Slides & Links from SQL Saturday Cleveland

Thank you to everyone who came out to see my presentation Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server at SQL Saturday Cleveland. I had a great time and I hope each of you learned at least one new thing.

Here are the links I mentioned in the session, as well as a couple that contributed to some of the things I mentioned.

Thank you to everyone who made SQL Saturday Cleveland possible – the organizers, sponsors, my fellow speakers, and all our attendees. Special shout-out to Eric Blinn (blog | twitter) and Paul Popovich (twitter) for finding a way, against all odds, to pull my name three times in the closing raffle.

SQL Saturday Rochester Returns!

We have just published SQL Saturday Rochester 2020. We took last year off but we’re back for 2020 on a very special day – it’s Leap Day, February 29th!

What is SQL Saturday?

PASS SQL Saturday is a free training event for professionals who use the Microsoft data platform. These community events offer content across data management, cloud and hybrid architechture, analytics, AI, and more.

What Else is SQL Saturday?

SQL Saturday is also:

  • An opportunity to learn about product and service offerings from our terrific event sponsors
  • A time for us to connect and reconnect with #SQLFamily members, sharing the wonders of Rochester with them

Join Us!

SQL Saturday is free to attend. Sign up today!

SQL Saturday Boston: I’m Speaking!

It feels like SQL Saturday Albany just wrapped up, but I have another announcement to make. I am proud to announce that I have been selected to speak at SQL Saturday Boston on September 14th, 2019. I will be presenting “Keys to a Healthy Relationship with SQL Server” at 11:15 AM.

Continue reading “SQL Saturday Boston: I’m Speaking!”

SQL Saturday Albany Slides & Demo Code

Thanks to everyone who came out to see dbatools for the Uninitiated at SQL Saturday Albany on July 20th, 2019. I had a lot of fun sharing dbatools with you and hope you’re ready to start exploring on your own!

The slides and demo scripts are available in my GitHub repository.

If you have any questions about the session, please feel free to contact me via:

Tips for Attending a SQL Saturday

Matt (blog | twitter) is preparing for his first SQL Saturday presentation next weekend in Washington, DC. He’s asked:

I wanted to get an idea of some good, bad, and surprise experiences that people had at everything from a SQL Server User Group meeting to PASS Summit. Things you found out right before, during or even after that you were glad you did or wish you did.

Random Thoughts

SQL Saturdays are similar to PASS Summit, but much smaller in scope and budget. Most SQL Saturdays have a twitter hashtag; follow it before the event so you can get an idea of who’s attending and make plans to meet some of those people.

If your SQL Saturday has an after-party, it’s usually not heavily attended as people tend to want to get home to their families (unlike Summit, where you’re already away from home). But I definitely encourage you to go if there is one! You might even find yourself invited to an after-after-party.

I can’t say I’ve had a bad experience at a SQL Saturday, although I have sat in on a session or two that didn’t really grab my interest the way I’d hoped. And unlike PASS Summit, it’s really hard to gracefully exit the smaller rooms at SQL Saturday mid-session if you decide it’s not really for you.

The biggest surprise to me after my first couple events was the inspiration that I had coming out of the event. After each event, I have new ideas for projects, changes to make at work, blog posts, and ways to give back to the community.

Other Tips

  • Volunteer! If you don’t sign up before the event, talk to the folks at the registration/check-in desk and ask if they need any help. Every session needs a room monitor – just someone to get a headcount, help the speaker with timing (if they want), find help for A/V issues, pass out and collect session evaluations. You’re going to be in the room anyway. This is a great way to meet both organizers and speakers – folks who are active in the community.
  • If there aren’t any sessions in a timeslot that grab your attention, skip it and read the next two items.
  • Network with your fellow attendees. These are folks who live and work in your area. They may become your next job lead, or your next new hire.
  • Talk to the sponsors! Make sure you thank them for sponsoring. If there are sponsors whose products you currently use, ask them questions about making the most of those products. Just don’t monopolize their time; they need to talk to new people as well to justify their sponsorship dollars. I’ve been known to hang out at the SentryOne booth on more than one occasion. I’m just a very satisfied customer and love talking with them about how I’m using their products.
  • If you find a session particularly engaging or relevant to your interests, catch the speaker when the session is over and say “this is really interesting and I can see myself using it this way, can we talk later?” Ask if you can connect on LinkedIn; follow them on Twitter.
  • Attend the after-party (if there is one)! It’s a great way to connect with organizers, speakers, and volunteers after the stress of the day has passed. It’s a smaller, quieter environment and easier to have a longer conversation.

After SQL Saturday

Remember those people you met on Saturday? Keep that conversation going. Make contact on LinkedIn or Twitter. Do they have a blog? Follow it! For example, I met Matt at PASS Summit 2017 and we haven’t seen each other since. But we talk regularly on Twitter and we follow each others’ blogs. If you’re meeting more local people (which will happen at SQL Saturday), catch up at the next user group meeting, or arrange lunch sometime.

Processing SQL Saturday Raffle Tickets with PowerShell

Every year, I spend the Sunday after SQL Saturday Rochester scanning & processing raffle tickets for our wonderful sponsors. Here’s how the system works:

  • Attendees get tickets (one ticket per sponsor) with their name, the sponsors name, and a QR code on them
  • The QR codes represents a URI, unique to the combination of event, attendee and sponsor.
  • Attendees drop their tickets in a box to enter the sponsor’s raffle prize drawing
  • When the URI from the QR code is accessed, it registers in the SQL Saturday system
  • Organizers run a report for each sponsor that includes the contact info of all attendees who dropped off a raffle ticket, then email the report to the sponsor

It works pretty well, but the hangup is that most QR scanners will open your web browser (or prompt you to open it) to the URL on each scan. For 150+ tickets, this takes a long time. Every year, I lament “oh, how I wish I could just scan these, collect the URLs into a nicely formatted file, and script this whole thing”.

Finally, this year, I found a way to do it with my iPhone, MacBook Pro & PowerShell. Here’s what I did:

  1. Get Beep for iOS.
  2. Scan the tickets. This app is really fast, it may scan before you even realize it. I just stacked them up, pointed the phone at the pile, and as the app beeped (to tell me it had scanned successfully), I tossed the ticket to the side.
  3. When done, tap the file box icon in the upper-right corner
  4. Tap the Share icon
  5. Save the file out to a CSV on iCloud (you can email it if you like, but iCloud is a little easier for me)
  6. On the Mac, open up Terminal and navigate to /Users/YOURNAME/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs
  7. Fire up PowerShell (I installed it via HomeBrew with brew install powershell and start it by running pwsh).
  8. Run the following one-liner:

This bit of PowerShell:

  • Imports the CSV file and forces column names (as the file doesn’t include them) of my choosing
  • Extracts the unique URIs from the data
  • Loops through all the URIs and invokes a web request to each one of them

It’s the same process I’ve used in the past, just much faster because I’m not pausing after each scan to load a URI in my web browser.

With nearly 300 raffle and attendance tickets scanned, this zipped through all of them in less than 90 seconds. Best of all, I could start it and walk away to do something else. Doing it this way made my SQL Saturday “closeout” process a little less stressful.

Appearance: SQL Data Partners Podcast

A couple weeks ago Carlos L. Cachon (b|t) put out a call on Twitter looking for SQL Saturday organizers to join him on the SQL Data Partners Podcast. When I signed on to record, I learned that Chris Hyde (b|t) and Eugene Meindinger (b|t) were joining us. I’ve met and spoken with all three previously, so it was easy talking to everyone and I thought the conversation flowed well.

Check out SQL Data Partners Podcast Episode 126: SQLSaturday Edition.