Does SQLSaturday Increase Chapter Attendance?

One of the big goals for SQLSaturday was for it to be a membership drive. It’s worked hugely well in some ways; we’ve added tremendously to the number of PASS members, grown the size of the Chapter mailing lists (for those that held a SQLSat), and introduced a lot of people to PASS/Chapters. But has it translated into more people attending chapter meetings?

I’m working from a really small sample of Chapters that I visit/hear about, but I don’t think it has. Here in Orlando we’ve seen attendance remain fairly steady. It might be argued that it would have declined without SQLSaturday and I’d be inclined to agree, but it hasn’t grown attendance. We registered almost 700 for SQLSaturday Orlando last year, our mailing list for OPASS is round a 1000 addresses, and we still get 15-25 at most meetings. Maybe that’s just us? Just Florida?


I’m writing this not to criticize SQLSat or Chapters, but to point out the disconnect. Bigger lists should result in higher attendance. If it doesn’t, what does that tell us? That’s worth thinking about.

SSC Editorial: Annual Security Compliance Training

Compliance training, never a fun topic and I think that is too bad. A combination of companies checking the box, lacking imagination, and being stuck with rules that require doing it annually. Do we really need to review the employee manual if it hasn’t changed since last time? Or if we were notified of updates as they happened?

Imagine you wanted to do this training not just because you wanted to, but to make your company stronger and less vulnerable, how would you do it and how much time/money would you invest in that? That is what I want to see the C levels working on.

Disheartening it is to see comments about it being a losing battle. It’s hard to argue that security is hard and getting harder, but often it feels like we’d rather give up than try. Frustration, lack of a bigger picture, and an unrealistic view of the effectiveness of security all contribute to that. Here’s a contrived example – how hard is it for someone to steal your car? If it’s locked and you have possession of the key it can still be stolen, but it takes more effort and usually deliberate effort. Just because removing the key doesn’t eliminate the risk doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remove the key!





SQLSaturday & The Speaker Wait List

When a new SQLSaturday event is launched an email is sent to all the speakers who have opted in to notifications for the region, basically saying “we hope you’ll speak at our event”. It’s lightweight and useful, and generally the only ‘send to all speakers’ message for that event, but with around a 100 events a year it’s still a lot of email to parse if you’re a speaker.

The organizers set a closing date for abstracts. Here in Orlando we try to set it 90 days out so we have time to shuffle the sessions around and have our schedule set no later than 60 days out (and earlier than that if possible). Marketing is more effective once the potential attendees can see the schedule.

We typically send one or two reminder messages to our previous speaker list (ones who attended any previous SQLSaturday Orlando) inviting them to return and noting the closing date. For the past couple years it’s been common to get a message after the closing date from speakers who missed the date. Informally we’ve put them on a wait list and if (when!) there is a cancellation we pull from that list to backfill after we give slots to speakers on our organizing team. Two reasons for that; one is that we know we’ll have cancellations and we like to keep a full schedule and the other is that we have other obligations on event day – not speaking eases that just a little.

There’s no speaker wait list in the site tools. Right now it’s an informal list in email which mostly works (except this year when there was one name I couldn’t find that Kendal finally dug out of his archive). I don’t know if needs tooling. I don’t think we want a public wait list – we really need 99% of them in by the cutoff. It might be useful as an organizer only tool though. It’s a minor issue/niche and I wouldn’t put at the top of the list by any means, but tools drive/enable behavior. Having an easy(ier) way to manage something can mean the difference between getting done and not getting done.

As far as seeing all the cutoff dates, it  turns out there is a page that has them all in one place! Go to MySQLSaturday page once you’re logged in to Thanks Karla!

Notes From The August 13, 2015 Spacecoast SQL Meeting

  • Meeting is held at Sonny’s BBQ, they have a long room (used to be outside seating) that works pretty well for a small group. Plus the food is good!
  • Presented the basics of avoiding, detecting, and repairing corruption
  • 11 attendees. Was worried for a few minutes, almost everyone came in about 6:25 for the 6:30 meeting start
  • It’s about a 70 minute drive each way for me, luckily no accidents/rain slowed me down in either direction
  • After the meeting we talked about having a SQLSaturday in Cocoa Beach next  year, we’ll meet again at SQLSaturday Orlando for the go/no-go decision (more in a separate post on that)
  • I had invited Ken Tucker, the local .Net leader, to attend so that we could discuss whether SQLSaturday could partner with his group or perhaps just host a .Net track and that may still happen, but more interesting is Ken and Kathleen Branch (runs Spacecoast) are going to try running joint meetings for a while. Both are struggling with attendance, it’s a small town, so trying something different is worthwhile

Notes From the August 12, 2015 oPASS and MagicPASS Meeting

  • Meeting held at Nova Southeastern here in Orlando
  • Arrived early to meet David Pless, good thing we were early – couldn’t get the display to duplicate, some kind of problem with the projector set up. Finally had to set things up so he could sit facing the screen for the demo part
  • Attendance about 25
  • Pizza for dinner, delivered on time at least!
  • Good presentation on plan guides and the query store. Thought David presented a good mix of the kinds of problem we see associated with query plans and how the query store can help resolve them.
  • Rained tonight on north side, think that hurt attendance

A Quote from Spock

My mom gave me a book about Leonard Nimoy  recently and we talked later about the impact his life had on others and his role in the rebooted Star Trek. One more reason to love my Mom, she loves Trek! We talked about how having Spock (Spock Prime!) show up in the movie bridged the gap between old and new, which in turn prompted me to add it to the list to watch again. I’m sure I heard it the first time, but this time a particular quote stuck with me:

I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together, of a friendship that will define you both in ways you cannot yet realize.

I’ll have to write more about it some day, for now I just wanted to capture the thought.

oPASS & MagicPASS Meeting Tonight

David Pless is presenting:

Query Store is a new feature in SQL Server 2016, and is also available in Azure SQL Database V12. Query Store is designed to help with query performance troubleshooting by making it easier to identify poorly performing statements and finding scenarios where performance regresses. In this session we will discuss how Query Store can help you identify the changes in query plans and figure out when performance regressions occur. We will cover how Query Store collects and presents detailed historic information and how it can be used to reduce the time it takes to diagnose and resolve issues. If a query generates different plans, you can use Query Store to analyse the plan changes, identify possible performance degradation, and even force the query processor to use a particular plan for your query. We will also cover how plan guides allows you to optimize the performance of queries when you cannot directly change the text of the actual query in SQL Server. Plan guides can be useful when a small subset of queries in a database application (example: third-party vendors) are not performing as expected.

Note that the location is Nova Southeastern University (same location we used for the joint meeting last year). Details at

Farewell Scott McKenzie

Scott McKenzie was the DJ of Mix 105 here in Orlando for an astounding 24 years and that’s been the main station I listen to for about the same amount of time. Curiously I don’t know who was there before Scott. You know how it works, you scan stations until you find something you like and soon it just becomes the one you listen to, definitely something that helped back in the 90’s when I was often stuck in traffic commuting to work. He had a long battle with cancer, something he talked about at times on the show. Friday he announced he was moving to hospice and yesterday he died.

It had more of an impact on me than I would have expected. I never met him, don’t think I ever saw him in person even, but nonetheless he made my life a little better by doing what he did every day and I’ll miss that.

Using Kickstarter to Save Neil Armstrongs Spacesuit

Ran across this while visiting the Air & Space Museum over the summer, the Smithsonian launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to conserve and digitize the suit Neil Armstrong wore on the moon. I donated a dollar and I see they’ve already passed the funding goal of $500k.  It will be interesting to see the results, both on the suit and on the funding other projects based on how this one goes.

SSC Editorial: How to Keep Up with SQL Server

How to Keep Up With SQL Server ran as the editorial of the day on July 31st. Modest amount of comments, but in particular I made a note to come back to the topic of early adopters vs being stuck with a late/never adopting employee. Both are interesting scenarios.

Imagine though that SQL Server ends up being delivered as a subscription. Do you think businesses will “upgrade” more often if its just a matter of applying a service pack type change? Or will they freeze it at some point because they don’t want to do more testing and/or risk regressions (security or performance)?