Monday, October 5, 2015

[Presenting] So far, so good...

Wow! I just realized that this past weekend makes two years that I've been presenting at SQL Saturdays!

First, this past weekend.  It was a blast, and reminds me why I love doing this.  The drive to Kansas City was long (longer on the way back, of course), but the BBQ crawl was stellar, the location for everything was, in all seriousness, crazy perfect (the hotel, BBQ crawl meetup, speaker dinner, and after-parties were all within a 5 minute walk of each other, and it would've been trivial to catch a ride to the venue), the venue was spectacular (that's a cool college with some really modern presentation facilities), the speaker selection was great, and the locals were amazing (special shout out to Dave for taking us around on Friday and showing us all SORTS of cool stuff we wouldn't have known about otherwise - I'm bringing my family back to do some of that).

Bill, Megan, & company were fantastic hosts, and since so many speakers came to the BBQ crawl, I was able to talk at length with many of them, which actually meant that I got to talk in depth about a ton of topics, learned some other cool things, and even changed which sessions I was going to.  What's the saying?  "Don't be the smartest guy in the room".  I most assuredly wasn't, and so I hope/think that some of that rubbed off on me.  Plus, not to be a putz or schmuck, but it's nice when you can talk to new people who live & breathe this stuff - it's refreshing and it reinvigorates me.  Finding out that you are not the only person doing X, and now you have cards from others who also do it and can help you.  It's amazing.  (That Service Broker class, too - I'd never seen so many people using it)

After-party - now that I've been to #SQLKaraoke, I see why people like it.  When the person can sing it's really good, and when it doesn't... it's still interesting.  Mostly, it worked. I'd swear there were a couple of ringers in there, except I saw them all at SQLSat.

Lessons learned: if I could recommend two things to any of the other SQL Saturday groups:
  1. Put everything nearby.  I don't know how many cities can do it, but being able to walk out of the hotel and do everything except be at the venue was freaking great.  Yes, ideally you want the hotel next to the venue, but I'd pass on that in order to have all the other associated things (dinner, day-before stuff, afterparty) all near each other.  The Westport neighborhood in Kansas City fit that to a T.  I could easily & safely walk to several really good restaurants, & there was plenty of nightlife nearby.  Runner up goes to Denver for having the after-party at the venue itself - not something you can do most places, but worked really well. (Though I missed the after-after party... and given what happened on Saturday night, I'm _really_ interested in seeing next years'.)
  2. Extended pre-time/cool events.  I'll be honest, the BBQ crawl was a good reason to come.  And, maybe surprisingly, not just because of the food.  It was because I got to sit and talk to Russ at length about his ETL-with-Hekaton.  I got to chat with Brandon about the sucky parts of Table Partitioning.  I got to shoot the bull with Bill about Cleartrace and Event Notifications.  Bugging people about how to get a MVP (hey, if you know someone...).  Hanging out with Andre and talking some of the things he was doing in his Powershell session - and then finding out he'd downloaded my deck for the same reason.  Zipping around town with Dave learning about great coffee places (PTs!), Always Encrypted, the plan cache, and the architecture and history of KC.  You can't get that out of a normal 2-3 hour dinner, much though I wish you could.  In this case, popping between multiple restaurants worked REALLY well, as it meant you weren't sitting next to the same people all afternoon, and so you got exposed to a ton of different conversations and topics.   Just wish I knew how you could do that in more cities.  Plus, as an out-of-towner, it was cool actually seeing more than just the venue itself.  It's easy to go around and find cool stuff during the 3-5 days of PASS.  It's much harder when you get in at 9pm on Thursday after a 9-hour drive, and are leaving early Sunday.

Now on to the presentation (I mean, that's why I went, right?): I think it went really well.  Thanks to Jason & Zane who were watching, I learned some changes I need to make, places to cover in more depth (or add demos), and parts to cover less.  I still massively dig the topic, and want people to do more with it, which means I need to work on adding some more PRACTICAL use cases.  But I find it funny/awesome that there are a couple of "throw-away" bits (powershell unrestricted, power plans, etc) that were probably more useful to some than the main topic.  Which reminds me that I need to read through the reviews.

So, two years in.
Where have I been so far?
  • Dallas 2013
  • Albuquerque 2014
  • Houston 2014
  • OKC 2014
  • KC 2014
  • DC 2014
  • Austin 2015
  • KC 2015
  • DBA Virtual Chapter
  • PASS 24 HOP 2015
  • FWSSUG (3 times thus far, I think)  
  • Denver 2015 (attendee only, but 12 hour drive means I'm at least mentioning it)
What's left/next?
I want to present at PASS on EN, so badly I can taste it.  Doing 24 HOP was one of those "holy crap, I'm there" moments.  (So was going and having dinner with a bunch of the other speakers on Saturday - walking up to a table full of people wearing the speaker shirts, and realizing I both Fit In and was One Of Them, was amazing).  I need to come up with more presentations.  I know a decent number of presenters who write an abstract, and then come up with a topic.  My presentations, for better or worse, are because I have to solve a particular problem - and then I write a post-mortem that becomes my presentation.  Next couple topics I have planned: "SAVE ALL THE THINGS" which will probably encompass my EPR, WMI, EN, and probably CDC or CT.  The one after that is probably going to be cloud-based.  But I think an easy one would just be the simple things that most people don't have set right (and now that I think about it, I saw this type of thing in DC in 2014, by Jason Brimhall).  That one, though, I might convince one of my coworkers to do.

What else?
I'd like to thank all the respective teams for having me, my awesome coworkers for coming with me on these (truly, this would've been impossible without them), my other coworkers for covering while I'm out, my boss for letting me attend, and my wife for not just letting, but actually encouraging me to go.

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