SQL Saturday #92 in Portland, OR, kicked off an epic eight-day speaking and running trip for me. I was going to this event, to run a half marathon, and to PASS Summit. It was a great start to my week.

On Friday, I attended the speaker dinner and had the pleasure of seeing many old friends, and the joy of meeting new friends like Buck Woody, Robert Davis, Harry Chandra, Arnie Rowland, and Bill Fellows. It is always great to meet the people that are giving their time to help others.

Saturday morning started with a trip to a Portland legend, Voodoo Doughnuts. I had a voodoo doll. It was delicious.


Tim Ford got us lost, but we did eventually end up finding the college. I was able to meet Andrew Neuman right away, which was exciting. I headed to the speaker room to drop off my laptop and prep. There was a lot of great swag for the presenters to give away in their sessions. Thank you to all of the generous sponsors for helping us out with that. I was able to secure a copy of Stacia Misner’s Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Step-By-Step and Professional SQL Server Reporting Services.

The first session of the day that I was able to catch was by a first-time speaker, Harry Chandra! This is another reason I love SQL Saturdays, and what I feel should be a top priority for all organizers: getting new local or regional speakers to gain experience. Harry’s presentation was “Intro to SQL Server Mirroring and Log Shipping”. He had a well-prepared session. He got a lot of questions, and handled them very well. For a first-time speaker to have the courage to say, “I don’t know, but can look it up” is a rare gift.

I finally had the chance to watch Doug Lane present “Devs are from Mars, Report Servers are from Venus”. Doug is one of my go-to guys with SSRS questions. He gave us great tips on how to deal with stubborn SSRS problems. He also has a wicked sense of humor.

Lunch was delicious box sandwiches, and networking. Then, I headed off to the first-floor room where Sopheap Suy was moderating a Women In Technology lunch panel, with me, Kendra Little, and Yanni Robel as the panelists. There was a great crowd. We talked about how we got into IT, how we can encourage other women to join IT, and how to expose and interest kids in it. The main point that always comes out is this: we don’t need just more women in IT. We don’t need just more men in IT. We need more smart people in IT.

After lunch, I watched my good friend Erin Stellato present “You’re My Density: Making Sense of Statistics”. Erin’s ability to make highly technical topics not feel over my head is great. She had great questions and discussion with the audience, also.

I was up next, giving my “Reporting Services 201: From Basic to WOW!” presentation. I had a near-capacity crowd in the auditorium. It was after lunch and people were sleepy. It was hot – I could feel the sweat rolling down my back. I soldiered on. I took too long to introduce my topic. I got distracted by questions I shouldn’t have answered. I took too long on the first two points, and didn’t have time for the next three. It was the worst presentation I’ve ever given. However, it was great practice before Summit. What truly made this all worth it, though, was a tweet from Andie on Monday: “@grrl_geek …and today’s SSRS report uses some BLING you taught me about in your class at #sqlsat92 🙂 (alternate color for rows).” If I can help just one person with each presentation, it makes my day.

I then got to answer questions about my session, and get feedback from some people. I love feedback. If a presenter does something great – or something terrible – please tell them. We appreciate it.

There were two great ideas that I loved at this SQL Saturday. First, we had half an hour between sessions for networking. That’s great. Normally, there are 15 minutes, which never feels like quite enough to connect with someone. I’m sure that took at least one session out of the day, but I felt it was worth it. Second, the organizers printed the day’s schedule on the back of the nametag. Brilliant.

My slides and .rdls can be found here. Thank you again to all fantastic organizers, volunteers, sponsors, presenters, and attendees. SQL Saturdays are some of my favorite events!

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