Please PASS the Awesomesauce


Recently, the 3 of you that read this stream of (un)consciousness may have noticed a lot of posts about PASS and the Board of Directors elections.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the news last Friday that I had indeed been elected to a 2 year term on the PASS board. 

I’d like to start by thanking everyone who voted, even if you chose not to vote for me.  We need more community involvement in all things PASS, and voting is a very important part of that! 

This election was not without its fair share of controversy and while overall it was a difficult process for the community to go through, I think a lot of good can result from it.  I hope that everyone who had an opinion about the “process” stays involved.  Staying involved & interested is the easiest way the community can shape the future of the organization. 

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to serve the SQL Server Community in a larger role than in the past.  As always, if you’ve got ideas feel free to send em to me.  I cant make any promises except that I will read and respond but, Im a fan of stealing borrowing others ideas for PASS and making them happen.

Other recent PASS info

Weve had a literal whirlwind of activity in the program committee leadership in the last month+  So, I thought I’d list some of the stuff thats been happening

Some highlights
  • We gathered a large group of volunteers to proofread abstracts before publishing in the program guide
  • Also, we hammered out all the details for 3 new session types for the Summit : Chalk talk sessions, Best of sessions, and lightning sessions
  • Published a Session preferencing tool to help us build a good schedule (awesome data gathered here!!)
  • We built the summit schedule – this is always fun, if you have any complaints, its on me
  • We gathered a team of volunteers  to review session powerpoints so I wont be doing them alone on the last day (YAY!) in doing this we updated the review guidelines to be more relevant/current
  • I had hoped we would nail down the Microsoft speakers & sessions a little better (earlier) this year but, it seems like we’ve been getting more changes & cancellations than Id have liked.
  • We worked on Coordinated with VC’s & pre/postconference speakers to try and setup livemeeting previews of their  sessions —  Marketing & free community education  –thats like Bacon wrapped Bacon Win-Win!
  • Lots of discussions with our Summit software vendor about availability of ppt updates, demos, etc during the summit.  Updates soon


Upcoming releases
  • The Summit Schedule builder *should* go live on Monday the 27th  Also,  realize this is an expected date but things occasionally happen so dont scream too much if its a lil late (or someone will let me know their displeasure with my tipping of the due dates)
  • Community experts summit session lists – we’ve asked some experts for their opinions about which sessions to attend, I cant wait to see what these lists look like!


Other Interesting Discussions happening
  • Whether we’re going to record/stream a session room at the Summit and what we’d do with those recordings
  • Whether we should switch back to 2 days of Preconference sessions or stick with 1 day pre and 1 day post
  •  Whether we should be providing desktops in the session rooms for speakers (most don’t seem to use them)
  •  PASSion award & expanding PASS’s recognition of outstanding volunteers at all levels

Of Procrastination and Voting


If you are reading this, you probably haven’t decided on who to vote for in the PASS Board of Directors election.  You’re not alone!  Here’s a secret [Shhh: don’t tell]  I haven’t decided who I’m going to vote for either.  Have no fear though, for the first year in the history of PASS, there is a literal plethora of information on the PASS Elections Site about the candidates and their stances on “the issues”

So, consider this to be my personal invitation to you to follow my lead and stop procrastinating!!  Go now to the PASS elections site, read about the candidates.  If you want to know something about us, use the forums, and ask.  I know at least 1 candidate that will answer your question.  Once you’ve done all that come back here, Ill still be waiting.  Now, do what I’m going to do:  I’ll be finding the PASS BOD email ballot, then Ill be selecting the link and clicking on “Allen Kinsel” & 2 other candidates then hitting submit!

I’ve never been known to be the subtle type, so I figure no sense in starting now.  If you need a little more subtlety about why I think you should vote for me, look here.  The #1 thing though, is you, PASS Member, you need to vote.  It matters a great deal to our SQL Server community, even if you must vote for someone other than me [I disagree but, understand]..

Its PASS V Day… you know what that means!


According to the official timeline today is the big day.  No, it’s not Valentines Day, but rather an even more important day.  Today is the day when we, the PASS community, get to vote for and elect our new leaders.  Today is the opening day of the PASS Board of Directors Election.  This is our communities chance to have a say in the direction of the PASS organization. 

Hopefully if you’re taking the time to read this you are in the process of deciding which of the 5 candidates for the PASS Board of Directors you’d like to vote for.  I want to thank you for being an educated PASS member and taking your valuable time to vet the candidates on their stances with relation to PASS.  To hopefully help make that process easier, I’m going to aggregate all of my views about the PASS election at the bottom of this post.

I had hoped to come up with some terrific tagline that would convey what I bring to the table in this election but, I just couldn’t make anything fit without it become 4 paragraphs so I decided to instead leave this picture since it does a better job.

 Openbook 300x225


At some point today you should get an email ballot from I would be honored If you would cast one of your votes for me.  I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.

–Additional information about my candidacy —

5 changes I’d like to make while on the PASS board

How I want the Program Committee to evolve

The Evolution of the Program Committee

My answers to questions on the PASS Elections forum

Here are a few responses in particular

What will I do on day 1

2 Year plan, or 2 big ideas?

Information wants to be free

The infamous PASS election process

More on PASS elections

Increasing the number of (female) speakers

Thoughts on volunteers

Promoting PASS (or increasing PASS’s Value)

PASS Summit location


A few other posts where I have been mentioned

Andy Leonard’s Interview

Lori Edwards explains why she thinks I’m qualified

The ScaryDBA recommendation

Brent “Access MVP” Ozar’s Recommendation

5 things I want to change while on the PASS Board


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last 3 or 4 months about “why” I wanted to run for the PASS Board.  I think I have finally come to the point where I can distill it down into a list of 5 specific things that I will work to make happen while on the PASS Board

5. Pass Summit location.  I believe that we can reach more of our membership by moving the location of the annual summit.  I like the idea of a 3 year rotation in Seattle.

4. Transparency.  I plan to continue the push for as much release of information as the community wants.  Particular things I’d like to see: full disclosure of individual BOD votes, more exposure of the Executive Committee “election process”

3. Better Chapter Support.  We need to do a better job at giving our chapter leaders what they need, some of the most frequently requested things on the chapter “needs” list could be completed more easily than many think if I can succeed with item #1 on this list.  I don’t necessarily want to “own” chapter support but, I think I can provide help to this group, especially where it lends itself to my strength in PASS : speaker management.

2. Professionalism.  I want our association to become more professional.  That is to say, to begin offering more than education as the primary benefit to membership.  I think there should be more benefit to being a PASS member than education & networking .

1. Community Involvement.  I want to get our volunteers engaged in as many processes and tasks as possible.  I’ve done what I consider to be a pretty good job at getting as many people involved in the program committee processes as reasonably possible, Id like to  expand that same involvement into all areas of PASS.  I wrote a lengthy reply on the PASS election forum about this subject, let me know what you think.


If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me. I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

The long evolution of the PASS Program Committee


It all had to begin somewhere

I joined the Program Committee in late 2006; I spent the first 2 years working on the DBA track teams selecting abstracts.  I have spent a good deal of time working on the technology (vendors) of the Summit (the software we use to manage speakers, room assignments, itinerary planner, etc.).  After going through several demo’s and actually attempting to use two different software packages, I started pushing for PASS to build our own software.  We are paying a (small) fortune for what we use now, the only reason I can figure is that its much more robust than what we need for PASS.  Last year I worked with PASSHQ to put together a project plan for PASS to build a new technology platform to manage the Summit.  This year David with PASS HQ has started delivering on parts of the software.  Once this is in place and we’re not changing software every year/other year, we should be able to focus more on the process, and less on the new software. 

Prior to last year, Pre/post conference sessions (AKA precons) and Spotlight sessions were 100% invite only, and the guidelines for who was allowed to present these sessions was never published outside of the committee.  Beginning with last year, we worked to publish guidelines for who was eligible to present precon sessions.  In publishing the requirements list for who could present an all day precon session we opened up the call for precons to include anyone who met the requirements.   At the same time we opened up spotlight invitations to competition, where we invited more speakers than we had slots for in hopes of raising the caliber of these sessions.  We also began using an easy to understand formula for who gets invited to present spotlight sessions. 

In this same time frame we reached out to many experts and asked for help developing a speaker resource page.  Prior to this there was no real information on PASS’s website documenting what it takes to write good abstracts, or get selected as a speaker.  We have pulled together quite a few resources to help develop speakers, including webcasts and sample abstracts, etc. 

Growing bigger better speakers

I have blogged quite a bit about growing the pool of speakers and we have made some very good steps in the right direction in this space.  There were two fundamental changes I worked into the program committee.  The first was adding a “speaker bureau” option to the speakers contract.  This will allow PASS (where the speakers agreed) to hand off speaker info and abstracts to the local chapters that the speakers are near, which will hopefully facilitate some interaction between the chapter leaders and some local aspiring speakers they may not know about.  There is still work to do to build and enrich the process around this sharing of information back out to the chapters but the first (most important) step has been taken.  I also worked it into the summit speaker contracts that we would release aggregate scores to the other speakers presenting so they could know where they stood compared to their peers.  This was decided as a good first step in open conversations generated by the discussion in this post

Lots of  internal Changes

This year a few things changed internally within the program committee, I separated the BI tracks review teams to match the fact that we now have 2 BI tracks, I also added an extra person to the DBA track team because, well, their workload increases every year and they could use some additional help.  I created a true team of 3 to review precons and spotlights instead of the mgmt group doing that work. But, by far for me the largest change was getting Lori Edwards involved in the leadership of the program committee.  Initially the idea was for her to get a team of task based volunteers who could work on some of the extra technology that the Program committee needed in order to work more effectively.  The first thing I handed her was to take the monstrosity of an excel spreadsheet I had containing every speakers session evaluation since 2005 (when I first got a copy) and make it into a proper database, and get some reporting from it.  After some discussions, we decided to build this as a system to hold ALL speaker evals for PASS or SQL Saturday, or actually ANY SQL presentation, the idea is when its finished if you have a speaker at any SQL event you can accept online evaluations and the speakers will get better feedback in one place. In addition, the organizers of PASS events will have better information as well. This task is still in process, but the first deliverable was a standard report of speakers and their evaluation scores and this was available for this years Program committee.  Somewhere along the way, Lori became more and more involved with all of the bits and pieces of what it takes to run the program committee.  Her involvement in these things has enabled me to reach out and not just do the same old thing for the Summit this year.

More evolution

This year I continued to push to evolve the program committee in several ways.  One of the changes most visible to PASS membership was the Community Choice Sessions.  Like all great ideas I’m not exactly sure where this idea was born, but I worked with people across the PASS organization to get this done.  I wrote about the process a couple of times as it was coming into being.  After involving over 1100 members, I would say this was a great success for PASS, myself and the Program group.

We are planning on taking the evaluation system that Lori and her team are working on and put it into use for the first time at this years Summit.  In doing so we have planned to offer a new type of session that I’ve written about before.  This will be what we’re tentatively calling “best of sessions” where we take the session with the highest evaluation on Tuesday and ask that speaker to present the same session on Wednesday, repeating the same process for those who speak on Wednesday, asking them to present the same session again on Thursday.  This should allow the BEST content at the summit to be seen by the most attendees.

It hasn’t been all fun and games

This evolution and opening of the program process hasn’t been all BACON and index seeks, there has been more than one change on this list that have caused many questions, and in some cases very involved discussions.  We haven’t always gotten everything right, but heck I’m happy that I can say I think we got it mostly right.  There is always room for improvement and more to do to continue to evolve these processes,

If you believe in these changes and you like how I communicate them, consider voting for me.  I’m running for the PASS Board of Directors, and I need your help to make a difference.  Click here to read about why I’m running.

Go to Top