Back from SQL Saturday 317 – Oslo – 30th August 2014

There was a SQL Saturday this weekend in Oslo.
It was the first of its kind in Norway. Denmark have already have 2 whereas the Swedish and Finnish SQL Server community are active in other ways than arranging SQL Saturdays. But let’s get back to the Norwegian event for a while. If you don’t want to read about the trip please jump straight to the conclusion.

Thank you,  devoted reader, for not jumping to the conclusion right away.

Claus (T) and I – the 2 PASS Nordic regional mentors – decided to join the event. Claus as volunteer and me as a speaker and volunteer.
We followed from the sideline the event taking form from its announcement in late March to its occurrence August 30th. At a point the organizing committee was a bit worried about the very few registrations and the lack of sponsors committed to the event.

During this period they were also able to put up a great schedule of speakers, ranging from some local Norwegian speakers (Johan Brattås (T), Erik Flateby) to international seasoned speakers like Bob Duffy (T|B) or Tim Ford (T|B).

The sponsor issue was quickly remedied to with the help of sponsors such as Rehfeld, Microsoft, Fusion IO and Websteps to only mention the gold sponsors.

They could use all the sponsorship they could because Norway is not a cheap country and as I heard it mentioned during the weekend, Norwegians feel that everywhere they go, things are cheaper. And by any means they are. 18 $ for a Brooklyn lager, 3 $ for a liter of milk or 25 $ for a take away pizza are just a few of the surprises awaiting you in the country.

So off we went in Claus’s car driving the 650 kms from Copenhagen to Oslo and staying at budget hotels / airbnb apartments to keep the cost down.

We arrived friday at approx 3 PM which gave me some time for a run across the city which is a great way to see some of the sights while exercising.!!

We joined the rest of the group in the bar where the speaker’s dinner should be held.

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While active, fit young women in minimalistic sports outfit were playing beach volley on the plaza, Andre Kamman ordered the first round of beers (200 $ for 15 draugth lagers)

we rejoyed as always to see each other again. Hugs, kisses and smiles always remind me why I love this SQLFamily and is one of the reason to speaking at such events time after time.

At 7 PM we attended the dinner, it went smoothly. I sat between Niko Neugebauer (T) and Claus and across Matijah Lah (T) and Aaron Nelson (T). In other words it couldn’t have been better. We spoke a lot about the SQL Family, event that we have attended, speakers that we were missing or expecting and upcoming events. Always a pleasure!!

After dinner there was time for a few pints where we started before Boris and I decided to head back to our apartment in order to be fresh for the conference day.

The Conference day

730 AM we where ready helping the volunteer team with the last preparations before the registration opened and the first participants arrived. I believe that there were approx 200 registrations and around 25% no-shows.

The venue itself was the NITH on top of the bus terminal with room distributed on each side of a public area, demanding constant attention from the event team to keep the doors locked where no one was in the rooms.

I attended 4 sessions myself. Magi Naumova’s developer tricks, Marco Russos (T) DAX from the real world, Kennie Pontoppidan’s (T) sponsor session and Tim Fords query tuning session.I hold my session at 130 PM giving me plenty of time to being well prepared and to enjoy the afternoon

alternating between seating in the sponsor area and attending session.

We also had time for a chat with Karla Landrum,  PASS community evangelist,  at the event to clarify some loose ends regarding our next SQL Saturday in Copenhagen – dates are not officials yet, but we are counting on leaning us up to a major SQL event to achieve better synergi with international speakers 😉

At 5 PM the last session was over and it was time for a beer kindly offered by one of the gold sponsors before the SQL Saturday team started raffling great prizes away. Sadly, I didn’t win any 😦
We ended the day at the pub across the street – Oslo Mekanisk Verskted – where I was presented for a concept I never met before. BYOF !! Bring Your Own Food. So instead of bringing your own wine to a restaurant you can bring your own food to the pub or order it at the local take-away joint across the plaza !!

As of now I am sitting in a car half way down from Norway to Denmark somewhere on the Swedish highway waiting to get soaked by the large amount of rain that stroke Copenhagen late last night knocking down the suburbean train transportation system (S-Trains). A bit tired, a bit hungover, a bit poorer but way richer after spending a few days with the SQL Family in Oslo !!

Conclusion

This is one of the best SQL events I have attended lately. Everything was working perfectly and even if I am sure that there was a lot of things that didn’t went smoothly, it never showed. The team Cathrine, Tone, Henrik and all the other guys put together a great first-time event and I am pretty sure that it was more because of careful planning than beginners luck.

Here is a quick list of + and – This is by no means a critic of this fantastic event, just some observations about what I think the event did very well and what was missing –  in my own opinion.

Plus Minus
well organized, no surprises, no last minutes hassles visible for the attendees (organisation) no pre-cons (event)
great speaker lineup (organisation) Some snacks / cake during the coffee break during the day would have been welcome to help our blood sugar a bit. (sponsor/venue)
good attendance for a first time (organisation) session evaluations were handed out to the speakers right after the session, not giving opportunity to the organizer to learn which speakers did the best job and what could be improved (organisation)
usage of session evaluation (organisation) The fact that it is a public area required a lot of work the volunteers to keep the doors shut trought out the days and opening them to the attendees whenever necessary. (venue)
great venue right by the central station (venue)
strong sponsor lineup with impressive give-aways (sponsor)

It can be challenging to organize an event, and even more a free event where the attendees feel less committed since it is free. But – I’m telling you – there was no lack of commitment in that event !! I am taking home a few things that we can use for our own SQL Saturday in 2015.

I am definitely looking forward to the next edition and to keeping in touch with our Norwegian neighbors keeping each other posted on what’s going on in the SQL Family.

Can’t wait to pack my stuff and head towards Dublin for the next SQL Saturday.

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