SQL Sentry at SQL Saturday Maine 2016

Melissa Connors

Published On: June 8, 2016

Categories: SQLSaturday, Community 5

SQL Saturday Maine 2016 was held June 4 at the University of Southern Maine's Wishcamper Center in Portland. SQL Saturdays are free one-day training events, organized by volunteers (like me), free for attendees, and feature volunteer speakers. These events are made possible by dedicated volunteers and sponsors in the SQL Server community, and they provide excellent opportunities for local learning and networking around the world.

SQL Saturday Maine USM Wishcamper CenterA SQL Saturday sign sits outside of The Wishcamper Center at USM, guiding attendees to all of the free learning inside.

The Pre-Conference Event

The weekend's events started early Friday morning with Aaron Bertrand's (b|t) pre-conference, "Become a Better SQL Server Developer." Almost fifty people attended this event, which is about 25% of the state's total population. ;-) It was a full day of valuable information sharing, and I'm certain everyone walked away with something to help them become a better SQL Server developer. Thank you, Aaron!

The Dinner Event

After the pre-conference session, I headed directly to the Portland waterfront to ensure that our boat, yes our boat, was ready to take us to the dinner event for the speakers. Most, if not all, SQL Saturday organizers try to plan an event for the volunteer speakers the night before the SQL Saturday. It's usually a dinner to thank people and bring the speakers together. I like to take advantage of the fact that Portland, Maine is an amazing destination with some incredibly beautiful dining options, particularly this time of year.

The Joseph S. KennedyThe Joseph S. Kennedy, our ride to the dinner event on Great Diamond Island.

I planned a private party at Diamond's Edge Restaurant & Marina which overlooks the lovely Diamond Cove. The weather could have been better, as the clouds blocked the beautiful sunset I was hoping for, but at least it didn't rain, and it wasn't terribly foggy. The restaurant required me to collect the entree selections for each attendee well in advance of the event, and then requested place cards for everyone to identify their entree selections. I made a joke that I was "too tired for words" by that time in the event planning, so I gave everyone a picture to identify their meal selection, as well as to take attendance on the boat.

Dinner Place CardsMy favorite photo of the weekend, thanks for tweeting it, David Klee!

The Main Event

SQL Saturday Maine RegistrationThat's me down there by the registration desk. Where's Melissa? I'm sure you can find me.

We had a strong showing of SQL Sentry speakers at the event. Aaron Bertrand (b|t) "New T-SQL Capabilities in SQL Server 2016 and Azure SQL Database", David Benoit (b|t) "An Introduction To Big Data For The SQL Server DBA", and Justin Randall (b|t) "Putting the Squeeze on Large Tables: Improve Performance and Save Space with Data Compression."

I requested a team photo during the lunch break and then a few retakes before accepting the fact that I wasn't going to like any photos of me that day. Justin, David, and Aaron were all very patient with my requests to take another photo though, wouldn't you agree? Ha ha. Thank you to my friend & event volunteer, Becky Bryant, for her photography patience as well.

Team SQL Sentry at SQL Saturday MaineTeam SQL Sentry at SQL Saturday Maine.

It was great to have so many SQL Sentry team members at SQL Saturday Maine. Not only am I a remote employee, but David and Aaron are as well, so the four of us are rarely in the office at the same time. I wish I had been able to attend all of their sessions on Saturday! I sincerely appreciate them (and all of the other speakers) supporting SQL Saturday Maine.

David Benoit speaking at SQL Saturday MaineDavid Benoit, presenting "An Introduction To Big Data For The SQL Server DBA." Photo credit to Paresh Motiwala.

SQL Sentry raffled off a Power Suite PLUS License at SQL Saturday Maine, which is an amazing prize!

Aaron Bertrand with the SQL Sentry Raffle WinnerThe winner of a SQL Sentry Power Suite PLUS License! Photo credit to Paresh Motiwala.

Food Donation & Giving Back

One of the most difficult parts of organizing a SQL Saturday is determining how much food to purchase. I think most of us can agree that it's better to have too much food than not enough, as long as the food isn't wasted. When I organized my first SQL Saturday in 2014, I looked at all of the extra food after the lunch session and decided that I had to give it to someone. I called Florence House, a shelter that "provides safe, supported housing to chronically homeless women in Portland, Maine" and asked them if I could make an immediate food donation. They accepted and I delivered the food, where I was greeted by some grateful residents and staff. I decided to reach out to them again this year and was happy to provide them with an abundant delivery of food and water.

The SQL Saturday events are community events, and being able to help out the local community where an event is held really means a lot to me. I know some other SQL Saturday organizers have done this, and I hope all of them will make plans to do it in the future if they had not considered it before. If you're familiar with #sqlfamily, then you know that we come together to make annual donations to Doctors Without Borders, or impromptu fundraising for a community member. SQL Saturdays are a great opportunity for all of us to support a local shelter in our own neighborhoods. After I announced the food donation, some expressed interest in taking up a collection the next time, an idea of which I am strongly in favor. I also considered the idea of choosing a local classroom on DonorsChoose to fund a project for the next generation. I'd like to do both of those.

Whatever you decide to do, whether you are an organizer or attendee, please make sure the extra food doesn't go to waste at your event. Call a shelter, volunteer to deliver the food, etc. It will only take a few extra minutes out of your day, and will be well worth it. It was certainly my favorite part of the day.

Final Thoughts

Organizing a SQL Saturday is a LOT of work. It requires an organizer (hopefully a team of organizers), event-day volunteers (those SQL Saturday signs don't install themselves, and the coffee, donuts, etc. all need assistance getting to the event as well), willing speakers, and generous sponsors to make it all happen. If there's one in your area, you should attend. If you're attending, you should see if there's something you can do to assist with the event, especially if you're trying to network and get to know people in your SQL Server community. If you're ready to speak, submit a session. It takes an entire community to make these events happen, and if you're reading this, you're probably a member of such a community. Don't be afraid to participate. You'll learn something, help someone, probably grow as a person, get to know people, and maybe, if you're lucky, win a cool prize!

SQL Saturday Maine Raffle WinnerIt's about community and learning, not prizes, but we LOVE the prizes, too! Photo credit to Paresh Motiwala.

Melissa is the Product Education Manager at SentryOne. Melissa has over a decade of experience with SQL Server through software performance and scalability testing, analysis and research projects, application development, and technical support.