My first PASS Summit didn’t let me down.
LobsterPot Solutions sent two people to PASS this year – I was joined by Roger, who also wore the First Time ribbon on his conference badge. Roger is presenting in a couple of weeks to the Adelaide SQL Server User Group (a PASS Chapter), so was keen to get content ideas. He’s covering “What’s New In Denali”, which should prove to be very interesting for all attending. Roger managed to get to several sessions about that, as well as being present in the Keynotes (of course). Speaking to him at the start of the flight home, he told me he’d both had a great time and learned a lot too.
For me, the experience was set to be a bit different. I hadn’t been at the last couple of MVP Summits, so this was my first US conference since April 2008 (the time I met Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the lift – I’ve provided a link so that you don’t feel a need to search for “Rob Farley” “Tutu”, expecting to find anything of interest), and my first trip to the US at all for over two years. Because of this, there were lots of people I was overdue to visit, and a long list of people I had never met (despite plenty of interaction through the SQL community). I won’t try to list people – it would be far too long, and I would surely miss someone unintentionally. I will mention Jeremiah Peschka (@peschkaj) though. As Program Director, he must’ve been under all kinds of pressure, and I think he did an excellent job.
As well as meeting people, I had a number of commitments to fulfil. I was a Guest Blogger at the keynotes, I had two sessions and a Lightning Talk to deliver, book signing, a Birds of a Feather lunch ‘table’ to host, and more. Dinner invites from sponsors and Microsoft events to attend added to the week, with prayer meetings (hosted by Mike Walsh) to start each morning. You might think I was a little busy.
I managed to attend some sessions, but that wasn’t my priority. For example, I had been hoping to get to one of Conor Cunningham’s session, but when asked by Kendal van Dyke (@sqldba) to be part of a panel at his session on getting into blogging and presenting, gave it a miss. Kendal’s a good guy, and I always try to help when possible. The panel was made up of some of the most extroverted people on the planet, including Thomas LaRock (@sqlrockstar), Buck Woody (@buckwoody), Todd McDermid (@todd_mcdermid), Aaron Bertrand (@aaronbertrand), Patrick LeBlanc (@patrickdba), Brent Ozar (@BrentO) and others, and I hope some of the people in that session picked up some tips on how to get started in blogging and presenting. I personally think that presenting is a skill that as many people as possible should develop, and that CVs that include public speaking are very much more valuable. As well as presenting in person, this year has had me presenting to the AppDev virtual chapter twice (two presentations each time), a couple of 24 Hours of PASS events, and remotely to the Columbus (Ohio) chapter. I’m sure I’ll do more of this type of thing over the next year, and it was definitely good to meet the people involved in those groups, like Aaron Nelson (@sqlvariant), David Taylor (@dyfhid), Thomas LaRock (@sqlrockstar) and Jeremiah Peschka (@peschkaj).
Marc Souza is someone who always amazes me. He runs the SQLCAT team (so he’s a proper SQL celebrity), and works with people all around the world, but also has a keen interest in the little people (like me). I remember the second time I ever met Marc, and he remembered me without hesitating (I had a similar experience with Donald Farmer earlier this year, which was equally humbling). At one point during the week, Marc arranged for one of his staff (Larisa) to provide me with a pile of swag for the Adelaide group – over 10kg of small SQL Server branded stuff, which I’ll give out over the coming months. Getting to spend time with Marc this week so soon after seeing him at SQLBits was good in all kinds of ways, and I’m definitely looking forward to the times we’re in the same country again.
One of my big disappointments of the week was the constant heaviness in my heart for my good friend Simon Sabin, who couldn’t be there. Simon and his family are very much at the forefront of my prayers, and I kept finding myself missing him. He’s a giant in the SQL Server world. He is the driving force behind the SQLBits conferences in the UK, runs user group meetings around the UK, and was due to present two sessions at the PASS Summit as well. Not going was the correct choice for him this year, but I sincerely wish that things were different and that he could have attended.
As for my sessions, I think they went down okay. The official feedback won’t surface for many months, but people suggested they went okay. I had given some of them before, and if you’d like to know what kinds of things were in the Incredible Shrinking Execution Plan talk, I would currently point you to the free video available from SQLBits. Even many of the jokes are the same, which may or may not help. Luckily, most of the jokes I did in my Lightning Talk were ones that I put together especially for PASS, but to get them, you may have to buy the PASS DVDs and guess at what was going on for some of the visual gags.
Hopefully I’ll be back next year – I guess I’ll need to start working out some content ideas. Maybe I’ll expand on the good and bad of collation.