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!

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!

How great was this email? Confirmation of successful SQLSaturday

I have been wanting for awhile to share a really great email I received from someone after they attended the SQLSaturday in Indy.  I literally got a bit misty eyed reading this one.  I figured folks out there who are involved in the SQL community, who present and/or organize SQLSaturdays would really appreciate this as well.  You always hope that the events/presentations you do will reach people and help them.  I am always hopeful that it will give them the glimmer or spark of that passion that drives so many of us.  It was really great that I got confirmation that I was successful on that day.

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Original email:

Hope,

I wanted to let you know how amazing SQL Saturday was for me.

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As you know I come from a smaller community, there are no SQL user groups there and very few SQL connections to be found (or so I thought). I gained my SQL knowledge by learning from my boss, in class, or by reading stuff from the internet. (Information overload) My job was less than 3 miles from my house. Needless to say, I lived and worked in a vacuum.

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 I was introduced to PASS/IndyPASS and SQL Saturday. I joined, signed up and impatiently awaited my first SQL Saturday. I arrived at SQL Saturday not really knowing what to expect. I’ve attended numerous seminars but never any specifically related to SQL. I was impressed and overwhelmed. There were all these SQL people in one spot. They were real people; they were no longer abstract user ID’s, or online personas. They had varying levels of expertise, and were freely discussing anything and everything related to SQL. Being passionate about SQL was not only ok, it was encouraged and shared. There was even a SQL expert who is also a Tribal Fusion Dancer/Instructor! WOOHOO!! I didn’t have to explain my job as “DBA” was it own explanation. I knew that there were thousands of SQL peeps but seeing a bunch of them in the same building really put things in context for me. They were no longer just a component of a virtual world, they were tangible. I felt an instant connection with a building full of strangers. I assure you that doesn’t normally happen for me. It’s like I’ve been living in the wrong world.

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I realized many things on Saturday; a) I’m a rookie DBA that has soooooooo much to learn about SQL. b) that my level of professional social networking skills are virtually non-existent. c) I’m definitely hooked and will do everything I can to attend IndyPASS and SQL Saturday events whenever finances allow. Yea, I got the bug.

You Betcha SQLSaturday Minnesota Was Great!

Make sure to read the title in a Minnesota accent if you haven’t already.
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I wonder how many blog posts are written in airports? Add another one to the list.  Sitting here waiting on my flight and thinking about what a great time I had at the Minneapolis SQLSaturday.  I flew in on Friday and got to the hotel with no issues.  Relax for a bit and get Kalamazoo blog post done and head over to the speaker dinner at Don Pablos.  This beer gal does on a rare occasion enjoy a margarita so had one and chatted with some excellent people.  They gave us our speaker shirts and a nice suprise, a super soft throw with SQLSaturday embroidered on it.  They are very nice!  Thank you so much organizers!

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Then comes the day of the event.  I ride over with Ted Krueger (blog|twitter) and the whole family.  The little Kruegers were cracking me up the whole way.  They had the event at the University of Minnesota.  The site was really nice and it was a gorgeous day out.  The venue was split between 2 buildings so was a little sunshine break in between sessions.  I find my room and get ready for the shared session with Ted, Consulting – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.  Was really fun doing this session again and under better circumstances than the first time.  It was a last minute creation for SQLSaturday Indianapolis due to a speaker who had to miss the event.  We had time to actually prepare so it felt more fluid this go round.  We had a really nice turnout and fantastic interaction with the audience which is always key to making it great.  We ended up being dead on the money timing wise too which was good.

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Then I head over to catch Lara Rubbelke’s (blog|twitter) session, Big Data.  She had some internet connectivity issues but was prepared with a slideshow with screenshots.  I was super impressed with the way she handled it.  I know very little about Hadoop so learned a lot in her session.  She has a wonderful presence that brings to mind like a term that not sure is a real thing but will make up one…technical grace.

Lara talking Big Data

I had to leave a few minutes early to get over to prepare for the WIT panel discussion.  That went well but am kicking myself a bit for that one.  I have been on the panel plenty but I had never been in the role of moderator and I think it showed.  The discussion was really good though. We talked about work life balance or as Microsoft terms it “work life integration”.  I had just fantastic ladies who agreed to be on the panel: Jes Borland (blog|twitter), Amanda Bates (twitter), and Lara Rubbelke.  The audience participation and comments were great! There was one comment from a participant that really stuck with me “Work is not who I am”.  She said she wasn’t willing to let her work be the sole definition of who she was as a person.  I think I need to keep some more of that in my mind when I determine my own balance in my life.  My kids always come first but I feel sometimes outside of them I teeter on the edge of being driven and driving myself too hard.  Thank you to the panel and audience again!

PASS WIT lunch discussion

Then after wandering around unable to find the room for a bit I finally find Ted’s session on merge replication.  I brought the rest of my lunch with me as didn’t have a chance to eat much during the WIT discussion.  So felt like giant jerk disrupting the session trying to open my bag of chips and then even better when my phone starts vibrating during it.  Ted’s of course good at giving me grief and I totally deserved it.  So from then on I catch great info on merge replication and watch his son heckle him a bit during his session.

Ted talking about merge replication

From there I go watch Joe Sack’s (blog|twitter) presentation on “Resolving Cardinality Estimation Issues”.  I definitely knew of Joe but had never seen him speak.  I am so glad I did, he’s definitely one to go on the super human smart, intellectual crush list.  He gave a lot of exceptional information.  There was a great moment when he was discussing correlated column statistics when someone in the audience said “Oh crap!” when realized that auto statistics are only on single columns.  VERY good session!

Joe Sack session on cardinality estimation issues

Then was super excited to catch Robert Davis (blog|twitter) give session on corruption.  I really had been looking forward to meeting him in person.  I knew him by his reputation and on Twitter.  He gave a lot of wonderful information in his session and went through some corruption scenarios and resolution to them.  He’s also one of those many folks I have met that have me just floored by the amount they know of SQL Server.  They are called MCMs for a reason.

Robert Davis talking about corruption

I then head over to the closing ceremony which took a very long time due to the amount of top notch stuff from sponsors they were giving away.  Paul Timmerman (twitter) and folks did a fantastic job!  I’m sure it wasn’t as flawless as it appeared to me but I think that’s a excellent measure of a successful event.  Big props to you guys and all the volunteers.

Tons of great stuff to giveaway – thanks sponsors!

From there we then go to Elsie’s for dinner and karaoke.  They bought a ton of appetizers but after my lesson learned in Atlanta (see blog post) I order a yummy burger with a fried egg on it and enjoy some Bell’s Two Hearted Ales.  And of course we were in Jason (blog|twitter) and Sarah Strate (blog|twitter) country so the SQLkaraoke began shortly after that.  I am still holding strong on not singing but god bless them all, they keep trying.

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I had a wonderful time with my SQLFamily as I always do.  Thank you all for just being so damn great!  So I am a bit sad to think that’s my last SQLSaturday until probably spring next year.  But there are some super exciting things coming like PASS Summit!  So excited for the mass invasion of SQL folks in Seattle in just a few weeks!

Kalamazoo SQLSaturday – SQL Goodness Michigan Style

Looking over to my right I can see the tops of clouds while I’m working on this blog post.  I’m actually on my way to SQLSaturday Minnesota right now so no better time than to reflect back on Kalamazoo last weekend.  I drove up on Friday and gave myself plenty of time to make it to town which was nice.  Even stopped off in Fort Wayne to get one of them fancy presentation mice all the cool kids have and grabbed some lunch.  I get to the hotel and they had to redirect me to a different hotel.  Some nut job tampered with the sprinkler system and flooded half of the newly renovated hotel causing over $100,000 in damage.  They sent me like 2 minutes down the road to a nice hotel and were super helpful so really was a non-issue in my book.  I then spent some time with my re-vamped demo before heading over to the speaker dinner.  Ran into Norm Kelm (blog|twitter) and we rode over together to Tim Ford’s (blog|twitter) house.  I have been to other speaker dinners/after parties at folks houses before but am always just floored by how gracious those folks are for hosting.  Tim and his wife Amy, were super great hosts.  There was fantastic food and a great beer selection (super important to this admitted beer snob).  They had this really good spicy chicken and apparently fire roasted veggies for the homemade salsa.  Really good stuff!  Then got to hangout with my SQL Family a bit which was great!  Chatted up everyone who was in earshot, played a really terrible game of pool, and picked up my favorite speaker gift, ever!  They gave out these really great light jackets.  Not that I haven’t appreciated all the polos and shirts, but being a gal I typically don’t wear them after the event.  This is the first one I will actually wear again.  Nicely done organizers on the jackets!

 ***

Event day comes and my session is just before lunch.  I get a workout in and head over to the venue.  Oh what a venue it was!  This place was just a gorgeous facility!  They had it at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  The layout was nice as well.  Rooms were a bit spread out but wasn’t excessive at all.  I get setup for my PowerPivot session and had a great turnout.  I added a new piece to my demo which went well but I wish I was a little more comfortable with that new portion. I don’t think it showed as I got all 4s and 5s and had some folks stay and discuss PowerPivot more.  So then with my session done it was time for the WIT panel at lunch.  For a change I didn’t stuff my face during the discussion and waited till after to eat.  I’m a liar though if I say I wasn’t worried that I was going to get some food…this girl’s gotta eat!  We had really great informal discussion.  It was moderated by Shelly Noll (twitter) and the panel was myself, Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter), Colleen Morrow (blog|twitter), and Tamera Clark (blog|twitter).  We talked about things like getting what you deserve in pay and touched some on glass ceiling issues.  I liked the term that came up of “voting with your feet” meaning that if you aren’t treated how you want or paid what you want, walk away.

 ***

After that I grab a couple tacos to go (hooray food!) and head over to Juan Soto’s (blog|twitter) session “Wish you could live the glamorous consulting life?”. I had never seen him speak before and am a consultant so was curious to hear a different aspect of it.  He gave a lot of great information and tips for folks who are considering making that jump.  Covered some of the considerations such as working from home.  You have to be geared to do that and can’t have a lot of distractions in your home.  He also had some good information on websites and Google ads.

Juan’s session on consulting

From there I went to Garrett Edmondson’s (blog) session “Scaling SQL Server to Hundreds of Terabytes”.  I wasn’t familiar with him as well and was intrigued by the topic.  He did a good job and is very knowledgeable on data warehouses.  He also is one of the rare folks also getting to work with PDW and talked about that a bit.

Garrett’s session on data warehouses

For the last session of the day I went to go see Tamera like a camera Clark give session on creating your first SSRS report.  I’ve known her from Twitter for quite awhile so was excited to see her present.  She had some small hiccups with her datasets but she recovered well and did a good job.  She’s a fabulous gal and her personality shines through which is great.

Tamera’s going over SSRS

The wrap up went on for a good long time because they had tons of sponsors.  I gave Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) tons of grief because of this which was really due to the fact I had a big case of sponsor envy going on leading up to the event.  So after that then we went downtown to the Beer Exchange for the after party.  This was a great place with an interesting concept.  They do the beer prices like a stock market that go up and down based on demand.  Was a happening spot so they had to break us up into 3 groups of 10.  I was in the right spot at the bar and got into one of the first groups.  We are sitting and eating having a great time.  I had great beer and the best macaroni and cheese I ever had.  A bit later I go downstairs to find that some of the others still hadn’t gotten a table yet and were still waiting!  I then begin to feel like a giant jerk and move our table out quickly.  One of the folks still waiting was Tim and Amy Ford and their kids which totally helped drive the guilt knife in a bit deeper.

Prize giveaways galore!

We then end up going back to Tim/Amy’s house after that as well.  Another reason to feel like a giant jerk…yeah umm you haven’t eaten yet but can we all crash your place again?  Luckily they are super nice like that and we all had a ball.  Jason (blog|twitter) and Sarah Strate (blog|twitter) brought a game called “Cards Against Humanity” that was just flippin hilarious!  It was kind of like a super crude and wonderfully inappropriate version of grown up Mad Libs and was fantastic!  I may have to buy a copy of that myself.

***

So yeah it was another really great SQLSaturday event and I had a ball hanging out with my SQL Family!  Thanks to Josh Fennessy who did a fantastic job being the lead organizer.  You held it together even with the venue issues and everything (almost became the first SQLSaturday to be held in a field).  Thanks to all the other organizers and volunteers!  Huge thanks and big props to Tim and Amy Ford!  Thank you for letting this crazy bunch of SQL people invade your home not once but twice!  Tim you make sure to buy Amy something expensive for putting up with all of us yahoos! 🙂

Ewww Wee – Double Dose of SQLSaturday Yumminess

Well I had plenty of time to reflect on the SQLSaturday Indy and now I am back in the saddle but on the stressful side of the fence, the speaker side.  I will be doing back to back SQLSaturdays starting this weekend in Kalamazoo for #sqlsat160!  I am really looking forward to this one! I will be presenting on PowerPivot 2012 and BISM there.  It’s a really great lineup of speakers and word on the street is there will be tacos!  Who would miss that?  Go register for that one here!

***

If you can’t make it to that one perhaps I can persuade you into coming to Minnesota for #sqlsat149?  I’m not sure what kind of bribes were cashed in to get the schedule they have but I’ll take it!  They have a phenomenal schedule lined up and I will be part of it doing “Consulting – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” again with Ted Kruger.  It was such a fun session, can’t wait to do that one again.  Go check out that event here.  Going to be a bit hectic back to back SQLSaturdays but really can’t wait!

SQLSaturday Indy Episode 2: “A New Hope”

Yes total cheese but after someone mentioned that title to me I couldn’t resist.  It’s very fitting though.  This was Indy’s second SQLSaturday and man it made a new Hope out of me!  I have been lucky enough to be part of a lot of SQLSaturdays but this one was my first in the role of organizer.  It was a very eye opening experience and I have so much more respect for anyone dedicated/crazy enough to do it.

SQLSaturday Eve

We were lucky enough to get Allen White to come to SQLSaturday and do a precon session.  We hosted it at PTI which was nice.  It gave us all a chance in the office to get giddy as school girls that Allen was coming to our home base.  I was a little worried though when I talked to him in Philly when he only 2 registered attendees.  I had nothing to worry about as he ended up selling out with even more folks trying to get into it.  It went really well and he did a fantastic job like he always does.  As I was in Allen’s session though I started catching tweets about the time zone difference tripping folks up (facepalm).  I didn’t even think to warn folks that Indianapolis was in the Eastern time zone.  Indiana has these weird lines for timezones and it’s super close to Chicago but we’re on different zones.  Ooops!

Allen and a full day of PowerShell…what could be better?

So right after his precon I pack up and head over to Western Bowl on the west side for the speaker dinner.  On my way I picked up a nice bottle of scotch for our main organizer, Caroline Bailey.  She deserved that and then some!  Shortly after I get there and the speakers start to show up.  We just had pizzas for dinner and then some bowling fun.  I hadn’t bowled forever and am really terrible at it but had a ball.  I felt pretty decent with the speaker dinner.  It seemed like everyone was having a good time.

Speakers bowling it up!

The Big Day

I get up extra early to get a quick workout in before heading over to the venue.  I had to navigate there like the pilgrims did as my phone decided to take a morning off from allowing me to get internet access.  I had to call my husband and ask him how to get to University of Indianapolis.  I get there and I was not prepared for the pandemonium.  Everything is going ok but with all the registrations going on with that many people in general, tends to give you the chaos vibes.  I try to get my bearings and then I begin to hear about issues with the hotel.  We had storms on Friday and apparently that caused the hotel not to have elevator service and hot water! Lovely no?!  I also hear how quality of it was not great.  My shoulders droop and I begin a long day of just feeling terrible, mostly about this.  The hot water and elevators were an act of god but quality of the hotel was on us.  I wanted to take care of all my speakers in my hometown and I felt like a giant failure.  Tried to swallow that issue and get through the rest of the day.  We then hear about issues with WiFi.  I begin trying to hunt down some IT folks to figure out what is going on without much luck.  We had some successes but WiFi was pretty much a no go and I learned to live with it.  From there I then hear about how someone is having issues with projector…of course they are!  I really begin to feel a bit defeated but carried on to the first session of the day.

***

I grab my stack of feedback sheets and head down to assist in Julie Smith’s (blog|twitter) “Data Quality Services – Finally!” session.  Just what I needed to help get my mind off all the issues, Julie’s great sense of humor and really great info.  This works for a bit and I am distracted wondering what type of a hat a data steward should have, because with a name like that you really must have a hat.  Then her session is over and she did a great job and I start collecting feedback.  I realize after that when I take the feedback up to the front area for prize drawing that I didn’t exactly tell hardly anyone to put their name on the sheet and it didn’t have a place for it.  Lovely…organizer reality comes crashing back to me.

Julie dropping knowledge on DQS

I then skip next session and try to get my bearings and figure out who needs help.  I probably was in the way more than I helped but that’s ok.  I talk with some of the speakers and do a lot of apologizing for hotel.  They were all pretty nice about it and tried not to make me feel bad, it didn’t work but was nice of them regardless.  I then catch up with my husband and daughter who came to help me out.  My hubby was going to take pictures of the event and my daughter was there so I could show her what mommy does when I’m out of town.

***

Ok then on to Shaun Watt’s (twitter) “PowerShell and PerfMon…Come on!” session.  We decided awhile back to make sure first time speakers had a friendly face in the audience to assist if they needed it.  I was that friendly face for his session.  This was his first SQLSaturday and had only given this session just the prior week for practice to the local user group.  I was glad to do this as was around the day of Christina Leo’s (blog|twitter) experience on her first time session. Nicholas Cain’s (blog|twitter) blog post on it stuck with me and took his suggestion.  Shaun did a great job on his session so didn’t need me but I felt better being there.  He does really well for being new to technical speaking.

Shaun doing his second live presentation ever!

Then on to the WIT lunch panel.  I always love going to these and honored when asked to sit in on the panels.  My sales partner in crime, Kandy Vicini, was the moderator.  On the panel I sat with Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter), Eddie Wuerch (blog|twitter), Julie Smith, and my daughter sat with me.  She is severely shy so knew she wouldn’t speak but it was nice having her with me.  She is my own little WIT ideas in action and I at least exposed her to a technical world.  Everything went well and Kandy did a great job other than the failure of mispronouncing and not knowing who Roger Waters is of Pink Floyd.  She came armed with statistics and everything! I was very impressed with the job she did as moderator (and no not still sucking up after Atlanta incident).  The discussion turned more into one on community than women but that was OK.  It was still great conversation and a lot of information was shared with audience.

We all look amused except for Eddie.

Up next was Brent Dragoo’s (twitter) session, “Database Crime Scene Investigation”.  I was sooo looking forward to this as it was his first time doing a technical presentation.  I met and talked with him at last year’s PASS Summit and started putting that bug in his ear ever since then to speak.  He is one who is very passionate about the SQL community, well spoken, and technically savvy so I knew he would be great.  And he was and I was able to say I paid a little bit of that good karma forward for those who help nudge me along down this wonderful community path.  Even though he was an unknown speaker, his topic packed the room!  He did a good job and the symbolism he used was really great.

Brent and his first presentation ever!

Next I caught my bearings and chatted with Ted Krueger (blog|twitter) a bit on our session that was up last session of the day.  We had a speaker who unfortunately had a car wreck and was unable to make it to SQLSaturday.  I found this out on Thursday.  I had been toying with the idea of doing a professional development session for awhile on consulting.  Ted, who is inhuman for the amount of time he gives to helping folks in the community, agreed to help me with a last minute panel discussion.  So we quickly whipped up “Consulting – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”.  For being such a rushed effort, I thought the discussion was really good and we got good feedback.  I can’t wait to do that one again and refine it a bit.  I really had a blast during that one!  We also pulled in Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) to the session and Aarow Lowe (blog|twitter) provided a lot of great feedback as well.  Big props to Ted!  You are da man!  And thank you Josh and Aaron too!

See…this session was a riot!

Ok so then on to the awards ceremony.  That was a bit chaotic as well but worked out.  Kyle did well presenting closing remarks.  Eddie also stepped in as well to fill some time and provided a lot of comic relief.  Somehow he became the guy who you had to take a picture with when you won a prize.  By this time I started to become distracted with visions of much needed beers in my future.  One thing that I noticed though was that we did not have to re-call any names during the huge amount of prize drawings!  I thought that was really great and says a lot for the Indy tech community.  Either they are dedicated enough to learning to stay all day or really, really wanted that LANTech iPad.

***

Then on to the after party.  We were worried about funds so planned a very casual gathering for folks at the hotel restaurant.  The appetizers were good but being there in the blegh hotel just felt like salt in my wounds.  I had some good conversation with folks and many kept trying to build me back up.  Many times in the past when I have talked to organizers, they are very apologetic and I’m often confused wondering why.  I completely know how they feel now!  I kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over and folks looked at me funny and how great it was from their perspective.  They don’t feel the full weight of every little thing that went wrong.  We then moved on to a Mexican restaurant for some REAL food.  (See I learned my lesson from SQLSaturday Atlanta – never try to make a meal out of appetizers when drinking).  I think I pulled a muscle laughing so hard at dinner and mas cerveza helped me out of my down in the dumps demeanor a bit.  Some even more brave souls trekked onward to the lovely karaoke dive bar where we did have some SQL Karaoke.  My record of not singing is still intact but they put in a good effort to try to convince me again.

***

I had a great time with everyone who made it.  And again I am sorry for the bumps but as you can see I learned my lesson.  <in my best Scarlett O’Hara> And as god as my witness, speaker hotel will not be janky ever again!

***

Below are some more lessons learned as my first go as a SQLSaturday organizer:

***

1. The internet is a damn liar!  Well except for this blog post of course, but I will NEVER EVER EVER trust only website photos for quality of hotel.  Always have manual inspection of hotel or only use ones people have stayed in before.

2. Always have a run through of sessions with the room proctors prior to the first session.  We didn’t have the process down for until after first session. At least have a quick huddle up with everyone to let them know of the process.  The absolute worst thing happened here due to this, at least one speaker I know didn’t get feedback.  Feedback to a speaker is like gold and should be treated that way.

3. Start early to get sponsors.  It is great that there are more and more SQLSaturdays for the community but organizers have to work harder and harder for sponsor dollars.

4. Talk to surrounding SQL Server community areas when you are deciding on dates.  Louisville’s SQLSaturday was the weekend prior to ours.  While it may have worked out for some speakers traveling, overall think we should have spaced those out better.  Also along these lines make sure someone is either a better race car fan or uses that mythical internet to verify major races aren’t the same weekend! (more facepalm)

5.  Make sure to consider topic as well as speaker for the projected audience size.  We had some rooms that were larger than others.  We miscalculated on some of the session crowds, BIG TIME!  I apologize to those who were sardines in some sessions.  An idea I had, if you are unsure, ask speakers for feedback on audiences for presentations.  There’s no guarantee with that still but better than a shot in the dark.  Also another idea I have from this is to have room proctors to get counts for future reference.

6.  Force help more on obsessed organizers.  Caroline Bailey is on our marketing and event planning team at PTI.  She plans a damn good event and did so again with our SQLSaturday.  Us in the SQL community (myself and Kyle) totally took advantage of her willingness to help and skill at event planning.  Make sure you don’t let passionate souls bear the more weight than they should.

7.  Again make sure since Indiana is weird timezone wise to remind folks that Indy is Eastern timezone.

8.  Get with the venue folks many times in advanced to check on WiFi status.  Stress importance of WiFi for technical audience and threaten life if necessary!

9.  May have been nice to have headsets to communicate with organizers.  Or at least some way to communicate via cell phones instantly.  There were several times I shrugged my shoulders to questions when could have/should have fired it off to Caroline or other committee members.  Oh the goofiness I could create wearing a headset too!

10.  Make sure to have plan B, C, and D in place for speaker fill in for cancellations.  Cancellations seem to be inevitable and need to make sure to have your backup plans in place.  Thank you so much to Wendy and Joe for doing two sessions.  And big thanks to Ted again for helping out super last minute.

***
Thanks again to all the speakers, organizers, committee, and volunteers who made SQLSaturday Indy a success!  Check out more pictures of it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/hope_foley/sets/72157630877966720/

SQLSaturday Philly – Another Great Event

Coming pretty quick off the heels of SQLSaturday Chicago, shifted my focus to Philly!  I was really pumped for this one.  There was a lot of folks I consider my SQLFamily presenting at this event, some I hadn’t seen since the Summit.  There were also a lot of people there I had never met before which was exciting too!  I also have one of my best friends, Amie, who lives just outside Philly so was going to be staying a day late and visit her while out there. So I pick up my trusty sales sidekick, Kandy, and we head east! We went out on Thursday night. We had a client meeting we tried to get going out there but it fell through so we had some time to relax before the festivities started. Thursday night we had chance to go to Flying Pig Saloon. Was a nice little place with a good beer menu. Then Friday during the day we put our uber tourist hats on and went to go get a cheesesteak from Pat’s. We also got our first taste of the lovely Philly traffic 🙂

***

After worries that traffic would make me late and some issues with Kandy’s iPhone navigation, I make it to the speaker dinner. It was at McKenzie Brewhouse. This was a great place for the event. It was great weather to be outside and they had us out on back patio. Food was good and the space was great for chatting with folks.

Speaker dinner

I had the first session of the day. I definitely like having a morning slot. I can get my game face on and then relax the rest of the day. So we get to the venue bright and early. This SQLSaturday was actually held at a Microsoft building in Malvern. It was a beautiful facility and things were going just fine with registration. They had just an army of volunteers helping which must have made things easier on organizers. I always go find my room first and I get there and it was like a sauna. The building wasn’t geared toward weekend activity and they didn’t have air conditioning going at first. I am normally one to try to buck stereotypes but I am very much the typical freezing woman complaining about how cold it is. For me to be just melting hot in a room, normal folks must be on the verge of heat stroke. It got better after folks got air going but seemed the upstairs rooms stayed pretty toasty all day. Another slight drawback to the venue was that wifi was a no go 😦

***

So then session time comes. I had a great group in for my session. Lots of good discussion and people telling about how they are implementing PowerPivot in their shops. I had a slight hiccup in one of my demos but I got it worked out and was only a bump instead of a disaster. We ended up doing Birkram PowerPivot but it was fun and made me appreciate my audience even more than I normally do.

***

I then caught up for just a few minutes with the so fun Josef Richberg (blog|twitter). I was bummed I missed his session and he had to leave early to get back for son’s baseball game. He was in the zone with someone from his session going over SSIS so I then snuck into Karen Lopez’s (blog|twitter) session “Career Management for Data Professionals”. There was a lot of great info in this session. If you have a chance to catch it you should. Things such as keeping metrics on what you support but don’t break any rules or NDAs at the same time. One thing I am definitely going to start doing in interviews is ask “who do you follow?”. I think that is just a great simple question that can tell me a lot of who that person is as a DBA/Developer.

Karen laying knowledge on the folks.

Then came the WIT session. It was a bit different than most as it was in an actual session slot. I was always worried about those that are set like this as they go up against technical sessions. We had a small gathering for the session but it really was one of the best WIT discussions that I have ever been involved. Joshua Lynn was there and had a lot of great insight into motivating next generation into STEM fields, boys and girls.  He works with kids in competitive robot events. I also liked Erin Stellato’s (blog|twitter) “Lean Into It” mantra she shared that she uses with her kids when handling challenges.

WIT discussion

Then I was finally able to catch a session from Christina Leo (blog|twitter) and I mean FINALLY! It had become a recurring thing at all the SQLSaturday events we were at together that we always had same session time so never got to see each other present. We did have one session at the same time at this event but she luckily had 2 sessions. So I caught her session on server side traces. She is such a warm person and it shows in her presentation style I think. She also is a perfectionist and that shows as well.

The lovely Christina Leo

Next up I had a title catch my eye and went to see John Sterrett’s (blog|twitter) session “Performance Tuning for Pirates”. Not being from east coast and also not a baseball fan I totally didn’t even consider that his reference was for the Pittsburgh Pirates. So I expected more “Arrghs” and eyepatches but didn’t receive any. It was a really good session though and there was a lot of good references to tools to assist folks such as PAL tool on Codeplex.

John Sterrett’s session – See no eyepatch.

The last session of the day I went to Adam Belebczuk’s (blog|twitter) session on Service Broker. I started following Adam on Twitter and knew he was fairly new to speaking. I was intrigued to see his style and skeelz. He didn’t disappoint and was a really good session. Very engaging with the audience and you could tell he knew the subject very well.

Great new speaker Adam Belebczuk

Then on to the after party which was hosted by Joey D’Antoni (blog|twitter) at his own house! I know right?! He and his lovely wife, Kelly, hosted a wonderful party at their house for the speakers. They were just superb hosts! I had a ball with everyone as I normally do. Then I had a bit of an odd event happen. My friend Amie I mentioned earlier, she came and hung out for a bit at the after party. She is a friend I have known since college but like most of my friends and family, they only know my career as that I do “computer stuff”. It was an odd crossing of the streams but I survived and was kind of cool to have her see that side of my world.

The after party host by Joey and Kelly D’Antoni

Thank you guys in Philly for throwing a really great event! Thanks for having me! Thank you to my SQLFamily for just continuing to show me how friggin amazing a set of people can be!

Look at great crowd! Thanks Philly!

SQLSaturday Chicago 2012 – Fan-tabulous Event Again!

Continuing with super amped up excitement from the Free-Con, moved on to SQLSaturday Chicago festivities.  I have been really looking forward to this one.  I had a blast last year and it really solidified my addiction and love for SQLSaturdays.  So we head from the Free-Con event downtown to the speaker dinner.  It was held at Dave & Busters.  It was a good location and the space allowed for movement which was nice for chatting with everyone.  They also had pool tables and duck pin bowling too which was fun.  Food was good too so definitely a win for the organizers on the speaker dinner.  I left a bit early so I could spend some time going through demos and slides.  Word on the street was that there was a unicorn pool party later on but I’ll put missing that event into the win column as well 🙂
***
Then Saturday rolls around.  Get a workout in, grab a coffee and bagel, then head over to DeVry.  It was the wrong DeVry campus of course but someone points me to the right place and I make it in plenty of time.  I skipped first session to get prepared for my presentation in the speaker room.  My session was the second of the day which was a pretty good slot.  I like getting the morning sessions so I can get presentation out of the way then relax and enjoy sessions for the rest.  Then show time arrives.  I had a really good crowd (probably around 35 people).  I was in the same time slot as Mr. Ozar which is always disheartening but I was doing a B.I. topic so bit different audience than his.  My presentation went pretty good.  I always sweat the small stuff but just part of my nature.  And I always want to make sure I am constantly improving so just part of the process.  I had some great B.I folks in the room too which was very helpful.  I would not consider myself a B.I person really but want to learn portions of it better.  I was very lacking on my SSIS so I picked up this session topic as a challenge to myself to learn.  I don’t think there is any better way to dig deep and learn something than to prepare a presentation on the topic.  So it helped to have some very heavy SSIS folks in the room to assist with questions.  Thanks Bill Fellows (blog|twitter) and Norm Kelm (blog|twitter).  I got some good constructive speaker feedback in the end that I am definitely going to incorporate into this session next time.
***
Right after my presentation was the WIT panel lunch discussion.  I always love these and was very happy to sit on the panel when Wendy (blog|twitter) asked.  Wendy moderated and I sat with Erin Stellato (blog|twitter) and Shelly Noll (blog|twitter) on the panel.  As always we had a lot of great back and forth with everyone.  There were a few topics that popped up such as competitive team members and technical vs management (very much something I struggle with).  One of the main topics of the session were if you have to be assertive to be heard.  We also talked about aggressive vs assertive.  Great discussion as always.  I apologize for making folks watch me eat during this, my fear of missing a meal trumped fear of looking like a yahoo.

View of crowd from WIT panel

Then I got to sit in on Tim Ford’s (blog|twitter) session “The Periodic Table of Dynamic Management Objects”.  I wasn’t sure if I had ever seen Tim present and was very glad checked out this one.  You could tell he put a lot of time and effort into this session.  Had a great visualization (actual period table laying out and grouping of the DMOs).  A lot of great information and he has a great presentation style.  Definitely can tell not his first rodeo and he is swell and that shows through for sure.

Tim Ford getting his DMO on!

Next up was Argenis Fernandez (blog|twitter) and his “Troubleshooting SQL Server with SysInternals Tools” presentation.  Argenis is a super great guy and a new MCM so was very interested to see his presentation style.  It was a very good presentation and I took away a lot.  I wasn’t familiar very much at all with the SysInternals tools he used.  I have to admit I was a bit freaked out with folks trying to do some of these things he showed but still good info.  For example he showed how he got into a locked out system where you lost sa password.

Argenis doing the damn thing on some SysInternals

Last session of the day was Erin Stelleto’s (blog|twitter) “DBCC Commands: The Quick and the Dangerous”.  This was I think my favorite presentation of the day.  She is super great and had a lot of great information on DBCC commands.  She showed some very helpful DBCC commands such as DBCC SQLPERF(logspace) but also a lot of focus on integrity checks and corruption.  She went through a few examples of corruption and what you can do to fix it.  I think that’s super helpful to have some practice runs with corruption for new DBAs.  I envision that session helping quite a few DBAs in those corruption-sky-is-falling situations.

Erin doing a great DBCC session

Then hoping to up my karma points I take my dear friend Argenis to the airport to head back to Seattle.  Then haul it back for my favorite part, the aftermath!  They had the afterparty at the Hampton Inn in one of the convention rooms.  They brought in a KJ for the phenomenon called SQL Karaoke.  They had food brought in for folks from Famous Daves which was super nice.  I didn’t have to worry about making a meal out of appetizers and I didn’t have to worry about driving or finding a designated driver.  Could sit back and relax and visit with everyone.  I got to meet some folks from Twitter such as the very popular SQLCheesecake (aka Dustin Mueller) (twitter).  I am still an innocent bystander in the way of karaoke.  No one should have to hear me sing but I’ll be damned if they don’t keep trying to get me to do it.  They failed again but they are a persistent bunch so maybe one of these days I’ll cave.  Jason brought out the disturbing and supposedly foul smelling unicorn mask (I took everyone’s word for it on the funk…I wasn’t that curious).  Mark Villiancourt (blog|twitter) kills me at SQL Karaoke.  An honorable mention for his Gilbert Godfrey doing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” but of course my favorite is his “Star Wars Cantina” to the tune of “Copa Cabana”.  Jason Strate (blog|twitter) also did some songs in his so wrong it’s right kind of way.  Then there were some who were super ambitious and went out dancing.  I hung back with several others and stayed in the lobby just chatting.  I felt bad hijacking Rob Farley (blog|twitter) into talking so late that he was damn near dilirious.  There were a group of us that I think stayed up till 2:00 just chatting.  It was so great!  I so love having the opportunity to hear the stories of everyone and soak up any and all advice they give.

Disturbing isn’t it?

Another fantastic experience at SQLSaturday Chicago!  All you guys who organized this did just a fantastic job!  It seemed to go really smoothly but I know that is because you guys made it appear that way.  I hope I can take some of that into ours coming up in Indy.  Thanks for having me again!