This post has been a long time coming. It’s been two weeks since SQLSaturday #68 in Olympia, WA. A busy workload and dead laptop meant that this post is extremely late in summing up what was a new experience for me in presenting.
Om nom nom
Living (relatively) locally in WA there was no big travel for me to this event. That was nice, although the drive down to Olympia from Bellevue on a Friday afternoon is not the greatest. Luckily the sun was out and the weather warm so I wound down the windows and played bad music while sitting in what seemed like endless traffic.
The speaker dinner was, as always, a great event. It’s so great to just be able to sit down and speak to fellow professionals in an informal and relaxed environment. I was fortunate enough to sit and have my meal while listening to the conversation of Buck Woody (blog|twitter), Crys Manson (blog|twitter), Scott Stauffer (blog|twitter) and John Halunen (twitter).
Post meal I followed my usual pre-evening presentation schedule by going over my demos to check they were all working and then watching the DBAs At Midnight web show.
When things go wrong
Saturday morning saw me arrive at the South Puget Sound Community College event location reasonably early where I ran into Mike Decuir (blog|twitter). We wandered in and headed right for the chocolate muffins before hitting registration.
As people started filtering in I hung around the speaker area chatting with folks until the first sessions started.
Rather than attend the first session of the day I sat down to bring up all of my virtual machines and get my demos in ready to go so that I could walk into the presentation room, plug in and I would be all ready to talk PowerShell profiles. I spun up my four VMs and to my horror I found that the evaluation Windows 2008 licenses had expired, all of my iSCSI targets had vanished and my cluster was dead.
Not good. Deep breath time.
I’m a DBA, I always have a backup. I knew I could run the presentation from my laptop, just that some of the functionality that I wanted to show would be missing. I managed to get a VM up and running so decided to work with that. I’d never had to go to that DR presentation plan before so this was a new thing for me. I was more than a little nervous to see how this would go.
Presenting: the backup plan
I walked into the presentation room hoping to get twenty or so folks in attendance. When I got there a lot of the seats were already filled and then more people started coming in. All the seats were taken and still more people came in. Now the nerves really kicked in because I didn’t want to let all these folks down. Luckily there were a couple of friendly faces in the crowd. Cameron Mergel (blog|twitter) and Hope Foley (blog|twitter) were up near the front. It really helped knowing they were there.
Things started reasonably well and then about 10 minutes in my VM shut down. At this point I was ready for just about anything to be thrown at me, so I started it up again and kept on talking. I felt myself talking a little too fast and tried to slow down a little and worked to get some questions from the audience to help the timing. The crowd was well engaged and asked some great questions. My time went by very quickly and I was very happy to see that I had as many people in the room at the end of the session as I’d had at the start.
Things done and I had several folks come up and thank me and say that they had enjoyed the presentation which was nice and very well received. The slides and demos are available for download here.
Frankly I was exhausted at this point and just want to take a nap, but went and grabbed lunch instead.
A mellow afternoon
After eating my lunch and spending a little time chatting to some folks I got what little wits I had left and went to watch Buck Woody talk Cloud computing. You can tell Buck is an educator, his sessions are so easy and free flowing and he obviously knows the material inside and out.
I moved from my chair to a more comfortable seat to enjoy Chuck Lathrope (blog|twitter) in the final session of the day talk Transactional Replication. I’ve dealt with Transactional Replication for years and I’m pretty comfortable with it however I know that Chuck always has nuggets that I can take away and work with so when he talks it’s always useful to me.
The day done there were a few raffle giveaways and folks descended upon a local Tavern for a bite to eat and something to drink.
This little experience taught me a couple of things.
Firstly, never build your presentations on evaluation copies of software, it’ll come back and bite you in the rear. I’ll be purchasing an MSDN sub in the next couple of weeks to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Secondly, it can be really exhausting presenting. I’m thinking power naps for me after speaking from now on.
Thirdly, practice the DR portion of the presentation. Figure out what could go wrong and the mitigation strategy. While I knew I could get by with a lot less I had not built a second presentation around that and had to change a lot on the fly. I won’t be making that mistake again.