24 Hours of PASS – First Reflections

A few days after the end of 24HOP, I find myself reflecting on it.
 
I’m still waiting on most of the information. I want to be able to discover things like where the countries represented on each of the sessions, and things like that. So far, I have the feedback scores and the numbers of attendees. The data was provided in a PDF, so while I wait for it to appear in a more flexible format, I’ve pushed the 24 attendee numbers into Excel.


This chart shows the numbers by time. Remember that we started at midnight GMT, which was 10:30am in my part of the world and 8pm in New York. It’s probably no surprise that numbers drooped a bit at the start, stayed comparatively low, and then grew as the larger populations of the English-speaking world woke up.
 
I remember last time 24HOP ran for 24 hours straight, there were quite a few sessions with less than 100 attendees. None this time though. We got close, but even when it was 4am in New York, 8am in London and 7pm in Sydney (which would have to be the worst slot for attracting people), we still had over 100 people tuning in.
 
As expected numbers grew as the UK woke up, and even more so as the US did, with numbers peaking at 755 for the “3pm in New York” session on SQL Server Data Tools. Kendra Little almost reached those numbers too, and certainly contributed the biggest ‘spike’ on the chart with her session five hours earlier. Of all the sessions, Kendra had the highest proportion of ‘Excellent’s for the “Overall Evaluation of the session” question, and those of you who saw her probably won’t be surprised by that. Kendra had one of the best ranked sessions from the 24HOP event this time last year (narrowly missing out on being top 3), and she has produced a lot of good video content since then.
 
The reports indicate that there were nearly 8.5 thousand attendees across the 24 sessions, averaging over 350 at each one. I’m looking forward to seeing how many different people that was, although I do know that Wil Sisney managed to attend every single one (if you did too, please let me know). Wil even moderated one of the sessions, which made his feat even greater. Thanks Wil.
 
I also want to send massive thanks to Dave Dustin. Dave probably would have attended all of the sessions, if it weren’t for a power outage that forced him to take a break. He was also a moderator, and it was during this session that he earned special praise. Part way into the session he was moderating, the speaker lost connectivity and couldn’t get back for about fifteen minutes. That’s an incredibly long time when you’re in a live presentation. There were over 200 people tuned in at the time, and I’m sure Dave was as stressed as I was to have a speaker disappear. I started chasing down a phone number for the speaker, while Dave spoke to the audience. And he did brilliantly. He started answering questions, and kept doing that until the speaker came back. Bear in mind that Dave hadn’t expected to give a presentation on that topic (or any other), and was simply drawing on his SQL expertise to get him through. Also consider that this was between midnight at 1am in Dave’s part of the world (Auckland, NZ). I would’ve been expecting just to welcome people, monitor questions, probably read some out, and in general, help make things run smoothly. He went far beyond the call of duty, and if I had a medal to give him, he’d definitely be getting one.
 
On the whole, I think this 24HOP was a success. We tried a different platform, and I think for the most part it was a popular move. We didn’t ask the question “Was this better than LiveMeeting?”, but we did get a number of people telling us that they thought the platform was very good.
 
Some people have told me I get a chance to put my feet up now that this is over. As I’m also co-ordinating a tour of SQLSaturday events across the Australia/New Zealand region, I don’t quite get to take that much of a break (plus, there’s the little thing of squeezing in seven SQL 2012 exams over the next 2.5 weeks). But I am pleased to be reflecting on this event rather than anticipating it. There were a number of factors that could have gone badly, but on the whole I’m pleased about how it went. A massive thanks to everyone involved.
 
If you’re reading this and thinking you wish you could’ve tuned in more, don’t worry – they were all recorded and you’ll be able to watch them on demand very soon. But as well as that, PASS has a stream of content produced by the Virtual Chapters, so you can keep learning from the comfort of your desk all year round. More info on them at sqlpass.org, of course.

The New PASS Community Connector

Welcome to the new PASS Connector. Over the years we have received a lot of feedback regarding how PASS communicates to our members through the use of this newsletter. What you are looking at today is our latest effort at responding to that feedback. Besides a new skin this updated version of the Connector has some key features that you may not notice right away. I want to take a moment to explain some of the features that exist today and some that will be rolling out very soon.

  • The Community news section is in a distinct section, as well as the SQL Server product news. This makes it easier for readers to discern what information they are consuming.
  • After many years of using a basic email marketing tool we have partnered with ExactTarget to help us bring you your local news and in your own language. We expect to have this feature rolling out by the end of April.
  • The new design allows for more dynamic content, making it easier for us to update sections of the newsletter but also the skin itself. So if we wanted to make some minor changes we will be able to do so without it being a laborious process.

The use of ExactTarget will also make it easier for us to send out targeted emails for events such as a SQL Rally. This was something that PASS has been needing for a long time. It is also one feature that I am really excited about as it will also allow for PASS to do deeper analysis of our membership to make certain we are providing the very best services that our members are asking for.

As always we welcome your thoughts. Please let us know what you think of the new design. We value all feedback.

Thanks for reading, and welcome!
 

PASS Welcomes Global Chinese Virtual Chapter

An idea sparked at PASS Summit has taken shape as a new Virtual Chapter dedicated to Chinese-speaking users of SQL Server around the world. The Global Chinese Virtual Chapter hosted its first meeting on Monday with a deep-dive look at failover cluster enhancements and is actively looking for members, speakers, and volunteers.

“The chapter was born from the momentum shared by Chinese attendees of PASS Summit 2011,” noted acting VC leader Tiffena Kou. “We have observed that people who speak the same language are more open to sharing with and learning from each other.”

The VC currently plans to meet the third Monday of every month via LiveMeeting. The main presentation will begin at 6:30pm PST, but to help ensure the content is useful to members, the group will have a short Q&A session 30 minutes before every session. All content will be in Chinese.

The VC plans to record the sessions and make them available on its website for those who might not be able to attend the live meeting. The website also features discussion forums to encourage questions and information sharing about SQL Server and the VC, including what kinds of events and content the community would like to see.

“We hope that the creation of this chapter will allow those who have no access to a local chapter to participate in knowledge sharing, take on new challenges, and become leaders of their local communities,” Tiffena adds.

If you have any questions about the VC or are interested in speaking or volunteering, please contact Tiffena.

24 hours to pass until 24 Hours of PASS

There’s a bunch of stuff going on at the moment in the SQL world, so if you’ve missed this particular piece of news, let me tell you a bit about it.
 
Twice a year, the SQL community puts on its biggest virtual event – 24 Hours of PASS. And the next one is tomorrow – March 21st, 2012. Twenty-four sessions, back-to-back, featuring a selection of some of the best presenters in the SQL world, speakers from all over the world, coming together in an online collaboration that so far has well over thirty thousand registrations across the presentations. Some people are signed up for all 24 sessions, some only one.
 
Traditionally, LiveMeeting has been used as the platform for this event, but this year we’re going with a new platform – IBTalk. It promises big, and we’re hoping it won’t let us down. LiveMeeting has been great, and we thank Microsoft for providing it as a platform for the past few years. However, as the event has grown, we’ve found that a new idea is necessary. Last year a search was done for a new platform, and IBTalk ticked the right boxes. The feedback from the presenters and moderators so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re hoping that this is going to really enhance the user experience.
 
One of my favourite features of the platform is the language side. It provides a pretty good translation service. Users who join a session will see a flag on the left of the screen. If they click it, they can change the language to one of 15 on offer. Picking this changes all the labels on everything. It even translates the text in the Q&A window.



What this means is that someone from Brazil can ask their question in Portuguese, and the presenter will see it in English. Then if the answer is typed in English, the questioner will be able to see the answer, also in Portuguese. Or they can switch to English to see it as the answerer typed it. I know there’s always the risk of bad translations going on, but I’ve heard good things about this translation service.
 
But there’s more – IBTalk are providing staff to type up closed captioning live during the event. So if English isn’t your first language, don’t worry!
 
Picking your language will also let you see subtitles in your chosen language. I’m hoping that this event is the start of PASS being able to reach people from all corners of the world. Wouldn’t it be great to find that this event is successful, and that the next 24HOP (later in the year, our Summit Preview event) has just as many non-English speakers tuning in as English speakers?
 
If you haven’t been planning which sessions you’re going to attend, you really should get over to sqlpass.org/24hours and have a look through what’s on offer. There’s some amazing material from some of the industry’s brightest, covering a wide range of topics, from classic SQL areas to the brand new SQL 2012 features. There really should be something for every SQL professional. Check the time zones though – if you’re in the US you might be on Summer time, and an hour closer to GMT than normal.
 
Massive thanks must go to Microsoft, SQL Sentry and Idera for sponsoring this event. Without sponsors we wouldn’t be able to put any of this on. These companies are helping 24HOP continue to grow into an event for the whole world.
 
See you tomorrow!
 
@rob_farley | #24hop | #sqlpass

PASS Virtual Chapters: Free Training for Everyone

Are you taking advantage of PASS Virtual Chapters (VCs) to connect with and learn from fellow members around the world year-round? If not, I encourage you to check out our over a dozen VCs providing free, quality technical training online every month.

Whether you are a DBA, developer, or BI professional, there is a VC for you. There are VCs focused on PowerShell, Performance, Data Architecture, and SQL Azure. And the Virtualization VC is dedicated to promoting better management of SQL Servers in virtual environments.

VCs also provide valuable networking opportunities for data professionals with common interests. The Healthcare VC caters to database pros working in that industry. The Women in Technology (WIT) VC hosts events for discussing issues pertinent to women working in IT. And data professionals who support multiple database platforms share their experiences in the SQL Server/Oracle VC. In addition, the Professional Development VC provides a forum for exploring professional development in our competitive and always-changing tech industry.

I'm excited to announce that two new VCs will be launching soon. The Global Chinese VC will provide Chinese-speaking SQL Server users worldwide a way to gather and share information. Their first meeting will be March 19. Providing Chinese-language training is an important step in PASS's growth as an international organization.

The topic of "big data" is becoming increasingly important to data professionals. And the new Big Data VC will provide opportunities to learn about the use of SQL Server with Hadoop and related technologies. The first Big Data meeting will be April 3.

We will be taking a closer look at each of the VCs in upcoming Connector newsletters, and I encourage all PASS members to take advantage of the excellent content and networking they provide. Invite your friends and colleagues, and seriously consider speaking at a VC meeting or volunteering with a VC you are interested in. Visit virtualchapters.sqlpass.org to learn more!
 

PASS Connector Getting a Facelift

Drum roll, please…

The PASS Connector newsletter is getting a facelift! Starting with the next edition – slated to go out on March 21 – the newsletter will debut a new and improved look and feel that will help you catch up on your SQL Server community news faster than ever. 

This new layout will also be the jumping off point for translating the newsletter into both Russian and Brazilian Portuguese. We’re going to test out the translation process and closely monitor feedback over the coming weeks.

Here's a sneak peek at the brand-new newsletter format: