Fun At SQL Saturaday Southern Florida

Aug 1, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Travel  //  No Comments

Yesterday I spent the day at the Southern Florida SQLSaturday. SQLSaturdays are free SQL Server training events made possible by sponsors in the data-related industry. It’s amazing that volunteers can pull of a conference-like event for 375+ people and not have to charge them a dime. Breakfast, coffee, lunch and after party were all free. An amazing thing, this culture of FREE.

Check to see if there’s a SQL Saturday coming to your city at

This SQL Saturday had 600+ registrants, with about 375 attending. There were 9 tracks to choose from and like most conferences I had a tough time choosing sessions. I knew many of the speakers and attendees from Twitter, so these sessions reminded me quite a bit of DAMA/EDW sessions. Plus, there was the “other conference” going on in the Twitterverse at the same time.

During the day I attended mostly the Microsoft Azure and BI-related sessions, but managed to fit in a great session on PowerShell, too.

In the BI session I attended, Mike Mollenhour of Pragmatic Works used a physical cube, much like a Rubik’s Cube, to demonstrate the dimensions on a fact table. He demonstrated SQL Server Analytic Services. I want to play with those when I get back, for certain.

I next attended Joe Healy’s session on Introduction to SQL Azure. Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based application offering based on SQL Server. Joe, a Microsoft Evangelist, did a wonderful job explaining the features and limitations of Azure as it is right now. I appreciate it when vendor staff, especially evangelists, can pull of real-world discussions about the costs, benefits, and risks of their products. I want to hear Joe present again.

Next up was Aaron Nelson (@SQLVariant) of and demonstrated great things that can be automated with PowerShell. PowerShell is a free tool that is similar to a macro language that you can run on servers and workstations to automate tasks. I’m thinking of ways I might use it to automate some data modeling tool publishing and printing tasks. I’ve always said that the best data architect is a lazy data architect, so I believe that PowerShell can be an important item in the Data Architect’s toolkit.

Back to the Azure track, I attended Scott Klein’s (@ScottKlein) presentation on Developing Applications with SQL Azure. Scott, founder of BlueSyntax, has authored a soon-to-be-released book, Pro SQL Azure. This session covered the how’s and why’s of using SQL Server technologies in the cloud. When Azure was first released, I did open a trial account to check it out, but never seemed to find a few hours to figure it all out. Definitely going to do this soon.

The final session I attended was by Jack Corbett (@UncleBigguns) on “Don’t Be Trigger Happy”. I get many requests to have system functionality be implemented via triggers and these requests are usually not approved as they don’t meet good practices for the cost of using triggers. Jack’s presentation confirmed that.

Did I forget to mention the swag? I ended the day with 3 t-shirts (one from Aaron Nelson from CodeStock with a stylized Rose the Riveter to recognize Women in IT), one free book (a coupon), and many great small swag items from the sponsors. There were many, many prizes, including an iPad, $500 cash, other cash prizes, an Xbox 360, 40-50 books, an Ultimate MDSN subscription, and many other nifty items.

This event was possible due to the support of the sponsors. The event was held at DeVry University, who hosts many of these SQLSaturday conferences. Platinum sponsors were Redgate (also a SQLCruise sponsor), Fusion-io, expressor, swiftknowledge, and BlueSyntax.

Gold and Silver Sponsors were Microsoft, JumpstartTV, TekPartners, QQSolutions, SQL Server Magazine, PASS, Quest Software, Sapien Technologies, SQL Share, Confio, and Sherlock Technology Staffing.

If you engage with these companies, tell them that you appreciate their sponsoring events in our profession.

Finally, none of this could have happened without months of volunteering from many great Floridians. Volunteers, you did a great job.

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