Posts tagged update

Quick PASS Chapters update

PASS Chapters Update

As PASS Director of Chapters, I had my first set of meetings a few weeks ago where every Chapter Leader worldwide was invited and thought I’d write a quick post about it.

Getting up to speed in a new PASS portfolio and having something good to talk about takes time so this meeting took a lot longer to materialize than I’d originally hoped.  The primary delay was it took quite a while to get enough good content that I felt comfortable inviting 300+ chapter leaders to give an extra an hour of their lives to PASS.  Now that the initial break in time is handled and I know we’re making solid progress towards improving PASS’s support of Chapters (I’ll have stuff to talk about that matters) We’ve agreed to schedule these update meetings quarterly.  This is in addition to the update meetings we’ve already been having bi-monthly with Regional mentors and the Bi-Monthly(ish) Chapter update emails/blog posts Ive already been doing.

Global Organizations = Follow the sun = Hard

Trying to find a time (or 2) that accomidates 300 different people is extremely challenging, In the past we’ve held Regional Mentor meetings at 9AM CST and 9PM CST in an effort to allow as many RM’s as possible to participate.  We’ve had varrying degrees of success and quite a few requests to have a time that better fits those in the EMEA region.  So we decided to move the initial time of the Chapter leader meeting to 6AM CST leaving the 9PM CST meeting in place.  This seemed to work out OK but, being ready to present at 6AM local time was tougher than I expected, combine that with a PASS site that wasnt working properly and the first meeting went less than spectacularly.  In the future we’ll probably move the morning meeting back to 9AM CST and offer a third meeting option in the middle of the day that better supports those in EMEA.  The meetings are recorded and posted online for all to chapter leaders so theres always that option as well.  Im open to other ideas about timings of these meetings so If your a RM or a Chapter leader and have an opinion feel free to contact me to share it.

Chapter Leader Resources

Karla (Blog|Twitter) has been working incredibly hard to update the Chapter Leaders resources page.  She has made many updates and changes to this Chapter leader only page, one of the largest changes mentioned is related to the new process that book publishers are asking PASS Chapters to use.  Im optimistic that the new process will help Chapters get a better selection of books in a shorter amount of time.  Karla also added a new Chapter logo  as a resource on this page.

Chapter Tools Project

A good portion of time was spent going over the changes in tools that have been rolled out for chapters.

The aim of this project is for PASS to provide effective tools to minimize the marketing work Chapter Leaders have to perform and increase reliability of records all while creating a one-stop shop of resources to efficiently promote and run a PASS Chapter.

To date, weve completed updates to the chapter newsletter emailer, created a chapter dashboard and created an events framework for chapters to use in displaying their meetings.  The events framework is the latest update, it is currently used on the chapters portal, and although its currently a v1 release it handles many things chapter leaders let us know they wanted like Auto archiving of meeting details, Auto populating Speaker info, timezone display differences, uploads and more.  There are several other hooks planned in the future for this events framework but this should provide a good starting infrastructure as we build more on to it.

Community Meetings at the Summit

Also covered were the community meetings at the summit.  If you’re a PASS community leader one or more of these is likely for you!

VIRTUAL CHAPTER LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

8:00 am – 9:00 am

Led by Denise McInerney

SQLSATURDAY LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

9:30 am – 12: 30 pm

Led by Kendal Van Dyke

REGIONAL MENTORS

Tuesday, November 6

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Led by Allen Kinsel

CHAPTER LEADERS

Tuesday, November 6

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Led by Allen Kinsel and Regional Mentors

PASS Chapter Update

Today I’m hosting the Bi-monthly PASS Regional Mentor meetings and I thought this was a good time to publish an update and get back to blogging about PASS on a more consistent basis.  Its been an interesting last 6 months leading the PASS Global Chapters portfolio and I expect it to be an interesting next 6 months as well!

RM Travel

Previously I wrote about getting a budget exception to provide funds for RM’s to attend PASS events and hopefully learn some lessons about how we can best implement a program like this.  With the end of PASS’s Fiscal year on June 30 we ended the RM travel program.  I believe we learned some very good lessons and provided some very valuable support for some PASS events.

Some basic statistics

11 RM’s were able to participate and they attended

  • 9 Chapter meetings
  • 6 SQL Saturdays

Overall I wish we would have had better participation (this is about 33% of RM’s) but, given the timelines we had because of the nature of the budget exception as well as the parameters we put on the allocations per RM for this trial this was about what I expected we’d have.  We got some great feedback from the RM’s on these trips and I was especially appreciative of the feedback from RM’s that wasn’t the kindest and was brutally honest.

Chapter Tools Redesign

Ill admit to finding it mildly ironic that for as long as I’ve been a member of PASS we’ve had what I’ve often chalked up as “Data” problems.  When building the blueprint for reworking the Chapter Tools my main goal was to provide great tools to better enable chapters to grow local communities & host great events.  My secondary hopes were that in creating these tools that many of these data problems would be resolved by the ability to have one version of the truth.

In some ways over the last 3 months I’ve been disappointed with the amount of “visible” work that has been available to chapter leaders in the tools.  But, since I’ve been having at least twice weekly meetings with PASS IT from the beginning I am confident that things are going as fast as they should be.  I think its worth going through some of the challenges weve run into thus far if for no other reason than to remind myself what happened later!

We’ve hit a couple of detours that I didn’t account for in my expectations for the tools.  PASS had several different DNN portals at several different versions.  This is the basic explanation for why some chapter sites werent in single sign on and had other assorted issues where some chapters had functionality that others didnt.  This Included one particularly interesting issue where some chapters had different lists of “members” because some members were in the chapters portal sign on and others were additionally in the main PASS sign on but the chapter leader couldn’t contact (or see) both lists!  With the varrying DNN modules in use on over 150+ chapter portals PASS hosts, to get this consolidated and upgraded was no small feat.  Today all of the groundwork has been completed and we now have a single DNN Portal with a single DNN version in use across all of the chapter sites.

We also had an outbreak of data issues (remember where I mentioned this earlier!) What we found was we had quite a lot of outdated data about chapters, including which ones are active and what their actual leader contact info is.  This problem is a product of growth over the years and not having a system like the one we’re building to house all of the relevant data… This problem has been handled in some ways but, is still ongoing and PASSHQ is working on identifying the problems so we can fix them once and for all.

We also made a decision to build some webservices infrastructure now vs building it later in the project in order to have that infrastructure upfront instead of waiting till later to build it and retrofitting things at that point.

In addition to all of this we also had a couple of false starts with the outside web designer and the design of the public facing sqlpass.org changes that the chapter tools will be feeding in to.  I’m optimistic that these have been resolved as we’re currently seeing good progress from that perspective

All in all these problems havent been huge but, they have impacted how long I expected it to take us to start making changes that would be visible to not only the chapter leaders but the PASS community at large

Chapter tools Beta

If you’re a chapter leader, today the beta of the chapter tools changes can be seen if you log into the PASS website and click on the “Chapter Dashboard” menu under chapters.  The basic idea has been to replace all of the current CMM module features and enhance them as we move them over to a dashboard type interface.  Today there is basic chapter profile editing, Chapter mailing list uploads/updates. As well as a new chapter bulk emailer to send messages to the entire list of your chapter members.  If you have any comments or questions about these changes feel free to contact me.

In a (near) future post Ill outline a list of expected features that I’ve been compiling for this tools project.

PASS Summit 2011 Preconference meta details

PASS Summit 2011 Preconference Session selection info

The other day I detailed as much info as I could about changes to this years session selection processes.  The call for ALL Sessions at the Summit is officially open until May 5, 2011 that means we’re accepting abstracts for regular sessions as well as for the Preconference sessions.

Competition

For many of the more experienced speakers in the SQL Community the opportunity to give a full day highly technical session at the summit is attractive.  Not only do they get to showcase their technical skills, they also get to showcase their own unique training style.  Additionally, the pay isnt half bad either.  Of course, most of these speakers will tell you that based on the amount of time needed to generate an all day session the pay is actually half bad, not half good 🙂

Requirements Change

For the past 3 years we’ve had a set of requirements in place that qualify speakers to present a preconference session, those requirements are looked at every year by a set of volunteers to make sure they are still valid and usually only minor adjustments are made.  This year however I made a larger adjustment.  In order to clarify the requirement that giving a precon requires you to also give a spotlight session, I added #11 to the list of criteria you should meet to deliver a precon.  Since that is a gimme criteria, I bumped the total criteria needed to meet from 4 to 5

Improvements

After you’ve done your thing and submitted a terrific abstract for a precon session its up to us to try and be fair in the selection process for these sessions.  Over the last few years we have tried many things to both open up the selection process and to open up submissions to a competitive process.  There have been many ups and downs in this iterative process.  Sometimes we do well, and sometimes… not so much.  The point is that we’re always trying to produce a better process.  I’m excited that hopefully this year we’ve ironed out a few more of the wrinkles we exposed last year.

Process Part one

After the Call for abstracts closes we are going to release a “preferencer” tool that we’re going to use to allow PASS Members the ability to communicate what their favorite sessions are.  We’re going to use the data gathered from this tool to assist us in making the session selections.  Additionally, we are tentatively going to use this same info to prepopulate your attendee schedule builder after the selections are made.  I’d like to think we’ll be able to use the data from this tool in a 1-1 fashion where we take the top X precons per track and build the session schedule that way.  In reality though, I expect we’re going to find several overlapping session subjects at the top of the list.  I’m thinking things like 3 “indexing sessions” in the top 5 for the DBA track, or 2 Sessions from a single speaker for instance.  We’ll need a a team to help make those decisions.

Introducing the team that will make the decisions

K. Brian Kelley Author/Blogger/Speaker Extraordinaire – A man with his credentials doesn’t need an intro.

Lori Edwards PASS Junkie, blogger, and all around pain in the …  – I kid, Lori has been picking up all of the slack in the PASS Program committee, as well as participating in the PASS ERC

Me –  Yeah, Im going to have a seat at the table this year.  I havent participated in an actual abstract selection team in a couple of years so this should be a fun diversion.

In building this small team, I’m expecting that there wont be a heck of a lot of “work” to do.  I’m really expecting that we will be able to rely mainly on the members preferences but I wanted to have insurance in case there was more to the selection than simply relying on preferences.

The multiple similar session problem

In the past one dilemma that Ive been looking for creative ways to solve goes something like this.

“If I specialize in Architecture for SQL Flux capacitors and Veteran speaker XYZ always presents a precon on SQL flux capacitor architecture how will I ever get chosen for a precon”

This year, I’m hoping that with the membership showing which sessions they’d like to see if a particular topic has an apparent huge interest, we can potentially give 2 precons on a similar topic (1 on Monday, and 1 on Tuesday).  The way the tool is being built, we should get good data about which precons a group of people would most like to see.  I dont know if this will work or not but, its a small enough risk that I cant see why we wouldnt at least try to see what the data tells us.

After thinking about the data this tool should generate, I wonder where I can find a good data analysis person to volunteer and tell me what it means.  Maybe I should ask someone in the community for help with that before mucking it up myself *hint*

PASS 2011 Summit Abstract Submissions

This week we’ll be launching the call for abstracts for the 2011 PASS Summit.

I thought it would be good to go over the basics for this year especially since some things are changing from years past.  Many of the changes are minor, some are behind the scenes so to speak, and a small amount are larger and more public facing.

A New Site

PASS HQ and the Program Committee team has been diligently working to bring the summit speaker/education management programming inhouse.  With this effort comes a new site for abstract submissions.  We hope this new site will make the abstract submission process easier and more relevant to collecting the info PASS needs in order to facilitate session selections.

A New Process

One of the largest changes on the backend process this year is going to be seperating the speaker review from the abstract review piece of the selection process.  Essentially, this year we have two seperate teams to do each task.  This came about from the comments of previous review team members as well as the need to offload some of the work the call generates for the larger teams.  Im hopeful that this change will help bring a little more stability to the scores each team gives an abstract as well as cut some of the subjectiveness (likely only a tiny bit)

A New Session Type

I wrote previously about having 1/2 day sessions at the Summit and they are still planned.  Now you know where to bring your best and brightest content!  In case your thinking what it would be like to have your 1/2 day session recorded, Ive got great news.   Ive got a tentative compromise devised.  This year we will be distributing two seperate DVD sets, 1 for attendees of the Summit which will have every session.  Another for non attendees that will have all of the regular sessions excluding the deep dive 1/2 day sessions. 

Spotlight Sessions & Invitations

Thanks to some great feedback last year The formula that we used for spotlight selections was adjusted and looks like this: We will invite all speakers who recieved an overall evaluation of 4.5 or greater and had at least 15 attendees and 15 completed evaluations.  We will be excluding Lightning talks, Chalk Talks, and Microsoft speakers.  This year that leaves us with a whopping total of 27 people getting spotlight invites.  These speakers are truly spectacular, and they deserve the extra recognition/time for their sessions.  All abstracts submitted as spotlight will be considered not only for a spotlight slot but, will also be considered for a regular session if they dont get picked for a spotlight session.

Preconference Changes

I would be remiss to not mention this here but, some different things (changes!!) are planned for this year, as soon as I get a chance to finalize them a bit more I will write about it, hopefully in the next few days to a week. 

Abstract Limits

We have decided to change the limits on abstract submissions a bit for this year.  We will be encouraging you to submit up to 4 total : Regular, 1/2 day and Spotlight (if invited) Sessions.  In addition if you meet the qualifications you can submit up to 2 Preconference sessions.  On top of this each person can submit 1 panel (discussion type) session for consideration.  In order to do this each speaker in your panel will need to have speaker details entered so we can rate the session properly.  This in itself is a pretty good sized change so get creative and see what the selection teams think!

But when

I can hear you asking from here… “All of thats great but, when will the call for abstracts for the 2011 PASS Summit open?”  I have great news. 

The call will open this Wednesday! 4/13/2011 

look for more info coming officially from PASS

How deep can you dive?

Go deep or stay home!

After last years Summit we launched a feedback site http://feedback.sqlpass.org in hopes of gathering all of the feedback about the event in one place.  The number one thing people have asked for on that site is for there to be a track of sessions in the 400-500 level range.  The problems with the community desire for higher level sessions are twofold, one we dont normally get a huge number of session submissions that are at the 400-500 level.  Two, I’ve been told by those who are qualified to present those types of sessions that an hour and fifteen minutes (spotlight) is often not enough time.

Cramped for space

In the past our conference size has dictated the floor-plans at the conference center and we’ve been  maxed out at 14 concurrent sessions.  This year however, because of anticipated attendee growth, the logistical geniuses at PASS HQ were able to add another session room (I’m looking at you Anika and Craig).  With this new room I have options on what to do with the extra session rooms!!

Changes for the Summit 2011

This year we’ll be using the space we gained from the new room addition to have longer deep dive sessions.  The current idea is to offer these longer sessions in hopes that they will attract presenters who are qualified to present these deeper dive sessions. Currently, the plan is to have a maximum of 6 deep dive (lvl 400 or 500 only) 3 hour sessions.  Because of the way the schedule is laid out, we will run 2 of these sessions concurrently every conference day.

Rules… Yeah there’s always rules

We will accept abstracts for this new session type in the same manner as a regular abstract.  That is to say anyone can submit a half day abstract.  If you submit an abstract for a 1/2 day session it will count as one of your 4 allowed abstract submissions.  The session selection for these sessions will be handled by the regular respective abstract review teams.  Even though we are going to allow anyone to submit abstracts for these sessions, it should go without saying that if you don’t have prior experience or reputation for being able to give an extended, strong 400-500 level session it may be best to focus on a regular summit session.  What I mean by this is for these particular sessions we will be instructing the review teams to weigh the speakers perceived ability to deliver the session higher than we normally would for a regular session.

Possible Hiccups i.e. Changes

Two things could change with these sessions.

  • I am considering making the sessions 4 hours long (roughly 3 regular session slots).  If we do that the maximum number of sessions would drop to four.  I’m leaning heavily away from this but, if anyone has a strong opinion on this I’ll listen
  • Depending on the quantity and quality of the abstracts we receive, we may have less than the maximum sessions shown above (4 or 6)
  • Im still considering a single DBA 101 “Accidental DBA” type session for one of these sessions but havent been swayed that there is more interest there than there is in deep dives
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