Notes on SQLSaturday #40

Had a reasonably uneventful four drive to Miramar Friday, arriving in time to check in at the hotel and then leave again to pick up Don Gabor at the airport, then off to Panera for tea/coffee and chat, and then met up with Jack Corbett before we headed to the speaker dinner. The speaker dinner was well attended if somewhat hectic, just hard to do great networking at a restaurant. In particular the staff struggled to keep up with drink tabs because people kept moving around, also seemed just stressed overall. Dinner was provided by Confio (great event support from them). Brent Ozar jumped in at the end to cover the drink tab using some of his earnings from SQL Cruise – very cool thing to do. Ended up being about a 3 hour dinner.

Headed back to the hotel for some family time, close to midnight check the schedule and find out – picture this now – that I managed to not submit a session. Juggling enough tasks, trying to make sure Don was set up, schedule coming out late, getting the invite to the speaker dinner, somehow it all added up to totally missing that I had posted my usual presentations. Ah, well, far from a wasted trip.

Saturday morning up early for breakfast, then over to DeVry to check in and watch the logistics. Check in seemed smooth, but I have to say I really don’t like hand written name badges. Throughout the day noticed that many were hard to read, and quite a few were last name, first name, which doesn’t make it any easier. Cafeteria area was starting to fill up, Brent and Tim Ford getting warmed up for their keynote. Saw a few sponsors, definitely wish there were more – good for attendees, but also because it’s an opportunity to get to know them (and convince them to sponsor SQLSaturday #49!).

Hallway conversation with Jack, Kevin Boles, and Elijah Baker turned up an idea to take back – maybe for SQLRally we should look at breaking the pre-con seminars in half, have each speaker do 3.5 hours. Less stressful for someone moving to the longer presentation format, also a chance to let a few more speakers get that experience.

Another odd thing was the schedule had track names, then a separate page had a map with room names to room numbers. Yes, I can do a join, but somehow on paper it doesn’t work the same! Stopped at a bench in the hallway to write in the room numbers on the schedule (denormalizing?), had an attendee ask if she could sit as well, her first choice was standing room only. Being curious I asked if no other sessions were interesting, turns out she didn’t want to interrupt one that was in progress. Assured her it was fine to quietly join one in progress, and happened to see her later in the hour in the replication session by Troy Gallant. Easy to forget that people new to these events don’t always know what is acceptable behavior – we need to treat everyone as a first time attendee in many ways.

Back to finishing my schedule notes, then start figuring out who I haven’t met yet, said hello to, or wanted to see speak. While I was doing that had another attendee stop and introduce themselves, had been to a session that I did at a previous event here in Miramar with Wes Dumey, and that led to a great networking chat that included that he had been considering attending, but what tipped the scales was seeing Don on the schedule.  Pretty cool, and always good to have a follow up discussion.

Stopped by to check on the room Don would be using, PC wouldn’t connect to the projector.. Jared Nielsen was the next speaker for that room, he finally dug through all the cables to get it all working. Then off to watch the end of the replication session, the beginning of SQL University by Jorge Segarra, and then head back to the hotel to pickup family so they could drop me off and keep the car, then into the presentation on the DBA Repository by Rodney Landrum. Good stuff, and a sidebar was that a lot of Enterprise Edition features are most useful if you have all servers running it, which is rarely feasible from a cost perspective.

Stayed for about 15 minutes of Don’s talk on networking, watched him teaching how to get better at remembering names (I still need practice, and still amazing to watch him do it). Probably about 20 in the room, good attendance for an off topic topic. Then on to sit for a few for to watch Getting Out From Behind the Curtain by David Levy (who I just met for the first time earlier in the morning. It’s a presentation on the whole range of skills a DBA needs; leadership, communication, project management, and of course technical. Good to get people thinking about more than just technical.

Lunch went well, sandwiches from Firehouse. Lots of networking chat at lunch. Talked with Jack and Travis and Don about using props in presentations – I think it’s not an easy thing to do well, but pretty easy to do badly. Funny how life is that way.

Off to take the tour of sessions again, nice hallway chat with Timothy McAliley about staffing companies, careers, and more, then on to the Parallel Query Execution presentation by Kevin Boles.Ended up chatting again with Tim later about Team Foundation Server, one of those things I’ve haven’t found reason to experiment with yet, Tim convinced me to put on the list of things to do soon.

Finally time for the end of day raffle, big crowd in the room, lots of fun as Scott picked the winners of various prizes (lots of books!). Then over to On The Border for the after party (great location, great staff) and I’d guess at least 50 attendees went. Probably got there about 5:30, left about 8:30, though I think the main crowd left about 7:30.

Final attendance number was right at 400, a huge event! Well done to Scott, Herve, Gareth, and the rest of the #40 volunteers.