I arrived on time in Dallas and my friend Sri picked me up at the airport. It was time for lunch, so Sri dropped me at Panera to get some food while he did some final shopping for the weekend, then he picked me up again to head to the Microsoft office where they had three seminars in progress. I found a quiet corner for a call with PASS HQ about some changes to the SQLSaturday site, then sat in on the Reporting Services class by Jessica Moss. Lots of good questions, lots of interaction, I was sorry to only see a couple hours of it. There were probably 25 people there for her class, a very good turn out.
Once the seminars were done I got a ride to the hotel with Jim Murphy, then settled down to do some PASS work for a couple hours. At 6:15 Sri was back to pick me up after doing the set up at the event site with the rest of him team and we were off to the speaker dinner at Dave & Busters. The party was fun, low key, finger food and plenty of time to talk. I think I got there around 6:30, left about 1130 after a follow on dinner with Steve Jones, Wes Brown,Tim Mitchell,and Jim Murphy. That made it midnight getting back to the hotel, not the best plan, but I hate to miss out on spending time with people I see all too rarely.
Saturday morning I was up at 6, and then to breakfast around 6:40, joining the Idera crowd in the breakfast area (literally a crowd – at least 8) and enjoyed some minor amusement as someone from the hotel started questioning them about what they had for breakfast. Apparently some get breakfast for free and some don’t, breakfast “opens” at 7 am and there was no one there at 6:30 to guard the muffins and bananas. Picture someone on the staff going “what did you have?” to each of 8 people as they all look around in…puzzlement perhaps. Eventually an agreement was reached and they left for the event, they were all volunteers to handle check-in. That left me with 30 minutes to eat breakfast and start on this post, waiting on Steve Jones to appear so we could drive to the event site.
On site about 8 am, all the registration table were set up outside the main door, no line and no problems, right into the sponsor area which was well organized, and then around the corner and down the hall to the food area. All but one of the rooms is downstairs, but the one upstairs wasn’t hard to find. Great facility for this kind of event. Enough room, but still compact.
Sri did a brief opening at 8:30 or so, asked Steve & I to say a few words. Nothing prepared, so it was off the cuff and as such was ok, not especially memorable. Sri ran through the logistics and then moved into networking, asking everyone to introduce themselves to one or two other people and as it always does, it worked. Instant buzz in the room, great way to start the day and break down some barriers.
For the next hour and a half I wandered from room to room, sitting in for a few minutes of each session to get a sense of style and content. At 11 am I did my presentation on building a professional development plan to an audience of about 25. It went well, but I’ve still got some places that need work, getting a better sense of what I want to change for v2 sometime in the next couple months. The evals were all very good, so I’ll have to be careful about changing things!
Then it was lunch time, good selection of sandwiches, no line, great logistics. I went back to watch Steve do a product demo and then we sat talking for a while with Jessica and Jeremy Marx.
After lunch I watched most of a presentation about SQL Cache by Doug Brendle. It’s not the easily demo to do well, lots of different patterns to show, bouncing back and force between mock UI and a query, but Doug did it well and I think everyone followed easily the concepts he was explaining. From there I sat in on the Data Cleansing presentation by old friend Tim Mitchell. Really nice job, showed using TSQL to do some basic data fixes, and then a more full featured version built in SSIS that logged all the exceptions while trying to fix it up.
Somewhere in the middle of the afternoon was the gelato break, and there was a quietly patient line for everyone to get their cup of good stuff. It’s a nice treat, something different, and perhaps, maybe, just a bit better than the popcorn break we started having in Orlando!
After that I went back to checking in on as many others as I could, just seeing how it was going, and then some hallway time talking with people passing through. Finally about 5:30 we called it a day and headed back to Dave & Busters for the networking event. Good crowd, plenty of food, and I think the last of us left a little before 10 pm. It was good networking time. Lots of short interesting discussions
I had a great time, hats off to Sri and team for putting together a very well done event.