Notes on SQLSaturday #51

We started the event with a speaker/volunteer dinner at the home of Kevin Kline (former PASS President, current MVP,and all around good guy). Aside it being a looong way out from downtown Nashville, it was a great evening, people inside and outside, burgers, bbq, and all the sides, and even banana pudding. Thanks Kevin!

A few of us wound up at the dining room table talking about the election process for PASS and it was a pleasant and well rounded conversation. I don’t know if it would be fair to say we all agreed on the fix, but I think we all agreed changed were needed, and I didn’t any doubt that we could and would fix them. Maybe it was because we had all had some time to absorb things, or maybe just because it works better in person, but it was just a calm serious conversation.

Finally left about 9:30 or 10 pm, Lynda Rabb and I riding back to the hotel with Barry Ralston and Robert Cain. Barry asked about how we liked Nashville and I really had not seen any of it, so he drove us around a bit to see the main sites. Nashville isn’t a small town, but somehow it kind of feels like a small town. Looking forward to returning for a mini vacation at some point.

Saturday morning up early to head to the event, Douglas McDowell driving the rental car, Rushabh and Wayne up front, then me in the back with Nancy and Craig from PASS HQ. Found the college with no problem, maybe a 10-15 minute drive from our hotel. Good clear signs going in, great banner up front, plenty of parking and a short walk inside. The facility was just magnificent. Great rooms, plenty of casual space, cafeteria area for lunch and  opening remarks, but compact enough that moving between rooms wasn’t a chore. Everything ran smoothly, no lines at check-in, signs on all the rooms. Breakfast was muffins, pastries, fruit, and granola, all nicely displayed.

Judy, Craig, Kate, and Nancy from PASS HQ were all there, just looking at the whole process and I think excited to be in the midst of the excitement. Nancy is the primary contact for those leading a SQLSaturday and this was a great chance for her to meet a lot of the speakers and just see how things really run, making it easier for her to coach future events to success.

Did the tour to see where everything was, went back to the cafeteria to see Joe kick things off, and left part way through that to go get set up for my presentation on building a professional development plan. Only had 7 attendees but felt like it went well, made a couple notes afterward for tweaks before the next attempt.

The rest of the morning was just visiting time. Not quite networking, it was all people I knew, but nice to have the time to have thoughtful conversations. Lunch was sandwiches and no line by the time I got there, but plenty of food and good quality.

More wandering after lunch, volunteers already doing some clean up and consolidation. My second session was on statistics and it was the last slot of the day, and I decided to try something new – discussion only, no powerpoint, no demos. Audience not quite sure, but was ok with seeing how it went (I did have the slides and demos if needed). Stats – to me anyway – is largely conceptual, not something as code/demo intensive as many topics. I think it went reasonably well, 27 of 28 evals rated it a 4 or 5, the remaining one said it was too advanced for what was billed as an introductory session. Need to think on that, the hard part about intro to stats is that still needs to build on a foundation of query plans and caching and while I touch on both briefly, I don’t go into detail. Might be fair criticism.

My own eval is that it’s a good way to see if you can stay focused and know your material, learn to free flow more than usual. I think a better approach would be the usual demos, and maybe just notes in Notepad, maybe a simple outline. Powerpoint has it’s place, but removing it helps the audience focus on you. Still, it’s fun to just engage with people directly.

The final event of the day was a group quiz for prizes and that seemed to go well. We ended at 5:30 and the after party was set for 7:30, so we decided to just go early – me, Rafael Salas, John Welch, Jessica Moss, and Kevin Boles. Appetizers turned into dinner and we kept going, Allen White showing up finally, he hadn’t seen us and was at another table with Louis Davidson. Stu Ainworth then joined us, and finally Jeremiah. I finally left about 9:30, tired and starting to feel sick, confirmed when I got up this morning that I’m fighting off a cold.

Overall i thought it went very well, very smooth. Team Nashville did a great job!