Attended SQL Saturday today.
Basically it’s put together and run by the local SQL users group here in Orlando(They also run SQL Saturdays for other groups around Florida) and it’s held at the Seminole Community College in Lake Mary.
I find the event refreshing. The speakers are not paid, they are there to share knowledge and network with other attendees as well as watch presentations by other speakers. The event itself occurs on a Saturday of their choosing once a year. They tend to provide some food and lunch(this year you had to pay 10 bucks for a bagged lunch if you wanted one). I have no problem paying the 10 bucks and I hope some of it goes to fund the event. They also give out prizes via raffles which you are responsible for dropping your tickets in different boxes.
Generally you start the day at 9am, be sure to show up at 8:30am to grab some grub, coffee and register. They usually give you some swag at the door then you run through the gauntlet of sponsors. Sometimes in find useful things or information at the tables, sometimes not, just be sure to drop your raffle tickets with the sponsors. Next you head on to the list of classes, if you are like me, you printed one out the night before and made note of the classes you wanted to attend. Classes usually last one hour, but sometimes the speaker will go over, it’s up to you whether or not you want to stay.
Hopefully the maps they have posted around are up to date, if so, then usually finding the location of the class is easy with a little spacial awareness. Now sometimes the classes are full and overflowing into the hall, sometimes they are half empty, it just depends on the subject. For this reason, I highly suggest you show up early to each one and have a backup class if you do not want to sit on the floor. I can say that I am happy to report that this year, I rarely saw people standing; now I don’t know if this has to do with the economy as it did seem like less people attended, but things were very nice this year.
Lunch is usually an hour, this year they had more time for breaks between classes(or overtime if you will), then they also gave an hour and fifteen minutes for lunch. If you eat quickly, they had some mini breakouts that lasted 15 minutes. I highly recommend that you use this time to network with other IT folks, even if they don’t work in the same area as you. You can learn many things and possibly grow your buddies by at least one person by the end of the day.
After lunch the classes resume, feel free to grab a soda to keep awake( they usually have water too). I usually start to lose steam after lunch, though the speaker makes the ultimate difference. This time I went to the main guys class(Andy Warren) and he was as excellent as ever. I could have been dead tired and never batted an eye in that class. He actually spoke about networking, some stuff I knew, but it’s nice to see other people’s philosophies on the matter. Personally, sometimes I have to crank up the social butterfly in me to get going. I had very personable parents, so meet and greets are very natural to me, though as I said, occasionally a little internal push is required(it's easy to be lazy).
At the end of the day they draw the raffle and hand out prizes. I must caution you though, they tend to toss stuff off the second story. While this is rather dangerous, I haven’t seen anyone get hurt by flying objects. After all, it’s a heads up event! Now, assuming you win, take your winning and decide whether or not you are going to attend the after party. Usually they have it at Jax Fifth Ave, but I find the parking rather lacking, plus I have been at some place learning stuff all day, do I want to blow the rest of the day(sometimes I do)?
Here is a quick list and short review of what i attended today:
Kevin Boles - SANs and SQL Server - This class was very informative. It didn’t cover everything i had hoped, but he only had an hour. I imagine this subject could go on for a while, especially with everyone’s differing opinions as to which SAN is the best. I will blog sometime soon regarding SANs and my thoughts. As for the class, learned a bunch of useful things i am going to get lined up when i get back to the office. Being an IT manager, does not mean you know everything. While i am well versed in many subjects, many times the details are obscured through assumed knowledge. He really pointed out some useful stuff. He was an excellent speaker.
Brandie Tarvin- T-SQL - Subqueries and Joins - I cannot say i learned too much from this class, though the trick regarding changing an inner to an outer join if an issue is occurring is something i made a mental note of. While I am a certified DBA, a refresher course in specific subject matter is always good. She was an excellent speaker.
Jonathan Kehayias - Auditing User Activity 101 - I have actually done traces before but i have not had to deal with any compliance issues yet. I know our EHR project is HITTS compliant and has its own compliance rules, but it was nice to see what the industry was requiring and how people were achieving desired outcomes. He covered SQL 2000 and up, so it was nice to see the different functionality between the version and also good to know why i should be upgrading all our database servers. He was an OK speaker. Sometimes he rambles on about a particular item in detail.. maybe too much detail or he has technical difficulties(which he did last time). He is highly technical though, so ask away!
Ronald Dameron - Database Hardening - Standardization, Optimization - I am not sure what to say about this class. The speaker was all over the spectrum and it sounded like he hated his job( i did too by the end of the class). I gave him the benefit of the doubt, he was trying too hard, but admittedly, it was his first speaking event. The class itself did not live up to the first part of the name. Database hardening has nothing to do with standardization and optimization. Both of which are different subjects, though related in nature. Hardening is loosely related to the second two. I think there was one tiny part on hardening. What i did get out of this class was the knowledge that auditors suck and powershell will shut them up.
Andy Warren - Social and Not so Social Networking for the DBA* - This class was not really related to SQL, but more a professional personal improvement class. The speaker was excellent( he runs the event). He spoke about social networking and how it can help everyone. Obviously networking has many benefits and i recommend that everyone take a close look at their management of said subject. What i can say is that this class gave me a new perspective on how i should be handling and expanding my network. Here is a hint: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brent-kennedy/16/aa2/15
Jonathan Kehayias - Wait Statistics: A Troubleshooting Methodology - Ok, so maybe i am a glutton for punishment. The class was half empty, just like his earlier class, but as usual, his knowledge and distribution of the subject matter was impressive. He again had technical difficulties, but that maybe how he works given the complexities he is discussing and demoing. Many things learned in this class and i found that i knew little when it comes to really getting dirty when troubleshooting SQL issues. The knowledge i gained in this class will significantly bolster what i got from his earlier class.
The event itself was as good, if not better than, last year. I found the volunteers and speakers as friendly and knowledgeable as ever. I was sad to see attendance down, but i hope that will not dissuade them from holding it again next year. Hopefully the economy will pick back up and everyone can get back to business. I really recommend checking out their website and following their events page. I hope to attend again next year!