SQL Saturday #222 – Another successful endeavor

The second annual SQL Saturday held in Sacramento was another smashing success! With an updated venue and an international speaker list, attendees were given a full day of FREE training in everything SQL Server. Enabled by our sponsors’ generosity, the Sacramento SQL Server users group was able to host a fantastic event.

Gifts for this year's speakers, customized for Sacramento.

Gifts for this year’s speakers, customized for Sacramento.

Led by our user group president Mitch Bottel (B|T), the planning committee took the success of year one and began to navigate through the planning process, beginning in January. The Patrick Hayes Learning Center in Natomas, graciously donated by Sutter Health, was chosen to house the event. With plenty of conference rooms, wi-fi and a large break room, the facility was perfect for a SQL Saturday. We gave each of our platinum sponsors their “own” room, allowing them to host a lunch session and decorate as they saw fit.  Five tracks gave attendees a choice of subjects to choose from.

Sacramento was represented by local speakers Eric Freeman (B|T), Jon Amen (B|T), Angel Abundez (B|T) (we claim Angel even though he’s semi-Bay Area), Dilip Nayak (T), Mitch Bottel and yours truly, Dan Hess (B|T).  This was my first SQL Saturday as a presenter and I was lucky enough to have Steve Jones (B|T) sit in on my session and give me some great feedback.  Prior to the event he was giving me “the business” about how similar my session was to the talk he gave at our first SQL Saturday.  Good thing I didn’t hit his presentation last year!

It was great seeing my friends from last year, even if Cannonball didn’t make it.  Shout out to Mike Fal (B|T) and John Morehouse (B|T).  It was great meeting new friends also…David Klee (B|T) and Jim Murphy (B|T).  I wish I would have spent more time getting to know the other speakers but responsibilities of the planning committee kept me busy during the day.

A special thanks goes out to all of our volunteers, many of whom are a part of our user group.  The event’s success was directly related to your participation.

I’m looking forward to Sacramento’s third annual SQL Saturday next year!

SQL Saturday #222 coming to Sacramento CA on July 27, 2013

The Sacramento SQL Server users group is happy to announce the second annual SQL Saturday in Sacramento to be held on July 27, 2013.  Our schedule boasts five tracks with six sessions in each track, adding up to 30 speakers coming from all parts of the globe.  We will be well represented with local talent, filling 20% of the speaking duties.  In addition to the all-star lineup on Saturday, Kalen Delaney (@sqlqueen) will be doing a pre-conference workshop on Friday, July 26.

Make sure to mark your calendars for these two amazing events!

Click here to register for Kalen’s workshop “Performance Tuning with Indexes: Internals and Best Practices”

Click here to register for SQL Saturday #222

SQL Saturday #144 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sacramento’s gift to all who spoke at our event

SQL Saturday #144 is over but what a great time it was!  Sacramento’s first SQL Saturday boasted close to 200 attendees and showcased great speakers like Steve Jones (@way0utwest) and Kalen Delaney (@sqlqueen).  We were represented with local talent Mitch Bottel (@SacSQLdude), Helen Norris (@hpnorris), Jon Amen (@dungeongurunet), Eric Freeman (@sqlelf), Tom Keller (@tomkeller02) and Angel Abundez (@angelstreamline)…and there were COWBELLS! 

In November of 2011 members of the Sacramento SQL Server user group banded together to begin planning the event.  Using documentation from sqlsaturday.com, we began the planning with a classic project management tool, the Work Breakdown Structure.  It allowed us to focus our member’s strengths and start a nice project plan.  For the next 9 months, we were able to meet on a monthly basis and stay coordinated through emails and phone calls.

Our first challenge was finding an appropriate venue.  As I was working at CSU, Sacramento at the time, it seemed a logical choice.  As we dug deeper, we found an alternate location in Natomas which appeared to fit our needs perfectly.  Our foundation was set: we could begin planning food, locations for the sponsors, rooms for our speakers, etc. 

We found our location in early 2012 and went along with our plans: gathering sponsors, speakers and marketing the event.  Everything was moving along nicely….too nicely.  Before our monthly meeting in May, I decided to make one more trip to the venue and draw out a floor plan.  As I was putting my ideas on paper, I found our contact and begin showing him my plans.  He quickly stopped me and showed me the error of my thinking: we did not get a “common area” for the sponsors and lunch would have to be confined to each of the rooms.  The rooms were on two different floors and participants could only move back and forth from the rooms, no loitering.  The registration would need to take place in each room, also.  He may as well have punched me in the face.

I brought this information back to the group and we quickly mobilized.  With only 2 months left before the event, we were lucky enough to find the Courtyard Marriott hotel.  They were willing to work into our budget and would supply the workforce to set up and take down.  Coffee in the morning and lunch rounded out the perks.  CHA-CHING!

Back on track, we finalized our speaker list and finished up our marketing campaign.  There were some minor issues the week before the event, but nothing that our crack team of SQL Server ninjas couldn’t handle.

If you didn’t make it, you missed an amazing day.  Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly:

The Good:

Amazing speakers, amazing volunteers and awesome content.  Lunch went well with the hotel providing the man power.  Attendance was perfect as any more would have been uncomfortable.  Registration was a breeze as most had used their SpeedPASS and pre-printed their raffle tickets.  I got to meet a host of new friends (CANNONBALL!) and reconnect with some old ones.  The after party showcased a real live mermaid (no joke!)

The Bad:

Parking was inadequate, even though we were assured by the hotel that there would be enough.  It got a little tight in the hallways in between sessions.  Our signage was lacking in the morning as attendees did not know that there were rooms in the back. 

The Ugly: 

Mike Fal (@mike_fal), Jon Amen (@dungeongurunet) and John Morehouse (@sqlrus)







Please leave a comment and let us know what you thought of the event.  Good feedback will help us make next year even better!  Stay in touch with the Sacramento SQL Server user group thru http://sac.sqlpass.org and http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2825448&trk=hb_side_g.

My first SQL Server presentation – database mirroring w/ Transparent Data Encryption

I’ve finally cut my teeth on a technical, public presentation on SQL Server.

This wasn’t explaining to a bunch of co-workers and managers about the latest features in SQL Server 2012.  It wasn’t sharing my understanding of whatever piece of Scripture we were studying in church.  It wasn’t addressing a group of parents about our team’s achievements over the last season.  This was a group of my peers who potentially knew as much or more about the subject matter and, being in IT, we’re probably not afraid to let me know when I was wrong.

My first mistake: the topic for the presentation was way too large, Database mirroring with Transparent Data Encryption.  I chose the subject because I was familiar with the technical aspects and figured that I could spin it as ‘High Availability and passing an audit at the same time’.  I had already done it in my environments so felt comfortable presenting…my relaxed demeanor was one area I received compliments.

The day of the presentation I discovered that the computer I had brought from home had suffered a failure. I was using it, a cross-over cable and my laptop to simulate server to server communication (for the mirroring).  I scrambled to get mirroring working between two instances on my laptop to no avail (some of you saw my #SQLHELP tweet).  The site where the presentation was being held did not offer WiFi, but I had a cellular dongal (borrowed from wife) and could remote into my test servers at work.  This was a last resort; it also meant a live demo.

I arrived early and tested my cell connection: 100% strong with full bars.  Sweet, one potential speed bump behind me.  We went through our normal meeting announcements and then it was my turn…I now had the Conch.  A quick prayer to the DemoGods and I was off and running.

I had way too many windows open.  My font size was too small.  I switched context between servers often. The code was not fully commented.  The last piece of the demonstration failed.


I was relaxed throughout.  I was knowledgeable about the subject.  I kept consistent eye contact with my audience.  I engaged the audience regularly.

For what I had to overcome, it turned out fairly well.  The feedback I received was constructive and positive which is a testament to our Sacramento user group.  It gave me the confidence to want to do another.

I’m looking forward to my next opportunity…this time I’ll choose a topic that can be explained in 100 words or less.

Check out http://sac.sqlpass.org for my code and slide deck.

SQLSaturday #144 coming to Sacramento CA on July 28, 2012

The Sacramento SQL Server users group is happy to announce that we’ll be organizing our own SQL Saturday event to be held in Sacramento on July 28, 2012. Check out http://sqlsaturday.com/144/eventhome.aspx for more details!