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SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 Summary and Pictures

Thank you for making SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 a huge success!
After many months and countless hours of planning, it’s hard to believe that the second SQLSaturday in Oslo is over. It was a huge success thanks to all our organizers, speakers, volunteers, sponsors and attendees – thank you! I’m so proud of everything we accomplished, and I hope everyone had a great time :)

SQLSaturday #414 Oslo 2015 Pictures

Pictures from the event
A special thank you to Rodney and Erik who were our photographers during the event, and to Pål for sharing some of his great pictures!

An international event in Oslo
A total of 164 attendees out of 196 registered showed up during a sunny day in Oslo. Did you know that we had attendees from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Germany, Austria and England, as well as from all parts of Norway? On top of that, we had speakers coming in from Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Israel, The Netherlands, Belgium, England, Ireland, Portugal, USA and Norway. Crazymazing!

Pre-conference workshops
This year we decided to organize two pre-conference workshops (precons) on Friday before the main SQLSaturday event. David Peter Hansen (@DPHansen) presented Understanding SSIS Internals and Performance Tuning for 22 SSIS developers, and Margarita Naumova presented A Practical Approach for Troubleshooting Performance Problems for 21 DBAs. It was a great addition to the main event, and we plan to have two or three precons next year as well – and we plan to let you guys decide which ones :)

See you next year?
We hope you enjoyed SQLSaturday Oslo 2015 and that we’ll see you and your coworkers again next year! Follow us on twitter (@SQLSatOslo) and make sure you join SQL Server User Group Norway for more free training and networking while you’re waiting for SQLSaturday Oslo 2016 :)

Volunteering at SQLSaturday #337 Oregon

SQLSaturday #337 Oregon Volunteer Name BadgeSQLSaturday #337 Oregon was a great event, and I’m so happy I could be there and help out as a volunteer! Arnie, Paul, Vern, Sopheap, Rob, Theresa and everyone else who spent time working on this event, thank you so much. There were 52 volunteers helping out at this event. 52! That’s amazing. I hope you had a great time and I look forward to seeing you again next year!

Isn’t this one of the coolest name badges you’ve seen? Staff, speakers and volunteers all had name badges like this. Each group had a different color with their own pictures and text on it. The QR code takes you to a website where you can get in touch with the person. They were laminated and the same on both sides, so you didn’t have to worry about it flipping over. You didn’t have to worry about people not seeing it either, because it was large and very visible. I may have to borrow a few ideas from this name badge for our next SQLSaturday :)

My first and last assignment of the day was being a room proctor, but I didn’t actually get to see the session. There were quite a few people who arrived during the first session, so I stayed outside my room guiding them to where they wanted to go. It was nice that the organizers had put up maps of all the session rooms in the hallways, I could help attendees or just show them the map. A quick tip if you’re volunteering like this: don’t be afraid to walk up to people! A simple “hi, how can I help you?” if they look lost, or “hi, which room are you looking for?” if they’re staring at the schedule is all it takes. Most people are happy to ask when you approach them first, but they might not want to bother anyone or they might not even know you’re there to help.

Another tip is to hand out evaluation forms when people walk in and let them know that you’ll collect them at the end of the session. We noticed in Oslo that we got a lot more evaluation forms when we handed them out instead of placing them on the chairs, and it was the same in Portland. Feedback means a lot to speakers, so make sure you get them as much feedback as possible.

In the middle of the day I was assigned to monitor the speaker room, but speakers usually know how to take care of themselves :) I got to attend a session I wanted to see, and also tried to help out where needed. There was a great effort during multiple sessions and breaks to get all the SpeedPASSes printed, sorted and distributed. SpeedPASSes are a great idea, but they have been a major cause of headache at all the SQLSaturdays I’ve attended so far. Many people don’t know about them, many people forget them, and many people don’t have a printer available.

That means you will need a printer and scissors on-site and a dedicated volunteer to manage printing. The SpeedPASS files are named based on the registration number instead of the attendee name, so you will need to cross-check with your registration list to find the right SpeedPASS. There will most likely be a queue and attendees will spend time cutting their SpeedPASS instead of talking to sponsors or attending sessions. In Oslo we printed and cut the SpeedPASSes for all the attendees before the event. Unless I, PASS or SQLSaturday organizers come up with a better idea than SpeedPASSes, I will gladly spend hours next year getting blisters from cutting more SpeedPASSes – if that means that attendees get a better experience.

Speaking at SQLSaturday #337 OregonTurns out I wasn’t just going to be a volunteer that day. When we arrived a friend of mine was asked to do a SQL Excite presentation since they had open slots. These are 5-minute, fast-paced presentations with 20 slides set to advance every 15 seconds. I jokingly told my friend that it would be fun to do a Biml presentation, then I happily walked off to do my volunteer tasks and didn’t think much more of it… until I got a message that he had asked the organizers if I could present instead of him, they had said yes, and I would be speaking in 30 minutes.

O_O

I spent all 30 minutes creating a 5-minute introduction to Biml, and had literally just finished the last slide in the auditorium as I was called up on stage. The presentation was based on my 1-hour Biml session so I knew most of the content, but I had not prepared at all what to say to each slide until I was actually on stage. My timing was off on several slides, and it certainly was a challenge not being able to advance my slides myself, but it was so fun! I absolutely loved it.

Thank you to the organizers for giving me the opportunity to speak. Thank you to my friend who didn’t give me the option to say no, and who also filmed so I could watch my presentation after I had finished. And thank you to the attendees who gave me evaluation forms! My cats seem to be popular.

I hope to see you next year, Portland! Maybe with a proper, prepared session :)

Great event – SQLSaturday #341 Porto

I was honored to be selected as a speaker for SQLSaturday #341 in Porto, Portugal this weekend, and I had such a great time that I hope to come back next year for SQLSaturday Lisbon or SQLSaturday Porto.

First of all I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who organized and volunteered at this event. You guys did an amazing job and I hope you finally got some sleep after working around the clock for a week! Niko, Paulo, Ivan, Rui, André, Pedro, Vitor, Quilson and Nunothank you. I also want to thank Ines for being our photographer, she was running around everywhere all day taking pictures and filming. I can’t wait to see the result! :)

SQLSaturday #341 Porto Speakers and Organizers
SQLSaturday #341 Porto Speakers and Organizers

This was a very special and memorable weekend for me. It was my first trip to Portugal and the first time I was selected as a speaker for a SQLSaturday other than my own event. It was a very different experience being there as a speaker compared to being an attendee, volunteer or organizer. As an attendee and volunteer I want to learn as much as possible and help out where needed, as an organizer I’m in the middle of a crazy whirlwind trying to remember everything I need to do, and as a speaker I have one main goal: that the attendees in my session will learn something they can start using in their projects right away.

The most interesting and important experience was when my presentation did not go as I had planned at all. My computer decided that “Nope! I do not want to be friends with the projector today!” and my demo-based session suddenly had no demos at all because I couldn’t use my computer. I panicked for a moment, but did my best using my presentation with screenshots of the demos. At the end of my session I invited those interested to come up on stage and see the demos on my computer. I just hope they learned something even though the session didn’t go as planned.

There was a SQL Clinic with Scott Klein and friends, where most of the speakers were available for an hour or more during the day. This was a great concept, but I think most attendees preferred to attend sessions because not many people showed up. I was happy fellow Biml enthusiast João (@SQLSniper) and I could help one attendee with some tasks he was struggling with at work :) Maybe it would have been better to have it closer to the sponsors and snacks where attendees spent most of their time during breaks? Maybe it just needed a bit more promotion? I hope to see something like this again, it was a great way to meet attendees and share even more knowledge.

The speaker room was located in a separate hallway with direct access to the classrooms, which made it really easy to bring laptops and equipment in and out of the sessions. There was also a coffee bar at the venue where they served the cute, little caffés that are like caffeine shots compared to the liters of coffee I usually drink every day ;) I was also happy to see a lot of activity and pictures on Twitter, that’s always fun!

Except for my session problems it was a great day and a well organized event. The organizers did an amazing job, from an exciting keynote with lots of announcements to the fun end-of-day raffle where international speakers tried to read Portuguese names :)

SQLSaturday #341 Portugal - Beautiful Porto
Beautiful Porto

Thank you all for a great event, thank you for taking such good care of my the whole weekend, and I hope to see you again soon!

Volunteering at SQLSaturday #275 Copenhagen

SQLSaturday #275 Check-inLast weekend I was in Copenhagen for SQLSaturday #275 Denmark. What a great event! I had signed up as a volunteer for several reasons. I wanted to help the Danish (and Nordic) SQL community, I wanted to get more experience as a volunteer, I wanted feedback and inspiration that will be useful for when we’re organizing SQLSaturday #317 Oslo, and most importantly I wanted to meet all the great community people I only knew from Twitter.

Planning volunteer tasks started a few weeks before the event when the event organizers and volunteers decided on who would be responsible for each task via e-mails. I felt a bit like Donkey from Shrek going “pick me! pick me!” when I told the event organizers I could volunteer all weekend if needed, but they had done such a great job they didn’t really need much help. The main tasks were volunteering as room attendants and helping out with registrations.

SQLSaturday #275 SessionI was assigned a room after lunch, so I spent the morning listening to the keynote, attending a few sessions, getting to know people and talking to sponsors. (I may have had moments where I ran around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what to do, which usually made me grab some more coffee, which in turn made me run around even more… At least I got to see a lot of the venue this way!)

SQLSaturday #275 SponsorsDuring the end of the lunch I realized that I wasn’t exactly sure what to do as a room attendant, but a quick briefing from the event organizers made it an easy task. The speakers in my room were experienced and had no problems running the show themselves, so all I had to do was agree on when to notify them about the amount of time left, make sure there was enough water, hand out speaker gifts and keep the room clean.

It was a long day, but a great day! What I enjoyed the most was meeting everyone in person and getting to know new people. It was a fun surprise to meet coworkers and members of SQL Server User Group Norway that I didn’t know were attending :) I got to attend sessions on topics I usually don’t work on and learned new things that way, and I have to mention the SQL swag I brought back home: volunteer shirt (also known as “shirt dress”), fleece sweater (I drowned in it, but it was lovely and warm), cap, candy, books and lots of other fun items.

SQLSaturday #275 #SQLBREWThere were a few things that could have gone smoother, but I really am being nitpicky when I point those out. The organizers could have sent out instructions on each task before the event, but I could also have made sure to ask earlier what to do. I could have talked more with the speakers in my room, but I didn’t want to disturb them while they were preparing. I could have greeted the attendees as they walked in, but they were there to see the speakers, not the volunteers, so I let the speakers greet everyone. I wish I could have met more people, spent more time with sponsors and attended all the sessions, but there was just not enough time for everything.

Volunteering is a great experience and I definitely won’t hesitate to help out at other events, but it does take time and you could miss out on sessions because you’re volunteering in another room. If that’s the case for you as a volunteer, try to switch rooms with another volunteer. If you’re an event organizer, try to make sure everyone gets to see the sessions they’re most interested in so it’s a great day for everyone.

At the end of the day there were giant jenga matches, raffles, organic hot dogs, #SQLBrew and lots of happy faces. Thank you to the event organizers for a great event and for inspiring us Norwegian organizers. Thank you to all the speakers and the other volunteers, I hope to see some of you in Oslo in August and hopefully at other SQLSaturdays!