I had the good fortune of being able to travel to Denver for SQLSaturday #52 the weekend of September 25, 2010. I was able to go because my wife, Alice, had connected with Steve Jones’ wife, Tia, because of their mutual interest in horses. So Alice was able to head out to the Jones’ ranch on Saturday to spend some time with Tia and the horses. This worked out well as this trip was close enough to Alice’s birthday to double as a birthday present.
We flew out to Denver on Friday afternoon and had a good flight. Our hotel was only about 1/2 mile from the speaker dinner at Great Northern Tavern, so after settling in at the hotel we walked to the dinner. We had a GREAT time at the dinner. I was able to reconnect with many people I already knew: Steve, Tim Mitchell, Jen McCown & daughter, Dean Richards, Nadine (from Confio), and Jason Strate. There were also many new people to meet as well like: Meredith Ryan-Smith, Marc Beacom, another Steve, Rob, Jeff, Tom, Todd, Jason, Brandon, Michelle (from SQL Mag), Paul, Patrice, and Kate. I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, but I feel pretty good that I remembered that many names, which is 19 out of about 25 attendees.
On Saturday Alice and I headed to the event at about 7:15am since the first session was at 8am. The event was at the Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, which was a beautiful facility, and worked out well. The gym was used as the lunch room and there were 4 session rooms in the main church building and 2 session rooms in the same building as the gym. Registration was going smoothly when I arrived, and, since I was presenting in the first session, I headed to my session room. The only problem I saw with the setup was that there were not enough signs, a common issue, especially when hosting your first event. They could have used a large sign by the church entrance, more signs directing people to the correct rooms (they get some slack here, as there were last minute room changes), and signs on each room door with the sessions schedule for that room.
My first session was at 8am, not the best time for me, and was my presentation, Why I Use Stored Procedures, which covers why I prefer using stored procedures for data access over other methods, specifically the Microsoft ORM tools, Linq to SQL and Entity Framework. I had between 15-20 people in the session and had some good discussion. The interesting thing about this session was that most of the attendees had no experience with ORM tools. I’ve given this presentation a few times and this is the first time that there has been a majority of attendees without some exposure to ORM tools. I had made the mistake of reworking my demos on Thursday night and, as expected, one did not work. I demonstrate the use of Linq to SQL and Entity Framework in .NET 4 and 3.5, and by changing my demos I had broken my Entity Framework demo when using .NET 3.5. Other than that the session went very well. I consider any session where I get questions and stimulate some discussion to be a success and there were plenty of questions and discussion with this group.
My second session was from 10:30-11:30, just before lunch, and was my Introduction to Triggers session and was the 3rd time I’ve done this session. This session was a little different because the hookup for the projector was towards the back and side of the room so I had to present from the side of the attendees when I was doing demos. This session is mostly demos so it was a bit awkward, but worked. Again, there were a lot of good comments and questions which made the time go quickly. I really like doing this session as it gives people something to think about and take back to work to use, whether it is using DDL triggers or improving DML trigger code.
Lunch was nice sack lunch with a sandwich, chips, pasta salad, and piece of fruit. They did 2 different things at lunch. The first was to have Steve Jones give a short talk, like a keynote, and the second was raffling off some of the swag during lunch. I really liked having a raffle at lunch as it gives everyone a chance to win something, even if they don’t stay for the whole event.
In the afternoon I attended 3 sessions: Glenn Berry’s session on Azure, Jen McCown’s T-SQL Code Sins, and Tim Mitchell’s session on Programming the SSIS API. All three sessions were well-attended and informative.
The day ended with a raffle, and once again I didn’t win the iPad that FusionIO was giving away. This went smoothly and when it was finished there was a good crew who helped clean up and put away chairs and tables so the church would be ready for Sunday services.
Because my wife had our rental car out at the ranch I hitched a ride to the after party with Lynn Pettis, a good friend from SQLServerCentral, who I met in person for the first time at the event. The after party was at the Baker Street Pub, where we had a small section just for SQLSaturday attendees. There was a great turnout of between 50-60 attendees out of about 160 total event attendees. They had a nice little bingo card that attendees could fill out by talking to other attendees and you could win a gift card. I managed to get the first bingo and win a $20 Micro Center gift card which I used to get a small PowerShell book and an older DNN book, so I can do a better job on the OPASS web site.
Sunday we went up to Boulder on the recommendation of Paul Paiva and rented bikes to ride around town. We spent the afternoon biking on the Boulder Creek Path. We got to see some beautiful mountain scenery, some of deer, and a bunch of prairie dogs (neither Alice or I had seen these anywhere before).
It was a great trip. Actually the best SQLSaturday I’ve attended so far. I think it was for 2 reasons: Alice traveled with me and the people at the event, speakers, organizers, and attendees, were very friendly and made me feel very comfortable.
Great job by Marc, Chris, Patrice, and crew! I hope we do as well with SQLSaturday #49 – Orlando.