Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SQLSaturday #21 – Orlando Recap

In my previous post I discussed the week that led up to the SQLSaturday event.  In this post I’ll tell you my perspective on how the event went and let you in on a secret.

Starting the Day

Not being a morning person I allowed Andy Warren to take the lead on setup.  He arrived at our venue, Seminole State College of Florida (formerly Seminole Community College) Lake Mary campus, at about 6:30am and had several volunteers meet him there.  They got the UHaul truck unloaded and were getting the check-in tables setup when I arrived at about 7:40am.  I helped put up our schedule posters (including marking room changes and crossing out sessions that had been cancelled) and helped direct people to the check-in station and chatted.  Check-in went smoothly due to our volunteers, I’d name names, but they know who they are and I might leave someone out.  We had three issues early:

  1. We had some people go to the wrong room because we forgot to put signs on the original rooms directing people to the new location.  Kindly pointed out by Joe Healey (DevFish).
  2. We forgot to bring the coffee pots so when the coffee we had purchased was gone, we were out of coffee.
  3. One of the speakers did not show, so we had to move people to other sessions.

I spent the first session directing people to the correct rooms as some were a little out of the way.


Fortunately for me we had an opening in the 10:15 block so we could move Joe Webb’s session on Locking and Blocking from 2:45 so he would have enough time to make his flight back home.  Fortunate for me because I got to attend his session.  I had a great time and learned a lot in the session.  I even asked a question that led directly to his next slide. 

Lunch Time

After Joe’s session I helped get setup for lunch.  This is one of the areas where we were most concerned because we had requested that attendees pay for lunch and there were some quirks in the system so we weren’t sure if we had ordered lunches correctly.  Getting people through the lunch line went very smoothly and we had enough lunches for everyone.  We also had two “sessions” during lunch.  A question and answer with Joe Celko on the quad, and a demo by Confio in one of the rooms.  I spent much of the lunch period announcing the Confio demo because we had not put the room on the schedule.

After Lunch

We had another “new” thing, 15 minute mini-sessions immediately after lunch.  I think they were received well.  The only issue we had was that this was the only time we didn’t have a change over between sessions which caused a little bit of issue because we (read I) didn’t speak with the full session speakers to prepare them.  We wanted to give some beginners a chance to speak and yet, still fill the room.

I had my first session at 1:30, a panel discussion with Andy Warren, Kendal Van Dyke, and myself, on Getting Started in Technical Speaking and Blogging.  We had a much bigger crowd than I anticipated, standing room only.  The interesting thing was that everyone in the room raised their hand when we asked who wanted to be a speaker and no one said the problem was “fear of public speaking”, but one was lack of opportunity.  As a PASS Chapter leader in charge of getting speakers, I can say with authority that I can always use speakers, so please contact me!  It was well received even though we broke one of the cardinal rules of public speaking, we hadn’t practiced

After that session I took a break to review for my solo session which was coming up at 4pm.  While waiting I ran into some of the other 4pm speakers, Patrick Leblanc, Herve Roggero, and Scott Klein, and we had a discussion about who would have the most in attendance in their session since Joe Celko, Buck Woody, and Jonathan Kehayias were also speaking in that block.  Scott Klein and his session on XML won with a packed room of 30.

My Session

My session was “Dive into the Default Trace” which I had done at the Space Coast User Group in September.  It went very well.  My biggest issue was that I could go on forever so I had to pick it up in the end.  My audience didn’t mind though, they enjoyed the interaction and the information provided.

Clean up and Raffle

While Andy was having fun passing out raffle gifts I was busy making sure all the rooms were cleaned up.  It was a struggle as the maintenance crew were moving very quickly to get everything closed up.  Andy almost gave away my coffee cup, but I walked out in time to save it.

After Party

We had a good turnout at JAX Fifth Avenue and I was able to make the rounds and spend time with just about everyone.  I was accused by one speaker of guilting them into coming this year because I sent a personal email asking if they were interesting in speaking again since they had spoken last year.

The Secret

Remember how I talked about discussing who would have the most attendees in the 4pm session, well, it wasn’t me, I had the LEAST!  I had one person, but as I said, it went really well and he had something to take back to the office and try.  Sure I’d like to speak to hundreds, but one on one was fun.

Next up a few things we (really I) could have done better.

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