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.

***

Original email:

Hope,

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

***

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.

***

 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.

***

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.
***

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!

***

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.

***

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.

***

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!!!

Time is flying by and it’s getting really close to SQLSaturday Chicago (#sqlsat119).  If you are anywhere remotely close on May 19 you do not want to miss this one!  Go here and register.  I got much love for this particular SQLSaturday.  This one really solidified my love for these events.  It was the second SQLSaturday that I had presented at ever after my first one in Nashville.  I had such a great time and met so many great folks.  I ate up every minute of it…all of them till 4:00AM in fact.  Everyone continued to encourage me and welcome me into this lovely, wonderful sqlfamily…I was just blown away!  So go…go now and sign up!  There’s even a session from Eddie Wuerch (blog|twitter) titled “Join Us! Getting Started as a Technical Speaker”.  Go and catch the bug like I did then make sure to come speak at my hometown SQLSaturday in July in Indianapolis (#sqlsat126).  Shameless…I know 🙂

Sa-weet! Going to present in Hot-lanta!

I got some good news last week.  My SSIS 2012 presentation got picked up for SQLSaturday Atlanta(#sqlsat111)!!  I keep checking the site to make sure I didn’t daydream it but it’s true!  So excited to be a part of a fantastic line-up.  I’m excited too to be getting back and doing some SQLSaturdays again.  I hit the SQLSaturday circuit fast and furious last year early but trailed off a bit at the end and itching to get back in action.  If you are even remotely in the area on April 14, you MUST come down for a great day of training.  And make sure to come see my session (Super-size Your SSIS Breakfast Sandwich: Performance Tuning in SSIS 2012)! Go check it out for yourself at http://www.sqlsaturday.com/111/eventhome.aspx. There are some really great pre-cons going on as well.

SQLSaturday Chicago Recap

  • SQLSaturday Chicago was another fantastic experience!  It was my second one and was just amazing.  It definitely helped me to recharge my SQL mojo and remember that I really love doing this stuff.  Was a rough month at work and really needed that recharge.
  • We drove down on Friday and got there in time for the speaker dinner.  Enjoyed a couple 312’s and pizza.  It was nice to see folks I hadn’t seen since the last event and also to finally put some faces to names.  Conversation went to one of my favorite topics too…how people ended up as DBAs and in the industry.  Seems so often it’s an odd twist of events that land people in the DBA role.  I was then kidnapped by some fellow co-workers for a little birthday celebration.  Thank you Kandy, Teri, and Caroline!
  • Then the big day!  I caught Allen White’s session in the morning on PowerShell and PBM.  His sessions are always great and love catching them any chance I get.  That and as most folks know I’ve drank the kool-aid big time with PowerShell.  Followed that up with Aaron Bertrand’s session on Denali.  I seen some things on Denali but not much so wanted to catch that one.  The thing that stinks with all SQLSaturdays is the struggle to figure out which sessions to go to.  The line up for Chicago was so incredible…every session I wrestled with myself figuring out which one to actually go to.  After that was the Women in Technology luncheon which I was so pumped to be on the panel.  It was full of great discussion.  It was a bit hectic and rushed with lunch but great still the same.  I always love those WIT events.  Jes did a great job leading the conversation and keeping us all on time.  After that I caught Jeremiah Peschka’s session on SQL Refactoring.  It was great….just love his delivery and slides!  So artistic…makes my slides feel insecure and inadequate 🙂
  • My presentation went surprisingly well.  I had so many doubts coming into this one.  I had been swamped at work so didn’t prepare as much as I normally like to do.  Then I checked out the lineup at the same time.  When I saw Brent Ozar’s session going on at the same time my heart sank.  One because I would have liked to catch his session too but more because I thought I would be presenting to the walls.  I was so happy to see the room filled up!  I think the session went well.  I had folks who seemed really engaged and asking great questions.  I felt more at ease too.  Getting a bit more used to this public speaking thing I guess.  I know some of my first sessions you could have pushed me over with a feather and fried an egg on my face.  Oh and when it’s over the way that heaviness lifts and you can relax…also good stuff.  Luckily I didn’t have the same jerkface that was in Christina Leo’s session in mine either.  I always have “that guy” in mind when I’m preparing for these.  I know all the presenters were ready to grab torches and pitchforks and hunt him down…I mean really…really?  Read about her experience here.

  • Then came my favorite part..the aftermath!  This was my first experience with SQL karaoke and it was outstanding.  I am so not a karaoke kind of gal so didn’t actually get up there and sing but it was fun to watch for sure.  I would have to say my favorites were “Summer Nights” with Jes Borland and Jason Strate and “Pokerface” with Nicholas Cain and Jose Chinchilla.  Then when they kicked us out of that room we moved to the lobby for more chit chat and jello shots.  Oh the stories!  I just ate up every minute of the talk with everyone!  I stayed up till 4:00am taking it all in..and that’s unheard of for this poor mom.  I can’t remember the last time I stayed up that late.  Grant Fritchey started talking about how he got where he is…what was I going to do leave? Ummm no.
  • Thank you all so much for the encouragement, advice, and just in general good vibes.  Them SQL people are good people I tell ya! 🙂  And thank you too to all the people who put on a really fantastic SQL Saturday…great job!