Thursday started off with a meeting of the SQL Saturday minds over breakfast at Top Pot Donuts a few blocks away from the convention center where we spent about an hour talking about how to engage the local community and grow the SQL Saturday brand. I got sucked into another work related problem, but I had an aircard so I could stay and enjoy a local establishment that I don't have at home.
The final keynote presentations were…a roller coaster. Things started with Wayne Snyder giving a very genuine and heartfelt delivery of a special award presented to Kevin Kline (Blog | Twitter) for his many years of service to PASS. Then Dell's rep put everyone to sleep by mailing in their 20 minutes (no kidding, he said "blah blah blah" at one point!). Dr. David DeWitt of Microsoft's Jim Gray Systems Lab saved the day with a fantastic technical presentation that included zero marketing. A deep technical talk delivered to an audience full of geeks made it the best keynote of the week, hands down. I live blogged it here, but honestly I didn't do it justice. Thankfully Dr. DeWitt's keynote will be included on the Summit DVD set and is reason enough alone to drop the $125 for a copy.
I spent next hour closing out the problems from work earlier in the day, then sat with Jack Corbett (Blog | Twitter) at the OPASS table in the dining hall for the chapter leader lunch. We didn't get anybody else from the Central Florida area, but it wasn't a big deal as we had a few random folks join us to talk shop.
After lunch I lingered around the couches on the 4th floor to network (and pick up one of the Starbucks cards Steve Jones was giving away), then spent the rest of the afternoon in the speaker ready room getting ready for my Transactional Replication session at 4 PM. I had about 30 people come - not bad for the final session of the last day. I made all the key points I needed to, fielded lots of great questions, but had to skip some demos due to lack of time. I didn't get thrown off stage though, and I heard positive feedback from a few folks afterwards so I feel confident that I did an OK job. Obviously I am anxious to see how the speaker evals turn out, and hopefully I get the chance to come back and talk again at the 2010 Summit!
The end of the Summit felt like a bit of a letdown to me. I walked back out to the 4th floor couches after my session and although there were a few people I knew hanging out there wasn't anything official to signal the end of the conference. I think some kind of simple reception with closing remarks (no food necessary), maybe a re-announcement of who won awards during the week, a final thank you to volunteers, and a chance for people to say their goodbyes would have been fine.
Dinner Thursday night was with fellow Friends of Red Gate. The folks at Red Gate really treated us well – easily the best dinner of the week – and I felt privileged to sit at the same table with Adam Machanic (Blog | Twitter), Tom LaRock (Blog | Twitter), and Paul Nielson (Blog). The great food and conversation more than made up for the lack of any official close to the Summit. It's too bad it couldn't end like that for all attendees.
With the summit done (save post-cons on Friday) it was time to let loose. Monday night's karaoke shenanigans at Bush Garden were so fun that several people went for an encore. Word must have spread because the place was packed with summit-goers. We stayed until closing time, enjoying the singing, drinks, and new found friendships that had been forged throughout the week. Good times all around!
…Day 5 and final thoughts coming tomorrow.