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!
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.
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!
After that I caught some lunch with a unicorn!
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!
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.
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!
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!
Last week was a trip! I can say that now after some rest and reflection but was a bit of a different story while I was living it. I was selected to present at the very first PASS BA Conference. I was super excited as it was the first time I have presented at a conference of this level and not for lack of submitting. My nerves were a bit up to a level they haven’t been in a very long time giving a presentation. These elevated nerves kicked into sheer panic when the morning before my presentation I find…my laptop has died!! I begin frantically working on plans B, C, and D just to be safe (always the optimistic DBA). I am restoring databases on my drive to Chicago so you could say I was a bit rattled.
I get things functional and some odd kinks worked out in my demos in the morning but not early enough to catch the keynote unfortunately. I heard fantastic things about it though and Amir Netz is normally the highlight of PASS keynotes in my opinion. I had enough time though to catch my friends, Mark Vaillancourt (blog|twitter) and Doug Lane (blog|twitter) give their presentation “Hailing Frequencies: Analysis Services Terms and Concepts”. On my already frazzled nerves I sit there and watch as they start off with resolution issues which didn’t help the knot in my stomach. They handled it perfectly though. These guys are great and so funny. I love a presentation that has information and humor and they deliver there…big time!
After a little prep it’s time for my session. I get through it and demos went well but I couldn’t shake some of the nerves I had built up. And just like every session, I learn something. From now on I will set a timer to vibrate at 5 minutes before the end of the session. I was barely watching the clock, trying to concentrate on session and miscalculated time. I thought I was running long when I was actually short and wrapped up way too abruptly. I got some good feedback but I was kicking myself for a good long time for messing up on timing when in practice I had it nailed timing wise.
After the pressure is lifted a bit from my shoulders I take in Chuck Heinzleman (twitter), Gilad Elyashar, and David Magar’s session “Make Cloud BI Work for You”. I was afraid it was going to go super sales-y as some Azure sessions do but it didn’t. They give some good practical examples that didn’t have anything to do with bicycles.
After that things begin to catch up with me and decide that a nap is too good to pass up before the community appreciation party at the Lucky Strike bowling alley. On the way there I meet Greg Kramer (twitter) and we begin chatting. I was very excited to hear he’s getting ready to give his very first presentation soon for MADPASS. Then after stuffing myself silly with some of the great food I bowl it up with Neil Hambly (blog|twitter), Wendy (blog|twitter), Doug, and others. I should have stuck with bowling but from time to time I have the urge to see if I have spontaneously become a pool shark. Surprisingly that didn’t happen. Doug Lane said it best when he said I was more of a pool sea cucumber than a shark.
I was extremely glad I got up in time to catch the keynote from Steven Levitt (site) of Freakanomics fame. This was one of my favorite keynotes, well ever. I had read the back cover of Freakanomics and was intrigued but never actually read the book. Steven was very entertaining with his stories over the gathering of data for the book. You could tell the folks on Twitter approved too and those guys are a hard lot to impress. I definitely want to read the book now.
They always say at these conferences that some of the best material is to be found when you aren’t in a session at all. This proved true for the conversation I had over breakfast after the keynote with James Serra (blog|twitter) and Ted Krueger (blog|twitter). We were talking consulting gathering material for the session Ted and I give that covers different aspects of consulting. I don’t have any independent consulting experience and Ted’s is a bit dated so was great to talk with James and get his insight. Thank you again James…really appreciate the information. I continue getting info from James by catching his session after breakfast. He gave a lot of great information on data warehouse concepts and had a good conversational style.
At lunch I went to the PASS Community Zone for the drawing for a tablet. As I stood there complaining to Josh that I never win anything, Karla (blog|twitter) calls my name! I won a Surface! How cool was that?! So then I joyfully float over with cartoon birds following me to go catch the lovely Julie Koesmarno (blog|twitter) and Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) session ” The Essential 8: Narrative Reporting Techniques”. Josh is a good friend so I’m a bit biased but they both did a great job. They both seemed very at ease and had great demos. Good information on snazzifying your reports.
I was so excited for the next session I caught which was Rob Collie’s (blog|twitter) ” Dark Matter: Domain Experts & Nextgen Spreadsheets Are Our Future”. I have been using and learning about PowerPivot since it first came out. I feel like majority of what I know about it came from Rob. I had never seen a live presentation of his but his blog was pivotal (oh yeah I went there) in teaching me and getting me through what I wanted to accomplish within PowerPivot. His blog always has a great entertainment value to them and his live session delivered in that aspect as well. I think this was probably my favorite session. I wanted to meet him but he had a large crowd gather at the end and I was anxious to hit the road for Addison for the speaker dinner for SQLSaturday. So if I had met you Rob I would have said thank you for teaching me PowerPivot and doing it in a non boring fashion.
Thank you PASS for having me speak and for putting on quite the shindig. I was anxious to see how this conference was going to go since it was the first one and was targeted at different folks than those of the Summit. I don’t know if you reached the audience you wanted or hit any other metrics to equate a successful event. I do know this gal came away feeling it was a success and I had a great time. And no it wasn’t just because I won a tablet but that didn’t hurt by any means!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Traumatized the previous day by missing a meal, skipped the keynote for a good breakfast with my roomie Julie (blog|twitter), Colin (blog|twitter), and Josh (blog|twitter). After a decent amount of food and giggling we head over to community zone for a few. Then I went over to Mark Broadbent’s (blog|twitter) session “READPAST & Furious: Transactions, Locking, and Isolation”. I was really glad I went, he did a really great job. I was really enjoying him talking about how implicit transactions are “evil muthas” but had to leave a bit early to get over to help setup for the WIT Luncheon. On my way out I finally crossed paths with Jimmy May (blog|twitter)! It is next to impossible to find one person at Summit but finally caught him.
I’ve been involved for a little while in WIT so was really looking forward to the Luncheon. I go and assist in setting up the tables but things were in fairly decent order so it wasn’t too frantic or difficult. Grab some food and get prepped to watch the discussion. This year was the 10th anniversary for the WIT Luncheon so the topic was “Women in Technology: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?”. It was really great to hear how it has grown over the years. The panelists were Stefanie Higgins, Kevin Kline (blog|twitter), Kendra Little (blog|twitter), Denise McInerney (twitter), and Jen Stirrup (blog|twitter). Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter) was the moderator. It was really great discussion and the panelists did a great job. I thought some of the live questions were a bit redundant though…seemed a few of the where just the same “how do we get more women in technology” vague question. I was really glad Wendy caught a great one via Twitter of “what do you do to silence the critics of WIT initiatives?”. Wow too much goes through my head on that one so will have to save for a future blog post. I absolutely loved Kendra’s response of “Haters gonna hate”. I did have one complaint of the Luncheon in that they should have wrapped it up at least 10 minutes before they did. It didn’t end until the next set of sessions were set to start. I tried to get into two sessions after it but they were full by the time I got there. So I roamed and chatted for another session which was completely fine.
I ended up finding a quiet corner and had a video chat with the family. Was having so much fun seeing my family that ended up running over into the next session. After that roamed and chatted more until the last session which I caught the BI Power Hour session by the group of Matt Masson (blog|twitter), Chuck Heinzelman (twitter), Matthew Roche, Patrick LeBlanc (blog|twitter), Peter Myers, and Sean Boon (blog|twitter). I had never attended one but had a few folks mention it to me and oh so glad they did. I have never in my life attended a technical session that laughed so much in. I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard! Also imagine is one of those that just isn’t the same on the DVD as it was in person. It was a really fun session guys, great job!
After sessions were done, Julie and I grabbed a bus to head over to the Community Appreciation party at the EMP Museum. It was a bit of a change up as they normally have this party at Gameworks. I LOVED the change! This place was great! They had live band karaoke going which a lot of folks seemed to enjoy. I wasn’t digging the karaoke area. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old geezer, it was too loud and crowded. I didn’t yell at any of the young kids for their loud rock and roll but did avoid it other than in passing. I took in the sites of the museum though and was a bit like a little kid. They had some sci fi areas with some Star Wars paraphanelia which made me just damn giddy. There was also a great area with horror movie exhibits. I thought I was going to lose my mind when I saw they had a zombie suit from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. There were also plenty of quiet areas for chatting so was really great…big thumbs up PASS on that party!
Wake up bright and early on the first day of the Summit, well ok it wasn’t super bright and early but early enough to try to make breakfast and still catch keynote. My wonderful roommate, Julie Smith (blog|twitter),and I head over to try to grab a quick bite to eat before the keynote starts. We had about 10 minutes but they shut down breakfast and the doors were locked…or so we thought. We hadn’t gotten the lay of the land yet and assumed food was in the same place as last year, it wasn’t. Doh moment #1. Very much bummed about missing a meal we head to the keynote. There were a few technical nuggets such as the next step in the road with in-memory solution Hekaton and the SQL 2012 sp1 update release. The bright spot speaker wise was Amir Netz. He did a good job again this year with entertaining demos and upbeat, enjoyable style. Later there was the mention of “having a BI moment” which a Twitter did catch and run with as it very well should have.
After the keynote I was anxious to wander around and get my bearings on where things were laid out so I roamed for the first session slot. Found the vendor area and the hub for the rest of the week, the Community Zone. I then helped pass out maps for the chapter lunch which was entertaining. Folks must have thought I was trying to sell them something as I had trouble with people taking free maps. I only had to strong arm a few folks and after that went in to help represent my IndyPASS chapter. I had some really great conversation with folks from my local area. Many at the table were Indy locals who don’t come to meetings so was a good chance to run new ideas to pull new members by a perfect target audience. Thank you guys for your feedback at my table that day! I also got a chance to encourage some of them there to start speaking technically after he mentioned a really exciting project one of them was doing implementing AlwaysOn.
Then I head over to catch a Lightning Talk session. This one was done by Brent Ozar (blog|twitter), Amy Lewis (twitter), Mark Broadbent (blog|twitter), Rob Volk (blog|twitter), Robert Davis (blog|twitter). Was a good thing I got there when I did…it was PACKED! Dear PASS folks in charge of room selection, please put Lightning talks in a larger room next year. I always try to go to those as they just aren’t the same on the DVD and better to see live. Can’t see Brent Ozar dressed up like Bob Dylan on the DVD for sure. I wonder how many folks are going to be super confused when watching that one on DVD now that I think about it? “Who is this quasi southern accent raspy voice dude? Where is Brent O?” Everyone did a good job in that session. Mark Broadbent had some technical difficulties with the projectors but he handled it well and it kind of added to the fun of it.
From there I went to the Steve Jones (blog|twitter) and Andy Warren (blog|twitter) session on “The Mentoring Experiment”. I love the mentoring aspect of my job so was intrigued by the topic. Very interesting session on their experiences with the mentoring matchup program they started for SQL professionals. A lot of tough hurdles in the process, such as match up process being handled manually by matching or random. I gave my opinion that I don’t feel it really matters in that the match ups could be totally random. I think mentoring is kind of like the friendship process in general. I have varying degrees of friends and that process is a matter of chemistry that I don’t know could be formulated or worked out without interaction with the mentor/mentee. I think if 2 people are paired up in a situation where folks want to be a part of the process, they will themselves make it as much a success as the relationship/chemistry will allow. I always feel that there is something to learn from everyone and their experiences so no matter what good will come of the match. Great job Andy/Steve! That is really a great thing you guys are doing.
Last session of the day I catch Jen Stirrup’s (blog|twitter) session on Mobile Business Intelligence Now. I had never seen a session from Jen in person so was very excited to catch her. I know she probably gets tired of folks talking about her accent but I just can’t help it. SQL Server Reporting Services just never sounded so lovely as it does from her! Very interesting information on how the eyes perceive information and using that to make your reports more clean/impactful. Also had a lot of information on considerations for mobile screens. Very good job Jen!
From there head for a bit to the Exhibitor reception for just a little bit. Ran into a lot of folks and chatted up anyone who didn’t run fast enough. They only had appetizers there so was necessary to move on to go get more sustenance. Went over with Julie and Rob and joined in with Mark Broadbent’s group for dinner at the Tap House. After carbo-loading on some crab mac n cheese we head over to Pragmatic Works karaoke party for a bit. It was too crowded for my taste so I bailed to find a different scene. Later I find out there was a roof top area that would have been more up my alley but didn’t hear about it until after already gone. Found my way over to Pike Brewery and caught up with folks at the SQL Sentry party which was fantastic and continued to meet wonderful SQL people. Peer pressure was high to continue on after that but I held strong out of exhaustion and called it a night after that.