How did I get here? Most of my career has been spent with Windows administration, architecture, and design. Several years ago I started to see the writing on the wall with Microsoft using SQL Server as the backend of all their new product lines. I have a passion for technology and a pension for learning so I dove right into the SQL pool. After a couple of SQL certifications and a Microsoft SQL Server Launch event, I discovered the North Texas SQL Server User Group. I still have not found a community geared toward Active Directory and Windows architecture, so finding a group and community dedicated to my new passion; I knew right away this was my new home. After all the friends and free monthly training, it was only natural that I wanted to jump in and help wherever I could when the group announced holding a Dallas SQL Saturday.
I volunteered and ended up organizing the volunteers and also coordinating with all of the sponsors. Jen McCown (Blog|Twitter) of MidnightDBA started the sponsor process, but had too much on her plate with other SQL Saturday volunteer responsibilities, moving her family to a new home, and being a speaker. I’m pretty sure she got all of two hours sleep the entire week of SQL Saturday Dallas. Thanks Jen for everything you did, you are a true SQL Superstar!
I won’t even delve into all the pre-planning activities, but start with Thursday of that week. We hold NTSSUG meetings at the Microsoft campus in Irving, TX on the third Thursday of every month. Since I do not live or work nearby, I office out of one of my company’s other buildings on NTSSUG meeting days to avoid traffic. That also means I start my day at about 5:30am. The night before, I loaded my truck (both the bed and cab) with sponsor SWAG and material. After my regular work day, I headed over to the Microsoft campus for our monthly NTSSUG meeting where Brad McGehee (Blog|Twitter) was speaking on PAL. After the meeting we asked for volunteers to help us stuff the attendee bags and actually got it done in about an hour. With my truck re-packed and even fuller than before, I managed to get home around 11pm.
I was up early again on Friday, but this time to be at the Dallas Stars annual warehouse sale. My wife and I are huge fans and this event means we can actually afford some Stars gear. Fast forward to 4pm I arrive at the venue to unload my truck and start preparing. My first task was to make sure all the sponsor tables were setup, along with anything any of them sent me for their setups. We had 18 sponsors including the facility and 11 of them had tables and 4 of them had lunch sessions. After getting all of that setup and determining where the lunch sessions would be held it was now time to work on making sure I was prepared for organizing all of the volunteers. Early in the week I realized there was no way the morning of the event that I could handle a volunteer orientation and the sponsors as they showed up. I had Andy Eggers, one of the NTSSUG volunteers, help me out. That night I walked him through the room and equipment setup, and how everything needed to run the following morning. Thank you Andy, you saved my life! After everything was setup we headed over to the speaker party for some awesome networking.
Saturday morning I arrived at the venue at 6:15am. I am not a morning person and do not function well without sleep, and the late night/early morning patterns were starting to catch up to me. Fortunately I have a little one at home and have had recent training in the art of little sleep, and I knew some coffee would fix me right up. I am a very organized person and had everything printed up, check lists ready and a pen in hand. The event was great, even though my volunteer duties prevented me from sitting in on the entirety of any of my desired sessions. We provided breakfast for free, lunch at a low cost, free afternoon snacks, and even free ice cream! Every session I attended was top notch. We ended the day with sponsor give aways and various other SWAG that included top end SQL software, XBOX360, 1.5TB hard drives, iPOD shuffles, and an iPAD. We can’t thank our sponsors enough for their support! After some cleanup we headed out to the after party which was an incredible time of networking.
Did I mention we had a photographer? Thanks go out to Emad Kamel and the link for pictures is HERE
This event was so great you should take the time to read what others are saying. Here is a list of those that have blogged about SQL Saturday Dallas so far.
Bill Fellows (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/b7q7HC
Wes Brown (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/9orJXc
David Stein (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/aFb3Yw
AJ Mendo (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/bPptxb
Jonathan Gardner (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/a9VQh0
Allen Kinsel (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/aJ3pkB
Jennifer McCown (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/9ihxAA
Stuart Ainsworth (Blog|Twitter) http://bit.ly/daoEzE
Here is a list of the sponsors that helped make this such a great event.