Oct 252013
 

I first learned about the PASS Summit from a co-worker who had attended several in Seattle.  When he was unable to go this year, I snatched the opportunity to attend.   It was about 3 weeks before the Summit, so there was much last minute scrambling and coordination from several people in my agency in order to get the registration fee covered and travel expenses approved.

Charlotte Convention Center

First lesson learned:  Don’t count on getting much sleep on red-eye flights.  I landed in Charlotte at 6:30 AM on Monday and headed straight for my first pre-con with Itzik Ben-Gan. I cut my teeth on his T-SQL Fundamentals book, so I was excited to see his presentation.   It was just plain awesome when he started drawing query execution plans by hand.  Even though I was bone tired, it was a great session.

My second pre-con was Make SQL Apps Faster by Kendra Little, Jes Borland, and Brent Ozar — I learned all about how to tune databases and queries to increase.  Every break was an impromptu Q&A session!

The welcome reception on Tuesday evening was great!  The Quiz Bowl was a blast!  After Tim Ford’s second plea for a first timer volunteer to come up, I threw my hand up.   I was teamed up with Kendal Van Dyke and Rob Volk, who totally rocked the quiz.  Thanks for winning it guys!  The Ipad 2 is really nice!

Downtown Charlotte There were so many regular sessions that I wanted to go too — I had the guidebook app downloaded to my phone and had set up my schedule on there.  I tried to have a second or third session selected for each time slot just in case I couldn’t get into the first pick.  That paid off, as there were a couple of times where I showed up to a session and it turned out to be full, so I would just head over to the backup session I had on my schedule.

At the Chapter lunch, I learned that my home town has it’s own user group!  The birds of the feather lunch was great, Mark Vaillancourt was manning the SSRS table and fielding questions being fired at him left and right.

Allen White and Andy Leonard

I think the session that stood out the most was Automating your ETL Infrastructure by Allen White (and unofficially Andy Leonard).  They mentioned BIML and a light bulb went off in my head.  I believe BIML is going to solve one of the largest thorns in my side, and that’s writing Source to Staging ETLs that are essentially copy/paste/refresh meta data.

There were so many things that I gleaned from the sessions, I’ve already started implementing some of what I’ve learned in the data warehouse environment I work in.  But by far, I think the best thing I learned was the existence of the #sqlfamily.

Here are some quick hit advice items for any other first timers to a SQL Pass Summit:

1) Get a twitter account, it was a blast following #summit13 hashtag

2) Don’t take a red-eye the night before your first session, unless you are equipped with Brent Ozar’s Laptop Bag and Accessories

3) Pre-plan your schedule, double book the time slots so you have a backup session

4) Network more!  If I could re-attend the summit, I’d spend more time in the Community area and meet more #sqlfamily

5) Talk to the vendors, they are trying to sell stuff but you might actually glean some good info on products you can use

Hope to see everyone next year in Seattle at #summit14!!!

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