I remember when I got out of the academia scene(physics) and started working for the federal government. My position was one that required me to be an active member of the military so part of the gig was that you had 2 weeks worth of training that you had to complete each year. My first year I picked out a conference I had found called DevConnections in Orlando, FL. and figured it would be kind of like a boot camp type of training event.

My first day consisted of signups for the event prior to the pre-conference. Standing in line a young guy from Israel asked me what sessions I was going to. So we started talking and got into what each of our work lives was like and what it was like in Israel compared to the USA. So here I was talking with someone halfway around the world and it was like we worked in the same office. Hooked!

The next day was Microsoft day and since I was in charge of Microsoft development and database architecture I definitely wanted to join. My main goal was to figure out what path I needed to get on in order to get my DoD group on the beta test groups for Visual Studio and SQL Server. So I attended a session with Scott Guthrie ( Blog | Twitter ) at which Matt Nunn ( Blog ) happened to be there….I remember mainly to razz Scott about various things. Anyhow, end of the session I ask a question about dual authentication …. I ask if they are looking into doing anything with it…how I am implementing it. Scott asks if I would like to talk after the session. WTF! Sure. After the session we are talking and I ask about the Beta test groups..he asks Matt to come over…tells me to give Matt my email addy…Matt types it into his Blackberry…10 minutes later I get an email on my Blackberry telling me we’re in on the beta and here’s your information..Welcome aboard! Now that is GTD the Microsoft way. Hooked again!

Later in the week I actually found a slot that I didn’t really want to attend anything and decided to go around the vendor booths. Microsoft had an area set up with one guy at it but no one was attending. So I walked up and asked whom he was and what he was supposed to be generating. He went on to say that this was an ETL tool called SSIS and it was replacing DTS and how it was going to revolutionize what we could do in terms of ETL with SQL Server. He showed me a couple of demos of loading a bazillion rows of data in parallel. I was excited because I had all kinds of slow ass routines that could be sped up with this stuff. Awesomesauce! we exchanged business cards and I thanked him for spending over an hour with me showing me the ins and outs. That friendly gentleman was Donald Farmer ( Blog | Twitter ). To which I am actually looking down at a very old,crusty Microsoft business card of his that I keep to this day. Hooked again!

The point is that my boss paid probably over $5000.00(or more) total to send me to an event that made a lasting impression on me and had some instant ROI involved. SQL Saturdays are a chance for all the people whom don’t necessarily have those kinds of budget to still get a chance to learn and interact with industry experts which they might not otherwise meet. For instance, at SQL Saturday #53 in Kansas City ..Steve Jones is going to be in attendance…you know he only runs like the largest freaking website, http://www.sqlservercentral.com ,devoted to SQL Server. Kathi Kellenberger , Microsoft DBA supergal, is attending SQL Saturday #50 in East Iowa. These are all people that give up their time, just like me, to not only just teach you how to do something but to inspire you with what the technology can do for you.

So check out the SQL Saturday website, http://www.sqlsaturday.com , and if one is in your area take some time out of a Saturday to go out and support the effort! Heck, who knows maybe we can get Donald, a few years olders and wiser than when I met him,  to come down to one of these and present sometime 😉

Cheers!
AJ