Volunteer leaders needed - fun, over achievers please apply!

PASS is looking for a few great, excitable people to join the ranks of our volunteers. We have three Virtual Chapters starting up and would love your energy in helping us make them a success. The positions available are as follows:

Performance Virtual Chapter 
• Speaker Coordinator -  reach out to potential speakers, schedule Live Meetings, and be a part of the leadership team
• Web Content Guru - navigate the DNN site, update the webpage, and aggregate performance-related content
• Marketing Coordinator - post meetings on the Events tab of sqlpass.org, push the sessions out on all virtual chapter channels, and get the PASS community excited about Performance Virtual Chapter events

SQL Azure Virtual Chapter
• Virtual Chapter Leader -  work directly with Microsoft leads to get this group off the ground, connect with speakers, and bring a lot of energy to the PASS community. Preferably this person will be at TechEd where the Virtual Chapter is launching, although it’s not a requirement
• Marketing Coordinator - work with PASS and the SQL Azure team at Microsoft to develop swag, push messaging out, and get the community excited about sessions
• Content Coordinator - aggregate SQL Azure specific links, post meeting information, and facilitate conversation between users

SQL Server and Oracle Virtual Chapter
• Virtual Chapter Leader -  work directly with Oracle and SQL Server experts at Microsoft to get this group off the ground, connect with Microsoft and community speakers
• Marketing Coordinator - work with PASS and the Microsoft leads to develop swag, push messaging out, and get the community excited about sessions
• Content Coordinator - aggregate specific links, post meeting information, and facilitate conversation between users


If you are passionate about the PASS community and have a background in the aforementioned areas of technologies, please send through your interest to VirtualChapters@sqlpass.org with the subject line “Virtual Chapter Volunteer Opportunity” and answer the following questions in the body of the email

Virtual Chapter name and position:

Why would you like to serve as a PASS volunteer?
What makes you great for this position?
Please describe your previous involvement with PASS
Tell me one random and humorous thing about yourself 

Thanks everyone!
Blythe
 

SQLPASS.org Spring Refresh

SQLPASS.org has a fresh face today, with a redesigned Home page to help you easily find the valuable in-person and online training events and resources that help you Connect, Share, and Learn with fellow SQL Server professionals.

At a glance, you can see

  • Upcoming community events—including in-person, online, and special SQL Server 2008 R2 launch events worldwide. Make sure you submit your events to the PASS Events page so that the community knows about them.
  • Chapter updates and resources for speakers, Chapter leaders, and more. Again, we encourage you to add your Chapter meetings to the PASS Events page so that we can spotlight your activities.
  • PASS news, including recent blog posts, links to Board meeting minutes, special member offers, and everything you need to keep up-to-date with what’s going on with your favorite association.
  • The latest technical articles and news about SQL Server, including new SQL Server Standard issues as soon as they’re available.

You can also now subscribe to RSS feeds to easily keep up with PASS and industry happenings; see the new RSS page for details. Plus, don’t forget to share your opinions in the PASS poll and see what your colleagues are thinking.

Check out the new Home page today, and let us know what you think.

Come Play in the SQL Server 2008 R2 Hosted Trial Sandbox

With the launch today of the free Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Hosted Trial, the ultimate techie sandbox is open for business. Sponsored by Dell, MaximumASP, and PASS , the Hosted Trial provides a complete, integrated Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, SharePoint 2010, and Office 2010 environment where you can try out SQL Server 2008 R2’s new BI and data management features risk-free, explains PASS Board member Douglas McDowell. Here, Douglas shares how to get started and make the most of your Hosted Trial experience.

Q: What is the Hosted Trial, and how can I and my organization benefit from it?
A:
Hosted Trial is a completely preconfigured server environment that a user can remotely access to try out different features of a software product. In this case, a user can explore the new Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 release in an integrated configuration with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010. To introduce the new features, the Hosted Trial provides seven hands-on labs that users can step through from the comfort of their own office or home.

Q: Is the Hosted Trial lab environment something I can access securely from my office?
A:
Yes, in most cases. To access the labs, you connect to a Terminal Services Gateway over SSL and then the labs launch a Remote Desktop Session (RDP) that is secured by SSL as well. However, some folks could run into issues if their company blocks RDP at their firewall.
 
Q: Which features of SQL Server 2008 R2 do the labs cover?
A:
For DBAs, there is a lab for the new Multi-Server Management features in SQL Server 2008 R2. For Business Intelligence pros, there are SQL Server 2008 R2 labs for PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint, new Reporting Services features, and Master Data Services. There are also two Integration Services labs. In addition, developers will really enjoy jumping into StreamInsight, the new complex event processing (CEP) platform embedded in SQL Server 2008 R2.
 
Q: Can I try out the new R2 features with my own data?
A:
The Hosted Trial is set up to be scalable and easily maintainable for numerous users. It does not allow users to add their own files or data to the hosted environment.
 
Q: How do I access the labs? Any prerequisites or recommendations for optimizing my experience with the Hosted Trial?
A:
Head out to PreviewSQLServer.com and register to get started. You only need a decent high-speed Internet connection and Windows XP or newer (or a Windows RDP client for other platforms). 
 
Q: Is there any support available if I get stuck or have questions?
A:
Yes! Users can send questions to a dedicated queue within the MaximumASP support team by emailing support@PreviewSQLServer.com. This team will provide a wide range of support and can escalate issues as needed.

Q: What’s the technology involved behind the scenes in the Hosted Trial? How many people can be taking advantage of the labs at the same time?
A:
We have a Terminal Services Gateway that sits in front of a Hyper-V cluster hosting multiple Virtual Machines. Based on the last Hosted Trial, we are starting with capacity for five simultaneous labs. But we expect this Hosted Trial to be even more popular, so we will monitor traffic and add more capacity as needed.

Q: PASS has cosponsored Hosted Trials before—is there anything different about this program? Any enhancements or changes I should know about if I’ve participated before?
A:
The experience of this Hosted Trial is going to be very similar to previous ones, but the content is going to be very different. In the past, the environment has been totally SQL Server focused, but to take advantage of many of SQL Server 2008 R2’s new BI features, you have to have Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 configured with SQL Server 2008 R2. Getting such an integrated environment set up could be difficult and time-consuming for users who just want to try out the new features and understand how they might apply them in their environment, so this Hosted Trial lets users jump in immediately with no risk or setup.

Q: What is PASS’s role in helping bring this offering to the community? Why are you excited about it?
A:
PASS is coordinating all the sponsors involved and making sure that the technical community knows about it and can access it. We are excited about the Hosted Trial because it empowers all types of SQL Server users to experience SQL Server 2008 R2 instantly! There is no replacement for the education and understanding gained in working with technology in a hands-on capacity. PASS considers the Hosted Trial for SQL Server 2008 R2 to be a valuable addition to the many benefits PASS offers its members.

Who Is PASS?

Maybe it’s bad grammar, but who is PASS? Right now I think too often we define PASS as being our annual Summit, or as the Board of Directors and PASS HQ. Those are part of the equation, but not all of it, and I’d argue not even the most important part.

It’s us.

It’s you.

We all serve the organization in some way. Some of us have reached the point in our careers where we can give back by speaking or leading a chapter or working on a volunteer committee. Some of us are trying to juggle a career and professional development. Some of us are just starting out, seeing SQL Server as a new and exciting world. It takes all of us to make it work.

Without you, we’re an empty shell. With you, we can do incredible things. So the next time someone asks you about PASS, maybe you’ll be ready to say “we are PASS”.

Andy Warren

Virtual Chapter volunteers make PASS a great place to Connect, Share and Learn

In addition to all the physical chapter initiatives we’re working on, Douglas and I have been busy behind the scenes with the Virtual Chapter Portfolio.

We have some of PASS’s best volunteers working with us to make our virtual educational presence a success. These events are largely marketed by the volunteers themselves and illustrate how SQL Server Community volunteers really drive the PASS organization to success. Every month the Virtual Chapter Leaders log into a leadership conference call with Douglas and I, and we brainstorm how to make this portfolio better and more dynamic. There have been some truly amazing ideas this year, and we feel the need to give credit where it is due:

  • Brent Ozar, our Virtualization Virtual Chapter Leader, started the year by encouraging PASS VCs to search out sponsorship from the Community’s many corporate participants. We have since signed on sponsors for 3 Virtual Chapters, created all of our process documents, and have a working model for the portfolio
  • Aaron Nelson, PASS Application Development VC volunteer,  pioneered the Virtual Chapter marketing checklist, and working with the PASS marketing team, pulled all the VCs together to standardize a process of letting our members know about the Virtual Chapter meetings
  • David Taylor with the help of his Application Development VC had the first Virtual Chapter meeting with a physical Chapter, The Adelaide SQL Server User Group. With Speaker Aaron Nelson in Atlanta, the session took place in both virtual and physical space. We hope this will set the stage for future meetings and chapter support
  • The Women in Technology VC has infiltrated SQLSaturday! lead by Wendy Pastrick and Denise McInerney and starting with SQLSaturday #41 in Atlanta, the WIT VC are supporting local WIT sessions in hopes of encouraging more women to enter IT professions
  • We've also focused a lot of the year on mentoring and continuity within our volunteer resources. We have quite a few volunteers who started as a steering committee members, and through effective mentorship, have moved into leading their own groups. Amoung them include Jorge Segarra (Professional Development), Tim Mitchell and Jeff Rush (BI), and Tim Edwards (Performance). All in the past 3 months! 

We have accomplished so much in the first quarter with the Virtual Chapter portfolio and hope to keep the momentum rolling.  Want to start a virtual chapter or volunteer for an existing one? It’s hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Let me know via email if you’re interested.

Thanks all!
Blythe
 

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SQLSaturday Update

Within the next 30 days or so, SQLSaturday should officially be in the PASS fold. And I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a quick update—and to thank the SQL Server community for its enthusiastic support of SQLSaturday over the past 3 years. We appreciate your patience as we work to transition the event logistics and administration with the least amount of disruption to organizers and attendees.

PASS is committed to keeping SQLSaturday as grassroots and community-driven as it has always been, with the added benefit of providing you more support as you plan and put on your events. We’ve been working intently the past couple of months to make the handoff from SQLSaturday’s founders to PASS as smooth and seamless as possible. Because PASS is a not-for-profit organization, our auditors have identified a few changes we need to make in the areas of liability, funds-management, and privacy policy. You can read a detailed report from Andy Warren about those changes, which will mostly affect event leaders.

However, the attendee experience and the vast majority of processes for organizing a SQLSaturday event will stay the same:

  • Free – SQLSaturday events have always delivered a full day of fantastic in-person SQL Server training for free, and they will continue to provide great content without charge.
  • Logo – The SQLSaturday logo is staying the same for the time being, so those Hawaiian T-shirts you picked up at the Tampa Bay event will still be 100% current :)
  • SQLSaturday website – The only change to the website at this point will be the addition of the PASS logo and wording around SQLSaturday being a PASS community event. Everything else is staying the same, but we’re open to any enhancements the community would like to see.
  • Event organization – Event leaders will also continue to be in charge of creating their own event program, selecting their own sessions and speakers, and producing the SQLSaturday that best meets the needs of their particular community.
  • Sponsorships – Event leaders will continue to be responsible for engaging with local sponsors and determining sponsorship programs and levels for their individual events.
     

To keep things simple, PASS HQ’s Blythe Morrow, who handles Community and Mentoring, will be your one-stop contact for everything SQLSaturday. Joining Blythe on the support team are Sanjeet Gandham for website logistics and sponsorships and David Yang for IT troubleshooting. You can contact any of the team members directly or just contact Blythe and have her direct your questions or comments to the appropriate person. And of course, Andy Warren is still available to share his wealth of SQLSaturday experience and advice.

We hope to have all the transition details worked out by early May and will communicate the changes directly to SQLSaturday event leaders as well as to the community. Until then, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to working with you to make your SQLSaturday events the best they can be.
—Rushabh
 

Rushabh Mehta
PASS President 

 

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Q&A: SQLRockstar on 24 Hours of PASS

As the 24 Hours of PASS team prepared to announce the upcoming 24 Hours of PASS: Celebrating SQL Server 2008 R2 virtual event, we stole a few minutes with PASS Board member and 24 Hours of PASS organizer Thomas LaRock (aka SQLRockstar) to reminisce about last year’s “24 Hours with SQLRockstar” and go inside this spring’s event. Set to begin at noon GMT on May 19, the series of 24 free back-to-back webcasts by top industry experts has a special R2 focus. To make sure you can attend as many sessions as possible, you’ll want to pace yourself, LaRock advises.

Q: After being so involved in the inaugural 24 Hours of PASS last September with your “24 Hours with SQLRockstar” live Ustream video/chat activities, it’s great to see you heading up the planning for this event. What interests you most about 24 Hours of PASS as a program format?
A: Well, I’m a big fan of the television show 24, which is able to tell a story in a unique format. Our event is also unique, with nobody else offering an event that spans 24 consecutive hours. PASS is a global community, and this virtual event with speakers and Chapter hosts from around the world helps showcase that aspect.

Q: Attendees will notice a mix of R2 and non-R2 content for the event. What is PASS’s goal with the lineup?
A:  That’s easy: PASS is about educating and connecting with the SQL Server community. It is part of our core mission. We have a wonderful mix of sessions across four tracks—DBA, Development, BI, and Professional Development—and each track offers some great SQL Server 2008 R2 content. However, not every session is dedicated to a new R2 feature, which will appeal to the people who still need to get up to speed on features in SQL Server 2008 and 2005. So the mix of sessions lets PASS promote SQL Server to the widest possible audience.

Q: If I’m not moving to R2 anytime soon, why should I attend the R2-focused sessions?
A: I’ll turn that around and ask you, “Why wouldn’t you want to attend the R2 sessions?” If your only reason is that “we aren’t moving to R2 anytime soon,” then I’ll follow up with “how do you know unless you attend the sessions and find out about the new features?” If you never take the time to learn about what’s new in R2, chances are you will be slow to adopt. If you do take the time to learn, chances are you will find more than a handful of things that you would like to have, giving you a reason to get onto R2 sooner than you thought possible.

Q: Donald Farmer, Mr. BI himself, is giving a session on PowerPivot–one of the most anticipated and talked-about R2 features. Do we have “seats” in the Live Meeting room for everyone who might want to attend this or other popular sessions?
A: We’ve got a lot of great speakers at this event, and Donald Farmer is certainly one of them. Live Meeting can hold 1,250 “seats,” and we’re aiming to fill each one of them for every session.

Q: This 24 Hours of PASS is starting at a different time than last year; why is that?
A: We felt it was the right thing to do. The format is still new to everyone at this point. Because we started at midnight GMT last time, we thought we should try starting 12 hours later, at noon GMT. After the event, we will go back and evaluate to see where we can improve. If we can pinpoint the best possible starting time, we’ll shoot for that in the future. But we’re still collecting data at this point. On paper, this start time appears to be ideal. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, but I expect a boost in our overall attendance numbers.

Q: The first 24 Hours of PASS was considered a big success in terms of registrations, attendance, and overall feedback. What are your targets for this event?
A: Rick Heiges and his team did a fantastic job with the first 24 Hours of PASS. And although we have big hopes for the R2-focused event, my goals for it are quite simple: to promote SQL Server by allowing people to connect, share, and learn.

Q: Are you going to reprise your “24 Hours with SQLRockstar” role, or did you find an up-all-night substitute? Do you know of anyone else committing to other side activities yet?
A: Well, with the different start time, it’s going to be difficult for me to attend all 24 sessions; it would mean I would need to take two vacation days from work this time around. I am still planning on doing a live broadcast, but I may sneak away for a nap during the night in order to make it to work the next day. I’m totally open to a replacement who’ll attend and blog or chat about all 24 sessions, and I look forward to hearing about all of the fun, interactive things our community members will think up to support and extend the event.

Q: There are a lot of events this spring as part of the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Community Tour. What unique features does 24 Hours of PASS: Celebrating SQL Server 2008 R2 bring to the community?
A: The most unique feature is the format, which allows for a lot of interaction between people who are physically located around the world. Although there are a few other online events, none of them allow for this level of interaction for 24 consecutive hours, and none of them are backed by an association dedicated to helping SQL Server and BI pros connect, learn, and share. To me, that is what will always set PASS apart from everyone else—our tremendous community.

Q: Especially for those who didn't attend last year, how do they participate?
A: First, check out all the sessions and speakers on the 24 Hours of PASS site, then register on Live Meeting for the presentations you’re interested in. We have a link to a time zone converter to help you determine what time each session is happening in your area. And the sessions you sign up for will automatically be added to your Outlook calendar at the correct time for your time zone. We’ll be talking about the event on Twitter (use the #24hop hashtag), Facebook, and LinkedIn, and we invite everyone to join in with their comments and questions. Before joining the sessions you signed up for, make sure you’ve reviewed the Live Meeting prerequisites and tested your audio, then log in early to make sure you have a “seat.” All attendees will be on mute, but you can ask questions through Live Meeting, and each session’s moderator will field questions for the presenter. 

Q: As such an active attendee last year, do you have any tips for getting the most out of 24 Hours of PASS?
A: The best advice I can give is to set aside enough time to watch as many sessions as possible and set aside a few minutes to rest every now and then. The level of content is amazing, and you’ll find yourself thinking, “I’ll take a break in a few minutes”—and then two hours will pass you by. The energy level from other attendees will help keep you going, but you want to stay sharp when listening to the sessions, so don’t let fatigue be a factor.




 

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PASS European Conference Is Right Around the Corner

Hello, everyone –

I am just back from promoting PASS European Conference 2010 and doing “Ask the Experts” in the Community Section at Microsoft DevDays 2010 and wanted to share my excitement about this year’s conference, coming up in just a few weeks.

Thanks to months of hard work by a few PASS volunteers, we are putting the final touches on what is going to be the best PASS European Conference yet April 21-23 in Neuss, Germany.
We are honored to have Donald Farmer leading the launch of the Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Community Tour and digging into the new release at a special full-day Microsoft R2 Launch Event at PASS European Conference. And I expect the R2 launch event to set the tone for an unprecedented 2 days of learning about all things SQL Server.
 
PASS European Conference will deliver

  • 45 technical sessions by the top SQL Server and BI experts in the industry and two deep-dive pre-conference seminars in addition to the R2 Launch Event. If you haven’t looked at the comprehensive agenda—including a special track of R2 sessions—I encourage you to do so now
  • Face-to-face support from Microsoft developers, Customer Support Services (CSS), the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT), and MVPs in the SQL Server First-Aid Clinic. This opportunity alone is worth the price of attendance.
  • Answers to your most pressing questions in the SQL Kitchen, where top-level MVPs can help you through the steps and ingredients to an effective solution.
  • Unmatched networking with Microsoft and community leaders, MVPs, experts, and peers from Europe and around the world
     

PASS European Conference is all about sharing issues and solutions and gaining knowledge that will make you a better SQL Server professional and help you leverage SQL Server to improve your business.

Plus, you will get all this value against the backdrop of the Rhine river at the four-star Swissôtel Düsseldorf/Neuss. The conference venue/hotel is minutes from the beautiful historic and commercial areas of Düsseldorf and just 14 kilometers from Düsseldorf International Airport. The hotel is also a mere two-minute drive from the A57 motorway and a five-minute walk from the Neuss Rheinpark Center train station.
 
I cannot wait for the learning to begin and the opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones. I hope to see you there.
 
(And if If you haven’t done so already – register today!)

 —Andre Kamman
PASS European Conference


 

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