This weekend I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at SQLSaturday #67 and boy do these folks in Chicago know how to put together an event!
Friday night lights
I flew in Friday afternoon and after dropping my bag off at the hotel I headed down to Devry to assist in the prep work for the next morning. When I arrived things were already well in hand and a group of volunteers were hard at work stuffing swag bags. Finishing that led to collating raffle tickets and name badges so that everything was ready for the attendees arrival Saturday.
If you are planning on attending a SQLSaturday event, be it local or remote, please volunteer to assist in the setup. Not only can these events not happen without someone like you being there to help get things ready, but you also get to meet some really cool community people and chat with them. It’s very rewarding and you have no excuse not to.
Once everything was prepped and ready we headed over to a local eatery where SQL Sentry (of the awesome and free Plan Explorer tool) opened up their wallet and paid for the speaker dinner. Please note, this was the first (of many) instances where I looked around the room and inside my head the following played….
Today Is Saturday, Wear A Smile.
As a kid one of my favorite shows was on ITV, it was a hilarious, pie throwing, dog spitting, fly dying couple of hours on a Saturday morning. I loved it. It used to provide that kind of inane grin that you just couldn’t wipe off your face, it was just so enjoyable. That pretty much sums up this event.
I was there nice and early, ready to help if there were any last minute things that needed doing but it was all in hand. I got there just as the bagels and donuts showed up. It was just luck it happened that way, really (oh and it was so good to have Dunkin Donuts again, we don’t get those here out in the PNW).
Attendees started to show up in droves and it started to get crowded pretty quickly so I escaped to the relative quiet of the speaker room.
There was a scary amount of knowledge in that room. Take a look at the session list and you’ll see what I mean. I think that pretty much any question anybody could have come up with as regards SQL Server could have been answered by the combined smarts in there. Did I feel out of place? Heck yeah. That is my issue though because none of the presenters in there were ever anything but awesome. You never get looked down on by these folks, they just treat you like a peer, which I think makes it all the more humbling.
Rather than attend one of the first sessions of the day I decided to put my demos through their paces.
A week before the event I decided to change things up on my session and make the demo’s show their stuff a little better. This lead me to go out and buy a 128GB SSD drive and 8GB of RAM for my laptop and my reinstalling Windows. Then I built 4 shiny new Virtual Machines including a DC, iSCSI targets, a cluster and 3 instances of SQL Server.
I’d had some difficulties getting a mount point working in my cluster before the event but that morning I was able to get it plugged in and working (which probably doesn’t mean much when it comes to the presentation however I was glad to have the functionality show in the demo that this provided). I tested all the demos and felt pretty confident that I was as prepared as I was going to get.
My session “PowerShell: Are you checking out my profile?” was very well attended. I felt it went well with plenty of audience engagement, and the evals handed in seemed to back that up.
The presentation materials are available for download from http://www.sqlsaturday.com/viewsession.aspx?sat=67&sessionid=3183
Remains of the day
After a great lunch I found myself watching Jeremiah Peschka (blog|twitter) talking refactoring. I love his presentations, they flow so well and his slides are artistic and just a punctuation mark to what he is saying. I want to be able to present like that when I grow up.
I ended up missing the second round of afternoon sessions as I was talking clusters with Allan Hirt (blog|twitter). Yeah, I missed out on watching a great session, but it’s not often you have to chance to sit and talk face-to-face with a clustering guru, I considered that hour alone worth the weekend.
I was able to catch one last session where Christina Leo (blog|twitter) talked about SQL Internals. I’ll speak more on that a little later.
With the sessions over it was raffle time. Prizes were won and I got a $100 Amazon gift card. Quality!
The day official over things got more crazy. Food was eaten, beverages were consumed, karaoke was sung and talking was had until the wee hours of the morning. A really fun night to wind up the awesome day. I even managed to get a couple of hours sleep before heading for the airport and my flight home on Sunday.
Something to change
Christina’s session was on SQL internals. This was her first presentation and it was one on a highly difficult and complicated subject. She did a fantastic job, starting things off with a story and tying it back into the SQL internals. Unfortunately there was one highly obnoxious person in the audience who, for whatever reason, decided that he was not going to agree with anything Christina had to say. He openly challenged her and other people multiple times (and it’s not like he was correct in what he was saying).
It was incredibly disrespectful to someone who was freely giving their time to try and impart knowledge on others. On top of that it took away from the time of the other attendees. At the end of the session more than one person commiserated with Christina on the actions of that one person and told her she did a fantastic job.
If you are attending a session show respect for the person speaking. Even if you think that they are saying something wrong don’t openly challenge them. If you can’t keep yourself from berating the presenter then leave the room and speak to them afterwards in private.
SQLSaturday organizers, I would really like to see a buddy system be implemented. While there are some very experienced speakers at these events there are those that are new to speaking. I think that everyone who is a first time presenter (at the very least) should have an experienced speaker with them in the room just in case they run into this kind of situation. They might not need to interject but the knowledge that they are there and have the back of the speaker would mean a great deal. A nod of the head just to reinforce the speakers confidence at a key moment might well mean more than standing up and taking someone to task.
When someone learns to walk a tightrope they have a safety net. Let’s get one in place for new speakers, we don’t want some callous comment or malicious person to deprive the community of a great speaker.
As I’ve said this whole event was awesome and I want to call out the team that put it all together:
- Aaron Lowe (blog|twitter)
- Bill Lescher (twitter)
- Bob Pusateri (blog|twitter)
- Norman Kelm (blog|twitter)
- Rich Rousseau (twitter)
- Ted Kruger (blog|twitter)
- Wendy Pastrick (blog|twitter)
And a final mention goes out to Jes Schultz Borland (blog|twitter) who showed up Friday with a great many boxes of t-shirts for the attendees.