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PASS Summit – My List of Tips

It’s easy to think of the Summit as just work, but I can tell you that you’ll have more fun and learn more if you do something besides just sit in sessions all day. Here’s some ideas to think about:

  • Seattle is usually cold, if you’re walking to the convention center you’ll want a jacket and maybe an umbrella. Some kind of ski cap is useful too. There’s a coat check on the 4th floor, don’t carry the coat all day!
  • Bring a water bottle. Usually we just have water dispensers set up and if you drink out of the 1 ounce paper cups you’ll be dehydrated and tired by the end of the day
  • Don’t think you have to attend a session every hour. If you start to fade out, get up and hit the expo, go for coffee at Tullys on the 3rd floor, or take a walk.
  • Bring business cards and make an effort to meet someone at each session
  • Remember that the speaker is tired right after a presentation. It’s good to say hello then or ask a quick question, but remember they want sit down, unwind, and make a few notes. Don’t hold them there for 30 minutes!
  • If you can do one thing that’s just good karma, fill out the speaker evaluations. Speakers really appreciate feedback.
  • Want to go out and do something? Make sure to hit the Market, try the aviation museum (they have an SR-71), and Top Pot doughnuts
  • Don’t think you have to treat it like a marathon either. You need to be rested and most of us fight the time zone change, nothing wrong calling it a day early, watching some TV, and getting some sleep.
  • Seattle is a good place for an early morning walk, good way to start the day
  • Try to find the zen place where you’re just listening. I seldom take extensive notes unless it’s for a blog post, I’d rather just relax and listen. It’s a tough skill, easy to tune out and miss something interesting.
  • Make a list of people you want to meet. Speakers you can find via the schedule, others are harder to find. You may not have a meeting arranged, but have the names in mind so that if you see them, you can be ready to chat. Always good to mention how you heard about them. Don’t worry about meeting all of them, but you’ll find some!
  • Barnes and Noble is only a couple blocks away and so is the mall. Do some shopping and take something nice home to the significant other.
  • My favorite way to travel in from the airport is a town car, about $45. Find the phone area downstairs, takes about 5 mins for them to arrive, no reservation needed

Hopefully you’ll find an idea or two in the list. I’ll publish the part of my schedule I know closer to the event and would love to meet anyone that reads what I write – whether you like it or think it needs work! Coffee and conversation.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Peter Schott on 21 October 2009

Good advice, Andy. It's been a long time since I've been to a PASS conference and sadly a lot of that time was spent putting out fires back at the office. We're going to have almost a day to kill so we'll take a look at your suggestions for what to do in our off time.  Thank you for the advice about the area and center, too. I think it's fair to say that a good number of us have never been there so don't really know our way around or what's available. I think I can take advantage of the coat check. :)

Posted by Merrill Aldrich on 21 October 2009

Great post - a couple of other tips from up here in Seattle: we have a very nice brand new Light Rail system you can take from the airport downtown. Look for a shuttle from the airport to the closest station, which is a short hop, then the light rail runs you right into our down town "bus tunnel" (think Subway).

If you are into art at all, the new Seattle Art Museum addition is amazing, as is the new Sculpture Park - not to be missed if the weather is good.

Posted by Andy Warren on 21 October 2009

Merrill, does it go all the way from the airport? Was under the impression one leg was missing? www.soundtransit.org/x1173.xml

Posted by Merrill Aldrich on 21 October 2009

It's more like the toe or the ankle :-). I think there's a bus shuttle from the airport proper to the first completed station, which is just a short distance. Very bottom of that page,

"Current Service to Sea-Tac Airport on Link light rail

Central Link opened July 18, 2009 from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. A temporary connector bus connects light rail passengers from Tukwila International Blvd Station to Sea-Tac Airport. In December 2009, Link will extend directly to the SeaTac/Airport station, replacing the shuttle."

Details are at www.soundtransit.org/.../Link-Connector.xml

(My office is actually in Tukwila, right near the open station.)

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