Blog

Retrospective on 2022 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event

Last month (August 2022) we had our 1st EVER (after covid) in-person event and it’s time to talk about how it all happened. This blog post is going to talk about our original plan, what we were able to deliver, and what worked well vs. what needs improvement.

After 2 years of virtual events, our goal was to finally have an in-person event. Whenever this is going to be a 300+ attendees event or small event, we were anxious to just have an in-person event. While running virtual events was better than having no events, we missed the energy exchange that frequently happens during an in-person event.

While we were originally targeting our regular event month, we had to give up on June 2022 due to venue unavailability. We were ecstatic to hear that August is available and booked Loyola Marymount University for August 13.

Running a PASS-free in-person event

Since this was our first in-person after PASS’s demise, we had to bring new tools to replicate and enhance our event experience. Unfortunately, sqlsaturday.com in its current form only provides us with the event listing. Luckily, our 2 past virtual events allowed us to master additional tools.

Tools used during this event:

  • Attendee registration – Eventbrite.com (+ Organizer mobile app to check-in)
  • Sponsor registration – custom-built Microsoft Form to enable sponsor sign-up, listing all available sponsorship tiers on the datadriventechnologies.org website, and PayPal invoicing to collect fees
  • Speaker registration/schedule/session management – sessionize.com
  • Event listing – sqlsaturday.com
  • Event/session feedback – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
  • Event raffle – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
  • Volunteer registration – custom-built Microsoft Form with QR code
  • Email marketing – Sender.net
  • Social Media marketing – buffer.com

Event stats:

  • 14 speakers and 15 sessions (3 rooms x 5 sessions)
  • 78 attendees with 209 registered attendees
  • 6 paid sponsors (4 sponsor’s tables)

What worked great

  • Using EventBrite Organizer phone app check-in option provided us with real-time exact attendance numbers (no need to count attendee bags)
  • Having Social Media Booth generated plenty of visual content for our Instagram account
  • Running raffle without any paper and relying solely on electronic data collected by Microsoft Forms
  • Inclusion of raffle gift cards for each paid sponsorship
  • Indulging our speakers with both t-shirts and Yeti mugs
  • Communicating via 5 attendee email campaigns using Sender.net
  • Communicating with 3 speaker email campaigns using Sender.net
  • Creating session PPT template
  • Buying enough food and beverages for breakfast and lunch
  • Allocating 30-minute long breaks between sessions

Things to improve

  • Choose an event date with no local conflicts (choosing August 13 for event data was a strategic mistake as we ended up competing with DataConLA which happened on the same day and affected our attendance
  • Create a printer-friendly Sessionize schedule (apparently, attendees preferred a printed schedule instead of a Sessionize PWA app)
  • Offer 2 Eventbrite types tickets (bring your own lunch and paid lunch) and collapsing paid into free few weeks before August 13 introduced complexity and confusion
  • Hick ups with the Eventbrite Organizer phone app
  • Automate raffle management
  • Perfect sponsor raffle QR codes
  • Improve keynote attendance

You are cordially invited to attend 2022 in-person Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event!

2022 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA
 Logo by Janella Payumo and Robert Mizikovsky

You are cordially invited! 😎

We are reaching out to all people that enjoyed SQL Saturday in LA 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2021 events to let you know that the 2022 event is quickly approaching. Only 30+ days remain until the Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event on Saturday, August 13.

More information here – https://www.sqlsaturday.com/la
Follow us on social media – https://linktr.ee/sqlsatla

Our sponsors – in-progress

Event Flyer

Flyer by Nasser Mansour and Elaena Bakman

Announcing 2022 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA Sponsorship Plans

Sponsorship Plan

We appreciate you taking the time to consider sponsoring 2022 Data.SQL.Saturday in LA. We have assembled a few sponsorship plans that you can select from. Donations for this event will be used to cover the costs of running the event and the LA Data Platform SQL User Group meetings. If we have any surplus, it will go into sponsoring future events. The event is put on by Data Driven Technologies, Inc. a local 501.c.3 non-profit, and its volunteers.

Event Overview

The Data.SQL.Saturday is a single-day conference that offers data professionals the opportunity to improve their skills and learn about new products while networking with others in their field and connecting with other members of the local Database community and our sponsors.

This event is put together by a group of dedicated Los Angeles database community volunteers, local database user groups, and volunteer speakers from Los Angeles, California, other US States, and across the globe. 

Attendance

When the event was held in person, it used to bring in 300+ attendees.  In 2020 we moved to a virtual event for the first time and had 700+ registrations from all around the world, with 400+ attending the event. In 2022, we anticipate 200+ attendees.

Cost of Sponsorship

This year, sponsorship ranges from Swag Only at $0 to Platinum at $2,000.00, depending on the package you select:

 TierSwagBronzeSilverGoldPlatinum
Amount$0$350$650$1250$2000
Sponsor Logo and URL on the event website and xxxxx
Sponsor Logo and URL included in email campaignsxxxxx
Sponsors Logo included in session slidesxxxxx
Sponsor Logo included in YouTube videosxxxxx
Social Media posts Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagramxxxxx
Sponsor Rafflexx
$50 GC included
x
$75 GC included
x
$100 GC included
x
$125 GC
included
Collect Raffle Leads*x xxx
Email sent on behalf of a sponsor  xxx
Sponsor table (comes with canopy, table, 2 chairs, and electricity)
(based on availability, first come first serve) 
  xxx
Product-focused sponsor session 
(based on availability, first come first serve) 
xx
Sponsor a room (name a room)
(based on availability, first come first serve) 
  xx
Short video advertising embedded in a recorded session (if the room is recorded)   xx
Caffeine and pastriesxx
Sponsor Emailx
Speaker Appreciation dinnerx
12 months of LA Data Platform User Group sponsorshipx
Sponsorship Plan

To sponsor please follow this link to fill out the sponsorship form: https://forms.office.com/r/4VWxbgTBrQ.  An invoice will be emailed to you (generated by PayPal) and can be paid by check or credit card. All fees must be paid in advance.

Cancellation Policy

Any cancellation that is caused by us will result in a full refund. It’s really that simple – no event, no expenses, no need for sponsorship money.

Raffle Management

Raffle registration is used to opt-in attendee information with our sponsors.  Remember the raffle prize is your key to success and the better the prize the more leads you will collect. Attendees must be present to win.

We will manage the raffle and collect, clean up and de-dup the data for you and send you the leads after the event.  We will let you know who the winners of the raffle are, and you can send them the prize.  At the same time, we strongly recommend we take over prize disbursement as well, to be a one-stop-shop for an entire raffle lifecycle. Please let us know if you would like to handle the raffle prize on your own. 

Live streaming your Virtual User Group meeting without OBS Studio!

Introduction

May 18, 2022, marked the day of LA Data Platform User Group’s first attempt to augment the MS Teams environment by live-streaming our user group meeting to a LinkedIn and Twitter using Restream.IO without OBS Studio. Restream.IO Studio allows you to simply live-stream your session content within the browser.

This blog post explains how to live stream your existing MS Teams meeting using your internet browser. If you are planning to use Restream.IO with OBS Studio and need help, please check out this blog post – https://datadriventechnologies.org/2022/02/12/live-streaming-virtual-user-group-meeting/.

Problem

Since MS Teams can’t directly stream to social media, you need a “man-in-the-middle” like Restream.IO to connect between your screen & audio share and social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In Restream.IO, you would need to create destinations for your social media channels (See Fig #1) connecting to your existing social media accounts.

Fig #1

Once destinations are all working, you would need to decide how to live-stream your content – using Studio (read: internet browser) or OBS Studio.

Fig #2

In a more sophisticated streaming setup, you would be using OBS Studio which supports picture-in-picture (PIP), external sound sources, and even adding a green screen. What if you didn’t need that many options? What if you just need to stream your audio and video as simply and fast as possible?

While OBS Studio provides a great way to screen capture video and audio content, it’s feature-heavy and has a learning curve. Additionally, it still requires you to grab a Streaming Key from Restream.IO (Fig #3) and connect it to OBS Studio (Fig #4).

Fig #3
Fig #4

Solution

Introducing Restream.IO with Studio (not to confuse with OBS Studio). Restream.IO Studio allows you to simply live to stream your video and audio from within the browser. You don’t need to download anything and configure it (Fig #5).

Fig #5

Just select a few input options such as camera, and microphone, hit Enter Studio button and you are all set to start live streaming (Fig #6). Don’t worry, you can change those options later as well.

Fig #6

Now click the Share Screen button, choose an Entire Screen (this is the only way to stream both video and audio), checkbox on a Share system audio, and click Share button (see Fig #7).

Fig #7

To start your live stream, toggle visibility and click Go Live button (Fig #8). You are all set.

Fig #8

As you probably see on the right panel, you can also add bells and whistles like Overlay, Backgrounds, or even a video introduction (Video Clips), but those are all extras. If you did everything correctly, you are now live-streaming your content (Fig #9).

Fig #9

Don’t forget to hit the End Stream button to finish your live stream.

Fig #10

Summary

To conclude, what did we gain from using Restream.IO Studio? We have avoided an overhead associated with OBS Studio and went from thinking of live-streaming to actually live-streaming in just a few minutes.

A TechSmith Camtasia video editing boot camp

Introduction

Digital content is the king. Record, run video editing software, upload to a resource like YouTube or Rumble, and it will stay there forever. There are many benefits in recording and sharing knowledge via video: it can improve the speaker’s ability to deliver material, anybody can see it again and again. This blog post is going to cover a number of easy-to-follow steps to do video editing using TechSmith Camtasia.

Problem

Let’s talk about video editing. Making video content is usually split into 2 phases – pre-production (recording) and post-production (perfecting). While recording video is fairly obvious and mostly involves hitting the red record button, perfecting video is usually a time-consuming and scary process. Let’s make it easy. The following steps and screenshots will help you to get up to speed in creating video content as quickly as possible.

Solution

  • Add media artifacts

Start with downloading the mp4 from MS Teams. Now proceed with opening Camtasia and add a thumbnail, downloaded video, and intro (see Fig #1).

Fig #1 – Add Media artifacts
  • Add media artifacts to a track

Drag and drop media artifacts from the Media Bin into Track1 in the following order intro, thumbnail, and then video (Fig #2). Make sure that all 3 are stacked up one after the other, meaning that there is no space between them.

Fig #2 – Adding media to track 1
  • Edit the video to lose anything that is not important

Left double-click on the video, drag the red time tracker, and then choose Cut (Fig #3).

Fig #3 – edit recorded video
  • Remove noise

Apply noise reduction audio effect to remove any undesired noise from the recorded video by Clicking Audio Effects, choosing Noise Removal, and dragging and dropping it to the video.

Fig #4 – Remove noise
  • Make sure your video is perfect

Left double-click on the intro to bring back the triangle-shaped time tracker to the beginning, and hit the play button (Fig #5) to watch the entire video to make sure it’s all perfect.

Fig #5
  • Make it a video file (mp4)

Choose Share from a menu item above, and then click on Local File (see Fig #6). Depending on your machine, dimension, and format as well as the TechSmith version, this step might take between 30-90 minutes.

Fig #6 – Make a video file
  • Enjoy it

Create a YouTube account with a channel, upload your mp4 file, and let everyone know that it’s ready for public consumption (Fig #7). Don’t forget to make it public.

Fig #7 – YouTube video
  • Syndicate your content

While YouTube drives most of the viewers to channel, others platforms like Rumble are becoming more and more popular. Why not push your content to other platforms?

While you might think it’s not worth the time due to an effort that involves re-uploading your content, in reality, most YouTube competitors have a syncing capability built-in. Make your content available on YouTube, create an account in a competing platform, give that platform permission to access YouTube, and walla, your YouTube content will become available on the other platform as well.

Fig #8 – Content syndication

Disclaimer

This blog post is made possible by two great products Snag-It and Camtasia by the TechSmith Corporation.

Build your User Group schedule far in advance

Introduction

There is a number of factors that affect your User Group attendance: good luck, great content, meeting consistency, ease of commute, and advanced notice messaging to members.

While controlling luck is virtually impossible, everything else on that list is a fair game. Great content involves inviting popular speakers and sessions while meeting consistency is built around keeping the same day and same venue. Securing an easily accessible venue requires as a minimum a commute as possible (the best fit here is a virtual meeting) while advanced notice messaging assumes a schedule built in advance. This blog post is going to provide key points to help build your User Group schedule efficiently way ahead of the next monthly meeting.

Problem

Building a schedule is time-consuming. Reaching out to speakers is time-consuming. Reaching each speaker with a personal message is even more time-consuming. Luckily, copy-and-paste is here to help.

Solution

Build and grow your personal network on LinkedIn and Twitter

Do not be afraid to personally reach out to people that never heard of you

Learn how to deal with rejection

Make a template – have a small generic message that you can send to any speaker (see Fig #1)

Fig #1 – Templated message

Focus on quantity vs. quality – send as many messages as you possibly

Be responsive and book sessions as fast as you can (see Fig #2)

Fig #2 – Schedule fast

Make a placeholder for a speaker with no session (see Fig #3)

Fig #3 – Meeting placeholder

It helps if you have a session submission form like we have here – https://datadriventechnologies.org/2021/06/02/speakers-wanted/

Outcome

Once you are doing booking at least 12 or 24 months ahead (see Fig #4 and Fig #5), you can relax and spend more time attracting attendees by marketing your monthly event meetings

Fig #4 – 2022 LA Data Platform UG schedule
Fig #5 – 2023 LA Data Platform UG schedule

Make your User Group session and event recordings available to the public

Introduction

There is plenty of free and paid content available online already and yet tomorrow we will see even more content available. That begs the inevitable question – why bother with recording and sharing on YouTube/Rumble? The main reason is, it’s a one-time investment that continues to pay off forever. This blog post is going to dive into how to minimize the overhead of the post-production process, i.e. the most time-consuming part of making content.

Problem

Where do you find the content? How to record? How to do post-production and how to make it visible to the public?

That being said, the most important question is how do manage the overhead – how to make content consistently and efficiently?

Solution

Let’s talk about solutions.

Your User Group meetings and SQL Saturday event have speakers and sessions. All it takes is to ask permission to record. Most if not all speakers would love to be recorded as it promotes them and their content.

If you are running virtual meetings using Zoom/Teams, you already have that capability built-in. Just hit the record button once your presenter gives you the green light and hit the record button once again to stop recording. Don’t forget to download that recorded video once it’s ready.

You don’t need to be a professional Editor-in-Chief to edit video. If you have never done that before, you just need patience, tons of patience. While initially, you are not going to enjoy the steep learning curve with all new techniques and vocabulary that you might not be familiar with, on your second and third video, it will get really easy, copy-and-paste easy.

Thinking in economic terms, what is an opportunity cost here? Once you become familiar with software like TechSmith Camtasia, it will take you somewhere between 30-60 minutes to produce each video.

Fig #1 – Camtasia

Here is a short boot-camp intro into video editing using Camtasia – https://datadriventechnologies.org/2022/02/18/a-techsmith-camtasia-video-editing-bootcamp/.

Once you are done with perfecting the video (removing noise, making cuts on both ends of the video, and adding intro), you are ready to make it an mp4 movie file. Once you have that file, feel free to upload your newly minted content to YouTube where it will stay there forever. It will stay forever to promote the content, speaker, and event.

Just to give you an idea of what LA Data Platform and SQL Saturday in Los Angeles video stats are looking like.

Fig #2 – YouTube numbers

Live streaming your Virtual User Group meeting!

Introduction

January 19, 2022, marked the day of LA Data Platform User Group’s first (and also first successful) attempt to enhance the MS Teams environment by opening up our user group meeting to a broader audience. This blog post explains how to add a Facebook Live (live stream) option to your existing MS Teams set up.

Problem

While MS Teams provides a great way to run virtual meetings, it is limited in its distribution. Unfortunately, MS Teams is not designed to play well with other distribution platforms (other than itself). MS Teams allows people with a meeting hyperlink to join using either a desktop app (full experience) and/or a web browser (limited experience). Both of those options keep users locked into a Microsoft ecosystem, but what if you wanted to invite users beyond Microsoft?

The main problem is how Teams handles Real-Time Messaging Protocol (“RTMP”). RTMP is the standard protocol that allows Teams to send A/V data to the server. Unfortunately, as of now, Microsoft does not expose any server details. This is where OBS Studio and Restream.io come in to bridge this gap.

Solution

Introducing Restream.IO (freemium) and OBS Studio (free). Both tools allow our User Group to escape the MS Teams “bubble” and to live stream our session to Facebook Live (and more social media channels in the future). In nutshell, we will use OBS to stream MS Teams while using Restream to connect OBS stream to Facebook.

Restream.io – Restream allows you to broadcast live content to 30+ social media channels (free tier is limited to 2 social media channels).

You would need to visit https://restream.io/, create an account, and set up your feed destinations (social media channels). Hit Add Destination button and proceed to your selected social media channel. In our case, we added the LA Data Platform Facebook account.

Fig #1 – Setup destinations

OBS Studio – free and open-source software for video recording and live streaming. Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Download it from here – https://obsproject.com.

While the main purpose of OBS Studio is to help record content, we are going to use it to capture screen/audio and stream it in real-time to restream.io services. Essentially, we are using OBS capture and stream MS Teams window (see Fig #2).

Fig #2 – OBS Studio Screen capture

To make OBS Studio work, you would need to decide on the display capture and set up the streaming.

Under OBS Studio sources, you will find Display Capture that allows you to select the Display that is going to be captured (see Fig #3).

Fig #3 – Source setup

Click on Settings, then Stream, and choose Restream.io service from a drop-down (see Fig #4).

Fig #4 – Stream setup

Now, click on the Get Stream Key button which would lead you to the restream.io website to copy Stream Key (see Fig #5) which you would need to type/paste to a Stream Key textbox.

Fig #5 – Restream.io Stream Key

If you did everything correctly, you are all set now (see Fig #6).

Fig #6 – Restream account connected

Summary

To conclude, what did we gain from Facebook Live? Despite the fact that we didn’t gain any immediate Facebook likes/follows, our Facebook Group got much more visibility now in form of # people reached and # engagements. Here is what our User Group January 2022 session live stream looked like on Facebook (see Fig #7).

Fig #7 – Facebook Live

Disclaimer

This blog post is partially based on the following resources:

https://www.dacast.com/blog/rtmp-real-time-messaging-protocol/

https://www.onmsft.com/news/microsoft-teams-is-getting-rtmp-support-for-streaming-large-meetings-on-other-platforms