SQLSaturday 242 – The Empire Strikes Back

SQLSaturday 242 wasn’t attacked by AT-ATs, I just couldn’t resist the chance to use that title.  Last year I cheesily went with “A New Hope” for my blog post title for all the lessons learned and how changed I was from the process.  It’s not that often you have an opportunity for a Star Wars reference AND a shameless previous blog post plug wrapped into one so I had to do it – please forgive me.  Besides it works if you consider I did feel a little like I was frozen in carbonite the day after SQLSaturday 242.  Alright now that I’ve got the Star Wars-ness out of my system, and I’ve had some time to recover it’s about time I got my blog post out from my experiences being the lead organizer of SQLSaturday 242.

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This year was much different than the last couple years. Those past years I was very involved and helped in organizing but had the wonderful Caroline leading the the way.  This year I had to step out on my own and lead. Oye, I should have thanked Caroline more profusely in the past years!  There was just so much she did that I  wasn’t even aware. God bless ya Caroline! I was excited to do it though. I was anxious to right some wrongs that bothered me since last year (again see blog) and help pay forward to the SQL community some of the goodness that SQLSaturdays have brought to me over the years.

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When I started planning this year I was determined to find a new venue. The place we had been the past years was a great venue, just located in an area where it is scarce to find good hotels for my speakers. Since the hotel was the main thing sticking in my craw from last year, hell or high water was going to rectify it this year. And I found a great place in a great location with Indiana Wesleyan on the northside. They were great to work with and good hotels were plentiful. We didn’t even have any act of god storms or issues in the hotel.  Demon exorcised – halleujah!

Registration team rockin it!

Registration team rockin it!

Honestly too it is great relief that I REALLY TRULY know the full ins and outs of what this event takes to happen. There were so many unknowns I had going into this event having not sat in the lead spot that it drove me completely nuts. I would keep myself up at night just sitting and making list after list to try to think of everything I needed to do.  I wanted with my hometown SQLSaturday more than anything to take care of my people: my speakers, my sponsors, my volunteers, my attendees. I want them all to just feel like we were taking care of them.

Have you thanked a sponsor today?

Have you thanked a sponsor today?

Friday comes and I got at it early so I could get Bill Pearson setup and going for his precon since PTI was hosting it. We had some hiccups with the projector software but Bill, being the pro he always is worked through the rough patches and we worked it out. Then I begin setting up the attendee packet stuffing station.  As I looking the table of 1000 laps and a million sponsor flier papers, I started to get a bit panicked.  I then called in the calvary…my saint of a mother in law, Pam who agreed to help out.  Then when the blessed, wonderful Chris and Gigi Bell show up they help make fairly quick work of it. Alan Dykes also shows up and helps me with the monitor setup. I had attended SharePoint Saturday and they had monitors outside the rooms to display the current and upcoming sessions. I thought it looked slick so we worked that out but it wouldn’t have happened if Alan hadn’t had stepped in to help with it.

WIT panel - wish I was able to see this one :(

WIT panel – wish I was able to see this one 😦

Later that night comes the speaker dinner. We ended up doing bowling again this year which was fun. It’s not fancy but is a great way to get folks loose and chatting. I think it went well and seems like all had a good time. I got some cupcakes to help butter folks up too just in case.  I started to loosen up a bit and some of the weight begins coming off my shoulders since by that point, if it ain’t done it just wasn’t gonna happen.

Was great to make SQLSaturday a family affair

Was great to make SQLSaturday a family affair

Then comes Saturday and we are up at the crack of dawn to get the mad dash going to get things setup. We weren’t able to get in till 7:00 and we had registration starting at 7:30 so it didn’t leave much time for things to fall into place. The morning was just nuts, it’s just the way it goes even if things run like clockwork with an event with that many people. I had to get the computer and printer setup for the SpeedPASS printing area of shame. Never fails, you will just have folks who don’t print SpeedPASSes no matter how many pleas you send.  I bought a printer that we ended up raffling off at the end of the day which worked out really well. Just make sure if you stay up the night before getting the drivers and crap setup that you plug it in and do it in the same manner you intend to on go day. Damn thing installed drivers anyway since I plugged it in instead of using the wireless.  As the morning moves on we run into more bumps. This was my first year also to administer the site for the event. It turned out I didn’t have some of the sponsors selected to be in the SpeedPASSes so I had to hurry up and make some raffle tickets really quick and get them printed them for folks to fill out (was able to scan SpeedPASSes off of computer for these sponsors after the event to help rectify this wrong). While I was doing super fast design work, I didn’t have time to think over what I needed to say for opening remarks. I think I may have sounded like a stressed out Elmer Fudd yammering thank you and that was about it.  I meant to say more so folks were aware of little details.

Elmer Fudd in action

Elmer Fudd in action

The rest of the day moves on and things start to settle down from morning craziness. We had some more minor hiccups that had us bobbing and weaving but we came out of it without much damage. Lunch came and went and things went as smooth as I think lunch for 191 people can go and it didn’t take terribly long to get folks through the line. We didn’t have a large area for people to eat so we needed to have folks disperse into the various rooms. Something I think I could have gotten across again in opening comments. Rest of day goes well and we were very lucky to have great sponsorship so were able to get a lot of great prizes to give away. We were needed to get out of the venue fairly quickly so we tried to move through them at a quick clip.  Sometimes that portion can drag along if you let it.  I let out a large sigh of relief and it was over.  We cleaned up really quickly thanks to all the volunteers on deck.  We then get a good size group headed out to Scotty’s Brewhouse for a much needed beer and some food. I got a bit misty eyed when I got a good amount of applause when I arrived (I love my SQL peeps).  From there some found a Korean place that had private karaoke rooms so some brave souls headed over. We had a blast but it was a tad bit interesting/disturbing with the Korean dramas going on the screens while you (not me) sang. Who knew you could possibly add weirdness to SQLkaraoke but by god we did.

This was needed desperately at the end of the day!

This was needed desperately at the end of the day!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me with SQLSaturday 242! Thank you so much to my family, Rod, the kids, and my saint of a mother in law Pam. You put up with my distraction, picked up my slack, and even helped with the event.  I was so glad you all could be a part of one of these.  It means a lot that you got to see a little glimpse into these crazy SQLSaturday things you hear so much about and got to see this side of my life.  Thank you to Sally at PTI who helped me get so many things together and cut more paper than a human should!  Thank you to everyone at PTI for helping me, allowing me the time and resources to organize this event.  And thank you to Alan for your help all along the way and handling those damn monitors! And my registration crew: Gigi, Katie, Courtney, and Stephanie!  You ladies just killed it at registration and all through the day! I can’t thank you all enough!  Brandon Lukes thank you for your help!  Thank you Eddie for handling the precons.  And countless others who helped me, thank you! From every fiber of my being, thank you! It meant the world to me to have so many help make this event a success.

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And since I am selfish and figure I need all the good SQLSaturday karma I can get, here are some recapped lessons and a few more thoughts on SQLSaturday 242 Indy.

1. Make sure you keep a good list of sponsors and the raffle prizes they intend to give away. You need to keep good track of the ones they are bringing themselves and those they give to you, the organizer. Then PRIOR to sending out word on the SpeedPASS check to make sure all who intend to give prizes are included in the SpeedPASS. The system will only auto print for silver and above sponsorship levels. Double check since bronze/swag sponsors sometimes have giveaway prizes but are not selected by default.  Make sure that you have good details on how attendees will need to claim prizes prior to the event.  Print out certificates if necessary just to help you keep track and have something easy to hand over to winner.

Great sponsors, great prizes

Great sponsors, great prizes

2.  Make sure if you intend to have speakers give away books to get them the details on what they need to do.  Sorry speakers.

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3.  Make sure to be prepared before the morning comes with different items that should be addressed during the opening comments and PRINT it out.  I had a OneNote list that I assumed would have time to review before it was time to speak.  Yeah that assumption was wrong.  Make sure to get information on logistics throughout the day such as plans for lunch.  Also make sure to give an overview of what SQLSaturday is and that it is a mix of experienced speakers as well an opportunity to encourage new speakers.  We had some comments to the effect that we should “vet speakers as some were inexperienced”.

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4.  Make sure to check with businesses and city ordinances that it is ok to put up your SQLSaturday directional signs.  I had 5 signs of which I got back 1.  Maybe it was hoodlum Oracle teenagers or something but our signs went missing.  I love it when the signs are up when I go to a SQLSaturday.  Sorry to those who came later when they were gone.

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5.  Get the session levels on the printed schedule.  We had some really nice clear envelopes for sponsor swag and the schedule.  On one side we had a nice color, printed schedule that was visible through the envelope that I think was very handy for attendees.  I did not have the session level on it though which would have been helpful.  Also would like next year to get colors for tracks on it as well.

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6.  Make sure to have some committed help to stuff packets.  Just a few hands can make all the difference.

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7.  Check very early on the catering situation of any potential venues.  Many venues will have exclusive contracts with caterers which means extra $$.  This can be a huge expense that your $10 charge for lunch won’t cover.  Also make sure you account for the cost of speakers and sponsors to eat.  Make sure you know how much money you may need to cover the costs before you sign up for the venue.  We didn’t have any issues with that but just could see that helping potential SQLSaturday organizers.

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8.  If you need printers, monitors or other items during the day see if it makes sense to buy those items to raffle off at the end of the day for prizes.

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9.  Make sure to have coffee setup for the entire day.  We had several folks wanting for coffee in the afternoon.

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10.  Make sure you have some food items at breakfast that do not contain nuts.  We had coffee cakes but I didn’t realize they had nuts and didn’t even consider those with allergies.

Karla embarrassing me giving me props at the end of the day.

Karla embarrassing me giving me props at the end of the day.

So I survived organizing a SQLSaturday again and feel like I came out of this one with less battle wounds.  It was a lot of work but there really is a great feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.  I helped bring some more SQL community to Indy and THAT is a great thing.

SQLSaturday 200 Philly

The other weekend I had the great pleasure of heading over to Philadelphia again this year to speak for the 200th SQLSaturday.  200?!  Just amazing!  This event was great!  So great it got me very amped up about my local SQLSaturday.  So much so that I’m a little later than normal getting this post out due to kicking my planning of SQLSaturday 242 into high gear.  But wanted to make sure to get this post out to document another really great event.
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Travels over to Philly were pretty uneventful.  My fellow Indy compadre, Eddie Wuerch (blog|twitter) was speaking as well and was on the same flight.  He was even kind enough to drive Miss Daisy Miss Hope to all the events!  Thanks again Eddie…many good SQLSaturday karma points to you!  The speaker dinner was really great!  The weather was good again this year so allowed us to sit out in a very nice patio area at the restaurant.  It was held at McKenzie Brew House which had excellent selection of beers which you know wins points in my book.  AND they had great food!  Excellent choice organizers and thank you again!
SQLfamily congregates at the speaker dinner

SQLfamily congregates at the speaker dinner

So the morning of the event I get up extra early to do one more run through of my presentation since I had added some new things and it had been awhile since I had done this session.  Then head over to the event and catch Brian Moran’s (twitter|blog) session, “Awesome coaching questions every geek, analyst, leader, and consultant must know”.  Being a consultant, I was interested and the title even told me I HAD to know these questions so I went.  It was a really good engaging conversational session.  One of my favorite questions was “What does success look like with this project?”.
"Can't ask good questions if you are not listening well."

“Can’t ask good questions if you are not listening well.”

My session, “My SQL Server is Not Slow for Pete’s Sake! – Server Side Performance Analysis”, went well and got some good constructive feedback.  I made a huge presenter mistake though and I’m still kicking myself!  I have in the past forgotten to plug my laptop in before getting started.  I’m normally very antsy to get hooked up to the overhead and make the words come up on the screen.  Normally I keep talking while I’m getting my power cord situated and it’s not a big deal.  Well remember how I did a run through that morning?  I forget to put my laptop power cord in my backpack!!  Thank the heavens Josh Lynn (twitter|blog) had a Dell as well and was even sitting in a prime location to where he took care of plugging it in while I kept talking!  Josh…my hero!  Thank you so much again!
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After that was the WIT panel discussion.  The panel included myself, Melissa Demsak (twitter), Kevin Boles (twitter), and Kevin Goff (twitter|blog).  It was led by Sharon Dooley.  We had some great conversation.  I love it when we have someone speak up in the discussion and I feel myself wanting to say “Amen” at end of their statements.  It’s the whole reason I am involved in PASSWIT, for those moments.  I had one in there when one woman stated how she isn’t a “woman architect, she’s a professional”.
The audience at the WIT discussion

The audience at the WIT discussion

Next I caught the wonderful, Mike Hillwig’s (twitter|blog) session on VLFs.  He’s one of those great to talk to folks and his sessions are that way too.  He had some slight bumps in his demos due to last minute change of hardware.  The brave soul was until a few minutes before planning to present from his Surface Pro.  I love his section of disclaimers including “assume I am an idiot” in reference to not trusting content and slapping it into production.
Mike telling us what the VLF

Mike telling us what the VLF

After that session I went to Wayne Sheffield’s (twitter|blog) session, “Table Vars & Temp Tables – What you NEED to Know!”.  This was my absolute favorite session of the day!  Wayne is an MCM and eww buddy it shows! I was so into the content I forgot to get a picture and I don’t think I’ve ever done that.  Normally my ADD kicks in and distracts me enough to snap a picture.  There was so much great information on table variables and temp tables, I was really blown away!  He even cracked open a hex editor!  So with such good content I was able to forgive him when he bout gave me a heart attack when there was an unexpected “boom” sound effect in his slides.  Very well done Wayne!  If you have a chance to see this session, highly recommend it!
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The last session of the day I caught a little bit of Dominic Falso’s “Introduction to Spatial Data in SQL Server”.  I couldn’t resist a session on spatial data since I have one as well.  The intrigue of seeing how someone else presents the material was too much.  He did a good job as many of the conceptual pieces can be a bit dry.
Dominic Falso going over spatial data

Dominic Falso going over spatial data

Then after the prize raffle headed to Joey’s house for the after party.  Bravo to your bravery again this year hosting the party at your house, Joey!  It was a very nice shindig again this year and thank you again!  Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers for well done event!  Appreciate you all having me out again this year!

Sidelines no more! Speaking at the PASS Summit!

This time last year I was partaking in a Twitter pity party for fellow folks who had gotten the thanks-but-no-thanks-better-luck-next year letters from PASS Summit selection committee.  I was used to it.  I have submitted to speak at the PASS Summit regularly for the last few years but was denied each time.  This year I am skipping the pity party because I got selected!!!  I will be presenting one of my favorites, spatial data, to the fine folks in Charlotte!  I am so excited but a bit out of sorts since I haven’t been in this spot yet but have wanted to be for so long.  Making me think of dogs who chase cars, they wouldn’t know what to do if they caught one.  This dog caught a car!  I have had this as a top one on my professional wish list, what next?  I will need to come up with some new goals and new cars to chase.
To my peeps having the pity party, keep your heads up and keep on kicking butt out there!  You’ll catch that car next year.  And until then I’ll tip my 40 IPA to my homies!  Well no I won’t tip beer since that’s wasteful but I will definitely drink this one in your honor!
Here's one for you!

Here’s one for you!

SQLSaturday 211 Chicago – Finally A SQLSaturday Fix

Hard to believe but this was my first SQLSaturday of the year! Lately I have done a decent amount of user group presentations which are great, but there’s something special about a SQLSaturday.  Chicago’s was right after the PASS BA Conference so became an extension of some really great SQL goodness. I left straight from the last session to head over to Addison to get to the speaker dinner.  The dinner was at La Hacienda so caught up with friends over margaritas and good food.  We got a really nice, unique speaker gift: a solar powered phone charger.  The tree hugging hippie in me loves that!  Thank you again organizers!

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Morning comes and I get to the venue at the DeVry campus just a hair before the first sessions start.  I head over to the speaker room and chat for just a few minutes.  Just then an attendee comes in to let us know that they had no speaker show up!  Ross LoForte and Ted Krueger (blog|twitter) rush over to the room to save the day.  Luke Jian (blog|twitter) and myself quickly follow to assist them.  It turned into a really good discussion with the attendees over different aspects of being a DBA.  The session evals were all very good so it worked out and very nice of everyone to jump in and assist.

Ted and Ross stepping in for a surprise spontaneous discussion on being a DBA.

Ted and Ross stepping in for a surprise spontaneous discussion on being a DBA.

From there I head to Erin Stellato’s (blog|twitter) session “Making the Leap from Profiler to Extended Events”.  She is such a stellar speaker and this was a fantastic topic.  I was a bit jealous of the topic that I didn’t think of it since it is a super common issue.  Extended events is one of those features that are great but just is taking the masses a long time to come around to using.  She did a good job showing it’s not such a beast anymore and some great things from Jonathan Keyhayias (blog|twitter) to make it even more helpful like his script to take a trace and convert to extended events.  Bravo Erin!

Erin showing folks there's nothing to be afraid of with extended events.

Erin showing folks there’s nothing to be afraid of with extended events.

After that I caught some lunch with a unicorn!

Who doesn't love lunch with a unicorn.

Lunch with a unicorn is supposed to be magical…not disturbing right?

Next I caught Josh Fennessy’s (blog|twitter) “Demystifying BISM and Tabular Mode SSAS” session.  I was caught off guard right away when he started as he said he had no slides.  Say what now?!  He did full session just talking and writing things out on the whiteboard.  I was really surprised and impressed at how well it worked too.  He had some of the best interaction with the audience I have seen maybe ever.  I feel like I would flounder like a fish doing something like that unless I practiced it like a fiend.  You rebel you, Mr. Fennessy!

Slides?! Josh don't need no stinking slides!

Slides?! Josh don’t need no stinking slides!

For the next session I head to Neil Hambly’s (blog|twitter), “SQL Server 2012 Memory Management”.  I am always surprised at how little presentations there are on memory within SQL Server, at least that I have seen.  He did a good job though there were some quirks in demos.  I knew talking to him earlier he had laptop issues plague him.  Still was a great amount of info given and majority of demos went fine.

Neil going over memory management in SQL Server 2012.

Neil going over memory management in SQL Server 2012.

And last session of the day was when Ted and I gave our session on consulting.  It is always fun to do this one!  I was especially excited after hearing from someone who saw it in Minnesota a few months ago.  He immediately went from our session to a consulting booth who had sponsored the event and began talking to them.  They ended up hiring him and he’s enjoying the change.  How cool is that?!  Someone’s life was made better by a session I gave…there will never be better feedback than that!  Session went really well and we had a lot of interaction.  Always great too when other consultants come and participate.  Thank you Allan Hirt (blog|twitter) and Rick Krueger (blog|twitter) for adding the perspective and experiences of a independent consultant!  And thanks again Ted!

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Thank you to the SQLSaturday Chicago team for having me as a speaker again and putting on a fantastic event!  Thanks also to my friends and SQLfamily for just being splendiferously (make sure I get credit for that new word) wonderful!

Survived BA Conference With New Battle Scars

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Did you hear I won a Surface? :)

Did you hear I won a Surface? 🙂

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.

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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!

My First MVP Summit

I’m a little later than normal getting this blog post written as I caught the Black Death coming home from Seattle.  Ok it was really the flu but probably fairly close in misery involved.  This year was the first I was able to partake in the MVP Summit.  I had heard a lot of stories from my MVP friends and was out of my mind excited!  I had a little heart attack when I was finding out the timing of the Summit.  I had a trip to Cancun planned with the husband for February very early on and thought was going to overlap with Summit.  It didn’t but the trips were back to back though.  So the week before MVP Summit, I spent lounging in the sun drinking fruity cocktails, I know a super sad story.  So I left Cancun Sunday and traveled directly to Seattle.  By the time I got there it was midnight Indiana time so I was exhausted.  Got to the hotel in Bellevue and rested up for the next day.

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I wake up bright and early since I’m still on Cancun (CST) time.  I am able to catch up a bit more with my wonderful roommate, Audrey Hammonds.  Then head down for breakfast and then get registered.  I was so excited to see they gave us jackets!  I always get excited at events to get something other than a men’s small polo.  They are really nice jackets, thank you Microsoft!  From there I head over to the first session.  This is where I go quiet.  There are strict NDA restrictions in place and you won’t see a peep from me on them.  I will say that this was some of the best and exciting technical content I have ever had witness to see.  It also helped me to solve the mystery as to the speed/depth people have content available after a release.  It was also an honor to be a part of a group that had the privilege to give input and ask questions of the teams working on these products.

20130219_230503

It was bound to happen. Little venture over to Bush Garden with Jason and Colin.

That just leaves the parties then.  Every night was a welcome or appreciation party of some sort.  I couldn’t help but to think about the costs that were involved in putting together such shindigs, let alone the work of dedicated folks to put it all together.  The appreciation was not lost on me and felt throughout the MVP Summit.  It seemed the theme of all the nights were eat, drink, be merry, and network.  I am amazed at how many great people I meet at every single event.  And of course, I got to be with some of the greatest people again, my SQL Family!  I only get to see some once or twice a year so it was a great SQL family reunion.  I had an absolute blast!  The last night for me was at the appreciation party at CenturyLink Field.  It was a very impressive affair!  I wish I would have not gotten such an early flight but had been gone so long from my kids.

20130220_210732

One of the displays at the appreciation party at CenturyLink Field. MVPs represent!

Thank you everyone who put effort into the MVP Summit!  It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget!  Thank you Seattle/Bellevue for having many great local beers.  And thank you to all my MVP friends who continue to share with me their knowledge, drive, passion, and friendship.

No Pity Party This Time! Selected for PASS Business Analytics Conference!

Got the best email ever!  I got accepted to speak at the PASS Business Analytics Conference!  I keep reading the email making sure I read it right.  There it is though, says “selected” right next to my submission!  It’s the first time I’ve been selected to speak at one of the big conferences!  And not for lack of trying and submitting to several over the years.  I became very accustomed to the Twitter woe is me pity parties.  No pity party required this time!

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So I get this email and start to have a moment that felt a bit like one of those teenager movies.  I’ve been the awkward girl who’s likeable enough but always gets the response from the guys or PASS in this example, “It’s not you, it’s me”.  After much swooning and many SQLSaturdays, my time finally has come.  Jake Ryan, I mean PASS, picked me up in the Porshe and we had our moment where we sat on the table with a birthday cake between us.  Ok it’s a little bit of a stretch from a John Hughes movie but was what came to mind when I got that email.  I got accepted to speak at PASS BA Conference!  I’m so excited and so glad I finally get the chance to speak at one of these conferences.

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PASS Summit 2012 – Final Days Recap

Final day of Summit 2012 

This is the day it starts to get a bit sad.  Folks start heading back home so those I-probably-won’t-see-you-for-a-year-hugs start happening.  I get up and go grab some lighter fare at La Panier with Colin (blog|twitter) and Josh (blog|twitter).  After that head back and catch the PASS Board Q&A session.  Was glad I caught that after someone mentioned it to me.  It wasn’t on the schedule but it should have…a lot of great discussion!  The most interesting topic I thought was the BA Conference coming up in Chicago.  People asked if it was the path/direction for the Summit to split audiences.  They said that wasn’t the intent and it was more to reach out to a different audience and pull them into the community.  I was relieved to hear that.

How many members you think are on Twitter now?

How many members you think are on Twitter now?

From there I head to the Birds of a Feather lunch.  I helped represent a SQL Family table with the help of Colin.  I really love the conversations I had all week at those big round tables in the lunch room.  These are probably my favorite times at the conference.  I think we did well explaining how great it is to get involved in the community.

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From there I go catch Wes Brown’s (blog|twitter) session “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My SAN”.  Wes is a super great guy and has just the best metaphors.  That and he is the SAN man.  I really enjoyed his session especially since how many times I have had the “oh it’s striped against all the disk and it lives in a magical wonderland” conversation.

The SAN man, Wes Brown

The SAN man, Wes Brown

After that was my family time session.  The 3 hour time difference made it hard to catch them at a good time.  It’s their bedtime by the time the last session is over.  So I have a video chat with them then catch up and get a jump on some of the goodbyes that start flowing.  After that I went over to catch Tim Ford’s (blog|twitter)  session.  I enjoy Tim’s sessions but this time I went more have expecting a train wreck.  I catch catching him the couple days before saying he was ripping up his whole session and kind of winging it on a different format.  He’s either full of it or works well on that just winging it nature.  The session was far from a train wreck.

Tim Ford for the last session of Summit

Tim Ford for the last session of Summit

After lingering around after the last session to say more goodbyes and catch the finale of the PASS TV, head to grab some sushi.  Went over to Japonessa with Jessica Moss (blog|twitter), Denny Cherry (blog|twitter), his wife Kris (twitter),  Colin , and Josh.  From there we head to the last night of Bush Garden.  Folks never really wanted to leave so stayed out late enough to require another late meal at 13 Coins.

Final Day in Seattle

I went down to the Daily Grill and grab some blueberry pancakes with a huge group.  We kept having pull tables together sessions.  I sit down and we all start having a really great discussion on what we loved and what could have stood some improvements at the Summit.  Luckily Scott Stauffer (blog|twitter) had his tablet so took a lot of notes.  Yeah no pressure on that blog post Scott 🙂  After this I then have to get to the train to the airport.  The wonderful and delightfully deranged Rob Volk (blog|twitter) walked me to the train.

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So then I’m on the train and heading out and have that very movie moment thinking back on the week.  Thinking over all the great people and great times.  I’m not sure what song should be playing on that movie moment soundtrack but there’s definitely one of those slowish I’ll miss you type songs playing.  It almost aggravates me how sappy I have to get when I talk about these community events.  So the Summit is just like that to a power of 10 so it’s extra sappy.  So I can’t help it so warning for those squimish to sap.  It was such a wonderful week at Summit.  I feel truly blessed that I have found such a wonderful community of people.  I met so many new people this week that afraid it will get harder leaving each year.  Even so there is no doubt…wouldn’t miss it for the world.