PASS Summit & Portland SQL Saturday Recap

Three weeks ago I had quite the trip to the Pacific Northwest. I was very fortunate to present in Portland at SQL Saturday #172, and then headed up to Seattle for the 2012 PASS Summit. It was a fantastic week and I hope I can do something similar next year! Here's some thoughts I had from each event in no particular order.

SQL Saturday #172

Meatloaf with bacon gravy
Bacon in gravy form!
  • Portland is an awesome city! I had been there once before and had a terrific time, so I was very happy to be able to return. If you've never been, I highly recommend you check it out sometime. As a bonus, it's incredibly pedestrian-friendly and the public transit options are excellent.
  • Consult FlavorTown USA before traveling. If you're a fan of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, this website is for you! They keep track of all the places the show has visited so you can stop by yourself should you be in the neighborhood. It turns out my hotel was only a few blocks from Blueplate Lunch Counter so I headed there for lunch after I got into town. I got the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and creamy bacon gravy. Amazing!
  • Always have a backup plan. Anything can happen before or during your presentation, so be a good Boy (or Girl) Scout and BE PREPARED! I keep extra copies of all my presentation materials in multiple places: email, Dropbox, S3, and a thumb drive. Being prepared for disaster saved my bacon, as my Demo VM decided to corrupt itself the night before the event. Fortunately nothing was truly lost due to the backups, so I ran them on my local machine instead and all was good with the world.
  • Bacon on a doughnut is divine. Voodoo Doughnut is a can't-miss destination if you've never been to Portland before. For DBAs, you're in even more luck, because one of their specialties just happens to be the Bacon Maple Bar.
Buck Woody
Buck says the cloud is more than vapor!
  • There's always something to learn. One of the things I love about SQL Saturdays and SQL Server in general is that no matter how much experience you have there will always be someone who knows more or is more familiar with with a specific subject than you. Not because they're smarter than you, but because their work environment has led them to gain experience with different features of SQL Server. All these different people coming together to share these experiences for free is what makes SQL Saturday events and the community in general so amazing.
  • The cloud is coming for your career. I had the immense pleasure of finally meeting Buck Woody (@buckwoody), who gave the keynote on this topic. This should come as no surprise to any of us, and Buck gave plenty of tips on how to keep our skillsets relevant during this period of architectural change. It was an excellent talk!

PASS Summit

Quiz Bowl
With Tim Ford and the Quiz Bowl trophy
  • I love Seattle's weather! Really. I know Robert L. Davis (@SQLSoldier) wrote a blog post entitled "Don't Be That PASS Summit Guy" where he encourages first-timers to avoid doing things such as commenting on the rain or lack of sunshine, but I'm commenting in a positive way so I hope that's alright. Seriously though I'm a big fan of overcast and rainy weather, and I think I only saw the sun for an hour or two over the 5 days I was in Seattle. I'm really not sure why I haven't moved there yet!
  • Quiz Bowl. I had heard of it, but having never been to Summit before, didn't exactly know what to expect. I'm so glad I went to check it out at the welcome reception, and was in disbelief when I was selected to play. I got paired with community expert and @SQLChicken extraordinaire Jorge Segarra, and together we dominated the game, emerging victorious. I took home a new iPad as a prize; Jorge was exempt from winning as only the participants picked from the audience were eligible. I was so excited to play, as it brought me back to the time I spent on my high school scholastic bowl team! A huge thank you to Tim Ford (@SQLAgentMan) and Louis Davidson (@DrSQL) for putting it all together, and to SQL Sentry for sponsoring!
  • There's a lot of DBAs just like myself out there. I've been to a lot of SQL community events, but never anything as large as the PASS Summit, which had probably ten times the number of attendees as any SQL Saturday I've been to. It's quite inspiring to know how many other people out there share my excitement and fascination with data and its intelligent management.
  • I'm really bad at names and faces. I have a terrible habit of forgetting who people are if I've only met them once or twice. If this happened to you at the Summit, please accept my most sincere apologies. While it's no consolation, please know that it horrifies me to have someone walk up to me and start talking like they know who I am and I can't for the life of me figure out who they are.
  • Feel the community love. I was incredibly happy to be able to meet lots of people in person that I've previously only chatted online with. So many that I won't enumerate them here for fear of this post becoming a laundry list of names. You folks know who you are though, and I'm so glad to be able to put a face with your name and twitter photo!
Serenading the unicorn at SQLKaraoke
  • The sessions are awesome. So many blog posts about PASS Summit talk about the social and community aspects, and they're absolutely right. Getting all these awesome people together in one place lends itself to some amazing networking. But just like back in college where I had to go to class every once in a while (or at least that's what I'd tell my parents), the real meat and potatoes of Summit is the sessions, and they were incredible. For me, the hardest part was deciding which ones to attend because I'd often find myself having to pick between 2 or 3 that I really wanted to see.
  • Twitter and Foursquare are incredibly useful. Not that this was any secret before, but it became especially apparent to me while at an event with so many attendees that use them. There was a constant dialog on Twitter of where people were, what sessions they were attending, and how they were going. Similarly Foursquare made it very easy to let others know where you're at so you all can meet up. I really can't imagine the Summit without social networking tools!
  • SQLKaraoke is epic. I've been reading the tweets and blog posts about it for a few years now, and have partaken in karaoke at several SQL Saturdays, but nothing prepared me for the real deal at Bush Garden. I'm not sure I have the words to do it justice, but it just so happens that there's a SQLKaraoke Blog which can probably do a much better job than I!

So that was my week in SQL Paradise! I really can't wait to do it again next year! If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, registration is now open for the 2013 PASS Summit in Charlotte, NC. Register before January 4, 2013 and receive the lowest possible price!