Online Calendars of Global SQLFamily events

Further to my rather sad post yesterday about SQLSaturday Edinburgh, it was clear to me that the community needs a community events calendar that is open and available to everyone to use. There is a need to facilitate community communication about events in the Microsoft Data Platform community in Europe. This Calendar is a way of facilitating and organising the busy Microsoft Data Platform events calendar around Europe.

So, the obvious thing was for me to do a model in PowerBI, so that folks can go and play with it, work out dates and locations for their events, and so on.

I have already put a Google Calendar below. However, it isn’t very interactive, so that’s when my PowerBI workbook came into play. You can download the PowerBI workbook here. When the Power BI allows people to upload workbooks like Tableau Gallery does (#SubtleHint) then I will put it up there.

Note: This Calendar does not include user groups. This refers to day events, weekend events only. I am maintaining it myself, and please email me at if your event is missing or incorrect.

Note that I am happy to include paid events, precons and paid workshops as well. Please email me at to get your event included in the Calendar.

Note: the twitterjam for Europe SQL people will be held on the first Monday of the month at 5pm. The next one will be held on 7th March at 5pm GMT. And yes, it is in the calendar!

Also, I am happy to ‘share’ the Google calendar as well as the Power BI workbook.

HTML – Please use the following address to access your calendar in any web browser.

ICAL – Please use the following address to access your calendar from other applications. You can copy and paste this into any calendar product that supports the iCal format.
Please email me at if you have any other questions.

Jen’s PASS Diary: So what happened to SQLSaturday Edinburgh?

As always, I don’t officially represent PASS on this post (or any other).

I have been working on a lot of things, including attending a PASS Board Meeting, and doing a lot on the Business Analytics Portfolio. However, the focus of attention here is my failed SQLSaturday Edinburgh event. So what happened? The outcome is as follows:

  • SQLSaturday Edinburgh is cancelled
  • Edinburgh Power BI is cancelled
  • Three precons out of four have been cancelled.
  • I lost a few thousand pounds
  • My own precon is still going on; see previous point. I am trying to stem some of the losses

This has meant:

  • Cancelling the University of Edinburgh venue
  • Cancelling precon venue rooms
  • Many disappointed attendees – 51 people in all
  • Many disappointed potential speakers, who submitted 98 submissions from every continent in the world.

Why did Edinburgh fail?

Note that I’ve successfully gained sponsorships for the three past SQLSaturday Edinburgh events, SQLRelay, I’ve sent companies to SQLBits who eventually sponsored, and I’ve helped with sponsorships for PASS BA Analytics. Despite this wealth of experience, the stars were not aligned for Edinburgh.

I didn’t get sponsorship, apart from the fantastic CozyRoc. The CozyRoc team have been wonderfully supportive in my hour of need, and they have said that this won’t stop them supporting future events in Edinburgh, or me individually. I am hugely grateful for their support and I’d like to publicly thank them here.

Why didn’t I get sponsorship? Let’s look at the landscape of events:

There are also a bunch of other European SQLSaturdays which are in the lead up to my event. In one rejection email, one would-be sponsor pointed out to me that there are four SQLSaturdays in my area before my event, and explained that they couldn’t support Edinburgh because of the concentration of events around that time.

  • Kiev – event being held in 20th May
  • Plovdiv – event being held at 28th May
  • Krasnodar –  4th June
  • Rheinland – 11th June

If you look at the list, you can see that there are 7 SQL events between 2nd May and 11th June. This doesn’t include my failed Edinburgh event, which would take the total to 8 events in 47 days. That’s a lot, by anyone’s standards.

Further, this does not include the other events which take place after 11th June – Dublin, on 18th June, and Paris, on June 25th. This means that the total goes up to ten SQL events in the space of 9 weeks, three of which are major events – SQLBits, SQLNexus and SQLDay Poland.

I have been criticised for a number of things, and I will lay them out here:

– not responding to sponsor feedback . This simply isn’t true. I negotiated and offered to cut prices whilst giving more benefits. I bent and shifted and adapted to get cashflow in – hell, any cash flow. However, even offering sponsorship at rock bottom prices wasn’t enough. The answer was no, no and no again, and the same reasons given were the ones that I couldn’t do anything about – too many SQL events concentrated geographically and temporally. This wasn’t in my control.

– I am on the PASS Board, and apparently it’s a mark of my failure as an individual that I couldn’t organise a SQLSaturday. This isn’t true. I’ve organized a ton of events, and I do a lot for the community. Note the following points:

It does show integrity that I didn’t ‘pull strings’ to make being a Board member an advantage in some way, and I am clearly lost out in many ways, including financially.

I have seen, felt, and paid for, the ‘hard edge’ of being part of the SQL Server / Data Platform community. I have war wounds. This makes me a better Board member, I think, because I can speak for the ‘little guy’ and I am struggling and suffering due to this issue, and I think it can help me to empathise. I think I won votes because I ran successful events, partly. however, I think that the fact I have been there when an event fails, means that I can work to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

– I’ve been told that I shouldn’t have organised my event temporally and geographically near the behemoth SQLBits event. Liverpool is about 200 miles away from Edinburgh, give or take. The events were six weeks apart.  I did not know the dates of SQLBits until the last moment, and I acted without being given the data. I had been given reassurances that the SQLBits dates wouldn’t impact PASS BA; however, it then turned out that they are in the same week. Be very clear; If I had known the SQLBits dates, I would have postponed Edinburgh. Full stop. I wasn’t told, so I didn’t know. The reasons for the communication failure are still a mystery to me, but I do wish that someone had said something. They would have helped me a lot in many ways by speaking/emailing me to forewarn me. I would have postponed Edinburgh so that it took place later year. Happy everyone.

To summarise, the main reason for the failure of Edinburgh was the lack of sponsorship; one repeated message given to me that there are simply too many SQL / Data events and the growth of events is outpacing sponsors’ ability to keep up and they are having to make difficult choices.

I would hate it if another volunteer went through this again in the future, and I’d like to think strategically to prevent it from happening to anyone else. So what’s the call to action?

  • If you consider yourself a European Data Platform technical leader, please get in touch. I am working with Microsoft to set up a Yammer group that I will invite you to. We can swap ideas, event dates, and basically facilitate communication.My email is jen dot stirrup at datarelish dot com. I am findable! Find me.
  • I’d like to set up a European Twitter chat on the first Monday of every month. This will take place at 5pm UK time, 6pm CET. The hashtag will be #EUSQL. Let’s talk about anything and everything European and SQL. I will be ‘chair’ but I will need volunteer ‘chairs’ too. If this is you, get in touch.
  • I will set up a European Linked In Group for European SQL leaders and participants. I will release details in due course. I’d like help with this; if this is you, please email me.

I want to thank the following people for offering to help, in no order:

Brent Ozar

Andrew Brust

Mike Hillwig

Neil Hambly

Stephanie Locke

Jonathan and Annette Allen

Satya Janyanty

Niko Neugebauer

PASS team – Sonya, Vicki, Angie, Teresa

PASS Board – everyone 🙂  Adam, Tom, Denise, Wendy, Tim, Craig, Argenis, Ryan, Allen

my family – Andrew S (my brother)

Microsoft – particularly Jen M and Jonathan W

Let’s work together so that nobody else is in this same situation. Please help me – to help YOU – avoid this situation.

[ Update: original comment was removed. I believed that someone was having a go at me. I will just leave that here.]



















Jen’s Diary, figuring it out this week

He started keeping a journal – had been, in fact, secretly doing so for some time: the furtive act of a deranged person (Philip Dick, Valis).
What  have I been up to this week? There’s lots of activity been happening at Jen Towers, as usual. That, plus I have a stinking, miserable cold so please feel free to send me a remote hug! I’m writing this in my dressing gown and drinking Lemsip.
As before, I don’t officially speak for PASS but I can see that people were reading the last installment, so I thought I’d write another. So it’s your fault really!
This Friday 22nd August, I will be doing a twitter ‘Ask Jen’ online session again, which is specifically aimed at European time zones and for the good SQL Server SQLFamily in Cape Town, Dubai and so on, for example. Check out the time zone here.  I got some good questions last time, and I thought I’d repeat the exercise. I cannot guarantee that I will be able to answer everything but I will try.

 Those of you who have read your Connector this week will have seen Adam Jorgensen’s discussion about the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget. Ever since I joined the Board last January, we have all been doing a lot of work on getting the budget right. My specific area is the Virtual Chapters, and I have spent a lot of time discussing it with my ever-patient HQ Counterpart (Thank you Lana!). The focus was on growth, and I’m really excited about the Virtual Chapters. For the purposes of transparency, you can see the actual budget for the Virtual Chapters here on page 13.   The VC focus was very much on growth; with the news recently that we gave over 21,000 hours of training material last year to the community – for free – I hope that this helps to see how worthwhile the Virtual Chapters are to SQLfamily around the world. If you haven’t signed up for one, why not join today? now, for the VCs, I am starting to think about how we can make the process easier for next time, and taking away points to help us to learn. I’m very grateful to the Finance team, Adam and the others who took time to explain the budgeting process.
From the Board perspective, I’ve spent a few hours on the phone this week but I’m not complaining. The PASS HQ and Board members and other volunteers always leave me with that feeling of ‘oh man, I wish I’d thought of that!’ They are truly a bunch of very smart people and I learn something every day. In fact, I’d go right into Imposter Syndrome only I’m not sure I’m smart enough for that.
What have we talked about for a few hours, I hear you ask? Well, it wasn’t one single call, fortunately! I had meetings to talk about exciting things for Summit and PASS BA Conference. I’m sorry for the teaser but everyone works really hard, so I won’t steal anyone’s thunder since it wouldn’t be fair. All I’ll just say that you need to keep reading your Connector emails for news.


I have had another week of trying to wrap my head around activities in 28 Virtual Chapters. This week, my focus has been on trying to see what I can do to help Virtual Chapters that need new volunteers since they are growing so fast. If anyone is interested in being part of the Virtual Chapter story, please do get in touch. Why volunteer for the VCs? Well, it means that you reach people globally by offering community education. I love holding my user groups since I love in-person events. However, virtual events mean that you help that person at their desk, working away, who isn’t able for any reason to attend virtual events. For example, I’m a mom, and I find it really hard to attend user groups unless I book a babysitter well in advance (and I do). However, I can be part of the virtual chapters at any point because I don’t need to leave my house. It is huge to be able to have hundreds of people online, participating in learning. I love that buzz!


I’ve also been working with the team, evaluating some new ideas for a couple of Virtual Chapters. I love people’s ideas and people in the community are so smart. If you have any ideas, please do get in touch. We have a very informal process. Firstly, we have to make sure that the new idea isn’t close to any existing, established Virtual Chapters. This would mean splitting the audience, and there is no need to do that. We don’t tend to split out technologies very much, but we did split out the Excel BI Virtual Chapter based on a need for Excel information. This particular VC isn’t aimed at people who have SQL Server backgrounds. Instead, it is aimed at people who use Excel in work every day, regardless of the data source. 

More locally, I’m working with community legend Neil Hambly on next week’s London PASS Chapter user group. We are trying out a new idea of having a ‘theme’, so we are having a Special Edition on Performance. Neil is a seasoned presenter, and he will be presenting on waits. After that, we will have Ash presenting on demystifying flash memory for the SQL Server DBA. I think that both sessions will help people who care about SQL Server performance, and I’ve always wanted to know more about the using flash as opposed to other technologies. It promises to be a good one.


Enjoy your day J