The beginning of the end day at Summit began and doesn’t take long to start running into people leaving and the good byes begin. It’s so nice catching up with people that you may only see once a year, definitely sad when it’s over. I made it in time to catch Lenny Lobel’s (blog) session on spatial data. He was such a vital role in my learning of spatial data, was very excited to see his session. He concentrates more on the development side so nice seeing some applications involving spatial data. And also one of his queries helped to trigger a potential method to help me with an interesting question I got while in Orlando. After his session I went to the Birds of a Feather luncheon. It’s a lunch where they have tables that contain topics and assign some expert resources to sit at them. It’s a great one and I always have good conversation. I ended up sitting with folks at the replication table. Interesting hearing some experiences with it and some large applications using it.
After lunch I made it over for the PASS Board Q&A. It is an opportunity to ask the entire panel of board members questions. If you have any issues or concerns, it’s the one opportunity I know of to get them answered directly. I didn’t have any grievances to air but it normally is good conversation and nice to hear the thinking behind decisions made. It was very interesting to hear outcomes of the BA Conferences since it was a new endeavor. Next I went to a session on Always On that was done by a customer panel. I love hearing people and their experiences! This panel contained people who have some very challenging environments. Enjoyed hearing what they had implemented to assist in those challenges. After that was the last session of the day and Summit. I went to see my friend and colleague at BlueGranite, Josh Fennessy (blog|twitter) and his session on Excel 2013 for analytics. It was an excellent session and I’ve already used some of the material I learned there. Josh always seems so very relaxed in his sessions. I knew he was a little nervous and it was almost sickening how it didn’t show AT ALL.
And then it was over! I went over to the community zone again to make sure to say goodbye to as many as I could. I then went with a large group of SQLfamily to a nice dinner at Fleming’s. It was very relaxing to sit down to a great meal where they brought the food to me. After that went to Dillinger’s for one last drink and called it an early night since my flight was fairly early next morning.
Warning: Mushy Content to Follow
It was so great seeing so many wonderful SQL family members! I have said several times that getting involved in this community has forever changed my life and career! I couldn’t help reflecting on things at Summit since I got to speak this year after trying for so long. I am honored to be considered caliber to speak at this wonderful event! I am so grateful to the extremely long list of people in the community who helped encourage me to get out there and helped stop some of the negative voices in my head. You know the ones saying things like “who wants to hear what you have to say when they have <insert super smart other speaker> out there giving sessions”. I am still just amazed at the good nature of this community and I will keep making sure I do my part to make sure it stays that way.
It may have been the nerves at work again but it seemed as soon I opened my eyes I was wide awake. I got up in time to catch a super quick breakfast and get to the opening keynote. It was a fairly tame and without incident keynote. Watching Twitter it seemed the only large flair up was when “ask” was used as a noun. The demos were good but I missed seeing Amir Netz (twitter). I just love his demos! After the keynote I spent the rest of the day chatting with folks and preparing for my session in the afternoon. Had some great conversations at the chapter lunch. For those unfamiliar with this, they have maps and tables setup for the local user groups so you can find groups in your area. I met several people in Indiana that are a bit too far south to make it to IndyPASS. There is some interest in potentially setting up a new user group in Bloomington. If there are any others interested in this please let me know. I would love to help this effort but need to make sure I have enough dedicated people to lead the group.
GO TIME! Then comes time for my presentation and my room is very well filled. I am always worried I will be presenting to an empty room but elevated a bit at Summit, especially when I know Bob Ward’s (twitter) is on at the same time. It was true what others kept reminding me, different audiences want different things and a 500 level session isn’t for everyone. I get started and think I did pretty well at hiding my nervousness. I remember at BA Con I could feel/hear the nerves in my voice. I didn’t notice that in this time. It’s one of my favorite sessions with absolutely my favorite demo dataset, a database of microbreweries! I know I can always tell when someone is passionate about the topic they are presenting, I hope that came through with my attendees. I felt it went pretty well and had several stay and chat and ask questions after my session. I had some very positive feedback afterward which some comments were just so good it just about floored me. It felt so good to be done and it go well! Could just feel the weight come off my shoulders.
After floating around on cloud 9 for a bit, went to the Exhibitor Reception. This is where they get folks in to talk with sponsors with the enticement of free food and drinks. I made several rounds to make a meal out of the appetizer stations but little easier with hearty items like shrimp and grits. Ended up leaving fairly early to head to Prohibition to get a table for the Pragmatic Works karaoke party. Oh the SQL people and their karaoke! It was a really nice party and some very memorable displays like Colin (twitter|blog) and Patrick (twitter|blog) yearly performance of “Forgot About Dre” and chicken appearances from Jorge/SQLChicken (twitter|blog). From there went to SQLSentry’s party at the Ale House. It also was a very great party and was honored to be invited. The highlight was meeting and talking with Paul White (twitter|blog). I was shocked at how nice, humble, and gracious he was in person.
I again surprised myself by waking up in time to catch some breakfast, I mean bread before keynote. My list of complaints is small from this year’s Summit, but breakfast this year was disappointing (I know, I know…I like food). Every day was the same very bread laden meal. The only other options to pastries/bagels was oatmeal or yogurt. I know logistics of feeding that many people is tricky but would have been nice for some other options like there has been in previous years. The keynote was Dr. David DeWitt which is always a great one. I was super distracted during it though since was planning to try to take a certification test. They had half price certification testing going on at Summit. Knowing the keynote was going to get deep I ended up leaving early to go try to take 70-465. I was planning on doing the normal course and starting at 70-461 and go on up from there. I’m not sure what possessed me to take this particular test. I had been solely focused on my presentation so went in completely cold, and came out with….a better understanding what I will get into next time. Can’t win them all and I felt better keeping focus on presentation and getting my win there.
I made it back just in time to make it to the WIT luncheon. I am involved with the PASS WIT VC program so would have been very upset to miss it. The panel consisted of Erin Stellato (twitter|blog), Rob Farley (twitter|blog), Cindy Gross (twitter|blog), Kevin Kline (twitter|blog), and Gail Shaw (twitter|blog). There was good conversation there but it ended up being initially very lop sided in who was speaking. That worked out better in the second half. And honestly it seemed to be missing some of the fire in belly moments that drove me to be involved in WIT. Erin ended up saving me from missing out totally on that with her exchange with a member of the audience. A woman mentioned a comment being made to her that she had all the traits stacked against her success in IT in that she was an athlete, foreign, and a woman. Erin’s response was that she should have responded with “How am I not going to succeed?”. Thank you Erin for that highlight of WIT luncheon in my opinion!
From there I was excited to finally go to my first technical session. I took too long to get to a session over PDW and was denied entry as it was full. Doh! The next session I decided to head over for morale support to Colin’s session on policy based management. He was a first time Summit speaker and was very nervous as well. I hated seeing when I got there that he was having some technical issues with the projector. It was something I had run into before too where you couldn’t see on the laptop and only on the projector. It’s a workable situation but makes it VERY difficult during demos. They ended up getting him a second monitor and it worked out fine. He handled it much better than I would. My face started to flush a bit with speaker sympathy symptoms. Was a great session and I learned about EPM Framework from Lara Rubbelke’s (twitter|blog) team that extends capability of policy based management to SQL Servers across environment that is available on Codeplex.
Next I made sure to get to the BI Power Hour session. I caught it last year and was one I definitely didn’t want to miss. When I’m figuring out sessions at Summit I always try to think about which sessions will lack full impact on recordings. This is very high in that category. They aren’t moving mountains admittedly with technical content but have a damn good time with the BI tools and is just fun. Did learn that Power Pivot was “just so metal that it caused the split in the name” from Matthew Roche (twitter|blog). Also Matt Masson (twitter|blog) showed how he impressed his kids with business intelligence and how vast his knowledge is of My Little Pony.
After catching up with my youngins back home I made it over to the Nascar Hall of Fame for the Community Appreciation Party. This party was good but I am little biased to the party last year at the EMP. I’m not exactly a Nascar fan so the material around at the hall of fame wasn’t getting the oohs and ahhs but that’s just a personal preference thing. Only complaint that I had was the space was a bit smaller so was cramped in some areas.
Ah Summit time! The biggest and best time to meet up with SQLfamily. You always get pockets of SQLfamily at SQLSaturdays throughout the year but this is the time when EVERYONE is there for an all out SQLfamily reunion. This year was a little special too…it was my first year going as a speaker! Even on the way to the airport I could feel the difference, I had never left for Summit with presentation anxiety. I had a one hour delay on the way to Charlotte but even then was much less time to get there than Seattle. It was a nice change of pace too to be on the same time zone as home. I get to hotel, drop my stuff in room, and immediately head out to try find people. I was excited to start having those “heey, long time no see” moments. I went over to Buffalo Wild Wings for the very end of the networking party hosted by Andy Warren (blog|twitter) and Steve Jones (blog|twitter). I definitely found plenty of “hey” moments there. You have to give yourself extra time to get anywhere at Summit due to those moments. From there folks decided they wanted to try to do some sqlkaraoke and we walked a few blocks to try to find a place called Dixie’s. We walk up to it and find it was closed, permanently closed so decided to head back go to Carolina Ale House. We had amassed a fairly large group by that time and the folks at the Ale House were not prepared, staff-wise. Maybe it was just coincidence in the locations we chose but for being in close proximity to the convention center, places seemed unprepared for such a large conference. Next time the conference moves from Seattle it may help to make some calls into the local establishments for warnings if that wasn’t already done. From there we just ended up having drinks at the hotel bars and hanging out there.
Wake up fairly early and head over to grab a crepe with my good friend, Colin Stasiuk (blog|twitter). I then get registered and spend a little more time preparing for presentation. After that I went over for the SQLSaturday organizers meeting. It was a good meeting but it’s always hard to move mountains in meetings that large. There was mention of some changes coming to the website. If anyone has recommendations for changes they are collecting them now. I was also intrigued by a mentoring program that was mentioned for organizers. I have a circle of people I know who organize and I reach out to with questions so have created my own organic circle/support group. I would be afraid there are folks out there floundering without one so seems like a great idea to me. That and I always hated to be constantly bugging Karla (blog|twitter).
After the meeting I went through more prep for my presentation. At this point I was EXTREMELY nervous! Trying for so long to be accepted as a speaker at the Summit, the idea of it not going well just about make me sick to my stomach. Going back and doing a run through and saying the words out loud in my room helped calm the nerves. I did that until it was time to head over to convention center to prepare for the Quiz Bowl at the welcome reception. I was very honored to be asked to participate in it this year by Tim (blog|twitter). So we do some preparation and then head over to get ready to welcome the first timers. Had some good conversations with my group even though I looked ridiculous donning a spinning beany hat. They always try to help folks locate the volunteers and I’m sure someone somewhere had fun with the decision for those hats. Then it was Quiz Bowl time and we had fun even though we didn’t win for our contestant. Next I went to the volunteer party at Strike City, a bowling alley. After catching up with folks there and a terrible display of bowling I went over to see how things were going at Fox and Hound. Mr. Denny Cherry (blog|twitter) was hosting a party there sponsored by SQL Sentry and SIOS. It was packed and had a good time watching folks do karaoke. I set a decent curfew for myself that night so headed back fairly early. No way I wanted to be super tired for my presentation the next day.
This time last year I was partaking in a Twitter pity party for fellow folks who had gotten the thanks-but-no-thanks-better-luck-next year letters from PASS Summit selection committee. I was used to it. I have submitted to speak at the PASS Summit regularly for the last few years but was denied each time. This year I am skipping the pity party because I got selected!!! I will be presenting one of my favorites, spatial data, to the fine folks in Charlotte! I am so excited but a bit out of sorts since I haven’t been in this spot yet but have wanted to be for so long. Making me think of dogs who chase cars, they wouldn’t know what to do if they caught one. This dog caught a car! I have had this as a top one on my professional wish list, what next? I will need to come up with some new goals and new cars to chase.
To my peeps having the pity party, keep your heads up and keep on kicking butt out there! You’ll catch that car next year. And until then I’ll tip my 40 IPA to my homies! Well no I won’t tip beer since that’s wasteful but I will definitely drink this one in your honor!