This weekend was the culmination of a lot of effort by a lot of people.
We started with a Day of Data – kind of a pre-con for SQL Saturday. This was held on Friday at the historic Italian Club in Ybor City near downtown Tampa. The building is close to 100 years old and is beautiful. We sponsored 2 simultaneous sessions. The first on the agenda was Storage and Virtualization for the DBA led by Denny Cherry. The second was Business Intelligence End to End led by Stacia Mizner. Both sessions were well attended and gave me rave reviews.
We then had our Pre-Event dinner. We met at the Spaghetti Warehouse – again in historic Ybor City – to host our Speakers, Sponsors and Volunteers dinner. The main point of the event is to allow everyone an opportunity to mingle build tighter bonds in the community. There were at least 75 people attending. This included family and companions. From what I could tell, a wonderful time was had for all. We unveiled our speaker shirts and passed out a new edition – lapel pins – to all attending.
The next morning started the main event. This was held at the national headquarters of Kforce and the building next door – La Tam. This is the 4th Tampa event and the 3rd we have held at Kforce. Every year they go a little further to make it as easy as possible for us.
I was a little nervous this year about the registration process. Last year, it was a big failure. We had to send people to classes without registering because of a major back up in the process. This year, I was determined to not have this happen again. I came up with a process that Jose Chinchilla named “Speed Pass”. Basically, the big hold up has been the distribution of personalized printed materials to our registrants. So I allowed them to print their own this year. Part of the printing process included a “speed pass” ticket and name badge. We had 461 registered on the site. Over 150 people responded that they had printed their speed pass tickets. Based on previous experience, I estimated that 50% of my attendees were participating in the speed pass process. We normally have 25-30% non-attendance – which brought our estimated attendance to 300-340. 150 meant close to 50%. It played out well – there was very little back up in the line on Saturday morning. I will blog later on the technology behind the Speed Pass process.
We had almost 3 full boxes of food donated to the food drive. I want to thank all who participated in the food drive. Feeding America will be sending an evaluation of how many families will be fed from our donations.
The day was full of informative sessions including a Women in Technology round table. Please keep your eyes open for the various blogs by our speakers. We had so many great people speaking and attending. I was fortunate that in this season of illness, I only had 2 speakers who were unable to attend – their sessions were easily covered by other speakers – thank you Andy Warren and Jorge Segarro. I was astounded to find I had one speaker who actually faced blizzards to arrive. A special thanks to Ira Whiteside of Melissa Data for braving the elements during his drive down from WI.
We ended the day in the usual swag-fest. This was a time to acknowledge our sponsors, speakers and volunteers. We also hear a little from all user groups represented.
I want to send a special thanks to Jose Chinchilla for all the assistance he lent this year in helping me prepare for the event. Without him, I would have had to scale back a while lot. If I try to thank everyone by name, I am sure I will leave someone out – so I will leave it at Thank you all who spoke, sponsored or volunteered. You are why these events work. Thank you to our attendees – your presence makes the effort worthwhile.
What a great community we have!! I have seen nothing like it anywhere. If you are not participating – I encourage you to get out there and join the best technical community around – SQL folks – you ROCK!!!