management Solutions, Intuit
  • Billie Jo Murray, General Manager, SQL Central Services, Microsoft
  • Michelle Ufford, Senior SQL Server DBA, GoDaddy.com
  • Denise McInerney, Staff Database Administrator, Intuit
  • Stacia Misner, Principal, Data Inspirations

The WIT chapter will again be at the Welcome Reception on Monday beginning at 6:30 p.m. Come by our information table to meet other PASS women, sign up on our mailing list and help us cheer WIT members Wendy Pastrick, Jen McCown and Kendra Little during the Quizbowl.

On Tuesday at noon WIT members Meredith Ryan-Smith, Erin Stellato, Andie Letourneau and Kim Tessereau will lead a Chalk Talk on Energizing the Next Generation: Encouraging and Inspiring Young Women to Choose Tech Careers.

On Thursday during the lunch break WIT members will be at the WIT VC table for the "Meet the Chapters" lunch. Come by to meet and  network with PASS women.

Follow the #passwit hashtag on Twitter for info on informal get-togethers with WIT members during the Summit.

 

What is a PASS Regional Mentor?

[cross-posted from Karla Landrum's blog - http://karlalandrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/what-is-a-pass-regional-mentor/ ]

This is one of the questions I get when I email or tell someone that I am now a PASS Regional Mentor for the Heartland region, which usually leads to their next question “but don’t you live in Florida?” I’ll admit when I first expressed interest to PASS that I wanted to be an RM, I had hoped it would be covering the SouthEast region, but each region has two mentors, and the SE had been assigned already to Jorge Segarra (Blog | Twitter) and Adam Jorgensen (Blog | Twitter), two fantastic contributors to the SQL Community. However, I can now say that the path I was put on was meant to be, as it enabled me to immediately contribute and help out the SQL Community in some very rewarding ways. 
Originally I had been assigned to the MidWest, because at the time there wasn’t anyone to cover that region. Well at the same time that I became RM, I had finally broke down and signed up for twitter. In following various different personalities on twitter, I quickly came to recognize some of the very strong and positive influencers out there. Immediately I wanted to start finding myself a co-RM for the MidWest, and was delighted to see that Arie Jones (Blog | Twitter) was up in Indiana, a super energizer that had presented at my first SQL Saturday up in Pensacola two years ago. Finding someone living in the MidWest region I felt was necessary since I needed someone to be “onsite” to help cover the turf “up close”, such as speaking/attending events and user group meetings in that area, so I luckily still had AJ’s email and did a shot out to him to see if he’d be interested in being an RM, and long story short, he said YES! So off I sent an email to Douglas McDowell (Blog | Twitter) to arrange a call between the two of them. So great, I now had a partner that I knew was going to be as excited as myself in this new role. So mission complete, but oh wait, who is this @wendy_dance person, so full of positive energy and feedback and apparently loved by many! Continued to check out her profile on twitter and wouldn’t you know it, she is a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Director lives in Illinois, another MidWest region state. Well it just seemed to make sense that she should be an RM, with all her influence and great following, so I sent her a DM and asked if she thought she might be interested, tagged Douglas and her together, and voila, Wendy Pastrick (Blog | Twitter) was on the PASS RM train. 
Ok, so that left just a few regions that still needed someone, so I volunteered for the Heartland region to work along with Cincinnati’s SQL User Group leader and PASS RM, Matt Rigling (Blog | Twitter). Why Heartland, it was closer to the SE, almost anyway. This region includes some very northern states, Michigan and Ohio, but also what I consider southern states, Kentucky and Tennessee. Also having clients in two of these states will help to get me at some of the events in these areas. (Already looking forward to SQL Saturday #60, although Florida girl in Cleveland in February, yikes!)
That answers question two, why Heartland, now back to question one and title of what will be the first of several blogs while on this journey as a PASS Regional Mentor. I am finding that many chapters don’t know what a Regional Mentor is primarily because they just either didn’t have an RM or state that they never had their RM ever contact them. I believe some realignments of regions occurred and created more RM territories, so that would explain if they really didn’t have an RM assigned to their region prior to now (although I do believe that even though fewer RMs existed,  fewer chapters existed as well, hince why now there are two for each region).  If you are a Chapter Leader and are not sure who your RM is, you can find all of them listed under the PASS Chapters tab at www.sqlpass.org. As far as those who say their previous RM never contacted them, personally that wasn’t the case for me when I led a chapter. Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter) was our RM here in the SE, and he checked in with me at least once a quarter, and I was able to reach out to him anytime I needed anything.  Maybe other RMs just weren’t that available, I don’t know, as I really can’t answer to what might have happened in the past. I can only share with you what I know as of now, and over the next several posts, will share with you our plans and how we intend to execute our ideas.
In general, a PASS Regional Mentor can be defined as the following:
          Passionate community volunteer
        Dedicated to PASS and the SQL Server community
        Understands the value of giving his/her time and talents to helping others increase their knowledge and skills and improving the overall community
          PASS ambassador
        Understands PASS and its mission and represents the best of PASS to Chapters in his/her area
        Works to keep PASS accountable, on track, and meeting the needs of its members
          Primary point of contact for Chapters
        RM facilitates 2-way communications: resources, benefits, and news from PASS to Chapters and Chapter needs and feedback back to PASS
        RM knows who to contact at PASS, at the local/regional Microsoft office, area sponsors, etc. if Chapters need something or have questions
My goals are quite simple. Stay closely connected with Matt and the chapters in our region. Encourage and mentor folks on hosting SQL Saturday events where they haven’t had one yet. Help chapters with filling empty speaker slots at their monthly meetings. Connect sponsors to those hosting user group meetings, SQL Saturdays and other events. Work with chapters and speakers to possibly “piggy back” nearby user groups. Volunteer at as many events as I can this next year (so far the most I’ve done is 6 in one year, not counting user group meetings). Pretty much all the things I did as a Chapter Leader, so why be a Regional Mentor? Guess that brings us to question three. I think being an RM is going to give me a much farther reach in helping chapters that are truly “in the need”, and at the same time assisting PASS in getting those needs heard and met. 
I’ll keep you posted on how things are going, good or bad. And hey, feel free to share your comments on what you feel as RMs we should be doing for you and the SQL Community. We are working to retool and define this new RM legion every day, and since we are here to benefit you, your input is very much welcomed. 
 

2010 PASS Summit Preview

[cross-posted from Thomas LaRock's blog - http://thomaslarock.com/2010/10/2010-pass-summit-preview/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+SQLRockstar+(SQLRockstar))

It’s time for another PASS Summit preview and that can mean only one thing: movie quotes! This time we are going with ‘Back to School’ starring Rodney Dangerfield and in a supporting role a mostly sober Robert Downey, Jr. Why that movie? Because whenever I head off to a conference such as the PASS Summit I always feel like I am heading back to school, so this movie selection just seemed to make the most sense.

As Fergie says: “Let’s get it started.“

“Please, try to understand. I don’t have the background for this. I mean, the high school I went to, they asked a kid to prove the law of gravity, he threw the teacher out the window!”

At my first Summit I was overwhelmed by the content. Everything seemed to be a 500 level talk. I was over my head and I knew it. I also knew that if I wanted to get better as a database professional then I needed to start swimming and soak up all the information that I could. As the years went by the feeling that everything was at the 500 level went away. There are only a few moments during a Summit where I feel that I am way out of my element (anything on XML, for example). The Summit has content for everyone at every level making it the perfect place for you to learn something new no matter what your background may be. Yes, even database developers are welcome, along with Sharepoint and BI folk.

“Don’t you ever read? Read. Who has time? I see the movie. I’m in and out in two hours.”

Every year at PASS there is a bookstore. And every year I would look at the books and try to pick a few that I thought would be good for me to have. At the start the trouble was knowing which one was more valuable than another. Once I started learning who-was-who in the SQL Community it got a little easier to know which books I wanted. But it was also quite interesting when I started to realize that I knew the authors. And this year marks the very first PASS Summit that will have a book written by me! I have no idea if it will be on that table or not, but I do expect it to be at the Apress booth and I do know that we will have some copies at the Confio booth as well.

“The toy division has come up with a new doll idea to go along with our children’s clothing line. We call them Melon Patch Kids. Now, the competition exploits the notion that their dolls are orphans. The Melon Patch Kids are not orphans… they’re abandoned! We think it’s a winner.”

This one is dead on perfect for all the half baked ideas that Microsoft gives us from time to time. English Query anyone? But as much as we may shake our head about such things we should all take a step back and think about what failure really means. I appreciate all the hard work that goes into SQL Server, even into the stuff that may not work as well as we would like. And I truly enjoy the fact that Microsoft is filled with people that care enough to listen to our feedback at events such as the PASS Summit.

Building a product that works for everyone is not easy. Next time you see someone that works on the SQL team you should do them a favor and thank them for some aspect of the product that you enjoy. At the very least, thank them for one thing before you complain about the ten things you don’t like.

“Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.”

Two words: SQL Karaoke. And if that isn’t enough for you, there is a couch in the men’s room. You’re welcome.

“Actually, I’d like to join you, but I have class tonight. Oh, how ’bout tomorrow night? I have class then, too. I’ll tell you what, then. Why don’t you call me some time when you have no class?”

This quote is for all of the learning that goes on, day and night, at the PASS Summit. And here is a PASS Summit Pro Tip: sometimes the best learning happens outside of the actual sessions. It can happen in a hallway, or the speaker ready room, or on a couch outside of the registration area. The fact is that when geeks like us get together at some point we discuss geek stuff. And before you know it someone has a whiteboard and four or five people are standing around learning and discussing something they weren’t planning on talking about just five minutes ago. At my first Summit I was in every session I could. Last year I was in three sessions and came away thinking it was the best Summit ever.

Besides, I know I can watch them all on a DVD later anyway. So don’t be afraid to talk with a few friends about a particular topic or obstacle you are trying to overcome. You will be surprised at how quickly you will be able to find an answer, even without a whiteboard.

“Good teacher. He really seems to care. About what I have no idea.”

No doubt this quote applies to the one and only Buck Woody. If you have never attended one of his presentations then make this your first time. He is the Don Rickles of PASS, except not as good looking. Buck is also the most interesting DBA in the World. Don’t believe me? You can watch the video for yourself. Trust me, no matter what your skill level you can always learn something new from Buck Woody. This year Buck is presenting a session on database testing and also a post-con seminar on Sharepoint for the DBA.

“The answer is…[the answer hits him]… 4?”

So many times we hear the answer “it depends” with regards to technology and specifically with database performance. There are many variables involved and so many layers of abstractions that are only getting more complex with every passing year. If you want to keep up to date with everything then you need to be having conversations with a lot of different people. What better place to do that than the PASS Summit? If you come to the Summit with any question at all I can assure you that you can find an answer at the Summit. I used to be amazed at how much people knew about so many different things and I have come to realize that they don’t always have a deep understanding, they have simply been around long enough to have been exposed to a lot of different things. You get such exposure at places like the PASS Summit.

“When’s our first class? Uh, we got Economics tomorrow at 11 o’clock. 11 o’clock? No good. I got a massage 11 o’clock. Tell ‘em to make it 2 o’clock. No, dad. Uh, you don’t get it. They’re not gonna re-schedule the classes around your massage. All right, 11 o’clock, but I’m gonna talk to that Dean. I mean, these classes could be a REAL inconvenience.”

There is so much to do during the day (and night) that it is very hard to set your schedule. These past few years I have felt pulled in many different directions and last year I was expected to be in three places at the same time. I never look at the session schedule until the day of, I just like the idea of making a game day decision when it comes to sessions. If I tried to plan out every minute of my day at the Summit I would go crazy. At the Summit I need to just “go with the flow”. If something interesting comes my way at the last minute I want to be able to change plans quickly and without remorse.

“Hi, I’m Kurt Vonnegut. I’m looking for Thornton Melon.”

When Jason Melon opens the door to see Kurt Vonnegut he is star struck. That;s the same feeling I get whenever I go to a PASS Summit. Just check out the list of people that are coming this year. Now go to your bookshelf, grab a book about databases, look at the author’s name, and see if you find it in that list. Chances are you will. All the stars come out at the PASS Summit, it truly is like Summer Camp for database professionals. And there is no doubt in my mind that this Summit will be the best Summit ever.

“With the shape I’m in you could donate my body to science fiction.”

That is a good way to describe how I feel after being up for over 100 hours during the seven days. I typically don’t sleep very well when traveling anyway, but at the PASS Summit I don’t sleep because I am always with so many interesting people that I only get to see a few times a year at most.

 

SQLSaturday Round-Up (Oct. 20-27)

You know all about PASS SQLSaturdays already, I'm sure. If you don't, you may want to visit the SQLSaturday website for more information.

If you do, you'll be happy to note that (starting today, Wednesday, with this humble post) we'll be doing a 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?

The posts are all SQLSaturday recaps written in the last week. If you wrote (or are planning to write) a SQLSaturday recap on your blog and you don't see it posted on PASS Blog, let us know and we'll make sure to look out for your efforts.

LAST WEEK IN SQLSATURDAY...

+ Jen McCown presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Tim Mitchell also presented at SQLSaturday #56 in Dallas

+ Jack Corbett helped organize SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jorge Segarra presented at SQLSaturday #49 in Orlando

+ Jason Brimhall attended SQLSaturday #54 in Salt Lake City

IN OTHER NEWS... 

You might also be interested in the thoughts and musings of Andy Warren, SQLSaturday co-founder and PASS Director. Andy's currently pondering new SQLSaturday sponsorship models as well as fresh ways to advertise events locally.

Want to attend 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 SQLRally Pre-con Voting Is Open

I'm happy to announce that voting for the 2011 PASS SQLRally Pre-con sessions is now open! There are four tracks: BI; DBA; Dev; and Miscellaneous and the PASS SQLRally program team has narrowed down the field to 3 session choices per track. You can review the choices here:

After you've looked over the abstracts you can go HERE to cast your vote for which ones you'd be willing to pay up to $199 to attend. Voting is open until 8 AM PST November 2, 2011. The winning sessions will be announced at the 2010 PASS Summit in two weeks.

Thanks again to everyone who submitted an abstract and good luck!

PASS FY2011 Budget Posted

We published our FY2011 budget at http://www.sqlpass.org/AboutPASS/Governance.aspx.  We have the budget details, my summary of our budget and some graphs to highlight our revenue and spending.  You can also view our financials all the way back to 2004.  If you have any questions about our budget please ask them here and we'll try to get them answered.

 

PASS O.C. Update

 [cross-posted from http://thomaslarock.com/2010/10/pass-o-c-update/ in case you missed it - Admin]

As the PASS Summit approaches I am getting excited about our efforts to help first time Summit attendees. This year we will have two new additions to our list of Summit events. First up is the new attendee orientation session, which will take place for 30 minutes prior to the Welcome Reception. We will do our best to give all first time Summit attendees an idea on what to expect over the next few days and some tips and tricks to maximize their time. Hopefully they will get to make a few new friends while there and at the Welcome Reception as well.

The second event is the PASS O.C. itself. This is the program where we are going to have some volunteers donate their time to be a “Big Brother/Sister” to a new attendee. We have a limited number of volunteers so we will not be able to provide this service for all new attendees. But for a chosen few they will be given the opportunity to formally meet and greet other new attendees as well. The idea is simple: assign 8-10 first timers to an O.C. member, have the O.C. member initiate a dialogue with the individuals in the group as well as their group as a whole, arrange to meet with them prior to the Welcome Reception (if possible), and do their best to ensure that those 8-10 people are never, ever, ever alone during the Summit.

I want people to have the same type of Summit experience that I do: it’s like Band Camp but for professional geeks.

 

A Message from Microsoft

Hello PASS members. With over 60,000 members worldwide and 200 chapters in over 50 countries, it’s hard to believe that PASS is only 11 years old! Over the past decade, PASS has continually provided top-tier education for SQL Server IT professionals and Microsoft is proud to support PASS and their growth initiatives. Over the past few years, PASS has seen phenomenal growth due to the hard work and passion of the all-volunteer Board of Directors, and we’re excited for what the future holds.

PASS Summit is the SQL Server educational and networking event of the year, bringing together over 3,000 SQL Server community members and Microsoft employees.  Microsoft is proud to partner closely with PASS to educate our core audience of IT professionals, with over 50 technical breakout sessions, 8 chalk-talks and 15 product pavilion kiosks.  Additionally, the ever popular SQL Server Clinic featuring free consulting from Microsoft Customer Support and Customer Advisory Team members will be back to help with your design, architecture or deployment questions.  And Ted Kummert, Quentin Clark and David DeWitt will be delivering three action-packed keynotes that include important product announcements that you won’t want to miss!

Beyond the PASS Summit, the PASS organization has reached out and educated the community in innovative ways, such as the highly-successful 24 Hours of PASS online webcast series, free SQLSaturday events and the upcoming SQLRally mini-conference.  Many of these events are free, and like PASS Summit they are excellent opportunities to learn from experts and also expand your professional network.

PASS was a pivotal launch partner for SQL Server 2008 R2, and as we think about the next major release of SQL Server we will be looking to engage closely with PASS and the community once again.  We’ve also worked closely with PASS on reinforcing the mission-critical capabilities of SQL Server, including deep-dive technical sessions at 24 Hours of PASS and PASS Summit.  Finally, as SQL Server IT professionals think about migrating deployments to the cloud, PASS members can look forward to some great SQL Azure training.

We look forward to helping PASS continue to grow and expand its worldwide presence and impact.  See you at PASS Summit!

Best regards,

-Kevin Yam

 

PASS Update #44 (Budget)

(cross-posted from http://www.sqlandy.com/archive/pass-update-44-budget/)

I had a question recently about how budgets work at PASS, and I think that’s something worth sharing, so I’m going to write an overview of that process today.  Note that I’m not the Finance guy, so the “official” word gets published elsewhere, and for that reason I’m not quoting numbers, just talking about process from my perspective as a participant in that process.

First, we start with funding, how do we raise money to pay the bills? A big, big chunk of our revenue comes from the annual PASS Summit, and you can think of this as not just a community event but an “annual fund raiser”. Some of that is from paid attendees and some from sponsors. We also generate some funds from selling Summit DVD’s as well as sponsorships for things like 24 Hours of PASS. PASS does not take any portion of sponsorship funds from SQLSaturday events or Chapter meetings. [Note: That isn’t to suggest that we might, just to explain that we don’t.]

Also, we should have the budget for 2011 published shortly and I’ll post a note when you can review the full document.

Early each year we start estimating (aka guessing) what our revenue will be for the next year. So in Jan/Feb and up through May we’re looking at how much money we will have for the fiscal year that begins July first, with the added challenge that we won’t know how we did until mid to late December after we’ve finalized all the items related to the Summit. If we guess too low we hurt the organization by spending less in often critical areas, and if we guess too high, then that leads to painful discussions about what areas to cut. This is something that most businesses go through and certainly isn’t unique to PASS.

Then we switch to spending. It starts with the President assigning ‘portfolios’ to Board members, which you can think of a being about the same as a large department in most companies. Directors then submit a budget request to the VP of Finance outlining how much and the major areas where it will be spent. At this point it’s a wish list, but scoped based on anticipated changes up or down in revenue as well as the previous year budget. The VP of Finance (currently Bill Graziano) and our accountant then combine all that into a monster spreadsheet for the first round of review.

Next we typically look at that first cut and start talking about where we can make adjustments. Most requests are reasonable to start with, but sometimes there just isn’t enough to do everything, so we each review our list and find places to reduce our request. This has been for one of the best experiences on the Board for me, everyone working together and jointly trying to find ways to get to a budget that will let us accomplish our most important goals.

Then, finally, we vote to approve the budget. At that point we’re able to authorize spend against that budget as long as it generally fits within the plan. If it’s a minor change we’ll send a note to Bill asking for his ok. An example was the project to populate the SQLSaturday wiki. I requested to re-align some of the funds allocated for the project and as it was inline with the goals of the portfolio it was approved. A deeper change might be sent out to the Board for discussion. Once the budget is approved, getting ‘more money’ requires a budget exception, which in turn requires Board discussion and vote. That process is, by design, painful. It takes time to have the discussion, we have to find that ‘more money’, and in general we don’t like mid course changes. They do happen though, and perhaps once a year we’ll have one.

So, where does the money go? We maintain an office and staff, to do things like plan and handle Summit logistics, do SQLSaturday coaching, maintain an auditable set of financial records, and a whole lot more. A lot of it goes to costs at the Summit. I won’t go into numbers here, but the costs are significant. To give you a taste of the costs, at the upcoming SQLRally it costs $12,000 per day for the space, and anything we spend on food and beverage reduces that cost, hopefully to zero. We have to use the hotel for food and beverage, and a boxed lunch costs, wait for it, $35 per box! Our team does a lot to control, reduce, and negotiate these costs, but if you need a big venue, you’re largely stuck playing their game. We devote some money to all the other stuff; SQLSaturday sponsorships, IT projects, etc, etc, etc.

Board members are not paid. When we travel on behalf of PASS (usually just 3-4 meetings a year) we get per diem and reimbursed for airfare, PASS pays for the hotel directly. We do get “free” admission to the Summit. Individual Board members don’t have any personal discretionary spending authority or budget, if we buy drinks or appetizers or coffee when we sit to talk informally with members it’s all out of pocket.

Each year we grant free admission (a “comp”) to the Summit to our speakers and a small number of volunteers. Comps are built into the budget because they have a real cost. It’s not “free” to just let someone extra attend – they get a bag, require registration services, eat meals, drink water, and in general cost real money. It’s somewhat less than the cost of a full registration, but it is substantial. We’d love to do more comps, but ultimately it comes back to the budget. Faced with sponsoring a couple more events or buying SWAG or any of the other places where spending would help, we try to do the things that help most members.

All in all, it’s the standard process that any business goes through, making estimates and judgments and tradeoffs to try to do the most good. Hope that helps some. When Bill publishes the budget I encourage you to read it carefully, though I’ll tell you it’s not exciting reading! He’ll also be publishing an annual statement about our finances and you should read that as well. I think the thing I’d tell you is to look at it portfolio by portfolio and if you have suggestions, send them in.

Lightning Talk Moderators Needed

In case you haven't heard, we're adding Lightning Talks to the PASS Community Summit this year. The idea of Lightning Talks is pretty simple:

  • Every speaker has 5 minutes
  • Slides are optional
  • No demos
  • When the 5 minutes are up, the speaker is done.

So, in order to pull this off, we need three volunteers from the audience. All you have to do is work an egg timer. Whenever a speaker starts talking, you start the egg timer. When they're done, you cut them off, shoo them off the stage, and then introduce the next speaker. You can think of the job as being like an M.C. because that's what it is (parachute pants will not be provided by PASS). One bonus is that you'll get to hobnob with the speakers and/or embarrass when you introduce them. It's all good fun until someone falls off the stage!

If you'd like to volunteer to moderate one of these sessions, let me know. Send an email to jeremiah.peschka@sqlpass.org. There are only three sessions, supplies are limited. Act now!

Update: I want to thank everyone who got back in touch with me about this, and there were a lot of you. We have our moderators selected - Matt Velic, Lance Harra, and Noel McKinney will be emceeing our Lightning Talks.

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