I was pretty stoked when I heard about Madison hosting its first “SQL Saturday,” and even more so when I was chosen to speak! I have to admit that when I was told my session was chosen, I thought “They must be pretty desperate for speakers.” More on that in a moment, but first I want to share some other thoughts…
The Conference Overall
This SQL Saturday was organized by Jes Borland, who is an absolute dynamo. Imagine the love child of the Tasmanian Devil and Tinkerbell, and that’s Jes. She’s the kind of person you want to help when asked because she’s appreciative and so nice and she’d probably just do it herself if you didn’t. She recruited a small army of volunteers to help, which is why everything from the speaker dinner the night before to the initial check-in in the morning to lunch to the raffle drawing at the end was super-well organized.
Sessions I Saw
It was pretty difficult to select which of the 36 sessions to attend – there were so many I was interested in. Thankfully they were all loaded in the Guidebook app for my Android, which made everything easier (until my phone died about halfway through the afternoon – thank you @SQLCheesecake for the loaner cable and Twitter for facilitating the exchange). The sessions I chose were:
- Aaron Lowe, SQL Server Data Tools – Preview of the new evolution of “DataDude.”
- Jason Thomas, Fast Track to Spatial Report – Very cool reporting using maps and other shapes.
- Ted Krueger, Merge Replication – Dealing with Offline Data (I really enjoyed Ted’s dry sense of humor, and his resemblance to Steve Buscemi is amusing.)
- Tim Ford, Performance Enhancing Laziness – Scripts to automate the things you should be doing.
- Tracy McKibben, 10 Ways to Abuse T-SQL – SQL statements that will kill your performance.
These were all, of course, great. I immediately put Tracy McKibben’s points into use, and I’m a better database guy for it. He did an especially great job, and he says a first time speaker though I have a hard time believing that.
My Session – SQL Server Management Studio for Non-DBAs
As I mentioned, I was truly honored to be chosen to give a session at this event. I’d never been to a SQL Saturday before and I guess in my head I thought it would be like a fancy day-long User Group meeting. Then I saw some of the other names that were on the speaker list and I got nervous. I mean these folks are SQL Server MVPs and the others looked like hardcore SQL Server gurus, and I’m just a developer who dabbles in SQL Server among all my other duties.
When I saw that I was scheduled to speak in the third time slot though I became much less nervous. I mean, who would possibly come to my session when they could see Stacia Misner, for crying out loud? So I was expecting maybe a couple of my friends to be there and was surprised to see a pretty full room. In retrospect I think this speaks to the wisdom of the conference organizers to recruit a speaker who is reaching out to the non-DBA, the people who may just be getting started using SQL Server or don’t use it full time. People like me, and as it turns out the rest of the people that filled the room.
My session contained a list of tips and tricks that I have been accumulating over the years when I use SSMS that makes my work easier as a developer. The biggest tip is to use Projects in SSMS, as they give you a way to organize connections and miscellaneous scripts in a much better way than just using the file system. Many of the other speakers were not using projects in their demonstrations in places they really should have, in my opinion. It made me wonder if they didn’t know about them and would have benefitted from my session.
I had excellent comments and questions from the room, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Three or four times the questions would lead directly into my next point, which is wonderful because it makes you feel like everybody’s in sync and following along. I felt the time went fast and the session actually ended too quickly – I didn’t even get through my whole list! I learned a few things too which I will include the next time I give this session (I’m already scheduled to give it at “Southwest Fox” in October for a group of Visual Foxpro developers and have submitted it to another SQL Saturday and thatConference.)
To improve the session I’ll put a few more specifics in my notes and not rely on my memory, because when “brainfreeze” hits you in front of an audience it is tough to overcome.
So for those of you who filled out your evaluations with “Met Expectations” and either a 3 or a 4 on the speaker scale – ding! ding! ding! You win! The rest of you who evaluated me better than that? Well thank you but I know I can do better.
Thanks so much to the organizers who put on a great event, all the sponsors for their generosity, and the speakers who volunteered their time to help out their SQL Server colleagues.
As a family guy with a lot on my plate, my evenings and weekends are precious. I love attending user groups and cannot do it as much as I like to, so when I do take the time away to attend something after house I really want to take away something I can use. SQL Saturday #118 in Madison was all that. I’m a better developer for having attended and I look forward to perusing the session notes for the speakers I could not see as well as reviewing the presentatons for the speakers I did.
And I’d really like to express my appreciation again to the selection committee who chose great sessions that appealed not only to experience DBAs but also to those of us that are still on the on-ramp for SQL Server. I don’t know if other SQL Saturdays are as inclusive but I sure hope so. The whole day was a real pleasure.
(Thanks to Craig Purnell for the photos! There’s more from the whole event here.)