I recently attended most prestigious SQL Server event SQLPASS between Nov 8-11, 2010 at Seattle. I have only one expression for the event -
Best Summit Ever
This year the summit was at its best. Instead of writing about my usual routine or the event, I am going to write about the interesting things I did and how I felt about it!
Trip to Seattle!
This was my second trip to Seattle this year and the journey is always long. Here is the travel stats on how long it takes to get to Seattle:
- 24 hours official air time
- 36 hours total travel time (connection waits and airport commute)
Every time I travel to USA I gain a day and when I travel back to home, I lose a day. However, the total traveling time is around 3 days. The journey is long and very exhausting. However, it is all worth it when you’re attending an event like SQLPASS. Here are few things I carry when I travel for a long journey:
- Dry Snack packs – I like to have some good Indian Dry Snacks along with me in my backpack so I can have my own snack when I want
- Amazon Kindle – Loaded with 80+ books
- A physical book – This is usually a very easy to read book
I do not watch movies on the plane and usually spend my time reading something quick and easy. If I can go to sleep, I go for it. I prefer to not to spend time in conversation with the guy sitting next to me because usually I end up listening to their biography, which I cannot blog about.
In any case, I love to go to Seattle as the city is great and has everything a brilliant metropolis has to offer. The new Light Train is extremely convenient, and I can take it directly from the airport to the city center. My hotel, the Sheraton, was only few meters (in the USA people count in blocks – 3 blocks) away from the train station. This time I saved USD 40 each round trip due to the Light Train.
Sessions I attended!
Well, I really wanted to attend most of the sessions but there was great dilemma of which ones to choose. There were many, many sessions to be attended and at any given time there was more than one good session being presented. I had decided to attend sessions in area performance tuning and I attended quite a few sessions this year, compared to what I was able to do last year. Here are few names of the speakers whose sessions I attended (please note, following great speakers are not listed in any order. I loved them and I enjoyed their sessions):
- Conor Cunningham
- Rushabh Mehta
- Buck Woody
- Brent Ozar
- Jonathan Kehayias
- Chris Leonard
- Bob Ward
- Grant Fritchey
I had great fun attending their sessions. The sessions were meaningful and enlightening. It is hard to rate any session but I have found that the insights learned in Conor Cunningham’s sessions are the highlight of the PASS Summit.
I always like the sessions where the speaker is much closer to the audience and has real world experience. I think speakers who have worked in the real world deliver the best content and most useful information.
Sessions I did not like!
Indeed there were few sessions I did not like it and I am not going to name them here. However, there were strong reasons I did not like their sessions, and here is why:
- Sessions were all theory and had no real world connections.
- All technical questions ended with confusing answers (lots of “I will get back to you on it,” “it depends,” “let us take this offline” and many more…)
- “I am God” kind of attitude in the speakers
For example, I attended a session of one very well known speaker who is a specialist for one particular area. I was bit late for the session and was surprised to see that in a room that could hold 350 people there were only 30 attendees. After sitting there for 15 minutes, I realized why lots of people left. Very soon I found I preferred to stare out the window instead of listening to that particular speaker.
One on One Talk!
Many times people ask me what I really like about PASS. I always say the experience of meeting SQL legends and spending time with them one on one and LEARNING!
Here is the quick list of the people I met during this event and spent more than 30 minutes with each of them talking about various subjects:
- Rushabh Mehta – It is always pleasure to meet with him. He is a man with lots of energy and a passion for community. He recently told me that he really wanted to turn PASS into resource for learning for every SQL Server Developer and Administrator in the world. I had great in-depth discussion regarding how a single person can contribute to a community.
- Michael Coles – I consider him my best friend. It is always fun to meet him. He is funny and very knowledgeable. I think there are very few people who are as expert as he is in encryption and spatial databases. Worth meeting him every single time.
- Glenn Berry – A real friend of everybody. He is very a simple person and very true to his heart. I think there is not a single person in whole community who does not like him. He is a friends of all and everybody likes him very much. I once again had time to sit with him and learn so much from him. As he is known as Dr. DMV, I can be his nurse in the area of DMV.
- Brad Schulz – I always wanted to meet him but never got chance until today. I had great time meeting him in person and we have spent considerable amount of time together discussing various T-SQL tricks and tips. I do not know where he comes up with all the different ideas but I enjoy reading his blog and sharing his wisdom with me.
- Jonathan Kehayias – He is drill sergeant in US army. If you get the impression that he is a giant with very strong personality – you are wrong. He is very kind and soft spoken DBA with strong performance tuning skills. I asked him how he has kept his two jobs separate and I got very good answer – just work hard and have passion for what you do. I attended his sessions and his presentation style is very unique. I feel like he is speaking in a language I understand.
- Louis Davidson – I had never had a chance to sit with him and talk about technology before. He has so much wisdom and he is very kind. During the dinner, I had talked with him for long time and without hesitation he started to draw a schema for me on the menu. It was a wonderful experience to learn from a master at the dinner table. He explained to me the real and practical differences between third normal form and forth normal form. Honestly I did not know earlier, but now I do.
- Erland Sommarskog – This man needs no introduction, he is very well known and very clear in conveying his ideas. I learned a lot from him during the course of year. Every time I meet him, I learn something new and this time was no exception.
- Joe Webb – Joey is all about community and people, we had interesting conversation about community, MVP and how one can be helpful to community without losing passion for long time. It is always pleasant to talk to him and of course, I had fun time.
- Ross Mistry – I call him my brother many times because he indeed looks like my cousin. He provided me lots of insight of how one can write book and how he keeps his books simple to appeal to all the readers. A wonderful person and great friend.
- Ola Hallgren - I did not know he was coming to the summit. I had great time meeting him and had a wonderful conversation with him regarding his scripts and future community activities.
- Blythe Morrow – She used to be integrated part of SQL Server Community and PASS HQ. It was wonderful to meet her again and re-connect. She is wonderful person and I had a great time talking to her.
- Solid Quality Mentors – It is difficult to decide who to mention here. Instead of writing all the names, I am going to include a photo of our meeting. I had great fun meeting various members of our global branches. This year I was sitting with my Spanish speaking friends and had great fun as Javier Loria from Solid Quality translated lots of things for me.
Party, Party and Parties
Every evening there were various parties. I did attend almost all of them. Every party had different theme but the goal of all the parties the same – networking. Here are the few parties where I had lots of fun:
- Dell Reception Party
- Exhibitor Party
- Solid Quality Fun Party
- Red Gate Friends Party
- MVP Dinner Microsoft Party
- MVP Dinner Quest Party
- Gameworks PASS Party
- Volunteer Party at Garage
They were all great networking opportunities and lots of fun. I really had great time meeting people at the various parties. There were few people everywhere – well, I will say I am among them – who hopped parties.
NDA – Not Decided Agenda
During the event there were few meetings marked “NDA.” Someone asked me “why are these things NDA?” My response was simple: because they are not sure themselves. NDA stands for Not Decided Agenda.
Toys, Giveaways and Luggage
I admit, I was like child in Gameworks and was playing to win soft toys. I was doing it for my daughter. I must thank all of the people who gave me their cards to try my luck. I won 4 soft-toys for my daughter and it was fun. Also, thanks to Angel who did a final toy swap with me to get the desired toy for my daughter. I also collected ducks from Idera, as my daughter really loves them.
Each of the exhibitors was giving away something and I got so much stuff that my luggage got quite a bit bigger when I returned.
Idera had SQLDoctor (a real magician and fun guy) to promote their new tool SQLDoctor. I really had a great time participating in the magic myself. At one point, the magician made my watch disappear. I have seen better magic before, but this time it caught me unexpectedly and I was taken by surprise. I won many ducks again.
The Common Question
I heard the following common questions:
- I have seen you somewhere – who are you? – I am Pinal Dave.
- I did not know that Pinal is your first name and Dave is your last name, how do you pronounce your last name again? – Da-way
- How old are you? – I am as old as I can be.
- Are you an Indian because you look like one? – I did not answer this one.
- Where are you from? This question was usually asked after looking at my badge which says India.
- So did you really fly from India? – Yes, because I have seasickness so I do not prefer the sea journey.
- How long was the journey? – 24/36/12 (air travel time/total travel time/time zone difference)
- Why do you write on SQLAuthority.com? – Because I want to.
- I remember your daughter looks like you. – Is this even a question? Of course, she is daddy’s little girl.
There were so many other questions, I will have to write another blog post about it.
Again, Best Summit Ever!
Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)