April 22, 2010

SQL Saturday #33 Recap, long after the fact

Posted in SQL Server at 3:42 pm by David Taylor

Now, let’s discuss SQL Saturday #33, held in Charlotte, NC on March 6, 2010.

This would be my third SQL Saturday. I’m becoming a SQL Saturday junkie! This one was special, though, for several reasons. First, it was the SQL Saturday in which the SQL Saturday name, brand, concept, etc. was passed over to the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). Second, it was the first SQL Saturday that was within travel possibility for me that had a plethora of MVPs speaking. Third, it was the first SQL Saturday I attended after becoming Volunteer Coordinator for PASS’ Application Development Virtual Chapter, and Blythe Morrow (Twitter), PASS’ Community Coordinator, whom I would be volunteering for within PASS, was in attendance, which to me was as big a deal as the collection of MVPs!

I live about 400 miles from Charlotte, so when I say the event is within travel distance, I mean only just, as far as driving. (Flying to attend a SQL Saturday event is probably not in the cards for me, at least not while I am at my current job.) I took Friday off and drove the seven hours to Charlotte, arriving late enough that I missed meeting up with anyone the night before the event. Nicely, SQL Saturday had hooked up with the Hyatt Place Hotel, which was actually a decent hotel, at a discounted price. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say I had a nice dinner, and a good rest before getting over to the Microsoft facilities for the main event the next morning.

Microsoft has a beautiful campus in Charlotte, a spacious parking garage, and we had great weather for the event, which was a good thing because the sessions were spread between two buildings. The event was hosted by the Charlotte SQL Server Users Group, and that group did themselves proud! There was an incredible breakfast laid out, registration was pain free, and there was a general feeling of excitement in the air before the keynote.

That was awesome, which I know is a strange thing to say about a keynote, but this one was special. It was a keynote speech introduced by Peter Shire (Twitter), followed by Steve Jones (Twitter) talking about the origins of SQL Saturday, then Andy Warren talked more about their goals and where they hoped it would go under PASS. Finally, Rushabh Mehta, PASS’ president, spoke about how PASS’ main, immediate goal was to keep SQL Saturday as good as it has been, and then make it better. At the end of the keynote, Steve and Andy handed Rushabh a huge (about 3′ long foam) SQL Saturday key!

Sometime between arriving and the first session, I introduced myself to Blythe Morrow, who I got to spend some more time with later in the afternoon.

For my first session choice (which is the worst part of these things, you can’t be in every session!) I went with “As a DBA, Where do I start?” presented by Mike Walsh (Blog | Twitter). This was a very interactive session, Mike really engaged the group. He focused on what he calls the ‘itties’ of being a DBA, Recoverability, Availability – Health & Performance – , Security and Reliability, and he covered them well. I’d been wanting to meet Mike for a long time, he is a fellow New Englander, and one of the great people (of which there are many) on Twitter.

Next up for me was Denny Cherry’s (Blog | Twitter) “Is Virtualization a good choice for SQL Server?” This was an informative session for me, as I have just about zero experience with virtualization, and Denny’s the man to teach it. He actually hooked up to his work environment live from the event to make his points, and he has one hell of a set up! I really learned a lot in this session!

I then went to Aaron Nelson’s (Blog | Twitter) “Powershell for Database Professionals” Aaron is on the same team as me in PASS’ Application Development Virtual Chapter, and I had seen him do this presentation in a Live Meeting session virtually, actually presenting for the first time and I wanted to see this presentation live. He had added demos to the pres and polished things up nicely, a really good job.

Lunch was, as you could imagine in a place with 300 people all eating at once, was a long wait. Nice opportunity for networking, though.

Kendal Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter) “The (Solid) State of Drive Technology” was the after lunch treat. SSDs are fast, really fast. To demonstrate, he actually shut off the laptop he was demonstrating with, and then cold started it, one minute, twenty seconds to having the presentation on screen again! Impressive as all get out. In addition, the information he gave about the different options and specs for SSDs was nearly as impressive.

Denny Cherry’s “Storage for the DBA” was next (can you sense a theme here?) and this one was where my brain started to hurt. Most real DBAs would laugh at the setup I work with over here for SQL Server, so I have zero experience with SAN storage, or even RAID stuff, so this session went *just* over my head, which is a good thing as it gave me impetus to go and look things up after I got home. I have to apologize to Denny, though, I walked out just past the midpoint of his session, though I had a good reason.

People who follow me on Twitter know I am on it on my Blackberry as often as I can be, and this event was no exception. So during Denny’s session, Blythe Morrow and I were tweeting back and forth and she invited me to come join her in the lunchroom where she was hanging out with the likes of Steve Jones, Andy Warren, Aaron Nelson, and Rushabh Mehta, which was quite an honor for me.

My last session of the day was Kevin E Kline’s (Blog | Twitter) “Top 10 Mistakes on SQL Server.” If you haven’t seen this guy present, you need to! His style is awesome, his knowledge phenomenal. Really. What a way to end the day!

But wait, there’s more! At the end, there was the Prize Drawing. Enough has been written about this that I won’t rehash it. There were some awesome prizes, though.

Now, at this point, my brain was mush, and so it must have been time for the After Party! This was held at a place called Mac’s Speed Shop. I was told before I left that I had to try NC BBQ, and I was told while I was there that Mac’s was the place to try it, so that was win-win. Quite a few from the event were there, some great conversations and good food capped off the day nicely. 

And then… The Long Drive Home. I should mention here that I have a bad habit of tweet-driving, and the road home was no different. I mention it because the first step is admitting you have a problem, and there’s another SQL Saturday this weekend. I wanted to point out before I go that I know I have a problem, but I don’t care 🙂

Thanks for reading!


1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Taylor. David Taylor said: SQL Saturday #33 Recap, long after the fact: http://wp.me/pL8sS-S […]

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