Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More PASS Summit Tips For First Timers

Yesterday I posted my tips for PASS Summit First Timers, and of course as soon as I did I remembered more things I thought would be worth sharing. So here goes round 2!

Attire
Dress code for almost all activities is casual or business casual. I don't remember seeing anyone in a tie last year except for the Microsoft execs on stage for the keynotes. For guys I'd say jeans\slacks  w\ a polo or oxford. For gals…I'm going to avoid recommending women's attire since I'm not a woman and anything I suggest will probably be wrong.

November is mildly cold - in the 50-60 degree (F) range. You spend most of the time indoors so leave the parka at home; you're probably OK with a medium jacket to stay warm. There's a coat check near the registration desk at the convention center so you don't have to lug a jacket around to every session. You've also probably heard that it rains in Seattle. Last year it didn't rain until Friday. Still, it pays to be prepared and it won't hurt to pack a travel umbrella or pocket poncho in your suitcase.

if you're into themes there are two going this year: Tuesday is "Wear Your SQL Saturday Shirt Day" and the goal is to celebrate the success of SQLSaturday and get more people interested in it. If you happen to have a few extra shirts that you don't know what to do with consider bringing them to share with others. Wednesday is "Kilt Wednesday!" and you're invited to don your favorite kilt for the day. Not just for men, everyone is invited to participate. Just don't go around being a smart a$$ asking what's underneath everyone's kilt. (We already know the answer - boots. Duh!). Follow the #sqlkilt hashtag on Twitter for more kilt talk.

Food
Breakfast and lunch are available Tuesday through Thursday as part of your Summit registration and take place in the expo hall (vendors on one side, food on the other). Breakfast is usually something like pastries\bagels, fruit, and yogurt. Lunch last year was pasta one day, chicken another, and maybe hamburgers were in there somewhere too. That I can't remember exactly what was offered should tell you that it wasn't fine dining, but it kept me fed. Onsite breakfast and lunch are offered on Monday and Friday for precon and postcon attendees only.

Every day during the 2:00 hour there's a refreshment break on the 6th floor east lobby. We're talking cookies, coffee, and soda - enough to get a sugar & caffeine fix to get you through the remainder of the day.

There are other free options that don't require leaving the conference center: On Wednesday and Thursday there are sponsor breakfasts at 6:45 AM. I mentioned that the Quest breakfast last year was insanely packed and impossible to get into. Looks like this year you have to visit the vendor booths "for more information and invitation". Good luck if you make it into them - maybe they'll serve bacon as a reward for being an early riser!

Also on Wednesday is the Women In Technology luncheon. Last year they served Mexican. That I remember it should tell you that it was good! Of course, you're coming to support Women In Technology and listen to some awesome speakers. The good food is a bonus.

Dinners are a different story. There's usually appetizers\finger food at the opening reception Monday night - not a full course but enough to make a meal of it if you need to. There was also food at last year's Microsoft Appreciation event on Wednesday night at GameWorks. Same story as the opening reception on offerings. Beyond that you're going to be on your own.

There are plenty of dining options inside the convention center. There are even more options - all within walking distance - outside, including:

A personal favorite of mine for breakfast is Top Pot Doughnuts on 5th Ave. They make great doughnuts and even better coffee (roasted onsite). Speaking of coffee, you can probably guess that you can find a Starbucks on almost every corner in downtown Seattle.

If you're in town Sunday night consider joining me for dinner at Lowell's (walking distance from convention center) for the Meetup arranged by Andy Warren (Blog | Twitter). Andy's covering appetizers and the rest of dinner is up to you. Space is limited to 60 people so if you want to join us make sure you RSVP soon!

if you're looking for even more options check out Tim Ford's blog post on fine dining options around town.

Finally, I was hoping to check out a place called Tilthe during my visit this year. I watched the owner\chef dominate Iron Chef America in August and it looks like a great place to eat for a reasonable price.

Transportation
There are plenty of options for getting to\from the airport and downtown:

  • Link Light Rail - 40 minute ride for $2.50. The downtown stop is only a few blocks from most of the hotels and the convention center. Check the hours of operation to be sure they're running when you arrive\depart.
  • Shuttle Express - A shared ride service. You have to enter your dropoff\pickup location to get a quote. Don't forget gratuity.
  • Gray Line - Another shared ride service. $15.00 one way, $18.00 round trip. Don't forget gratuity.
  • Town Car\Cab - Will take you right to your hotel. I think these are more in the $40 range but I didn't take one last year so I could be wrong.

Regardless of how you decide to travel chances are other Summit-goers are arriving at the airport at the same time as you (maybe even on your flight). If you're on Twitter send a tweet with the #sqlpass hashtag and see if anyone else is up for sharing a ride. You may be able to save money while meeting someone new (good chance to practice your networking skills) at the same time.

Unless you're planning on driving away from the downtown area you will not need to rent a car.

Other Things To See And Do
If you've got some time before or after the Summit and want to do some sightseeing here are a few easy things to go check out:

  • Pike Place Market: Home of the famous fish throwers. Walking distance from the convention center. Lots of shops to find unique gifts to bring back home. Go early in the morning if you want to see the fish fly. While you're there stop off at the original Starbucks for a cup of coffee.
  • Seattle Underground Tour: $15.00 per adult, this 90 minute walking tour will take you through the tunnels that run underneath downtown with stops to buy food, drinks, and gifts along the way.
  • Space Needle: Ride the Seattle Center Monorail ($4.00 round trip) to the Space Needle and go up to the O-deck ($18.00 admission) to get a 360 degree view of the Seattle area from 520 feet above ground. Hit the gift shop at the bottom for gifts to bring back home. (My favorite: the Lego Space Needle)
  • Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum: Next door to the Space Needle. $15.00 per adult.
  • Museum of Flight: A 10 minute cab ride from downtown, this is a great museum if you're into airplanes\space. They're currently in a campaign to secure one of the space shuttles after they're retired from service. $15.00 per adult, $13.00 if you're a AAA member, or free admission if you're a member of a museum that's part of the Association of Science Technology Centers (e.g. the Orlando Science Center).

Have you been to Seattle and the Summit before and see something I missed that's worth mentioning? Please leave a comment and let me know!

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