Last week was a trip! I can say that now after some rest and reflection but was a bit of a different story while I was living it. I was selected to present at the very first PASS BA Conference. I was super excited as it was the first time I have presented at a conference of this level and not for lack of submitting. My nerves were a bit up to a level they haven’t been in a very long time giving a presentation. These elevated nerves kicked into sheer panic when the morning before my presentation I find…my laptop has died!! I begin frantically working on plans B, C, and D just to be safe (always the optimistic DBA). I am restoring databases on my drive to Chicago so you could say I was a bit rattled.
I get things functional and some odd kinks worked out in my demos in the morning but not early enough to catch the keynote unfortunately. I heard fantastic things about it though and Amir Netz is normally the highlight of PASS keynotes in my opinion. I had enough time though to catch my friends, Mark Vaillancourt (blog|twitter) and Doug Lane (blog|twitter) give their presentation “Hailing Frequencies: Analysis Services Terms and Concepts”. On my already frazzled nerves I sit there and watch as they start off with resolution issues which didn’t help the knot in my stomach. They handled it perfectly though. These guys are great and so funny. I love a presentation that has information and humor and they deliver there…big time!
After a little prep it’s time for my session. I get through it and demos went well but I couldn’t shake some of the nerves I had built up. And just like every session, I learn something. From now on I will set a timer to vibrate at 5 minutes before the end of the session. I was barely watching the clock, trying to concentrate on session and miscalculated time. I thought I was running long when I was actually short and wrapped up way too abruptly. I got some good feedback but I was kicking myself for a good long time for messing up on timing when in practice I had it nailed timing wise.
After the pressure is lifted a bit from my shoulders I take in Chuck Heinzleman (twitter), Gilad Elyashar, and David Magar’s session “Make Cloud BI Work for You”. I was afraid it was going to go super sales-y as some Azure sessions do but it didn’t. They give some good practical examples that didn’t have anything to do with bicycles.
After that things begin to catch up with me and decide that a nap is too good to pass up before the community appreciation party at the Lucky Strike bowling alley. On the way there I meet Greg Kramer (twitter) and we begin chatting. I was very excited to hear he’s getting ready to give his very first presentation soon for MADPASS. Then after stuffing myself silly with some of the great food I bowl it up with Neil Hambly (blog|twitter), Wendy (blog|twitter), Doug, and others. I should have stuck with bowling but from time to time I have the urge to see if I have spontaneously become a pool shark. Surprisingly that didn’t happen. Doug Lane said it best when he said I was more of a pool sea cucumber than a shark.
I was extremely glad I got up in time to catch the keynote from Steven Levitt (site) of Freakanomics fame. This was one of my favorite keynotes, well ever. I had read the back cover of Freakanomics and was intrigued but never actually read the book. Steven was very entertaining with his stories over the gathering of data for the book. You could tell the folks on Twitter approved too and those guys are a hard lot to impress. I definitely want to read the book now.
They always say at these conferences that some of the best material is to be found when you aren’t in a session at all. This proved true for the conversation I had over breakfast after the keynote with James Serra (blog|twitter) and Ted Krueger (blog|twitter). We were talking consulting gathering material for the session Ted and I give that covers different aspects of consulting. I don’t have any independent consulting experience and Ted’s is a bit dated so was great to talk with James and get his insight. Thank you again James…really appreciate the information. I continue getting info from James by catching his session after breakfast. He gave a lot of great information on data warehouse concepts and had a good conversational style.
At lunch I went to the PASS Community Zone for the drawing for a tablet. As I stood there complaining to Josh that I never win anything, Karla (blog|twitter) calls my name! I won a Surface! How cool was that?! So then I joyfully float over with cartoon birds following me to go catch the lovely Julie Koesmarno (blog|twitter) and Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) session ” The Essential 8: Narrative Reporting Techniques”. Josh is a good friend so I’m a bit biased but they both did a great job. They both seemed very at ease and had great demos. Good information on snazzifying your reports.
I was so excited for the next session I caught which was Rob Collie’s (blog|twitter) ” Dark Matter: Domain Experts & Nextgen Spreadsheets Are Our Future”. I have been using and learning about PowerPivot since it first came out. I feel like majority of what I know about it came from Rob. I had never seen a live presentation of his but his blog was pivotal (oh yeah I went there) in teaching me and getting me through what I wanted to accomplish within PowerPivot. His blog always has a great entertainment value to them and his live session delivered in that aspect as well. I think this was probably my favorite session. I wanted to meet him but he had a large crowd gather at the end and I was anxious to hit the road for Addison for the speaker dinner for SQLSaturday. So if I had met you Rob I would have said thank you for teaching me PowerPivot and doing it in a non boring fashion.
Thank you PASS for having me speak and for putting on quite the shindig. I was anxious to see how this conference was going to go since it was the first one and was targeted at different folks than those of the Summit. I don’t know if you reached the audience you wanted or hit any other metrics to equate a successful event. I do know this gal came away feeling it was a success and I had a great time. And no it wasn’t just because I won a tablet but that didn’t hurt by any means!