SQL Saturday Roundup: #285 – Atlanta, GA

It’s that time of year again!  This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the annual SQL Saturday event here in Atlanta (well, Alpharetta, really) and, as always, it was a great time.

SQL Saturday Atlanta is always a pleasure since being local means no travel necessary (hooray) and it’s always a top-notch production.  This year was no exception as the event had a great line-up of pre-cons and speakers and was very well executed.

I started off my SQL Saturday weekend by attending Teo Lachev’s (B | T) pre-con session, Deep Dive into the Microsoft BI Semantic Model (BISM).  Check-in for the pre-con was a very smooth process and we were each given a giant packet of all of the printed slides for the session.  Additionally, the pre-con sessions had what I’d call the best breakfast I’ve seen at a SQL Saturday event, which included a buffet of hot food items such as eggs, etc.

Teo Lachev presenting his BISM deep dive pre-con session at SQL Saturday Atlanta

The pre-con session itself had a great turnout and Teo did an excellent job presenting a very large amount of material in the given time.  All in all, it was a great day and time well spent!

Saturday morning marked the beginning of SQL Saturday itself.  A couple of changes (for the better in my opinion) to SQL Saturday Atlanta this year over last year was the use of the SpeedPASS check-in system as well as the GuideBook electronic event guide app.

Last year, the organizers and volunteers pre-printed and pre-cut the name tags and raffle tickets for each attendee and gave them to us at check-in.  This was no doubt a very time consuming process for them.  This year, the SpeedPASS system was used, which allowed us to print and cut out our own name tags and raffle tickets and proceed right inside.  The downside to this, unfortunately, was that for the people who did not prepare in advance, they had to wait in a significant line.

Lineup of attendees outside of SQL Saturday Atlanta who did not pre-print their SpeedPASS admission
Turnout for the event was great — I believe the count was somewhere around 540 last I heard.  Not quite the record-breaking crowd of last year, but pretty close!  Sponsor support for the event was great, as usual, though I didn’t notice as many staffing resources as sponsors this year.  It seemed like the sponsors had less swag on their tables as well — no slap bracelet koozies this year!
SQL Saturday Atlanta first floor sponsor area
SQL Saturday Atlanta second floor sponsor area — Microsoft was “no frills” this year!

Due to a pre-existing conflict, I missed a number of the morning sessions, but after lunch, I was back in full force for the afternoon sessions.  I was able to attend three sessions in the afternoon, and all were great!

  • Dan Holmes (B | T) presented a session on GIS Data and Solving the Shortest Path which I found to be the most interesting session of the day.  Essentially, Dan provided a session on taking spatial data stored in a database and creating a routable map (similar to Google Maps) from the data.  Very interesting stuff!
Dan Holmes presenting GIS Data and Solving the Shortest Path at SQL Saturday Atlanta
Stuart Ainsworth presenting Managing a Technical Team: Lessons Learned at SQL Saturday Atlanta
  • Jason Thomas (B | T) presented DataViz You Thought You Couldn’t Do With SSRS.  I actually saw Jason present this session last year (for the first time) at SQL Saturday so I was eager to see it again and see what improvements he’d made.  The session didn’t disappoint and he shared a lot of great information.  As I do a lot of work with SSRS, this is one session where I was able to immediately apply things from it to the “real world.”
With the conclusion of the afternoon sessions, it was time once again to meet on the back steps for the raffle.  As per usual, a great number of people made it to the end of the day and the back steps were packed!
SQL Saturday Atlanta crowd gathered for closing remarks and raffle
Once the raffle was completed, SQL Saturday 285 was officially over.  The after party commenced at 5 Seasons Brewer, just down the street, which was a great time to network and see some familiar faces.  I felt like this was a much better location for the after party than last year — plenty of room inside and out to mingle, sit, and eat.
Thanks everyone who helped to make SQL Saturday 285: Atlanta an excellent time!  See you next year.