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Louis Davidson

PASS Summit 2017 Followup

Ah, back home in my comfy work chair, feet up surrounded by the warm glow of computer monitors with the football game on (and at the right time, not 3 hours too early!) It was quite a week, and I learned more stuff this year than normal, and have a few nuggets I really should have known before, that I know now. I will say that there was an interesting feeling this year, like maybe there were less people than had been in the past. It also may have been that I just went to Ignite, and that place was packed. Frankly though, I really enjoyed myself, and felt like the conference was pretty awesome.

Here are a few highlights of the trip for me…

  • The keynotes:

    • Rimma Nehme's Keynote - I love architecture sessions, and this one was excellent. Not so high or low level that I started working on saving the princess (again) in Mario Run on my phone. The insights into Cosmos DB were understandable, and useful for more than just Cosmos DB. I love these keynotes done by academic types, particularly ones who can speak at my level (she called it momsplaining :) without making me feel dumb. If you don't believe me, here is the link to watch the whole thing: 
    • Rohan Kumar's Keynote - He introduced SQL Operations Studio, which is an interesting, cross platform management tool for Microsoft's data platforms. There were demo's of adaptive query processing, and several other things that I won't try to cover. Two ways to catch up here, search for RohanKSQL on Twitter, where you will see the horde of folks (including myself), who tweeted the keynote; or just watch it for yourself:
  • The Microsoft sessions - Some years, we get a lot of sessions from Microsoft, and at times, the speakers are clearly very knowledgeable technical folks, but not necessarily great teachers. I did not attend anything like this this year. I attended two panels where they answered our questions without hesitation (well most of them unless one of us MVPs were asking for stuff for the 100th time just to see if they would answer them differently in a non NDA setting… they did not). One of these panels had about 15 folks who know the product through and through (because they wrote/manage at least one part of it). The other had 5 people involved in building the Memory Optimized table feature.

    I went to two specific feature sessions from Microsoft. A session on Graph database on the last day/last time period by Shreya Verma and Arvind Shyamsundar that was very much worth staying the extra session after I finished mine; and a session by Michael Rys on Modernizing ETL with Azure Data Lake which may have finally inspired me to dig in and learn U-SQL.

  • The non-Microsoft sessions - Since I went to 4 Microsoft sessions, and had a lot of conversations throughout the week, that didn't leave a ton of time for other sessions. I went to sessions on Indexing from Kendra Little, and sessions from RedGate and Jens Vestergaard on Dev Ops from a few perspectives. All of these sessions were top notch, and I learned something in every one.  DevOps, Continuous Deployment and Integration are things that I am very keen to get into my organization.

    I stopped by one timeslot of speaker idol and am just glad I have spoken in the past. That process seems fun, but doing a 5 minutes session and being judged on it immediately in front of the room full of people. Yikes.

  • The conversations - Sometimes I think that the best part about the PASS Summit for me is reconnecting with/meeting new people. I met a ton of people, some for the first time, some for the first time again. I had a few meetings over lunch with a few of the people I work with at Apress and Redgate, and many other discussions on Program Committee stuff, just about any time I wasn't in a session, I was chatting about something SQL Server related. It is a shame really that we can't just get all of the regulars at SQL Saturdays/User Groups a free pass (and hotel and airfare) so everyone could be there. There were a lot of people who couldn't make it for many reasons (for example, Denny Cherry who had quite an outpouring of well wishes from folks at the Summit, including myself, many others and even Rohan in his keynote.)

  • The food - Well, in this case, I didn't actually eat a bite of any of the meals at the Summit. But I did eat some great food around the venue, three places in particular:

    • Mod Pizza - across from the Hilton. Buffalo sauce. On a pizza. Marriage made in Heaven. (Actually had this twice because I had to urgently go back and work one night and it was all that was on my way back to my room…that's my excuse and I am sticking to it). 
    • Ruth's Chris - Nice filet and their Brussel sprouts with honey and bacon were excellent. Their Brussel sprouts are what got me started on my love of Brussel sprouts. (Yes, I know it is a chain and overpriced… Steak was excellent!)
    • Dragonfish Asian Cafe - Had a nice lunch there with their seafood bento box.
    • Honorable mention: The bacon for breakfast at the Hilton Executive lounge was excellent.
      Dishonorable mention: The lunch at the Cheesecake Factory was pretty weak, though the Nashville Hot Chicken nuggets were not terrible. Nothing compared to the meals I had when I was passing through Nashville at Chef Big Shakes and Prince's Hot Chicken Shack South.

  • My session - It may be my best session I have ever done (the last time I said that 15 years ago I was wrong, but this time for sure). I felt comfortable, well enough rehearsed, and finally had what felt like a good balance of slides to demo. 10% slides to intro the basic concept and structure of Row Level Security, then all of the details (like needing to cover multiple tables, or slow functions), in the code. And I even finished out the session and people realized it. My last few sessions I have given, I didn't wind up/wrap up well enough so people ended up staring at me, until I turned off my computer and started packing up.

All in all, I had a great time, and learned quite a few things I didn't know. Some years, learning stuff has not necessarily occurred, particularly when I was giving a session (mostly because I spent too much time preparing my session…) Will I be back next year at the Summit, 98% sure the answer is yes.

Beyond PASS, my week started on Tuesday at a small conference (referred to as the Freecon) by Jason Brimhall and Wayne Sheffield on Tuesday. I gave a session on hierarchies, and saw some great sessions by Gail Shaw, Jimmy May, Andy Leonard and Wayne (Jason's session was earlier than I could drag myself out of my room.) If (like me), your budget doesn't fit adding a full precon (which you absolutely should consider if possible.  There were a bunch of great ones where you can get a deep, full day session on a number of great topics, and I will go out on a limb and guarantee that the same will be true next year, and the next, and…), getting another day of sessions was a great way to kick off things. It was here where I realized a mistake I have made for years in Gail's session. Altering the value of a parameter that is passed in, causing the plan to be substandard. That made the day worth it, even if I had left Seattle then. 

In my session, beyond introducing hierarchies and the new graph features, I introduced the world to Dr Squirrel, my alter ego that comes from my years of being called this name from people who have no idea what SQL is. It was worse when I had DRSQL as a license plate, for sure (Dr Squeal was the other alternative.) I wore the lab coat, and introduced my sidekick, Acornsie, a small squirrel who keeps me on track when I am presenting/working. It will be interesting to see if Acornsie has legs and actually ends up travelling with me.

Published Sunday, November 5, 2017 7:53 PM by drsql

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