In two weeks the SQL Server community will come together for a unique training event, 24 Hours of PASS.  This event is put on by the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) and features 24 one-hour training sessions.   And best of all, these sessions are completely free.

I’m a huge advocate of 24 Hours of PASS.  I have attended all 24 sessions of the past 4 events, and I’m doing the same this year.  And this year I get to host a session, which is very exciting!  I’ll talk more about the session I’m hosting in a future blog post.

Since this year’s 24 Hours of PASS event returns to the format where all 24 sessions are back-to-back, it takes some stamina to attend every session.  But it is worth it.  Think of it this way – you have a chance to get more training in one day than most people in your profession get all year.  If you can’t attend all 24 sessions (and few can) choose your must-see sessions.  The rest will be available for replay later on.

24 Hours of PASS starts the evening of March 20th if you are in North America.  Sessions are divided into several tracks, which provide something for everyone.  Those tracks include:

  • Application Development
  • Big Data
  • Business Intelligence
  • Database Administration
  • Performance
  • PowerShell
  • Professional Development
  • SQL Azure
  • Virtualization

New this year is the feature that 24 Hours of PASS will be translated in 15 languages so that attendees the world round can enjoy the show.  As a side note, PASS as an organization is working hard on extending the reach of their world-class training around the world, and things just like this will be what gets them there.  PASS is doing something right, and we should commend them for that.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize 24 Hours of PASS attendance:

  1. Register now, and block off the time on your calendar before meetings come in.
  2. Establish with your boss that you’ll be doing training during this time.  Gain bonus points with your boss by asking them which topics would benefit the company the most.
  3. Use Twitter to follow what people are saying about 24 Hours of PASS.  We’ll use the hashtag #24hop to flag tweets about the event, so you can add a column in your Twitter-tool-of-choice (like TweetDeck or HootSuite) to follow the fun.  Following the hashtag will also get you gems of knowledge you might otherwise have missed, and in past years there have even been some prizes handed out by sponsors like Microsoft.  Twitter is where the real fun is.
  4. Don’t bother trying to take notes.  Instead, set up a trial run of Snagit from Techsmith.  This application captures images, and with the proper settings you can capture every single slide from 24 Hours of PASS.  If you’ve never used Snagit, try the 30 day trial so you can capture the slides from 24 Hours of PASS.
How to set Snagit to capture all slides in a presentation:

  • Change your Capture Profile to Image
  • In the Profile Settings (near the bottom of the Snagit window) click the stopwatch icon.  This will open the Timer Setup window.
  • Choose the Capture Timer tab, and then check the Enable timer-activated capture checkbox.  Select the Discard identical captures checkbox, and then change the Frequency to 3 seconds.

Note: This 3 second frequency is usually enough to capture every slide as well as what the presenter shows during demos.  Since you don’t want to fill up your hard drive with a picture of the same slides over and over again, the Discard identical captures will keep you from capturing the same slide twice.

So take some time to gain the edge you’ve been wanting and join me for 24 Hours of PASS.  Register by visiting the PASS website.  You’ll be glad you did, or your money back. 😉