I was lucky to attend SQSQL Saturday Jacksonville 2022L Saturday Jacksonville 2022 a couple of weeks ago. This was the first SQL Saturday of 2022 for me, and the first large one since the pandemic that felt very normal. SQL Saturday Orlando 2021 was small, and I was out of town for SQL Saturday Colorado Springs 2022 (insert sad face here). I saw Andy’s notes and wanted to add a few of my own.
Jeff Taylor and his crew did a great job of messaging me as a speaker and I thought the amount of information he provided on the event page was good. I was on the speaker and volunteer lists, and I appreciated them repeating information a few times. You can see a bunch of the emails I got.
As someone who is busy with lots of things, I appreciate getting more information often about events, and I like repeating things like the location, logistics, reminders to do tasks, etc.
I volunteered for a couple tasks, and I liked them responding with confirmations that listed what I was assigned, when, and with who.
The Speaker and Volunteer Dinner
The speaker/volunteer dinner was at Angie’s Subs, which was a beach sub shop. It reminded me of my youth living near the beach, with a casual setting. We had a few tables in an area, and as people came in, they could go order at the counter and then sit down. Food came out in waves, which was easier and smoother than having everyone at a sit down dinner where waiters and waitresses are trying to match food with a particular seat.
I’ve been to a lot of speaker events, and one thing we like to do is meet others. Which means getting up, switching seats, talking, etc. I prefer a less casual, less organized thing. I do appreciate organizers trying to make a nice experience for speakers and volunteers. It is a very nice gesture. It’s not necessary, but always appreciated.
We got our speaker shirts, gifts, and bags, which is nice. Saves some time in the morning as we may try to get into the event and set up.
University of North Florida
I love being back on campus at a university. Or any school really. I’ve been to events in elementary schools and technical schools. It’s a neat atmosphere for me that is conducive to learning. There were a ton of signs out that guided me to the parking garage and then more to get us to the building. A map link was provided, but for someone not familiar with the school, it wasn’t too easy to orient myself.
There was one building the first floor open for sponsors and food. Registration was in front of you when you walked in and sponsors were along the side hallways. Drinks were to the side near the entrance and always available.
There were some sessions in another room, but I never went over there. I spent most of the time talking with others rather than in sessions. The projectors and setup was good, but the rooms weren’t obvious at first as some were between sponsor tables. I would have liked to have an announcement about 5 minutes before each session, as plenty of people were still walking around and chatting as sessions started. Especially the first one. As I started, only 3 people were in my room, and another 20 or so wandered in across the next 15 minutes.
UNF was a great host and the campus is beautiful and spacious.
The crowd felt normal and busy, with lots of people talking with vendors and each other. There were crowds, though not too packed. People engaged and asked lots of questions. Some people wore masks, many didn’t, and the event seemed to follow the adult plan. Everyone respected each other and many people asked if they could shake hands or hug before they did so.
Lunch was boxed, and pre-selected. While I appreciate that’s a good way to ensure someone gets what they want, I also think that it adds some complexity. Having people come into a room and provide a ticket to volunteers and take a lunch probably was a good decision early on while coming out of COVID restrictions, but I’d prefer to have a table in the hallway where someone can give a ticket to a volunteer or speaker and then have a lunch given to them. Lunch gets busy and having people walk in and out of a room creates a bit of a bottleneck. Smooth things out, and distribute them quickly. DevOps the lunch.
I didn’t have afternoon ice cream as I’m trying to watch my diet. I did see plenty of people getting ice cream and after the initial crowd, it seemed like people could easily get their bowl.
I did see a few students attending, which is inspiring to me. I look forward to the next generation of younger people entering my field and building a career.
The raffles at the end were fun. A little confusing to find the room (the room number on the schedule was wrong). I would have liked to see a printout on a plain A4/letter paper taped to the room. Also, I would have had a volunteer stand at the door and hold it open so people could easily find it.
The compressed air gun was fun for shooting t-shirts. Jeff did a good job trying to send them around the room, though he did almost kill a projector. Definitely something that needs a little practice. The first few went about 3 feet, falling in front of the front row. After that, it was good.
The raffle went fairly smooth and quick. Again, I’d think about how I have people move around and have them flow from one side to the other, but really a minor thing.
It seems most after parties are for speakers and volunteers more than attendees, and this was no exception. Some attendees came, but a lot of speakers. It’s a nice way to unwind and getting the entire patio at Buffalo Wild Wings was nice. A table set out with a few drinks (beers and waters) and food allowed most people to walk around and meet others. A waitress walked around and took orders as well.
It was wonderful to be back in a fairly “normal”, 2019-era event after two long years.
A fantastic job by the Jacksonville SQL Server User Group and my first time at a SQL Saturday in Jacksonville. I look forward to going back in the future and seeing more events like this one in 2022 and 2023.
Speaking of SQL Saturday’s have you seen or heard of any groups in the Knoxville, Tennessee area? I have not come across any so far since relocating to the Fairfield Glad/Crossville area (about 345 minutes from Knoxville) and was wondering if you knew of any.
Ken A. Baker, MS, MBA/TM
Senior Data and Reporting Professional, Pragmatic Data Engineer | HPS Reporting and Analytics
Work at Home – Fairfield Glade, TN
O 502 302-3439