The Houston Area SQL Server User Group (HASSUG) held its first SQLSaturday event on January 29, 2011. Thanks to Bammel Church of Christ for the use of their Youth and Ministry buildings! Lynn McKee (twitter) (HASSUG member), Andrew, Michael, and Leroy worked facilities for us and we greatly appreciate their contribution to our event. The planning team received lots of compliments on the venue. I sincerely hope that we left things the way we found them (we tried) and can use this facility again in the future.
Numerous volunteers helped to make this event a success. It was a pleasure working with Jonathan Gardner (blog | twitter) and Malik Al-Amin (twitter) as co-chairs on the event. While we haven’t had our formal “post mortem” meeting on the event yet, I’m really hoping that both will sign on to work on the next event (when we get to that point; we need to decompress first!). We all learned a lot in coordinating this event – and most of it was not about SQL Server!
Other key volunteers included Steve Allison, Eric Cruz and Ken Goins on the Program Committee. They helped to select the sessions and create the printed program included in attendee bags. Rhonda Tipton (blog | twitter) and Sri Sridharan (blog) took photographs during Friday setup and all day Saturday; you can find them here and on Sri’s blog. Greg Rowland took charge of registration and ensured that all rolled along smoothly.
However, since this was a FREE training event for attendees, we couldn’t have done any of it without our sponsors! So, thanks again to Platinum Sponsors: CTREC Hilton IT Academy and Idera Software; Gold Sponsors: Bradmark Technologies, Dynamic Worldwide Training Consultants, Quest Software, Red Gate Software, Sparkhound, and Texas Memory Systems; Silver Sponsors: Confio Software, Fusion-IO, MelissaData, SQLServer Magazine, and Intellinet; and Bronze Sponsors: CozyRoc and Telerik.
The ultimate key to the success of the event, however, was the speakers and the content they delivered. Over 150 attendees participated in 42 sessions presented by 28 speakers. When I had people telling me in the middle of the afternoon that their head hurt because they were learning so much, I knew we’d delivered what we hoped for! To make it even better – on Monday I saw a tweet stating that an attendee had been able to immediately put to use something that they learned on Saturday – that’s awesome!
I know there has been debate lately about speaker evaluations for PASS in general and specifically around the question worded something like “how valuable was this session to your daily work”. I always struggle with this question as an attendee and as a speaker. As an attendee, I may be attending the session to learn something new that may be outside the arena of my current job role, but is an area I want to move into or incorporate into my role. So, how would I answer this question? As a speaker, high ratings are obviously good per the guy who could immediately put to use what he learned; but, is a low mark necessarily bad? Or does it just reflect that the attendee does not currently have the ability to put the knowledge to use immediately? However, I digress. We requested for speakers to setup their sessions on SpeakerRate (which does not have the question just mentioned!). It is a fairly simple feedback mechanism to rate the content and the delivery and provide comments. Of most value to speakers is constructive feedback – they sincerely want to improve those two items (content and delivery), but that is hard to do just based on a number. So, if you attended SQLSaturday 57, please go to SpeakerRate, see if the sessions you attended are posted, and provide specific comments on what they did well and how they can improve their presentation for the next time.
As this is getting rather long, I think I’ll save the analysis of the event for another post. But, once again, thanks to our sponsors, speakers, and volunteers for making SQLSaturday #57 a success!