Monday, September 17, 2007

Code Camp Sessions

My first code camp presentation was South Florida Code Camp II in Feb. 2006 in Miami. It was a couple firsts - first time to present, first time in Miami. All in all it was a great experience and the topic was "It's all about the data - building a Data Warehouse using SQL Server 2005". Much to my surprise, there were 65 attendees. Any doubt I had as to the reach of this topic was immediately put to rest as my nerves began to over-synapse standing in front of that crowd. I took the same session and modified it with different variants for the Tampa, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville code camps of 2006. Attendance at each was quite decent and strong in proportion to the total code camp attendees and other sessions. At one code camp, I had 20% of the attendees in my session.

One of the general rules of code camps is to come up with new sessions each year. Due to some time constraints, I was forced to slightly modify and present an updated verison of "It's all about the Data" at South Florida Code Camp III in February 2007. I expected to see a couple of the same people, but was thinking the topic is getting tired. Much to my surprise, there were over 85 people in the room, people lined up against the walls, sitting on the floor, and quite a few admitted to having attended the same session in 2006. Considering total attendance at the event was about 400, I pulled in close to 25% of the people for that one session. The presentation was significantly modified for Orlando Code Camp to good success. A different modified version was used for Tampa again with mixed success, about the same amount of people in 2007 as 2006.

One of the concerns I have is about satiation. The topic of data warehousing is so broad that it's impossible to cover any substantial part in the typical 60-70 minute presentation. Thus I've had to choose to cover the basics such as the definition of a data warehouse, what kind of tables are used, simple ETL jobs, combined with some kind of code demonstration, which has ranged from advanced ETL to a homegrown frequent flyer EDW I created just for this purpose. Back to satiation - I don't want to talk about the same topic so many times that people have already heard the talk, but at the same time I don't want to deprive those who are attending the events for the first time the opportunity to learn it. For Jacksonville 2007, I decided to decouple from the data warehouse topic and talk more about the SSIS Tool and what it can be used for...this is a direct modification of a presentation I gave in September 2006 to the Tampa SQL User group. Quite frankly, I was disappointed with the overall assessment of the presentation from attendees (about 7/10 in the ranking) and will be looking to tweak the presentation further for the 2008 season.

In short - if there is anything you liked in my presentations and something you didn't like, please leave a comment and let me know. My session in Tallahassee will be a hybrid of the two sessions - a deep dive into SSIS with an emphasis on Data warehousing. I hope to use the results from there and the two sessions I will give at Orlando SQL Saturday in November to develop a unified session for all code camps during next years season.

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