Summit may officially only have three days…five days if you count the two pre-con days, but my “Summit 2014 Experience ” this year was two weeks long. How can that be? Well, I hung out with my favorite Aussies.
(I will apologize right here. This is a looong post. I created a timeline for those that want the short version.)
#SQLAussieFamily comes to visit
Some of you may know that I’m really close friends with Julie Koesmarano and she lives way too far away. So I asked her to come visit a week before Summit. That is when my “Summit 2014 Experience” officially started, when Julie arrived on my doorstop. After she settled in, we headed out to lunch, and then shopping at Fry’s for adapters. By Thursday (before Summit) two more Aussies came to visit, Martin Cairney and Ben McNamara.I hadn’t met Ben before, so he gets to be the official first networking opportunity of my “Summit 2014 Experience”. He’s also the one I spent the most time with during Summit. The next day we hopped on a plane heading to Portland and their SQL Saturday.
I’m born and raised in California. We drive everywhere. Aussies, on the other hand, do things differently, and I loved it. We didn’t stay in a hotel. We used Airbnb and stayed in an old Victorian parsonage. It was wonderful. We could have taken a taxi to the house we rented, but instead we took our suitcases on a tour of Portland via the light rail, the street cars, and our feet. We even picked our dinner location based on walking distance from our house. So much fun.
Since I don’t want to leave any of my “flat mates” out, we were joined late Friday night by the lovely Heidi Hastings, straight from Australia.
SQL Saturday #337 – Portland
I love SQL Saturdays. Attendees get to learn for free, I get to teach about the things I love, I get to meet new people, and to top it all off, I get to see and hug all my SQL Family. At this SQL Saturday, I gave my presentation called: Changing Your Habits to Improve the Performance of Your T-SQL.
I found my favorite moments to be in the bathroom. I know, you’re scratching your head, but it’s true. While I was heading out of the restroom, I was stopped by one of the other speakers. She introduced herself to me and told me how she has been reading this very blog for the last two years and she has enjoyed watching me grow. Wow, that touched me. I’ve never been told that before. It made my day.
Believe it or not, my Aussie friends and I were the very LAST people to leave the event. Mostly because we needed to wait for a taxi and we waited to the last minute to call one. Once our taxi arrived, we headed for dinner. Someone had found a restaurant/bar that had whiskey called The Library. WOW! If you like whiskey, and you’re in Portland, you need to go there. They had ladders to get to the top shelves!
Make sure you get reservations though. We had to wait 1.5 hours! Which we did at a wonderful restaurant called Cassidy’s. The food and company were wonderful. They even let me order a plate of bacon as an appetizer.
Sunday we needed to get to Seattle, so Neil Hambly joined our little Aussie Posse and we took a ride north on the train. This was a very relaxing train ride for Ben, Heidi, and Neil. Martin and I spent most of the time trouble shooting some domain controller issues on my laptop. In the end, Martin prevailed, and we all left the train happy. (And there was much rejoicing.)
Red Gate had a speaker dinner that night, just as I arrived into town at a wonderful restaurant called Tango’s. I have NINE different foods that I can’t eat. Annabel (from Red Gate), gave the chef my list of allergies, and they made me a custom meal. It was SO delightfully delicious. Here is a picture of what I considered my desert. A salad with fruit and BACON! Yum!
SQL in the City
Monday was spent with my favorite vendor, Red Gate. They put on an amazing free event called SQL in the City. I was honored to be a speaker for the 2nd year in a row. This year I had two presentations. I gave a lightning talk at the end of the day called: Finding the delta with SQL Compare and backups. I also gave a full session in the middle of the day called: Customize your faux test data with SQL Data Generator. I was very pleased with this presentation. I showcased a tool that isn’t talked about very often and demoed the new features that have been implemented over the last year or so, including the ability to use Python to better customize the faux test data. It was quite a bit of fun to present.
While I was wondering networking, I ran into John. The two of us participated in the First Timer’s dinner that was put on in 2012. He told me that he had been reading my blog ever since then and that he enjoyed watching me grow from a first timer at Summit to a First Timer Speaker at Summit.
Has Summit started yet?
No, Summit hasn’t officially started yet, but networking has. After networking throughout the day at SQL in the City, I had dinner with a couple of friends on our way to the beloved Tap House, where…I did more hugging and networking.
SSIS Pre-con and Mickey
Every day of this amazing “Summit 2014 Experience”, I was giving back to the SQL community. Either through speaking at an event or doing some other volunteer duty. But Tuesday…Tuesday was for me. I took a pre-con from Brian Knight and Devin Knight called: SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution. They are amazing presenters to watch, and I enjoyed the content I learned.
That evening I ran around with my head cut off trying to say hi (and hug) everyone I knew. I’m pretty sure I was still saying hi (and still hugging) people on Thursday that I hadn’t seen in a year. In fact, there are a couple of people I missed completely. That’s not too surprising, there were only 5000 people wandering around.
It was really fun getting to meet some of my Twitter friends whom I hadn’t met in person yet, like Andre Ranieri, Anil Mahadev, Annette Allen, and Adam Machanic. Now I have voices to go with the faces. (hhmmm…My data is skewed. All the people I listed have a first name that starts with “A”.)
Woot! First Day of the Summit
I started the day off at the Bloggers Table at the first Keynote. This was very exciting. You see, I was invited to live blog the keynote. I’m no Brent Ozar when it comes to live blogging, but I had a great time and I had at least one reader following the live blog.
After Julie and I had breakfast, I prepped for my very first Summit session, which was scheduled for Thursday. I’m so glad that I prepped mid Wednesday, because I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Which brings me to the last session of the day and the first session that I was able to attend. I took Mladen Prajdic’s class called: SQL Server and Application Security for Developers. Anyone who has to write any inline SQL, should take his class. It was great.
I’ll just tell you right now. I networked EVERY single night. Why? Well, I got laid off right before I left for Summit. If you are going to get laid off, do it right before Summit, because it is the absolute BEST place to get the word out. I came home with several potential opportunities. I even gave up taking classes so that I could make deeper connections in the SQL community.
THE BIG DAY
I was bummed to miss the Keynote on Thursday, but I don’t sit still well before a big presentation. I thought it was more important to have a good breakfast.
Since I was up first for the day, I went to my classroom forty minutes early…and there were people already there! It gets better! I asked the room proctor if she could tell me how many people attended my session after it ended. She thought I was someone else, and started telling me about how many attendees they expected for my session. She told me that there were 232 people who added my session to their schedule and that I was on the “overflow watch list”. (Yeah, that made me a tad nervous.) That is a big class! Do you want to hear the best part??? I ended up with THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE attendees in my session. That’s 35% more than expected. There were only 12 empty seats. That’s more people than the number of students in my youngest daughter’s elementary school! Did I mention this was the FIRST time I was speaking at PASS Summit?
While those numbers still blow my mind, it wasn’t my favorite part of my session. Not even close. There were two other much more exciting events that happened in my session. The first, was the attendees themselves. They were engaged. They were so engaging that I ran a bit over. I felt bad about that, but my class was so interactive and I love that. The second happened during the six minutes prior to the session starting.
I was completely ready to start and didn’t know what to do with myself. There was a very low murmur in the room, but I could see many people just sitting there waiting for the session to start. So I turned my mic on and announced, “My favorite thing about Summit is the Networking. I want everyone of you to turn to the person on your left and the person on your right and introduce yourself. I will then know you have networked with at least two people today.”…and the room exploded in conversation. I even introduced myself to two people in the front row. I then waited for my session to start with a huge grin on my face. I even had to quiet the room down when I started. Man that was awesome.
My Thursday is not done yet
I didn’t get to attend any sessions this day, because I was busy doing other things. I attended the Women in Technology lunch. I hung out in the community zone for an hour. And I was asked to live blog a Q & A session with the Executive Board. This was a way for the bloggers to ask questions of the Executive Board and blog about them before the Q & A session that was held on Friday. I was honored to be asked to participate. I really have a lot of respect for our Executive Board. It’s not easy pleasing the entire world of SQL professionals.
That evening I was invited to a special dinner put on by Red Gate for their Friends of Red Gate members. I’m mentioning it here, because of where we had dinner. We ate at a special restaurant called FareStart. This amazing restaurant helps the homeless get back on their feet by training them, housing them, and feeding them. All proceeds from the restaurant go back into the program. The chef and main waiting staff are all volunteers and there is even a waiting list to work there. I encourage you to follow the link and read about the restaurant. (This restaurant was also great about my food allergies. I had an AMAZING meal.)
Another great thing happened at the Friends of Red Gate dinner. I was able to introduce Chris Yates to Julie Koesmarano. The three of us, plus Jeffrey Verheul from The Netherlands all blog together under the hashtag, #SQLCoop. This was the first time that Chris and Julie had met in person. It’s the little things, like introductions, that make me happy.
And you know what I did after dinner. I networked… and celebrated this amazing day.
I actually was able to attend classes all day on Friday. I was quite happy about that. I was even able to attend Martin Cairney’s session called:Thinking Out of the Box: Manage SQL Server Using Built-in Tools . He had the very last session of summit and it was wonderful.
At lunch I lead one of the Birds of a Feather lunch tables in the discussion of Data Models. Our table was pretty full and we had a great discussion about someone’s data model challenges.
Summit may officially end at 5:15 PM on Friday, but the “Summit 2014 Experience” doesn’t end until you’re buckled into the seat of an airplane, train, or car. (Hopefully, not a straight jacket.)
Two of my Aussie “flat mates” and I snuck off to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant for dinner. The food was great, but I could have done without the steep hills to get there. I guess it is a requirement to walk up and back down at least one steep hill while you are in Seattle. After dinner we went to a birthday party and finally ended up at… the Tap House where I continued to network.
My “Summit 2014 Experience” started with the Aussies and ended with the Aussies. We all went out to breakfast one last time at the Daily Grill. It was a great breakfast, but still sad that I probably wouldn’t see these wonderful people for another year.
Thanks for all the fish
I wish I could give a shout out to all the SQL Family members I spent time with, but there are far too many of you. I do want to thank everyone for being part of a fabulous community. It is a rarity in the computer programming world and we are all very fortunate to be part of it.