Started Friday by picking up the shirts for the event in Orlando, then heading to Jacksonville with the family, getting there in time for my almost annual tradition of a bison burger and iced tea for a long lunch. From there checked in at Hotel Indigo, interesting, a bit different than the usual chain, but not that different. Nice area though, great boardwalk and lake view.
Then I had to step out of vacation mode for an hour PASS call, then back to not working for a couple hours until it was time for the speaker/volunteer party. Arrived just a few minutes late, turned out the room that was reserved wouldn’t hold everyone, so I ended up at a table outside the group room with a few others (aka the kids table!). We were at Buca di Beppo, so the food was family style pass around the platter…except we were around the corner, so we had to beg for food. Worked out ok because we had some great conversations going. At least 30 attended, nice turn out.
Arrived on site about 7:45 on Saturday, everything going smoothly in spite of the drop off zone being closed, which meant Scott Gleason had to park the UHaul trailer in the parking garage, which isn’t exactly close. Luckily he had a four wheeled cart to make the move easier. Immediately into networking refresh mode, catching up with people I knew, just a great way to start the day.
My first session was at 9 am and I was in the room early, but still didn’t have time to resolve an AV problem – wrong connector on the provided projector cable. Let everyone know I was going to do it without slides and surprisingly no one left, took Devin about 30 minutes to get into the locked cabinet to get the cables fixed, so I was able to go back and point to a couple things in SSMS that I had already referenced, but other than that did it without the slides. Good participation, 30 attendees, and very good ratings. Expected to get dinged for the projector, but seemed to have survived that reasonably well.
Back to wandering and networking, discussions about SQLSaturday, the possibility of a Powershell Saturday, and the impact of SQLSat on the profession. Good stuff, all positive. Funny fast how time goes when talking about this stuff.
At lunch I sat in on the 15 minute mini session by Brandie Tarvin on getting into the SQL DBA business, and then did my own mini session on networking, doing a really quick run through of some networking ideas and finishing up with the participation piece of having everyone talk to someone next to them, demonstrating that they are better at small talk than they think.
Lunch ran smoothly, plenty of pizza, good attendance at the lunch mini sessions, about the only flaw was running out of bottled water (plenty of soda left). Sponsors looked to be getting good traffic. At this point still not sure of final attendance number, guessing just over 300. They had an amazing 500 registered after 90 cancellations (cancelling is good, helps get to a truer number). We always assume 70% of registrants will show, and so far nothing has changed that – looking for ideas. I think sometimes it’s just hard for people to wake up on a Sat morning and do learning when sunshine beckons
Went to the virtualization session by Aaron Nelson, about 33 attendees, good number of questions. Good stuff, virtualization not the easiest thing to demo but think Aaron is getting the main points across well.
Also stopped here to send a few connect requests on LinkedIn and to look in on the Twitter traffic for the day (they have the #sqlsat38 hash tag up on a monitor in the main lobby too).Used the new networking page on SQLSaturday.com, a few notes from that:
- Definitely looking forward to more of a full list. The feature went up late in the #38 cycle, should be better for upcoming events.
- Definitely need pictures/avatars to help identify people I’ve seen but struggling to remember their name
- Probably need to flag/call out speakers, volunteers, and maybe MVP’s and book authors too – people that other people likely to want to meet
- I think a killer feature for me would be the ability to easily see people that I am/not connected with on LinkedIn. I’d want to refresh my contact with those I know, and try to meet some of the ones I’m not connected with. Maybe that’s similar to being able to easily see speakers; just a way to filter in various common ways.
More wandering, then on the the ORM session by Eric Humphrey. Low attendance, maybe in part to the session title (High Anxiety with ORMs), maybe more so because it up again the end of day Iron Chef presentation. The ORM was interesting, Eric showed the same query using strongly typed data sets, Linq to SQL, Entity Framework, and nHibernate. Was nice to see the differences – in most ways minor, yet definitely different. Good presentation. At the end we moved into a discussion of ORM or not (which wasn’t the session focus) that was calm and balanced. Evening after seeing (but not yet trying) all the options, my views on ORM haven’t changed:
- ORM is fine, but use stored procs for the data access – best of both worlds
- I think the time savings attributed to the query generation is no where near what most think…except when coding against multiple databases. There nHibernate (maybe others) has the ability to generate platform specific SQL, so that’s an interesting approach.
- We still have a huge disconnect between DBA & developer in terms of risk, reward, responsibilities, concepts, just about everything
- Developers seem to get the concept of domain specific languages for problem solving (F# for example), but why not SQL?
Then off the Seven Bridges Grill for the after party with probably 50 attendees present, and I finally left there at 8 pm after a lot of good conversation. One of the things I talked about with Eric Wisdahl was trying to do a better job of networking at the speaker party, which is really a function of seating place, mobility, noise level, and a little prompting. Not easy to get all that right. Another was getting the SQLSaturday wiki to a point of being useful – separate notes on that soon.
Great event, no problems at all, kudos to Brian, Devin, Scott, and the rest of the team for a smooth running event.