This past Saturday I was able to participate in the Carolina Code Camp, help just outside Charlotte, NC. I was there for the morning part, spending time with family in Charlotte for the afternoon. So let me go over both the good and the bad, starting with the bad first. There are lessons to be learned in the bad.
Let me start by saying that the bad with CarCC had nothing to do with the Code Camp itself. They are just reminders for me as an individual. Hopefully, if they aren't things you've thought of, you can learn vicariously through my mistakes.
The first bad was not taking the time to email some folks beforehand to see if they were going and to try and connect with them before I got there. While code camps, SQL Saturdays, and conferences should be about learning, to a certan extent they should be about networking, too. For instance, ASP.NET MVP Chris Love (who I only know through Twitter) and SQL Server MVP Paul Nielsen were both at Carolina Code Camp. But I missed out on meeting them in person because I didn't get my ducks in a row ahead of time. I'll not make that mistake again. I also missed out on seeing Boyd Evert from the Charleston PASS Chapter and a couple of local developers I used to work with but who have moved on from AgFirst. Next time, I'll do better.
The second bad was not going through my checklist when I was done speaking. I was looking forward to hearing SQL Server MVP Alejandro Mesa present, and since we were in the same room (him right after me), I wanted to clear out the space to give him time to setup so he wouldn't be rushed. As a result, when I was packing my equipment back in my laptop bag, I left my power adapter on one of the tables there. I didn't realize it was missing until after I had gotten back home, almost 2 hours away from the venue, and long after the event had finished up. I ended up ordering a replacement from Dell Saturday night, but for the second order in a row, it looks like it has gotten lost in their system. I've filed a customer support ticket with them, haven't gotten anything back but the automated email, and I don't expect anything different than, "We're sorry, it's us, not you. Can you place the order again and cross your fingers it will actually go through this time?" So I'll probably be running down to an office supply store looking for a universal one because I'm quite fed up with Dell. I used to be a big fan, but the experiences I've had with them over the last two years means I'm likely done with them as a customer until I hear from peers that things have substantially improved.
The first was finally being able to hear Alejandro present. He's done some other venues, but I've always had a conflict. When you hear him talk and go through the topic, you understand why his presentations have been highly regarded. I enjoyed the talk immensely, learned a few new things, and enjoyed talking with him. If you haven't met Alejandro, you should. He's a humble guy that knows a ton, is very helpful, and cares about his craft and the community.
The second I was able to meet Jeff Schroeder, another active SQL Server type in the area. His presentation was at the same time as mine, but he came to Alejandro's, and we were able to talk a bit afterwards as a group. Jeff's another knowledgeable guy who has seen some interesting vendor packages and had to come up with creative solutions to attack the issues they cause. So I'm going to follow back up with Jeff, because he's a nice guy, knows his stuff, and brings a different perspective because of his experience that I could learn from.
The third was the venue, the Levine Campus at Central Piedmont Community College. They have a very nice setup that was very conducive to a code camp. I was very impressed with the facilities. I think Alejandro indicated they may be trying to do a SQL Server centric activity there, and the college has agreed to lend the space. Apparently there are some very good, community minded folks there in addition to the awesome setup. We would love to have similar access to facilities half that nice here in Columbia, SC.
The fourth good were some of the ideas that were bounced around in a very short time. Alejandro was making a comment about how hard it is to present on query tuning and optimization on an hour, because to understand what you're seeing, you've got to understand the theory. But to make any sort of headway is hard, because there's more than an hour of material in there. Alejandro was only focusing on plan caching and re-use. He said up front that he wasn't touching recompiles because there was simply no time. One of the things I thought about is having a deep dive track or two during the SQL Saturdays. Where you'd get a topic like query tuning and optimization for the morning and another deep dive in the afternoon, maybe on peformance tuning. I think it's something worth approaching Andy Warren about, so I probably will, especially when both Alejandro and Jeff seemed to think it was a good idea. Some topics just need more time.
So that wraps up my experience for Carolina Code Camp 2009. It was a great code camp and I'm looking forward to going back again next year. Hopefully, Midlands PASS will be able to help out in the organization of it in 2010. We'd certainly like to be included along with the .NET user groups.