Hope Foley's Blog

Another day in the life of a SQL Server DBA

SQLFamily, I Have An Idea and I Need Your Help April 22, 2016

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 12:41 pm
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Have you ever had an idea for something and it completely haunts you? Something that pops in your brain all the time and keeps you up at night? Something where it feels like the universe NEEDS you to do it? I have had this idea brewing for a long time and I now have some key pieces in place to finally get it out there so it can stop haunting me.

***

First a little history to understand a portion of the inspiration behind this. Back in middle school and early high school, I hung out with a group who got into a LOT of trouble. There are some situations I look back on where my future was sitting on the edge of a knife. If I had zigged many days, instead of zagging, my life could be completely different. I have a lot of friends who didn’t finish high school and went down paths that are hard to reverse, living paycheck to paycheck. My home town of Anderson, IN and hell my family is completely full of people I’d like to help get on a different path.

1990CokeLobby

If you can imagine, this was an era of questionable judgement.  Photo isn’t the best quality but gets across the point. 🙂

 

So with those folks in the back of my mind, I also see the greatness of the SQL community and the WEALTH of resources out there for free. I also hear over and over that we don’t have enough people to fill these data related jobs. I know that recruiters hit me up all the time. So if I can reach someone out there who is ready to go down a different path and is motivated to put in the work, we can change some lives!

 

 ***

Now SQLSaturdays are already reaching people and changing lives. They changed my life, without a doubt. But I know I have met beginners at those who are intimidated and scared when they attend. Can you imagine going into a SQL internals class when you are brand new to the scene? Hell they may give up right then and say screw it, this stuff is way over my head. So at SQLSaturday Indy I’m going to setup a total beginner track. I’ll be giving the first session of the day where it will be an easy intro into the different data related career paths you can take. Then the rest of the sessions in that track will dig a bit deeper into each one. These sessions will explain high level concepts and the kinds of work you would be doing. And of course, giving details of where they can find more information after they figure out which avenue intrigues them.

 ***

This is where I need your help SQLFamily! I need people to assist with these area focused sessions. Will need 5-6 sessions to fill out the rest of the track. These are the ones I’m thinking now but am open to suggestion (beggers can’t be choosers).

  1. Database Admin
  2. Database Development
  3. Business Intelligence
  4. Big Data/Analytics
  5. Other??

I also want to start a way to help keep in touch and connect with these people as they go out into the world after SQLSaturday Indy. Seeing how well Twitter and some hashtags work, I’m starting another one called #SQLStarter. We can use it to help answer questions, and point these beginners to new resources. I also would like to start making recruiters aware of it as well so they can post jobs appropriate for beginners.

 ***

So there…the idea is out there and hopefully the universe will stop haunting me to do this. Hoping this is the spark and the beginning of something spreads to other SQLSaturdays/User Groups/whatever. And as kumbaya froo froo as it sounds, feels great to put some good out into the world!

 

SQLSaturday Denver 2015 September 25, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 1:50 pm
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On the flight home now from the SQLSaturday in Denver. I was excited for this one! I had never been to Denver before, through it but never to it. That and there’s some wonderful #SQLFamily out there. I lucked out though, I had this SQLSaturday on my radar but didn’t know for sure when the cutoff for submissions was to end. I just happened to catch it and submit on the final day of submissions. Not sure if there were any tweet reminders for that but I didn’t catch any.  Anyway I got accepted to speak and do the new tabular session (yay more practice for Summit!).

***

I am not a hardcore road warrior like some, but I travel a decent bit. I don’t know if I have ever got a direct flight anywhere. I found one to Denver from Indy and was a good deal but it was with Frontier.  Flight was at 6:00am but for direct I was willing to sacrifice. I have never flown on Frontier before and holy cow! They charge $30 for carry on luggage! Other various odd weird charges too.  Just a little warning if you haven’t flown with them, check the crazy fees first.  So I get to Denver very early and catch up with my co-worker Meagan Longoria (Twitter | blog) who was speaking too. Working for a remote company, it’s a nice treat to be able to work with folks in person for a change.

Speaker dinner! Thanks again Carlos and Quanta Intelligence

Speaker dinner! Thanks again Carlos and Quanta Intelligence

After work we head to the speaker dinner at Citron Bistro. The restaurant was nice and was graciously sponsored by Carlos Bossy (Twitter | blog) from Quanta Intelligence.  The food was PHENOMENAL! It moved in to my top spot of speaker dinners. They had sit down menu with great choices and I went with lamb shanks. Holy moly! So good! Well done there organizers! Thank you Carlos! Very much appreciated that meal! And to top that off we got possibly my favorite speaker jacket ever as well.

Not one to post pics of food much (beer yes - food not as much). After one bite I got out my phone!

Not one to post pics of food much (beer yes – food not as much). After one bite I got out my phone!

My session on Saturday was in the next to last slot so I had intended to sleep in having such an early flight. So of course my eyes pop open at 5:15AM. Not having any excuses I get a workout in and some review on my slides/demos. Then head to the venue. It was an interesting site. I thought we were lost when we pulled into the parking lot. It was in a typical strip mall. After going inside was able to see it was very much a conference space and pretty nice. It was a bit tight in the through ways but worked out well. There wasn’t a speaker room but we found some space to congregate and worked it out.

***

Wish I could have attended more of the morning sessions but I’m always distracted by my own prep. I did sit in on some of Mike Fal’s (Twitter | blog) session as it was in my room prior to mine. He’s got a great speaking style and a definite enthusiasm for PowerShell.

***

So I get setup and start my session. I had a terrible issue with the projector. It would flash from time to time during my session. It also caused my slides to sometimes become about 3 inches wide. I have had issues with projectors in the past but this was a new one for me. Other than that it went well and demos worked for the most part. I only got 3 (of 17 attendees) to turn in feedback sheets which was a bit of a bummer but that’s the breaks.

David Klee scaring the bejeezus out of DBAs on VMs.

David Klee scaring the bejeezus out of DBAs on VMs.

After my session I sit in on David Klee’s (Twitter | blog) session. Man oh man it was a fantastic session! If you ever have a chance to see him speak, DO IT! His knowledge on virtualization is astounding. Coming from the SQL side of things, so much I never knew from the virtualization side. Really glad to see that session and learned so much! And he’s great speaker and just about the most likeable guy ever. Great job David!

Prize raffle at end of day

Prize raffle at end of day

After that wrapped up the day with a lot of great prizes. Then they had a little after party in the same venue which was different but nice. They had drinks and appetizers. After that we went to a place called Tavern Lowry which was good.  We were able to get a large table in an area on the patio on a gorgeous night. The poor waitress that had to deal with all of us!  Restaurant had a nice beer selection. By the way Denver, I think Titan IPA was my favorite that I tried while out there.

There's a whole lot of trouble (the after party).

There’s a whole lot of trouble (the after party).

After that we went to “Family Karaoke”. I was a little nervous when we pulled up as it had all blacked out windows and didn’t look, well like a place that should have “family” in the name. Going in, it was fine. It was a Korean karaoke place that had private rooms. We got one of the larger rooms. It was like few years ago in Indy, they have all these super odd Korean videos that play while you sing. Hilariously bizarre! And I even kinda/sorta sang, well just the chorus while Keith Tate (Twitter | blog) did Tupac on “Changes”.

Poor Tim

Poor Tim

Looking for songs not in Korean

Looking for songs not in Korean

Karaoke and snuggles

Karaoke and snuggles

Thanks so much organizers for having me out and doing a really great job on your event! I had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. I hope I can work it out to come back some time!

 

Finally Made It To SQLSaturday Louisville! September 8, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 12:28 pm
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Home now from SQLSaturday Louisville and wanted to get a blog post going while those SQLfamily good vibes are still fresh. It’s kind of a sad fact but this is the first time I have ever been to a SQLSaturday in Louisville. Being that I only live 2 hours away, it’s a bit tragic! It seemed like every year I had a commitment or it was held on my kids birthdays. Poor Mala (Twitter | blog) was probably thinking I would never make it but low and behold, it worked out this year!

They gave us personalized weapons!

They gave us personalized weapons!

So I head down around lunch on Friday to get to the speaker dinner. The ride down was fine except I still swear the Google navigation lady hates me. She took me through the boonies to get to 65 for some reason.  After finally getting there via the scenic route, I hadn’t given this session for a bit so spent some time telling the hotel walls about spatial data. After that I head over to the speaker dinner with David (Twitter|blog) and Wendy (Twitter|blog). The speaker dinner was at Boombozz pizza. The food was excellent! The room was a bit small but it worked out fine. They gave us these too (pic above) for speaker gifts! Love when can incorporate some hometown flair into speaker gifts. Wish Indy had more than race cars to work with on that note.

They really know how to take care of the speakers in Louisville!

They really know how to take care of the speakers in Louisville!

The day of the event I had hoped to sleep in but eyes bolt open at 6:00am (I’m old). Head over early and get situated at the event. The venue was walking distance from the hotels which was very nice (jealous of that). It was held at an Indiana Wesleyan as well (Indy was too). It was a nice facility and the layout was good. I normally can’t concentrate in sessions prior to mine so I just prepped and chatted it up the morning. My session was right after lunch which is nice for the extra setup time. Lunch by the way was excellent! They had barbecue that was really good. I heard there was a bit of a line but I snuck in early with the sponsors so I only heard of the lines.

***

My session went pretty well. I had a good bit of time to chat before the session started so got to yuck it up with some of the folks. I don’t know if anyone could tell but I felt the nerves a bit in the beginning. I realized while down there I hadn’t done a SQLSaturday since Cleveland! In February! Kind of shocking! The nerves worked their way out after I got going so that was good.

***

After my presentation I stayed in the same room to catch Rob Verell’s (Twitter) session on replication. I hadn’t seen him speak yet and knowing how funny he is, had to go see one of his sessions. Very much enjoyed it! I always enjoy sessions that have humor with tech content. You have to be careful to balance it though and he did that.

Replication session full of cowbell from Rob Verell

Replication session full of cowbell from Rob Verell

Next up I went to see Daniel Glenn’s (Twitter|blog) session on SharePoint. He had jokingly pouted that he wouldn’t have much of a crowd because of the topic. SharePoint and DBAs do not exactly have lovey dovey vibes. So I agreed to go to his session, even though I planned to anyway as I hadn’t seen him speak either. He is an excellent speaker and did a great job. Was nice to see some of the stuff that drives DBAs nuts (like GUIDs in db names) can be avoided if the SharePoint person knows what they are doing.

Daniel Glenn trying to bring the DBAs and SharePoints of the world together.

Daniel Glenn trying to bring the DBAs and SharePoints of the world together.

Then it was prize raffle time. Louisville had a tweet wall in the location where the raffle was held. This was a big hit and all the speakers took advantage of being goofy on Twitter and the wall during the raffle.  They also had someone speak who teaches tech to high school students.  I have always thought it would be great to expose high school students to data careers via SQLSaturdays but I haven’t had any luck making any contacts in my area yet.

Energetic tech high school teacher talking to the masses at end of day.

Energetic tech high school teacher talking to the masses at end of day.

After the raffle folks congregate to head out to dinner at the hotel out on the patio.  David Maxwell always has a guitar and plays for us while we relax a bit.

SQL chill session

SQL chill session

After that John Morehouse (Twitter|blog) leads us to potentially my favorite place for an afterparty, Ann Marie’s Bacon Bar.  I mean there may not have ever been a place that contained all the components SQLfamily enjoy: local non-chain place, bacon, great food, nice beer selection AND karaoke!  All these things in ONE PLACE!  We all had a blast!

"Friends in Low Places" going on right here.

“Friends in Low Places” going on right here.

Had a really great time in Louisville!  Thanks volunteers…you all really knocked it out of the park!  Really a top notch event and glad the planets finally aligned for me to come down.  Thanks so much for having me down to speak!  Definitely one I will add to the “must do” list!

Good times!

Good times!

Meagan has some real singing chops!

Meagan has some real singing chops!

Some of the SQL ladies having a good time at karaoke.

Some of the SQL ladies having a good time at karaoke.

 

SQLSaturday Indianapolis 2015 – Another Great Year! August 28, 2015

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 2:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well I have survived another round being the lead organizer of SQLSaturday Indy. And now that I’ve had a bit of time to decompress, wanted to get a post out to detail some of my lessons learned. I always can use some good karma so hopefully will help some brave/crazy organizer soul down the line.

***

So the first lesson I learned this year is that Karla still rocks! And she deserves kudos/prizes/cash for putting up with all us organizers for ALL the SQLSaturdays held round the world. She is the PASS representation/liaison for us to PASS and it’s team of resources. They had an update to the backend system that organizers use back in May. There were some challenges from that but she always is so fast in getting us the help we need. Thank you Karla!

Some intense Jenga going on at the speaker dinner.

Some intense Jenga going on at the speaker dinner.

The second lesson is to test/workout the process to lookup a SpeedPASS to print prior to the morning of your event. I was a good girl and did as I was told to download all the SpeedPASSes the night before to a USB. I copied to 2 USBs just in case. You can never count on wifi and I had trouble with it on the laptop I was using to print SpeedPASSes.  I had to use my hotspot from my phone. Even though I was good and downloaded the SpeedPASSes, the names of the files do not contain the registered person’s name and they are pdfs. So the process I did to look them up was as follows:
1. I had to look up the person on the SQLSat admin site.
2. This then brought up the link to get to the pdf speedpass. I then right clicked and copied the link name.
3. Pasted the copied link into Notepad. This then would give you the guid-ish file name.
4. Copied the filename portion of the link.
5. Then pasted the filename into the search of the files on the USB to find the pdf for that person.

There may be a better way to do this…kind of hope so! Please let me know if there’s a better way.

***

Another thing I learned was that I need to have a plan for leftover food. I’m not sure what others do but I always feel I need to order the amount that folks paid for knowing it will be too much from dropoff.  I didn’t have a plan for it and was just forcing it on volunteers to take home but maybe we can find a group that can put some good use to it.

Team Foley at SQLSaturday Indy - LOVE YOU GUYS!

Team Foley at SQLSaturday Indy – LOVE YOU GUYS!

Next year I need to make sure to have some folks on the ready to clear/sweep the rooms after the final session is over. If you can imagine, speakers can get chatty at the end of the day *shock gasp*. I want to make sure everyone has chance at end of the day for the prizes so we try to wait till they’re all done. Also along those lines I also need to make sure to have someone ready to assist with prizes. Time REALLY stands still when you are trying to open raffle boxes with 200 people staring at you.

***

Another regret from this year is that we forgot to grab the camera when heading out very early in the morning to get to the venue.  I had it on a checklist but those only help when you look at them.  DOH! If anyone has any pictures would love to get them from you.

Wendy Pastrick doing some karaoke at the after after party.

Wendy Pastrick doing some karaoke at the after after party.

I want to thank again all my speakers who came to Indy! I hope we took good care of my sql peeps. They take away my Hoosier card if I don’t display that “Hoosier hospitality”. I want to thank my volunteers! You know who you are and you rock big time! I want to thank from the bottom of my heart, my family! You all got roped into this craziness that is SQLSaturday/SQLfamily and it’s all my fault! I am eternally grateful to you for all your help, support, and love! I get teary eyed thinking about how this event has become a family one. I hope the view you get into this event shows some of the goodness that drives my passion that takes me away from time to time.

 

SQLSaturday Indy 2014 – Return of the Jedi August 28, 2014

Filed under: SQLSaturday — hopefoley @ 3:46 am
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My first SQLSaturday organizer experience blog was called “SQLSaturday Indy Episode 2: A New Hope“.  The next year I just couldn’t resist and did “SQLSaturday 242 – The Empire Strikes Back“.  I have to finish out the trilogy thus the reason for the blog post name.  I’m sorry if you were lured here in hopes that there were gals in metal bikinis or Ewoks at SQLSaturday Indy.  Sadly there was nothing Star Wars related at all but I did Game of Thrones geek out with the room names.  To tie the title in though, I am getting better at this SQLSaturday organizer role so if you want to call me a jedi, I won’t be mad at ya.

***

I was again at the helm leading the organization of SQLSaturday Indianapolis.  It was my second year fully leading the effort.  It definitely was a little different this year, going in with last year’s experience under my belt.  I was a little more calm knowing how the whole process worked and didn’t have that fear of what I didn’t know constantly getting to me.  I also made sure to keep really good notes including some of the various communications sent out.  That was helpful as I didn’t have to start from scratch on many of them.  Most importantly I also knew early on to pull in some help.  I have a saint of a mother in law, Pam/Mamaw, who last year helped me as well.  What I didn’t tell folks though was that I called her in a panic Friday morning before the event last year.  She offered (or I begged, I can’t remember) to help again this year.  She helped with so many of the logistics of prepping the many materials and various other things.  There are many things take a decent amount of time that I underestimated last year.  They aren’t difficult but are tedious/time consuming.

Saint Pam/Mamaw

Saint Pam/Mamaw

Here’s a list of such things for any new organizers:

1. Stuffing of bags/packets for attendees

2. Preparing the gift bags for speakers

3. Printing the schedules

4. Cutting speaker session evals

5. Cutting event session evals

6. Cutting SpeedPASSes for speakers and preparing lanyards

 

The Recap

Friday I take off work so Pam and I start bright and early.  She had the good idea to wait to get drinks that morning so we only have to unload them the one time at the venue.  We do that and then get those and all the various paraphernalia to Indiana Wesleyan.  We get done and have some lunch while I go through my many lists of to do items.  I was a little uneasy at how smooth it was going compared to last year.  I even had time to head home for a bit and get ready for the speaker dinner.  Last year I was so rushed I had to buy a shirt on the way to the speaker dinner as I sweat through the first one.  Classy egh?

 

We had the speaker dinner at a local restaurant called Oobatz.  I had been working with the owner, Kirk, who was absolutely great!  As great as he was I had only visited once and had drinks.  Having not ate there made me a little nervous, you know me…want to take good care of my sql peeps!  I had NOTHING to worry about though.  The food was great and the service was excellent.  I highly recommend that spot, especially if you have a large party.  Tell Kirk I sent ya.  Having 29 beers on tap doesn’t hurt either though I mostly pushed my favorite local brew, Triton Railsplitter, on everyone at the party.

Speaker dinner at Oobatz

Speaker dinner at Oobatz

So Saturday starts bright and early.  My husband, Rod, and daughter, Ashlyn, came with me again this year to help.  I was working out some last minute schedule changes (thank you Kathi (Twitter|blog) again for taking another session super late in the game).  Due to that I was a little later than I wanted to getting out the door.  Rod was so great and talked me off the ledge while on the way there.  I was a bit on edge when I was trapped in the car.  I really love it that SQLSaturday Indy has become a family affair.  It just means the world to me that my family can be a part of it.  They may feel like SQLSaturday hijacks our life a bit but they don’t let on at all and I love them even more for it!  Us in the community understand SQLfamily and we know why we do these crazy things.  My family jumps in and helps not seeing that side at all.  They do it without question, just because they love me and are awesome people.  That’s family, right there!  Thank you all again from the bottom of my heart!

Family.

Family.

Where was I?  Ah so I was like 5 minutes late and I arrive and my volunteers and Pam are already at work getting drinks in coolers and registration setup.  I love my people.  Ok, enough love fest.  It’s a bit crazy getting setup and going and ready for the masses.  We can’t get in the venue until 7:00 and folks are set to show up at 7:30 so it’s a total mad dash.  We move like a finely tuned machine.  Katie, Aaron, and their boys (another family affair) help with checking folks in with others.  Brandon was awesome setting up coolers and other vital logistics.  Ashlyn and Mamaw/Pam are getting the sponsors all set.  I’m at the SpeedPASS printing table of shame and doing the directing.  Things are crazy but it went about as well as it could have.  I had more help than tasks and stuff got DONE!  I can’t give enough props to the team that helped!  You are all amazing and wonderful and all things great!

My wonderful, fabulous volunteers

My wonderful, fabulous volunteers

The day winds down a bit and able catch our breath.  The next craziness to make it through is lunch.  It went well I think but just takes time to feed the masses.  We had some good sessions going and think the word got out better than last year to disperse to other rooms.  Day moves on really well from there.  The last hurdle then comes with the raffles.  We had such great prizes from sponsors.  And not to toot my own horn but I thought prizes were good from the SQLSaturday group too.  We took the printer idea a little further this year and bought more items we needed for the day and raffled them off.  So we raffled off a printer (only used for printing SpeedPASSes and other items used that day), a couple nice monitors (Twitter feed/sponsor slides that never got setup in chaos), and a Keurig we had setup in the speaker ready room.  I just love the use and raffle approach on prizes.

This is what the thought "there's no way I pronounced that right" looks like

This is what the thought “there’s no way I pronounced that right” looks like

Aww there's a happy winner!

Aww there’s a happy winner!

We get cleaned up and out of the venue pretty quickly and then some of us head over to Scotty’s Brewhouse for some food and de-stressing.  Next is the after party.  I had setup for karaoke to start early for us at Tilly’s Pub and Grill.  Oh those crazy kids, how they love the #sqlkaraoke.  A really nice end to a great event, full of great family, great sqlfamily, great speakers, great volunteers, great sponsors.  It was all just…great!  I am really proud to be a part of bringing SQLSaturday to Indianapolis.

David and Wendy doing up some karaoke.

David and Wendy doing up some karaoke.

Frank doing his interpretation of Janet Jackson's "Nasty". Yes it IS as good as you're thinking!

Frank doing his interpretation of Janet Jackson’s “Nasty”. Yes it IS as good as you’re thinking!

Lessons learned this year:

1.  Don’t print the schedule until you are done messing with it.  I try to send in at least one my attendee communications to registered attendees to have them use schedule builder on the site.  It helps to get an indication of how popular sessions could be and can adjust those to have larger rooms.  Every year I think I know what folks want to see, but normally I have several sessions that surprise me and I’m WAY off.  I let my knowledge of the speakers cloud my judgment time and time again.  It works better getting some indication from outside parties.  I wish there was a way to get info from Guidebook but until then Schedule Builder works.  So the problem was that I printed the schedule before doing this check/room switch.  Wasn’t major issue but had to print them again and the tree hugging hippie in me cried a bit at the wasted paper/trees.

2.  A new thing I learned this year was that a SpeedPASS for a vendor will print even if they didn’t pay.  We had a sponsor sign up for 2 levels of sponsorship.  They paid one of them naturally.  I didn’t remove the unused sponsor entry assuming that it was harmless.  It wasn’t until very late that noticed they had 2 SpeedPASS raffle tickets.  I left them with 2 as didn’t want to have some folks with 2 chances at a prize, and some with one.  Figured more fair that all had 2 chances.  Not a very common scenario no doubt, but a tidbit for my fellow organizers.

3.  Make sure in the communications to attendees to have them print AND cut out their tickets.  We had many well intentioned folks who listened to my many emails pleading to print their SpeedPASSes but did not cut the raffle tickets.  So these folks were hung up cutting out tickets.  Also make sure to let them know the process for raffle tickets at the events.  We had some at the end of the day not knowing what to do with the tickets.

Kathi looks to be having fun in her session

Kathi looks to be having fun in her session

4.  I was trying to do a New Speaker buddy system that Nic Cain (Twitter|blog) referenced here.  I had good intentions but didn’t have the best organization with that portion.  Next year I will make sure to try to formalize that a bit more.  Speakers also make sure that you READ the communications organizers send.  I had many new speakers that I didn’t find out about that were first time speakers until the speaker dinner or even later.

5.  I knew in past and from experiences at other SQLSaturdays to try to have food set out to allow for at least 2 lines.  I would always hate to see tables lined up against the wall with food as it forces only one line.  We had the table where you could do that.  If you can set food to allow more (i.e. same food 2 tables, allowing 4 lines).  We didn’t have major issues but the faster you can feed that many people, the better. Looking back now I think we could have managed to setup more lines.

6.  Make sure to put in communications that the schedule has changed or is subject to.  It is just bound to happen, it’s just part of it.

I'll let you guys caption this one of Steve.

I’ll let you guys caption this one of Steve.

7.  Make sure to touch base with your sponsors at the event on how they want to handle raffle tickets.  Some sponsors will take tickets with them and scan them.  Others may want them mailed to them.  Others accidentally leave them.  And some just don’t care to keep them at all.  I plan to put some info on that to sponsors in communications next year.

8.  Never rely only on email communications alone.  Folks don’t read email.  Sure many do, but many also don’t.

Good times getting learn on at SQLSaturday Indy

Good times getting learn on at SQLSaturday Indy

9.  Get someone else to do opening/closing remarks.  I have just come to terms that I am not good at it.  I can chat folks up informally or in a session but when it comes to remarks stuff, I am just damn terrible.  I am frazzled and just worried about getting ‘er done.  I need like a host of the Grammy’s type person to do it up right next year.

10.  Check for duplicate speakers before making any orders.  There are some in the system as similar but different names.  I know I had some with multiple sessions and seems they were in twice.

 

SQLSaturday 232 – SQLSaturday in the Land of Tourists October 4, 2013

Filed under: SQLSaturday,Uncategorized — hopefoley @ 9:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I was a little later than normal getting this post out since I literally got a new job the day after getting back from SQLSaturday 232 (see post).  I didn’t forget you Orlando!  This was an exciting SQLSaturday for me.  It was the first time my husband went with me to a SQLSaturday outside of my local one in Indianapolis.  That one is a whole different ballgame since it’s one I organize and I put the whole family to work for me (evil slave-driver I know).  SQLSaturdays and SQLFamily are important to me so I was determined to get him introduced to these events and folks he hears so much about all the time.

***

We flew in on Friday.  I was half tempted to come earlier for some of the fantastic precons going on but decided better not.  We were already planning on staying a couple days afterward for some tourist fun.  We made it in town with plenty of time to get to Karla’s (blog|twitter) house for the speaker dinner.  God bless her, she was the main organizer of this SQLSaturday AND was brave enough to have the party at her house!  I love parties at houses, very intimate and laid back.  No way I am that brave/crazy though.

Look at all that orange!

Look at all that orange!

Next morning up early.  Not early enough to catch the early bird sessions.  They had some sessions that started at 7:30am!  That was the first time I had seen sessions that early.  I made it in time though to get situated before Jonathan Kehayias’s (blog|twitter) session.  I was on a mission to meet him and catch his session since he’s often my reference of SQL knowledge (“well I’m no Jonathan Kehayias but…”).  I accomplished both so was a happy camper.  He had a packed room for extended events session.  He showed some great stuff like how he finds the culprit of ASYNC_NETWORK_IO waits with them.

Jonathan Kehayias session on extended events

Jonathan Kehayias session on extended events

After his session was mine on spatial data.  I was anxious to get a practice run of my upcoming PASS Summit session.  It went amazingly well!  I had a really engaged audience and many who stayed late to chat more and discuss things.  I got some good feedback and some ideas to make session better for next time.  I wanted to answer all questions I had after my session so I was late to my lunch duties.  Andy Warren (blog|twitter) and the team in Orlando have a tradition of having the presenters help serve lunch which is a nice idea.

The lead chef, Andy Warren.

The lead chef, Andy Warren.

The speakers serving up the grub

The speakers serving up the grub

After lunch I went to Mike Davis’s (blog|twitter) session, “Complex DAX Functions”.  He ended up having a fairly new to PowerPivot audience so much of the beginning he had to go over basics.  He did get to some of the advanced topics such as creating a many to many relationship.  After that I went to meet Doug at the Confio booth.  It was kind of a crazy crossing of my two worlds a couple weeks earlier.  I found out one of my best friends from college had a brother who worked at Confio!  From there it was on to Mike Hillwig’s (blog|twitter) session on VLFs.  I had seen it before but well he’s just great so I went again.  I was glad I did as saw a lot of his progress on the session from before.  Nice job Mike, flow was much improved.

Mike Davis going over PowerPivot

Mike Davis going over PowerPivot

Mike Hillwig going over VLFs

Mike Hillwig going over VLFs

The last session of the day was from Tim (blog|twitter) and Amy Ford (twitter) and their experience with telecommuting.  I had been talking with BlueGranite for quite some time so I knew that telecommuting could be in my future.  I was anxious to hear what I could be in for with working from home.  I was lucky enough to get that job with BlueGranite, so have put some of them into action from the get go like having my own work space.  Next I witnessed the other tradition of Orlando SQLSaturdays which was the tossing of giveaways and swag from a decently high balcony. I forgot to ask Karla if they get extra liability insurance for this piece.  The organizer in me was squeamish at this!

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Tim and Amy Ford on telecommuting

Watch out now! Flying swag!

Watch out now! Flying swag!

The after party was held at 4th Street Bar and Grill where we had a nice outside section to ourselves.  After some beer and lobster mac n cheese, Karla was crazy/brave again and invited folks to their house for the after after party.  We had such a good time!  The hubby couldn’t stop talking about playing those drums for days!  Thank you to Karla/Rodney (blog|twitter) for the hospitality of your house both nights.  Thanks to Karla and the entire Orlando team for a great event!  So glad you all invited me to come speak!

 

SQLSaturday 242 – The Empire Strikes Back August 21, 2013

Filed under: SQLSaturday,Uncategorized — hopefoley @ 4:03 am
Tags: , , , ,

SQLSaturday 242 wasn’t attacked by AT-ATs, I just couldn’t resist the chance to use that title.  Last year I cheesily went with “A New Hope” for my blog post title for all the lessons learned and how changed I was from the process.  It’s not that often you have an opportunity for a Star Wars reference AND a shameless previous blog post plug wrapped into one so I had to do it – please forgive me.  Besides it works if you consider I did feel a little like I was frozen in carbonite the day after SQLSaturday 242.  Alright now that I’ve got the Star Wars-ness out of my system, and I’ve had some time to recover it’s about time I got my blog post out from my experiences being the lead organizer of SQLSaturday 242.

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This year was much different than the last couple years. Those past years I was very involved and helped in organizing but had the wonderful Caroline leading the the way.  This year I had to step out on my own and lead. Oye, I should have thanked Caroline more profusely in the past years!  There was just so much she did that I  wasn’t even aware. God bless ya Caroline! I was excited to do it though. I was anxious to right some wrongs that bothered me since last year (again see blog) and help pay forward to the SQL community some of the goodness that SQLSaturdays have brought to me over the years.

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When I started planning this year I was determined to find a new venue. The place we had been the past years was a great venue, just located in an area where it is scarce to find good hotels for my speakers. Since the hotel was the main thing sticking in my craw from last year, hell or high water was going to rectify it this year. And I found a great place in a great location with Indiana Wesleyan on the northside. They were great to work with and good hotels were plentiful. We didn’t even have any act of god storms or issues in the hotel.  Demon exorcised – halleujah!

Registration team rockin it!

Registration team rockin it!

Honestly too it is great relief that I REALLY TRULY know the full ins and outs of what this event takes to happen. There were so many unknowns I had going into this event having not sat in the lead spot that it drove me completely nuts. I would keep myself up at night just sitting and making list after list to try to think of everything I needed to do.  I wanted with my hometown SQLSaturday more than anything to take care of my people: my speakers, my sponsors, my volunteers, my attendees. I want them all to just feel like we were taking care of them.

Have you thanked a sponsor today?

Have you thanked a sponsor today?

Friday comes and I got at it early so I could get Bill Pearson setup and going for his precon since PTI was hosting it. We had some hiccups with the projector software but Bill, being the pro he always is worked through the rough patches and we worked it out. Then I begin setting up the attendee packet stuffing station.  As I looking the table of 1000 laps and a million sponsor flier papers, I started to get a bit panicked.  I then called in the calvary…my saint of a mother in law, Pam who agreed to help out.  Then when the blessed, wonderful Chris and Gigi Bell show up they help make fairly quick work of it. Alan Dykes also shows up and helps me with the monitor setup. I had attended SharePoint Saturday and they had monitors outside the rooms to display the current and upcoming sessions. I thought it looked slick so we worked that out but it wouldn’t have happened if Alan hadn’t had stepped in to help with it.

WIT panel - wish I was able to see this one :(

WIT panel – wish I was able to see this one 😦

Later that night comes the speaker dinner. We ended up doing bowling again this year which was fun. It’s not fancy but is a great way to get folks loose and chatting. I think it went well and seems like all had a good time. I got some cupcakes to help butter folks up too just in case.  I started to loosen up a bit and some of the weight begins coming off my shoulders since by that point, if it ain’t done it just wasn’t gonna happen.

Was great to make SQLSaturday a family affair

Was great to make SQLSaturday a family affair

Then comes Saturday and we are up at the crack of dawn to get the mad dash going to get things setup. We weren’t able to get in till 7:00 and we had registration starting at 7:30 so it didn’t leave much time for things to fall into place. The morning was just nuts, it’s just the way it goes even if things run like clockwork with an event with that many people. I had to get the computer and printer setup for the SpeedPASS printing area of shame. Never fails, you will just have folks who don’t print SpeedPASSes no matter how many pleas you send.  I bought a printer that we ended up raffling off at the end of the day which worked out really well. Just make sure if you stay up the night before getting the drivers and crap setup that you plug it in and do it in the same manner you intend to on go day. Damn thing installed drivers anyway since I plugged it in instead of using the wireless.  As the morning moves on we run into more bumps. This was my first year also to administer the site for the event. It turned out I didn’t have some of the sponsors selected to be in the SpeedPASSes so I had to hurry up and make some raffle tickets really quick and get them printed them for folks to fill out (was able to scan SpeedPASSes off of computer for these sponsors after the event to help rectify this wrong). While I was doing super fast design work, I didn’t have time to think over what I needed to say for opening remarks. I think I may have sounded like a stressed out Elmer Fudd yammering thank you and that was about it.  I meant to say more so folks were aware of little details.

Elmer Fudd in action

Elmer Fudd in action

The rest of the day moves on and things start to settle down from morning craziness. We had some more minor hiccups that had us bobbing and weaving but we came out of it without much damage. Lunch came and went and things went as smooth as I think lunch for 191 people can go and it didn’t take terribly long to get folks through the line. We didn’t have a large area for people to eat so we needed to have folks disperse into the various rooms. Something I think I could have gotten across again in opening comments. Rest of day goes well and we were very lucky to have great sponsorship so were able to get a lot of great prizes to give away. We were needed to get out of the venue fairly quickly so we tried to move through them at a quick clip.  Sometimes that portion can drag along if you let it.  I let out a large sigh of relief and it was over.  We cleaned up really quickly thanks to all the volunteers on deck.  We then get a good size group headed out to Scotty’s Brewhouse for a much needed beer and some food. I got a bit misty eyed when I got a good amount of applause when I arrived (I love my SQL peeps).  From there some found a Korean place that had private karaoke rooms so some brave souls headed over. We had a blast but it was a tad bit interesting/disturbing with the Korean dramas going on the screens while you (not me) sang. Who knew you could possibly add weirdness to SQLkaraoke but by god we did.

This was needed desperately at the end of the day!

This was needed desperately at the end of the day!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me with SQLSaturday 242! Thank you so much to my family, Rod, the kids, and my saint of a mother in law Pam. You put up with my distraction, picked up my slack, and even helped with the event.  I was so glad you all could be a part of one of these.  It means a lot that you got to see a little glimpse into these crazy SQLSaturday things you hear so much about and got to see this side of my life.  Thank you to Sally at PTI who helped me get so many things together and cut more paper than a human should!  Thank you to everyone at PTI for helping me, allowing me the time and resources to organize this event.  And thank you to Alan for your help all along the way and handling those damn monitors! And my registration crew: Gigi, Katie, Courtney, and Stephanie!  You ladies just killed it at registration and all through the day! I can’t thank you all enough!  Brandon Lukes thank you for your help!  Thank you Eddie for handling the precons.  And countless others who helped me, thank you! From every fiber of my being, thank you! It meant the world to me to have so many help make this event a success.

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And since I am selfish and figure I need all the good SQLSaturday karma I can get, here are some recapped lessons and a few more thoughts on SQLSaturday 242 Indy.

1. Make sure you keep a good list of sponsors and the raffle prizes they intend to give away. You need to keep good track of the ones they are bringing themselves and those they give to you, the organizer. Then PRIOR to sending out word on the SpeedPASS check to make sure all who intend to give prizes are included in the SpeedPASS. The system will only auto print for silver and above sponsorship levels. Double check since bronze/swag sponsors sometimes have giveaway prizes but are not selected by default.  Make sure that you have good details on how attendees will need to claim prizes prior to the event.  Print out certificates if necessary just to help you keep track and have something easy to hand over to winner.

Great sponsors, great prizes

Great sponsors, great prizes

2.  Make sure if you intend to have speakers give away books to get them the details on what they need to do.  Sorry speakers.

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3.  Make sure to be prepared before the morning comes with different items that should be addressed during the opening comments and PRINT it out.  I had a OneNote list that I assumed would have time to review before it was time to speak.  Yeah that assumption was wrong.  Make sure to get information on logistics throughout the day such as plans for lunch.  Also make sure to give an overview of what SQLSaturday is and that it is a mix of experienced speakers as well an opportunity to encourage new speakers.  We had some comments to the effect that we should “vet speakers as some were inexperienced”.

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4.  Make sure to check with businesses and city ordinances that it is ok to put up your SQLSaturday directional signs.  I had 5 signs of which I got back 1.  Maybe it was hoodlum Oracle teenagers or something but our signs went missing.  I love it when the signs are up when I go to a SQLSaturday.  Sorry to those who came later when they were gone.

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5.  Get the session levels on the printed schedule.  We had some really nice clear envelopes for sponsor swag and the schedule.  On one side we had a nice color, printed schedule that was visible through the envelope that I think was very handy for attendees.  I did not have the session level on it though which would have been helpful.  Also would like next year to get colors for tracks on it as well.

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6.  Make sure to have some committed help to stuff packets.  Just a few hands can make all the difference.

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7.  Check very early on the catering situation of any potential venues.  Many venues will have exclusive contracts with caterers which means extra $$.  This can be a huge expense that your $10 charge for lunch won’t cover.  Also make sure you account for the cost of speakers and sponsors to eat.  Make sure you know how much money you may need to cover the costs before you sign up for the venue.  We didn’t have any issues with that but just could see that helping potential SQLSaturday organizers.

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8.  If you need printers, monitors or other items during the day see if it makes sense to buy those items to raffle off at the end of the day for prizes.

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9.  Make sure to have coffee setup for the entire day.  We had several folks wanting for coffee in the afternoon.

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10.  Make sure you have some food items at breakfast that do not contain nuts.  We had coffee cakes but I didn’t realize they had nuts and didn’t even consider those with allergies.

Karla embarrassing me giving me props at the end of the day.

Karla embarrassing me giving me props at the end of the day.

So I survived organizing a SQLSaturday again and feel like I came out of this one with less battle wounds.  It was a lot of work but there really is a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.  I helped bring some more SQL community to Indy and THAT is a great thing.