Along with a lot of my colleagues, I went to SQLSaturday #33 in Charlotte this last weekend. Overall a really good event, especially for a first-time organizer. There is some controversy over certain events where my name got mentioned so I thought I would clear the air.
Before I get to the core controversy, let's get the details out of the way.
The Microsoft Offices in Charlotte were an excellent venue for this event. I really appreciated the Microsoft employees that helped out by letting us in and out of normally secure areas. This is definitely above and beyond on their part.
Thanks to the organizers (especially Greg and Peter) for the great hospitality they showed to the speakers.
Now for the specifics. Like most events of this type, there was a raffle at the end for some cool swag. As a speaker I got raffle tickets just like any other attendee. The raffle was clearly promoted as "must be present to win". The problem is that for various reasons, the raffle kicked off immediately after the last speaker finished in the largest room. That room was across the parking lot from all the other rooms for the event. I happened to have one of the last sessions of the day, and not in the main room. I also ran long since the audience was very interactive and there were a lot of follow-up questions. (BTW, thanks to everyone who came and stayed for my session. Sorry it cost you the chance to win too.). My name was drawn for an very nice piece of swag (iPod Touch if you insist). Since I wasn't there, I didn't win. Several folks mentioned I was still speaking and was "here" (as in at the event) just not "here in the room".
Yes, I was mad when I found out about it. I think that was handled poorly. I personally lost out as did my audience (dunno if anyone specific lost anything, but it is the idea that counts). It was a mistake.
Mistakes happen. Nobody acted maliciously. Heck, the guys running the event who made the decision are my friends and remain so. I got over my mad. We talked about this privately and we are all OK with what happened. I am not going to let a gadget get in the way of a couple of good friendships.
I think the mistake was mostly due to a lack of unity between the venue buildings Pam Shaw had a similar challenge in Tampa a few weeks ago, including a speaker who ran long on the last session (not me that time). She had a couple of teenage volunteers to act as gofers/runners. They counted heads in sessions, pointed people to last-minute room and session changes, and generally helped connect the organizers to what was actually happening. Note that this was not Pam's first SQLSaturday event. She knew but the knowledge had not been institutionalized. We (The SQL community in general and SQLSaturday organizers in particular) now know how essential gofers are to success.
I know I spent most of this post focusing on the controversy, but I wanted to clear everything up. I don't want to let a minor mistake, made in good faith, overshadow what was a tremendously good event for the community.
As for the iPod Touch, someone in the SQL community is enjoying it, so it is not a total loss. And if losing out on it is the price I pay so we can learn this, then that is what a community leader does. Consider it a gift. Besides, I really wanted a Zune 120 :)