PASS Summit 2009: $500 Free?!?

That’s right, a free $500…well sort of. Today is the LAST DAY to register for the Summit and save $400 off the regular conference rate. In addition provide the registration code of: 24HR3D and you’ll get an additional #100 off! So print out your justification sheet, march into your boss’ office and get them to send you to PASS Summit!

When you’re done registering make sure to head over to the official PASS forum and coordinate with others who are also headed to Seattle that week!

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Upcoming Talks:Orlando SSUG and SQL Saturday #21

It’s going to be a fun month! Next week I’ll be speaking at the Orlando SQL Server User Group on Policy Based Management 101. I also got confirmation that not only was my PBM presentation accepted for SQL Saturday #21 on October 17th but I’ll also be doing a MINI session on SQL & Twitter:A Perfect UNION !

I’m REALLY psyched about SQL Saturday as there are going to be some awesome presenters there such as Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter), Ken Simmons (Blog | Twitter), Joe Webb (Blog | Twitter), Brian Knight (Blog | Twitter), Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter), Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter), Buck Woody (Blog | Twitter), Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter), Chad Miller (Blog | Twitter) and many more! The speaker lineup looks like a veritable PASS Summit East Coast edition. If you can’t make it to the Summit this year (and I highly encourage you to do so if you can) then definitely try to make it to SQL Saturday #21!

And as if the lineup of talks at the SQL Saturday event wasn’t enough to blow your mind, the week leading up to it there is a week of day-long training seminars! Again, this looks like a rock star line up featuring Andy Warren, Brian Knight, Kevin Kline, Andy Leonard and Buck Woody. Each session is $150 and WELL worth the investment.

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PASS Summit Hotel/Travel Forum

Are you going to the SQL PASS Summit? Would you like to save some money on hotel by finding someone to split a room with? Want to share insider information on local spots you can dine at on the cheap? Well I hinted on Twitter recently that I was working on something for PASS with Jeremiah Peschka (Blog | Twitter) and thankfully we finally have it done: PASS Summit Forum

This forum has been setup so attendees can share information on lodging arrangements using the official hotels (and room blocks) for PASS Summit. Of note is that I said the official room blocks and hotels because a lot of people have done a lot of hard work to get the best rates possible for room blocks. We are looking to fill these blocks as much as possible so that in the future these hotels not only welcome us back with open arms but we can negotiate a better rate in the future (win-win y’all!).

In addition to having a single place to coordinate lodging you can also coordinate things like rides to/from the airport. You might be able to save some nice change by getting a limo van to pick up a group of folks at a hotel rather than everyone scurrying one by one. Also you can coordinate things like photowalk tours and much more! So make sure you go check it out!

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SQL University: A Primer for SQL Server Beginners

graduate Recently I was thinking about my experiences with all of the SQL Server learning events and while they have all been absolutely awesome I realized one thing: they’re that awesome for me because I know what’s going on. By that I mean I’ve been around SQL Server for awhile now so when I attend the sessions I already have a basic understanding of everything that is being discussed. Granted I always learn something new from these sessions but what about the first timers and accidental DBA’s that have no idea where to start? The one place I noticed this trend the most was at SQL Saturday. While there are individual sessions that are aimed at beginner level I haven’t seen any tracks or actual dedicated sessions to starting SQL Server from scratch. For instance what are the basic tools of the trade? What’s SQL Server Management Studio? Who are the go to people for help?

Given this fact I would like to propose that organizers of SQL Saturday events consider putting in a dedicated track for Entry Level SQL folks. My suggestion is to call it SQL University but that’s just my take. My hometown user group, the Tampa SQL Server User Group will be organizing a SQL Saturday event in the coming months and I hope to get this program implemented in there. My hope is that individuals who are new to SQL Server, or would like to get into it, have a dedicated track in which they can feel comfortable going to without expectation of certain knowledge. In the meantime I will be doing a series of blog posts entitled SQL University which will cover the world of SQL Server from the ground up. In these posts I’ll cover basics such as tools to use, basic dba tasks etc. But that’s not all, I’d like to extend the help of my fellow bloggers on this project. If you’d like to become a SQL University professor hit me up at jorge@sqlchicken.com. I’ll need professors in the different aspects such as administration, development and business intelligence. For this first semester of SQL-U I’d like to keep the classes at the 100-level. We’ll see how the project develops from there.

So, friends, what are your thoughts? Would you like to see something like this implemented? Do you think it will help raise awareness of organizations like PASS and bring in more attendees to our events? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.

Update: WOW the response for this project has been really great! I now have a small pool of professors that will be helping out with this first semester. Due to this I’m closing the call for bloggers at this time. A big thank you to them (I’ll announce them soon) and a big thank you for all those willing to help out!

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24 Hours of SQL PASS – Review

So the inaugural event for 24 Hours of SQL PASS has come and gone. In its wake its left hundreds of eager minds reeling from absolutely amazing content overload, bleary and blood-shot eyes around the globe and one worn-down rock star.

First off the staff at PASS and all of the presenters deserve a standing ovation for the amazing job they did putting this event together. From marketing the event across multiple platforms (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Summit site) as well as adding a fun bonus add-on with having Tom LaRock (Blog), aka the SQLRockstar, do a full 24 hour co-broadcast via Ustream. While I wasn’t able to have the insanity fortitude of Tom and brave all 24 hours (did anyone else actually accomplish this insane feat?) I did manage to catch most of the ones that were of most interest to me. I’ll recap in order of sessions attended.

Hour 1 (8:00 PM EST) – 10 Big Ideas in Database Design by Louis Davidson (Blog|Twitter) and Paul Nielsen (Blog | Twitter)

I won’t lie, I pretty much missed the entirety of this session trying to get my desktop working so I could bring up the Live Meeting. The only thing I had working was the laptop running Tom’s Ustream feed and chat. Luckily this setup allowed me to listen to the session so I was in and out as far as paying attention while I tried to troubleshoot my desktop woes. It’s Dr. SQL and Paul Nielsen, can’t go wrong with these guys and from what I caught there was a lot of good information that people should pay attention to when developing. When this session becomes available on demand I’ll definitely be watching it.

Hour 2 (9:00 PM EST)Using PowerShell to Get the Most Out of SQL Server by Allen White (Blog)

Powershell sessions always leave me feeling like less of a man for not knowing and using Powershell yet. TMI? Anywho, Allen did a great job showing some cool tips and tricks in showing how you can access and control different aspects of SQL Server via Powershell.

Hour 3 (10:00 PM EST) – Team Management Fundamentals by Kevin Kline ( Blog | Twitter )

This was one of my favorite sessions that I attended. Kevin’s topic was about how to effectively manage an IT team. Some of the stuff he mentioned is pretty universal but there are caveats when dealing with tech folks that he covered and covered well. Grab his slide deck and check it out, excellent presenter on a great topic. It’s funny because today Brent Ozar ( Blog | Twitter ) wrote up an article about management as well.

At this point I bowed out for the evening so I could grab some shut eye and get up early for Gail Shaw’s ( Blog ) Effective Indexing presentation at 6 am. Alas, I missed that one but got to the office early to catch the next one. I WILL be watching Gail’s presentation on demand when its available as effective indexing is something every DBA and developer needs to take the time and fully understand.

Hour 12 (7:00 am EST) – Reporting Services Inside and Out: The Things You Should Know by Simon Sabin (Blog|Twitter)

Reporting Services is one of those pieces of SQL Server that you look at it and think “damn I could do soooo many cool things with it”. You attend the webcasts, read the books, and if you’re anything like me you end up too busy to get to that awesome idea you had. Simon did a bang up job walking through SSRS and showing some cool tips and tricks with it. I especially liked the part where he created a report that dynamically changed pictures of either a check mark or an X depending on the result of the query on the column. I’ll definitely be re-watching that later on to try that out. Funny part of this session came when Simon had to excuse himself to take a call as he and his wife are expecting their baby to be born any day now. God speed Simon and hope your bundle of joy comes soon and healthy!

Hour 13 (8:00 am EST) – Query Performance Tuning 101 by Grant Fritchey (Blog|Twitter)

This was one of the most heavily attended sessions (about 450 people!) and for good reason, Grant is a fantastic presenter and his knowledge on the subject of performance tuning is second to none. I attended a session of Grant’s a couple of weeks ago and I got something new out of that. Same thing happened with this session. Grant’s book, SQL Server Query Performance Tuning Distilled, is on my list of must-buy books and if you have any interest in development or performance tuning it should be on yours as well. If you ever get a chance to attend any session by Grant I HIGHLY encourage you to do so. After that hour you’ll come away feeling like you want to re-write every bit of code within your grasp (and in some shops that probably wouldn’t be a bad idea!).

<insert a few hours of me doing my actual job here>

Hour 17 (12:00 pm EST) – Building a Better Blow by Steve Jones (Blog|Twitter)

Maybe its because I absolutely love Steve as a presenter (make sure to catch his weekly podcast, The Voice of the DBA), maybe its because I’ve taken up blogging in the last few months, whatever it was I have to say this one of my favorite sessions overall. Steve basically went over reasons why starting and maintaining a blog can be beneficial for you both personally and professionally. He also covered a topic of great importance in this realm which was basically DO NOT STEAL OTHER PEOPLE’S CONTENT!!! Seriously, it happens more than you think and if you get caught you just look really, really bad. Other highlights of this presentation were magically seeing my own profile come up in his slide deck as an example of a basic profile (thanks again Steve!) as well as watching Tom make Steve laugh on the air since apparently Steve had Tom’s broadcast up on another monitor.

<Insert a few more hours of meetings and doing work. Yeah, I know, you’re shocked>

Hour 24 (7:00 pm EST) – Embed Reporting Services into Your Applications by Jessica Moss (Blog|Twitter)

As I mentioned before Reporting Services is one of the those really cool features I wish I took more advantage of. Jessica is the SQL community’s resident expert on the topic and she does a great job of walking through the product and clearly explaining everything. This was a pretty cool session in which she showed the differences between the types of Reporting Services reports you can use and create. For instance did you know that in addition to .rdl files there are .rdlc files that are client side reports? Well up until last week I didn’t know that!

Overall Thoughts

Overall I thought this was a fantastic event and I can’t thank PASS and the presenters enough. There were some glitches in the links for the Live Meeting links but thanks to the awesome community that problem was quickly handled via Twitter, chat rooms and blog posts. These events are mind-blowingly awesome in that you ALWAYS walk away with some new piece of knowledge and best of all…IT WAS FREE! The other thing about an event like this is that this is just a taste of what the annual PASS Summit can offer you. At the Summit not only do you get all of this mind-blowing content but you get to interact with presenters, you’re surrounded by the greatest experts from all over world, and you get to expand your social network thanks to all skills you got from the networking sessions AT the conference. So what are you waiting for? Print out your justification list, present it to your boss and get your rear to the PASS Summit. Make sure to register by September 15th to take advantage of the discounted pricing. After the 15th the price goes up $400.

2009 PASS Summit
2009 PASS Summit
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Policy Based Management: Against All Databases Condition

Recently after one of my presentations a Twitter-buddy of mine, Argenis Fernandez ( Blog | Twitter ), showed me something interesting. By default when you create a new policy the against targets default says ‘Every Database’ (see screenshot below).

all-databases1

Well this is a tad misleading as it apparently means “every” in the sense that it will apply this policy against every USER database. This means if you want to ensure autoshrink is not enabled on your system database (master, msdb, model, tempdb), for example, applying this policy with this default target setting won’t work. So how do we create a new condition/target that allows us to run a policy against both user AND system databases? We’re going to create a new custom condition that allows us to look at both types of targets.

First click on the down arrow next to Every and go down to the bottom of the list and select ‘New condition…’

new_condition1

First you want to give this condition a new name. For this demo we’ll call it ‘Every database – User and System’. The next step is choosing the Facet as well as the property we want to look at. For this particular condition we want to use the ‘Database’ facet (which is the default facet selected). Next click on the box under Field and click the down arrow to view all of the properties available under that facet.

new_condition3

The field we want to select for this is the @IsSystemObject property. Once you select it, make sure your Operator value is set to ‘=’, then click on the field under Value. Once again, when you click on the field and click on the arrow you are given pre-set options. For this value select ‘True’.

new_condition4

Now that you’ve selected your first clause that states to apply to system object, we will create a second clause that applies to user objects as well. To start click on the next line where it says ‘Click here to add a clause’. When you click on it you’ll notice you get a new row to be able to create a new expression. For the first column (AndOr) we want to select ‘OR’. This is important because if you select AND in this instance, you’ll never return a valid entry since an object is either a system object OR a user object, never both. Next select the @IsSystemObject again from Field value and finally set the value to FALSE. Your Expression should now look like this:

new_condition5

Click OK and you should now see your new ‘Every database – User and System’ in the Against Targets box. Click OK to close your policy. To test it apply your policy against your database via your Central Management Server (CMS). To do that drill down to your server, right-click the database click ‘Evaluate Policies…’

new_condition6

From the Evaluate Policies box click on the ellipses box to select your Source. Your source is where your policies are located. With PBM you can either select individual policies (XML file) or you can select a SQL 2008 Server that has the policy you want. In my case I am selecting a server that contains the policies so all of the policies on that server will appear in my list. Select the policy we modified with the new target.

new_condition7

To verify we’re using the right target click on the policy name (in this case ‘Database Auto Shrink’). This will open the policy itself and you can verify that the correct target is in place. You should see your ‘Every database – User and System’ in the Targets window. Click Close to close the policy. With your policy checked click on the Evaluate button to proceed. The policy will then run and show you your results. In the target details box you should see your policy has run against all your databases, both user and system.

user-and-system-databases

There is also a way to create this through a script. I created this particular via the SSMS gui but if you want to export it you can let SSMS create the T-SQL Script for you and share the code. To do this right-click on the condition in SSMS, Script Condition as, CREATE TO. To have it go directly to creating the .SQL script file for you select ‘File…’ otherwise lets select the ‘New Query Editor Window’ so we can see our result.

export-condition

For this particular policy you should see something similar to this be output to SSMS:

And that’s it! You now have your T-SQL Code to create your new condition on other SQL 2008 Servers. Note of caution, however, be careful about how you use this as messing with system databases can be disasterous if you’re not careful.

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Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 (RTM)

Earlier I had blogged about the toolkit being available for Windows 7 RC but now Microsoft has officially released the RTM version of the tools. Big thanks to my co-worker Nick Piccone ( Twitter ) for bringing this to my attention. The new tools are available at the Microsoft site at the link below:

https://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=7d2f6ad7-656b-4313-a005-4e344e43997d

Overview

Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 enables IT administrators to manage roles and features that are installed on remote computers that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 (and, for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003) from a remote computer that is running Windows 7. It includes support for remote management of computers that are running either the Server Core or full installation options of Windows Server 2008 R2, and for some roles and features, Windows Server 2008. Some roles and features on Windows Server 2003 can be managed remotely by using Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7, although the Server Core installation option is not available with the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

This feature is comparable in functionality to the Windows Server 2003 Administrative Tools Pack and Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1).

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Database Mirroring Freak Show – SQL Quiz from Chris Shaw

Chris Shaw ( Blog | Twitter ) started another great web chainpost. He tagged Brent Ozar, Brent tagged Thomas LaRock and Tom tagged me. This particular quiz is a two-part question and here are my responses. Excuse my lack of wit and charm. It’s late, my caffeine supply is running low and my cat is eyeballing me in a most peculiar fashion.

Do you feel that you have a reliable SAN solution? If so, what’s the secret?

It’s hard for me to answer this one given that just a few weeks ago our data center (SAN included) came crashing down hard. Now given that the problem was a faulty generator test and not the SAN itself that was the problem I can’t really place blame there. Honestly I can’t say anything really bad about our SAN. Tons of disk space, tons of cache, it does what its supposed to do. We’re also in the middle of finding a replacement for a SAN administrator so what SAN solutions we have in place now could radically change in the coming months. As far as secrets go I’d say you just need to make sure you have an open line of communication with your SAN administrator. They have no idea what’s going on in your world and you have no idea what’s going in theirs. Clear communication of needs need to be there as a SAN admin worth his salt is going to know what they need to do on their end to make sure you get the best performance on your end (i.e. proper RAID levels for your LUNs depending on needs, I/O throughput, etc.).

Explain Database Mirroring in layman’s terms

Everyone else seems to be giving off-the-wall answers to this so I’ll give it a go as well. Not going to lie, took me a good portion of my drive to Melbourne last week to finally come up with an example.

Think of clustering as a conjoined twin. You’re talking to the same body. Both heads can hear the conversation but ultimately the two are stuck together because they have to share the same base trunk. Now if you were to punch one twin in the face and knock him out you’d still be able to talk to the other head but you’re still lugging around that base. Now, imagine a set of regular twins (non-conjoined). This is your database mirroring in that you have two separate entities. You knock one out but the other is still chugging along just fine. Only difference being that the location of the second one doesn’t really matter because he doesn’t have a shared trunk to deal with. I’m sorry if that explanation sucks, if you’re bored check out the whitepaper written by someone who doesn’t have a fascination for using genetic defects to compare feature sets. Ok time for me to tag a couple of unwilling victims fellow bloggers:

Kendal Van Dyke

Jack Corbett

K. Brian Kelley

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SQL Saturday #16 – Recap

Last Saturday was the SQL Saturday event at Devry University in Miramar, Florida. First off I have to say it was a great event with over 400 attendees! It was also my very first SQL Saturday speaking event. The speaker evaluations haven’t come back yet but I have a feeling I’ll definitely should have some dings as my presentation started off well but towards the end the presentation Gods reared their ugly heads and it ended on a not-so-great note with my demo not going so well. The good news is that one attendee, Argenis Fernandez ( Twitter ), gave me some good feedback as well as told me that he got some good ideas from the presentation and was excited to go back to work and implement Policy Based Management in his environment. Honestly that kind of response makes the effort all worthwhile.

From my session I went to check out Kendal Van Dyke’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Configuring SQL Access for the Web Developer/Admin. Kendal and I interact pretty frequently on Twitter so I was glad to get a chance to finally meet him as well attend his sessions. This was a good intro level talk on how to configure web application authentication methods in both classic ASP and ASP.NET. Some nice tricks come out of this session including how to properly add a user to the IIS_WPG group (hint: the proper way ISN’T to just add them to the group in computer management!). I’m no developer but this was really useful to me, especially as a DBA tasked with implementing Sharepoint in to our environment. I say this because Sharepoint has its share of permission issues especially if you run the app pools or web apps under a different account such as a custom AD account.

My next session was Andy Warren’s ( Blog | Twitter | LinkedIN ) session on Social and Not so Social Networking for the DBA. I’ve attended other sessions with Andy and they’ve all been great. This one was no exception. Andy is an excellent presenter and makes it look so easy. One thing that was great about this, for me, is that this is the first weekend was the first time I’ve gotten a chance to really meet and talk to Andy. It was funny because at the speaker dinner he asked “Hey, aren’t you that SQLChicken guy?” which made me laugh. I guess my self-branding is working! Anyhow, this session was really interesting as it was more of an open discussion with the group rather than a straight forward presentation. Andy brings up important things to think about in terms of networking such as don’t start building your network only when you need something (aka job search). Networking is something that can benefit you far beyond simple job searches and opportunities. In the session some of us shared how simply being connected on social networks like Twitter have actually helped improve ourselves in our current jobs. If you ever get a chance to attend this session I highly recommend you do. In fact, if you’re attending the PASS Summit in Seattle in November, Don Gabor will be holding a Pre-Conference session called Networking to Build Business Contacts. Andy highly recommends anyone attending the summit to check this session out as it will help you not only build your network professionally but help you network in general at events like PASS and SQL Saturday.

At lunch I got to sit down and have lunch with Andy Warren, Kendal Van Dyke and a few other attendees. I only mention this in the blog because I we got a chance to talk with some people who ranged from first-timers to the SQL world as well as others who’ve been doing it for awhile. Also it was interesting to get feedback on little things like how sometimes the session descriptions were a little too vague so it made it difficult to decide if the topic or level was the right one to attend. Based on this I know I’ll be tweaking my abstracts for future events. The other cool thing was getting a chance to sit and pick Andy’s brain a bit about the direction of PASS. Personally I’m excited to see what PASS has in store to continue bringing the community together. So far its been fantastic to be a part of it.

Next up was another session with Kendal with topic being Transactional Replication: Beyond the Basics.  Honestly I’m currently not using transaction replication in my shop but after attending this session I feel like I gleaned enough knowledge to be able to tackle that task if it were asked of me. Great overview of different topologies that were clearly and easily explained, as well as going over some possible pitfalls you might encounter. Very interesting topic and presented very well. Kendal will actually be doing this presentation this year at PASS (first time presenter, congrats to him!) so again if you’ll be at PASS Summit this year I suggest you check this session out.

After that I went over to Jeffrey Garbus’ ( Blog ) session on Indexing for Join Optimization which drew quite the crowd. Packed house with a bunch of people (myself included) taking a seat on the floor along the walls to check this topic out! I’ve attended Jeffrey’s session before at the last SQL Saturday in Tampa and he is a great speaker. This particular talk was actually kind of a part 2 to his earlier talk on Choosing Indexes for Performance . Even if you didn’t catch the first session this one alone is a treasure trove of great information. For instance do you know why join orders matters? Do you know the difference in performance between doing a join using the old ANSI syntax and the new? You’d be surprised. Again I highly recommend you check out any session by Jeffrey if given the opportunity.

Last, but most definitely not least, was Chad Miller’s ( Blog | Twitter ) session on Powershell and SQL Server Administration. Chad not only covers basic Powershell commands and tricks but he covers using a cool project he’s developed called SQL Server PowerShell Extensions. What PSX gives DBAs is a base set of functions that covers most common DBA tasks. One of the coolest demonstrations I saw during this presentation was the use of Powershell as an ETL tool. Chad shows you how you are able to copy data from table to another using only 3 lines of code! This presentation truly made me excited to really start learning Powershell and applying it at work.

Overall I thought it was a great event, as any SQL Saturday I’ve attended, and I had an absolute blast presenting and meeting a bunch of folks I’ve interacted with on Twitter. If you get a chance to make it to a SQL Saturday event I couldn’t recommend  it enough. You get top-notch education, great networking opportunities, awesome swag and all for free! If you don’t have a SQL Saturday event in a city near you, and you won’t be making it to the PASS Summit this year then don’t fret! The good folks at PASS have put together an exciting free training event called 24 Hours of SQL PASS. For more details on this great event check my previous post on it.

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Spacecoast SQL User Group Meeting: Review

After writing up my review for my presentation at OPASS I realized I hadn’t done one for my visit to Melbourne for the Spacecoast SQL User Group! A thousand apologies Bonnie and crew!

I arrived early in Melbourne so I spent some quality time at Starbucks for a bit before the meeting which gave me the opportunity to test and retest some of the policy demos so I didn’t repeat my blunders from the previous weekend at SQL Saturday in South Florida. When the time came around I got over to the Spacecoast Federal Credit Union headquarters building where the meeting was held (which is a beautiful building btw). The group is small but very enthusiastic crowd in that they ask a LOT of good questions. The PBM presentation went without a hitch which was nice and the presentation actually took a positive unexpected turn when we started discussing virtualization. I wound up giving a mini presentation on VMware and virtualization and how it all worked which was pretty cool.

Afterwards a few of us went over to the questionably-named sports bar called The Rendezvous in the Holiday Inn to socialize and talk shop a bit. It was interesting to hear about how Bonnie got started in the SQL world and how she came about establishing the User Group. Want to hear the story yourself? Then get over to one of their meetings! They meet on the second Thursday of each month so if you’re in the Melbourne/Cocoa Beach/Titusville area go check them out!

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