I was fortunate to attend SQLRally, Dallas last week and what a week it was. Aside from having to actually work from my room on Wednesday (I had taken two personal days to attend) everything else was great. Even the much welcomed rain we have been getting this year (Texas is in a severe drought) made an appearance but did not cause any major issues. At least none I am aware of.
One of the nice things about Dallas was all the events were within walking distance of the venue. When making lodging arrangements I wanted to stay close to the venue and was able to map out all the locations on Google then find a hotel relatively central to everything. I stayed at the Crown Plaza and shared a room with Keith Tate ( blog | twitter ). Keith. He and I met at the Summit last year during the Networking Social at Lowell’s. We hooked up via twitter when both of us wanted to share a room. It worked out well, from my stand point anyway, you’ll have to ask Keith his opinion.
Like other SQLCommunity events I volunteered to help my brothers and sisters on the great team from NTSSUG. They hosted this awesomesauce event this year. Volunteering can be very rewarding and comes be in many different forms. I helped by being a room monitor for the sessions. You basically hand out speaker evaluation forms, collect them at the end, (don’t let anyone out unless they fill out an eval), and assist the speaker (if needed) to stay on track for the scheduled time slot.
Gather SQL Performance Data with Powershell – Allen White
I liked this session for several reasons. I am currently using Powershell to collect SQL performance information and wanted to see if I could add to what I currently collect and/or how I do collect the data. Another reason was meet Allen (blog | twitter) for the first time. I arrived a little early introduced myself and mentioned I might have to leave early due to my “room monitor” responsibilities. He understood and informed me I was lucky since he did not have anything to throw at me when I left. As it happens Tim Ford (blog | twitter) wondered in and provided Allen with some ammo.
Allen has a great presentation style comes across as knowledgeable and approachable. I enjoyed this session a lot. So, Allen, as I mentioned disregard my eval form, (I filled out the eval form opposite because I did not read the words and was thinking low was bad high was good like in most cases. NOT this time), great session anyway, but you need to work on your aim. :)
Using SQL Server 2012’s Always On – Denny Cherry
I as assigned as room monitor for this session and I was planning on attending away, so two thumbs up already. Denny (blog | twitter) actually had a webinar the day before on the same subject. I was listening in while I was working in my hotel room and I missed some of the things he mentioned. Attending in person was much better and filled in the blanks. I have attended several of his sessions online and always seem to come away with something. His session for first time attendees of the Summit is very helpful. I highly recommend it. Thanks, Denny.
I missed the afternoon sessions due to work related issues but was able to get things sorted out as to not ruin my evening of networking and socializing.
Friday’s sessions started off with a bag.
Enter The Dragon SQL 2012 on Server Core – Mark Broadbent
I was very interested in this session because I have been talking up the use of Server Core with several people at work for the past several months.
It was also good to see Mark (blog | twitter) present for the first time. He was my big brother at the Summit last year and we also talk on twitter from time to time. I did very much like his session, learned some things, picked up some points of interest. He explains things well even though he talks a bit funny J Cheers Mark!
Understanding Backups – Sean McCown
If you have never seen Sean (blog | twitter) present you are missing out. Learning from someone of his caliber is always a plus for me. He presents well and is always entertaining. I did have a question after attending that I need to clarify and am patently waiting the posting of his slide deck and code to hopefully answer it. If not, I know how to track him down. J
Troubleshooting Performance on SQL Server 2012 with Extended Events – Rohit Nayak
This is another of the sessions I was really looking forward too and I happened to be assigned as room monitor too. I recently started working with Extended Events and have actually submitted a session to a few SQL Saturdays on the subject so you can imagine how much I really wanted to see this information. I really enjoyed this session; it reinforced some of what I know and expanded my knowledge of Extended Events. The enhancements to Extended Events in 2012 when compared to 2008 are very impressive. I look forward to using 2012 in the future. Rohit (blog | twitter) works for Microsoft as a Support Escalation Engineer so you can just image this issues he has had to work.
Work strikes again, missing another session, at least this one was fixed quicker.
Unraveling Tangled Code – A Spellbinding Tale of Victory Over Chaos – Jennifer McCown
Jen (blog | twitter) is part of the dynamic duo that make up the MidnightDBA team and has a presentation style all her own. The session (as if you could not tell from the title) was related to inheriting code and making bad code work more better. She showed some really good examples of bad code and some really, really cool ways to fix them. I don’t do a lot of code fixing since I am a DBA. Don’t get me wrong, that’s what the developers are for and get paid to do. I get paid to do other things they don’t do. I did however, pick up some things I can and will now look for when the you-know-what hits the fan the next time. Nice job Jen
Networking or socializing is one of the things I look forward to most of all at SQL events. Needless to say the “Meet the Professionals” after hours event was a smash. I got to meet some new people like Melissa Demak (blog | twitter), we talked about SQL Saturday 158 in NYC, Rushabh Mehta (blog | twitter), Past President of PASS and talked about some things here and there, hopefully he remembers but I won’t hold it against him if he doesn’t. I met two girls (sorry don’t remember their names) from San Antonio who attended our SQL Saturday in Austin last year (official announcement coming soon). I also rubbed elbows with a bunch of others SQLpeeps I met just a few weeks ago when in Houston. I even met a Russian (he lives in Florida), Dmitri Korotkeitch (blog | twitter). Funny thing about him though, you have to do shots of vodka to get him to lose his accent, either that or I developed one. I am not really sure. Either way it was a great time.
Of course SQLKaraoke was a success, especially when the Idera crew showed up with the really cool sunglasses. I do know the staff were not too happy when all 100 + people showed up demanding SQLrefreshment all at once. Hopefully by the end of the night they were happy. We wond up leaving before the singing started because one of the people in our little group was complaining about how heavy his backpack was with all the lanyards in it. Maybe he should get one with wheels. Bloody wanker. (did I give anything away there?) 0_o
I also enjoyed the Starbucks Networking Event. This was organized by Andy Warren (blog | twitter) and Craig Purnell (blog | twitter)l. There was one at the Summit last year but I have a free breakfast buffet at my hotel last year. Free anything is great but free eggs and bacon is impossible to turn down. This worked because morning + coffee + SQLtalk just really go well together. I arrived a little late but was able to talk and even met a few new SQLpeeps.
All in all SQLRally will go down in my memory book as a great time connecting, sharing, and learning. I look forward to the next SQLevent I will be attending in person in August, hopefully.