SQL Saturday Roundup: #232 – Orlando, FL

For my 9th SQL Saturday, I decided to head to the source and attend the one that started it all — SQL Saturday Orlando.  SQL Saturday started in November of 2007, led by Andy Warren, Brian Knight, and Steve Jones.  Thanks to the Wayback Machine, you can see the original event’s main page and schedule page preserved in their original form…oh, how things have changed!

To begin the weekend for SQL Saturday 232, I attended Tim Mitchell’s (B | T) Pre-Con session:  Real World SSIS: A Survival Guide.  The session was hosted in a meeting room of the host hotel and had a pretty good turnout.  Tim provided a fantastic overview of his 7 tips for SSIS techniques in the real world complete with numerous demos.  I found the session overall very well organized and informative, though I did have difficulties at time as I don’t currently use SSIS nearly as deeply of frequently as others.

After a great day of learning about SSIS survival tips, it was time to get some rest in preparation for a full Saturday of learning.  SQL Saturday 232 was held on the campus of Seminole State College in Lake Mary, FL.  The event itself was well-organized with good signage and ample parking.  Upon check-in, in addition to the usual name badge, each attendee was given a branded USB drive, which was a nice touch, and a t-shirt (though these were on a separate table and easy to miss)

As always, deciding which sessions to choose from the vast array of great choices was difficult.  Ultimately, I decided on a good mix of BI topics, with a mix of general troubleshooting and professional development as well.  A few of my favorite sessions for the day were:

  • Best Practice Data Visualization” by Jen Underwood (B | T) — I’ve actually seen Jen give this presentation once before at a User Group meeting in Atlanta, but it was such a good presentation and Jen is such an entertaining presenter that I chose to attend it again.  As before, it was a great presentation full of very useful information based on the teaching of Stephen Few and others and as expected, very fun!
Jen Underwood presenting Best Practice Data Visualization at SQL Saturday 232
  • Spatial Data:  Cooler Than You’d Think!” by Hope Foley (B | T) — Hope presented a great overview of spatial data within SQL Server.  While we commonly see demos of mapping in SSRS or Geoflow/Power Map, its rare to see SQL Server’s built-in spatial functionality.  Using brewery locations as an example, Hope did a great job of showing some of the very cool aspects of SQL Server with spatial/geographic data.
  • Join Us!  Getting Started as a Technical Speaker” by Eddie Wuerch (B | T)  — I always like to attend at least one professional development session at a SQL Saturday.  Having never seen Eddie present, and having technical speaking as a weakness, I decided to attend Eddie’s session.  Wow, was I impressed!  Eddie is an amazing and very entertaining speaker.  The session did a great job of providing some confidence and motivation to perhaps one day presenting as well.
  • He Said, She Said: A Telecommuting Love Story” by Tim Ford (B | T) and Amy Ford (B | T) — My second professional development session for the day, Tim and Amy presented their experiences, both good and mad, telecommuting as a primary means of working in the data industry.  Having never had the opportunity to telecommute on a regular basis, I found this to be a very informative session with some great insight.
Lunch for the event was a very good catered BBQ with a mix of pork, chicken, and various sides served by the SQL Chefs.  From all the SQL Saturdays I’ve attended, this was one of the best lunches, the BBQ sauce was great!
At the conclusion of the day, the crowd gathered for closing remarks and the great raffle and swag giveaway.  An interesting tradition, the organizers stand on the walkway above the crowd and toss all sorts of swag — shirts, pens, books, you name it into the crowd.  Chaotic, dangerous, and absolutely a blast!  It was a great way to end the day.  Thanks to everyone in Orlando and elsewhere that contributed to putting on an excellent event.
The SQL Saturday 232 organizers tossing prizes and swag to the crowd
The view of the SQL Saturday 232 crowd from above