5 Days of PASS – Day 5

enterthedragonI wake up to the faint sound of early morning traffic starting to roll slowly through the empty streets of Downtown Seattle as the occasional bark from a dog can be heard from somewhere in the distance. Nearby, just a few blocks away, the now empty Convention Center stands as a shell compared to the hive of activity that it was over the last week.

The last day of the Summit has been and gone and I feel just a hint of sadness that my time here in Seattle and the U.S.A is almost over but can at least start to think about the end of 2014 and look forward to good things in 2015.

My day had started out pretty much as it had done for the last couple of days, since I had one last thing to accomplish, which was to present my session Enter the Dragon – SQL 2014 on Server Core. I spent the early morning in my room attempting to prepare since a lot of my focus this trip had been to finalize the Community session. As the time approached I made my way into the Convention Center and started to set up my session. I was a little taken aback by the size of the room, and I felt at the time that someone had misunderstood the popularity of the subject matter (I personally think it is still a niche dry subject), but no matter, I was happy to be proven wrong (I wasn’t). The size of the room did not really help when it came to demos either, since Server Core is after all not much more than a command prompt to look at. It also did not help that I was losing significant screen estate on the projector, so when I increased my resolution I lost the sides. The AV guy managed to reconfigure his AV Control Box and although it wasn’t perfect we managed to improve the situation to an acceptable level (all bar a few missing pixels). I found it surprising that, even in a room that size with so much available space, people were still intent on sitting at the back and away from other people – come on guys talk to one another!

I felt the presentation went ok, but I don’t think it was my finest hour. A couple of jokes fell flat and it is a presentation that I have always struggled to get through the whole set of material and I was determined to do so this time, since I believe the latter part is the most valuable. Sadly this meant me talking through a couple of demos to save time, but in hindsight I don’t think this is such a bad thing and provided no less value than executing the commands onscreen. I did get through the material almost on time, but it has given me food for thought about whether I make further cuts to some of the earlier material, which is aimed primarily towards Windows Administrators so that they can be convinced a switch is necessary. Despite my disappointment over this session, I am still continuing to hear great feedback about the Community one I gave yesterday with Buck (he is getting this too), so at least I can feel pleased about this.

winnerOnce the session was over, I headed off towards the Speaker Room to wind down and reflect on the session and what I was going to do next. I eventually dropped my bags off at the hotel and came back to the Convention Center, where already it was starting to thin out substantially. I hate these specific times at conferences when these places transform from dynamic vibrant hubs of activity into a quiet sparsely populated shadow. I chill-axed in the Community Zone for a while, which was really one of the last places that people were milling about and sat there for a while, chatted to a few people and then eventually attended the Speaker Idol contest. I think that while it was a very fun and enjoyable thing to attend, I do seriously question it’s purpose. If it is aimed at giving someone who does not regularly speak at conferences a guaranteed speaking place at next years Summit,  then it failed. All four finalists are regular speakers on the circuit with various experiences, and although this did not meet the aim of Speaker Idol as far as I understand it, their experience at least meant that we had a more enjoyable final -with four strong presentations. Special Mention goes to the eventual winner Pieter Vanhove from Belgium who gave an amusing presentation on CMS.

Later on, a group of us headed to the Tap House and grabbed some drinks. The intention was that we were going to head off to a prearranged meal, but were waiting to be picked up. As time went on, the details and certainty of what we were doing and whether enough tables have been booked for everyone started to change, so I decided I wasn’t going to spend any more time playing guessing games (been there too many times) and instead said my goodbyes and hooked up with some of my friends in the Yard House for a huge meal. I was so exhausted by the end of the meal that I kept nodding off, and we all then decided to grab some sleep so headed back to our Hotels.

I’ve had a great time here at the Summit 14, but there has been several regrets, one of which is that due to the shear number of things I have had to do, I have not really managed to speak to sponsors or do a whole list of other things I intended to. Never mind, I suppose this is a reason to attend next years Summit!

Well I hope you have enjoyed reading 5 Days of PASS as I have enjoyed writing it, I am signing off now for another year, and hope to see you then.

All the best,

Mark.

See also in this series:
5 Days of PASS – Day 4
5 Days of PASS – Day 3
5 Days of PASS – Day 2
5 Days of PASS – Day 1

Posted in Community, PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication | 5 Comments

5 Days of PASS – Day 4

Being Buck WoodyAs I write, the penultimate day of the PASS Summit has been and gone. It was again an overloaded rollercoster of a ride filled with appointments, chance meetings of old friends and most significantly the day I gave my Community Session called Being Buck Woody alongside the ever fabulous Buck Woody. I spent the early hours of the morning in deep concentration preparing for this session and even while eating breakfast I had my head down gathering thoughts and listening to some recorded notes. Later on, myself and Buck got together in the speaker room and did a final run through of the deck and both of us were fairly happy with the content and flow of the presentation.

We headed to our room which was a nice relaxed small formal room, and suited the topic nicely having arrived around 30 minutes early to set up. We already had a few people there and for the last 20 minutes before its start time, Buck proceeded to perform a comedy routine! If I wasn’t already intimidated at the prospect of presenting with a Premium speaker then I really was now. But I think this was also the point of our presentation, that I shouldn’t have to feel that I needed to compete with Buck to be like Buck (I cannot) and just be myself. So I calmly listened, laughed and waited for the time to count down before we began.

I felt the presentation went far better than it could have done given the difficulties that myself and Buck have had hooking up and considering our respective workloads, and we both have received some nice comments from people who attended. Even more heart warming to me is the fact that a couple of people who attended said it has given them food for thought about their own career, so that is great news. As I have said in previous posts, I am my own worst critic, so those things in the presentation and my performance that didn’t work will be examined and addressed.

After the session I had lunch at the Women In Technology Luncheon with Kimberly Bryant from Black Girls CODE, which was actually a very interesting interview. My whole opinion about these W.I.T events has changed significantly over the years but I do believe that there certainly appears to be a real and present need for them in the U.S at very least. I was particularly touched by one a lady in the audience who emotionally took the microphone to make her comment, and I could see what it meant to her -so well done Denise McInerney for organizing this event and the excellent interview. Mention should also go to Kalen Delaney (blog|twitter) who made a fantastic comment that the fathers of boys should spend more time introducing their child to positive female role-models to change their perception of how they see women when they grow up, and this for me was a wow moment.

EMP Museum

A few hours after the Luncheon, I headed with my good friend Niko Neugebauer to the famous Annual Bob Ward PASS Session , in which he performed back to back sessions called Inside SQL Server I/O (Part 1) and Inside SQL Server I/O (Part 2). His content was (as always) excellent, but I do suspect a lot of people left these sessions scratching their heads wondering what they had just seen. I believe the Summit DVDs will be necessary in order to obtain the full return on these truly level 500 sessions, so I am looking forward to doing so.

Later that evening I headed out with a few friends for a quick meal at the Taphouse, and it was really good to catch up with Mark Ginnebaugh (web|twitter) again. Once the meal was over we all piled into a Taxi and headed to the EMP Museum where PASS were hosting the Community party event. I didn’t get to see all the exhibits at the party, but had a great time bumping into even more old faces. Once the party was over, I headed back to my hotel for a fairly early night so that I could get some sleep and rest for my session on Day 5 of the Summit in which I will deliver Enter the Dragon: Running SQL 2014 on Windows Server Core so wish me luck!

Footnote: I was told later that evening that I had been shortlisted for the PASSion Award which was very humbling to hear (so thanks to those involved for making that happen). I unfortunately had to miss the keynote for obvious reasons described above, but I think the prize went to the worthy winner in Andrey Korshikov who has done marvellous things in his mother country of Russia -so congratulations Andrey, great job!

See also in this series:
5 Days of PASS – Day 5
5 Days of PASS – Day 3
5 Days of PASS – Day 2
5 Days of PASS – Day 1

Posted in Community, PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication | 5 Comments

5 Days of PASS – Day 3

Well just when you thought things could not get any busier, along comes Day 3 of the PASS Summit. I started the day on the PASS Blogger Table for the opening Keynote speech of the Summit introduced by Thomas LaRock (the current PASS president). There was a distinct shortage of Australian representatives on the table, which was soon rectified by the arrival of the one an only Rob Farley (twitter|blog), who is always amusing to listen to. To my left was one of my favourite German SQL Server experts, the ever happy Oliver Engels who was furiously typing away and in front of me Brent Ozar appeared to be switching backwards and forwards across different media platforms and applications and was no doubt constructing some interesting posts for our consumption.

I sadly had to cut things short for myself since I had a pre-arranged meeting to attend and quickly scuttled off as proceedings continued around me.

After several hours of work I then needed to attend the PASS Virtual Chapter meeting which was really useful and interesting to see the broad range of characters who run these VCs. Even more interesting was that it seemed nearly every VC had similar problems and challenges but hopefully between us these are problems we can fix. For myself as the Oracle Virtual Chapter lead I feel that I have a particularly uphill battle on many fronts but firmly believe with the right people in place we can solve these problems and kick-start the chapter.

Before the VC was fully ended I had to rush off to the (what now is becoming annual) MCM photo. A big thank you to Andreas Wolter for arranging this and I hope you like the finished result!

Argenis loves me really!

Argenis loves me really!

After this I had to quickly rush to PASSTV to have a short interview. The whole process was interesting and we decided to concentrate the interview around the topic of developing yourself through the SQL Community (and particularly speaking). When asked to provide a overview of myself, I possibly left out the most significant part of my Community input in that I forgot to mention my beloved SQLSaturday Cambridge! I’m still kicking myself, but these things happen! Gah! Anyhow when the interview was over, the PASSTV said that it was a good interview and flowed quite well, so I hope to see for myself how it came across. It is funny but I am my own worst critic, so I always presume the worst :)

Next I needed to resume my work and initially started this for several hours, but then ran right into the evening and finally went to bed. Thankfully I am starting to feel much better than earlier in the week and looking forward to a busy day today where I will be doing my best to deliver a Community session alongside Buck Woody. Fingers crossed and please wish me luck!

See also in this series:
5 Days of PASS – Day 5
5 Days of PASS – Day 4
5 Days of PASS – Day 2
5 Days of PASS – Day 1

Posted in Community, PASS, SQLServerPedia Syndication | 5 Comments