Monday, November 9, 2009

Looking Back - PASS Summit 2009 Day 1

Downtown Seattle - almost there! I intended to blog daily while at the PASS Summit last week. At least that's what I told myself I was going to do beforehand, then I realized that wasn't possible once I got there…at least not with the schedule I kept. This was my first time at the summit and after the first day I understood everything I had previously heard about being busy and getting very little sleep but having a fantastic experience. As much as I am glad to be back at home with my family part of me wishes I were back in Seattle doing it all over again. I know that won't happen (until next year's summit, that is!) so I'll do the next best thing and relive the experience by writing about each day one week after the fact.

I arrived in Seattle on Monday at 1:30 PM and, thanks to Twitter, met up with Jonathan Kehayias (Blog | Twitter) and Arlene Gray (Blog | Twitter). We shared a short ride in on the Light Link Rail for the low, low price of $2.50, which I also found out about thanks to Twitter. (Tip – when riding into town sit on the right side relative to the direction of travel – the view is much better). The walk from the rail station to the Sheraton was only a few blocks, and after checking in I met up with Aaron Bertrand (Blog | Twitter), my roommate for the week. (Side note – sharing a room is a great way to cut down on the cost of attending the summit!)

Welcome to the Summit! The first event on tap was Gabor's precon on Networking to Build Business Contacts. Before things began I had the chance to meet Tom LaRock (Blog | Twitter) in person for the first time, along with many other people I've met on Twitter in the last year and a few new faces. It's worth noting that about half of the people in Don's session were first timers at the Summit. I think that's a good indication that word about what PASS (and the Summit) is and does is spreading and people are getting interested in becoming part of the SQL borg community. Don gave some nice tips – some things I already knew, some new things – and shared a few secrets for remembering names before giving everybody a chance to try it out for themselves. I did OK, but clearly it takes practice to be good at it. Fortunately the week ahead presented plenty of opportunities to practice. By the way, Don's amazing at remembering names – he nailed at least 80% of people's names in the session after only a brief introduction and handshake at the door.

Welcome Reception - Quiz BowlAfter Don's session I headed upstairs to the Welcome Reception where I ran into at least 20 more people I've met on Twitter recently. The food was OK (carved meats on rolls with veggies), but the real draw was the quiz bowl (Paul Randal (Blog | Twitter) and Kimberly Tripp (Blog | Twitter) smoked the competition!) and the announcement of the 1st annual PASS logreader award winners. I must have done something right because I won two categories – Best Blog Series for Disk Performance Hands On and Best Professional Development Blog Post for Off-Hours Work: A Guide For Managers.

Following the reception I headed to the SQLServerCentral party where I had the chance to meet Chris Massey (Twitter) and the folks from Red Gate. As in past years (so I hear) it was a casino style party where everybody got some chips and played different games around the room. I spent half the time socializing and the other half losing my chips. I didn't realize that at the end you could cash in whatever chips you had left and get raffle tickets for prize giveaways so I went all or nothing and lost. Oh well, next year I know better.

I caught word that a group of folks was heading to Bush Garden, a hole in the wall karaoke bar in the International District about a mile and a half from downtown. I tagged along where I met – you guessed it – even more people from Twitter for the first time (along with a few folks from Florida who I've known for a while now). I was pretty tired by that point so I just sat back and watched everyone else take turns singing. The group stayed until closing time, and for some reason we all thought it would be a great idea to walk back to the hotel at 1:30 in the morning. It was a good bonding experience for new friends, if nothing else.

I crashed once I got back to the hotel; by that point I think I had been up for close to 24 hours and the PASS euphoria only lasts so long. That and I had to be up to live blog the opening keynote that started at 7:45 AM the next morning. I'm pretty sure at that point Aaron was wondering what he got himself into by sharing a room with me.

…the adventure continues with Day 2 tomorrow!

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