Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pointers For SQL Saturday Attendance

I recently got an email from another SQL Saturday organizer asking for "pointers for getting more attendees" to their upcoming event. Having just topped 750 preregistered and 560 in the door for SQL Saturday Baton Rouge 2013, I was honored to be asked and to reply:
Good luck on your upcoming event!
Push your fliers/announcements out to local universities and technical colleges, those are always a big source of attendees for us. Introduce yourself to faculty and department heads. We even had a masters degree program at LSU make attendance to our SQL Saturday a requirement of the program. We were able to advertise the event in junior- and senior-level computer science and Business Intelligence classes. 
Contact your local TV and radio shows. I have made appearances on local morning "chat" TV and radio shows, something that really helped get the "SQL Saturday" brand out there. Also look at the local calendars of business reports, chambers of commerce, social magazines, and local business magazines. Proactively contact your local business/IT incubators, technology parks, training providers, recruiting companies to get the word out (and to sponsor, if they are not already!) Those kind of companies usually pride themselves on being "in tune" with the local IT industry. 
Ask your speakers to blog about the event, especially if they are locals. Contact your local Microsoft PFE's (Premier Field Engineers) - they have local clients who will probably be interested and they can help you recruit attendees. 
We actually don't have a lot of luck getting numbers of people on Facebook or G+ or LinkedIn to "join" or "I'm Attending!" an event listing, but wouldn't hurt to make sure you have events listed all over social networks. 
Hit all the local user groups, not just the SQL group but also the SharePoint and .Net groups and get their mailing lists aware of your event. 
Finally, be prepared for a lot of walk-up traffic. We have many folks walk in without per-registering each year. Road signs will pull people in, so many sure you get your signage up around major nearby thoroughfares early in the morning on Saturday. We print out 100+ blank name badges and raffle tickets to handle all the people who don't print SpeedPASS or don't register at all each year. 
Whew, is that enough? Ha! Let me know if you have any questions, and good luck with your event!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cannot find NT Service\MSSQL$SQL2012?

If you cannot find the virtual account used by the default settings installation of your SQL 2012 instance (in this case running on Windows 7), try searching for:
nt service\mssql

You must have the "Built-in security principals" object type selected, and you must be searching on your local machine name (not in the domain).

Frustratingly, searching for the virtual account does not work for these strings:
  • MSSQL$SQL2012
  • nt service
  • nt service\
  • NT
Which is misleading...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Distribution setup SQL Server Agent error: "RegCreateKeyEx() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.'"

In the Configure Distribution Wizard, the step "Configuring SQL Server Agent to start automatically" errors with the following text:
TITLE: Configure Distribution Wizard
An error occurred configuring SQL Server Agent.
RegCreateKeyEx() returned error 5, 'Access is denied.' (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 22002)

This is a very minor error, and not difficult to work around at all. The wizard is attempting to change the SQL Server Agent service "Start Mode" to Automatic. You can do this via the SQL Server Configuration Manager instead.

In the Sysinternals Process Monitor, you may see: Operation: RegCreateKey Result: ACCESS DENIED Path: "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\SQLAgent$SQL2012"

If you encounter this error, select "No" in the "SQL Server Agent Start" page in the Configure Distribution Wizard (as shown below), and then set your agent service to Automatic Start Mode via the SQL Server Configuration Manager.

The third step of the wizard that failed before will not happen.

Why the failure actually occurs I did not figure this out, and I'm open to feedback, but this seems like a vestigial step to a wizard that otherwise has no negative impact. Running SSMS with "run as Administrator" does not appear to fix this error either. I'd love to know why this error happens in the first place.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Baton Rouge Startup Weekend

I'm spreading the word out about an event this weekend called Startup Weekend. It's an event for developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to come together and work on the ideas they have. Startup weekend is a lot crazy ideas, a little bit hackathon, and a little bit business venture incubation and evaluation. This is the third event in Baton Rouge. 

It's a great release and experience for "professional software developers" to spend the weekend as "wild west programmers" kicking out validation-less UI, radical interfaces and apps with only the fun functionality done to contrast their day jobs of tedious construction and meticulous polishing. And the devs get to pick which project they want to be a part of and support and join that team for the weekend, which may not always be the case at work. It's also a great opportunity for team leads and senior devs to see their staff devs and junior devs work in a free and fun environment.

The deal is it's a Friday evening to Sunday evening event. Friday is pitch night and team building. Saturday is the solidify, design, evaluate, with experienced investors and technical coaches if the team isn't itself technical, and git-er-done day. Sunday is final changes and preparation for the presentation at the end of the event.

Startup Weekend is worldwide with a goal to create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential and see actual results. Startup Weekend is held 125+ events in 170+ cities around the world throughout the year. Our event will be held on August 16-18, 2013 and we have confirmed a venue at Bon Carre / Louisiana Technology Park. Our participant count is expected to be around 75, but last minute registrations could raise that figure closer to 100. 

Clayton White
South Coast Angel Fund
Manuel Valencia
Vice President of Strategy @ Excelerant

Jennifer Fowler
LSU Student Incubator Director @ Louisiana Business & Technology Center

Stephen St.Cyr
Owner @ Vivid Ink Graphics
John Edel
Managing Member @ Edel Patents LLC
Jeremy Switzer
Head of Development @ LocalMed, LLC

Mike Melancon
Software Architect @ Ultix Technologies, Inc.

Chris Sutherland
Software Architect @ VoterVoice LLC

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the opportunity further in a technical sense you can contact me, if you or other members of the company want non-technical information you can reach out to Wendy Overton, the main organizer at wendy@startupweekend.org. And of course the website: http://batonrouge.startupweekend.org.

This info was passed along to me by Phillip Jackson, a fellow tech community organizer in Baton Rouge.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Recap from SQL Saturday Baton Rouge 2013

As the head of the planning committee for SQL Saturday Baton Rouge this year, I had the distinct pleasure of welcoming several hundred colleagues from around the world to Baton Rouge on August 3 for a day of free training, networking, professional development and fun.

The day-ending raffle in the Auditorium of the LSU Business Education Complex (photo credit: Cody Arnould)
from L-R: Mike Huguet, Justin Yesso, Seth Valdetero, Dave Baxter, William Assaf, James Coolman
According to the official SQLSaturday.com website admin page, we had 750 people register for the event in total, a staggering and exciting number for us to prepare for.

But as any SQL Saturday organizer knows, the conversion from registered "planning to attend" and "on site" attendees is not 100%. This is a topic for a future blog post, but based on my experience over the past four years and watching the pre-registration trending, doubling the number of pre-registered attendees roughly 29-31 days away from the event is a strong indicator of actual headcount.

Our final headcount onsite at Baton Rouge SQL Saturday was 560, give or take a few stragglers, just 12 folks short of breaking SQL Saturday Atlanta's record of 571. This puts us on par with what we pulled in last year to Baton Rouge SQL Saturday as well.

With pride, I still can call Baton Rouge SQL Saturday one of the largest in the world, or in the universe, according to our keynote speaker Ob Soonthornsima, CIO and Chief Security Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana, our Diamond Sponsor this year.

Having spent countless hours over the past three months preparing for the event (with a lot of help from my friends), I breathe a sigh of relief but also of excitement. We were that close to breaking our record, and yet the fundamental parts of the event were in place to hold even more. LSU's brand new Business Education Complex is a fantastic host, with 15 classrooms of 60+ or more and a large auditorium for keynotes and raffles, all in very close proximity.

Sparkhound, home of my managers, coworkers and best friends, was our Platinum sponsor this year and led the charge with nine speaker sessions by Sparkhound Baton Rouge employees, at least one in each time slot, including back-to-back-to-back sessions in our CIO/CTO/IT Manager track from three members of Sparkhound upper management. 

Also huge thanks to my wife Christine Assaf (hrtact.com), who spoke twice, in the Career Track and CIO track, and also spent her free time between talks in nine 15-minute coaching sessions for attendees of her sessions. Christine and entrepreneur/author Tonia Askins each offered free one-on-one coaching for attendees via a signup sheet after their sessions on "Mastering your Resume and Interview" and "Exploring Entrepreneurship" respectively, a great idea that future SQL Saturday organizers should consider.

Also big thanks to Microsoft as usual, who was represented very well at our conference, including the entire speaker lineup of the Windows Server Infrastructure track with Nicholas Jones, Randy Nale, Steven Rachui, and Matt Hester. Mike Huguet of Microsoft was a member of the planning committee and also spoke three times, including a lunch session on "What's it like to Work for Microsoft?"

I want to extend a huge thank you to everyone on the planning committee to helped make this conference a great one this year, to our twenty one generous sponsors and to 560 of my closest friends and colleagues this past weekend at SQL Saturday Baton Rouge!

I received a lot of help from these good friends and members SQL Saturday Baton Rouge Planning Committee, in no specific order:
Mike Huguet of Microsoft
Laurie Firmin of Ameritas
Jacques Steward of Turner Industries
Stacy Vicknair of Sparkhound
Kenny Neal of Amedisys
Adrian Aucoin of Corporate Services
James Coolman of Sparkhound (and family!)
Justin Yesso of Blue Cross Blue Shield
Diann Kelley of Sparkhound
Cody Gros of Sparkhound
Beth Curry of Antares
Kyle Summers of Sparkhound
Christine Assaf of Waste Management Inc
Cherie Sheriff of GE Capital
Cody Arnould of Sparkhound
Paul Barbin of Amedisys
and countless volunteers as well, thanks!

See you next year!