Woof. Can’t believe I got through October. No, scratch that. I can’t believe I scheduled so MUCH for October. Really, I should know better, but when life hands you a plate of coolness, you dive in with both hands. Yeah, we’ve all had those times when we go a little overboard on the things we like and end up paying for it, but is it ever not worth it???
So what happened? Well, I had two SQL events this month that I thoroughly enjoyed. In reverse order, I did two presentations and enjoyed awesome barbecue at SQL Saturday 101. But before that, I made it to the SQL PASS Summit. There’s no way I can properly convey how much fun this all was, but I’ll give you guys the quick hits as best I can. I’m going to break the wrap ups into a two parter, just because I talk to much to assault you with THAT wall of text.
Climbing the Summit
So I finally made it. The PASS Summit. The big hoop-de-doo. Was it worth it? HELLS YES. By the end, I was felt like my brain and body had been put through a meat grinder, but I knew more and was ready to do more when I got back to my job on Monday.
Before we start talking about the details, I want to impress upon you almost how overwhelming the summit is. There’s so much going on that if/when you go, you’re going to be running non-stop for the hours you are awake. Starting at breakfast, then the key notes, then the sessions, then the lunch, then more sessions, then the after parties…..woof. It’s crazier than an unhappy on-call week. But believe me when I say it’s absolutely worthwhile.
Tagging along with the previous comment, you may look at the schedule and want to attend something in each time slot,but it ain’t gonna happen. There’s to much other stuff going on outside of the presentations for you to make everything. I tried to make about 75% of the time slots. The highlights were:
- Internals of TempDB with Bob Ward – This session about broke my brain, but it was a good pain. Bob really drilled into what goes on in TempDB. While the information may not have a direct impact on my day to day work, it was still plenty valuable.
- Bug or Feature with Itzik Ben-Gan – Man, Ben-Gan is an AWESOME speaker. Funny, clear, and concise. I hope he does a pre-con next year because I absolutely want to hear him for more than just an hour. This particular session was a good insight in to how T-SQL is interpreted by the engine and covers a lot of those odd situations you might see with odd code.
- Are you a linchpin? with the superstars – This was a panel discussion on professional development by all the big names: LaRock, Ozar, Misner, and others. It was a nice back and forth discussion about taking charge of your career. I especially liked Kevin Kline commenting on “what adjectives do you want people to describe you with”, which got me thinking about many things. More on that later.
The biggest problem with the sessions is that there are so many great ones to choose from, so you’ll definitely want to get the DVDs after all is said and done. Pick the ones you REALLY want to go to and make sure you leave some downtime in between.
This was mostly a disappointment for me. The first day’s keynote was a big letdown with product announcements. I know everyone was hoping for a concrete Denali (now 2012) release date, and unfortunately when that didn’t come everything else seemed weak. Some of the Hadoop stuff was mildly interesting, but I would have been a lot more interested if I had first seen the Dewitt keynote which really explained just what the big deal with Hadoop was. Much of the BI/reporting stuff was lost on me. So much so that I decided to sleep in a little the next day and skip the Thursday keynote.
Friday was a different story. I had been hearing everyone talk about how awesome Dewitt was and I was looking forward to it, but I was also wondering if anything could live up to the hype. Fear not, gentle reader, it lived up and then some. Dewitt spoke on Big Data, explaining NoSQL databases and how they matched up to the traditional relational database systems. Overall, it was very enlightening. I went in sort of knowing what NoSQL was, I came out having no questions about it. Very eye opening and I would recommend the keynote to anyone wondering what NoSQL was and how it does its work.
The parties and socializing were mostly hit with a couple misses. On Monday, the event at Lowell’s was a great start to the week because I was able to reconnect with many of my SQL friends nationwide. Tuesday was a mix, because the first timers stuff was very well done. The organizers really went out of their way to welcome in the new class. I got to meet many of my personal SQL heroes, mostly through random chance. Of course, what I love about the SQL community is that every person was so approachable. I’ve yet to encounter elitism at any event.
Wednesday night and Thursday night was nothing truly official, just hanging out with different groups of folks. There were only a couple real regrets:
- Not getting out to hang with the SQL Karaoke crowd.
- Not shooting better pool at the Tap House.
- To many friends to hang out with, not enough time.
Odds and Ends
Here’s a few random hits from the week of what worked and didn’t work:
- Using a tablet for notes as opposed to paper or a PC was a big win. Lugging a PC would have been a big hassle and the tablet really gave me good consolidation of my notes electronically.
- Bring business cards! I didn’t hand out that many, but they are a huge networking tool!
- Next year, I need to leave on Saturday. Leaving Friday night was a drag socially and physically.
- Make sure to plan a day ahead of the conference to do some touristy things. Seattle is a great town, get a chance to experience some of it and don’t wrap everything up in the conference.
Maybe size is everything!
I just want to get this across: The summit is huge! Just like it can’t be described in one or even two blog posts, it’s almost more than one person can attend. It’s enriching and a great experience, but you really have to pace yourself and realize that you’re not going to be able to get to everything. And that’s fine, because everything you do go to will benefit you in some way.
Oh, and one last thing. I know a lot of people struggle with paying for this and trying to talk their companies into sending them. I have the same problem. In fact, so much so that I sent myself. That’s right, I was totally self funded. That meant I had to be careful on some stuff and not go to pre-cons like I wanted to, but trust me when I say I got my money’s worth. I want my company to send me since it’s to their benefit as well, but when everything is said and done, this is another investment in my career that I am happy and willing to make.
See you next year!