It’s that time of year again… The largest, coolest, geekiest, most awesome party of the year is just around the corner! Oh, and there’s this conference attached to the party as well. SQLBits 2018: Magic Edition. You may have heard of it? :D
SQLBits is the largest SQL Server and Microsoft Data Platform conference in Europe. It has 4 days of training and over 170 sessions by both the Microsoft Product Group and community speakers. It’s a professional conference in all ways, and it’s organized entirely by a group of dedicated volunteers. That’s right, it’s a pure community event, and it’s fantastic.
I was a speaker and volunteer at SQLBits 2015 (Superhero Edition), a precon speaker at SQLBits 2016 (Space Edition), a PASS representative at SQLBits 2017 (Disco Edition), and I’m very happy to go back to where I started as a speaker and volunteer at SQLBits 2018 (Magic Edition). I was actually really bummed when I wasn’t a volunteer, it’s so much fun helping out to make it a smooth conference for attendees and getting to know all the other wonderful volunteers. This year, I’m back! Yay :)
SQLBits XIV Superhero Edition was my first SQLBits experience, and it was a truly amazing week!
I want to start with a massive thank you to the organizers: Darren Green, Simon Sabin, James Rowland-Jones, Chris Testa-o’neill, Allan Mitchell, Jonathan Allen and Annette Allen. You guys did one heck of a job to make this the best conference in the universe! :) I also want to say thank you to all the sponsors, volunteers and speakers who made this a great event. And to all the attendees, I hope you had a blast and that I’ll see you again next year!
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Norway, but I wanted to participate in “What Are You Thankful For?” hosted by Bob (@SQLBob) this year. Instead of posting on a day we don’t celebrate in my country, I decided to wait until the first Sunday in Advent. It marks the start of the time of year where I spend the most time with my family and feel truly thankful for so many things in my life.
I’m thankful for my closest family. My parents, my older sister, my niece, and my dad’s best friend who has been my uncle for as long as I can remember. We have and always will be there for each other, no matter what. At the age of 27 I still look forward to going home and spending time with my family, and I’m lucky to have them in my life.
I’m thankful for wonderful friends, coworkers and #SQLFamily, more than I will ever be able to explain. I had no network and have been fighting a depression and all its nasty companions for many years. Getting to know these people and having them in my life to share smiles, laughs, experiences and memories with, who challenge me to become a better person, who welcomed me from day one… They changed my life and keep me going every day. Thank you.
I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to help others. I discovered Kiva years ago and instantly fell in love with the idea of microloans and helping people create better lives for themselves. I believe it’s important for everyone to achieve something, and I hope that the borrowers are left with a feeling of “I did this! I did this!” when they’ve paid back their loan. $25 is so little to me, but it can change someone’s life. In Norway I support The Church City Mission in Oslo because they work hard for a better society for everyone.
I’m thankful I’m healthy, I have a secure job, I live in a safe country where I will get help if I need it, I get to travel and see new places, I get to experience four seasons with dark winters and the overwhelming joy when it gets lighter and warmer. I’m thankful I have so many things to be thankful for :)
SQLSaturday #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.
Turns 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.
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 :)
Do you know how to clone a person? If, so please get in touch! According to my schedule I need to be in 3-4 places at all times. There is so much I want to do, so many places I want to see and so many people I want to meet! Just in case I forget my own plans, here’s a reminder to myself, and it’s also an invitation to anyone who reads this. Please come over and say hi if you’re in the same place as me :)
Thursday October 30th
After traveling across eight time zones for 15 hours on Wednesday I’m curious to see how jet lagged I’ll be on Thursday. I plan to walk over to Pike Place Market for coffee and breakfast. Yes, the original Starbucks. Yes, I will stand in line with all the other tourists. Yes, I have to, I am a tourist ;) After that it’s off to Portland by train. Since my hotel is right next to Lloyd Center mall I might have to take a look around when I get there, I’ve never seen a mall with an ice rink before.
Friday October 31st
Halloween in Portland! The main thing on my to-do list is to eat a Voodoo Doughnut :) I’ll be a proper tourist during the day, and then I’ll head over to the SQLSaturday speaker dinner where I will get to see some friends I haven’t seen since last year! I won’t speak at this event, but I’m happy I can help out as a volunteer. Also looking forward to talking to the organizers about their experiences with the event compared to my experience organizing SQLSaturday Oslo.
Saturday November 1st SQLSaturday #337 Oregon! I’ve signed up as a volunteer room proctor at 9:00, speaker room monitor at 10:30 and 2:45, and then room proctor again at 4:30. That means I’ll probably miss a few sessions, but hopefully I will learn even more about running events like these so I can be more prepared for next year’s SQLSaturday in Oslo. Many people will probably travel to Seattle on Saturday night to get back in time for MVP Summit, but I hope to check out some of the local brews and food pods.
Sunday November 2nd
What’s a typical breakfast in Portland? I need to try one before I take the train back to Seattle. In the evening I’ll meet my three coworkers for dinner. I’ve reserved a table at a restaurant with a nice view for us, but they don’t know where we’re going until we get there. Hope they will enjoy my surprise! :) It will be nice to spend a night with my coworkers, it’s their first time at PASS Summit so I plan to give them the whole first-timers session myself :D
Monday November 3rd Redgate SQL in the City! This is where my entire SQL community journey started last year, so I’m very excited to go back this year. I actually watched the live feed from SQL in the City London, so I plan to attend the sessions they didn’t broadcast there. After SQL in the City I actually have three events in my calendar, and I want to attend all of them! How do you decide which events to go to?
Tuesday November 4th
This is going to be a very special day for me, since it’s my birthday :) I haven’t signed up for any precons, so I have most of the day off to do a bit of sightseeing. In the afternoon I’ll attend the SQLSaturday Round Table meeting where I look forward to meeting more organizers and learn more to make our next SQLSaturday better. I especially look forward to the sponsor Q&A and tips & tricks panel discussion. Later that day I’ve signed up as a volunteer to guide attendees to the first-timers event, and then I’m off to the Welcome Reception. After that? #SQLKaraoke, of course!
Wednesday November 5th
Summit time! This is where I could really use a couple of clones so I won’t miss any sessions. I’ve roughly planned my schedule, but based on last year’s experience it will probably change a lot. Maybe I meet someone interesting and talk to them instead of attending a session, maybe there are exciting chalk talks, maybe I spend some time in the Community Zone – there’s a lot happening there this year! I’ll be there for the Nordic Region hour from 4:30-5:30, so come over and say hi if you see me. I have candy! ;) It’s also SQLSaturday and SQLRally shirt day, so I will wear my beloved pink SQLSaturday Oslo shirt. At the end of the day it’s Speaker Idol Round 1, and I want to be there and cheer for the contestants! After that I’ll go talk to the exhibitors at the Exhibitor Reception, I need more fun swag in my collection. These guys are the ones who make events like SQLSaturdays and PASS Summit possible, so I want to say thank you. After that? #SQLKaraoke, of course!
Thursday November 6th
I had planned to attend the Women In Technology (WIT) luncheon, so I signed up as a volunteer there as well. I’m very interested in hearing about (and I quote) “how we can all imagine a world where everyone is given the tools to succeed”. There’s also Speaker Idol Round 2, and the Community Appreciation Party. This year it’s held at the EMP Museum, which I’m super excited to see! Unfortunately it crashes with the Nordic User Group dinner, so I need to figure out how to go to both. Again, if you know how to clone someone, please please please let me know :)
Friday November 7th
Last day of PASS Summit :( But there are some cool things happening this day. There’s Speaker Idol Round 3 and Speaker Idol Final Round. I can’t wait to see who will get to speak at PASS Summit 2015! There’s also the Birds of a Feather luncheon. That will be tricky, there are so many topics to choose from. I’m pretty sure I will be at one of the community / volunteer tables, since that’s what I’m most passionate about. Maybe I’ll help inspire someone else to start a SQLSaturday in a new place :)
I have a couple of personal goals this year:
– Help my coworkers have an amazing time during PASS Summit
– Submit feedback directly after each session to give the best possible feedback. It’s so important for the speakers!
– Don’t sit down alone and stare at phone / look at schedule / dig through purse unless I am actually trying to find information. Find someone to talk to instead :)
– Always join someone for coffee and meals
– Meet as many of my friends as possible, and make new friends
– Most importantly: have fun :)