Jeff Pries

Business Intelligence, SQL Server, and other assorted IT miscellany

Month: May 2013

Tips for Attending a SQL Saturday Event

Tips for Attending a SQL Saturday Event:  

I’ve been attending SQL Saturday events for only about a year now, however, thanks to the proximity of so many good sized cities in the southeast, I’ve managed to attend 8 events so far!  In doing so, I thought it would be helpful to run through some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to help out anybody else who may just be starting out.



A SQL Saturday event is a free all-day event centered on the subject matter of SQL server and its surrounding technologies.  These events are organized by local SQL Server User Groups and usually occur once per year per city and group.  Most major cities have at least one user group and some have multiple groups.  It is common for a SQL Saturday event to be preceded by one or more pre-conference sessions which all day learning events, for a small fee, on a single topic in a more classroom setting.  While SQL Saturday events are organized by local user groups, they tend to attract speakers from all over the country.

The SQL Saturday home page for SQL Saturday 220 in Atlanta, GA

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SQL Saturday Roundup: #220 – Atlanta, GA

SQL Saturday #220 – Atlanta, GA:  

This was my 8th SQL Saturday, yet somehow only the first one I’ve attended near my home, Atlanta.  It’s pretty strange not having to drive for hours and stay in a hotel!

For anybody who has not yet had the pleasure of attending a SQL Saturday event in Atlanta, they’re known for being pretty popular events.  As such, not one or two, but five pre-conference sessions were offered for Friday before the main event.

I had a tremendously difficult time choosing between Stacia Misner’s (B | T) “Languages of BI” pre-con session and Bill Pearson’s (B | T) “Practical Self Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel” pre-con.  With both topics being interesting to me and both speakers being extremely knowledgeable it was a pretty tough decision!

Ultimately, I opted for Bill’s session, “Practical Self Service BI with PowerPivot for Excel” as I had yet to see Bill speak in person and the session was a little bit more applicable to a project I am currently about to undertake at work.  Given the opportunity though, I’d still love to attend Stacia’s pre-con!

We had a great crowd for the pre-con session.  The rooms provided by the Georgia State University Alpharetta building were very nice with plenty of space and great audio/video.  Bill provided digital copies of the course material on some very sleek Atlanat MDF USB drives as well as printed booklets of the slides for following along.

The session began with an overview of PowerPivot with how to get it properly installed and configured and then it was off to the races.  We went through an overview of the how PowerPivot works and when its useful in organizations and then proceeded through a number of scenarios building out a PowerPivot solution.  I found the information on using linked date tables for proper “Time Intelligence” of particular use.  After a great day of going through PowerPivot from top to bottom, it was time to head home and get some rest before the big event.

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