SQL Saturday #187 – Richmond, VA:  

Continuing my back-to-back SQL Saturday extravaganza, this past Saturday I attended SQL Saturday #187 in Richmond, VA.

After a fairly impromptu trip to Tampa last weekend to attend SQL Saturday 192, this weekend it was off about the same distance in the other direction to visit Richmond, VA.  As my first visit to Richmond, right away I wished I had more time to explore as the city looked extremely interesting.  Next time!

For whatever reason, no pre-con sessions were offered before this SQL Saturday.  Considering my brain was still a bit full from last weekend I was OK with this.  I checked into my hotel room Friday evening for a nice rest before the whirlwind of learning that would be Saturday.

Continuing in a string of firsts, SQL Saturday 187 was held on the campus of the University of Richmond, which as I understand it was the first time the university hosted a SQL Saturday.  The venue was very nice and the historic buildings provided a great atmosphere.  The entire conference was held within a single building with both classrooms and auditoriums which allowed for plenty of room.  About the only snag in the setup was a surprise soccer tournament on Saturday morning which gobbled up most of the parking that had been allotted causing a need for a bit of improvisation.

Once again, I was able to attend all six sessions during the day.  And again, I was very pleased with the selections I made and the quality of the content.  Every session that I attended was top notch and I believe I learned something new in each one.

A new event for me at this SQL Saturday was the WIT Luncheon.  During the provided lunch, there were a number of options for presentations to take part in.  Of these options, was a Women in Technology luncheon and panel discussion.  As I have a co-worker who is very active in WIT in Atlanta and additionally I mentor women in IT, I decided to sit in.  Kevin Kline (B | T) mediated a panel discussion with Melissa Coates (B | T), Karen Lopez (B | T), and Stacia Misner (B | T).  Members of the panel each provided background and answered questions based on their experiences asked by Kevin and the audience.

In addition to the WIT Luncheon, a few of the sessions which really stood out to me were:

  • Dashboards…How to Choose Which MSBI Tool” by Melissa Coates (B | T)  – Melissa gave a very detailed analysis of the major Microsoft Business Intelligence tools and the various strengths, weaknesses, pros, and cons of each.  She included some great charts which will make great references for the future.
  • Branding Yourself for a Dream Job” by Steve Jones (B | T) — Steve gave a fun and energetic presentation about personal branding, social networking, and other aspects of the modern professional world.  Some great tips on managing your online persona!
  • So You Want to Be a Rockstar Report Developer?” by Melissa Coates (B | T) — This session is brand new and has great potential.  Melissa covers various aspects of SSRS reporting and lists some of the big decision points we run into, such as stored procedures vs. queries in reports.  Plenty of audience participation was encouraged and as this session is given many times, I can see it eventually holding a great wealth of best practices, tips, and tricks.
With that, SQL Saturday wrapped up with the traditional gathering for words of thanks and raffle of prizes.  Sadly, I didn’t win anything this time, but all the great networking and knowledge was more than enough.  I had a great time and look forward to visiting Richmond again in the future.  Thanks to the Richmond SQL Server User Group and all the speakers for the great event!