Monday, April 4, 2011

SqlSaturday #71–Boston Recap: An Upscale Saturday

I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at SQLSaturday #71 – Boston on April 2nd.  Adam Machanic (Blog|Twitter), Mike Walsh (Blog|Twitter), Tom LaRock (Blog|Twitter), Grant Fritchey (Blog|Twitter) and crew did a great job putting on the event.  The event was held at the Babson College Executive Conference Center which is a great facility.  The rooms were large and, except for the large room, theatre-style so the all the attendees could see.  There was also an on-site pub for the after-party that made it easy for attendees to stay and network after the event.  I was surprised that more didn’t, but the crew that did was very lively.


Meeting Paul White (Blog|Twitter) – I’ve “known” Paul for awhile online through SQLServerCentral and Twitter, but this was my first opportunity to meet him in person.  I’m always excited to meet people in person, especially when they are among the best and brightest in the SQL Server community, which Paul is.  It was also great to hear that he was rightly awarded SQL Server MVP status in the latest round.  If you don’t read his blog you should. 

Food Service – In order to use the facility the event had to purchase food through the facility and it was the BEST food at any event I’ve attended.  There was fruit, drinks, muffins, etc… throughout the morning at several stations in the facility, and the event staff kept everything stocked.  It was actually so well-done I wasn’t sure it was for our event because I’ve never seen it done like that before.  The lunch buffet was unbelievable!  Tampa has a good lunch at their event, but it did not compare.  I can’t even mention all the items that were available, including the desserts.  There were even servers keeping you water or other drink filled and clearing your plates.  Even the Summit doesn’t serve a meal like this!  Then, to top it off cookies and fruit appeared at the snack stations in the afternoon!  Thank goodness I stayed on my feet throughout the day or I would have gained back half the weight I’ve lost! 

Seeing old friends and making new ones – There is never a time when getting together with old friends in the community is not a great time.  People like Andy Leonard (Blog|Twitter), Aaron Bertrand (Blog|Twitter), Karen Lopez (Blog|Twitter), Chris Skorlinksi and others that make every conversation a learning experience.  Then some new friends, many of whom I interact with online, like Mike Hilwig (Blog), Michael Coles (Blog|Twitter), Andrew Kelly (Blog|Twitter), Stefan Krzywicki (Blog), and Allen White (Blog|Twitter).  Each one of the folks I interacted with during the day made a full day of #sqlwinning.  I know I’m leaving out a bunch of people, but there are too many to include.

My Session

I presented my Introduction to Triggers session in the first slot and I had at least 15 people (that’s how many evals I got), which is about my normal crowd for this session.  Overall it went well, although I lost my train of thought a couple of times, and I was a little nervous having Paul White in my session.  Paul actually was a great help in the session as he asked some great questions that reminded me of some points that I need to make or emphasize.  I am guessing that is why he asked those questions because I’m pretty sure he knew the answers, and I’d be shocked if he didn’t.  There were a lot of good questions from the rest of group as well, especially when we talked about DDL triggers.  We actually spent more time on that part of the presentation than normal because of the questions.  It is always nice to get the evaluations right at the session, especially when they are good Winking smile.  I had 3 fours and 12 fives for the overall quality of the presentation which is always nice to see. Here a few comments:

“Great session – learned a lot!”

“Great Speaker.  Accessible and sincere”

“On the slides, yellow urls against a blue background are hard to read”

“Lively, engaging speaker”

“Test his code! Smile” – I did have a couple of oops’s

“Very good @ recovering from the “gotchas”.”

“A little extra on the real basics of what a trigger does and when it fires”

I’ll definitely be working the ones that involve doing something better, but very happy that everyone enjoyed and learned something from the session, including me!

Sessions I attended

I only attended 2 sessions, Paul White’s SQL Query Optimization: It’s Not Rocket Science session, and Karen Lopez’s session, Database Design Contentious Issues.

As I expected, Paul’s session was great and deep!  I know I’m not at his level in understanding the internals of SQL Server and he gave a great overview of how the query optimizer works, ways you can “play” with it, and ways you can “help” it.  The fact that you can help the optimizer by trying different ways to “declare” what you want to see which one brings out the best plan.  This session should be followed by Grant Fritchey’s session on query plans.

Karen’s session was very interesting as it was very interactive.  We talked about surrogate keys vs. natural keys, when to use varchar vs. char, and naming conventions.  Each of which is definitely a contentious issue, and we didn’t even talk about NULL’s!  The key thing I took from this session is that the “tools you use affect the decisions you make”.

Constructive Criticism’s

I’ve never attended a perfect event, so here are a couple things I’d suggest for next time:

  1. SQLSaturday signs on the way into the event location.  Once you got to the Babson campus it seemed like you had to drive through the whole place to find the event.  I was looking for SQLSaturday signs and there weren’t any.
  2. Include the speaker name on the schedule handed out at the event.  I know a lot of people want to know who is speaking as a the tie-breaker between sessions.

Other than those 2 things I don’t have any other things to change.  Check-in, which is often a problem, went smoothly, and the day seemed to flow very well.

Thanks for putting on a great event and I hope to be back next year!

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