SQL Saturday #835, Philadelphia — 5/4/19 (a week from this Saturday)

I just received an email from the organizers of SQL Saturday #835, saying that I should ‘blog about the upcoming event. Okay, I will oblige!

This is the fourth consecutive year that I am speaking at Philadelphia SQL Saturday, and they’ve all been fun experiences! (Last year, I even wrote an article in which I documented my trip!)

This year, I will be doing my presentation on tech writing and documentation.

Image result for chewbacca
Chewie says, “May the 4th be with you at SQL Saturday!”

And… because this year’s Philadelphia SQL Saturday falls on May 4, attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite Star Wars garb. Yes, I intend to participate. No, I’m not saying how. You’ll just have to wait until May 4 to find out!

So if you’re interested in databases, data science, technology, professional development, or just want to hang out with a bunch of computer geeks, and you’re in southeastern Pennsylvania or southern New Jersey a week from Saturday, go register on their site, and we’ll see you there. May the fourth be with you!

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Attending SQL Saturday? Why you need to register

You say you’re attending SQL Saturday? Great! If you’re looking to learn more about SQL Server, data topics, BI, professional development, or just want to network with database and technical professionals, it’s a great event where you can do exactly that.

But make sure you register.

While it may sometimes be possible to just show up at a SQL Saturday and register as a walk-in, I would absolutely advise against it. I’ve had friends tell me that they were interested in attending, but ended up getting shut out because they didn’t register.

I’m writing this article to make sure you don’t make that mistake.

First of all, the number of people who can attend a SQL Saturday varies, largely because of the size of the venue. When we host SQL Saturday here in Albany, we might be able to afford some leeway because we hold it in a large venue. The rooms we use are large university lecture halls that are capable of accommodating fairly big crowds. However, not all places have that luxury. Some locations use smaller venues. For example, SQL Saturdays in the Boston area have been held at Microsoft’s office in Burlington, MA, which tends to be a smaller venue. (This is largely because Microsoft offers their space for little or no cost — and other sites around the Boston area can be quite expensive. Remember: SQL Saturday is an all-volunteer event.) It is not unusual for Boston-area SQL Saturday events to end up with a large waiting list — sometimes numbering more than a hundred.

Sometimes, capacity is lowered not just because of the facility but by the number of tracks and sessions that are offered. Events outside the United States — MontrĂ©al, for example — sometimes offer only a few tracks and about a dozen sessions. A smaller SQL Saturday will likely accommodate a smaller crowd.

Building security is often a factor. Whenever I’ve attended SQL Saturday events in New York City, I’ve had to bring along a picture ID, and in some cases, I would have a temporary building access badge issued to me, because the event was held in a secure facility. Registering puts you on a security list that allows you facility access.

Additionally, when you register, you receive an admission packet called a SpeedPASS. The SpeedPASS consists of a name tag that acts as your badge, your admission ticket, your lunch ticket, and raffle tickets for the event sponsors. Registering guarantees that your SpeedPASS will be ready for you when you arrive.

There’s also a matter of event planning. When you register for SQL Saturday, it provides planners with an RSVP and a count of how many people are attending the event. That gives organizers a count to plan for lunch, session planning, and organizing the event.

Additional information about attending a SQL Saturday can be found here. I also have a ‘blog article I wrote a while back about what to expect at a SQL Saturday.

So if you want to attend a SQL Saturday, go to their website, find an event that you want to attend, and register through the event link.

And do it sooner than later. Don’t get shut out.

Upcoming speaking engagements (as of 4/4/19)

I figured I was about due for an update of my speaking schedule. As of today, here are events where I am confirmed as speaking.

I’ve also applied to speak at the following events, but none of them are confirmed; there’s no guarantee that I will be speaking at any of these events. Stay tuned.

(Unfortunately, as much as I want to go, I am not applying to SQL Saturday #877, Boston, as I have a conflict with September 14.)

Additionally, these events are not yet live, but they are listed as “save the date.” I intend to apply to them once they do go live.

  • October 5: SQL Saturday, Pittsburgh

SQL Saturday events are held all across the country and around the world. I hope to be attending one near you!

SQL Saturday Philadelphia — May 4

No sooner did I return from one SQL Saturday that I discovered that I will be speaking at another! This morning, I learned that I will be speaking at Philadelphia on May 4! This will be the fourth time that I’ve spoken at Philadelphia SQL Saturday, and each one has been a good time!

I will be doing my presentation on technical writing and documentation!

If you are in southeastern Pennsylvania on May 4, register for SQL Saturday and come check it out! Hope to see you there!

SQL Saturday Virginia Beach — I’m speaking June 8!

I just found out today that I will be speaking at SQL Saturday #839, Virginia Beach on June 8!

I will be doing my presentation about the role of documentation in disaster recovery!

I’ll post about this event again as we get closer to the date. See you there in early June!

SQL Saturday Boston BI — this Saturday, March 30

This coming Saturday, March 30, I will be speaking at SQL Saturday #813, Buston (BI Edition)! This is my first SQL Saturday for 2019, and it will be the third time since last September that I will be speaking in the Microsoft facility in Burlington, MA!

I will be doing my presentation on how to talk to non-techies, called “Whacha just say? Talking technology to non-technical people.”

SQL Saturday is always a great time! It’s a great opportunity for free training, and it’s also a great networking event — you have an opportunity to meet a number of SQL Server and other data industry experts, as well as a chance to meet other peers within your profession!

Hope to see you in Burlington this Saturday!

Developing an introductory presentation to SQL Server

So far, all of my SQL Saturday presentations have been professional development talks — “soft topics,” as they’re often described. I don’t present about technical topics, but I do present topics that are of interest to technology (and perhaps other) professionals.

This is not to say that I don’t have technical skills. I do have a background in development and databases, but as I often introduce myself during my SQL Saturday presentations, I probably fall under the category of “knows enough SQL to be dangerous.” I am neither a SQL expert nor an MVP. While I am knowledgeable about SQL Server, I likely won’t be doing any presentations about power BI, data compression, or data security anytime soon.

I can, however, discuss rudimentary topics about SQL Server that might be of interest to people who are just getting started with SQL Server. When I first started my ‘blog, I wrote some articles about how to get started with SQL Server. As my ‘blog (and my professional life) has evolved, I’ve been moving more toward the soft topics about which I’m more knowledgeable and tend to present, and away from the hardcore technological topics.

An idea that has been in the back of my mind for some time is to develop presentations geared toward people who are just getting started with SQL Server and even databases in general. This idea is not new; I’ve toyed with it for a while, and only lack of time has kept me from developing it further.

One observation I’ve made during my frequent trips to SQL Saturday events is that many of the presentations are geared more toward “seasoned” SQL personnel; that is, people who already have some background knowledge of SQL Server and its workings. They are all very good topics, but for a person who is just getting started, they can be overwhelming — as is often described, a proverbial “drink from a firehose.”

There does seem to be a market for this idea. I’ve spoken to Grant Fritchey a few times about my idea, and he has encouraged me to pursue it. One thing that was mentioned to me was that part of the reason why many SQL Saturday presentations tend to be more advanced is that the presenters themselves are fairly advanced. A lot of them are SQL experts and MVPs, and are presenting topics at a much higher level from where a SQL beginner would need to start. It would be akin to asking a college professor to teach kindergarten.

Grant even suggested that I make these presentations into an entire precon — as there is way too much material to cover in a single SQL Saturday presentation. This is an idea that intrigues me, and it’s something that I’m interested in developing. It’s just a matter of me taking the time to sit down and putting it together.

I have a few reasons for writing this article. Among them are a form of self-encouragement to pursue this endeavor and a forum to list some of my thoughts. On the latter, I wanted to list a few topic ideas listed so that I can refer to and develop it as I go along.

Some of the topics I would cover would likely include the following.

  • A general high-level introduction to SQL Server and databases in general
  • Basics of T-SQL
  • An introduction to relational tables
  • Basics of data normalization
  • An introduction to database applications

I’m sure there are some other topics that haven’t occurred to me. If you have any suggestions, feel free to list them below in the comments.

This is an idea that has been kicking around my head for at least a few years. Maybe sometime, I’ll actually sit down and start working on it. Hopefully, that sometime will be soon.