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I Got Into the PostgreSQL Community By Speaking…And You Should Too!

Seriously, you should. You should submit a talk proposal to PGConf US 2015 – the worst thing that will happen is the talk committee will say “no” and offer a bunch of reasons to help you get your talk approved next year! Believe it or not, speaking at a PostgreSQL conference is a great way to help the community at large, and I hope this personal story I am going to share will shed some light as to why.

[Note: I like to keep things concise, but I wanted to share as much of the story as possible, so if you have a short attention span you may not read the full post, but you will miss out.]

I never took a database class in high school or college (though I took plenty of computer science and math), yet I always loved using databases for my miscellaneous web and research projects, particularly PostgreSQL. I knew it was an open source project, I knew there was a community that supported it, but being young(er) and naïve, I did not know the extent I could participate in such a community.

Once upon a time, I helped manage content at a calculator enthusiast website (did I just tip my hand at how nerdy I am?) called “ticalc.org,” which was founded and run by an even bigger nerd than me, Magnus Hagander. Magnus, now on the core PostgreSQL team, was quickly inundated with questions about my web development projects and guided me towards using PostgreSQL.

Fast-forward to where I am about a year out of college and using PostgreSQL professionally (or at least claiming it was professional) in all my projects. Magnus, along with others from the PostgreSQL.EU community, were running a PostgreSQL conference in Paris, and for reasons that I’m still unsure of, Magnus encouraged me to submit a talk. I had been using ORMs to interact with my PostgreSQL databases and thought “why not talk about my experience?” The talk, to my surprise, was accepted.

I arrived, very excitedly, in Paris to speak at my first professional conference, but still felt unsure of why I was there. At the outset, the only person I know is Magnus, but quickly I start to meet a lot of longtime PostgreSQL supporters. Through my first day of conversations, I realized a few of things:

  1. Wow, these people are smart
  2. Wow, these people are really smart
  3. Wow, not only are they smart, but they are good at explaining things. And they are really patient and are really trying to help me.
  4. …wait, am I the dumbest person here?
  5. …yes, I am. And I am speaking the next day.

My talk was far from perfect (e.g. I mispronounced “PostgreSQL”), but it went well enough. I received a lot of constructive feedback on my thoughts and ideas, learned a lot more about PostgreSQL, and, much to my surprise, people there wanted to listen to me to help improve my PostgreSQL experience!

And the warmth, support, and desire to get better as a community was not a one-experience. At the next EU conference in Stuttgart, I remember being asked by Dave Page, one of the organizers and a PostgreSQL core member and someone who I hardly knew at time, for feedback on the keynote and conference overall. I thought to myself "Wow, they really do care!" I gave a talk on the new PostgreSQL 9.0 release and only received one question from the end: it was from Heikki Linnakangas, who worked on some of the key components for streaming replication, who asked (slightly paraphrased) “You’re using streaming replication in production? Cool! How is it working? Is it having any issues? Anything I can help with?”

Could I have made these realizations and connections in the PostgreSQL community without speaking at a conference? Sure, but speaking allowed a few things that may not have happened otherwise:

  1. I had to take my thoughts, research them further, and present them in a structured manner
  2. As much as I was trying to present new ideas to the community, in turn I was looking for new ideas too, and giving a talk was a way to catalyze this communication
  3. Though I would talk for 50 minutes, I could setup a topic of conversation for later, where people would come up to me for questions, comments, corrections, thoughts, ideas, etc.

I know public speaking is tough for people, but like any skill, it becomes easier with more experience. I still make lots of mistakes in my talks, both technical and with delivery, but I learn from them, and the PostgreSQL community is very supportive of doing so. And quite frankly, we will be with you too.

At PGConf US 2015, you have the opportunity to join the PostgreSQL community at one of, if not the, largest PostgreSQL events in the world – your own 50-minute forum to present an idea, teach us how you do something, inspire the community to approach a problem in a different way.
We succeed as a community if we can share our knowledge and grow, and to do that, we need new people to share new ideas.

All that remains to be said is: where is your talk submission?

PgUS moves to Google Apps

In an effort to utilize infrastructure that is far more capable than what we can as volunteers provide, PgUS has moved to Google Apps. As a 501c3 we are offered a host of benefits that will help us grow the organization as well as increase collaboration and communication among the board and corporation members. We expect to be performing technical and advocacy hangouts often, as well as configuring a PgUS YouTube channel to put forth video resources for those wanting to know and learn more about PostgreSQL.

Look for more news in the future. It is exciting times!

PgUS: Welcomes Dallas/Forth Worth PostgreSQL User Group

As United States PostgreSQL continues its support for PostgreSQL User Groups it is my pleasure to announce that the Dallas/Forth Worth PostgreSQL User Group has decided to become part of the PgUS family. The resolution passed with 100% consent and it is great to see them on board. You may visit the resolution here:


It is exciting times, currently the first (NYC) and third (Philly) largest user groups are also affiliated with PgUS. Let's see if Dallas/Forth Worth can take them on! Watch in the near future for other great news from PgUS. We have a lot going on and are excited to share!

PgUS Fall Update 2014

It has been a little quiet on the U.S. front of late. Alas, summer of 2014 has come and gone and it is time to strap on the gators and get a little muddy. Although we have been relatively quiet we have been doing some work. In 2013 the board appointed two new board members, Jonathan S. Katz and Jim Mlodgeski. We also affiliated with multiple PostgreSQL User Groups:

  • PhillyPUG
  • SeaPUG

    Through the affiliation the PUG receives non-profit status, their own bank account and the ability to accept non-profit donations specifically for their PUG. In 2014, NYCPUG did just that to become the largest donation source for United States PostgreSQL by holding PostgreSQL NYCConf, which is the largest PostgreSQL Conference in the United States. PDXPUG also had a PgDay this past month.

    We have held elections for the board through the term of 2015 - 2017. Those seats take effect in March of 2015, the winners of those seats are:

      3-year term:

    • Michael Alan Brewer
    • Jonathan S. Katz
    • Jim Mlodgenski
    • Mark Wong
      2-year term:

    • Joshua D. Drake
    • Kris Pennella
    • Robert Treat

    The staggered terms are to insure that at no point are we replacing the entire board. As a part of the election and slight reorganizing to insure proper alignment with our By-Laws, Greg Sabino Mullane and Bruce Momjian have stepped down. We wish them all the best in their future community efforts and thank them for all their years of service.

    The board is currently discussing several goals to meet by the end of the year, look for more announcements here!

  • How PG.US Made PGConf NYC 2014 Possible

    When the New York City PostgreSQL User Group (NYCPUG) launched the campaign to create PGDay NYC (now PGConf NYC) back in 2012, our goal was to create a multi-day community PostgreSQL conference in New York City. However, we knew that we had to start small with a one-day two track conference, and even with that, we had many obstacles to overcome: timing, logistics, and of course, securing funding to pay for the event. We were very fortunate that we had fantastic sponsors for our inaugural event, but we faced a simple yet daunting problem: where would we actually collect the money for the conference?

    Because NYCPUG was not an official nonprofit organization in 2012, we were unable to open a bank account to collect funds for PGDay NYC 2012. We relied on the money collection in two ways: informing our sponsors to send checks directly to the venue, or collect the money through one of our organizations and have it count against our corporate and personal taxes.

    Neither of these methods were ideal. Though paying the venue directly might work in ideal circumstances, we ended up in a prolonged billing dispute with the venue after the event where they owed us more money than they claimed. Additionally, to lower the tax liabilities on our end, we tried to spend all of the money that was raised, which did not allow us to save any money for PGDay NYC 2013.

    However, we received a major lifeline in 2013. The United Statues PostgreSQL Association (PG.US) approached us with a unique solution: we could register NYCPUG as a subsidiary of PG.US, which would give NYCPUG nonprofit 501(c)(3) status and its own bank account.

    This immediately provided a lot of benefits for organizing PGDay NYC 2013. First and foremost, we saved money from the venue expenses because we did not have to pay tax due to nonprofit status – this meant we had capital that could be invested in enhancing the experience of the conference. The savings enabled us to have the conference at a better, more professional venue, which for PGDay NYC 2013 was in Liberty Hall the ACE Hotel in New York. We could also consolidate the funds for PGDay NYC 2013 in one place – this made it much easier to pay bills and handle the accounting on our end, which in turn made it easier for sponsors and vendors to work with us.

    Perhaps most importantly, we were able to carry over our proceeds from PGDay NYC 2013 to use for the 2014 conference. This allowed us to expand our conference from 1 to 2 days (hence we became "PGConf NYC") and to accommodate more speakers and attendees in a larger venue, which for PGConf NYC 2014 is the New York Marriott Downtown.

    Without the administrative support of PG.US, we may not have been able to create this amazing event in NYC on the same level and scale. While not all PostgreSQL community events will be the same size as PGConf NYC, I hope that by sharing our learning experiences that the rest of the advocacy community can utilize our model and help to effectively teach good PostgreSQL practices.

    Can PG.US help your local user group? Reach out to PG.US or send me an email at contact@nycpug.org and let us know how we can help!

    NYCPUG + PG.US = Happy PostgreSQL Users

    When we restarted the New York City PostgreSQL User Group (NYCPUG) in April 2010, about 15 of us gathered in a conference room that we had rented near Penn Station and talked about what we wanted to get out of the user group. At the time, we had about 40 people on the mailing list and absolutely no momentum behind our user group.

    Fast-forward to January 2014, NYCPUG is now the largest PostgreSQL User Group in the United States with almost 850 people (and growing) on the mailing list and a monthly attendance that averages around 50.

    There are many factors that made this growth possible, including the rising popularity of PostgreSQL usage and being in a metropolitan area with over 23 million people; this does provide us with a large addressable audience. However, because we compete for the peoples’ attention with in a city littered with large tech meetup groups, we sometimes need to provide some incentives to make sure we have both attendees and speakers present.

    Because our monthly meetups usually start at 6:30pm, we try to offer food (pizza) and beverages (soda, beer) so our attendees do not worry about being hungry. Sometimes, our meetup hosts have graciously provide food, and other times where we, as the organizers, pick up the tab.

    By partnering with the United States PostgreSQL Association (PG.US), NYCPUG was able to easily acquire nonprofit (501(c)(3)) status and also have some money allocated in the overall PG.US budget towards our monthly expenses. Additionally, PG.US can help us sponsor speakers to fly to New York to present at one of our meetups!

    With PG.US as a launching pad, we have been able to successfully raise money for NYCPUG during the year through the annual PGConf NYC user-focused PostgreSQL conference. Even if we did not have the conference, we have enough active members who would be willing to provide a tax-deductible donation to NYCPUG to ensure we could offer the high-level of educational programming (and I don’t mean code!) that has come to be expected of NYCPUG.

    Does your local PostgreSQL User Group (PUG) need a funding boost? Would you like to enjoy similar benefits to NYCPUG? Reach out to PG.US or send me an email at contact@nycpug.org so we can help your PUG get the resources it needs to grow and thrive!

    PgUS: Winter Update 2011

    Michael Brewer wrote:

    Greetings, all! Several things to report to the community:

    - I am pleased to announce that Mark Wong was appointed to the board earlier this summer and has accepted the role of Treasurer of the United States PostgreSQL Association (PgUS). Congratulations, Mark!

    - PgUS has increased its focus in providing more support for local user groups and conferences; just in the past few months, we have provided financial support to BarcampCHS in Charleston, SC and co-sponsored PG Day 2011 in Denver, CO. This is an exciting way for us to help the Postgres community at the local level; please contact the PgUS board if you have an event for which you could use our assistance.

    - To assist this focus (and to make membership more like SPI), PgUS has changed its membership policies to make them simpler and more community orientated. We have reduced the membership fees to $25 per year (professional) or $10 per year (student), and these fees may be waived by application to the PgUS membership committee by showing PostgreSQL community participation (coding, user groups, doc review, moderation, staffing booths, etc.).

    PgUS, Spring Update 2011

    JD Wrote:

    Yes folks, PgUS is actually still functioning. Over the past few months, we have sponsored the PostgreSQL efforts at MySQLCon, NYCPUG and are also sponsoring the upcoming PgDay at OSCON in July. Further we are working to setup a PgDay in Denver and have started discussions for Austin.

    PgUS Sponsors NYCPug meetup

    JD Wrote:

    10/20/2010, Jim Mlodgenski spoke about GridSQL to the NYCPug. There were 14 community members present. Mason Sharp says, "The user group is getting nice momentum, with about that same amount of people the last 3 or so meetings, with different people going, not all of the same ones. I like the fact that many of these people are really enthusiastic that there is such a group now in NYC." It is great that NYC is taking off and PgUS is happy to sponsor another PostgreSQL User Group.

    PgUS looking for help to migrate from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6 on new VM.

    JD Wrote:

    The PgUS Board is currently tapped on time resources and is looking for someone to help us migrate our Drupal 5 instance to Drupal 6 on our new virtual machine. We are of course running Linux on both although we will be migrating from CentOS to Debian or Ubuntu. The site is not large but does make use of views and UberCart. We are willing to pay someone to perform this service for us. If you are interested please email jd - @ - postgresql.us with interest, questions and estimate.

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